GOTYLY 2021: Game of the Year Last Year (2020)

2021 still feels like the aftermath of 2020 in a lot of ways. The prior year was devastating for so many of us in countless ways. So much happened in 2020 that it would have been easy for great releases to slip under your nose. And 2021 was a perfect time to catch up on them.

Let’s look back to 2020, the prequel to 2021. If your memory needs jogging, here’s a huge list of things that came out!

What is your favorite game of 2020? What was it at the time, and what is it now? If it’s changed, what caused you to change your opinion?

Did you grow to appreciate any games of that year? Alternatively, did you sour on any games? Did more time with, distance from, or new perspectives on a given game change how you enjoyed it?

What games did you or others sleep on that were worth the return? It’s always hard to keep up with all the releases, so a lot of us ended up playing last year’s best in 2021. What about you?

What games were the underdogs of 2020? With so many incredible titles, there’s no doubt that some of them are getting overlooked. What games just don’t get the love they deserve?

If you could summarize 2020’s year of games, how would you? Was it good? Bad? An antidote? Were there trends or themes you saw crop up in the games of 2020?

How does 2021 look in comparison to 2020? Does it look better or worse in juxtaposition? Or does it look only slightly different? Or entirely the same?

And how much do you think the global circumstances of 2020 influenced games for you? Has it colored it in retrospect, or in the moment?

What is your favorite game of 2020? What was it at the time , and what is it now ?

Looking back at last year’s EoY Favourite Game thread ( End of Year 2020: Favorite Game ), I listed Noita as my favourite game, and it actually was finally released out of development in 2020 so it counts here.
(Other candidates were Paradise Killer, also released in 2020, and Disco Elysium, which wasn’t (although ironically, it’s technically eligible again this year what with the Extended Edition))

Ironically, I don’t think I actually played many more 2020 games this year - although I did play a number from 2019… .
I did play a bunch more Noita this year - it’s still very much holding up for me as probably the most enjoyable roguelite of 2020, partly because it’s not burdened by the narrative yoke that Hades put around itself.

Did you grow to appreciate any games of that year? Alternatively, did you sour on any games?

I think I’ve mellowed more on how annoyed I was by the timelimit in Umurangi Generation, although you can also hide it now in later updates so there’s that :wink: .
Oh, and as I expected, I quite liked Fall Guys back in 2020 Season 1 days, but I have absolutely failed to care about playing it at all in 2021. It’s the flash-in-a-pandemic-pan I think a lot of us expected it to be…

What games did you or others sleep on that were worth the return?

Not so much 2020, but 2019: I ignored Outer Wilds (other than the confusion between it and The Outer Worlds), and whilst I couldn’t finish it due to terrifying ocean storm planets, I should probably have played it earlier.

What games were the underdogs of 2020?

I dunno, I kinda feel like I was backing an underdog with Noita, tbh. The “big games” of 2021 were either brash AAA things (Doom Eternal et al) or acclaimed narrative indie things (Hades et al). Noita isn’t really either of them.

If you could summarize 2020’s year of games, how would you?

To me, it felt like 2020 was a very roguelite-heavy year - but I passed on basically all of the AAA games of the year, so my experience almost certainly wasn’t “average” here. It did feel like most of the AAA output just wasn’t very interesting, or was flawed, or just seemed to be designed to require far too much “energetic investment” for the mood I [and possibly a lot of us in 2020] was in.
There’s also a clear signal of “oh gods we miss people so lets play social games” with the surprise Among Us and Fall Guys hits. That’s definitely something possibly unique about 2020 due to the pandemic.

How does 2021 look in comparison to 2020?

I’ve played even fewer games from 2021 in 2021 than I did games from 2020 in 2020 I think… so, for me, 2021 looks like even more “those games from 2018 and 2019 I didn’t get around to…”.

And how much do you think the global circumstances of 2020 influenced games for you?

I mean, I wasn’t commuting at all for most of 2020, so I did try to play some games I could do in bursts to separate out the “work” bit from the “non-work” bit of being in the same house. That’s probably one reason why run-based games, or games with short sections (Umurangi Generation also fits here) feature a lot in my list of games here. [Although they do anyway.]

