DualShockers’ Most Overlooked Video Games of 2020
2020 was full of great video games. However, some of them got more publicity than most. Here are some overlooked games our staff loved.
With 2020 in the rearview, many people out there are looking forward to all the great video games that are coming in 2021. In fact, the DualShockers’ staff recently shared some of their most anticipated titles for the coming year. However, with so many games coming out each year, there are bound to be several that people missed. Heck, even our extensive Game of the Year lists barely scratched the surface of what’s out there.
So, some of the staff decided to look through the last year and bring you some of the most overlooked games of 2020. The only requirement was that none of the games below could show up on any DualShockers’ GOTY list. Think of these as just a few of the diamonds in the rough of 2020. Obviously, we can’t talk about every game, but hopefully, you find something new to play below.
Allisa James, Senior Staff Writer
World of Horror
World of Horror is a horror rogue-lite that’s one part H.P. Lovecraft and two parts Junjo Ito. It uses its 1-bit graphics and chiptune soundtrack to great effect, not only setting an oppressive atmosphere with its excellent aesthetics and terrifying enemy designs but with a rich script that enhances the horror of the setting and events. You play as one of several characters, each with different stats and abilities, and piece together increasingly disturbing mysteries as your town of Shiokawa, Japan slowly descends into madness due to a ritual summoning an eldritch god.
The game chooses 5 of a total pool of 12 mysteries to solve during each playthrough or run, with 200 encounterable random events that occur while investigating various locations. The RPG style battle system offers a wide variety of strategy options and even special options that unlock under certain conditions. There are many stats that players must monitor throughout their playthroughs such as Stamina, Reason, the Doom counter, stats, any curses and/or injuries currently inflicted, and more. With all the potential gameplay variations and player choices, each run is completely different from the last. World of Horror is a well crafted cosmic horror experience that haunts you long after you stop playing and leaves you wanting more.
The Ys Series
The Ys series has been around since 1987, with its first title Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished released on PC, and as of 2017 has sold 4.8 million copies worldwide. Despite that, it’s an often overlooked and underrated franchise that largely owes its success to its longtime devoted fanbase. The Ys video games usually star the protagonist Adol Christin as he manages to get caught up in some crazy adventure or another. While the story is often fun and lighthearted it’s the characters, foes, and combat system that really sells the games.
Early titles used the directional pad to fight with players running into enemies to damage them. This was a fun and more accessible method of fighting versus other grind-heavy JRPGs of the day. As the series progressed, the combat evolved into an equally fun and accessible action combat system that featured deceptively deep mechanics and enemies with a wide variety of attack patterns, skills, and victory conditions. Coupled with some genuinely excellent dungeon designs and you’ve got some solid action JRPGs that are easy to pick up and play but offer plenty of strategic depth for players who are willing to put in the time and effort.
Ben Bayliss, Features Editor
This is a bit of a cheeky addition to this list. Initially, Pure Pool released back in 2014, but developer VooFoo Studios ported it over to the Nintendo Switch which landed only last year. It’s one of those video games all about cue sports and includes; 8-Ball Pool, 9-Ball Pool, Blackball, Billiards, and other styles of play including online and offline matches. However, as players play the game more, they develop on offline DNA, basically your own personalized AI of yourself that other players can play against when you’re not online.
The Nintendo Switch game has 1080p visuals, remarkably realistic physics, shiny reflective balls, and ways to personalize the game through different colored baizes or cue sticks. A weird feature that just adds to the overall “simulation” feel of Pure Pool is that the table gets dirty over time, so you can choose to clean it. A bit weird, but also nifty details and all that.
For a game where you jump right into a free ball event with a menu that pops out, this game is incredibly brilliant and launched tucked away under the eShop games mess. It supports the Switch controllers and also touchscreen support which makes putting that power behind some tricky shots that little bit easier. It’s worth picking up if you fancy having a party game at the ready.
Superhot: Mind Control Delete
Superhot was a huge success for Superhot Team, a game stood that out with its bright white and glimmering red aesthetics. And one that had slow-motion time-freezing gameplay to keep things feeling strategic yet incredibly pleasing. In 2020, Superhot: Mind Control, Delete was released, a brand-new addition to the game’s world in which players get access to more levels, more weapons, and more enemies, taking experience from the other video games and improving it.
Now, I’m not sure if my circles just didn’t hold an interest, or even saw the game’s reveal, but the reception felt somewhat overshadowed. I really enjoyed the action-packed time-moves-only-when-you-move mechanic or whatever the studio calls it, and the new-fangled upgrade system made the game feel even more awesome. It was a delight to review last year, and if you’re a fan of feeling like John Wick, Max Payne, or Neo, then you’ll 100% love this.
