2020 has been an extremely unusual year, so hopefully it’s a bit of a treat to end it in our usual way – with the top fifty games of the last twelve months, as chosen by you.
50. World of Warcraft: Shadowlands
What we said: “You can’t call it a comeback when you’ve always been the king.”
“It’s early days, but this is as good as WoW has been for over ten years,” says Kiliko. “So much content, no vicious gating, very alt-friendly, great looking zones. It feels similar to what I thought WoW 2 would be like back in 2010. A joy to see my friends list extremely active again.”
“An amazing comeback of the best but recently slacking mmorpg,” says Longbraz.
49. Yakuza 0
What we said: “Yakuza 0 is, in many respects, the end of an era – and a heck of a finish it is, too.”
“Amazing game. It is a great into to the Yakuza series,” says Abhayd, who is currently halfway through Kiwami, so it must work.
Elsewhere lots of votes but not many comments for this one. You Yakuza fans keep it close, which I appreciate.
48. Lair of the Clockwork God
What we said: “Lair of the Clockwork is a delight which leaves me with a warm fuzzy feeling having finished it. The talent and experience of Ben Ward and Dan Marshall beams through. It’s in the practiced delivery of the jokes, in the game’s well thought out pacing (getting the bigger stuff out of the way earlier, enabling a speedier finish), and in the many ways Ben and Dan, both creators and characters, poke fun at an industry they’ve been a part of for many years. Lair of the Clockwork God is both a fulfilling platform-adventure and loving satire all in one. I strongly recommend you play it.”
Oh boy, it’s Crickson. “Genuinely funny, inventive and a joy to play,” they say. “No filler, no grind, brilliantly written and packed with depth and ideas. It doesn’t outstay its welcome and it’s the best game I played this year.”
Nobody is going to top that.
47. No Man’s Sky
What we said: “A unique work of engineering art to lose yourself in. Sean Murray and his team at Hello Games set out with one goal: to create a game that is science fiction. Mission accomplished.”
“Oh the updates, oh the graphics update. It’s like a whole new game,” says Fatboy966.
“I actually enjoyed the original version of this game despite its many flaws,” says Xoxzo. “I am absolutely blown away by the PS5 version and the many features which have been added since I last played it. I only put it on for a quick look and 50 hours later there is still no end of things to do.
“Hats off to Hello Games for sticking with it and improving the game beyond all expectation.”
46. Immortals Fenyx Rising
What we said: “I feel for Immortals a bit. Blame Covid, blame budgets, blame Ubisoft, blame the paradoxically thrifty, endlessly repurposing way the publisher makes all its huge, expansive, generous games, but Immortals never really finds its own voice until the very end. It’s a skilful, lovingly made product, but it is unmistakably a product, and the best games in this genre all feel like genuine adventures.”
“Fun and clever (if sometimes frustrating) puzzles, beautiful open world, few bugs unlike most games that launched recently and just a really chilled out game to relax with,” says Widey85. That final boss tho?
“Its actually pretty good if you remove the dialogs,” says Zhephyr. Burn.
45. Genshin Impact
What we said: We didn’t review it!
Themightyant did though: “Taught me a lesson that FREE does not have to be either bad or low quality. AAA experience in a free to play title. It would likely challenge #1 if it was finished and sold as a complete £60 game + DLC without all the predatory MTX.”
What we said: We didn’t review it!
“PC-only games often get short shrift, but this is an absolute belter,” says MarkMarkYepMark.
Zteve agrees. “No other game melts time like Factorio. You sit down at say 8pm and before you know its 5am and you are planning your next science. Had to bench it to play other things but will return to launch that rocket I am sure.” Email us when you do, Zteve!
43. Mafia: Definitive Edition
What we said: “The wider result, then, is one of wasted opportunity, a cardinal sin in ’30s USA – the land of it, lest we forget. There are good moments in Mafia: Definitive Edition, some good times and some fond memories – I stand by my love of the radio, the rain patter, the cars, when you’re not driving them – but the rest is at best nostalgia, which only goes so far.”
“A remake that turned out to be incredible and was a surprise after the release of Mafia II and Mafia III left expectations lowered,” says YCoCg.
Jphpue: “I loved the original back in the day. Now this is the one to play if you want to experience Angelo’s story. Gameplay really benefits from modern tech and mechanics. Plus the story though simple, does what it needs to do.”
