two thousand and twenty

a way for me to track all the video games I played in the year of our lord twenty twenty. this list most certainly doesn't contain all games that came out in the year 2020 but is rather a reflection of my own journey through the medium in the next 365 days.

edit: holy shit y'all, 2020 has been a YEAR, huh?

List items

  • this is an incredible video game. astounding. fucking beautiful and epic in every sense of the word. top five favorite games of the decade. the decade being 2010 - 2019

  • really captures the essence of eastern horror in video game form. extremely tense but can definitely suffer from older adventure game tropes

  • a culmination of all the best parts of CRPG's and while the story occasionally becomes too edgy for it's own good, the game's conclusion wraps every thread in a super satisfying way. would totally recommend

  • an extremely underrated jrpg. the session mechanic does a lot to speed up combat so as not to feel stale, and while the initial pitch might sound kind of absurd on the surface, the characters ended up growing on me in a traditional persona fashion which (in terms of the smt persona franchise) would put this only behind P4 in my ranking of the franchise

  • as someone who unfortunately lost a parent at an earlier age than most and whose also going to art school, this totally struck a chord with me in a way i wasn't expecting nor was i prepared for. might a little aimless for some folks, but subtly beautiful in a way few games are

  • i think subject matter wise, it's totally fair to be making the comparisons some folks have been between this game and disco elysium, but where disco is certainly more acerbic (to put it kindly) KRZ is far more restrained, but still understands how to employ a scathing critique extremely effectively. combined with the inclusion of the interludes into the main product, KRZ joins ranks with Outer Wilds in terms of extremely well told game stories.

  • So much has been said about Deadly Premonition in the following decade since it's existed and so much of it still rings true. It absolutely revels in it's b-movie execution and surrealist influences, while when dissected into each of its surrounding mechanics - its so easy to call terrible. Frankly, because it is a terrible game! The controls are equivalent to a poor resident evil clone; it's visually muddy by 2010 standards; combat is monotonous and open world navigation feels like one fbi agent francis york morgan is actively drunk; the plot is stiff and over acted. I could go on, but SWERY & Co.s most well known title does what so few other titles of its ilk achieve - being that it makes it work! Deadly Premonition uses its budgetary restrictions and influences to build an endearing aesthetic and style out of the sum of its parts and so much of it comes down to its use of music. Or what many could easily mistake for being a 2 CD set of a middle school theater classes sfx collection. Only the campiest of cashier register rings and violin swells accompany a genuinely great original soundtrack to skewer what most people would consider traditional horror scenes for comedic advantage. And it works so well for so long, but no matter how well Deadly Premonition is able to sell me on its tone and pulp, I do have to draw a line at build stability and the simple fact of the matter is that in my most recent playthrough - the game crashed 12 times and corrupted my save file. Which just sucks. But even so, I've never been more excited to see a sequel get made to a game like this. And no matter what DP2 might look like, I cannot begin to imagine what's in store. And that excites the hell out of me.

  • A game that absolutely revels in camp but utilizes it's procedural format to tell deeper stories than you might expect. The higher res art can feel occasionally out of place, however never enough to totally take away from the experience.

  • I really wanted to like Virginia more than I did. Personally, I think the score and the aesthetic were excellent in conveying the tone and basic transition points of the plot, however I found the story itself a little on the thin side, especially when the pacing is as slow of a burn as it is here and story is the primary thing you're putting on display. Not terribly long to complete however and I don't want to seem unnecessarily critical as I want to see more games like Virginia get made in the future. It's just that it didn't quite capture me in the way I hoped it would.

  • There is a night and day difference between this and deadly premonition. While the heavy lynch/twin peaks aesthetic remains in Swery's work, the length of the missing and overall plot/character development quality works to its benefit. This is not to give it a pass for how rough around the edges the platforming can be, but overall, it's a much more well rounded product with minor mechanical foibles here and there. Would absolutely recommend.

