2020 Year-In Review: Top 10 Games of 2020


Now that I have made the list of my honorable mentions (you can read it here), it's time to talk about the ten games that made an impact to me in the year of our Lord, 2020.

Without further ado, here is the list:

TOP 10 GAMES OF 2020

10. Resident Evil 3

2019's remake for "Resident Evil 2" remains one of my favorite survival horror games of all time. The amount of care and detail Capcom poured into a remake which puts many new game releases to shame is something that has stuck with me, and left me craving for so much more. Thankfully, Capcom was able to slightly satiate my hunger by releasing a remake of what I've learned is one of the more polarizing entries in the series, "Resident Evil 3". I'll be upfront and say this remake doesn't reach the highs from "Resident Evil 2", and in some ways it is a step backwards by being a game more focused on the action than the tension filled moments of the previous game. Despite this, the level of quality in display still continues Capcom's level of commitment to remaking their classics in a proper way, and more often than not, my battles with Nemesis provided me some of the most fun moments I had with a game this year. With that said, I'm hoping the eventual release of a "Resident Evil 4" remake takes what they've done with these remakes to another level.

9. Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time

In the year of our Lord 2020, not only was a brand new "Crash Bandicoot" game announced, we actually got one that was actually really good and probably even better than the original PS1 trilogy created by Naughty Dog. "Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time" actually reminded me a lot of 2017's "Sonic Mania", in which a group of what are obviously very passionate fans of the original games understood what made the original games sing, and made a sequel with that understanding while modernizing the feel enough to work as a game in 2020. The sheer amount of creativity in display in the game's 10-12 hours brought me so much joy, even with the classic "throw your controller off a window" difficulty spikes which are a trademark of this particular series. I'm so glad how against all odds, Crash Bandicoot seems to be relevant again, with actually good games being released after a decade mostly filled with duds after the Naughty Dog trilogy. 

8. Destiny 2: Beyond Light

As a huge "Destiny" fan, I will be the first to admit 2020 hasn't been all honky dory for my favorite hobby game. As the first full year where Bungie is now in full control of the game after the Activision break up (which took out the supporting studios that helped them), Year 3 of "Destiny 2" has shown both the strengths and limitations their new found freedom brings to the game, with Bungie experiencing new growing pains as they experimented with their new seasonal model. At the very least, with the start of Year 4 and the new expansion "Beyond Light", "Destiny 2" feels reenergized with the introduction of its brand new play space and the introduction of the game's first ever darkness subclass "Stasis". The sheer power and change of play style the new subclass provides makes "Beyond Light" the most excited I've been with "Destiny 2" since 2018's "Forsaken" expansion, even if objectively speaking its a less sprawling expansion when faced with Bungie's new development reality. While growing pains will continue to be a thing with this game (as seen with the mess the game's PVP has become with the new subclass, the weird connection issues that have plagued my experience with the expansion and coping with the game vaulting so much of its previous content), the sheer core of the "Destiny" experience continues to be so good, which still makes this my "live service" loot game of choice. And with two more expansions to come in 2021 and 2022, the future of "Destiny 2" is still something I'll look forward in anticipation. Also, special kudos to this year's raid.

7. Doom Eternal

In 2016, iD Software released their long in-development reimagining of "Doom", and completely shocked the world with one of the better shooter campaigns in years (less said about the farmed out multiplayer, the better). Even if it was a little long in the tooth, iD Software nailed a reimagining which put "Doom" in a unique position amongst a crowded shooter genre. For what it was trying to do, "Doom (2016)" was pretty much pitch perfect. With "Doom Eternal", iD found itself in the weird position of "how do you improve on what was basically perfection", and went and added so much to both the game's benefit and it's detriment. At its highest highs, when the new combat expectations and updated sandbox click into place, this is one of the most intense and rewarding shooters I've ever played, where I often let a huge sigh of fulfilling relief when conquering it's insane combat encounters. At its lowest lows (like when the Marauders enter the fray midway through the game), I'm dumbstruck at how iD added things which disrupt what makes the game so great. But despite iD's head scratching decisions, the high highs of the  fundamentals they nailed with "Doom Eternal" still make this one of my favorite experiences this year, even if overall I think I prefer the 2016 game. Despite that, this was indeed (pardon the pun) one hell of a ride. 