42. Gears Tactics
What we said: “There are moments in which Tactics does manage to be the successful marriage between Gears of War and XCOM that you might have hoped for, but as a whole package, I’m not convinced it’s ever quite as good as that. I applaud it for experimenting with some brand new ideas, as well as providing another solid entry point into the turn-based strategy genre for those who’ve not been convinced in the past. But with the likes of Enemy Unknown and XCOM 2 having paved the way before this, Tactics had some big shoes to fill and not even Sid Redburn (who looks to be a size 16, at least) could quite manage it for me. But that execution mechanic! What a fantastic idea.”
“An interesting change of pace for the Gears series,” says Paul_ynwa. “A great strategy game which diversifies Gears and shows that you can inject fresh ideas to a 14-year-old franchise.” Now we feel old, Quizmos.
41. Tetris Effect: Connected
What we said: “It’s almost unfair, really, to take a game that was already so fearsome and sort of find a bunch of ways to make it even more interesting and dynamic and maddening and beautiful. Whenever I think of Tetris Effect – and Tetris Effect: Connected, which again, I should reiterate, contains the original game as well as the multiplayer stuff – I think of Laniakea, which serves as a map to the campaign screen and is also the supercluster that is home to the Milky Way, the Great Attractor, and so many other billions of glittering wonders and fancies. Load up Tetris Effect and it always shows you where we live. And in playing it, it continues to show us a little something about who we are.”
“More of the genius same, guys come on.” You don’t need to convince us, Pandrewh.
“With a brilliant mix of longer game modes, short-sessions types and tactical online Zone multiplayer-mode, Tetris Effect Connected may just be the best Tetris game… ever.” You don’t need to convince us, Scarbir.
40. Spelunky 2
What we said: “Deep breath. Thinking about 1-1 in the original Spelunky makes me feel very lucky to be encountering the sequel right now, at the start of it all. The first Spelunky is a game of secrets, which means that for the last decade it’s been a game without secrets – everything about this world is known and categorised. But a sequel? It’s lovely to stand on the windy precipice again, knowing, even after 20 hours, 30 hours, that you cannot yet know even a third of the things that await. It’s the difference between bingeing a Netflix series and the exquisite, intoxicating agony of waiting a week for the next episode on BBC 2. Intoxicating agony? That sounds like Spelunky. What an astonishing mechanism this is.”
“One of the deepest games ever written, I could play this for the next decade without getting bored.” Testify, BellyFullOfHell!
“Still playing this every night even though I kinda hate it,” adds Flippyfloop, enigmatically.
39. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim
What we said: “I think of this kind of ridiculous entertainment as absolutely essential, especially within games, because the craziness is driven by a desire to go all out. Movies and games both have reached a technical ceiling where it’s really difficult to surprise audiences on a technical level, so the surprise lies in delivering unguarded, enamouring passion instead. This, above all else is why 13 Sentinels matters to me so much. Being Kamitani’s passion project, two games in one made by a game of just 29 people, simply reminded me of the effort that goes into making a game. It’s easy to forget about, what with developers and publishers shrouding the whole process in mystery, before we as players tend to automatically compare whatever we play with the biggest thing already out there. That way of thinking makes it difficult to enjoy the feats of ingenuity on display. A Sentinel slowly hulking onto the screen fills me with the same awe here as it would in a blockbuster movie, knowing Vanillaware’s programmers had no idea how to design such sequences, but they were so essential to the vision for the game they took years to figure it out. It’s a good reminder that taking risks and trying new things takes a lot out of even the most seasoned team. The noticeable effort to create a mix of familiar and the new makes it Vanillaware’s best game to date, and one of my favourite games of the year.”
Folie has me wanting to play this: “Best Narratives, plural? Most Narrative? Such an unexpected delight, and in ‘Seaside Vacation’ has the best pop song released this year.”
“Don’t know this game, please replace it with A Monster’s Expedition: Through Puzzling Exhibitions. How could you forget a game deemed Essential!!” says Erwie.
38. Destiny 2: Beyond Light
What we said: We didn’t review it!
“Although you have to do hours of reading and become a full on Destiny lore nerd to get up to speed on the meta story of Destiny, the writers on this game are absolutely phenomenal,” says CaffeineCanine. “Also freezing someone in PvP and shattering them into a million pieces is immensely cathartic which is something I need in 2020.”
I want to mention here that CaffeineCanine also included XCOM: Chimera Squad in their favourite games, so this is clearly a person we should listen to. Don’t give coffee to dogs, though.