  • a beautiful little tone piece that's extremely heartwarming. kind of hit me at the right place and right time

  • i finally beat dead cells this year - in addition to beating the dlc. which makes dead cells the first rougelike i've ever rolled credits on in recent memory. it does the doom thing extremely well, of combining certain kinds of enemies in specific rooms forcing the player to take a different strategy to each combat scenario which, when movement and combat feels as strong as it does in dead cells, makes for a GREAT feeling game to play. i am slightly less glowing on the story/plot as i feel like it suffers from this borderline, borderlands type dialogue issue which can get a little groan worthy in spots however a marxist type reading of this game works in its favor quite a bit which still wins me over in the end. good shit. and the dlc just adds more good stuff to it. i love it a lot

  • boy howdy this game will forever be linked to covid-19 in my mind now because it was the first game i played post outbreak. i came back to it for the juggernaut dlc pack and while the new map really does appease some criticisms i had with the game, so much of the way systems interact with each other still feels so lifeless. and i think again for the moment, the game provided a good excuse to point a gun at things and shoot which was percisely what i needed, while my pretentious academic brain was convinced the base building mechanics put enough meat on the bones for me to be convinced it's a good game. but it's not. it's certainly not bad but every time i stand up and walk away after a play session i feel like i just wasted time checking off tasks on a list with little to no incentive for me to continue checking things off more lists. it's list overload with the game not really investing its identity into any one thing. it's a game just smart enough to make you forget it's kind of stupid. and stupid games are fun! they can be really fun - i don't mean that to be pejorative. it just left me in a two year haze i finally feel like i can look back on now with some amount of clarity.

  • so i think there's always been a discussion able to be had surrounding the entire animal crossing franchise that goes along the theme of it being "baby's first capitalism" and New Horizons definitely seems self aware enough of this dialogue to move that crit from the realm of sub-text to text with the introduction of the nook miles system. the essential strip mining of "uninhabited" islands for their resources is EXTREMELY on the nose and plays back into this positive feedback loop of owing insane amounts of money to your inept raccoon landlord and it costing equally insane amounts of money to get the most basic infrastructure established on your (again) "deserted" island. where the crit falls apart for me though is how your villagers interact with each other because while yes all landlords fucking suck - tom nook is the most inept debt collector. while yes, nook is technically the closest thing new horizons has to an antagonist, he never acts on his veiled threats. there's never a fail state for taking too long to make a payment on your loans. and there are even lines where nook makes fun of himself for that. and like in an era where covid has flipped our day to day routines on their heads - having this island as an excuse to hang out with friends and trim the hedges of our virtual bonzai trees is so cathartic. and i get why folks some folks are upset about the limited interactions with villagers. the dialogue is much more basic than in previous animal crossing games but i don't think i'm looking for that this time around. it's not an itch i need scratched because playing this game online with friends is filling that slot. visiting friends with spikes in their turnip markets is more satisfying to me. so like - at the end of the day new horizons provides a super strong base for future dlc. i'm excited to see what new shape AC takes because i think while the changes made to make new horizons more welcoming to folks who've never played an animal crossing game before are great- it also provides a solid base to build off of in the future. the capitalism critiques of AC is valid and legit. but give me my cute poison. i need it in my life perhaps more now than ever before.

  • I want to like this game a lot and i think that there are a lot of elements at play here that are indeed likable. But the interplay of systems are just so muddled and while I believe the narrative does ultimately stick the landing, it gets so far up its own ass and in love with its own Matrix meets Inception metaphors that it leaves you guessing whether or not it'll pull it off, right up until 5 minutes before the credits roll in a manner that feels less deliberate and more shoehorned in. while that sounds harsher than i generally feel about the game overall, I do respect what it's shooting for at the end of the day. it just could've benefited from better editing.

