DualShockers’ Favorite Games of 2020 — Peter’s Top 10
Video. Games. Here are the best ones that came out this year.
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.
For a multitude of reasons, I have played more games this year than any other in my entire life. If the running list I made on my phone at the start of the year is correct, I played 72 different games over the course of 2020 with 26 of those released this year. All in all this year was a tough one, but in terms of games, things have been pretty great.
In October, I wrote a piece about how much Persona 5 meant to me in a year when I was trapped inside my house, and now that I’m looking back on it, it wasn’t just Persona that helped me cope; it was just about everything I played. Games are great at letting you be someone else, somewhere else, and that’s exactly what I needed this year. I hope video games helped you get through the tough spots of 2020 in the same way that they helped me.
If you’re curious, the worst game I played out of all 72 was a visual novel/tile-matching game called Kotodama: The 7 Mysteries of Fujisawa and it was…well, very much a visual novel that I did not get anything out of, but hey, I’m not here to yuck anyone’s yums. The best game I played is number one on this list.
I think I had a healthy helping of both AAA as well as indie games this year, and I think my list reflects that. Thanks for a good one, video games; I hope you’re just as good next year and I hope that the 2021 games stay there and don’t get pushed to 2022; I’m looking at you Halo: Infinite. Let’s get to it.
(Also note that there were some major titles I missed this year that I would have liked to get to such as Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Demon’s Souls, Bugsnax, Ghost of Tsushima, and Ori and the Will of the Wisps)
10. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
I don’t think there could have been a better “right place, right time” kind of game this year than Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout. It hit perfectly in that time when everyone was trapped inside their houses and still missing sports. Also, the game is just straight-up very fun. It’s not a complicated competitive game, but it’s one that I got a lot of joy out of. I was kind of disappointed with the game’s second season, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t play a lot of and enjoy the hell out of Fall Guys when it released.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout.
Sharks are a not-so-secret passion of mine. I traveled halfway around the world to just get the chance to look at great whites for crying out loud, so you can imagine my excitement for a game where you play as a bull shark in your own Shark Week documentary. Sharks are an underrepresented animal in the video game world, which boggles my mind because they’re incredible. Maneater is kept afloat by its clever and humorous writing and totally saves the game in my opinion from its initially fun, but ultimately underwhelming and repetitive gameplay.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Maneater.
8. DOOM Eternal
Sequels are done a great disservice when they’re described as “more INSERT TITLE HERE” and while DOOM Eternal is certainly more DOOM, it’s aided by the fact that DOOM is awesome. DOOM Eternal takes everything that its predecessor did and elevates it to an even higher level. If the amps on the death metal soundtrack from DOOM (2016) were set to 10, DOOM Eternal sets them to 11. The most satisfying gun I shot all year in the virtual world was Doomguy’s super shotgun. This list now serves as a petition for all games to include a shotgun that’s attached to a grappling hook; please sign in the comments below.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of DOOM Eternal.
7. The Pathless
I would put The Pathless in a very small category of games alongside Spider-Man and Titanfall 2 where the movement mechanics are a shining light in an already great game. Most games have characters who need to get from place to place, but The Pathless said, “what if we made that extremely fun?” I still think about how satisfying it is to get from cliff to cliff without ever touching the ground thanks to your trusty bow. The Pathless is still downloaded to my PS4 so that when my PS5 comes in I can experience the game again using the adaptive triggers from the DualSense controller, which I think will elevate this game even higher.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of The Pathless (look, I wrote this one!).
When an amorphous monster breaks out of its containment pod in a laboratory, we always ask “where is the monster?” but never “how is the monster?” Carrion seeks to answer that question by putting you in control of it and saying, “well, it’s pretty pissed about all the experiments and mechs you sent after it, but it just wants to be accepted.” Carrion is an excellent Metroidvania that feels like an anti-horror game where the roles are reversed. Instead of the player cowering in fear from an AI monster, all the AI can do is scream and be torn apart as I happily eat each one of them to gain biomass.
Check out DualShockers’ review of Carrion.
Let me get out in front of this and admit that I’m a big baby and that Spiritfarer made me cry like an infant more than once. It’s a game that isn’t intentionally sad, but bittersweet. Each character I brought to the Ever Door and led to the great beyond reminded me of someone who I’ve had to let go in my own life, and that is what makes Spiritfarer so resonant. Without even knowing me, the developers made a story that felt like my own personal journey while also being beautifully animated, oozing with charm, and fun.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Spiritfarer.
4. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
Truly, I can’t believe that I’m putting an Assassin’s Creed game on my top ten list, but astoundingly, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is actually very good. I have actively disliked the series after Black Flag because, among other reasons, I’ve felt like their open worlds are big for the sake of being big without having any substance to them. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is full of interesting, non-repeating side quests and tells a story told in serialized episodes that had me fully invested. Similar to my dad loving soap operas despite their flaws, I love Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and there’s nothing you can do to stop me.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla.
Hades was a game that didn’t grab me in the way that it seemly grabbed everyone else initially. I put it down for a week or so before my first escape, but I picked it back up again because I was enamored by Zagreus’ desire to escape from Hades. He’s a character I admire more than anything else and once I got going again, I never wanted to stop. The combat works so well, the characters are diverse and interesting, and the game as a whole managed to make the roguelike genre appealing to me. I completely understand its widespread popularity and, if it were in a different year, it would probably be my GOTY. Not to worry though; you definitely will be able to find more Hades praise on DualShockers and on so many other outlets.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Hades.
2. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
If this list were being broken down by playtime, Animal Crossing: New Horizons would be at the very top. I sunk nearly 200 hours into it in the months following its release, and I think it saved me and many others from the deep isolation and loneliness that came out of the pandemic when it first started. I hold this game in such a special place in my heart because of what it gave me—I was able to visit and see my loved ones every night and give them fruit and recipes to show them my distant love. The relaxing resort setting was exactly what I needed as a place to escape the news and the anxiety for all that was to come.
On top of that, it’s also a wonderful game that builds on just about everything that the Animal Crossing series has been working towards. I know that when I revisit this game in a few years, I will remember exactly where I was emotionally and physically when I was playing this game. It will serve as a time capsule for March, April, and May 2020, and that is something special.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
1. The Last of Us Part II
I have been turning over the meaning of The Last of Us Part II like a coin in my head over and over and over again since I played it for the first time over the summer. It’s a game that subverted my expectations in the most satisfying ways while also making me challenge my own personal biases against characters who have “done me wrong.” The entire game feels like an exercise in empathy that resonated with me in a very personal way so that when the final fight was gearing up between Ellie and Abby, all I wanted was for them both to just walk away.
I’ve heard people describe it as a mix between a book, a movie, and a game, but I find that to be reductive for what The Last of Us Part II is. It’s the best example of showing off the emotions that interactive media can make you feel. To say that it’s a movie because of its linear structure completely undermines the fact that it’s interactive in the first place. There aren’t choices in the game, but The Last of Us Part II makes you an active participant in the story by having you empathize with characters you might not even agree with. It provides an ego-death so powerful that when Abby and Ellie’s paths intersect, it makes you question who you even are. This game is one of the best the medium has to offer, and all it takes to understand is a little empathy.
Check out DualShockers‘ review for The Last of Us Part II.
Check out the rest of the DualShockers staff Top 10 lists and our official Game of the Year Awards nominees:
December 27: Sam Woods (SEO Editor) // Peter Szpytek (Video Editor)
January 4: Game of the Year Awards 2020 Official Winners Revealed