10. Tell Me Why

If anyone here still remembers the podcast Click Click Play, a long-running joke throughout the podcast’s run was how much Andre & I loved Life Is Strange. There was definitely a lot of truth in that yet Tell Me Why has surpassed anything that Dontnod has previously released. Despite not being hugely impressed with the lack of meaningful choice in the game, having an emotional and powerful story with a trans lead character, all without resorting to deadnaming or other cheap tactics cumulated in a standout game in terms of representation and trans storytelling.

9. Immortals Fenyx Rising

Immortals isn’t going to win any awards for its plot or style, but it was one of the most enjoyable games I played all year. It is a 3D open-world, action, puzzle-solving game that leans so heavily on Breath Of The Wild and Assassin’s Creed it feels like an odd parody. Luckily, it also improves upon Zelda’s lack of dungeons and Assassin’s Creed’s often dry recreation of history with a humorous tale of Greek gods and an endless number of activities to take part in. It does become a little grindy later and I ended up dropping the difficulty to defeat the last boss, but now that I’ve unlocked New Game+, I’d be surprised if I didn’t load it back up one Sunday afternoon when I’m in the mood for some mindless entertainment. 

8. Spider-Man Miles Morales

It took me a fair few hours to lift my jaw from the floor after playing this game on release day. Despite an overcast, miserable wintery setting in New York, the game is stunning and not only to look at. Web slinging through the city in 4K at 60fps as you chase after supervillains has never felt better. It’s easy to compare this to the previous game as ‘more of the same’ but Miles Morales is a much more relatable and fascinating character than Peter Parker and with the game only lasting around 15 hours if you go for the platinum it never overstays its welcome. The constant addition of new activities and abilities also makes it a joy to play from start to finish.

7. If Found

With the Annapurna Interactive publishing seal of approval, I knew I couldn’t write this list without playing If Found and, as you can see, I’m delighted I waited. This is another incredible game released in 2020 with a trans narrative yet done in a unique and powerful way. Players find themselves progressing through the story by erasing notes from a diary and experiencing the relationship your character has with those around them. This is accompanied by a climactic score which builds up as the game progresses and will leave an impression on anyone playing it. If this sounds like your cup of tea, grab some headphones and lock yourself away for a couple of hours – you won’t regret it. 

6. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim

Another game with a unique visual style and gameplay is Vanillaware’s latest masterpiece, 13 Sentinels. It went pretty much unnoticed last year – an article on Polygon alerted me to its existence and I’m so glad I checked it out. Split into what is basically story/combat/encyclopaedia, you can flit between whichever mode you wish and whichever character’s story you wish to explore. I found myself being grabbed by one character and then jumping to play as another after encountering them in the chapter. It’s also far from being just a simple visual novel – you’ll have to find the ‘correct’ path through each character’s timeline, and I found the repetition helped me really get to know each of the sentinels in the game. Although the combat wasn’t too complex and at times a little repetitive, it was a welcome break from the text-heavy story portion of the game and by the time I’d played a few rounds of the real-time strategy I was ready to jump back into the lives of the 13.

5. Astro’s Playroom

Opening your new console and trying out all the games on the demo disc especially back in the PS1 and PS2 days was always a delight. Nowadays, however, demo discs have pretty much disappeared and Sony has decided to give every PS5 owner a full game instead. 

Astro’s Playroom was something I started while other games were being installed and downloaded but I found myself so fully absorbed I ended up ignoring Demon’s Souls and Spider-Man until I’d seen Astro’s end credits. Bursting at the seams with nostalgia and fantastic gameplay, the game manages to show off the full power of both the console and DualSense controller and I should have expected no less after being developed by the team behind one of the best VR games of all time, Astro Bot Rescue Mission. 

As a platformer it ranks up there as one of the most memorable but throw in that it was free to all PS5 owners and contains bucketloads of replayability, this is one of the best launch titles I can think of.

4. Ghost Of Tsushima

Weirdly enough, this was never going to be in my top 10. I played it at launch and it felt far more style over substance and I just couldn’t get into it. However, roll on November’s free PS5 patch which boosts the game to 60fps and it feels like a totally different game. Spinning the camera around without the action blurring, all while enemies attack from all sides is something this game drastically needed. Sure, it’s stunning and the screenshots you can make are out of this world, but the complexity of combat, in which you don’t even lock onto an enemy, requires split second timing and camera control which the high framerate mode was designed for. 