6. Ori and the Will of the Wisps

In 2015, no game enraptured me quite like Moon Studios' "Ori and the Blind Forest". Here was a game that took one of my favorite genres (2D "Metroidvanias") and fused it not only with one of the most evocative art styles in modern gaming, but an incredibly touching, minimalist story of loss and hope with an aura of mysticism which reminded me of my favorite PlayStation 2 game of all time, "Shadow of the Colossus". Combined with a rousing musical score I still hum today, as well as incredibly tight, challenging yet rewarding platforming gameplay, "Ori and the Blind Forest" remained 'til this day my favorite experience on the Xbox One. 5 years later, "Ori and the Will of the Wisps" comes out and gives me a similar experience like I had with "Doom Eternal": here is a sequel with so much added to it that makes it a better "videogame" than it's predecessor, while also adding enough to sacrifice a bit of what made the original game so special. The added gameplay and "quality of life" improvements make "Ori and the Will of the Wisps" a much more fun game to play than its predecessor. At the same time, the story told here didn't have the same emotional pull the first game had on me, and additions like quest logs and chatting NPC's took away from the ethereal, lonely quality of the first game. Still, the improvements to the game side of it made this an incredibly rewarding sequel to see through to the end, and many things I loved from the first game were still here. It may not make its way to my "all time favorite games" list like the first game did, but "Ori and the Will of the Wisps" was still an excellent game and one of my favorites in 2020. 

5. Final Fantasy VII Remake

As someone who has respected what the "Final Fantasy" series has meant to gaming, I myself have never been someone you would consider a "hardcore" fan. Turn based RPG's have never really been my thing, so dabbling into entries like "Final Fantasy X" and "Final Fantasy XIII" (the first entries I played) didn't exactly do much for me. Ironically, the very divisive "Final Fantasy XV" was the one to click with me because of its more action-like setup. Thankfully, the action style for this series fulfilled its potential with the release of "Final Fantasy VII Remake". In the over 30-40 hours I put into this thing, I was so pleasantly surprised at how well Square Enix managed to make an action game mixed with some of the turn based systems at the core of the "Final Fantasy" experience which mixes the best of both worlds. Despite this game only taking place in Midgar (which is said to be the opening hours of the PS1 original, which I wouldn't know since I never played it), with only a couple of misgivings and a really strange ending, I'd say Square Enix more than delivered with being able to make a full game out of a section that was just a small piece of what's supposed to be a very sprawling game. Whenever "Part 2" releases, I hope it's just as well made and fleshed out as this first part was. 

4. Ghost of Tsushima

Released at the perfect time in the middle of summer, developer Sucker Punch's sprawling samurai open world game felt like the perfect world to be immersed in during the midst of a COVID lockdown summer season. The best compliment I can give to "Ghost of Tsushima" is that it is the samurai "Assassin's Creed" game Ubisoft just refused to make, and now I wonder if they will ever do it because Sucker Punch just nailed it with how they embraced their inspirations with samurai films (particularly the Kurosawa kind). And on top of that, later in the year they released a fully featured multiplayer mode with "Legends" that in a way felt so well developed it actually put many "live servicce" games to shame. I've recently become vocal about how tired I've become this generation of open world games thanks to the endless glut we've gotten the past few years. The sheer fun of being a samurai that was both honorable and dishonorable, and the sheer beauty of its colorful open world helped "Ghost of Tsushima" side step my general malaise with this kind of game, enough to push me to earn my Platinum trophy. While I'll always have a special spot for Sucker Punch's previous series "Infamous", there's no denying they stepped it up with "Ghost of Tsushima". Can't wait to see how they evolve it with the sequel. 

3. Hades

For the better part of almost 2 years, I kept hearing how good "Hades" from Supergiant Games (makers of "Bastion", "Transistor" and "Pyre") was just from its early access period on PC. Hearing it was a rogue-like (a randomized kind of endless game I'm not too fond of based on previous experiences) dampened my excitement for it a bit, but getting to play the full game when it released on the Nintendo Switch, I was incredibly enthralled by just how incredibly good it was. The incredibly tight gameplay loop and the quality of its writing transcends any misgivings I may have had over it being a randomized rogue like, and it's so well developed that doing different runs always gives me enough story telling meat that leaves me awestruck with how cohesive it manages to feel in its randomization. And the endless setup makes this the kind of perfect "forever game" I've been looking for the Nintendo Switch since I exhausted everything about "Super Mario Maker 2". "Hades" is the perfect example of a game being so good it can convert people into a genre they may not be too fond of, and on a pure "gameplay" perspective, I don't think there was a better game that came out this year.

2. Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Considering some of the more...unsettling things that happened in 2020 around June, I can't think of a more timely game that was perfect for this time like Insomniac Games' "Spider-Man: Miles Morales". In a year where the idea of proper representation mattered and the need for uplifting hope was in high demand, kudos to Insomniac Games for being able to release a follow up to their 2018 hit that delivered exactly on that. "Spider-Man: Miles Morales" is a perfect representation of the studio taking all the good ideas that worked in the first game, jettison a lot of the criticism, and deliver a tight package that didn't overstay its welcome. In a generation so full of bloated, padded out open world games, "Spider-Man: Miles Morales" left me satisfied with its tightness compared to the slightly more bloated 2018 original, and giving me a character I fully connected with to the point where I'll be annoyed if I don't get to play as him in the full fledged sequel that's still to come. Yes, I wish there were more boss fights, but the way this game comes together with what it did focus on, makes me love this game even more than it's excellent predecessor. And even though I played the PlayStation 4 version, I can't imagine a better way to start the PlayStation 5 generation than a game of this caliber at the launch of a new console. 

1. The Last of Us: Part II

Here's the big one. 

The one I can already see I'm gonna get so much flak for in some areas of the internet.

I don't think there was a game on 2020 that caught as much inflammatory discourse like Naughty Dog's "The Last of Us: Part II". Being the follow up to a game many voted the best game of last generation, a lot was riding on this one. And instead of delivering the expected, Naughty Dog took the hardest possible road you could possibly take, and made a sequel ready to take so many big swings. Swings that would ruffle some feathers and wouldn't make everyone happy.

If the idea of parallel realities was a proven thing, I wished I could take a peek into the alternate reality where "The Last of Us: Part II" actually came out without catastrophic leaks making their way into the internet almost two months before release. A lot of the negative discourse surrounding the game hinged heavily at the severity of the leaks and how many managed to twist a lot of the leaks and said things that simply ended not being true or exactly as "leaked". While there was no way this game was going to come out and simply please everyone based on Naughty Dog's big swings with its story, it still makes me curious about what the discourse would have been had it naturally come without the leaks.

The toxic discourse is so unfortunate because taken by itself, I don't think I played a game in 2020 that left such a big impact on me like I did with The Last of Us Part II. 

From a gameplay perspective, I did appreciate a lot how much Naughty Dog improved the basic combat mechanics from the first game. This is hands down the tightest playing game Naughty Dog has made since the switch to more realistic fare. Stealth in particular got some great QOL where I enjoyed the thrill of sneaking around and skipping many of the combat scenarios the game would allow me to skip. But ultimately a modern Naughty Dog game lives and dies by the story, and it's a story that ultimately left an indelible impact on me after taking a bit to make its point. 


I have to admit, when the game was mainly focused on Ellie's story of revenge after the murder of Joel at the hands of Abby, I initially didn't find the story as enthralling as the first game. Yes, I had enough motivation to keep going and get revenge against the people that bashed Joel's skull with a golf club. And when the opportunity came, I did relish a bit executing a lot of these jerks. But in-between the carnage, I was missing some of the pathos from the first game, and initially I only got anything resembling that with the flashbacks with Joel intertwined in Ellie's section of the game. But then the big bait and switch happened halfway through, where now I get to play with Abby. 

This was a section I initially dreaded, cause the idea of playing a character I had such a drive to get revenge on seemed ludicrous. But the longer this section went on, the more I realized everything that gives texture to a story about the effects of revenge in life came together in Abby's section. Through the trials and tribulations I went with Abby, I never came to love her, but I came to understand where she was coming from and became very invested with her plight. Even when I switched back to Ellie near the end, the game gave me huge levels of tension and had me on the edge of my seat with how the story was gonna go with both, and the conflicting set of emotions over the final hours that culminated in the gut-punch of an ending stuck with me for weeks even after rolling credits. 

Are there problems with this game? Absolutely. In true fashion with this generation, I feel the game probably was a few hours too long for this kind of game. And in a way, some of the moment-to-moment writing wasn't as tight and polished as the first game. But for the kinds of big swings the story took, it really resonated with me in the end, and it's emotional moments hit me in a way no other game this generation did. It was aided by my love for the first game and how it ultimately managed to justify its existence as a sequel. And it's divisive nature means you can find well deserved criticism online.

In the end, I can only speak for my experience.

For my money, I can't think of a more impactful game I played in 2020. 

Written by Alejandro Segovia


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