What is your favorite game of 2020?
This time last year it was Final Fantasy VII Remake, which delievered so much in terms of nostalgia and I’m still relistening to the soundtrack. Am planning to go back and play through the Intergrade DLC. However, a year later, I think Hades was the best game of 2020. I had played Hades in 2020 but not as ardently as when it arrived on Gamespass. I think last year I rated Spelunky 2 over Hades as a roguelike, there may have been an element of trying to be a contrarian there. I’ve not really gone back to Spelunky 2 this year but Hades became a mainstay each evening. The way in which the story and characters unfold to you the more and more runs you do, is what really sets it apart from other roguelikes. Though I think Returnal did some really cool thing this year.
Did you grow to appreciate any games of that year? Doom Eternal was my number 3 last year, it took a while for me to appreciate the game even in 2020 but it did all click with me and become one of my favourites. Having gone back to it this year on harder difficulties as well as the DLC, my appreciation of it as one of the most frantic action games has only hardened. I want to say more people got more onboard with Doom Eternal this year, there was a kind of renaissance for it once you got away from the initial hype or release where I think everyone was expecting a game similar to the 2016 reboot but got first person Sekiro. Other shooters this year like Halo felt really repetitive the further you got into the game, but the sheer variety of enemies and the tactics you need to employ to beat them the more you progress into the game is what keeps it so fresh. I also Necromunda: Hired Gun, which has some Doom Eternal vibes in it’s speed and movement, but those things are sorely lacking when fighitng off all the enemies, which just feel so dull and unanimated in comparison.
I’ve been going back to Cyberpunk 2077 lately and really been enjoying the side quests in that game. I’m running it without many technical errors on PC. I find myself walking everywhere in Night City, because it has such a bustling ambience to it. I guess it still exists as a game that only those with the right hardware can probably enjoy. Which sucks.
I also recently got an Oculus Quest 2 and Half-Life Alyx is the best VR game out there. It feels so good to play an actual Valve game. I feel like an ape interacting with mundane objects because the controls and the physics of that game are just so immersive.
What games did you or others sleep on that were worth the return? 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim was my number 2. I think a lot of people went back to it at the start of this year, but it’s still great. So densely layered a story and beautiful to look at.
I would also recommend The Pathless believe it launched with the PS5 but is also on PS4. It’s a journey esque action adventure game, quite a simplified but gorgeous artstyle and this beautiful feeling of movement.
Austin talked a big game for GOTY 2020 Umurangi Generation I went back to it at the start of the year and it’s phenomenal. It definitely would have made my list had I played it in 2020.
What games were the underdogs of 2020? Umurangi Generation for definite. I’d also say 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim should be more popular. I still think of Paper Mario: Origami King and smile.
If you could summarize 2020’s year of games, how would you? 2020 was such a landmark year that I think will become a universal milestone in people’s lives. There was your life before 2020 and then your life after 2020. It was a great time to sit down and play some games obviously, but it was such a hard time watching the state of the world seemingly decline with you unable to even leave your house without fear of catching COVID.
I was lucky enough to keep my job whilst others got furloughed or got made redundant. It definitely made me question the time I was spending not just in my career but also games as well. Having nothing to look forward along with the large uncertainty of everything was such a big psychological drain that led me into games into a bigger way than ever before. I’m not 100% sure how healthy that was, but what else could you do? You couldn’t go out, meet friends or even go out on dates with people. So I enjoyed the time I had fully immersed in playing FFVII remake and breaking the backs of particularly difficult fights in Doom Eternal.
I think 2020 certainly reinforced my love for games as a medium but also the need to stand apart from them, games can’t be all, as there are other things I want to do with the time I have in my life.
How does 2021 look in comparison to 2020? I think 2021 has been better generally for games. Bowser’s Fury counts as a new Mario game. I’m amazed some of the bigger games turned out so well after years of development hell - Halo Infinite, Psychonauts 2 and Metroid Dread were all fantastic. Some other suprises, Guardians of the Galaxy and Returnal were games I enjoyed quite a lot. In terms of indie games, it’s been hit after hit this year too, Death’s Door, Griftlands, Loop Hero, Boomerang X, Sable, Toem, Omno, Axiom Verge 2. I have particularly fond memories at the start of this year playing Valheim with my friend group. I don’t know what it is about the game - I think it’s the hugeness of the world, it’s painterly aesthetic that makes it very chilled out, the fact that for the first time in a game, you are doing that epic Fellowship quest to the other side of the world and have to manage it accordingly.
Haven’t even played Inscryption yet, either!
And how much do you think the global circumstances of 2020 influenced games for you? As I alluded in the 2020 section, I think 2020 questioned the time I spent with games more than ever. This year I have definitely divorced myself from the zeitgeist. I’ve become more patient. I’m less inclined to buy every new game as it comes out and more inclined to wait for sale prices or for games to become available on games pass. I have an impossibly large collection of games both digital and physical and I’ve gone back to a lot of games this year - earlier GBA Metorids, Halo Reach, Symphony of the Knight. All of these have been influenced by newer releases obviously, but I feel an appreciation for the older games is definitely growing stronger and I guess I’m thankful how much games are being reappraised through platforms like games pass.