These games are not just Vaporwave or Cyberpunk themed, its just my personal list of games I played this year that I really enjoyed.
11.) SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated By Purple Lamp Studios (Original Game was Developed by Heavy Iron Studios)
This was one of favorite games that I played on the Nintendo GameCube years ago and when I found out they planned to remaster and release it for modern systems, I was shocked and excited.
Usually when it comes to video games based on a TV show or movie they have a negative reputation of being half baked products pushed out to make quick cash but in the last few years it seems publishers and developers want to move away from that into games that take these licenses and use them to create interesting games but back in the early 2000s the sigma was alive and well. Battle for Bikini Bottom when it first came out in 2003 was one I remember that didn’t carry that reputation as it became a cult classic of the time with it being extremely fun with the developers not skimping at all to capture the SpongeBob universe and the characters as well as having levels that were extremely creative.
It was great to see a classic come back and for a new audience of people to enjoy, myself being one of them who was happy to play something of my youth again. I still have the original GameCube came to this day and its crazy how its been a little under 20 years since the original came out.
10.) SpiritFarer By Thunder Lotus Games
I don’t usually get emotional when it comes to video games, but there was something about SpiritFarer that had a grip on me from the start. Besides the brilliant art style and lovable characters the game has an underlaying level of sadness as well which is the heart of what it is. The fact that you’re the ferry master who’s goal is to bring spirits to the afterlife while managing the boat these spirits live on until they are ready to go to the world beyond.
I really enjoy management games as well so the ability to upgrade my ship and rooms where my passengers live, sail wherever I want, and build up my boat was a satisfying experience.
You do feel this sense of sadness when they move on but you also feel joy when you accomplish your task of doing so, knowing wherever they go they are hopefully happy. I like games that tackle the concept of death and grief in a way that’s not scary but in a way that celebrates the persons life and their memories. I am a more death positive person in a way and I want people to not be like cheers and smiles but in a way embrace it for what it has to be and media at times does a great job bringing those ideas across to people who may be squeamish when talking about death or the afterlife.
This game takes the concept and makes it beautiful but also heartwarming.
I mean you literally hug the spirits living with you as a mechanic to bring their mood up. Like this game was made for 2020 because all I wanted to do was tell these spirits that everything is going to be okay.
One of favorites without question.
9.) Death and Taxes By Placeholder Gameworks
On the other end of spectrum for games about death you have a game that is a dark comedy where you play as a Grim Reaper and you decide who lives and who dies siting at a desk each day like you’re working at the DMV.
Yes I know two games focused on the concept of death in one of the most miserable years in human history is probably not good for my mental health but both of these games are just awesome in how the developers tackle these themes that makes it enjoyable to play and engaging.
Death and Taxes is a narrative focused, mini-sim where you play as a the grim reaper spawned from a being known as “Fate”. Each day you sit at a desk as a Grim Reaper for the specific region your assigned too, you’re job is to follow the guidelines given to you each day on who has to die and who must live. The game also features little trinkets for your desk you can buy from each paycheck you get and outfits you can collect and wear. On weekend (this was a new feature later on) you can go to the bar to talk with other reapers and spirits including getting a drink from the demonic, but super friendly, bartender.
I really enjoyed the overall humor of the game, especially with how the whole process of death is bureaucratic to every living creature. There was even a department for plants according to Fate and from his direct quote, “Yes, there is a department for plants, Do not ask about the plant department.”
The game oozes charm and humor that I found super refreshing to play.
8.) Dark Pictures: Little Hope By Supermassive Games
My friends and I have a bit a tradition going where we have begun playing the Dark Picture games together either virtually or together. Last year we played the first game Man of Medan. This year for Halloween we knew would try to play their next game Little Hope together. We realized playing it that the developers have made many improvements to the overall gameplay and flow with the controls being far more polished as said by one of my friends.
The story and pacing was also improved significantly since the last one and of course the curator who is our favorite character of all is someone we love to watch. I overall really enjoy the series and I’m so happy that each year they put out another one now around Halloween each year. I already saw the trailer for the third entry and we already are gearing to play it when it comes out. This is coming from me the person who can’t stand horror games, this is the only series I can play because the story telling is so fun and engaging.
7.) Animal Crossing New Horizons By Nintendo Entertainment
When Animal Crossing was released, I can’t even imagine the looks on the employees at Nintendo seeing a game being coined as the quarantine game of the year, with news reports and sales claiming the social distancing ands stay at home orders boosting sales tremendously at the high of the panic for COVID especially world wide. The game is fun, relaxing and a fantastic expansion on New Leaf by making the customization of the island and houses more open to players. As well as adding futures the community has been asking for such as making pathways and sidewalks much more easily and designing rooms much better utilizing aspect of Happy Home Design which improved light fixture placement and other aspects of arranging furniture.
