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Best of 2020

Updated over the year.

List items

  • Action Roguelike, Supergiant Games (PC)

    Masterful gamefeel, story structure, characterization, progression, artwork and sound, all designed cohesively to fit the genre and build upon the family drama at the core of Greek mythology. It's great while you're discovering how everything works, great as you steadily gain competency and power, great whenever there's downtime to tinker and chat with the locals and great after you have the understanding and skill to shape runs on the fly and adapt. Great value as well, with over 100 hours clocked and counting.

  • Grand Strategy, Paradox Interactive (PC)

    A deep and rewarding historical epic that's as much a role playing game as it is grand strategy. Polished and fully featured out of the gate, with a campaign tutorial and a snappy, informative UI to help parse it all out. The stronger focus on characterization is welcome and only makes the many stories, traits and decisions that organically unfold across the highs and lows of your dynasty even richer and more memorable.

  • Strategy Adventure, Vanillaware (PS4)

    Head spinning storytelling and ambitious sci-fi world building that entertains as it unfolds and sticks the landing. Still mulling it over months after completion. The arcade style strategy missions grow surprisingly engrossing, with pleasing audiovisual feedback and a palpable sense of overwhelming odds. The cast is excellent regardless of language choice and the soundtrack is one of the standouts of the year.

  • Simulation/Builder, Nintendo (Switch)

    A cozy escape, tailor made for a year the world was indoors and for the years to come. In many ways the most customizable Animal Crossing to date, building upon lessons learned and offering up a warm canvas for player expression. A salve for anxiety and a personal place comfort that's there for you whenever you need it.

  • VR FPS, Valve (PC VR)

    A landmark title for VR, from Valve, and a showcase for what makes both the medium and the developer great. Variety, immersion, voice acting, pacing, it's all top notch and tactile and an experience worth having if you have a compatible headset.

  • RPG, Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio (PS4)

    Still the compelling crime drama with absurd comedy vignettes and hours of side content you know and love, but the departure to turn based RPG manifests thematically as well as the endearing cast grapples with personal growth, societal issues and the meaning of heroism in an unjust world alongside karaoke breaks and diaper gang fights.

  • Open World Stealth/Action, Sucker Punch Productions (PS4)

    Follows the open world action adventure blueprint to an extent but through feel, setting and tone it carves its own niche and ultimately leaves a lasting impression. Beautiful art direction, enjoyable combat and inspired navigation mechanics. Have only scratched the surface of Legends mode but its inclusion only makes me appreciate the game that much more.

  • Stealth RTS, Mimimi Games (PC)

    A game for stealth connoisseurs and unabashed save scummers. Squad based tactics play out over elaborate maps while simultaneously scratching that Hitman itch. Every time I sit with it it sucks me in with classic western atmosphere, smooth animation and meticulously designed mission structure, where every enemy placement or encounter is a puzzle of observation to plan, perfect and execute.

  • Open World RPG, CD Projekt RED (PC)

    I have a list of issues with Cyberpunk 2077 but still found it largely compelling for dozens of hours and legitimately excellent when firing on all cylinders. The sheer artistry in the environmental details, design of the city and characters goes a long way. There's a nice flow between gunplay, melee, movement and hacking, and there's enough standout performances and scenarios to overcome the offputting elements and depict a layered dystopian ecosystem that's heavy on depravity but still has some heart kicking around.

  • Action-Adventure/Platformer, Moon Studios (Xbox)

    A transportive and heartfelt platformer that smartly builds upon the successes of its predecessor. Animations are expressive, the artwork is lush, the controls are dialed in and the metroidvania progression is expertly designed.

  • Rhythm/DJ, Harmonix (PC)

    The rare music game that prioritizes player expression and creativity over reflexes and patterns. Mixing records feels natural and flexible, with Harmonix's track blending technology and instrument toolkit producing impressive results. Social challenges and customization unlocks are nice additions to the package.

  • RPG, Atlus (PS4)

    It's Persona 5 with a few nice additional touches and extra time. Still a great game

  • Graphic Adventure, Joe Richardson (PC)

    Good adventure game with lots of renaissance art and jokes

  • Narrative, Turnfollow (PC)

    A cozy slice of life camping trip that goes down easy and lingers afterwards

  • Narrative Adventure, ION LANDS (PC)

    Good delivery game with futuristic world building that's engaging and unique while also covering all the tropes. Also, voxels

  • First Person Puzzle, William Chyr Studio (PC)

    A beautiful and meditative first person puzzler that unfolds like a fractal

  • Management/Adventure, Thunder Lotus Games (Xbox Game Pass)

    Relaxing game about death, release and building a cool boat with friends

  • Puzzle/Adventure, Draw Me A Pixel (PC)

    Good adventure game with lots of puzzle variety and jokes

  • Cooking Simulation, Vertigo Gaming (PC)

    A fresh twist on CSD with quality of life improvements and a strong sense of progression

  • Hero Collector RPG, LINE Games (Android)

    Genshin Impact is solid but this was easily my most played mobile RPG of 2020

  • Virtual Reality Puzzle, Fireproof Studios (PC VR)

    The other essential VR game of the year

  • Tactical RPG, inXile Entertainment (Xbox)

    Immersive squad tactics in an old school RPG wrapper

  • Mystery Adventure, Kaizen Game Works (Switch)

    Vaporwave afterlife aesthetics and adventure mystery narratives are in my wheelhouse

  • Adventure, Polygon Treehouse (PC)

  • Narrative, Cardboard Computer (PC)

  • Action RPG, Square Enix (PS4)

  • Platformer, Team Asobi (PS5)

  • Action Adventure, Insomniac Games (PS4)

  • Simulation, Origame Digital (PC)

  • Roguelike, Derek Yu (PC)