With the year coming to a close, let’s look back on my Top 10 Best Games of 2020. I don’t think I have to reiterate this but this year has been insane with everything that’s been going on. For gaming, this year has been a bit hectic too with the controversial release of The Last of Us Part II and the most recent mess that was Cyberpunk 2077. The ten games I’m going to discuss are my personal favorite games from the year. I wasn’t able to play every game I wanted to but managed to play the ones I wanted to the most. So, without further delay, here are my Top 10 Games of 2020!
#10: Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered
If I put this game up any higher on my list, I would be called a Spider-Man fanboy which wouldn’t be totally wrong. Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered was meticulously overhauled by the fantastic developers at Insomniac Games. They didn’t just bump up the resolution to 4K and add a 60 frames per second mode. Insomniac Games went into this remaster with the intent of re-doing textures and character models to create the best looking version of Marvel’s Spider-Man for the PlayStation 5. The game looks absolutely stunning in fidelity mode which supports 4K resolution and ray tracing. Performance mode allows the game to run at 60 frames per second at a slightly lower resolution without any ray tracing. You can even combine the two modes with a new option called Performance RT. Insomniac Games updated the game to add this mode which tries its best to give you the 60 frames per second experience while having some ray tracing capabilities. This is probably the ideal mode to play the game in now, giving you the best of both worlds of more frames and ray tracing visuals. The new character models all look terrific. Yes, even Peter’s new face model is pretty good too. I quickly got accustomed to his new face model after seeing it in action in Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Seeing Peter’s face in this remaster still takes on that older Peter look while matching Yuri’s performance better. I know some people still don’t like Peter’s new face because it doesn’t share the same emotional impact for the ending which is understandable. I feel like by Insomniac’s Spider-Man 2, more people will be okay with the new face model. Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered is one of the best remasters I’ve played to date with its updated textures and character models.
#9: Evan’s Remains
Thanks to the folks at Whitethorn Digital, I had the pleasure of playing Evan’s Remains for reviewing and streaming purposes (#freegame). Evan’s Remains is a mystery thriller puzzle platformer with visual novel storytelling. All of those genres together doesn’t sound all that good but it actually works extremely well here. The story is about finding this lost boy named Evan. The mystery thriller storyline slowly unfolds as you complete puzzle platforming challenges. The story itself can stand on its own, having a lot of care taken into account to create this mystery thriller storyline work within the context of these characters and its world. The puzzle platforming challenges are fun to solve while not being too complex. I’m not the best at puzzles in video games but Evan’s Remains keeps them enjoyable for those like myself. For a seven dollar indie game, you’re getting a five hour mystery thriller adventure with puzzle platforming gameplay. Evan’s Remains should not be skipped out on if you’re interested in mystery thriller stories or puzzle platforming games.
#8: Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot
Shoutout to my best friend and co-host of our podcast, Damian, for giving this game to me for my birthday. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is an action RPG set within the Dragon Ball Z timeline. Retelling the Dragon Ball Z story for the hundredth time but with some extra tidbits on the story and action RPG gameplay. As far as I can tell, all of the elements of an action RPG are here and account for. Leveling up your characters, side missions, using special moves and items, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is exactly how I described it earlier. This is an action RPG with the Dragon Ball Z flair. The story is the same story fans have come to know and love over the years. The extra tidbits of the story are fine. Some of them are interesting while most are filler. The gameplay is an action RPG, so you’ll be fighting in combat, using special ki attacks, all of the Dragon Ball Z stuff but in an action RPG format. It does get pretty formulaic as you get further into the gameplay but I still had a good time with it. I think the main reason I enjoyed Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot so much is because I’m a big fan of Dragon Ball Z. It might not be my favorite anime of all time but I do have a lot of nostalgia for it. The game itself isn’t all that special in any way; story, gameplay, and graphics are what you would expect from an action RPG based on an anime in 2020. Personally, I wish they adapted Dragon Ball Super instead of Dragon Ball Z’s story for this game. Say what you will about Dragon Ball Super as a series, it would’ve been cool to see these newer Dragon Ball stories in a video game. I know they’re adapting some elements of Dragon Ball Super as DLC but I would like to see the full Dragon Ball Super story so far in a full game. In conclusion, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot gave me exactly what I expected from an action RPG based on DBZ and I had a great time with it.