Animal Crossing is a joy and just a fun, casual game that is super accessible for all ages to enjoy and play.
6.) Halo The Master Chief Collection (2019 PC Release and Expansions Released in 2020) By 343 Industries
Yes the windows version came out in December 2019 and the first version came out years ago, I got the windows version as a present for the holidays at the end of 2019. So since it came out very late in 2019, beyond any reasonable time someone could play it within that year anyway, I think it could still count on the list for 2020. I would also like to note that I still don’t have a Xbox Series X or anything modern. In more recent years I got one of the original one models (from the early 2000s) but that would never be able to run the Master Chief Collection and yeah since I’m putting Among Us (a game from 2018) on this list anyway, I still want to count this game since I played a ton of it this year.
Since I never had an Xbox growing up, I never had the chance to play any Halo games in its peak years of popularity. I would always hear about it but never knew anything much about the game beyond the memes and jokes on YouTube that would pop up years later. Now that I finally own a copy, I totally understand why the games are so popular. The mini-games and multiplayer games with friends is AWESOME. I cannot express the hours I’ve had tons of fun with my friends playing online and the best part is that my friends who don’t have a PC but have a modern Xbox can play so we all can join in. We have spent so much time playing the story campaigns, the online matches and games like Capture the Flag its perfect for a medium to large group of friends. I highly recommend it to anyone especially people who never had a chance to play Halo, its well worth it.
5.) Among Us By Innersloth
Among Us is a small game that came out in 2018 and gently flew under the radar for several years. In its early life the game had around 30-50 players at a time. It didn’t perform great back then and was another game lost in the shuffle.
Then the pandemic hit in early 2020 across the globe and suddenly the game became one of the most played games on Steam and mobile (Android and IOS). Initially several popular streamers picked up the game and soon youtubers followed in suit. With this sudden rise in publicity, people began to see that not only was it a super fun game but it was a very inexpensive and super simple game to pick up and play for all ages to enjoy.
The game ended up being ideal for isolation, as Among Us is fantastic for online social interaction where players had to use deduction and also a sharp eye to find out who among them is an imposter before the rest of the space cadets are killed. Its an adaptation of the classic game Werewolf that many people are familiar with but also expanded upon with players having to complete tasks while figuring out the killer and the killer being able to sabotage important parts of the spaceship which could lead to an automatic win if the rest of the players don’t cooperate.
It truly was the pandemic game of choice and I cannot imagine the shock and joy of the developers when they found out this game that was forgotten back in 2018 suddenly became one of the most played games in 2020 worldwide.
4.) Hades By Supergiant Games
Game of the year for many and for good reason. A fun and gorgeous-looking hack n’ slash that brings back memories of games like Grim Dawn or Diablo but being far more fast paced, adding in some rogue like elements and overall interesting characters based on Greek Mythology.
I don’t have a lot to say that has already not been said about the game but its a BLAST! I highly recommend it to anyone who likes hack n ‘slash games or are fans of Grim Dawn and Path of Fate but want something a little different. From the same developers that has brought us Transistor and Bastion too boot. They cannot stop putting out awesome stuff. I can’t wait for whatever else they have in store for us next.
3.) Sea of Thieves (Steam Release) By Rare Ltd
Yes another game that’s older but it came to Steam in 2020 and that was when I finally picked it up. The game had a rough start back when it first came out but according to my friends who got the game in early 2020, agreed its is a lot better then the original reviews made it out to be. It obviously had some serious improvements and content patches in its lifespan.
My experience with Sea of Thieves has been nothing short of fantastic. My friends and I worked together to combat the kraken, enemy ships and solve riddles that made for a fantastic experience overall. This is another game that runs great on PC and can be played with an Xbox with other Windows/PC players so its great if you have friends who don’t have a PC that is powerful enough to play the game but has the console. You can most likely tell that I love games that really take advantage of having your friends cooperate heavily and teamwork being a huge focus. I felt like I was part of a real crew with my friend acting as a captain and all of us at our posts when sailing the seas. My friend was in the crow’s-nest watching for enemies, I would be either playing music or watching the map and my other friend would do the same as we traded off roles while we just chatted on our way to the next location.
A blast with friends and worthwhile if your group needs a new game that puts a focus on teamwork.
2.) Wasteland 3 By inXile Entertainment
I live and breath for role playing games, where I really feel like I’m in a strange new world and my choices matter in the outcome. Its one of the reasons why I liked the first couple of games in the fallout series and Pillars of Eternity. Wasteland was a series I got into not too long ago as it was recommended by a friend who knows I love isometric style CRPGs.