37. Super Mario 3D All-Stars
What we said: “Perhaps all you need to know is that this is the best commercially available way to play two of the most magical, magnificent and downright essential video games in the medium’s history (and to play Super Mario Sunshine too, of course). They’re works of fascinating detail, exquisite design and an abundance of ideas – which makes it all the more baffling that Nintendo couldn’t replicate any of that when bundling them all together.”
El_pollo_diablo: “SM Galaxy is amazing.”
Saybootsy: “Bounced off 64 because of the controls, am yet to touch Sunshine, but the inclusion of a Galaxy remaster makes this a masterpiece regardless.”
36. Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition
What we said: “Like so many of Takahashi and Monolith Soft’s games, there are signs of compromise, but conversely there’s so much more besides. The original Xenoblade Chronicles, with its scope, size and superlative world, still stands as the best in the series yet, and there’s been no better way to play it yet. Rest assured if you love the original as much as I do, there are plenty of reasons to return. And if this is your first time playing Xenoblade Chronicles? I envy you, because this truly is one of the greats.”
“The game I played the most this year, an improved version of an already epic game,” says Gintoki. “But I feel bad putting it over new games.” Don’t feel bad! The heart wants what it wants. Happy Christmas.
“I’m just happy that Nintendo as a whole is giving this incredible RPG the shine it deserved on the Wii, and added some good QOL improvements that makes a must-have,” says Kenwesleyjr.
“It’s only a re-release of the best game on the Wii with some added bells and whistles. I remember playing this shortly after being disappointed with FFXIII and Mass Effect 2 (wanted more RPG, less combat) a good ten-odd years ago, only to be blown away by an absolutely astounding classic JRPG in full 3D. It’s just brilliant.” That’s Apocra, who rather spookily was a commenter on game 36 of last year’s list. This time we’ve spelled the name correctly though. I hope.
35. The Outer Worlds
What we said: “I don’t hate The Outer Worlds. Rather, what I hate about it is that it’s sufficiently unhateful that you can spend 30 hours playing it without noticing. It’s solidly-made enough that you keep hanging around in the hope of something more, like a layer of catchy percussion that never quite escalates into a song. I guess to sum things up, I would like two features to be added to the game. One is a powerful suction cannon with infinite extra-dimensional storage, so I can just gather all the loot in one fell swoop. The other is the option to hand off dialogue decisions to one of my companions, because I have no strong feelings either way, comrades. Let me do clean-up in the background, hosing down the level’s crevices with one earbud in, following the conversation absent-mindedly. According to my own character’s backstory as a janitor, that’s exactly the part I was born to play.”
Maybe Tomkuryakin can explain this landing at 35: “Like Fallout in space, but better. And Parvati and SAM.” Fair enough.
34. Dragon Quest 11 S: Definitive Edition
What we said: “I’m not going to admit I was wrong, but…”
Xoxzo again, with a lovely comment: “Not since the glory days of the PS1 have I enjoyed an RPG as much as this. It’s a vast game which is in no rush to reveal its secrets and it maintained my interest until the end.” What more could you want? Sold!
What we said: “It’s a great show of what Thunder Lotus as a studio excels at, and a mix of contrasting genres that, despite occasional lengths, somehow just works. A pseudo-farming sim on a boat! What a concept.”
Adnauseum was moved: “A game has never made me cry before, but end of the story with the grandma character destroyed me.”
Everyone was moved! Here’s PyD: “I DARE you not to get really emotional at Alice’s journey in this utter delight of a game. A dedicated hug command is EXACTLY what this hell year needed.” That and a vaccine!
32. Borderlands 3
What we said: “You’ll likely have seen – or even experienced for yourself by now – that Borderlands 3 is everything Vault Hunters loved about its predecessors. It’s hard to imagine how, technical issues aside, existing fans could not find more to love about this latest iteration, but that could also be said for fans who didn’t like its predecessors. But whether you believe it’s giving the fans what they want or a dazzling lack of ambition – evolution or revolution, in other words – Borderlands may be polarising, but it’s back nonetheless: bigger, better, and more unapologetic than ever.”
Naetharu is still on board: “My best mate and I have put in around 100 hours and we’re still going. The storytelling is better than ever and the combat is amazing fun once in a party. Bl3 feels like the game the franchise was always struggling to be.”