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Ho boy, this is a long assignment. cracks knuckles

What is your favorite game of 2020? It was Kentucky Route Zero, it remains Kentucky Route Zero. I almost never hear people talk about this game anymore, which leads me worried that perhaps I’m alone on some island, but even a few minutes of remembering all the incredible moments of that experience instantly brings me right back to full-on support. People need to play this thing. It’s wonderful.

Did you grow to appreciate any games of that year? Alternatively, did you sour on any games? I think the only game I’ve had any real reason to reexamine this year was Final Fantasy VII Remake, and that’s because of the PS5 Intergrade version with the Yuffie DLC. Last year it was one of my favorite games, but I think largely out of fandom obligation more than sincere love for that game. The new PS5 fresh can of paint certainly makes that game a lot stronger graphically, it looks more like the thing you’d want it to be. Yuffie’s DLC probably helped more than anything to get my brain to finally grasp the combat system, which I was always very cool on. I think I’m more a fan of this Remake project now and what they’re doing than I was before.

What games did you or others sleep on that were worth the return? Since Umurangi Generation was released on Switch, I finally got a chance to play that and… I’ll be honest, I found it extremely boring. I didn’t find the puzzle mechanic of taking pictures a certain way to be all that satisfying. I didn’t get far enough to feel the story, and didn’t much appreciate having to suss it out from basically still environmental dioramas. The whole thing felt dead and flat, and it looks terrible on the Switch. It wasn’t for me, I’m sorry.

I also played Haven from The Game Bakers and I think that thing is wretched. Oh well.

What games were the underdogs of 2020? Kentucky Route Zero is still an underdog somehow. Released at the wrong time, I guess, or the episodic nature meant people felt the impacts years earlier, I don’t know. I’d also say If Found… a narrative comic game about queer kids in Ireland was very underplayed last year (and not a surprise).

If you could summarize 2020’s year of games, how would you? 2020 felt like the PS4/Xbox era’s butter had been spread over too much bread. A lot of games on the PS4 felt like they were just barely functioning anymore - a lot like how the Switch feels to me, now, distressingly. And still, the next gen consoles was released far too early and the new super cool graphics cards are impossible to find, so I dunno. It’s a lose-lose situation.

How does 2021 look in comparison to 2020? 2021 actually feels worse than 2020 when it comes to the industry’s state of being. This feels like a holding pattern year. A lot of my favorite games this year are just games I’ve meant to play for years like Disco Elysium or Nier 1. I think this is the new normal now, sadly. Games are too big, the pandemic is forever, and that’s that.

And how much do you think the global circumstances of 2020 influenced games for you? I’ve been vaccinated this entire year with a booster, so maybe that is reckless, maybe it isn’t, but there’s basically nothing in life that I don’t do anymore, not since like March. This is more or less a normal year just I wear a mask indoors now. So I ended up outside a lot more, spent a lot more time in the movie theater or on vacation, so played like 200 hours less of video games this year. (And probably spent more money ultimately, I put $60 into Death Stranding and played two hours of it. :V)

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I think it’s probably the latter for many people. (Plus, from the reverse perspective, it meant a lot of the press about KRZ was sort of smeared out over many years, rather than one big chunk of attention grabbing.) I did play KRZ all in one go in 2020 - I was deliberately waiting until it had the “complete all in one chunk” release - although I realise that I completely forgot to mention it in my writeup.
(And I was going to take issue with your assertion that people don’t talk about it anymore … but I guess I just proved you right by forgetting myself!)

Hades. Hades. Hades Hades Hades. Hades? Hades. Honestly I don’t really remember much else of what came out last year. I still have a lot of respect for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (and putting out crossover DLC with Odyssey is 1. a neat idea and 2. a great way to put their best characters in years together and 3. a good reminder to Monolith that Melissanthi Mahut is probably available for all your Wonder Woman needs), but that was more of an optimization of their Origins formula than a major upgrade like Hades was.

