2020 has nearly come to an end and we couldn’t be happier. You don’t need a gaming site to tell you that this has been a hell year, filled with trials and tribulations that no one expected we’d face. But even though the world has turned upside down, there has been one constant: video games.
This year we’ve seen the launch of the PS5 and Xbox Series X, watched as virtual reality hit new heights, and have above all else played a number of incredible games. But what was the best game of 2020? Which game was so good that we’ve almost been able to forget the heaps of bad stuff piling onto our already struggling shoulders?
As we jettison 2020 into the ether and hope it never returns, here’s GameRevolution’s Game of the Year 2020 as voted for by our team. Let’s hope that 2021 will have similarly fantastic games, but that it’ll be a better year for humanity in general!
Game of the Year 2020
10. Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time
Crash Bandicoot was dead, killed by 20 years of bad sequels and aimless spin-offs like many other nostalgic icons from the past. Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time’s goal of resurrecting the bandicoot could have been a gut-wrenching, Pet Sematary-esque horror show, but instead ended up breathing life into the bandicoot as though it had never flatlined.
Crash 4 has tight platforming with varied level design that pulls from other heavyweights in the genre while also not forgetting its roots. By delicately balancing the new and the old, Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is not only an excellent experience from beginning to end, it’s also the best Crash game by a fair margin.
9. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 is the best kind of remake — it still delivered the same feel of the original skateboarding classics, though improved them in every way imaginable.
THPS 1+2 is how we remembered the classic PlayStation games, but not as they actually were. It was the video game equivalent of rose-tinted glasses, removing all the old-school clunkiness and replacing it with smooth skating and a slew of customization options. A pure, jubilant shot of ‘90s straight into our veins when we needed it the most.
8. Ghost of Tsushima
Not every game has to be innovative to be excellent. Ghost of Tsushima was never poised as the next big thing. Instead, it’s a refinement of the third-person open-world formula that’s been immensely popular over the last ten years.
Jin Sakai’s story is straight out of a Kurosawa flick, and the game’s setting is one we oddly don’t see very often. Despite the allure of samurai, popular series like Assassin’s Creed have avoided Feudal Japan as a setting. Of course, there are some anachronisms here and there, but for the most part, Ghost of Tsushima does a wonderful job of sharing facets of both Japanese and Mongolian culture respectfully.
Sucker Punch managed to make Tsushima Island, with its beautiful and diverse landscapes, as much of a character as any of the game’s cast. The excellent combat and wide array of exploration opportunities make this game a must-buy for fans of the genre and one of the best PS4 exclusives to date.
7. Half-Life: Alyx
Half-Life: Alyx should be the system seller for virtual reality headsets, however, access is still limited to those with a capable gaming PC. For those who have played through Alyx and know both the story it tells and the gameplay elements that it masterfully implements, you know that it’s a crying shame that it’s going to be years before others can appreciate and understand the greatness.
Alyx is an extended VR experience that goes beyond what other games in this medium have achieved. Despite being a prequel to Half-Life, it still managed to weave an interesting narrative that compels the player and helps satisfy those yearning for a Half-Life 3.
Gameplay-wise, the motion controls were fantastic to learn and master, with innovative mechanics that allowed for satisfying combat and puzzle-solving. It provided a well-balanced challenge that kept us on our toes with horror elements enhanced by the forced first-person perspective and immersive audio.
6. Microsoft Flight Simulator
Microsoft Flight Simulator might be the most technically impressive video game ever. Even after the initial thrill of flying over your house and saying “look, there’s my house!” to yourself, there’s just so much to Asobo Studio’s’ sim that it almost feels like it shouldn’t have been possible.
Being able to input the coordinates of any location, spawn in, and then fly around a digital recreation of that place is the most next-gen thing we’ve seen in a year that also featured two next-gen console launches. This technical wizardry combined with satisfyingly deep flight controls made for a boundary-pushing experience.
5. Doom Eternal
The 2016 Doom reboot set quite a high bar for its inevitable follow-up, but Doom Eternal fittingly rips and tears that bar to pieces by going for more, more, and more. More enemy variety. More weapons. More movement abilities. More types of levels.