Consoledelight was delighted. (I was consoled.) “BL2 is one of my fave games ever, and this was a great follow up, shame the villains couldn’t live up to Handsome Jack, but the game stands on its own.”
31. Horizon Zero Dawn
What we said: “Horizon Zero Dawn is a work of considerable finesse and technical bravado, but it falls into the trap of past Guerrilla games in being all too forgettable. For all its skin-deep dynamism it lacks spark; somewhat like the robotic dinosaurs that stalk its arrestingly beautiful open world, this is a mimic that’s all dazzle, steel and neon yet can feel like it’s operating without a heart of its own.”
“Best game I played in 2020,” says Anrkist. It’s not even the best game with “horizon” in the title?
What we said: “There’s real ambition on show and the beginnings of some very big dreams.”
“Only going to get better as time goes on. An awesome game/tool where the creative get wild. The inclusion of VR was amazing,” says Cancelthatambulance, who is going to have to explain that name.
Tielo is similarly delighted: “The game that keeps on giving as a ton of content is created. Myself I love to make music in this game and even that aspect is very, very deep.”
29. Wasteland 3
What we said: “Wasteland 3 is a no-holds barred teardown of the American Dream, a parody of a nation that is now beyond parody. It is a satire you get to direct, and I heartily recommend doing so.”
Jimr9999us breaks it down nearly: “Great writing, impossible choices, and outstanding tactical combat put Wasteland 3 on my list.”
Thesnowman is also on board: “Such a fantastic game with amazing writing that genuinely made me laugh and decisions that made me pause to think. Best RPG I have played in years.”
28. Nioh 2
What we said: “Nioh 2 is a work of immense skill and scale, but Team Ninja’s next project needs to be more about changing things than adding them. After all, no amount of equipment buffs can protect you against the element of surprise.”
“Team Ninja’s combat is so fun and very satisfying,” says Fatoomalajmi.
Raziel was equally satisfied: “Currently on Dream of the Wise (New Game x 3) after nearly 400 hours. I’ve seen pretty much all the game has to see, but I still get the itch to start it up again all the time, just for how satisfying the combat is. That’s how good it is.” Imagine making this game and reading that comment – you would be happy for hours! This is what it’s all about.
27. Gears 5
What we said: “Will Gears 5 rekindle Gears of War’s glory days on Xbox 360? I doubt it. But The Coalition has finally stamped its personality on the series, even if it’s taken a few missteps along the way. Gears 5’s campaign reminded me just how much I love a good Gears of War campaign. I’m not trying too hard. Gears isn’t trying too hard. We’re holding hands, safe in the collective knowledge we’re in this together, and it’s going to be one hell of a ride.”
Gears 5 was worth it purely for a brilliant office-wide argument about what constitutes good graphics. Anyway, here’s Beatleben: “It is Gears with all the action that you expect. Though best is that it is free with Xbox Game Pass and all the addtional content just keeps coming.”
” Finished the year very strong, and is my go-to game for the Series X.” That’s Blimpers. We’ve finished the year very in need of a proper lie down, so this is good to hear.
26. Resident Evil 3
What we said: “I can’t shake the feeling the Resident Evil 3 remake was rushed – as its original was. Now that’s an unfortunate parallel.”
Karlsavage is anything but savage here: “Not in the same league as RE2 Remake but, hey, I’ll always take more Resident Evil! I’m old enough to have played the original and I really enjoyed my time with this, brief as it was. Staaaaaarrrrrssss!!”
25. Crusader Kings 3
What we said: We didn’t review it!
Nobody is going to put this better than ThatWindowCleaner: “So in-depth it’s unreal. The longevity of this game is crackers.”
24. Star Wars: Squadrons
What we said: “Over the last week I’ve spent every day raring to get back in the cockpit (and I’ve developed a frankly worrying amount of bloodlust in my desire to hunt down players in my TIE Interceptor). When played with friends, dogfights are a scramble of yelling and hunting down specific players, resulting in some extremely silly battles with plenty of crashes. If you have a VR headset, this game is something that has to be experienced, both for the rush of competitive multiplayer and the mood-building of the story campaign. Squadrons is a bit of a bumpy ride, but it can be a thrilling one – and this bucket of bolts will get you there in the end.”
“Oh! Long have I waited for a worthy successor to the X-Wing / TIE Fighter games of the 90’s!” Forsooth, G-VideoDIe! “I may have only come for the single player campaign – and it may have been shorter than I’d have liked – but what a joy to be back in the cockpit of my childhood star fighter fantasies once again!”