In last year’s thread, I said my GOTY was FF7 Remake, but until I looked at my own post, I thought my 2020 GOTY was Nioh 2. I thought that because it’s the best action game I have ever played and it’s my GOTY of this year on Backloggd (complete edition released on PF this year and that’s how I got the DLC). So, I guess yes, my 2020 GOTY did change.

I’m not really following the format for this thread, but the 2020 game I want to talk about is Cyberpunk 2077. Usually when I talk about a game I like, the context is that the people I’m talking to have never played it, have no interest in it, and/or actively dislike it (e.g. Toukiden, a Monster Hunter clone on the PSP). Cyberpunk 2077 is weird because it should be in that same category, but because of the marketing, people seem to think it’s a game that most people will like once the bugs are fixed. I like it because I like Fallout 4 (a famously unpopular game) and Shadowrun and have read the Cyberpunk 2020 rulebook! The story only worked for me because I galaxy brained my way into a headcanon where the poorly delivered voice lines are actually good for the main character’s characterization! I played on hard, which made the combat punishing unless I was good at stealth and hit lots of headshots in combat! Those are niche things that most people don’t like, regardless of whether the game is buggy or not! It’s very strange to talk about a game I like in the context of “Here’s why no one should like this popular game that I really enjoyed” instead of trying to explain what I do like about the game and why other people should try it.

So my 2020 GOTY was Black Mesa, and while I’ve played a couple of games this year that probably would have supplanted it, I stand by that choice. I think what Black Mesa does with Xen finally pays off on maybe Half-Life’s biggest failure, both mechanically and narratively. It brought a bunch of new life to a game that already has an irreplaceable spot in my heart and there’s really no other way I can evaluate that.

That said… Demon’s Souls Remake, had I played it last winter, probably would have ended up surpassing it. I am a Dark Souls 2 stan and Demon’s Souls felt like the game that DS2 is actually a sequel for — it’s moody and atmospheric and vividly spread across time and space in a way the other Souls games never quite reached for me. It does contrast really well — the contrast between the Nexus and the desolate worlds the archstones take you out to, between the whole range of characters you can bring back with you, between the ways that Tendency can actively change maps and levels around you… every inch of it was jus dripping with life, and it utterly consumed me for the few weeks I played it back in February.

Also — this may only be a “game of 2020” because of the remaster pack, but I fell in love with Mario Sunshine, the Dark Souls of Mario games. (I say that jokingly, but also kinda not, because I don’t think any non-Fromsoft game has ever trolled me as hard as Sunshine routinely did, and I loved every second of it.

I will say though, I think I replayed more games from 2019 and earlier this year than I did games of 2020. I finally finished Celeste: Farewell, made it to the secret ending of Enter the Gungeon, replayed Dark Souls 1 and Sekiro, finished King of Cards, since the early part of the year was such slow going with new games, it really gave me time to do some replaying and backlog-filling.

I think it was fairly popular around here so maybe “sleep on” isn’t quite right, but 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is a fantastic piece of science-fiction that I’m very glad is releasing on Switch. Anyone who likes any combination of sci-fi, high school anime, turn-based strategy, visual novels, branching-path games, and every other weird genre mishmash it does should check it out.

2020 seems… sparse, honestly, in hindsight. It’s honestly quite surprising to me how little I think about most of 2020’s games, even the BIG ones like Hades and… well, Hades (and ok maybe Animal Crossing). And Hades is a great game, but the result is a year that feels very sparse in hindsight. The GOTY list I made on Backloggd only has 5 games on it, and one of them is Astro’s Playroom, so… yeah. Solid meh from me, all told.

Compare that to this year, I can rattle off game after game I had an incredible time with. Subnautica: Below Zero, Bowser’s Fury, Metroid Dread, Loop Hero, Exo One, Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion, World Flipper, Returnal (x100) — most of those, had them come out last year, probably could have knocked Black Mesa out of that top spot. That’s not even mentioning Solar Ash, which I am not going to be able to play much more of this year because I’ll be traveling without my PS5 for a bit, but from the first hour alone I can tell would make that list. It’s not 2017 or even 2019, but 2021 was I think a stealthily good year for games, especially in the Double-A space.

