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DualShockers’ Favorite Games of 2020 -- Rachael’s Top 10

Step inside and check out what video games helped me get through 2020 as I list my top 10 favorite games that I played.

December 30, 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.

I think it goes without saying that 2020 has been a period of time that many of us needed to get away, if only mentally, from the hellfire that clouded almost every aspect of the year. While some took up new hobbies they probably wouldn’t have thought about before and watched endless Netflix series, others dove deep into the world of video games. It offered me, as always, a need much-needed escape from reality, and in between catching up on my favorite movies and comics, hopping into a game that completely veiled me from the outside world was a blessing in more ways than one.

With incredible games like Tell Me Why, Spiritfarer, and Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales (which launched on the Switch), I truly had my work cut out for me when choosing my top 10 of this year. Even though I didn’t get around to playing all the games I wanted, below are the games that really stood out to me in 2020 for a number of reasons. That being said, take a look below at the games that helped me through one of the most challenging and difficult periods of my life, and maybe in doing so, I could persuade others to pick them up also.

10. Ghost of Tsushima 

There’s no doubt about it: Ghost of Tsushima is an incredibly beautiful game. I found myself, more times than not, standing atop a mountain or slowly trotting with my horse through the long grass watching countless sunsets and sunrises. In times where I craved the outdoors, I would fire up Ghost and spend hours exploring every inch I could, even if it was just getting my ass out and sitting in a hot spring to reflect.

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However, I think if this game came out at any other time than 2020, I don’t think I would feel the same about it due to its mediocre storylines and repetitive gameplay. But because of its stunning open-world–allowing me to roam where in real life I couldn’t as much–and the simplicity of the missions, I found that Ghost offered me a more mindful gaming experience when I needed it most in my life and sometimes, that’s all that matters.

Check out DualShockers‘ review of Ghost of Tsushima.

9. House Flipper

It’s no secret that I wait for many games to be released onto the Nintendo Switch, and House Flipper was certainly one I was geared up about. Even though I did play a little bit on my PC when it launched in 2018, I was pretty excited when it finally came to Switch this year so I could curl up on the couch. Again, like Ghost of Tsushima, my interest in House Flipper was primarily a meditative one due to the chaos of 2020.

Being able to “fix-up” homes gave me a sense of achievement in a world where change and fulfillment were almost obsolete, so in my own way, I was trying to balance the madness out in my mind by taking a complete mess and making it better. The satisfaction of bashing down a wall, cleaning up a disgusting room, and then selling it for more than you bought it for was such a worthwhile and fun experience. I’d highly recommend House Flipper for those looking for that feel-good factor and obtaining a sense of accomplishment.

8. Gwent: The Witcher Card Game

Who doesn’t love a good card game? Ever since I was little, I have played cards with my grandparents and even after they passed, I continued the tradition into modern times with friends and other family members. Granted, card games have dramatically changed over the years with more people playing online more than ever, but this still doesn’t change the fact that it’s still one of the most beloved institutions to exist. While I was playing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, I’m sorry to say; I had little time to sit around playing cards with strangers when there were monsters to kill and Yennefer to chase. But thankfully, I saw the error of my ways when I decided to widen my love for all things Witcher and downloaded Gwent this year.

What I love most about Gwent is its compelling core gameplay structure and its truly striking visual experience; it even manages to wedge in all manner of characters from Sapkowski’s books with the finest of details and references. If you’re considering jumping into a beautifully designed card game that’s also rewarding, you can’t go wrong with Gwent.

7. Ori and the Will of the Wisps

If you love your games with meaning, emotion and jaw-dropping visuals, you really can’t go wrong with Ori and the Will of the Wisps. I adored Ori and the Blind Forest so I knew I would, at the very least, enjoy many aspects of this platform-adventure Metroidvania title from Moon Studios. It incorporated everything I had hoped for and more from its deep narrative, which is told through beautiful environmental storytelling, and a complete lack of actual dialogue. I felt such an emotional build-up while playing Will of the Wisps, and I honestly didn’t want it to end. But that’s the sign of a really special game and one that I will forever tell others to play.

Check out DualShockers‘ review of Ori and the Will of the Wisps.

6. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales

If truth be told, I’m not a huge Marvel fan; I opt more for the murkiness of DC titles like Batman: Arkham Knight. But because I wanted to know more about this incredible new superhero in Miles Morales, I just had to find out more about him and I’m so glad I took the chance to do so. Although Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales may not be quite as packed with content as the original, I found what it lacked in this compartment, it made up for in emotional depth and the connection between characters. Walking around Harlem, in particular, was an absolute delight where I witnessed meticulously detailed environments, and not to mention the soundtrack totally banged.

One of my favorite moments was seeing Miles interacting with friends and family, especially one sequence in particular where we see him having dinner on Christmas Eve joined by the hustle and bustle of a snowy New York outside of the apartment window. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales couldn’t have come at a better time in a world where we strive for diversity, and Miles Morales‘ message of optimism feels like the right sentiment as we move away from 2020.

Check out DualShockers‘ review of Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales.