“Atmospheric, dark wonders,” says King_Of_Shovels. King_Of_Shovels actually said this about last year’s 24, but it’s a keeper – and who would argue with a king?
23. Persona 5 Royal
What we said: “If you’ve never played Persona 5, thanks to much of the optimisation this is certainly a safe bet. But Persona 5 Royal doesn’t so much feel like a definitive edition and rather a game made for fans who get excited about collectibles like the Will Seeds or additional Persona, or who are thirsting for new interactions with characters like the twins, who were previously largely neglected. Sadly it doesn’t add enough to justify another playthrough.”
“Best game there is.” That feels definitive, rAv3nScReAm.
22. Yakuza: Like a Dragon
What we said: “Yakuza: Like a Dragon is a good game – sometimes it’s okay, sometimes it’s great, sometimes it made me groan. It runs the full gamut of emotions, from boredom to disbelief. The will to reinvent itself is there, and that means not everything works – whether you’ll enjoy it or not depends on what aspects you care about the most.”
Strange_powers was impressed: “It’s been the year of Yakuza, and having it topped off by a wonderful new spin on my favourite series has been a treat. Like a Dragon is up there with series highlights like Zero and Judgement.”
21. Tony Hawk’s Pro-Skater 1 +2
What we said: “Most importantly, it feels incredible, the risk/reward implicit in trying to chain together a seemingly endless list of tricks combining with good old-fashioned score chasing for a mix that’s as compelling as it’s ever been.”
“Most pleasant surprise of the year. Utopia if you were a late 90s/2000s teenager.” That’s Hairy_Mochan. Reading Wolf Hall presently, so that Utopia thing has made me think about Thomas More doing ollies. The bastard. “He would kill you for an error in your Alley-oops,” etc etc.
20. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
What we said: “Deep down, Battle Royale belongs on TV at 7pm on a Saturday. In between a Simon Cowell putdown and the revelation that there’s nothing in the fridge except chicken dippers of unknown provenance. Battle Royale belongs to the Expanded Cheggers Universe, and finally here is a game that knows it.”
“Well, they did a spectacular job with this,” says octavedoctor. “I can’t think of anything more uniquely fun and positive to play online. Battle royale’s Takeshi’s Castle. No killing, no bullying, just pure fun. I love it and my kids do too.”
19. Forza Horizon 4
What we said: “Another sumptuous, endlessly entertaining automotive playground, but its shift into ‘shared-world’ online gaming is only a partial success.”
“The best open world game ever, and I don’t even like driving games,” says tomkuryakin.
“Why is this even on a 2020 list?” asks robthehermit. “I played a lot of it this year and loved it, so why am I complaining?” I don’t know, Rob, I don’t know.
18. Call of Duty: Warzone
What we said: We haven’t reviewed it!
“This is all I have played!” admits GitSomE_UK, without any sign of remorse. “I’ve other games but this just keeps drawing me in. I love the pace, the setting, the tie-in with Modern Warfare. Not since Battlefield 4 have I enjoyed a multiplayer shooter so much.”
BarrowBloke closes: “Getting repeatedly killed by 12-year-olds has never been so much fun.”
17. Streets of Rage 4
What we said: “For too long I used to think the beat ’em-up genre died a death all those years ago for good reason, and that this was a brand of game best left alone in the 90s. With its improvements, embellishments and above all reverence for the originals, Streets of Rage 4 makes me realise the error of my ways…”
“Finally!!” blurts mfnick. “Totally worth the wait, and the sequel Streets of Rage 2 deserves – let’s forget about 3. Probably the best brawler released since SOR 2. Just clicked in a way no others have.”
“Surely one of the best sequels of all time?” posits DangerousDave_87, dangerously. “It’s true to the original material, it’s full of fan service – it brings back Adam! It has the original composer on the team (and sounds amazing), it looks absolutely incredible and they’ve managed to flesh out the combat and increase the replayability of the formula. A genuine surprise.”
16. Among Us
What we said: We haven’t reviewed it!
“There’s no doubt that Among Us is a standout hit,” declares SnikrepJ. “An absolute blast to play with friends – I’ve learned a lot about how each of them lie – and excellent fun with the right public lobby too. Among Us deserves all the praise and fortune it’s received this year, and maybe a little more for good measure.”
