I will not mince words, future self: 2020 was a garbage year and you're wrong if you remember otherwise. HOWEVER, because we all had to stay home so much, video games and Twitch streaming became a sanity lifeline. As is such, I played so many games this year that I actually had trouble trying to sift through my list and make cuts. In the end I managed to figure out which games filled me with joy and which games just made me say "meh." The usual rules: the game doesn't have to be a 2020 release, but I must have "gotten" it this year. I can pick up a game for an hour in 2015, put it down for five years and come back to it in 2020 and play the bulk of it for the first time and it counts for 2020's list. And so, here we go.

10 Fall Guys & Among Us



Fall Guys is fun, colourful and perfect anger management for when you get totally robbed because that damn door won't open or one jerk grabs you. Among Us is fun, colourful and perfect anger management when you're trying to open that damn door and the person who had four chances to kill you, but hadn't yet, finally does. I enjoy myself every time I play Fall Guys and Among Us and I'm mashing this entry together because they're both enhanced when playing with friends and I can watch people play each of them on Twitch for hours.

9 Life is Strange 2


I really didn't think I could move past Max and Chloe but I was wrong. Sean and Daniel are great characters, their journey to find a new safe home rings true and the ugliness they encounter feels real. Playing as another character with powers was definitely diminishing returns, but instead playing as the person helping raise and guide the person with the powers? It works. It totally works.

8 Doom (2016)


2016's soft reboot was my first Doom, and while I'll never consider myself a massive fan of the series like many people I've met, I got a ton of satisfaction from Doom 2016 once I made myself ignore the part of my brain that wnats to find all the collectibles. Shut up, that part of my brain. This is all about ripping and tearing, until it is done. And dang it is satisfying. ^_^

7 Assassin's Creed Syndicate


The last of the "classic style" Assassin's Creeds, Syndicate was exactly what I wanted out of it. Perfectly polished gameplay that you either like or you don't, convoluted conspiracies, Assassins and Templars being self-righteous at one another, cameos of historical figures being shoehorned in and it was the kind of comfort-food game that I miss.

6 A Plague Tale: Innocence


Plague Tale is beautiful and violent and is filled with something very cliche but we all need it anyway: light in the darkness. The utter disgusting horror of everything around her never manages to break Amicia from protecting Hugo and figuring out how to stop the rats and cure the little brother she hardly knows. It only makes her fight on, and just wanting to see how it all played out made ME want to marathon this game as well. And playing this game in two very long sittings thanks to streaming it made my appreciate it all the more.

5 Resident Evil 3


RE3 is much more about action than RE2 because Nemesis is much more over-the-top than Mr. X ever was, but the rest of RE3 shows me that the formula still works. Jumps scares still scare, pistols will always be better than automatic weapons, the addition of the dodge move is very welcome and Jill's redesign is just as badass as the REmake / RE5 Jill I fell in love with. And as with RE2make, playing RE3make once wasn't enough, there's so much in trying to play it different ways. It can't have the impact its predecessor had but Resident Evil 3 still delivers.

4 Batman: Arkham Knight


Arkham Knight, also known as "suck up how you feel about the Batmobile," because there is a lot to like about such a gigantic Gotham City. The biggest problem with Arkham Knight is that it's too big: what were once smaller maps and leaner experinces in the PS3 days became VERY blown up and up-rezzed to show off all the PS4's possible power. But the scaling up works in the end. Puzzles involving the Batmobile became fun, the on-foot combat and stealth still work like a charm, flying around Gotham's skies was somehow MORE fun than Arkham City with a certain upgrade and I'll be damned if the story going back to Arkham Asylum doesn't manage to wrap itself up while also keeping me guessing. In the end I really, really liked Arkham Knight.

3 The Last of Us Part II



The Last of Us Part II's gameplay only slightly evolved from what now must be known as Part I: a dodge move, the ability to jump across chasms, new infected types AND human & infected enemies occupying the same area, to name a few. Still a solid foundation, but the story is what we're here for, and it is ugly, frustrating and heart-wrenching that Ellie and Abby are both completely justified in their actions AND complete and utter monsters. You start completely on Ellie's side, then see that Abby is human with just as much shit in her life, and the final confrontation is agonizing. As the saying goes, hatred can only bring about more hatred. Had Joel done ONE thing differently none of this would've happened, but because he did what he did so many more lives were broken and shattered forever and it is a hell of a game to play.