  • another game which i've restarted multiple times in an effort to "getting" it and boy howdy once i did - i was rewarded with some extremely great writing. granted it is worth stating that ringo is a very obtuse game that does not bother at all to spell any of the systems out to the player and can be extremely frustrating for that reason. but it still gets a recommendation for me as the character development goes in directions so many other games hint at but rarely pull a trigger on. just know you're wading into a bit of a mess.

  • I think it's safe to say that battletech is my new personal standard for what a top tier strategy/tactics game looks like. it follows the xcom standard of having a micro & macro level of gameplay however it makes each aspect clear enough to understand with a very minimal amount of frustration. each dlc pack adds something entirely new to the mission to mission experience that and furthers the dynamic feel. the campaign narrative does a good job of humanizing a revolutionary language of politics though with that being said, it could have gone further in places to really push it over the edge into truly great territory. doesn't quite go to the level of a disco elysium, but still provides a kind of world you'd love to experience for the ~ 65 campaign it offers. i really would love to see more people give it a shot, because while it seems dense at first pick up, the deeper you get in it's systems the more elegant they begin to appear.

  • WOW SERIOUSLY - SAFE MODE HAS TURNED SOMA INTO ONE OF THE BEST HORROR/WALKING SIMS OF ALL TIME WITH A GENUINELY GREAT AND THOUGHT PROVOLKING STORY. I LOVE IT

  • 2020's take on 2019's untitled goose game except with a much wider pallet of verbs to partake in over the course of the game? feels much more fleshed out surprisingly with an extremely cute aesthetic. the perfect kind of "turn yr brain off" comedown after soma and battletech

  • alright. i put around 15 hours into the game before the application soft locked on me and i had to uninstall the game. and i'm unsure if i want to go through the whole rigamaroll to install it again. i had a good time, just disappointed.

  • personally amazed that helltaker is free. I would have easily payed money for this. very light very breezy. the dialogue is snappy but judgment definitely provided a worthy challenge at the end of the game. super enjoyed my time! would highly recommend. an hour out of my day well spent

  • i wasn't expecting there to be as much rhythm to obra dinn as there is holy shit. the story definitely isn't the most intricate thing in the world, but i think what really sells obra dinn is its execution, its style and its editing. this is a game that has severly benefits from its editing. and the pitch just can fucking read me. i want more games about 19th century insurance agents god DAMNIT.

  • so - honestly if austin walker is emphatically endorsing a game, the odds are i will greatly enjoy my time with it, and the trend continues to bear fruit. umurangi generation oozes with style, each levels environment feels so well fleshed out i often found myself going over the time limit just so i could more fully explore each environment at my own pace at the risk of score. i found the game making me care about the composition about each shot i took. for no formal narrative, i found the game to have an extremely strong understanding of how to reuse assets effectively especially with the goal of conveying narrative. i could not have enjoyed this more, and i feel like it's stands as a holistic embodiment of what games can achieve when everything is operating on all cylinders. also it's lo-fi and embraces it! it's hitchy, and only slightly rough around the edges but in a way that works to the emotion i feel it's trying to ellicit from its players. like the records igor, or the glow, pt. 2. purposefully scuzzy. and i respect that

  • honestly, this has no right to be as good as it is. the plot is paper thin even by game standards, yet it revels in it's pomp and crime noir circumstance that i absolutely have a weakness for. still a better revenge flick than the last of us pt 2?

  • represents a design mentality i deeply respect and desire to replicate in my own work; systematizing aspects of our everyday lives. extremely somber and treats death very much with the respect it deserves which is extremely rare in video games. the ragdoll given to the bones apart of the cremation mechanic definitely has the potential to break the "magic circle" if you will. but i genuinely love it regardless. and the pacing is extremely well done

  • the legacy of breath of the wild is strong here. i feel like they took the goal of recreating the map discovery mechanic from botw, gave it a whole new skin and gave you a really dirty & scuzzy feeling playground for you to explore. saturated in a good way and also extremely immature which was exactly what i needed after a morticians tale. the exact and total, tonal inverse, you might say.