“Saved lockdown for my young son,” adds G-VideoDie, “for whom this game was a happy introduction to online multiplayer gaming.”
15. Death Stranding
What we said: “As the credits roll on Death Stranding, heavy with unearned pathos, the impression you’re left with is of a self-congratulatory monument to the ego of a creator who is high on his own supply. Has Kojima always been this full of it? Maybe. But then you return to the game proper, select a humble delivery order, lace up your boots and plan another reckoning with those unforgettable, haunted moors. And you realise that this game has got under your skin in a way few do.”
“I loved it,” says HONKHONK. “Though it is often difficult to explain exactly why I loved it as I shouldn’t have found a loooooooooong digital walk (occasionally slipping on rocks) to be so engrossing.” We hear you, Honkster.
“A very different experience to anything I’ve seen before,” adds Lt_Manning. “Something much needed more often.”
14. Half-Life: Alyx
What we said: “The more I played of Alyx, the more I thought about how VR and Half-Life were made for each other.”
I feel almost guilty picking this because so few people will be able to play it,” says marmaduke, “but it really is everything you could want from VR. It’s immersive in a way that nothing else has been; it’s terrifying, it’s frantic, it’s beautiful. It’s even genuinely funny. Nothing else this year has been able to compete with it, and I suspect it’ll be a long time before anything does.”
13. Ori and the Will of the Wisps
What we said: “When unfettered by freezing, it’s an unmitigated pleasure to play, and an even greater joy to behold. If it could just sort out its technical troubles, it just might be one of the best things you play all year.”
“Just beautiful,” says matt2099. “And way harder than I like to admit.”
“This made me cry,” adds aldude. “Again.”
12. Spider-Man: Miles Morales
What we said: “Insomniac’s second crack at Spider-Man retains the breathless energy of the original, but ends up a lot like Miles Morales himself – still fresh on its feet, a little awkward in places, but steadily growing into itself. It’s a game that’s full of character, and a tremendously likeable one it is too.”
“Insomniac have nailed the Spider-Man game, and this Miles Morales story shows they have range,” says SpartanSpur. “A more grounded, coming of age story with a real sense of heart in terms of both family and community. Another game which feels perfect for 2020, this time through bringing more racial diversity to superhero games at a time where it is valued more than ever. I couldn’t have wished for a better start to the PS5 era.”
11. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
What we said: “It is a Viking saga which does at times struggle a little in reaching its destiny, and in its efforts to evolve the series has made some sacrifices to tell a stronger overall story. But it wins through, in the end quite easily, as it continues the Assassin’s Creed saga for a new generation.”
“As we’re not really supposed to go out these days due to Covid, it was really nice to be able to assemble a hoard of my closest Viking pals and go for a few wild nights out in my home of Essex,” regails Rodimus-Prime. “A few meads with the boys before painting the nearest town red. Just like real life, only with a significantly more impressive beard than mine.”
10. Doom Eternal
What we said: “Doom Eternal leaves me undecided. The game is fundamentally the 2016 reboot again with new props, and its dogged commitment to Doom’s narrative universe is as baffling as the firefights are exhilarating. Is this really all Doom can be, nowadays – a cascade of collectables, unwanted cutscenes and the spectacle of a gurning demon face, forever?”
“The added fluff over the fantastic previous game is largely a pointless distraction. They need to get back to focusing on Hell,” caws Bergraven. “But the general gunplay and mobility are superb, and the climax suitably spectacular. Like God of War reminded us a while back, big things, if they’re big enough, are ace!”
9. Microsoft Flight Simulator
What we said: “Over the past month or so, Microsoft Flight Simulator has sent me on a spiral of discovery, exploring the world as well as the often mundane, frequently magical detail of air travel, my appreciation of what Microsoft and Asobo have achieved growing all the while. When it all comes together, this thing can be as uplifting as flight itself.”
“Incredible,” says SiroccoJetProp. “No other words needed.”
I was hoping for a few more.
“MSF gives us the whole world to play with, literally!” adds GamesConnoisseur. “Need I give more reasons than that?!”
I suppose not…
“How serendipitous that a game about flying comes out in a year that nobody is allowed to fly?” Good point, mickjohnson.
Ah, here we go, the definitive word on the game, if you can understand it. “Probably the most next-gen of next-gen games in this gen.” Thank you, ukaskew37.
