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Best of 2020

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  • It isn't just that Hades does so much so very well. It's that all those pieces form a larger cohesive whole. The art feeds into the story which feeds into the design. It isn't a rogue-like just for the sake of it. Every part of Hades serves the larger purpose, to piss your dad off.

  • I've spent too much time with Paradox strategy games. I've always known they were wonderful little gems that were perhaps a bit too complicated and intimidating for newcomers. CK3 doesn't shy away from complexity but puts a wonderful effort into introducing newbies to grand strategy games. With a cleaner look, streamlined UI, and maybe a weight shift toward the lunacy that can come from kings, CK3 is an exciting new direction for the genre.

  • After 2020, being stuck on an alien planet and surrounded by ever-expanding industrialization sounds like a vacation. Factorio manages management so that you never feel like you're repeating your tasks. It allows you to steadily increased the automation of previous work until you unlock the next tech and begin your work anew. Choices you made three expansions ago suddenly hinder everything and you're forced to reassess it all. Factorio isn't about building, it's about facing yourself in a mirror of design and also shooting alien bugs.

  • Practically everyone had Animal Crossing's release date circled on their calendar. As the world shuttered we all retreated onto lovely little islands and just absorbed as much kawaii as we could. While New Horizons was far from the perfect AC game we were all hoping for, it still brought me back over and over again as I slowly shaped the perfect digital home. Long live my anxious duck friend, Pate.

  • I've grown very bored of yet another open-world, 'AAA' video game. Make a big map, come up with six or so side missions, some collectibles, and you're most of the way there. Ghost of Tsushima doesn't subvert any of that but it did a good job at what it wanted to be. Every piece feels like it came from a team dedicated to a specific style and feel. Somehow one of the words I'd use to describe Tsushima is calm. I can feel my blood pressure lowering as I calmly lead my horse through a field of waist-high grass and if games refuse to evolve I'm happy with them at least feeling different.

  • I scoffed at the remake announcement. Too often publishers refuse to sell their older games, cheaply repackage them, and charge $40. Even what they showed of FF7R had me suspicious with so much of the original being left into some future part two. But I'll be damned, they did it. With the same love fans still hold for FF7, Square Enix put new life into an old tale and found a way to satisfy newcomers and surprise long time fans.

  • Total War plus ancient Greece didn't sell me. But Creative Assembly has long since moved past the purely historic versions of this series. Troy blends in Greek mythology to Greek legends that liven up the usual Total War gameplay.

  • I wish I had spent more time with Spiritfarer. This wonderful combination of management, exploration, characters, and enchanting art. There were times where all I wanted from Spiritfarer was to witness it. I felt pulled in and compelled to see what this game was and I'll be back to explore more soon.

  • Yo what if you skateboarded in a hangar and Guerilla Radio started playing?

  • Risk of Rain had a soft spot in my heart. So much so that when they announced they'd be shifting to 3D, I didn't bite. It wasn't until this year, and seeing some fanfare around the 1.0 release, that I finally checked it out. I'm happy I did. Somehow 3D enhances those same pleasantly stressful feelings I had with the first game. A wonderful mix of constantly looking for a new enemy, becoming more powerful, until it all comes to a head and some new monster wipes me out.