There's never been a better time to play video games.
This is a sentiment that hop scotches back and forth over the line of irony. 2020, for better or worse (mostly worse... almost entirely worse) was a year that had many of us in front of our screens all day every day. It should make sense, then, that this was a great year for video games.
Well it was, and it wasn't. A byproduct of being home all day made it really hard to focus and play one game unless it really gripped me. I found myself often confused between checking in on 2020's hottest games, swapping between old SNES games and putting like 100 hours into Overwatch for some reason?? There's tons of 2020 releases I need to put more time into next year, but the games from this year that I stuck with I loved totally.
I'm going to keep this short, because I discussed the hell out of these games and why I love them in the podcasts you can listen to.
Also, as a personal note, today is my last day as a Giant Bomb staffer. I'm extremely grateful for all the kind words I've received about my departure. Thanks for putting up with me <3.
10. Dota 2
Everyone needed a healthy dose of comfort food this year. And while I never "stopped" "playing" Dota 2, I had definitely cooled off on it. However those devious devs at Valve added a couple new modes, one of them being a fully fleshed out coop rougelike, that made me answer the call and party back up with my scumbag friends. This combined with some huge balance and system changes made this one of the most exciting years for Dota since I started playing, even without The International to hype everyone up.
Risk of Rain 2 is this year's top "oh my god HOW LONG HAVE I BEEN PLAYING THIS" game. Not since the days of Pokemon Puzzle League have I experienced such intense pain from not blinking. RoR2 is a delight. Grab three friends and get ready to lose hours of your life cycling through huge worlds full of robust power ups and massive enemies.
8. Among Us
Among Us was the game I could convince my non gamer friends to play with me. Yes, the minigames weren't the most robust or fun things in the world and yes, a single bad apple could ruin a game... but in the end I was able to murder my friends and get away with it.
Ghost of Tsushima is my second favorite Assassin's Creed behind Origins. This game constantly had me feeling like an unstoppable killing machine. And while I had problems with the story overall, the parts where I could turn off my brain and wander the beautiful countryside and take out encampments of 40 dudes without dying had me loving this game. Also check out this duel where I managed to kill the dude without getting hit it's freakin' BADASS yo.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps combines smooth movement, beautiful art, and a surprisingly emotional story to create one of the most compelling metroidvania of all time.
I completely missed out on Slay the Spire, and maybe if I had the appeal of Monster Train wouldn't have been as strong. But I didn't! Monster Train also has received a ton of post-release support, including new champions for every class and interesting balance changes.
FFVII Remake, for me, was a game that ended up being way more than the sum of its parts. Outside of the excellent combat, there was no one thing I could point to and say "this is incredible." But the combination of the music, the characters, (most of) the risks taken with the story, the art and everything else on Midgar had me compelled from minute one. As someone who never played the original, I was very surprised that they made a FFVII believer out of me.
Animal Crossing is the best game I played this year that had me constantly complaining about how bad it is. My partner and I played like 600 hours of it and I wish it was so much better. I had such a good time building a squad of villagers that I love, decorating my island, and complaining about the online with all my friends.
The design team of Hades are nothing short of genius. They understand what makes a game fun to a degree that not many others even come close to. On top of the game being fun as heck, it's the first rogue-like that I ever played with a fleshed-out and compelling story. Every time I started a run, I was finding myself in Zag's shoes, pushing as hard as I could to find out the truth about my family, my past, and my future.
There was a solid two month period where I played 1-2 runs before bed every night. I eventually got "burned out" on the game, but picked it up less than a month later and was instantly finding myself playing it every night again. I'm pretty sure this game joins Dead Cells in the "Ben Pack Games That I Could Probably Play For The Rest Of My Life Club". The fact that I still don't have "a favorite weapon," even after dozens of successful runs, goes to show how well thought-out this game is. I've, at the very least, enjoyed every Supergiant game up until this point
My winner for personal game of the year was a toss-up between Yakuza and Hades. Both are games about positivity conquering pessimism, the bond between father and son, and the fact that you are not defined by where you came from. It just so happens those are all motifs that I have had to reckon with in a major way in recent years.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon edged out Hades in the end. There are, perhaps, more "flaws" I could find in Yakuza 7 than in Hades, but the highs of this game outshined the highs of anything else I played this year. The story of Ichiban Kasuga is one that I will remember for a long time. The game is ambitious, both in its bravery to completely change up its core combat, and its bravery to hold on to it's Shenmue-ass mini games in 2020. It's optimistic, anti-capitialist, anti-establishment, dramatic, and far funnier than it has any right to be. It's exactly the game I needed last year.