8. Astro’s Playroom
What we said: “While promising a glimpse of the future, Astro’s Playroom is a gloriously old-fashioned thing at heart, a characterful, character-driven platformer that has been built to showcase a particular piece of hardware. So often that’s where magic in video games happens, and that’s most certainly the case here. On its own, this is a beautifully crafted, exquisitely paced and absolutely gorgeous 3D platformer. Combined with the hardware it’s bundled on, it’s something very special indeed – and one of the best launch titles I can remember in an age.”
“Free is the best price,” says samharper, “but I’d have paid for this one. Brief but beautiful, it makes you want to 100-per-cent it with all the nods to PS past. PlayStation Home! The GPS add on for the PSP! The mural which says ‘Vita equals Life’, which is surely some cruel joke from the developers!
“I love how the game doesn’t shy away from the many, crazy missteps and failures of the past. Every 30 seconds there’s a reference to a game, both old (Vib Ribbon, Ridge Racer) and new (Ghost of Tsushima, Death Stranding). That’s before we even get onto it being one of the best 3D platformers I’ve played that doesn’t say Mario in front of it, and all the cool DualSense features that make it difficult to go back to a PS4 game. Sublime.”
I think it’s safe to say they liked it.
7. Demon’s Souls
What we said: “How do you make peace between a game whose legend was forged through its downbeat double-A mysteries, through its obliqueness – and bleakness – and this, a thumping great triple-A powerhouse of a thing? I’m not sure you can, not that it should impact your enjoyment of it at all. This is a full-blooded roar of a remake, and if some of that original enigma’s been lost it’s been replaced with a spectacle befitting of a big ticket console launch. Demon’s Souls was the ultimate cult game, a thing of strange beauty and outrageous challenge. With this remake, in all its splendour and explosiveness, it’s proven to be just as adept as an amped-up, jaw-dropping blockbuster.”
“If Astro’s Playroom showed off the DualSense controller, then this was the game to show off the PS5’s technical prowess,” buzzes Killerbee. “Astonishing visuals married to the classic Souls gameplay. It has been a horrible privilege to see this world reinvented for a new generation.”
“I quickly bounced off the original and found it abstruse to the extreme,” admits SILIC0N_SURFER. “But now, with Dark Souls 3 and Bloodborne under my belt, I finally see the light! A classic game dressed up in stunning new visuals and a framerate bump for a silky smooth experience, which makes me genuinely happy this is my first real journey through Boletaria.”
6. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
What we said: “It presents a world absurd in its mundanity yet shot through with magic, offering an escapism that’s reassuringly dependable. I just hope you weren’t planning on playing anything else this year.”
RickDeckardsGun sums up the power of Animal Crossing this year: “A game that basically got me through the toughest times of the pandemic and lockdown, my life away from the reality we sadly find ourselves enduring.”
“This game is pure meditation,” agrees THEREISNOGOD1 (no need to shout about it). “The perfect game for the 2020 blues.”
“Tom Nook can do one though.” Exactly, jonbwfc. Well said.
5. Cyberpunk 2077
What we said: “Honestly, it’s a dilemma. Technical issues are often passing, but what lingers is the lack of readiness, in the wider sense. The lack of requisite care. The story is a marvel, as is the sheer, red mist hostility of the world that houses it. The promised depth of systems are there, but mishandled. The maturity – and recall CD Projekt describing Cyberpunk, on announcement, as “a mature RPG for a mature audience” – is often not. Maturity in the immature sense, maybe: the teenage idea of it, that ‘maturity’ equals Rated M and can be found in nakedness, coarseness, blood and guts, when in actuality it’s closer to something like the forced perspective gained from time. My lingering impression of Cyberpunk 2077 is of a game that’s shouting over itself, relentlessly at odds with its own creative voice. Amidst it all, the nuance that does exist in Cyberpunk 2077, the intense, intoxicating humanity at its heart, is so nearly engulfed by all the noise. But I think I can still hear it, just about.”
“Look,” levels Teapot89, and what a bizarre thing that is to write, “I know this game is currently pretty broken, but nonetheless I can’t put it down or stop thinking about it once I do. No other game could have crashed 15 times and made me immediately fire it back up. I just want to live in its horrible world and drink it all in.”
“Probably the biggest step forward for first-person RPGs since Oblivion,” reckons Thedni. “Super- immersive world full of great characters and memorable moments. Not one to play around the family, though. Boy there is a lot of nudity.” I can only imagine how this comment came to be.
What we said: “This game comes from Hell, and it takes you back there, and it’s brilliant. Get in.”
“Hades has an interesting and moving tale to tell, and does it with heart and confidence while mixing one of the best combat and progression systems any Roguelike has ever had. Excellent art, perfect sound design, and great studio practices and work environment. To me one of those games that shows what video games can be.” Preach, Palsina, preach!
“Number one with a bullet,” declares PyD, using a phrase I’ve never heard before. “Nothing of any scale this year has been so polished and dense and satisfying. Emergent and immersive gameplay. Stunning art, gorgeous music – gods damn that duet is stunning – tender writing, incredible breath of options for tailoring difficulty. Supergiant’s best so far, and it gives me such tingling joy to be able to add the ‘so far’ modifier with confidence.”
3. Final Fantasy 7 Remake
What we said: “One of the worst things about the Final Fantasy 7 Remake is how long we’ll have to wait for the next instalment – and the other thing we can’t talk about for fear of spoilers. But I feel safe in saying that, for the most part, the Final Fantasy 7 Remake gave me everything I was looking for. What I think it got right another fan may disagree with, and that doesn’t mean either of us are wrong. Changes have been made, but the core essence and spirit of Final Fantasy 7 has been preserved brilliantly. Will it still be enjoyable and accessible to newcomers? That I can’t be so sure of, but I believe so. What future instalments have in store, who knows, but this Remake gives us some beautiful moments in a universe some players have spent 23 years falling in love with. That alone is pretty special.”
“When I was young, FF7 was almost an obsession,” says liketoseeyoutry, and we do like to see you try, “so I got chills just seeing the start screen with the Buster Sword. Despite some magic ghost nonsense I feel they really nailed the remake.”
“An astounding remake,” echoes davidesalvadori. “Endlessly enjoyable, with some quietly inventive spins on the story. It never forgets why we fell in love with these characters in the first place.”
“Looking forward to a more refined and even thirstier follow up.” You tell them, Hunam.
2. Ghost of Tsushima
What we said: “I maintain that Ghost of Tsushima is still, largely, quite fun.”
“Went into this game pretty exhausted with open world games,” says SyruM, “thinking I would play it for a little and just get bored. I have spent so many hours into this game now. There is such a love and respect for the setting and source material. From the really strategic and satisfying combat, to the eye watering vistas – even constructing haikus is a great change of pace from skewering Mongol invaders.”
“Seems like Sucker Punch said, ‘Fine, if Ubisoft won’t make the feudal-Japanese Assassin’s Creed game everyone wants then we will,’ and then made the best Assassin’s Creed game I’ve played since Black Flag.” Well, it’s hard to argue when you put it like that, TheMightyEthan.
This remark by Solegor, on the other hand… “To be honest, I’ve not played it yet, but this is mostly due to the lack of free time. But it looks really great from what I’ve seen and they added 60 fps mode to the PS5 back-compat so I’ll use that now!” You’re not the only one excited about playing this on PS5.
Let’s let D4RC sum it up. “Stunning, gorgeous open-world game with Samurai – what’s not to love?”
1. The Last of Us Part 2
What we said: “The thing that really struck me – and pleasantly surprised me, coming as it does from a developer so transparently in love with the language of cinema – is that The Last of Us Part 2’s power is wholly unique to it being a video game. There is a special kind of empathy that develops between a player and a game protagonist that no other medium can reproduce. It’s this bond that Druckmann and his team have exploited to such devastating effect. It is a sad and timely reminder of the simultaneous importance and impossibility of living someone else’s experience. Play it, and listen.”
“Utterly gripping from start to finish,” says Killerbee. “A masterclass in interactive storytelling, and a deep character study into grief, anger and hatred. It was a tough game to play at times, but undoubtedly my highlight of 2020. At least it made the shambles of a world around us in real life seem not so bad!”
“During the final battle, for the first time in my 30 years of playing video games, I didn’t know who I was controlling, and I didn’t care. Absolutely genius storytelling,” declares dr_faulk.
“Astounding in many ways,” adds Girboon. “Dialogue, story, animation, graphics all shoehorned into old playstation hardware and delivered in spades. If only all game developers had Naughty Dog’s eye for detail and programming abilities. A game that had lasting emotional attachment.”
It was, as glanserunar sums up, “A wonderfully dreadful experience.”
Wonderful stuff! All done! Happy new year everyone! May it bring you all the very best!