#7: Animal Crossing: New Horizons
When the Nintendo Switch was first revealed, the one game Nintendo fans had on their mind was Animal Crossing. The series was always jumping between console and handheld systems; we finally have a Nintendo console that can do both. Three years after the Switch’s release, Animal Crossing: New Horizons arrived to fans with critical praise. If you don’t know what Animal Crossing is, the best way I can describe to people is “it’s like doing chores but it’s fun and really cute.” The end goal for the game is to upgrade your house to its largest size while paying off Tom Nook. To pay off Mr. Nook, you can go fishing, pick fruit, mine material from rocks, chop wood, and many other activities to get bells. Animal Crossing: New Horizons is an improvement on all fronts for the series. A ton of quality of life changes to make navigating Animal Crossing easier. Furthermore, the customizable options this game offers is insane. Players can create custom clothing or furniture pieces to share with others online. I’ve spent some time on Twitter browsing some of the designs players have created and put them into my house and wardrobe. You can even transform the island to your liking with terraforming in the post game. I haven’t dabbled with this option too much but I’ve seen some really creative stuff from players when the game initially came out. The addition of the Nook Miles program gave the player new goals to achieve every play session. The Nook Miles can be redeemed for bells, a Nook Miles ticket, or exclusive furniture for the island. The Nook Miles ticket transports you to a random island to gather resources and/or meet new villagers to potentially bring back to your island. The whole Nook Miles system is great. It really gave me a reason to do certain activities throughout my play session. Also, the miles being used as a second form of currency was really smart. I genuinely had a great time playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons during the first couple of months of its release. Seeing everyone on Twitter playing the game along with my friends giving the series a shot for the first time was really wholesome. It really brought me back to when I played Animal Crossing: New Leaf in the Summer of 2013. Sadly, I stopped playing the game entirely in June, only three months after its release. Why did I stop playing New Horizons so soon? Well, despite all of the improvements they implemented for this game, I sort of got bored with it once I hit the terraforming stuff. I’m not too crazy on the customizing aspect on Animal Crossing. In addition, playing this game with your friends can extend the fun but my friends also fell out of the Animal Crossing high.
The console and handheld aspect of the Switch works great for Animal Crossing but I haven’t been able to try it out with 2020 being all out of whack. I literally have almost 200 hours on Animal Crossing: New Leaf and over 115 hours for Animal Crossing: New Horizons….wait I actually played 115 HOURS OF ANIMAL CROSSING: NEW HORIZONS??!? I’m going to be honest, I thought it’d be less than 50 hours. I had a fantastic time playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons. All of the improvements introduced for this game will make you not want to go back to its predecessors. Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the best game in the series so far. I spent over 100 hours with the game without even noticing.
#6 - Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
This game sort of took over the internet for a good couple of months. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is a platformer battle royale. Face off against other players in platforming challenges to get a chance to obtain the crown in the end to be the #1 fall guy. Because it’s a platformer battle royale, the controls are pretty basic. You can jump, dive, and grab to get through the many different challenges. The basic controls keep the game competitive for casual and serious players. While I think a competitive Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout scene won’t exist anytime soon, the game is still super fun at whichever level you decide to play at. The seasonal updates keep this game refreshing with new challenges and costumes to unlocks. My most recent play session involved me trying to get the Sonic costume because my name is tvsonic and I don’t know when the costume will be back in the store after that initial release. Since I needed like 8 crowns, I was taking the game super seriously; also known as sweating my butt off in matches. I did throw some victories during the final round but still had a phenomenal time when I finally unlocked the full Sonic costume. Every win I achieved was a pop off moment waiting to happen. One of the new challenges, “Wall Guys”, is probably my favorite addition to the game so far. It’s all about moving these platforms to climb the wall. It’s really good because it tests your speed and platforming skills, all in one challenge. Since you don’t want to move the platforms to give other players a path over the walls, you have to figure out how to get over each wall as fast as possible. I never thought a platformer battle royale could be possible but Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout certainly proved me wrong.
