Games I Finished in 2020

List items

  • 5/5 - For a few months in the middle of summer, my life was consumed by Stardew Valley. The core loop of farming, making money, and exploring the world is just tuned to perfection. Giving the player the ultimate goal of restoring the Community Center was so smart, as it always gave me something to work towards. While working on my farm is ostensibly the driving force of the game, everything surrounding was just as compelling. The unique, one-off festivals and events were actually some of my favorite parts of the game, and knowing that there were these set piece moments made me excited to continue moving forward. And it's fun to think about how when I first started the game, I was struggling to scrounge up the money to buy enough parsnip seeds, but by the end, I was literally drowning in so much cash that I didn't know what to do with all of it. Stardew Valley was simply a sublime experience.

  • 11/2/2020

    5/5 - When I beat Hades for the first time, I thought I was going to be done with this game. Sure, I could see the true ending by beating him 10 times, but I'm not really one to replay games. Turns out, when you tie an excellent narrative to the core loop of a rogue-like, it makes returning to the game that much easier and enticing. It also helps that the game is just so goddamn fun to play. Every weapon feels uniquely different, but feels powerful and substantial in their own way. But the real reason Hades works for me is how smartly the story is tied into its rogue-like nature of the game. And because it's a Supergiant game, all of the voice acting and music are incredibly well-done. It's not like one particular aspect of Hades is breaking completely new ground, but everything comes together in a way that makes this one of the best games I've played all year.

  • 7/16/2020

    5/5 - I feel like The Last of Us Part II has an almost unfair advantage over every other game that came out this year. The budget, freedom, and time Naughty Dog has had with making this game is probably unparalleled in the industry. But I suppose Naughty Dog has earned that blank check, right? And there's no guarantee that any developer with that kind of money would put out a quality product like Naughty Dog has consistently done over these past several years.

    With all that being said, I do think The Last of Us Part II is an incredible game. I really enjoy this series' unique take on combat, and how it strikes a very good balance between stealth and all-out panic gunfighting. I was immediately invested in the direction they took the story right off the bat, and without getting into spoilers, I think all of the new characters were really the defining highlights. The evolution of every single character in the game, and how your perception of them changes are really what carried me through the narrative. And the production values of everything surrounding this game is mind boggling. I can go on and on about all of the accessibility options, or the fidelity of each performance, but the fact that there's a fully playable guitar in the game is really all you need to know.

    I also want to discuss the weird Joel/Ellie obsession the audience seems to have with the Last of Us series. The backlash that happened with this game since the story didn't go the way they wanted to is the quite possibly the silliest thing. Let the creators of the game tell the story they want. Also, Metal Gear Solid 2 is the best MGS game.

  • 6/17/2020

    5/5 - I'm so so so happy I was able to experience this wonderful game with Katamari Damacy Reroll on the Switch. Even though I already knew what the basic premise of this game was, I was still knocked on my ass at how this game wildly spirals out of control as the King of All Cosmos demands bigger and BIGGER katamaris. There's just something immensely satisfying about finally rolling up that damn cow, human, skyscraper, etc. and hearing that nice snap once it sticks into your katamari. This is one of those games that if I played the original back when it came out in 2004 when I was a 12 year old kid, this game would've left an indelible impression on me and probably would've become one of my favorite games of all time. Turns out, even as a 28 year old, Katamari Damacy Reroll was one of my favorite games this year.

  • 12/14/2020

    5/5 - Everything about the movement and platforming in this game just felt right. As you get more and more powers, I really appreciated just how fast you can zip around the map, and how fluid and mobile you feel as you navigate the world. An all-around stunning and beautiful game that I had a fantastic time playing through.

  • 8/15/2020

    5/5 - I've played a lot of these minigames on Rhythm Heaven Megamix, but this was my first time going through the entirety of Rhythm Heaven Fever, and as expected, it was a delightful experience all around. The Rhythm Heaven series is one of my favorites, and all I can do is pray to the heavens above that the next game will be announced eventually.

