DualShockers' Favorite Games of 2020 — Sam's Top 10
It goes without saying, 2020 was a rough year but a slew of fantastic video games made it that little bit easier.
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.
While I could choose to put a couple of games from previous years in my top 10, I’ve opted to stick to titles that have released in 2020. The year has been a tough one for everybody and I’ve decided, because of that, to highlight some of my favorite games from this year and this year alone — a handful of rereleases and remasters are the closest I got to anything from previous years.
I’ve also opted to do it this way because, well, barring one or two titles, all I’ve really played this year have been 2020 games. This year has been a wild one for me and although the world fell to pieces, I took strides to better myself and from June until now, I’ve worked hard to get myself into the position I’m in. Something had to give for me to get there though, and ironically, that was the amount of time I got to spend playing games.
With that in mind, here are my top 10 games from 2020.
10. Yes, Your Grace.
Personally, one of my biggest gaming disappointments of this year was that I didn’t get to dive into more indie games. I love to spend time exploring and discovering the latest indie titles and while I didn’t get to do that as much this year, there are a couple that definitely stood out. The first of those was Yes, Your Grace.
The game is a management sim/RPG/strategy title in which you play the role of a desperate king, trying to manage his resources to keep his subjects happy, all while preparing for an impending war. Split into weekly rounds, you face a range of challenges that are presented to you from those you rule over and those from other kingdoms, each of which is likely to cost you gold, resources or one of your generals.
It’s a perfect title to pick up on the Nintendo Switch, play it a couple of weeks, and then put it back down. It challenges you to form risky alliances, make life or death decisions, and ultimately feel the consequences of war. If you’re looking for a short and sweet yet challenging indie title, look no further.
9. Pikmin 3 Deluxe
The Wii U’s underrated library’s slow migration to the Switch is almost complete. One of the games that made the jump this year was Pikmin 3, and man, what an unappreciated gem this is.
The Pikmin games have had a hard time on Nintendo platforms. While they fit the aesthetic that Nintendo generally tries to go for, Pikmin’s gameplay is like nothing else on their platforms. Part RTS, part puzzle game, Pikmin 3 really makes you think as you control your little army of plant people to fight off enemies and carry things for you. While that doesn’t seem like much, the combination of managing your time, coupled with wanting the best for your little assistants, gives the game a fantastic balance of pressure without ever being too stressful – all while oozing charm.
Pikmin 3 Deluxe was definitely a game that was welcome in 2020, and I really hope it performed well enough to get a full-on Nintendo Switch sequel.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Pikmin 3 Deluxe.
8. Yakuza 0
Okay, I cheated a little on this one. Although I played the game on PS4, it technically released on Xbox in 2020, so I’ve allowed myself to sneak it into my top 10.
If you’ve ever played Yakuza 0, you know what a wild ride this is. I had an absolute blast playing as both Kiryu and Majima, roaming around their respective towns, completing some absolute bonkers side-missions, and spending WAY longer than I care to admit managing my businesses. What Yakuza 0 does so well at, however, is allowing you to do this absolute nonsense while, at the same time, having this deep and gritty tale of revenge and redemption hanging over you.
A couple of pacing issues aside, Yakuza 0 is another perfect 2020 palate cleanser. It offers the right amount of solid gameplay, engaging story, and bonkers comic relief to be a fantastic time. Plus, the ending is one of my favorites of any game I’ve played in the last few years.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Yakuza 0.
7. Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
This one shocked me. I knew I’d enjoy Age of Calamity, but I didn’t think I’d love it enough for it to warrant a spot in my top 10. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is, in my eyes, one of the greatest games of all time, so while I was excited that we were getting a prequel, I was somewhat disappointed it was going to be in the Musuo style. How wrong I was.
Age of Calamity had some surprisingly deep and intricate combat, it built on the world and characters that I came to know and love back in 2017, and the story did more than enough to keep me engaged the whole way through.
Now, I would have preferred to play this game in the Breath of the Wild gameplay style for sure, but if this is the only other option, then it’s a damn good one.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity.
No doubt this one will be a lot higher in many others’ top 10 lists, and rightly so; it’s a fantastic game. While for me it didn’t reach the lofty heights that others felt, I still had an absolute blast playing Hades.
Everything about the game oozed style. The art direction, character designs, smooth combat, and voice work were all great. The level design was interesting as were the enemies, and the story did enough to keep me coming back for multiple playthroughs, something which very few roguelikes achieve.
Although it’s not higher in my personal top 10, Hades will certainly go down as one of the greatest indie titles of all time.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Hades.