#5 - The Last of Us Part II
While I don’t love this game in its entirety, there are some aspects of it I do like and appreciate. Once again, I’m going to briefly talk about The Last of Us Part II. Still being the gaming community’s most hated game of 2020, The Last of Us Part II does do some things right. For one, the presentation is the best for a PlayStation 4 title. The graphics are pushing the system to its absolute limit. The technical aspect this game achieves is mind boggling. Like the rope and how that works/interacts with the player. Every time I see in action, whether I’m playing or watching someone else play The Last of Us Part II, it always amazes me they managed to code the rope mechanics so well. Equally important, the game runs almost perfectly on the PS4. Never once did I experience a glitch or bug during my playthrough of The Last of Us Part II. The gameplay is an aspect players aren’t too impressed with since the additions for this sequel are kept to a minimum. In my opinion, despite the additions being somewhat low, the additions improve the gameplay of The Last of Us Part II. The increased difficulty due to enemies being more agro and supplies being lower makes the gameplay more enjoyable. Additionally, more stealth tools makes navigating through certain parts of gameplay more rewarding. Splitting certain gameplay mechanics between Ellie and Abby made sense because you want to have some differential aspects for the two characters. The story isn’t a complete dumpster fire like the internet says but wasn’t exactly executed to my liking. To not spoil anything, I was fine with some decisions made for the story while other decisions I wasn’t that big of a fan of. The execution for the overall story was messy and didn’t hit the mark for me. The Last of Us Part II, although not the perfect sequel nor is it a disaster of a sequel, it still does do some things right.
#4 - Tell Me Why
Video Review (No Spoilers)
The Life is Strange franchise has quickly become one of my favorite graphic adventure series. My disappointment with Life is Strange 2 doesn’t make that sequel a bad game, more like it didn’t execute a compelling story that I could get super down with. I found more enjoyment reading the Life is Strange comic since it continues the story of Max and Chloe in an alternate timeline. When DONTNOD announced a new graphic adventure game called Tell Me Why with Xbox Games Studios publishing it, I was excited. Taking a more ground approach with the story, Tell Me Why follows a set of twins named Alyson and Tyler. They haven’t seen each other in years and decide to go back to their hometown of Delos Crossing. When they arrive, Alyson and Tyler start to discover new details of their past and want to fully unwrap the mystery of their childhood. The gameplay gimmick is Alyson and Tyler’s ability to talk to each other via twin telepathy. Also, they can view visions of their past in certain parts of town and their home. The reason why this game is so good is because of its grounded mystery story, tight release schedule, and great care to sensitive/important topics. The story reminds me of Life is Strange (2015); set in a small town with two main protagonists, following them around as they try to uncover a mystery set within said town, and the strong connection between the two protagonists. Correspondingly, the release schedule for this series being weekly episodes instead of month long gaps between episodes made following the story of Tell Me Why more streamline. I could legitimately follow the game’s story without having to worry about when the next episode is coming out. Tell Me Why only being three episodes long as well kept this game from overstaying its welcome. Lastly, the important topics this game tackles like mental health issues and being transgender are taken with considerable attention. They don’t just throw these topics into the story because why not. The issues of mental health and LGBTQ+ identity play into the game’s story and serve a purpose. Also, they don’t go over the top or downplay these issues either. It truly feels like DONTNOD has come back to form in Tell Me Why for their graphic adventure games. I am very pleased with Tell Me Why because of its phenomenal three episode storyline about twins rediscovering their past.
#3 - Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time
Leaked earlier this year, Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time takes my #3 spot. I fell in love with the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy in 2017 and was extremely eager to play a new Crash game with this classic style of gameplay. Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time certainly delivers on being called the fourth game in the series due to its similar gameplay style, tough as hell level design, and some fantastic additions for the series. The gameplay feels very identical to Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, despite being developed by a completely different studio. The levels are designed with challenge in mind, making this probably the hardest Crash game to date. I don’t blame anyone who gets irritated at the last part of the game because some of those levels are especially challenging. New platforming elements, first time for the classic Crash Bandicoot games are introduced here like grinding on rails, running on walls, and rope swinging. They all function how you would expect for another 3D platformer except for grinding on rails. You can traverse the rails from the bottom, adding an additional path during these sections. It’s not mind blowing but a nice touch nevertheless. The other characters you can play as like Dingodile and Tawna work perfectly fine as other platforming levels. Cortex is probably the worst character to play as since his levels feel really awkward. No second jump, no lock on for the ray gun, Cortex is never fun to play as. The quantum masks make Crash and Coco levels have a bit of extra spice. The masks manipulate the levels in different ways like flipping the gravity, phasing platforms in an out, or a better spin attack. The masks overall give Crash and Coco new tools to play around with for their levels. A ton of collectibles to earn with some tough level design, Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is 100% a worthy successor to the original trilogy.