  • 1/7/2020

    5/5 - The only other Devil May Cry game I played before this one was Ninja Theory's DmC, and I absolutely loved that game, so I was curious to see if I would enjoy Capcom's return to the series. Turns out, this was one of the most fun action games I've played in recent memory. I also don't remember the last time I laughed out loud this much while playing a game. The hilariously cheesy one liners, the insane set pieces, and just the complete absurdity of certain moments (read: Dante's dance sequence) all made this an amazing game.

    And those live-action recreations of the in-game cutscenes...just incredible.

  • 8/23/2020

    4/5 - Doom Eternal throws a lot of mechanics at the player very early on, and at times, it felt a little overwhelming. As you progress through the game, however, all of it slowly starts to become second nature, and when the action in Doom Eternal is hitting, it hits hard. One of my main grievances with the game is how it straight up tells you how to beat enemies and bosses in a pop-up menu the first time you encounter them. I wish that I as a player was able to feel the satisfaction of figuring out the solution to the action puzzle myself.

  • 3/26/2020

    4/5 - The combat in this game was basically the gameplay in the Souls games distilled into a much easier version that was able to be enjoyed by the masses, but it was still engaging and challenging enough where it didn't feel like a complete cakewalk. Add in some Uncharted style climbing and exploring, along with a great cast of characters filled with some really good performances, and this is probably one of the best Star Wars game that's come along in a long time.

  • 5/24/2020

    4/5 - I started A Short Hike and finished it in one sitting over the course of a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon, and for me, that was the perfect way to experience this game. A very simple yet touching story wrapped up in a surprisingly engaging flying mechanic makes A Short Hike one of the most pleasant experiences I've had this year. And the soundtrack is just so wonderful.

  • 9/29/2020

    4/5 - My time with Outer Wilds is very similar to my time with games like Fez and The Witness, in that these games were just too smart for me. I needed guides and walkthroughs to fully understand what these games were REALLY about, and I required a lot of assistance to finally beat them. But that does not diminish the adoration I have for these games. If anything, it elevates my respect for these games even more, knowing that these creators came up with such ingenious ideas. The more and more I think about Outer Wilds, the more I am impressed with its incredible design. There is absolutely nothing that changes in the game in every 22 minute playthrough, but by the end of the game, your approach to the game is completely different. And the way that the story and characters tie into the universe, and the way you use that lore to further your advancement in the game, is simply brilliant.

    So why did I rate this only a 4/5? Because I was a little bummed that the movement and traversal never really clicked for me, and I felt like I was fighting the controls during the entire experience. I never felt fully comfortable navigating this world, even by the end as I was doing my final run. Mechanically speaking, this game felt a little clunky, but from a pure design perspective, Outer Wilds is nothing like gaming has ever seen.

  • 3/8/2020

    4/5 - Everyone was saying this was a great place to start if you've never played the Dragon Quest series, and turns out, everyone was right! It felt almost nostalgic playing the tried-and-true formula of a turn-based JRPG, when most JRPGS have pivoted into more real-time action games. With the central plot of the game mostly following the basic structure of "chosen hero of light fights against the villain of darkness," the story beats I appreciated the most were all of the goofy, light-hearted character moments.

  • 4/27/2020

    4/5 - Hollow Knight was an extremely challenging and rewarding experience with just a few minor quirks that made playing it a little more frustrating than it had to be. The biggest sticking point for me was the platforming. Even though I got pretty used to it by the end, the jumping just never felt quite right for me personally, but all of the combat and the boss encounters more than made up for it.

  • 12/31/2020

    4/5 - I was actually pretty lukewarm on this game for the first two episodes. The main reason for this was because of the decisions you have to make in which you choose which memory to believe. All of these felt very arbitrary because I was thinking to myself, "How was I supposed to know which one was real?" These player choices didn't offer insight into my personality, or how I thought the characters would act, like in most player-choice driven games.. However, the final episode plays into this concept of unreliable memories in such a smart way that it more than made up for the initial tepid feelings I had for this game.