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Oh I forgot to mention this since I forgot it was a thing, but since I finally got a PS5 this year I was able to play Astro’s Playroom and it legitimately could have been my Game of the Year last, or might’ve come in with a close second. This is an extraordinarily delightful thing, one of the rare games I wish was longer.

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Genuinely the Pokémon Sword and Shield DLC. I had a great time with that game top to bottom. The DLC is really cool. You’re basically watching Game Freak rediscover how to make interesting dungeons and routes in 3D. I dunno if they will go back to “traditional” Pokémon games in the near future, but I think they would really crush it with the growing pains out of the way. In particular, Crown Tundra is great and makes me optimistic about the future of the series.

Massive caveat: I have played like 3 games released in 2020.

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Hades and Spiritfarer were what I wrote last year, and I still quite like both of those games. I need to jump back into Spiritfarer sometime, I know there was a major update a few months ago. However, since then, I have had a chance to properly play Umurangi Generation and Paradise Killer, and both of these are now in my Top 5 Games of All Time. The story in Umurangi is perhaps my favorite in any video game, and the art and music combined in Paradise Killer has unparalleled vibes.

Of the games I played last year, my opinion hasn’t really shifted on any of them. But I’ve probably only revisited two of them, Final Fantasy VII Remake and Animal Crossing New Horizons. The DLC for FF7R was fun to look at, though I couldn’t play it because [gestures at both my empty wallet and the general PS5 shortages], but I liked it then and I like it now. And New Horizons is done with major updates, and while there’ve been some fun additions, yeah, this game is half-baked. But I thought that last year, too. Not a terrible Animal Crossing, but I’d take New Leaf over it any day of the week.

I did finally get around to playing some Kentucky Route Zero this year, but I’m afraid it suffered by being something I played right after Umurangi Generation. It feels like a much weaker narrative in comparison, though it was still fun. I expected to like it a lot more, so while I didn’t ‘sour’ on it having not played it last year, I was disappointed by it. But maybe the last act will at least bring it back around.

Umurangi, Paradise Killer, Suzerain (December releases are edge cases, so I’ve nodded to it in a few of the threads this year, too) were all worth coming back to in 2021. I think those were at least heard of by a lot of people in this community, though, so if I was going to recommend one a lot of people missed - A Hand With Many Fingers is how I spent one of the best afternoons I had in the past couple of years.

I think 2020 was a pretty good year. Again, two of my top five games are from 2020. But on top of that, Final Fantasy VII Remake really set a new bar for me in terms of what I wanted these more meta remakes to be (and 2021’s Evangelion 3.0 + 1.0 Thrice Upon a Time showed me exactly what I do not want them to be). Hades was basically setting a new standard for roguelites. Lot of great games with heavy leftist themes or narratives; UG, KRZ, AHWMF, etc.

By comparison, 2021 is good but not particularly stellar. I think Inscryption is probably going to be the game that really stands out from this year, when looking back, but I can only judge it on the Waypoint streams since I haven’t played it. Undoubtedly some bangers - Cruelty Squad is definitely another great anti-capitalist game, Xalavier Nelson Jr.'s got a couple of games this year that are bangers (An Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs, Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator, I think he wrote for Skatebird too?). Great year for new takes on Resident Evil 4 (VR, Village).

But I liked the games of 2020 more, overall.

I work from home, regardless, so I don’t think the pandemic particularly affected my gaming habits of the year beyond Animal Crossing being a bit more fun, since that came out at a point where absolutely everyone was in lockdown so getting a few friends over to wish on shooting stars was easy. But I will say the entirety of 2020 probably gave me a permanent -20 Respect modifier to anything to do with the government, capitalism, neoliberalism, etc. (and I can’t say I was fond of them beforehand), so I think a lot of these games with leftist themes are hitting harder than they were before.

But I think this year has had a bigger impact on my gaming habits. The horrors revealed at Ubisoft last year made me say ‘no more Ubisoft games’, and now that I am in the same state with Activision-Blizzard, I am hitting the point of ‘why even play AAA games?’ I still played several this year, and I probably will still play some next year… but I think we’re an EA or Square Enix or Sony scandal away from me just not playing anything made outside of the indie sphere soon.