#2 - Ghost of Tsushima
When I think of games who got snubbed out of awards this year due to The Last of Us Part II winning everything, I think of Ghost of Tsushima. Sucker Punch Productions created one of the best open world games from the past five years with this game. The story of Ghost of Tsushima tackles the journey of Jin Sakai as he’s at war with the Mongols. We follow Jin as he’s reclaiming territory from the Mongols but also challenging the ideas of the old way versus the new way. How far will Jin go in order to defeat the Mongol Empire? Is he willing to ditch the traditional way in favor of winning this war? I wasn’t necessarily on the edge of my seat but Ghost of Tsushima’s story kept me entertained the whole way through. Where this game frankly shines is the gameplay. The world of Tsushima is massive with tons of activities to accomplish. Outside of story missions and side missions, there’s a bunch of activities to do which feel a part of Tsushima as well. The samurai and ghost gameplay are both equally satisfying to pull off. Whether you’re attacking your enemies head on with the samurai or sneaking in the shadows as a ghost, both gameplay styles are fun as hell. The samurai takes on the soul-like approach of gameplay, focusing on counter attacks are just as important as creating your own openings too. Stealth sections as the ghost takes advantage of the many tools at Jin’s disposal. It’s amusing causing havoc among enemy troops from a distance. Upgrading moves, weapons, and armor will make sure you don’t fall like paper the further you get into the game. The presentation isn’t perfect by any means. There are quite a few holes in the presentation like weird bugs, glitches, and frame drops during the first week of its release. Since then, Sucker Punch has tried to patch and fix the game while adding a whole multiplayer mode for free. The game can look gorgeous and elegant at times in the right lighting. The load times are relatively fast for an open world game of this size. They’re apparently faster on the PS5 which is insane. Overall, Ghost of Tsushima surpassed my expectations for an open world samurai game set in feudal Japan. With the lively and beautiful world of Tsushima, you’re bound to get lost exploring what this game has to offer.
#1 - Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
When I said I was a Spider-Man fanboy, I meant it. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is my game of the year. Regardless of the game being a shorter half sequel to Marvel’s Spider-Man (2018), I still loved every second of my playthrough. In this game, Miles Morales finally comes into his own as Spider-Man. After being trained under Peter for quite some time, Miles is left to defend New York City on his own as Peter goes overseas with MJ as a work vacation. Miles understands what it means to be his own Spider-Man and fully owns that by the game’s conclusion. The conflict between Roxxon Corporation and the Underground hits closer to home for Miles than he realizes. I was thoroughly satisfied by the game’s plot and cannot wait to see what happens in Insomniac’s Spider-Man 2. The gameplay is very much the same from Marvel’s Spider-Man (2018) but with the Miles Morales twist. Swinging around the city is slightly different because Miles puts a lot more style in his swinging. He’s a lot of more free and careless compared to Peter’s swinging. Combat also has slightly different animations for Miles because he doesn’t fight the same way Peter does. Moreover, Miles has the venom and camouflage powers to his disposal. The venom powers make combat sections more fun and flashy. You can pretty much mow down enemies once you unlock certain venom powers. The camouflage makes stealth sections so much better. Before in Marvel’s Spider-Man (2018), you had to fight your way out of an engagement once you got caught. In Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales however, you can camouflage to reset the engagement if you want to continue doing stealth. The camouflage does have a cooldown period, so it doesn’t break the game entirely. The app missions are your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man missions as Miles helps the people of Harlem in whatever problem they may have. I hope missions like these return in Insomniac’s Spider-Man 2 because it definitely reminded me that Spider-Man is always looking out for the little guy. Other side activities and collectibles are spread throughout the city. The presentation and technical aspect for Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales has me very excited for the PlayStation 5. Graphically looks beautiful, especially in fidelity mode. The performance mode makes swinging around New York stellar at 60 frames per second. The load times are insanely fast, making fast travel useful this time around. The hip hop inspired music further emphasizes Miles’ identity as Spider-Man. I really did fall in love with Insomniac’s Spider-Man all over again with Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Encapsulating how Miles is different from Peter in this complete arc of his was amazing. The gameplay still nails home that feeling of being Spider-Man but now as Miles Morales. Stunning visuals on the PlayStation 5, I am extremely happy with how Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales turned out.