DualShockers' Favorite Games of 2020 -- Mario's Top 10
Now more than ever, video games helped make 2020 a much better year than it has been, with all of my Top 10 games earning their place.
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.
Hello DualShockers! I’m so excited to be able to share with you my top games of the year in the hellhole known as 2020. Thank God for video games this year, because with the world in shutdown I managed to play so many new and classic games. Now here are my Top 10 games of the year!
Honorable Mentions: Five Dates, Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3, Resident Evil 4, 5, and 7. METAL GEEEEEARRRR.
10. The Solitaire Conspiracy
There are few games that just came at the right time for me, and I didn’t expect one of them to be a solitaire game. The Solitaire Conspiracy was exactly what I needed to help cope inside a pandemic. The presentation of the game, the music that scores it throughout, and the satisfaction you get when completing a game is so gratifying. As a massive fan of Mike Bithell’s previous games like Thomas Was Alone and Subsurface Circular, it wasn’t shocking that he would bring something interesting to solitaire that would entice me to play for hours well after I completed the campaign. Also, I want to give a special shoutout to Greg Miller, who does a great job filling the role of Jim Ratio.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of The Solitaire Conspiracy.
9. Astro’s Playroom
Nostalgia is the drug that propels this short platformer to my list, because it is filled to the brim with so many wonderful memories while being the perfect representation of what the future of PlayStation could look like. Every nook and cranny of the levels in Astro’s Playroom is something from PlayStation’s past, and it was a joy to seek them out around every corner. The platforming makes for fast action and fun traversal while teaching you what the PS5’s new controller (the DualSense) is capable of, leaving me wanting so many more levels. Astro’s Playroom left me craving so much more for a continuation or a sequel, making this a must-play experience for people who love platformers.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Astro’s Playroom.
8. Tell Me Why
While sadly this is not the Backstreet Boys video game I have been looking for all my life, Tell Me Why was the story-driven adventure game that I needed to experience. Tyler and Alyson’s story is a heartbreaking and beautiful affair about seeking the truth and the dangers that come from it. This was one of the only games this year that I felt a romantic relationship was naturally coming together for several characters as the story moved along. Taking the part-time role of a trans character and living even for moments in their shoes made me connect with and understand the pain–as well as the love–that can come from this type of experience. There’s always a place for stories like this that allow you to live other people’s experiences, and this is a must-play human tale.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Tell Me Why.
7. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Talk about a beautiful distraction; Animal Crossing gets its day in the sun on my list because 2020 was an awful place to be. New Horizons allowed me to go out into the sun and explore the world while I was trapped in my house to avoid a potentially fatal virus. I know I’m sounding dramatic, but Tom Nook and his wonderful friends entered my life at the right time, saved my sanity, and allowed me to love something I took for granted; hanging out with my friends. While it felt like my life was on hold, I got to spend nights on my island to make it my own and give me back my own agency, and that’s why it makes it to my list.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
6. Persona 5 Royal
In 2017 Persona 5 was my Game of the Year, so to see it on my list in 2020 is no surprise. Atlus managed to build on perfection from the first time it released and add many welcomed improvements to the combat, as well as new characters to fall in love with. The music continues to slap hard, including some of the new tracks that add to the game give it much of its Royal–ness. If you missed out on the original Persona 5, this is the definitive version that is a must-play.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Persona 5 Royal.
This is a game that I was totally ready to write off as a title that had a catchy name and really fun theme song that people would play for the meme; especially since it was a title that was being given away on PS Plus. I would not believe this was a game that I not only Platinumed twice on PS4 and PS5, but a game that I’m screaming to the rooftops as a must-play title you have to experience all the way to the end.
Bugsnax is a super cute trapper puzzler with Pokemon Snap qualities while also being a great community builder, with a cast of wonderful characters you get to meet throughout the game. What sends this seemingly kid friendly game about catching Bugsnax is its bonkers ending that, after my second playthrough, is completely earned and is an experience that shouldn’t be spoiled for you.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Bugsnax.
4. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
A lot of my list this year is tied to my emotional state throughout the year, and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales ties to my attachment to my heritage. Growing up living in two different worlds where a lot of my Italian and Hispanic heritage was absent, this game allowed me to feel celebrated in a way that I haven’t felt before. In the same way that Miles struggles to find his role as Spider-Man, I saw my own own struggles with finding my place in Hispanic culture.