“More” doesn’t always make for a better game, but id knew exactly how to add more to this sequel while still creating a focused, contained experience that prioritized its incredible push-forward combat. Through clever additions and refinements, Doom Eternal was the best first-person shooter of the year and one of id’s strongest titles yet; a true feat for such a talented and long-standing developer.
Hades by Supermassive Games became the most accessible roguelite out there. It took the cycle of retrying the same checkpoint over and over, flipped it on its head with rewarding progression, and made the player genuinely look forward to starting again with new abilities and upgrades. The weapon and ability combinations, with a variety of customizable challenges, made each attempt to escape different and always uniquely exciting.
In addition to the incredibly satisfying gameplay, the cast of characters and snippets of Greek lore were superbly presented and interwoven with the gameplay. The hours slipped by all too quickly with Hades, especially on the portable Switch version where the “Just one more go…” addiction led to many hours of sacrificed sleep.
3. The Last of Us 2
The Last of Us 2 was the perfect way to end the console generation. As expected, developer Naughty Dog produced a PS4 exclusive that delivered an unmatched presentation in visual fidelity and sound design, which forced the hardware to the brink for one last must-play title.
This sequel pushed hard with risks that have to be applauded. Expanding the world to include new wide-open areas, new characters to replace the old, and the unique story twist made it clear that Naughty Dog wasn’t playing it safe.
For those who embraced the twists and turns, as well as the more drawn-out sequences, The Last of Us 2 quickly became recognized as one of the best PS4 games and a title that Naughty Dog can absolutely be proud of making.
2. Final Fantasy 7 Remake
Fans had been clamoring for a Final Fantasy 7 remake for years, and when it finally dropped earlier this year, it was apparent the wait was worth it. The original game left a lot to the imagination, a product of its release on the PS1. The remake finally filled in all those nooks and crannies that couldn’t be shown in pre-rendered backgrounds.
Amazingly, in an industry full of broken promises and unrealized ideas, Final Fantasy 7 Remake doesn’t skimp on the experience. If you saw a location in the original game, it can be seen in the remake alongside many new areas.
The remake only covers Midgar, the opening area of the original game. However, it’s been expanded from a 4-hour intro to a 30 to 35-hour epic. Rather than playing it safe, Square Enix wasn’t content with just rehashing the original story (though fans would have been satisfied with that). The “remake” in Final Fantasy 7 Remake has a dual meaning — one which has fans on pins and needles for the next entry.
1. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Rarely has a game launched at such a necessary time as Animal Crossing: New Horizons. As the world was told to stay inside, Nintendo let us set sail for a new adventure on an island of anthropomorphic animals incapable of doing their own chores.
New Horizons gave us all a little breathing room in a period of high anxiety, letting us clock out mentally for a couple of hours per day to tend to our growing community. We did island tours to find our favorite villagers, we sold turnips on the Stalk Market, we traveled to our friends’ (in-game) homes and then did a spot of fishing. It was lovely.
When we look back at the hell year of 2020, there are going to be plenty of things we’ll wish we could forget. However, the moment in time when everyone was suddenly playing Animal Crossing won’t be one of them.
Cyberpunk 2077 has all the potential to be a classic of its genre, but woeful performance issues and a disastrous PS4 and Xbox One launch held it back considerably. There’s a truly excellent game just waiting to burst out, with Night City being one of the most engrossing open-worlds to date, and if CD Projekt Red continues to support it there’s every chance it’ll become just that.
Not since Wii Sports has a pack-in game so adeptly showcased what a new console has to offer. Astro’s Playroom is an excellent first introduction to the PS5’s DualSense controller, showing off its haptic feedback, adaptive triggers, and built-in microphone in a way that made you understand exactly how it could change the way we play games in the next console generation.
Prepare to die… again. The PS5’s Demon’s Souls remake was the one true essential exclusive, with Bluepoint Games once again knocking it out of the park after their acclaimed Shadow of the Colossus remake. Demon’s Souls ran fluidly and looked gorgeous on the PS5, showcasing the console’s technical capabilities with an excellent remake of a classic.
Risk of Rain 2
Risk of Rain 2 propelled Hopoo Games’ hit action title into the third dimension with serious style. Featuring loads of weapons to unlock and secrets to uncover, each run offers countless opportunities. Stack powerful items, create a unique build, and do your best to stave off never-ending hordes of enemies. Best of all, you can bring a few friends along for the ride.