5. Microsoft Flight Simulator

I love to travel, so obviously, that went straight out the window this year. Thankfully, I had the next best thing to help me retain some of that freedom and culture cultivating that I crave, and that came in the form of Microsoft Flight Simulator. Strangely, I’m a pretty terrible flyer. Maybe it’s a lack of control or just straight up knowing that humans shouldn’t be that far from the ground, but while jumping into the cockpit of a Textron Aviation Cessna 152, those fears left me almost instantly. The guided flight lessons coupled with insane panoramic views of places like the Grand Canyon, Ayres Rock in Australia, the Great Barrier Reef, the Tower of London, or the Great Pyramid of Giza was mind-blowing and exactly what I needed in this crazy, shackled year.

Also, being able to fly wing-to-wing with my friend as we dive-bombed and sailed through the changeable skies gave an extra element to freedom and social interaction. Microsoft Flight Simulator is truly the epitome of escapism, and I hope all players can, at some stage, experience this incredibly fulfilling game.

Check out DualShockers‘ review of Microsoft Flight Simulator

4. Hades

When I first heard about the gameplay of Supergiant’s Hades, I was instantly put off that it strips you of progress and hard-won powers, and sends you right back to the start. To me, that just sounded like a recipe for my Switch getting thrown across the room, and how could people actually enjoy this? It wasn’t until I bit the bullet and thought I’d give it a try. 2020 has taught me that I needed to be more open-minded in my game selection and stop taking things at face value because if I hadn’t, I would’ve missed out on this fantastic little roguelike gem.

Jam-packed with well thought out and amazing looking characters, Hades made dying and going back to the start an exciting process and where I also developed something new and different each time. Hades is a joy to play: it’s smart, polished, and dripping in mythology family charm that just cries out for you to keep trying again…and again.

Check out DualShockers‘ review of Hades.

3. Röki

This insanely captivating point and click adventure title by indie studio Polygon Treehouse completely enthralled me from start to finish in its brilliantly thought-out Scandinavian story folklore. On the surface, it comes across as a cute little adventure and even though it is, it’s much more than that as the story slips into gloomier areas with monsters, trolls, and dark magic. With well thought-out and engaging puzzles, Röki never fell into boredom, especially with so much to see and learn against an endearing winter fairytale backdrop.

If you’re looking for an engrossing story that follows the steps of a girl called Tove and her lost brother Lars as they come up against loss, hardship, and courage in a forbidding forest, I’d highly recommend Röki every day of the week. Really, just get it right now.

2. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

I honestly thought I had my fair share of Assassin’s Creed titles after being severely burned by many of the “must-haves” and claims that “this one is much better.” Although I enjoyed Assassin’s Creed Odyssey for the most part, it still didn’t leave me satisfied. Along came Valhalla and on the surface, it looked meaty and like something I could really get my teeth into, but was I willing to be disappointed again? As you can tell by this being placed at the number two spot on my list, I was very surprisingly pleased.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla stands out for me as the best in the series due to its ability to really engage with its storyline, characters, and the brilliantly crafted “Witcher-like” side quests, which just goes to show that little improvements can go a hell of a long way. It also brings back that much-needed silliness and banter that has been missing since Black Flag.

Valhalla is inviting, fun, and its open-world is a joy to explore. I will never get bored of heading out on my ship while my crewmates sing songs and tell stories as we stumble upon an abbey to raid whilst burning every house in the process. It truly is the littlest things in life, and I’m here for it.

Check out DualShockers‘ review of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.

1. The Last of Us Part II

My number one spot is of no surprise to anyone that knows me or follows my Twitter. The Last of Us has been a big part of my life since its release in 2013 and throughout the years, I’ve become a member of its community and, of course, insistently playing Factions with anyone that will have me as a teammate. Going into The Last of Us Part II, I knew I would be hit with some emotionally hard subjects, but I don’t think I was ever prepared for what I felt on completion of the game. To say I adored every moment would be an understatement. For my 40 hour playthrough of the game, I felt, breathed, and experienced every thought and emotion that Ellie and Abby felt and in 2020, this was a hard pill to swallow at times due to the utter despair and darkness of it.

What I loved most about The Last of Us Part II is that Naughty Dog gave us this new character, Abby, who we were meant to hate. But Naughty Dog showed that by using empathy and scrapping away the muggy surface details, she was no better or worse than Joel, or maybe even any of us. The title truly is a psychologist’s wet dream, showcasing the complexity of the human psyche whilst offering its players a chance to see the opposite side of the coin, inviting them to experience every dirty detail.

The Last of Us Part II is not only a masterclass in storytelling, but it’s also a beautiful disaster that mirrors pain, anger and love almost too well, and, without question, it’s by far my GOTY.

Check out DualShockers‘ review of 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 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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Rachael Fiddis

Rachael (She/Her), who is Deputy Editor & Head of Stakeholder Relations, has been gaming for many years. Some of her favourite video games include The Witcher 3 and The Last of Us but also loves a good indie title. Gaming Culture is where her heart lies and spends many hours sieving through gaming fan art and cosplay displays. Other than gaming, Rachael is a book nerd and music lover.

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