  • 7/27/2020

    4/5 - Playing through Final Fantasy VII Remake as someone who's never played the original, but knows a lot about it just by osmosis, was a very interesting experience. Even without having played the original PS1 game, there were so many aspects of this game that felt nostalgic to me, all the way from the music to the characters. I guess it just goes to show what a landmark moment the original FF7 was, and how prevalent all aspects of it are. If you've played video games for any amount of time, chances are you'll know something about FF7.

    I'm actually sort of shocked at how relevant this game's story still is, with the narrative focusing on themes like class warfare and corporate greed. I was also pleasantly surprised at how funny this game's writing was, and there were some legitimate laugh out loud moments for me throughout the game. While the combat was mostly enjoyable, the level design eventually became a bit tedious, as oftentimes, most of the levels were just me running through one straight corridor after another.

  • 4/5

    I've never played the first Spelunky, but I knew a lot about it since it was such a popular game. It was great finally getting my own hands on this game, and experiencing firsthand the process of dying repeatedly, learning the ins and outs of the world, finally getting past the world, and then going through the same cycle in the next set of levels. The co-op in this game is both very fun and a completely different experience as well, as it forces you to take your time and really go through the level methodically so that you're not leaving your partner behind (or getting left behind).

  • 4/16/2020

    4/5 - I absolutely love Her Story, but Telling Lies is just inherently less interesting since it's very similar to Her Story in terms of its narrative structure and the method in which the story is revealed to the player. It's worth nothing that I might've not even finished this game at all if I didn't install a mod to easily rewind and fast forward the videos.

  • 4/26/2020

    4/5 - Who would've thought that I would be playing a fighting game literally just for the story mode! But that's what happened earlier this year with the Mortal Kombat series. I watched a playthrough of MK9 on YouTube and played through MKX for free via Game Pass, so that I would be all caught up when playing through MK11. And it was totally worth it, because the single player content in these recent Mortal Kombat games continues to impress.

  • 4/21/2020

    4/5 - I liked MK11 more than MKX, but I'm glad I played all 3 games of the modern MK trilogy so that I would be up to date with the rich Mortal Kombat lore. And I'm not being sarcastic when I say "rich."

  • 9/4/2020

    4/5 - Playing 2D Mario games cooperatively is both a raucous good time and an easy way to lose your voice. Really, this is the most I've screamed playing any game this year. There's this frenetic pace when playing this game with more than one person, as you bump into each other, steal power ups, and jump on your partner's head over a pit, plummeting them into oblivion.

  • 10/11/2020

    4/5 - The over-the-top melodrama, the insanely absurd side quests, and the traffic cone/bike wielding brawler combat you've come to know and love from the Yakuza series are all here. And similar to the only other Yakuza game I've played (Yakuza 0), I burned out a bit on the combat as I approached the end, but the engaging story propelled me through to the finish.

  • 2/29/2020

    4/5 - Man, there's just something about that Pokemon formula. It's never going to change, but I don't really mind. It's a great thing to experience once every 5 or so years, and I'll probably continue enjoying it forever. I'll never try to catch 'em all or get deep into any of the competitive battling, but playing through the main story once is enough to tide me over until the next mainline Pokemon release.

  • 10/31/2020

    4/5 - Playing through the chapters in this anthology series is now something I will look forward to every Halloween. It's a great, bite-sized experience to have with my girlfriend, as we scream at each other for missing quick time events and inadvertently killing everyone.

  • 8/25/2020

    4/5 - One of the smartest twists this game has compared to other Ace Attorney games is the nature of the person you're accusing. Most of the time, the actual killer is an obviously evil, mustache-twirling villain, but this game bucks that trend by not having the killer be a completely evil person in each case. I'm very excited to start the second game once the fan translation is all complete.

  • 4/5 - A very fun riff on Diablo that my girlfriend and I thoroughly enjoyed. And we were both a little surprised at how difficult the game got by the end. We actually had to grind a bit on previous levels in order to beat the final boss, which was a welcome surprise.

