Welcome to my own personal Game of the Year awards. Though 2020 has been the most challenging year of my entire life, ironically, choosing my 10 favorite games was no sweat at all. What I love about my list this year is how accurately it represents all of my favorite genres with only a few exceptions. This year I enjoyed triple-A big event games, live service looters, arthouse games, and a few VR titles. I don’t have any honorable mentions, but I do have a short FOMO list. I didn’t get around to 13 Sentinels, Paradise Killer, or Five Dates, and I think there’s a good chance some of those would have been top ten contenders.
The last thing I’d like to say before jumping into the list: there is no single game that defined 2020 for me. Looking back over the last few years, Disco Elysium, Return of the Obra Dinn, and Prey each made such a huge impact on me that it’s difficult to even remember what other games came out the same year. This year, however, I never found one game that transformed me. Instead, I’ll treasure all ten of these games for how much they helped me cope with the challenges and horrors of 2020.
Doom Eternal is such a bold game. Doom 2016 was a massive success; not only did it modernize Doom, but it also resurrected the arcade shooter. No one would have blamed id for making a straightforward sequel with a few more bells and whistles — but that’s not what they did. With Doom Eternal, id took a huge risk by reinventing Doom again. Eternal’s combat is so complex that it’s practically a puzzle game. A lot of people think of Doom as a nice way to shut your brain off and rip some monsters in half, but Eternal is incredibly demanding. Not everyone liked “the thinking man’s Doom,” but I really appreciate how far the developers went to make a truly one-of-a-kind game. Eternal set a new bar for video game sequels.
Destiny 2: Beyond Light
Beyond Light had a lot to overcome. A year ago, most people still believed Destiny 3 was on the way, per the original release schedule under Activision. When we learned that we’d be getting Beyond Light instead of Destiny 3, we also learned that its release would coincide with a huge chunk of the game disappearing into the Destiny Content Vault, as well as a new sunsetting system that made practically all of the good weapons obsolete. It was a tough pill to swallow, but we were assured by Bungie that it would be for the best. Beyond Light needed to be good enough to make up for everything the game was losing, and in a lot of ways, it did. The first month of the expansion felt like a never-ending buffet of fresh content, and even now as the season dies down, I’m still grinding away and having the time of my life. Europa is a fantastic location, the new raid is one of the best ever, and the new Stasis subclasses are a blast. Destiny 2 is in its fourth year, and it’s only getting better and better.
If ever there was a killer app for VR, Half-Life: Alyx is it. As the resident virtual reality stan at TG, Alyx is probably the game that inspired me the most this year. Everything technically impressive about major tentpole games like The Last of Us 2 and Ghost of Tsushima pales in comparison to what Valve did in creating Half-Life: Alyx. Perhaps Alyx is ahead of its time, or maybe VR will never find mainstream success, but if you haven’t played this game and you are physically able to, you’re missing out on not just an incredible experience, but a historically significant moment in gaming. I really can’t stress enough how much I hate to see Alyx get left out of the conversation because it’s a VR game. It’s an extraordinary game that pushed the entire medium forward in a big way.
Journey To The Savage Planet
I’ve intentionally blocked out almost all of 2020, but I played Savage Planet in January, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it ever since. I had no idea how much I needed a game like Savage Planet until I was several hours in and realized what it was. It felt like tasting a new flavor for the first time. Journey to the Savage Planet pulls heavily from Metroid Prime but does more than enough to establish its own identity with tone and art direction. I’ve played through Savage Planet three times now, and there’s just something about the cadence of exploration and upgrades that hit the reward center in my brain like a Mack Truck. Savage Planet is the most underrated game of the year.
Kentucky Route Zero
This was the hardest review I ever had to write. Kentucky Route Zero is such a hard game to talk about because it’s so emotionally evocative, yet narratively obscure. It’s a surrealist experience that uses dream logic, music, and symbolic symmetry to express a multitude of themes that resonated strongly with me and seem to resonate with everyone that plays it too. It’s an exploration of the human condition that I think is worthwhile for everyone to give a few hours over to. It’s meant to be experienced and felt more than it’s meant to be understood, I think. Kentucky Route Zero is something I plan to revisit often.
The Room VR: A Dark Matter
I’ve been obsessed with this series for years. The first three The Room games are probably my favorite mobile games. I love puzzle boxes, but I’ll likely never have one of my own because, as you can imagine, they have to be handmade and they’re incredibly expensive. The Room VR lets you solve some of the best puzzle boxes ever created using your own hands. The series translates so well to VR and A Dark Matter plays to all of virtual reality’s advantages. One of my favorite puzzles in the game requires you to change the orientation of the box before shrinking yourself down and navigating pathways inside the box. It’s the kind of game that reminds you that there are actual genius-level developers out there, and they’re creating game experiences you could never have even dreamed of.
Rocket Arena is an excellent competitive game that was D.O.A., thanks to poor monetization. It’s still an active, live service game with seasonal updates and new content, and it may be doing better on PlayStation, thanks to its recent inclusion in PS+, but it doesn’t seem like Rocket Arena will be able to grow a healthy player base at this point, which is a shame because it’s genuinely a great game. I’ve included it here because I want to celebrate games that take risks and try to do new things. Rocket Arena has everything it needs except players.
The Last Of Us 2
Unlike Cyberpunk 2077, The Last of Us 2 somehow delivered on every bit of hype it had built up over the years. There’s plenty of negativity around the game’s story and characters, but I think most people would agree that technically and mechanically, TLOU2 is remarkable. It’s difficult for me to turn off my critical eye when I play games, because I’m always looking for things to critique and write about, but this game swept me away in its giant setpieces, edge-of-your-seat combat, and fully realized characters for hours on end. I don’t know if my heart can take a second playthrough of TLOU2, but I may never need to either. It left a big enough impression on me that I don’t think I’ll ever forget climbing down through that highrise building or riding the horse through that burning village, or any of the hundreds of other moments, both big and small.
Until You Fall
The last VR game on this list is my personal favorite. Until You Fall is quintessential VR. You use your full body to play, it’s great in short sessions, it’s easy to learn but hard to master, and its visual style is unparalleled. Until You Fall is the first VR game I recommend to almost everyone, and no one has ever been disappointed. It’s one of the best roguelike games I’ve played because it offers an exceptional balance of progression and variety. This game sets the bar for melee combat in VR.
Star Wars: Squadrons
I said at the start that every game on this list was equally special to me, but Squadrons is definitely the game that gave me the greatest feeling of uninhibited joy this year. I played dozens of hours of PvP in VR with flight sticks, and I have to imagine I had the biggest smile on my face the whole time. Boosting between asteroids before dumping power into your weapons to gun down an enemy TIE fighter is a blast each and every time. Immersion is a term that gets thrown around too much, but the Squadrons experience is so narrowly focused and fine-tuned that you can’t help but feel like a real fighter pilot when you play it. When I think about the game that gave me the most carefree fun in 2020, it’s definitely Star Wars: Squadrons.
READ NEXT: TheGamer Editors’ Choices Of 2020 – Cian Maher
- TheGamer Originals
Eric Switzer is the Livestream News Editor for TheGamer as well as the lead for VR and Tech. He has written about comics and film for Bloody Disgusting and VFXwire. He is a graduate of University of Missouri – Columbia and Vancouver Film School. Eric loves board games, fan conventions, new technology, and his sweet sweet kitties Bruce and Babs. Favorite games include Destiny 2, Kingdom Hearts, Super Metroid, and Prey…but mostly Prey. His favorite Pokémon is Umbreon.
Source: Read Full Article