  • while, even for a dating sim i wouldn't say there's much "there" there from a mechanical standpoint, i really appreciate and enjoyed the quality of the writing put into each potential date and also considering the length of the game overall, it's not the biggest con in the world. pacing is super well done, and i really enjoyed the personalities of the different characters

  • i deeply appreciate a LOT of what's going on here. sojourner does what a morticians tale does extremely well of systemitizing a common occurance we find in every day life, that being talking to other humans. it also utilized a genre of mechanic that i've yet to click with, that being the deckbuilder "roguelike" (rougelike here in scarequotes because i don't know how much of that terminology can be accurately applied here) combined with light balancing issues here and there doesn't make it perfect. but still is such a beautiful standout and ACTUALLY marries story & gameplay in a way that's super impressive and works surprisingly well.

  • the first mirrors edge is extremely interesting perhaps in a way i respect more than i enjoy. the strongest thing going for it, if i'm being entirely honest is the aesthetic. perhaps proto-vaporwave? in the way the city layout and architecture design is just drenched in white and has a dichromatic color scheme for the entirety of the level layout makes the look striking. mechanically, i would love for there to be more parkour type games out there and i think it's a shame this was one of the only experiments that got any significant amount budget put behind it because it feels smooth to me. not quite disorienting once you get used to it. the plot is where things fall apart for me especially when combined with combat mechanics that feel shoehorned in at best. overall though i wish i saw more people get behind mirrors edge when it was still in the zeitgeist often because the sequel catalyst didn't feel like it capitalized on any of the strengths of this one.

  • this game hit at an interesting place for me. a little bit of a dry spell you might say, waiting for deadly premonition 2 to come out, just kind of jumping around from game to game. lots of tetris 99 and a lot of nba 2k20, but i am genuinely enjoying the new trackmania. everything i would like from a sequel to stadium and i can't wait to see what new terrible bullshit it's community builds up for itsself.

  • this, paired with trackmania was what held me over till deadly premonition 2 and ultimately made 2020 the year i thoroughly embraced a battle royale. i stiall have yet to win a match but i can now consistently make it into the top 10, which in my book is progress

  • alright so i won't lie, this was one of my more anticipated releases of the year so far and now that i'm on the other end of 20 hours with the game, i'm pleasantly surprised in a lot of ways and kind of frustrated/confused in some others.

    first off i don't think the technical problems were that big of a deal for me. i was certainly expecting portions of it to be broken in certain ways and over all, the build structure was a lot more stable than my last playthrough of DP1, also introducing quicksaves just eases the pressure off of an ocassional crash in a way that was a lot more of a problem beforehand. i think it beautifully shifts focus and mechanical importance off combat and onto the quirky mini games through out the overworld in a way that isn't just refreshing but i wish more games did as well. it did so much to make le carre feel LIVED in that didn't just rely on cluttering up the open world with art and npcs you talk to. genuinely i wish more developers in general felt comftorable enough with the quality of their mini games to tie story development to them more often. now this being said, this shift in importance off of combat, did make the combat feel more like a slog and underdeveloped in a sense. only 3 enemy types (excluding bosses) with very route ai, and trademark stiff gunplay for 20 hours just made the dungeons boring which would be a knock against the title in any other context. however when you compare it to the first deadly premonition, and just how frustrating combat was there, moving from frustrating to boring gunplay still is, in my book an improvement (if only a minor one).

    (also i will give DP marks for style, i like the cell shader used here in addition to the selection of post processing. while making the mandatory remark that the models and textures themselves still feel like this forgotten late era ps2 game [which admittedly, is more endearing to me at this point than detracting]).