  • 5/25/2020

    4/5 - This game has always been on my backlog, and I'm really happy I got around to finally playing this totally weird and unique experience. The Beginner's Guide reminded me a little bit of Exit Through the Gift Shop, where you're not totally sure if it's a documentary or a mockumentary, but trying to decipher the story and create your own narrative in your head was half the fun.

  • 9/11/2020

    4/5 - I think I would've liked this game much more if I had played it back when it came out, but playing it in 2020 was still a enjoyable enough experience. Sure, the combat is a little clunky, and the visuals are a bit outdated, but Bioware still knows how to craft a rich world with likable and interesting characters. But this was back in 2014, and looking back at the track record Bioware has had since then, I am intensely curious at how the next Dragon Age is going to turn out.

  • 5/22/2020

    3/5 - A fun little co-op experience my girlfriend and I had a great time playing through once, never to think about again.

  • 3/29/2020

    3/5 - Although it was fun to sink my teeth into an RPG like this that didn't take up so much of my time, I didn't particularly enjoy the combat. And while I appreciated the story and all of the companions you can recruit into your party, the overall formula definitely felt familiar and safe.

  • 9/20/2020

    3/5 - I thought the art and the overall ambience of the game was very neat, but a lot of the writing felt a little too cute for its own good. The crew of a haunted submarine ship is trying to terrorize these teenagers and pull them into another plane of existence, but Alex and crew never hesitate to throw out a quick sarcastic one-liner to really showcase their wit, even as ghosts possess their body over and over again. Are high schoolers actually this witty, or was I just a really dumb teenager? (I was almost certainly a really dumb teenager.)

  • 10/23/2020

    3/5 - I started this game back when it first came out, and then completely fell off of it, because another open world game by the name of Breath of the Wild came out at around the same time. With the announcement of the sequel on the way, I thought it would be a good time to get back to this game and finally finish it. With it being such a long time since I last played it, I put the difficulty down to Story Mode and blasted through all of the main missions. Although my experience of the game might be a bit skewed because of this, something about the game never really struck a chord with me. The combat always felt a little loosey-goosey and didn't feel as satisfying as I thought it should.

  • 5/7/2020

    3/5 - I probably would've thought this game was a revelation if I played it when it first came out in 2014, but after 6 years and a million retro-style indie platformers later, Shovel Knight didn't have the same impact in 2020. Playing through the cooperative campaign with my girlfriend was still a fun experience, even though it was surprisingly difficult.

  • 11/28/2020

    3/5 - Even though the gear system adds a new wrinkly into the classic Mega Man gameplay that I appreciated, this is still a tried and true Mega Man game through and through, for better or for worse. One weird oddity about this game was just how the long the levels seemed to be. Maybe it's just me, but each level leading up to the boss felt way longer than the levels in previous Mega Man games.

  • 3/1/2020

    2/5 - I'm glad a game with this kind of budget and this kind production value can still be this weird (Kojima's earned the blank check I suppose). But its uniqueness doesn't change the fact that the core gameplay loop was never really all that engaging for me. Sure, traversing the world could be meditative and calming at times, but as soon as BTs would show up (and they would show up often), it often became an exercise in frustration. And as the game approaches its conclusion, Death Stranding truly unravels. Some of the writing near the end is completely laughable, and one boss fight in particular was one of the most repetitive and mundane gameplay experiences I've had in recent memory.

  • 11/21/2020

    2/5 - While I though the totality of the game's story along with all of its twists and turns was captivating throughout, the gameplay sections in AI: The Somnium Files were simply awful. The dream-like sequences in which you're supposed to solve puzzles mostly boils down to trial and error. Since there's always a timer ticking down, and each interaction takes up time to perform, you're only limited to a certain number of interactions to try during each sequence. I did not enjoy the gameplay of this game one bit, but the narrative and surprisingly touching backstories of the cast of characters do salvage the game somewhat.

  • 3/24/2020

    2/5 - My girlfriend and I tried a lot of local co-op games this year, and The Stretchers was by far the worst. The camera was unwieldy, the missions were repetitive, and while the physics were goofy fun at first, by the latter half of the game, trying to deal with it just became cumbersome and exhausting.