2020 was a terrible year for many things, but when just focusing on the games side of things, it was a pretty good year, much better than the lackluster year that was 2019. Even though like many I wasn’t able to get my hands on a PS5, there was still an amazing lineup of games to end the last generation with. There were so many great games there was a number I felt I missed and will have to catch up on in 2021, I am still hoping we get Hades on PlayStation sometime this year. Below are my favorite games I played this year, including some PC/Xbox games which snuck their way onto my list this year.
For more Game of the Year content, check back throughout the week for more lists from other members of the site. You can also check out our site-wide Top 10 games of the year conversation that went live as this week’s That Nerdy Site Show…just be sure to set aside about 5 hours to do so.
10. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
Fall Guys is the most accessible battle royale game we have seen yet. It’s tonally different than most other battle royale out there and It’s simple control scheme is easy for most to pick up quickly, while still leaving depth for techniques and strategies to develop from devoted players. For me the ultimate downside of the game was in its simplicity, the game is of course built entirely around the battle royale game mode, where players are eliminated after each mini game round. After playing for a few hours I had already experienced all of the mini games multiple times and just did not feel anything driving me back, even after various content updates. After we got to play and highlight this game at PAX East this last year before its release, I’m happy to see the huge success it had and the continued support it’s gotten from the developers, but I have been done chasing those crowns for a while.
Grounded simply has the best premise for a survival game I’ve ever heard, it’s basically just Honey I Shrunk the Kids the game. You play as one of 4 kids who have been shrunken down to the size of an insect and now must survive amongst the bugs in the nightmare jungle that is the backyard. While there isn’t much in the way of narrative right now as the game is in early access, the basic premise was enough to have me hooked into the game and the narrative crafted with friends was enough to keep us going for a few hours. It was fun to explore the mundane world of a normal backyard from a new perspective and I loved discovering how they adjusted normal survival game materials into something that made sense for someone who is one inch tall, like getting enough water drink with two hands off of one drop from a tall blade of grass. The biggest downfall of the game right now is the amount of content found, it was fun for an afternoon/weekend, but you’ll quickly exhaust everything there is in the game, it is in early access so I’m interested to see where the game is in its final release.
8. Umurangi Generation
Umurangi Generation is an evolution of something like Pokémon Snap and every photo mode you’ve seen in a game up until now. The entire premise of the game is being dropped into dystopian near future levels with a quest list of bounties, which aren’t people to kill or capture, but rather everyday sights/sounds to photograph. This is where the real depth of the game is, you can compose your photos however you want, using a variety of real lenses you unlock throughout the game, to even being able to fully edit your photos with effects after taking them. That’s my favorite part of this game, everyone one who plays the game truly tackles each challenge in their own way, ending up with completely unique results. There was recently DLC for the game called Umurangi Generation Macro, which added new levels, roller skates, new features for the camera like apertures and shutter speed, and a Gameboy Camera style attachment which produces low resolution photos. This has me interested to dive back into the game to explore new possibilities, and I hope to see more updates like this in the future.
7. Ghost of Tsushima
I am still fairly early into Ghost of Tsushima, but I can already tell it is the most beautiful game I’ve played this year. I have already spent a lot of time stopping just to take in the scenery and overall ambiance of everything happening. I’m still trying to get the full hang of the gameplay, but even in my short time I’ve already started adapting to the more methodological gameplay style and I am hooked on upgrading my equipment/abilities. The story has also been great so far, I like the way everything is broken up into “Tales” which are episodic style quests, and I am invested in Jin’s overall quest to rally his allies and push the Mongols out of Japan. I’m looking forward to spending more time with this one and seeing where Jin’s adventure goes, if I was able to spend more time with it beforehand it would definitely be higher on this list.
As I mentioned above I am still currently playing through Ghost of Tsushima so I wasn’t on our spoilercast from last year, but I recommend everyone check it our for more thoughts on Ghost of Tsushima from our team.
Ghostrunner brings the frantic blood soaked trial and error gameplay of Hotline Miami into the first person perspective as it puts you right into the shoes of the cybernetically enhanced ninja supersoldier the aforementioned Ghostrunner. In my time with Ghostrunner the gameplay continued to evolve as I traversed and fought my way up through the slums of the tower the game is set in, slashing, jumping, dashing, wall-running, and eventually grappling all around the room as only a cyber ninja could. I really loved the way every situation felt like it had multiple paths through, allowing me to change my strategy on the fly if the way I was attempting to tackle the encounter was only resulting in death. Speaking of death, it will happen to you a lot in this game, but the developers nailed the feeling around this, every death was always because of a mistake I made and the penalty for dying is very light as you always respawn at the beginning of the room in the blink of an eye. With the amazing gameplay, awesome synth soundtrack, and dystopian future setting, this is arguably the best cyberpunk game that came out in 2020.