5. Star Renegades
In another given year, Star Renegades could have easily ranked in my top three games. Sadly, the high level of competition kept it out this year, but boy is this a great game. It is, without a doubt, the most slept-on title in my top 10 and one I would recommend to anybody who enjoys roguelikes, RPGs and/or strategy games.
You play as a ragtag bunch of rebels on a mission to overthrow invading galactic forces. Though the story may not be anything new or exciting, the gameplay is where Star Renegades excels. The game meshes together some of the best systems from other titles, including the Middle-earth series and Darkest Dungeon, to create an extremely clever strategy RPG. The pinnacle of all of this is the combat. The game has, in my opinion, some of the best turn-based combat mechanics ever. Every move counts and the game encourages you to be extremely tactical by allowing you to see where every attack hits across a timeline. Couple all of its fantastic systems with a stunning art style and incredible sound design, and you have yourself a game.
The DualShockers team are no doubt sick of Cam Hawkins and myself prattling on about Star Renegades, but it’s a game that I cannot recommend enough.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Star Renegades.
4. Super Mario 3D All-Stars
This game got a little bit of slack when it launched, and rightly so. It was a bit of a bare-bones port with little celebratory content, released as part of Super Mario Bros’ 35th anniversary. Despite that, however, it’s a collection of three of the greatest games of all time (well, two and Super Mario Sunshine, which doesn’t quite hit the heights of the others) available on the Switch for the first time.
As someone who grew up with the N64, I would have genuinely been happy with being able to purchase Super Mario 64 as a standalone game. There aren’t many feelings in gaming that can replicate that first visit to Peach’s castle, and to be able to do it again on the Nintendo Switch is a joy that, for me, can’t be understated. Couple that with how fantastic Super Mario Galaxy is and, for all its flaws, how fun the Isle of Delfino is to explore, this collection deserves its place in my top 10.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Super Mario 3D All-Stars.
3. The Last of Us Part II
The Last of Us Part II was definitely one of this year’s more polarising games. For me though, it’s simple; the game is a fantastic showcase of both storytelling and world-building, and I was gripped throughout.
The story of Ellie and Abbie was brutal, made even more so by the world crumbling around them and the addition of the Seraphites. The struggle between right and wrong, good and bad, was a running theme and brought out emotions in me that I hadn’t felt in a video game for a long time, if ever. I was constantly blown away by how beautiful the game looked despite its dreary environments and the efforts the team went to incorporate little stories throughout.
While The Last of Us had a pretty definitive ending, I didn’t feel that really hurt this game at all and I was just happy to be able to revisit Naughty Dog’s Infected-ridden world once again. I think Druckmann and the team deserve all the plaudits they get.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of The Last of Us Part II.
2. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
I’d struggle to name any game that has ever released at a more opportune time. Animal Crossing: New Horizons graced everybody with its presence, just as the world was getting gripped with the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic. People were locked away in their homes, isolated from the ones they loved, and looking for something to cheer them up. Step forward New Horizons.
I’d been a fan since Animal Crossing on the GameCube, so going into 2020 this was already one of my most anticipated games. The improvements Nintendo made in New Horizons were vast and more than enough to keep the game feeling fresh for over 275 hours of playtime. For me, what made Animal Crossing more enjoyable this year than ever before was the joy of playing it with my girlfriend.
Now, she’s far from a “gamer.” Up until this point, the sum total of her gaming life had been spent across the Sims franchise, a handful of games on the Wii, and a few games of Guitar Hero. I decided to take the plunge and grab her a Switch Lite and a copy of Animal Crossing before the lockdown started though, and we’ve never looked back.
We spent countless nights together on the sofa, visiting each other islands, helping each other out with furniture and fruit, and generally just having a great time. It made the lockdown easier and bought us closer together. What more could you ask from a game?
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
1. Persona 5 Royal
Persona 5 Royal is a phenomenal video game; a video game that on its own merits is, for me, a 10/10. Given the context of this year however, Persona 5 Royal, like Animal Crossing before it, was made to feel even more special.
Despite some dark themes, Persona 5 Royal has the power to uplift players. It allows you to form special bonds with potential friends, bop around to fantastic music, and perform menial tasks that, at times when many of us were stuck in a lockdown situation, helped to add a tiny sense of reality to life. The game is super stylish, well written, and full of twists and turns. Its gameplay loop is incredibly varied but massively addictive, and one that I just could not get enough of.
The additional content in Royal is also absolutely fantastic. The game got some welcome quality-of-life tweaks, some new, incredibly intriguing characters, and even more incredible music. It’s a game I still think about on an almost daily basis and one that I’d love to go back and sink another 100+ hours into.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Persona 5 Royal.
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