DualShockers’ Favorite Games of 2020 — Scott's Top 10
2020 by every account was a craptastic year, but I played plenty of amazing games that I can't stop thinking about.
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.
2020 sure was a year, wasn’t it? My main escapes from the craptastic deluge of events this year were planning for my wedding next year and video games. And as much as I am sure you would like to hear my top 10 list of annoying things you have to do when planning a wedding, instead I will treat you to my Top 10 games I played this year. The first seven games are in no particular order, but my top three choices will be ordered as such. So here we go:
As an OG Souls player, having started with the original Demon’s Souls on PlayStation 3, seeing what Bluepoint was able to do with this remake left me speechless. This was the first game that I legit got the “next generation” vibes from. Seeing familiar locations and enemies with updated designs in glorious 4k running at 60fps made my decision to get the PS5 on launch day a no brainer. I am currently working on my first Souls+ playthrough and steadily getting closer to that sweet sweet Platinum Trophy.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Demon’s Souls.
For being a glorified DualSense tech demo packed in with the PS5, I gotta say that Astro’s Playroom did a piledrive straight to my feels. The gratuitous amounts of Easter eggs and nods to longtime PlayStation fans filled my heart with joy. I loved scouring each level for Astro’s friends dressed in the attire of various characters, the Sly Cooper one being a particular favorite of mine. Easter eggs aside, Astro’s Playroom had some stellar platforming and level designs too, and how it showcased the neat new features of the new controller were equally as good.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Astro’s Playroom.
Ghost of Tsushima
Ghost of Tsushima is the closest game I think we will ever get to an Assassin’s Creed set in Japan, and boy did I have fun with it. While the story and characters didn’t do much for me, and its gameplay loop feels like a title out of the early 2010s, I still loved sneaking around and taking out enemies. Being the Ghost that strikes fear in his enemies before silently taking their lives never got old for me. The fact that we got a pretty kick-ass multiplayer expansion for free really ups this game’s offerings too, and I still enjoy going back for a few rounds with friends. I hope Sucker Punch continues to add more to it and expand on the multiplayer options well into 2021. Also, please give me more Sly Cooper and inFamous easter eggs or outfits. Thanks!
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Ghost of Tsushima.
Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection
I love Mega Man. Mega Man X is my favorite game of all-time, and I anxiously await each new series collection that Capcom announces. I’m a firm believer that the Zero series contains the best story of the entire Mega Man pantheon, with mysterious events that remain veiled and unexplored even today. This collection offers bar-none the best ways to approach the arguably most difficult titles of the franchise, which I greatly appreciated. Although I may not find ZX and ZX Advent to be as good as the Zero games, I appreciate the more open-ended and explorable approach in these games, and the transformation aspect of them is pretty damn cool. Now, I just have to wait and hope they announce the Battle Network/Star Force collection soon…
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Swinging through the icy streets of Harlem in Spider-Man: Miles Morales reminded me of what is so magical about these games that Insomniac has created. This latest entry is a perfectly packaged experience that balances new powers, characters, and dangers that is long enough to get your money’s worth but isn’t overstuffed with needless bloat. The hero’s journey that Miles goes on to come into his own as Spider-Man kept me on my toes, and I can’t wait to see how he continues to grow in the next full sequel.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales.
Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition
Nintendo’s big RPG offering for 2020 was a fantastic remaster of the stupendous Xenoblade Chronicles from 2010. I had the pleasure of reviewing the game here at DualShockers and I was finally able to experience the whole story that I had stalled out on previously. The dramatic twists and wonderful characters of Xenoblade paired with the enhanced performance and graphics of this Definitive Edition left me in awe. While I may have some issues with the combat and especially the repetitive, oftentimes pointless side quests, the rest of the experience eclipsed those issues. Like I said in my review, Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition is a beautiful example of what the RPG genre is capable of, and it is easy to recommend checking out or revisiting.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition.
Dungeons and Dragons: 5th Edition
Out of all the games on this list, including the top three, no game had a bigger impact on my mental well-being and making it through this crazy year as Dungeons and Dragons did. By taking advantage of the online tabletop RPG service Roll20, my friends and I were able to continue our campaign and some semblance of normalcy and social interaction.