Mehrdad Khayyat, Senior Staff Writer
For a newcomer to the Darksiders series, Genesis is probably not a wise entry point as it features quite a different gameplay compared to the main installments, but that was the main reason for me to play this game. Before Genesis, I had no interest in playing the Darksiders trilogy as it didn’t look like the kind of series that I would like to play. However, Genesis was something different for me from its announcement day.
Darksiders Genesis will prove to you how well a top-down camera fits into this franchise. With this kind of view, you have a lot of possibilities to raise chaos, and the developers combine it with creative mechanics to give the most you can get out of a hack and slash game. Darksiders Genesis is a gift from Gunfire Games for those who are looking for a classic God of War experience. You know, before they went all Norse mythology on us.
I know that Bleeding Edge is suffering from a lack of support from developers rather than players, but the fact that such a creative multiplayer game is getting easily forgotten makes me sad. We haven’t even reached the first anniversary of the game yet.
Of course, Bleeding Edge needed to be launch with more heroes, more maps, and more competitive modes, but even in its current state, it’s still something unique among all the other multiplayer games thanks to its fast-paced and fluent combat system, which makes you stick to the game before the limited number of maps and modes wear you down. A big content pack from Ninja Theory is all players need to get back to the battleground once again. Unfortunately, we won’t be getting that after Ninja Theory’s recent announcement.
Ricky Frech, Reviews Editor
There is No Game: Wrong Dimension
This game is the reason this whole list exists. I played There is No Game: Wrong Dimension right after turning in my Game of the Year list and immediately knew I’d made a mistake. If I could go back in time and rewrite that list, There is No Game would make my top five easily. It’s absolutely phenomenal.
To say much about it would force me to delve into spoilers. This is one of those video games you have to experience for yourself. In some ways, it’s an old school adventure game with extra puzzle elements, but that’s selling it way too short. There is No Game is one of the most inventive, hilarious, and heartfelt games I’ve played in a long time. Please play it. It’s very cheap and relatively short. But more than that, it is so totally worth your time.
I’m far from the only person on the internet to tell you Paradise Killer is a good video game. The incredibly weird detective game is both the most stylish and oddest game I played in 2020. It’s a murder mystery starring all kinds of hot gods. Sort of like some offbeat combination of Hades and Ace Attorney.
But the biggest draw, at least for me, is how open-ended everything is. The whole thing takes place on a massive island and you’re free to sniff out any lead you want. Whether that means tracking down a suspicious doctor or just trying to find as many collectibles as possible, you’re given leeway to attack the case however you want. After playing so many Ace Attorney games, that freedom is exhilarating. You feel like a real detective solving an actual case. It just so happens that case involves a demon waking up inside of someone and potentially killing off the island’s entire ruling body.
Ryan Meitzler, Editor-in-Chief
Wide Ocean Big Jacket
Though it only takes about an hour or two to finish, that’s perhaps what works best about Wide Ocean Big Jacket, a short indie narrative game that released last year on PC and Switch. Following the story of two teenagers, Mord and Ben, as they go on a camping trip with Mord’s aunt and uncle, Wide Ocean Big Jacket is brief in running time but big on charm and humor.
As you switch between each characters’ perspectives, developer Turnfellow uses every vignette and scene to share just a bit more about their personalities and relationships with one another. Mostly, Wide Ocean Big Jacket is effective at giving us a snapshot of these four characters’ lives in a story that’s told with humor and heart.
The Solitaire Conspiracy
Few other studios could have made a cyberpunk, narrative-driven solitaire game and made it work as well as Bithell Games did. Thankfully, The Solitaire Conspiracy works extremely well by taking the mechanics of a classic game and giving it style and flourish. Though I wouldn’t have found myself getting so immersed in solitaire video games in general, the narrative and presentation in The Solitaire Conspiracy had me compelled to finish the game in (almost) one sitting, with each round adding just a bit more complexity and strategy.
As it showed with games like Subsurface Circular and John Wick Hex, Bithell Games are experts at taking big swings at unusual genres or gameplay ideas, and The Solitaire Conspiracy is another excellent example of that.
A Short Hike
The easy way to describe A Short Hike is that it’s the culmination of mixing Animal Crossing with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. However, the best way to describe A Short Hike is that it’s a delightful and relaxing experience that rewards players for their curiosity and sense of exploration. As the title implies, you can easily finish A Short Hike in about an hour or two, but the real experience of the game is simply getting lost in its island setting, finding hidden secrets, and making friends with its hilarious and memorable cast of animal characters.
Few video games that I played in 2020 gave me the kind of catharsis and sense of calm that A Short Hike did, and it’s worth playing through to the very end, whether you make it to the top of the mountain or otherwise.
And there you have some of our favorite overlooked video games of 2020. But, as we mentioned at the top, there are so many games out. You’re sure to have your own games that we might’ve even missed. Be sure to sound off in the comments and help us grow our ever-expanding backlog.