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My favorite game at the time was Hades. My favorite game from supergiant that really put itself apart from any roguelites at the time. RIch story, characters, and general aesthetic really made this game stick at the time.

The game that I love more now is Kentucky Route Zero. I really loved it at the time, but I didn’t end up talking about it as much just cause a lot of people in my circles didn’t play it. The themes of the game seem to hit stronger and stronger as news of labor and corporate inaction plague the US. Plus you get to play as a cat in the last chapter.

Since I play very few multiplayer games, the multiplayer games I do spend a lot of time with really dwell in my mind. The most recent one of those was GTFO. It is one of the most unique and stressful horror/co-op games I’ve ever played. Discovering new mechanics and enemies with buddies was filled with such joy andterror.

The developer support was amazing during the early access process with a brand new set of missions and goals every couple months (plus new weapons/enemies/areas/etc). I ended up falling off after about 110 hours, but I’m very curious about the 1.0 release because they seemed to have added a lot of content (including story/lore).

Maneater was a game I wouldn’t have checked out if it wasn’t on Gamepass. I didn’t know I needed an open world shark game, but it ended up being such a pleasure to play. I ended up finishing that game in 2 sittings. I also had just finished playing Subnautica for the first time, so I was hungry for aquatic games. It doesn’t have the deepest combat/exploration, but I think the 9 hour runtime was quite fitting for the story and mechanics. The pseudo reality show cut-scenes surprisingly charmed me with its humor and character development.

Ikenfall is my 2020 underdog title (thanks gamepass again). All I knew about it before playing was that it had an 8 bit aesthetic and had the queer Harry Potter setting everyone wanted. I was absolutely won over by its retro style (8 bit style but with the color depth of a 16 bit game) and the mostly chiptune ost was superb. The main cast of characters were charming and complex with character development being absolutely key to the story.

The combat was of the paper mario variety with turnbased moves, limited tactical position, and timed button pressed mechanics. Despite all the character sprites being a very limited resolution, the devs really squeeze out all they can about the animations (which is important for reading enemy attacks for timing). The boss battles get pretty taxing by the end but there’s some difficulty settings to make the timing mechanic more forgiving.

The cherry on top is that you save by petting a cat.

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That’s about it

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What is your favorite game of 2020? I really did have to jog my memory for what came out last year. Time has truly lost all meaning. Anyway, while I’m sure there were indie things I missed, 2020 felt like a nearly-empty playing field for games, with most stuff delayed into 2021. At the time I really loved The Last of Us Part II but I haven’t revisited it since, and wonder how it will hold up to future scrutiny (whereas I did replay The Last of Us just before Part II and feel it still carries itself well).

Did you grow to appreciate any games of that year? Alternatively, did you sour on any games? I remember being heavily invested in Animal Crossing when it came out just as we were going into lockdown (here in the UK) but I’ve well and truly fallen off it. With the release of the final update and DLC I feel like I should jump back in but I’ve got anxiety about returning to my litter-strewn island and lonely villagers - a sentiment I know many share.

What games did you or others sleep on that were worth the return? I was all ready to say “I think I played everything major” until I checked the actual releases. There are a bunch of things I slept on that I still feel an urge to get to - Half-Life: Alyx being a prime candidate… if only I had a VR set up that could run it and didn’t have this frail human body that gets incredibly nauseous in VR.

What games were the underdogs of 2020? I’m gonna say A Short Hike. I think it maybe hit PC in 2019 but it launched on Switch in 2020 and even though it has its champions (like Patrick Klepek) I don’t hear enough people talk about it.

If you could summarize 2020’s year of games, how would you? Bizarre. Delays, scalper-hit next gen launches, and the still-unfolding disaster that is Cyberpunk 2077.

How does 2021 look in comparison to 2020? …still gonna say bizarre, though it does feel like much of the pandemic-related delays and schedule interruptions have either passed or are now baked in. I’m more interested in the stuff happening in the industry than the games themselves, like the burgeoning union movement that finally seems to be catching on.