5. Persona 5 Royal
Persona 5 was my Game of the Year back in 2017 when it originally released, and even after playing through the game a second time for the platinum in 2018, I still could not wait for this definitive edition of the game to release. Even though it had only been 2 years since my last playthrough of the original game, Royal really did give me the feeling of visiting a world and friends I surely missed. While also refining almost every single aspect of the original game and adding many welcome additions like darts, billiards, the Kasumi/Maruki story arcs, and more. I think many overlooked Persona 5 Royal thinking there wasn’t enough content added, but I think there was more than people realize and what has been added is incredible. It’s safe to say this is the definitive version of Persona 5 which is still a great game I completely recommend to any Persona fans or anyone who has been waiting to get into Persona 5.
4. The Last of Us Part Two
The Last of Us Part 2 was my number one contender for my Game of the Year for a long time. In typical Naughty Dog fashion the cut scenes, story telling, and voice acting are outstanding. The attention to detail is on another level, it truly has the most real feeling worlds I have ever interacted with in a game. The puzzles and platforming are all realistically built into the world, even the gun crafting has a meticulous amount of detail and realism. They even improved the combat which was one of my biggest problems from the first game, with the updated combat system The Last of Us Part 2 has some of the most tense and exciting combat scenarios out there. The biggest downfall to me and many was how bloated the game ended up feeling, I definitely would have preferred a more condensed directed experience, closer to the first game. Especially highlighted by the fact that the moments the game does that shine the brightest. It certainly wasn’t the most fun game we played this year, but it was one of the most interesting, it prompted the longest discussions on a game this year, for better or for worse.
For our full teams expanded thoughts on The Last of Us Part Two you can check out our full spoilercast on the game from last year.
3. Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla
I have been saying for a while now that Assassins Creed has been in a renaissance and Valhalla further proves this is true, it continues to build off of the groundwork laid before it by Origins and Odyssey in a way I was worried it wouldn’t be able to. The story felt even more elevated than it has in recent entries, with many interesting characters and side stories found all around England, along your adventure concurring new lands and uncovering the main mysteries of the game. I ended up pretty engrossed in the story, especially as it pulled from past Assassins Creed lore and continues to incorporate real mythology in an interesting way. While I didn’t mind the actual ending of the game, the pacing did leave me very unfulfilled and left me with questions in a way I was not happy with. I was also glad to see the map size was downsized in this entry, but the world ends up being really dense, leading to me abandoning many of the open world activities after a point. The last thing I will highlight is the gameplay, it is still fantastic and incredibly fun, it also ends up being incredibly varied based on how you spec your character and which weapons you choose. The ability to dual wield and control which weapon goes in each hand is a great addition and gives countless options for different gameplay styles.
2. Marvel’s Spider-Man Miles Morales
Building off of one of my favorite games of 2018, Spiderman Miles Morales keeps the heartfelt story and fast fun gameplay of swinging through New York webbing up criminals, while also improving on many of the smaller elements of the game like the random crimes found throughout the city. I love the addition of the Friendly Neighborhood Spiderman app, which gives access to the detailed story filled side quests that let you get to know different residents of Harlem and grow your relationship with them. This continues all the way down to the collectables in the game which continue to build out the overall world of Spiderman and continue to tell Miles’s story even further. One of the main things I’ve remarked on since finishing the game is how Insomniac handled the main villain The Tinkerer. I legitimately think their interpretation of the character and the way it ties into Mile’s story is better than anything we’ve seen from the typical Marvel version of the character. This is another game from this past year I cannot recommend enough, Insomniac continues to blend fun gameplay with heartfelt story, while also pushing their own slice of the Marvel universe forward. It’s safe to say I am completely onboard for whatever they do next.
For more thoughts on Marvel’s Spider-Man Miles Morales you can check out our full spoilercast episode of the That Nerdy Site Show.
1. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2
Tony Hawk is a legendary series, so much so I added Pro Skater 2 to our Ultimate Video Game List Show during season one. This was prior to the announcement of these remakes and they’re something I honestly didn’t think we’d get. I argued on the show how well the original games have held up, which I still think is somewhat true compared to most games of the era, but these remakes did really show what a huge upgrade bringing these games into the modern era could be. I love the attention to detail they put into not just remaking the levels, but updating them for modern times, like The Mall which is now decrepit and abandoned. All of the skaters have been accurately aged up, skate brands have been updated, modern artists have been added to the soundtrack, and newer skaters have been included to fill out the roster. Ultimately this is the game I had the most fun with this year, this game is everything a great Tony Hawk game can be and I hope this is the start of a reinvigorated franchise. It’s really amazing how they didn’t just remake the original Tony Hawk games, they remade what you remember them being and the feeling they captured at the time.