    What leaves me concerned though are just aspects of the characterization. as a queer person, i'm happy swery's gone out of his way to say he'll address lena and the issue of deadnaming her in a patch (because regardless of my issues, i still did really enjoy my time with a blessing in disguise). But also, is houngan a problem? Houngan feels like a problem to me. I will show my full ass though and be EXTREMELY clear that i am NOT informed on the specifics of voodoo culture that is extremely prominent in the game and of which the character of houngan is clearly referencing so I can't make any informed takeaway on that point. it's just that on my gut reaction, he feels a little like a racist caricature. i'm giving swery though the benefit of the doubt because i highly doubt any of it was intentional and he has a good track record on being informed in social issues (i'm also FULLY willing to admit it might just be my own ignorance speaking too). also is the mirror a problem? (for all the same reasons?)

    at the end of the day though, i really enjoyed my time with DP2 and can only imagine what in the FUCK a deadly premonition 3 looks like, if we ever get a deadly premonition 3 at all. and while you can really easily say that yes. deadly premonition 2 is more of the same quirky weirdness deadly premonition 1 delivered us, deadly premonition (as a series now) is offering us some beautiful weirdness few video games are able to deliver on and which i will happily sign up for whenever (or if ever) we are gifted it again in the future.

  • A SEQUEL TO ONE OF THE BEST MOBILE GAMES EVER MADE, HELL YES PLEASE

    ITS JUST GOLF

    ON MARS

  • this is a really interesting game to play in the aftermath of deadly premonition 2 just because they're so much of a piece. it's hard for me to recommend anodyne just because it's the sort of game that doesn't get good until halfway through (and it's certainly a much more understated style of humor at play here), but once things do really settle in. it takes off and doesn't pull any punches. a much more surrealist and horror based take on link's awakening, if you will. which, in my opinion; there is nary a better zelda game to take inspiration from (except maybe breath of the wild).

  • okay but really what IS blaseball?

    perhaps one of the most sheer entertaining communal pieces of interactive media out there this year. part fever dream part gambling ring - watching and betting on the performance of these robotic baseball teams and shouting at the outcome of box scores along with the rest of a team specific discord server...

    it's a beautiful thing.

    blaseball, the beautiful game.

    the comissioner is doing a GrEaT job

  • surprisingly good until it becomes a ubisoft game again.

  • tacoma hits weirdly different for me in 2020 than i think it did when a lot of people initially played it. the optimism doesn't nearly read as hollow though i do still agree with the general sentiment that fullbright games could stand from a little bit more of generalized conflict to help add an amount of stakes. enjoyable. had a better time here than i did with a similar project in virginia.

  • Alright so there's a huge gap of time here for me and that's really because my undergrad thesis has really taken up the majority of my time. Hadn't had much of a chance to "complete" much (Crusader Kings 3, i'm still grappling with a bit) but I DID FINALLY complete Hades for the first time. I'm not much the kind of person to sit and replay a game over and over again after i've completed it once so even though i know there's a scoshe of story i'm missing out on, it was SO satisfying to finally beat this game. Up there with Dead Cells for me in being one of my absolutely favorite rogue likes and a bigbigbigbigbig contender to hit my year end list.

  • OOF THIS GAME IS GREAT.

  • again, something i put on my docket because of an austin walker reccomendation and again, really happy that i did. actually made me interested in soccer for the first time in my life and my introduction to the world of sports anime. happy i gave it a shot and management wise, goes surprisingly deep without removing the fun popcorn nature of the matches. Actually considering going back into the create a character campaign to do the route of another school after finishing Furano because Matsuyama is the real protagonist of the story.

  • on my list of 2019 notables that i didn't get a chance to get back around to till 2020. Very dated but in a way that's refreshing in it's esoteric nature? i did genuinely enjoy it's absurdity in places but perhaps i'm a little too young for the symphony of the night nostalgia it's very clearly a successor to. That being said, I suggest it does come together to create something bigger than the sum of it's parts. Very mechanically diverse where as other metroidvania's attempt to shoot for something in this vein but rarely suceed in following through.