The main story explores Jin’s main tale but the real storytelling lies in the Tales Of Tsushima. This anthology of sidequests is split into multiple chapters spread across the island, giving them so much more depth and personality than ones found in a traditional Ubisoft-style open world title. Even minor points of interest are unique, ranging from speedily chasing a fox to relaxing in a hot spring and the utterly stunning beauty of composing a Haiku.

It would also be wrong to omit the fact that Sucker Punch also released a free patch with a co-op ‘Legends Mode’, which has taken critics by storm. I’ll be sure to play it soon!

3. Microsoft Flight Simulator

With Death Stranding as my 2019 Game Of The Year, another game involving journeys and travelling being high up on my 2020 GOTY list probably wouldn’t have surprised you, but here we are. MFS has been released and it’s a technological masterpiece. Being able to fly to any point in the world as the game loads an accurate replica of the towns, cities and terrain below you with a phenomenal amount of detail is simply breath-taking. My PC isn’t that beefy, and it certainly struggles on medium settings but this is one I’m going to go back to again and again, especially with the Jetstreamers podcast and hopefully a PC upgrade later this year.

2. Final Fantasy 7 Remake

I gushed about this game endlessly with Ed on our Split The Screen Game Of The Year Podcast (which it won) and I’ll repeat what I said then: How on earth they managed to make a game of this calibre and got it running so well on a PS4 is beyond belief. Everything from the character models to the world environment (minus a few odd textures) is simply exquisite. Add to this a soundtrack that is so impressive I imported a physical copy of it from Japan and a combat system which blends the original turn-based method with a slashy FFXV/Kingdom Hearts style, and you can see why this is for some the greatest game of the generation.

1. Animal Crossing: New Horizons

It’s hard to deny that Animal Crossing has been the one game that’s defined me on Twitch. Back when the game was announced and the reaction videos were at their peak, I had zero interest in playing and didn’t quite understand what everyone was so excited about. I wasn’t even sure how anyone found any enjoyment in what appeared to be a live-on-an-island simulator and I decided to pre-order Doom Eternal instead. However, after an hour of Doom Eternal (meh) I switched over to Animal Crossing for its midnight launch and was immediately hooked. It provided a place where I could chill and get lost in at a time when the UK lockdown had taken effect and allowed me to connect with friends all over the world. In addition to the endless tasks and real-time activities, such as being able to collect fish or bugs at specific times of the day, the game eventually allows you to be incredibly creative. I found success in incorporating game shows and other activities that brought people together for competition or a laugh (the roasts were quite something!) and it helped me get through a very tough lockdown with relative ease.

It’s also hard to overstate how much Animal Crossing has changed my life. I was a variety streamer with a full-time job, who’d flit from game to game without any consistency or direction, yet 2020 changed all that. I streamed over 1,350 hours of Animal Crossing New Horizons and grew a community initially through our passion and addiction to Animal Crossing but sealed through shared experiences in a Discord where we bonded over pretty much anything. Through this growth and an invitation to the Twitch Partner program, I was able to take a huge reduction in hours at work and devote a larger part of my life to making my streams as enjoyable as they could possibly be. 2020 introduced me to friends I know I’ll have for life and it’s purely because they found my channel through the Animal Crossing directory and it’s why I’m going with my heart and making Animal Crossing New Horizons my 2020 Game Of The Year. 

Honourable mentions

There were a couple of games I loved but didn’t play enough of to include on this list. The first was the critically acclaimed Hades. I was a late convert to rogue-lite games, but Dead Cells really grabbed me, and Hades is no different. I’m yet to complete a successful run (Theseus, I’m coming for you) but each attempt is enjoyable, unique and ultimately rewarding. 

The second game I poured 20hrs into but never came close to finishing was Nioh 2. I adored the previous game, and this is very much more of the same. Being able to customise your character from the start and the introduction of new mechanics and levels with completely different themes made it stand out as its own game. I await the PS5 release with anticipation!

I had the opposite experience with The Last Of Us 2. I completed it in 3 days at release and streamed it from start to finish. As someone who wasn’t head-over-heels with the original, there was a bit of an emotional disconnect with the main characters so certain points in the game didn’t impact me as much as it did others. However, the game is visually stunning and despite some well published missteps, did a lot for LGBTQIA2+ representation and deserves at least an honourable mention. 

What were your top 10 games of 2020? Feel free to let me know in the comments!

1 thought on “Game of the Year 2020”

  1. I’m so happy you introduced me to Spiderman! A game I would have never picked up but that was definitely my surprise of 2020 😎

    I thought you would’ve liked Doom: Eternal.. hmm. I’ll follow you up on that 🤔

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *