Surprisingly, most of them weren’t delayed
As is our yearly tradition, around this time last year I asked the Destructoid staff to name their most anticipated games for 2020. Despite all the problems we saw last year and all the delays, most of the games on that list actually made it to retail. And some of them were big, like, moves-more-than-20-million-units-on-a-single-platform-in-just-a-few-months big.
Of course, there was one game absent from that list our readers continually pushed us on: Cyberpunk 2077. Given how that game ended up upon release — I have full confidence in CD Projekt Red to crunch that game into excellence over the next year or so — it’s probably for the best it won’t be listed below. Last thing we need is to kick off 2021 with people arguing that we’re not being nice enough to a broken game.
Big or small, before we let 2020 go for good, I wanted to give our writers a chance to look back at the games they were most excited for last year and tell us how they turned out.
It missed its release date, but after seeing what happened with Cyberpunk 2077, I’d rather wait than have a product that’s not ready for retail.
Resident Evil 3 turned out well, I think! Read our review! Goodnight everybody! Wait, I should probably say something here…
Well, Resident Evil 3 turned out well! I ended up talking about it quite a bit after launch with several community members, including our own Jordan Devore. It got its tendrils in us even after the first clear, to the point where we couldn’t stop messing with Nemesis for a while; trying to figure out new ways to best him.
No, it’s not quite as flashy as the Resident Evil 2 remake, but it helped augment Resident Evil’s spot in modern gaming history alongside of Resident Evil 7. This series is far from dead.
Last year I was filled with anticipation for Deadly Premonition 2, for better and for worse. Specifically, I wondered if “Now that Swery has established himself as something of an ‘outsider auteur,’ will he be in the headspace to make a game that’s legitimately ingenious, so-bad-it’s-good, and everything in between?” The answer ended up being yes… and no. Deadly Premonition 2’s highs are extremely high, and its lows were dreadfully low, and that’s coming from someone who didn’t care that the game’s low frame rate constantly reminds players that the world they’ve entered is low budget and fake.
The real problems with Deadly Premonition 2 come from its bouts of self-awareness and related indecision on what to do with it. At times it feels like one of the movies Tommy Wiseau made after he saw people laughing at The Room, the ones where he tried to be funny on purpose but refused to actually improve on some of the stuff that was legitimately painful about his work. Likewise, on the one hand, Deadly Premonition 2 tries to replicate the decidedly unintentionally funny stuff from the first game, but this time with a nod and a wink, and on the other, it seems to reject legitimate criticism over its handling of some characters from marginalized groups. You can’t really have it both ways.
Still, I was really happy to get to revisit this peculiar little world, skateboard in hand, whistling through the quaint country streets of New Orleans. Like Agent York, the lead of the series, Deadly Premonition 2 has a good heart, and it really understands people. It just doesn’t always treat them very well.
I wasn’t ready for Spelunky 2. I thought I was – we had so much time to prep! – but I wasn’t.
In many ways, Spelunky 2 feels like a remix of the original game’s essence. It’s an attempt at reigniting the highs, the lows, and the a-ha moments that players experienced the first time they went up against Spelunky 1. In retrospect – and now that I’ve reached the capital-e End – I think it’s genius. But initially, my feelings were mixed. I thought it was too familiar and, dare I say it, too hard. It didn’t fully click.
The sequel has since been rebalanced with numerous patches, and certain elements, including a long-winded boss fight and a hard-to-see one-hit-kill trap, were altered for the better – but the Spelunky 2 experience at launch on PS4 and PC was, at times, bewildering. Two words: cave moles.
The first area felt shockingly deadly, even for seasoned players who knew what to look for. It was tough to survive the early gauntlet, much less get through Dwelling unscathed (and sufficiently prepped for future threats). Depending on how deep you went down the “true ending” rabbit-hole, things only got more demanding and intense. Brainstorming how to reach mysterious murmured-about areas and fill in missing pages in my journal was one of the most enthralling things I did in a game in 2020. These discoveries were so satisfying as a solo activity – I loved seeing how much I could figure out alone with my pre-release copy – but I also greatly enjoyed watching the pros solve big secrets live on-stream.
Spelunky 2 is an unconventional sequel, one that took me a long time to truly appreciate, but I’m glad it turned out this way, and I’m glad I stuck with it. I’ll still be thinking about this game years from now.
I was filled with anticipation last year for Sakura Wars, and I was not disappointed, because how could I ever be disappointed for Sakura Wars?
Admittedly, the game wasn’t the best game of the year or even the best Sakura Wars game. The switch to an action-based format and some clear signs that the story wasn’t quite finished when they decided to release (they had to put the plot’s continuation into an anime series that aired right after) dampened the impact of what could’ve been a truly glorious revival for the franchise.
But still, it was enough. It had good music, good characters, and possibilities for the future, which, frankly speaking, was almost too much to ask in one of the most crap years in memory.
Yes, I know I probably shouldn’t have put my faith into a Steam Early Access passion project like My Summer Car, but it seemed like a done deal. It wasn’t, however, as developer Johannes Rojola is still putting the finishing touches on it, so it completely missed 2020. The last full update was in May, but work continues to march on in the experimental test branch.
Maybe this year will be the magic year. Maybe.
I had absolutely no doubt Streets of Rage 4 was going to be fantastic. The timing was right, the trailers had looked phenomenal, the project took its sweet, sweet time to be finely tuned, and it had the pedigree of three excellent studios purring under the hood. I would have bet money on the success of this long, long, long-awaited sequel. And I would’ve won.
Streets of Rage 4 is a wondrous work, capturing the neon-wash visuals, smooth beats, and satisfying face-breaking action of the ’90s Sega Mega Drive classics and bringing them bang up to date with luscious hand-drawn visuals, cool new characters, and a super deep fighting system that, admittedly, was a little misunderstood by some of the game’s detractors. For most genre fans, however, SoR 4 revitalized a classic franchise – and genre – while raising the bar for the future old-school gaming comebacks
The only other entry from last year’s list of our most anticipated games was Animal Crossing: New Horizons, but do we really need to tell you how that one turned out?