2 Detroit: Become Human


On paper Detroit: Become Human is "another Quantic Dream game" and it is so utterly dumb, yet it works. Taking Heavy Rain's formula of multiple characters and finding an overarcing way to bring them together and changing it to a near-future sci-fi tale about freedom and repression is great time when you're actually experiencing it. Connor's borderline naivete with Hank while trying to solve the case, Kara's deviant desire to protect Alice at all costs and Marcus realizing that all like him can be something more and taking it upon himself to lead is collectively one of the most engrossing games I've played in forever. Yes, it isn't subtle in the slightest and yes, trying to go for one certain branch amonst the many possible paths gives you an incredibly deep fear of screwing up. But whether Connor "becomes" human or not, Kara saves Alice or not or Marcus succeeds in changing peoples' minds or not, any path you take is awe-inspiring and Detroit: Become Human is one hell of a game.

1 Mass Effect 3

"Whatever happens...I love you. Now go save the world. Again."

A top game takes many forms. Sometimes it's agame I can't stop playing for six hours a day for weeks straight, and sometimes it's a game I play in small chunks and savour over a period of time but never regret spending time with. Mass Effect 3 does everything right from beginning to end. The gunplay feels right, all my party's powers feel good, the stakes are finally as high as I wanted and I internally cry a little every time Shepard faces astromonical odds and somehow does what she needs to, albeit never cleanly. It always hurts just enough to make you realize and remember what she's fighting for.

Shepard is finally doing what she was meant to, no holds barred and it is a sight to see. The perfect mix of foreboding and hope permeates everything you do and every desicion you make in Mass Effect 3. If this is truly the end, is it worth it trying to continue being a good person, or do the ends justify the horrible means? Every one of the well-written characters seems to think so but they believe in Shepard regardless, because they have faith that somehow she will get them through this. Whether it's the returning unplayable characters like Thane, Miranda or Mordin, returning PLAYable characters like Garrus, Ashley or Liara or all new characters like James, EDI or my Shepard's love interest Samantha Traynor (took me three games to finally woo someone), these are real people dealing with the horror of potential extinction and they're doing all they can. The weight even starts getting to Shepard. As Traynor says to her when Shepard opens up about her uncertainty, (paraphrasing) "I'm surprised. There's actually a woman underneath all that armour." She's only one person, and yet the entire galaxy needs her.

The moment that crystalized ME3 as my GOTY was fairly innocuous, not bombastic like the Reaper fight on Rannoch, or the push to make it to the temple on Thessia, or when Shepard learns more about what Cerberus did to her. No, instead, there I was, dragging the game out not wanting it to end, wandering around the Citadel collecting and solving side-quests. At the desk leading to the embassy offices is a female human soldier and an asari clerk. The soldier is trying to get her daughter somewhere safe but the asari has to follow rules and protocol, and she seems to hate it. When I would return every so often and walk past them, they would still be there but the conversation would progress and update, leading up to the asari finally calling in numerous favours to have this complete stranger's daughter transported out of a hotspot to safety, and the human soldier is beside herself with gratitude which the asari clerk tries to shrug off. THAT is what I love the most about Mass Effect 3, and I've loved it in all other media that does it well; the trope of "when all seems lost, even the dim lights shine that much more brightly." And Shepard shines so very brightly. Her journey is at an end, but my memory of her exploits, the relationships she built, the lives she saved and her refusal to back down will live inside me for a long, long time. Mass Effect 3 is my 2020 Game of the Year. I finally understand why this trilogy is so loved. And I'm all-in. <3

Posted by T_Prime Tue, 12 Jan 2021 11:14:23 (comments: 4)
 
Tue, 12 Jan 2021 14:57:38

A great list.  I'm a bit suprised at the amount of AA games on it.  I play a lot less of those lately and more of the smaller indie type ones.

I'm currently playing through A Plague Tale myself.  I was looking forward to it, but am rather underwhelmed by it so far.  I guess I'm about half in, but so far I've found everything to be very... forgettable?  The gameplay loop just isn't doing it for me.

 
Tue, 12 Jan 2021 19:19:00
Mass Effect 3 is fantastic.
 
Wed, 13 Jan 2021 01:16:19

I still need to try out Among Us one of these days. I feel like I'm missing another cultural phenomon.

 
Wed, 13 Jan 2021 02:03:14

I also really enjoyed A Plague Tale; the narrative and aesthetic definitely made up for the mediocrity of the gameplay, but to a certain extent I found the antiquated nature of the gameplay charming, too.

robio said:

I still need to try out Among Us one of these days. I feel like I'm missing another cultural phenomon.

I got it on gamespass and had the same thought, yet still haven't got around to playing it.

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