DualShockers’ Favorite Games of 2020 — Cameron’s Top 10
After a mediocre year of games overall in 2019, and *gestures broadly* everything this year, 2020 has been remedied with some great games.
As 2020 (thankfully) comes to a close, the DualShockers staff is coming together to share their personal favorite games throughout the year. Unlike our official Game of the Year Awards, each of these lists is meant to reflect which games stood out personally to each of our staff members. Additionally, any game — not just 2020 releases — can be considered in each Top 10 List.
Disclaimer: For my personal list, I will not be considering games that are ports, remasters, or not released in 2020.
Honorable Mentions: Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore and Persona 5 Royal
In recent years, I’ve realized that Atlus is one of my favorite developers out there, as they’ve created some of my favorite games of all-time. The only reason that these two games aren’t on the list is that I’m solely considering titles that released in 2020.
While both of them did release during this year, Tokyo Mirage Sessions is simply a port, and I didn’t find the new content in Persona 5 Royal enough to make it stand out from the original in 2017. If they were to be on the list, you could expect them to be incredibly high up. I think both of these games are incredible in their own right. If you are a JRPG fan, both of these titles are must-plays.
Originally I wasn’t going to put Ghostrunner on my Top 10 list even though it had a spot at some point, but I genuinely can’t think of another game this year where I felt so cool and had so much fun. It isn’t too short or too long, the gameplay consistently keeps you on your toes, and the parkour mechanics are better than Mirror’s Edge. There are plenty of memorable moments and boss fights to boot as well. With this being the debut project from developer One More Level, I am thoroughly impressed and hope that in the future they will be able to create a game with a AAA budget, because what they were able to do with Ghostrunner is nothing to scoff at.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Ghostrunner.
9. The Last of Us Part II
If you ever told me that I would be putting The Last of Us Part II in my personal Top 10 list this year, I would say you were lying…but here we are. Anyone who knows me well knows that I notoriously disliked the original The Last of Us, but I went into Part II with an open mind and the results were…generally positive?
Between it and Red Dead Redemption 2 it might be the most impressive technical achievement ever in all of gaming. The story surprisingly validated a lot of the negative feelings I had about its predecessor, and for the most part I liked the direction of Part II. There were some narrative decisions that seemed unnecessary; some actually infuriated me. I also found some of the level design frustrating at times too. But the gameplay was smooth and engaging, which brought me to the edge of my seat in tight situations.
Overall, The Last of Us Part II was a relatively mixed bag for me, but there is no denying its high quality and Naughty Dog’s attempt to make a completely new gaming experience, even if it all didn’t work out across the board.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of The Last of Us Part II.
8. Yakuza: Like a Dragon
With this being my first Yakuza title, Judgment being DualShockers‘ Game of the Year for 2019, and members of our staff raving about the series, you could say I went into Yakuza: Like a Dragon with very high expectations. While I still thoroughly enjoy the game, Like a Dragon did not meet the quality that I was expecting, but that in no way means I think it is a bad game. I actually think it is a very good game.
Ichiban is a charming protagonist that reminds me of Sora from Kingdom Hearts. The cast is diverse with interesting backgrounds, and the new turn-based battle system is a fun time. That being said, I wasn’t a huge fan of the direction of where the narrative went after its opening hours. I don’t find the job system very deep nor the side quests or world of Yokohama particularly interesting. It also has maybe my most aggravating criticism with JRPGs where not all party members have an actual role in the main story.
Generally, Yakuza: Like a Dragon is solid in almost every way, but nothing specifically that really stood out to me. The business management simulator though; give me a complete game of just that as soon as possible.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Yakuza: Like a Dragon.
7. Ghost of Tsushima
If you ask almost anyone on the internet as to what the most divisive title of 2020 was, they will probably say The Last of Us Part II. Personally, I think it is fair to say that a lot of that negativity, like most things, was from the vocal minority. But one game that has felt actually divisive from my experience this year was Ghost of Tsushima.
I’ve seen many claim it to be their Game of the Year, while others feeling that under the hood of its gorgeous environments and presentation, it is a relatively generic open-world title. To me, I generally think it is pretty good. It isn’t as in-depth as 2018’s Red Dead Redemption 2 or even this year’s Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, but it knows exactly what kind of experience it wanted to be; it didn’t go the extra mile it needed to really stand out as a true Game of the Year contender.
Despite a good cast of side characters, Jin is rather bland and inconsistent as the main character. The combat–while fun most of the time–I found rather hit and miss where things that should have worked, and vice versa. The side activities and quests, on the other hand, always felt rewarding to me, but I wish there was a little bit more variety with the map being as large as it is.
Ghost of Tsushima is one of the few titles on this list that I still need to finish and I really want to try out its multiplayer Legends mode, but I don’t see my thoughts shifting significantly enough by the time I roll credits to place it any higher.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Ghost of Tsushima.
6. Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Earlier this year I finally played Ori and the Blind Forest for the first time to prepare for Ori and the Will of the Wisps, and honestly, I wasn’t a huge fan. The platforming mechanics weren’t great and the controls felt messy, but Will of the Wisps fixes almost every issue I had with the original. The game obviously looks gorgeous, but it plays better in every single way. The implementation of combat brought a great new layer to its Metroidvania elements alongside some of the best level design I’ve experienced in the genre.
Will of the Wisps tells a compelling story that brought a myriad of emotions to me with very few words. If it weren’t for the questionable boss designs and inconsistent checkpoint system, it could have had the potential to be a modern masterpiece. I’m eager to see what Moon Studios will be working on next.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Ori and the Will of the Wisps.
5. Demon’s Souls
Demon’s Souls is the first Soulslike title I’ve played, and while I wasn’t particularly blown away by what has been considered the “hot genre” in single-player gaming for the past ten years, I definitely have had a blast with it. A lot of my favorite experiences in games are ones that provide an engaging challenge. Even so, Soulslike titles are known for their diverse suite of bosses and granted, Demon’s Souls was the first of the subgenre; some of the bosses’ designs felt dated or poorly-designed. Regardless, I cannot wait to jump back in as soon as possible to have more pure adrenaline-fueled fun.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Demon’s Souls.
4. Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla
Assassin’s Creed is one of my favorite gaming series. I know there are many who are tired of its repetitive design, but with the franchise’s latest entry, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, it is the most refreshing it has ever been. The world feels lived-in, where it evolves the more you interact with it. The combat in Valhalla is satisfying with some genuinely great boss fights. Eivor is a fantastic main protagonist, arguably the best since Ezio Auditore, who has a fascinating journey while meeting a compelling cast of side characters.
There are legitimate surprises for those who are tired of the old “Assassin’s Creed formula, and so much to do where most of it felt worth my time, even with so many open-world games that come out every year. Also, Orlog! It’s the best mini-game to come out of this year, and honestly in any game in recent memory. I said it in my review as well, but Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is genuinely one of the best chapters in the series and should be the example used when creating new titles for the franchise moving forward.
3. Star Renegades
2020 has been a huge year for roguelikes like Hades and Spelunky 2, but Star Renegades to me is the true star that I feel that not remotely enough people are talking about. With its fantastic art design and analytical gameplay, it is my favorite title in the genre since Dead Cells. It is simplistic in concept but deep in combat. While having turn-based combat, it plays more like a strategy RPG where making a wrong move can completely collapse your run, just like chess. There is a lot of potential in Star Renegades to ruin everything, and I love that.
Star Renegades doesn’t do anything new, but it interprets old gameplay mechanics and implements them in new ways that I found incredibly effective. If there was any game that I feel like got overlooked this year, it is Star Renegades.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Star Renegades.
I don’t think I need to tell you for the hundredth time that 2020 has been an utter crap pile with COVID-19 among other things. But it is also the year that made me realize how important games are as a medium, when they specifically helped me to mourn and overcome major life events from my own experience.
Earlier this year my Dad unexpectedly passed away, and shortly after that I got to play Spiritfarer, a game that presents the ideas and themes of death in ways that I never thought of before. I’m not a person of faith, but my Dad was, and it made me think of the hypothetical that there is an afterlife. What would my Dad be thinking about? What were his regrets? What would he have done differently? It just made me consider how he would be feeling. Having someone as important as a parent or parental figure die makes you look at life through a new lens.
Every character that boarded my ship had distinct backstories that brought interesting perspectives. No matter how I personally felt about their choices in their past life, that I always teared up when I took them to the Everdoor. Spiritfarer was some much-needed therapy that helped me say goodbye and gives me hope that I will get to see my Dad again one day. To me, Spiritfarer is the best indie title to come out this year.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Spiritfarer.
1. Final Fantasy VII Remake
Final Fantasy VII is one of my favorite games of all-time. Its themes and messages still hold up to this day and, in my opinion, are even more relevant. From even before the announcement of Final Fantasy VII Remake, there were countless things that any fan could be concerned would go wrong. Several red flags came up throughout development made it more worrisome as well. Even so, Final Fantasy VII Remake to me is a masterpiece.
FFVII Remake redefines what a remake for a video game can be. I cried during the Honeybee Inn segment because of how perfect it was. It rewards players both old and new when it comes to its narrative. The combat is deep, flexible, and addictive, creating a fresh, modern system that I think not just the Final Fantasy franchise—but JRPGs as a genre–will integrate into more games in the coming years. Every boss battle is great and feels like a cinematic event, and the voice acting is incredible throughout the entire main cast.
FVII Remake isn’t without its flaws, but they are vastly overshadowed by everything else that it excels at. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for Final Fantasy VII down the road, because anything is possible.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Final Fantasy VII Remake.
Check out the rest of the DualShockers staff Top 10 lists and our official Game of the Year Awards nominees:
January 4: Game of the Year Awards 2020 Official Winners Revealed