And how much do you think the global circumstances of 2020 influenced games for you? As I mentioned above for Animal Crossing it was definitely an influence. I started working from home in March 2020 and haven’t been back to an office since. It’s a change that has given me a lot more flexibility in terms of when I play - if nothing else, losing two hours of commuter time every day is fantastic - but also changes what I’ve played, with a renewed focus on multiplayer stuff that came about when I wasn’t really seeing people in the real world anymore.

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What is your favorite game of 2020?
Paradise Killer has stuck with me since I played it last December, but like others have said, I really didn’t play a lot of new games that year.
Did you grow to appreciate any games of that year? Alternatively, did you sour on any games?
My appreciation of Paradise Killer has definitely grown since last year even though I was high on it after finishing it as well. In general though, I think my reactions have mellowed (positively or negatively) on many games I played in 2020.
What games did you or others sleep on that were worth the return?
I haven’t started it yet but ready to jump into Ori and the Will of the Wisps, I loved the first one but for some reason never even considered playing this last year until right now when I see it available on Gamepass.
What games were the underdogs of 2020?
This can probably be said for every year, but it feels like there are always a ton of indie or mid tier games that get overlooked constantly. AAA definitely holds an outsized space, but sometime even a great indie game like Hades can suck up all the air in the room. Hades is a great game, but does it deserve the level of attention in received in 2020? At the expense of maybe less polished but more interesting games? Probably not…
If you could summarize 2020’s year of games, how would you?
I think I have to say “I don’t know” since I played so few new games that year, and had a lot of other distractions going on… For me at least, and continuing this year, I’ve found myself with a bit more time to play, and have really spent a lot of that playing older games or replaying old favorites.
How does 2021 look in comparison to 2020?
I say better. Yeah, the ugliness, and vileness of the industry has been on full display over 2021 and previous years with the Activision, Ubisoft, take your pick of scandals and employee abuse, but that coming into the light is important, and the the push for accountability and unions is really great and important.
And how much do you think the global circumstances of 2020 influenced games for you?
I have a new philosophy towards gaming “video games are garbage, video games are great”. Yeah, really thought provoking, but over the past year or two I’ve found myself drifting away from gaming culture and the news cycle (besides Waypoint and this forum, you guys are great!). Its really lost its place of importance in my life, while oddly enough, due to the pandemic, I’ve found more time to play and have enjoyed a lot of new and old games, but I feel less and less the need to engage in the latest and greatest, and also feel more and more that the importance of games is mellowing in me while other things rise. Overall, despite all the bullshit of 2020/2021, I like the place I am now in regards to my relationship to games compared to where I was in 2019.

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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.

Signs of the Sojourner. That’s my answer to most of these questions.
Game of the year: Signs of the Sojourner.
Underdog game: Signs of the Sojourner.
Slept on games: y’all haven’t mentioned it in this thread yet, so Signs of the Sojourner.
Okay so Umurangi Generation is probably one I appreciate more this year, but still not as much as I appreciate Signs.

So yeah, you all need to play Signs of the Sojourner.

That said, moving on to some of the other questions:

2020’s year in games: Honestly, pretty phenomenal. Hades, Umurangi, and Signs were all extremely valid game of the year choices, and there seemed to be a steady stream of good (if not as great) indie games making their way to release. As far as trends are concerned, I can’t say I noticed any specific to the year, but it did feel like the 'heartfelt and 'dying world trends were converging more, with Outer Wilds and Umurangi being the poster children of this merge.

2021 comparison: There’s been some excellent games this year (Fallow, Get In The Car Loser), but none which seemed to capture the conversation here like Umurangi did. I found Inscryption super disappointing personally, so hearing people talk about it as game of the year makes me doubtful about 2021 as a whole. Maybe if I’d played Sable I’d feel different?

2020 Circumstances: I’d been pretty socially isolated since before the pandemic, and here in Australia we didn’t really get high rates of infection until this year. So my gaming habits didn’t really change that much during the year. I can (partially) blame the Sydney lockdowns this year for getting me into Warframe though, so that’s something

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