After losing my job back in March, D&D Night was the big event I got to look forward to each week. I knew that every Tuesday, I was going to forget the pandemic and become either my Half-Elf with a broken psyche and six separate personas, and my brand new Warforged Artificer, Tai in Eberron. Even now, when one of my friends and fellow players has unfortunately tested positive for COVID, we can still play and help keep her spirits up as she gets better. 2020 has grown my love of this game considerably, and I owe a lot to it this year.
The Big 3
These next three games are the crem de la crem of my gaming this year. I would recommend these to anyone who enjoys the medium of video games, as I feel like they each are fantastic examples of the medium.
3. Persona 5 Royal
Oh Persona 5 Royal, what a magical experience you are. Honestly, had I not played the original Persona 5, the number one spot this year would have been a serious battle. That being said, while the new third-semester content left me wanting a bit, the remaining 100+ hours of this game are still mindblowing.
Everything I loved about Persona 5 back in 2017 is back and improved in Royal. Persona 5 Royal remains the most stylish game I think I have ever played, with a soundtrack that has become a daily routine for me to listen to. This game is a wonderful experience regardless of whether you are a fan of RPGs, anime, or games in general, and if you have a PlayStation 4 (or PS5), you owe it to yourself to play this game.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Persona 5 Royal.
2. Final Fantasy VII Remake
Had you asked me a year ago if I thought the Final Fantasy VII Remake was going to be good, I probably would have responded with a cautious “I hope so.” Low-and-behold that when this game released, it turned out to be amazing and better than I think anyone expected it to be. I’ve played through the original a bunch and I was curious of how well the decision to restrain this whole game to just Midgar would turn out, and while some marks landed better than others, the whole experience was still great.
The dark metal city of Midgar felt lived in with real people, and it made the events that transpired hit even harder. I adore the little quips and interactions between the party members, with “Lab rat dog!” and “Nailed it, I know. Thank you. Moving on.” as a couple of my favorite dialogue lines in a long time. The combat is particularly sweet, as it feels like Square has finally been able to find that sweet spot in balancing both an action-RPG style of combat with the more traditional turn-based format of the original; a delightful harmony for new and longtime fans alike.
I am still hypothesizing about what the ending will mean for the remaining games and how it will deviate from what fans of the original Final Fantasy VII already know, but damn if I’m not excited as hell to find out.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Final Fantasy VII Remake.
1. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV
And here we are with my number one, my favorite game of 2020: The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV. This game is the conclusion of the Erebonian arc of the series and ties up many loose threads that were first introduced eight games ago, featuring many returning characters from the previous sagas: many of whom are seen in 3D and given voices for the first time. The sheer amount of plot twists and surprises in this game left me on the edge of my seat and on the verge of tears more times than I care to admit, but when the credits rolled, I just had to sit in silence and reflect on what had happened for a while.
The Trails series as a whole, not just the Cold Steel arc, contains the most finely crafted and connected worlds that I have ever played in a video game series. How the small details in one Trails game can come back and turn out to be incredibly important later down the road is mind-blowing. The expertise that has hone into weaving this large interconnected story leaves games by other developers like Nomura and Kojima–who heavily rely on a grand connected world–looking like a grade schooler’s notebook.
Here’s the thing about Trails of Cold Steel IV though; I can’t recommend it for new players, and existing fans of the franchise probably have already played this. So instead, I’m going to implore you, reader, with my pitch on these games. They are a large time investment, and to play all nine games (this game and the eight prior ones that lead into it) will clock you in at about 500 hours. It’s a big ask, I know, but I promise the payoff is so so worth it. With one of the best turn-based systems (classic turn-based combat with a Materia-like magic system), tons of memorable and amazing characters, and a world that will continue on after Trails of Cold Steel IV, there is no better time to jump in than right now. You can start with Cold Steel I and II, but before going onto III, please play the Trails in the Sky trilogy first.
I hold this series on the same level as Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, and the Tales of series, and it is a crime that it has not garnered as much widespread acclaim as them, but I am going to do everything I can to spread the good word. I do it as a former member of Class VII from the Thors Military Main and Branch Campus. Now go forth young lions and lionesses and PLAY THESE GAMES!
If you’re so inclined and want to here more about this illustrious game, check out our review that Kris did, my review for Irrational Passions, or if you’ve already beaten the game, check out Kris and I’s discussion of the ending!
Check out the rest of the DualShockers staff Top 10 lists and our official Game of the Year Awards nominees:
December 28: Scott White (Video Editor) // Justin Kucharski (Associate Staff Writer)
January 4: Game of the Year Awards 2020 Official Winners Revealed