Wasteland 3 consumed all my time as I traveled around towns, took on quests and learned more about the universe Wasteland takes place in. It had a rocky launch with tons of bugs and problems but now a few months later, the game seems pretty stable at least from my experience and I’m in love with learning more about this world and I really enjoy how in-depth the RPG mechanics are. Its one of the reasons why I stopped liking Fallout after a while as it seems to cater more to the First-Person Shooter genre more with the RPG elements becoming much more simplified for my tastes. Wasteland 3 retally gives you the power to make the characters/rangers you want to make.
1.) Ghost of Tsushima By Sucker Punch Productions
Out of all the games I played this year, Ghost of Tsushima was one of the few that seriously kept my engaged for hours on end. First off the vast landscapes across the map are just a joy to explore not to mention I’m a huge nerd when it comes to Japanese history. Playing in a game that takes place during a real event is always a joy for me. In the case of this game, this is based on the Japanese Island of Tsushima being invaded by the Mongol armies in the 13th century. You play as Jin Sakai, a samurai warrior who was one of the last few left after the battle that crippled the samurai army and leading to Jin’s uncle being captured.
Now with the island in grave danger with citizens being slaughtered and towns being captured under the enemy’s control, you quest around the island saving lives and destroying camps while also completing main and side quests to repeal the Mongol forces back. You use a series of tactics from stealth to go in sword in hand in a stand off. As you level up, you gain more abilities and learn more styles of attack that work better on certain enemies as well as using advantages around you like flammable barrels near enemies to take them out or cause confusion in the enemy camps. There are so many ways to tackle problems and engage with enemies.
This is on top of the world you can explore which is HUGE. You can find Shinto Shines to climb up and pray to for experience, hot springs, places to meditate to write Haikus, all kinds of people and landmarks to see and visit, and so much more. Suckerpunch held nothing back to make the story and characters feel like I’m watching a feudal Japan, samurai epic tale like those black and white movies from the early 20th century. I love everything about this game.
1.) Cyberpunk 2077: I only just started playing this game super recently since it came out in December so I cannot in good faith put it on my best list as that would be dishonest since I have yet to truly come to my own conclusions. I do plan to cover it in full in 2021 especially after its massive list bug problems have been resolved and hype dies down so I can look and analyze the game with fresh eyes. I have the PC port which has been stable so far so that’s good news at least so at least I’ll be able to play it and hopefully finish it soon with my schedule.
2.) GhostRunner: Like before, I got into this game a little too late this year but my first impressions so far after giving it an hour are pretty good. I want to also give this game a full review but the timing was pretty bad as I have a huge backlog and I was not able to give my full time to this one.
3.) DEATH STRANDING: Another game I had no time to play because life happened but I finally got it very recently as a gift and its SUPER cool just from the tiny bit I played of it. Again I cannot add it to the list in good faith without putting a much more reasonable amount of time but I’ll put it here as its good but I can’t speak on it to much yet.
4.) Phasmophia: So this one I debated on because on one hand, it is without a doubt one of the best games of the year and like Among Us was boosted to prominence thanks to streamers and word of mouth. Its actually a really awesome concept that’s fun to play and fun to watch. The problem is that I HATE scary games. Even Little Hope was a push for me but it felt more like a movie then playing a game, so it felt less creepy. In Phasmophia, I was in a house with little sound and it was mega dark, already I’m not happy. Plus I would hear one of my friends just die because of the ghost so I would be alone. I still try but I cannot play horror games that much, I’ll need to get better but something about them makes me freeze up. Still I cannot stress how one person made this game and considering the concept and how much fun people are having or being absolutely terrified in my case, its a well deserved accomplishment for Kinetic Games.
5.) Kind Words: This game is pretty old but I have to say it was a godsent for me as its basically a game where you can privately tell what’s on your mind anonymously to the community. Which I did a lot for all the crazy personal things that happened in 2020. Its not for everyone but I think having a game like this was fantastic in a world were you feel alone and need someone to listen to what you have to say.
This year was also in some respects a bit of a slower year for games as per the opinions of myself and some of my friends. It was a new console generation with the launch of the new Xbox and PlayStation systems so we had as per usual a lot of final games come out for those system a good portion being sequels and remasters. We also had a few games come out for the PlayStation 5 but a lot of them are already able to be played on PC and the previous consoles as far as I can tell from the list they put up of all the games coming to the system. Demon’s Souls is the only open I’m aware of that is only available on the PS5 with a few more being announced to be released in 2021.
2020 was a significant year for gaming for several other reasons as well. First the amount of people playing video games dramatically increased due to lockdowns and stay at home orders around the world.
I am, of course, just a small blogger who writes about things that don’t matter in the grand scheme of things but I know that video games have become a medium more then ever before, of escapism, expressing stories, and view points for all of us to laugh and enjoy. Games being sold as bundles for charity or to help people cope with this year have been something I never saw on this scale.
I do hope 2021 will be a year of recovery in small ways and maybe a year where we can see things looking more hopeful for all of us.
I wish you all the best and please enjoy the remainder of your holiday time with family and friends safely.