DualShockers' Favorite Games of 2020 — Lou's Top 10

Gaming meant more to me than ever in 2020, and from Persona 5 Royal to Tetris, here were the games that helped get me through this year.

By Lou Contaldi

December 23, 2020

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.

Like many people who read this site, I tend to be a single-player first gamer. In any other year it’s a great escape from the day-to-day downbeat of corporate life and a way to explore intricate stories created by masterful storytellers. And despite some amazing titles falling into that camp (looking at you Yakuza: Like a Dragon), 2020 was a different year. Instead, I tended to lean into games that let me connect with friends — whether it was the small group in my personal bubble or high school buddies who live states away.

10. Secret Hitler

In the year of Among Us, there has been a revitalization of social deduction games across the gaming space — both for video games and board games. While Secret Hitler isn’t exactly a new game (coming out in 2016), there were few games that had me and my board game group roaring in laughter and screaming at each other in such frequency. The goal is to uncover who among the group is Hitler masquerading as a freedom-loving Liberal, all while a group of Fascists are looking to undermine Democracy. With excellent build quality and a novel execution of an age-old deduction game, it’s going to be a repeat for me for years to come.

9. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout! released at the end of the most boring summer in human existence — and acted as a great outlet to get online with friends, throw myself into doors, and aim for the Crown. While it didn’t stick with me past the first season, it is hard to deny how quickly the notion of a party-centric battle royale took on in the gaming scene this year. And as we were gearing up for the launch of the PS5, it gave us one of the best PlayStation Plus titles in recent memory.

Why Ratchet & Clank is the Most Important PS5 Game

Check out DualShockers‘ review of Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout.

8. Murder by Numbers

Speaking of Mediatonic, I have to spend some time talking about their other game that came out this year — Murder by Numbers. More in line with prior visual novels like Hatoful Boyfriend, the story feels like a distinct mix of Ace Attorney and a standard nanogram/Picross title. As a sucker for both of those series, I was hooked immediately.

Despite some flaws and areas where the team can execute better on a possible sequel, the game was 30+ hours of fun with an almost trance-like pace. If you are looking for a solid puzzle game to pad out 2020 (or kickoff 2021), give this one a try.

7. Astro’s Playroom

Astro’s Playroom is pure, unadulterated nostalgia bait — and I can’t get enough. Acting as one of the best tech demos since Luigi’s Mansion, we get an introduction to the DualSense controller and a deep dive into the history of PlayStation. Even better — it’s all free. It’s hard to argue with the immediate appeal of the Astro series, and I hope it continues to grow legs (or monkey suits or whatever) as an ever-growing PlayStation franchise.

Check out DualShockers‘ review of Astro’s Playroom.

6. Pandemic Legacy: Season One

Perhaps a bit too on the nose for 2020, but Pandemic Legacy: Season One is everything the hype says it is — and more. Taking the tried-and-true Pandemic formula and shifting the goals, mechanics, and layout of the board game map every session leads to fantastic play sessions filled with intrigue and drama. With the subject matter so rife this year, it feels like me and my board game group have a special connection to the game itself, with each decision weighing heavy on us.

5. Dungeons & Dragons

I’m late to the party on Dungeons & Dragons, and fully understand that I am jumping on the bandwagon only following some high-profile media and celebrities getting into the game. And it certainly doesn’t need a vast explanation from me. But when the world is shutting down and friends seem further away than ever, getting to make your own adventure and explore new lands has never been more appealing.

4. Destiny 2

Destiny 2 is the game that keeps on giving; while I always find minor points to gripe about when it comes to execution or quality-of-life, I find myself playing through the new campaigns and seasonal events year after year. Especially as they began the push for next-gen, spending time grinding out Triumphs and revisiting old missions made me realize how (more than other games this generation) Bungie managed to pull off a fully connected, constantly online world. Despite a very rocky start, the game is a great bookend to the beginning and end of the generation — with some of the highest highs and lowest lows.

3. Hearthstone

Hearthstone continues to be my junk food — so as I put on my quarantine 20 in terms of weight, so too did I turn to Hearthstone as an instant release to chronic boredom. The game has developed a ton since my first foray in Year 1, and Hearthstone is still the best of the best when it comes to pure digital card games. With a ton of new polish, mechanics, and strategy, I managed to get hours of daily playtime out of the free-to-play title this year, maybe now more than ever.

2. Persona 5 Royal

I think Persona 5 has graced my Top 10 list in some form or another since the game originally released in 2017. And 2020 is no different, thanks to the substantive update in Persona 5 Royal. Even better, there was something about the game that resonated differently in 2020 — when everything is shut down around you, heading to in-game restaurants and arcades to hang with a familiar cast of characters felt cathartic. Sure, the new additions gave me a reason to pick up the game once again, but the slice of life gameplay is what kept me hooked this time around.

Check out DualShockers‘ review of Persona 5 Royal.

1. Tetris Effect: Connected

A bit of a personal surprise, but my favorite game in 2020 ended up being Tetris Effect: Connected — an embodiment of everything I needed from a self-care perspective. Whether we are talking about the new multiplayer options that kept me together with friends or the ethereal and meditative gameplay, there are few games that have touched me through 2020 like Tetris Effect: Connected. To this day, the game’s main banger “Connected (Your’s Forever)” is a powerful anthem through quarantining, reminding me daily that “we’re all connected in this.” Don’t miss this reimagining of the age-old puzzle game, whether you can play the latest version of the game or not.

Check out DualShockers‘ review of Tetris Effect: Connected.

Check out the rest of the DualShockers staff Top 10 lists and our official Game of the Year Awards nominees:

December 23: Lou Contaldi (General Manager) // Ben Bayliss (Features Editor)

December 24: Grant Huff (Senior Staff Writer) // Camilo Olmedo (Associate Staff Writer)

December 25: Kris Cornelisse (Staff Writer) // Ricky Frech (Reviews Editor) // Ryan Meitzler (Editor-in-Chief)

December 26: Michael Ruiz (Contributor) // Mehrdad Khayyat (Senior Staff Writer)

December 27: Sam Woods (SEO Editor) // Peter Szpytek (Video Editor)

December 28: Scott White (Video Editor) // Justin Kucharski (Associate Staff Writer)

December 29: David Gill (Staff Writer) // Allisa James (Senior Staff Writer)

December 30: Rachael Fiddis (News & Culture Editor) // Cameron Hawkins (Staff Writer) // Charlie Wacholz (Staff Writer)

December 31: Otto Kratky (Executive Editor) // Mario Rivera (Video Manager)

January 1: Iyane Agossah (Managing Editor) // Logan Moore (Special Guest)

January 4: Game of the Year Awards 2020 Official Winners Revealed

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Lou Contaldi

Lou Contaldi specializes in both reviews and the business behind gaming. He began writing about tech and video games while getting his Juris Doctor at Hofstra University School of Law. He is maybe the only gaming journo based in Nashville, TN.

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