With gameplay that takes from the already fantastic Marvel’s Spider-Man in 2018, Miles Morales refines and distills it to all its best parts. The swinging is still a sensation, and the acrobatic combat is complemented with the new powers that Miles has, which makes a wonderful new addition to this franchise. In a year filled with PlayStation exclusives, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is near the top of the experiences of the year that new PS5 owners should play.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales.
3. Cyberpunk 2077
At first this wasn’t going to make my list because, honestly, the whole situation around its launch (and especially by its management) is downright disgusting. But despite that I powered through the game, even with its numerous bugs and crashes. Underneath all that trash, I did manage to find the gem hidden beneath this game. While it’s not the gamechanger we were promised, Cyberpunk 2077 is still around the edges of a pretty great experience.
There is an interesting and fun narrative in Cyberpunk 2077 that shapes around the player, and there is a huge amount of exploration to become the V you want to be. I couldn’t help but get lost in the game for hours, looking forward to every new side mission that I came across and how that would add to my experience. I jumped off The Witcher 3 a while back which, at the time, I was impressed with its side content. But for me, it’s the world of Cyberpunk and V (with their band of misfits) that made this game an adventure that I wanted to see through to the end. Hopefully in 2021, the story around this game changes and more people will be able to give it a second chance.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Cyberpunk 2077.
2. Final Fantasy VII Remake
Going into Final Fantasy VII Remake I didn’t know what to expect, as it was a major gap in my gaming knowledge. My only experience with Final Fantasy games at this point was Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Final Fantasy XV. To my surprise, I fundamentally believe that it was to my benefit to experience Final Fantasy VII Remake without having knowledge of the original game.
As someone who is deeply fond of cinema, this video game’s presentation and story just captured my heart. I often compare my feelings for this game to how I experience classic Spielberg films. The story has heart, soul, and characters that you will care so much about. The music is out of this universe and has highs and lows much like how John Williams’ scores feel in movies like Star Wars and Indiana Jones.
The new and added twists to the narrative–both for returning fans and for new ones like me–are rewarded greatly by the time the credits start to roll. Final Fantasy VII Remake is truly one of my favorite experiences of the year, and I’m even more excited for the future chapters in the series.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Final Fantasy VII Remake.
1. The Last of Us Part II
The story of Joel and Ellie is responsible for my return to video games, and to me The Last of Us is a masterpiece. For there to come a sequel to one of my favorite games of all-time and possibly challenge my feelings about the original, I truly didn’t know what I was ready for. But by the time the credits rolled and I ended my 30-hour odyssey with Ellie, Dina, Abby, and Lev, I just sat there sunken in my chair, taking in every moment where I needed to finally breathe. Through the tears, the sadness, and the small pockets of beautiful joy, the range of emotions in The Last of Us Part II enraptured me.
Really, Abby is the magic trick that Neil Druckmann and Halley Gross managed to pull off. At first, I almost thought there wasn’t any possible way to make me root for her. Midway through the game when Abby is walking across the crane with Lev, I realized that I cared deeply about a person who earlier in the game murdered someone that I cared as much (if not more) for. From that moment and seeing her care for Lev, it made me see the adventure that began the game with Ellie as misguided and, ultimately, an endless cycle of violence in the name of love.
One of the major complaints that I have heard most about this game is that the narrative is something they wished was made into a TV show or a movie. I can’t help to think that misses the point of this being a video game about survival and heartache, experiencing that all first-hand, and then making you a part of the narrative. You simply have to feel the pain and the love to understand it all.
Much like the first game, if this was the last game in the series and Naughty Dog didn’t continue the story from here, I would be content with what the team has accomplished. The Last of Us Part II is my Game of the Year for 2020 because it fully immersed me in its story and gameplay. More importantly, it propelled me to see it all the way through to the end and put me in my paces emotionally, and honestly, made me grow a little during my time with it.
Check out the rest of the DualShockers staff Top 10 lists and our official Game of the Year Awards nominees:
December 31: Otto Kratky (Executive Editor) // Mario Rivera (Video Manager)
January 4: Game of the Year Awards 2020 Official Winners Revealed