Good games I played in 2020
2020 was definitely a year, but 2021 is just around the corner. I haven’t had the opportunity to do much else other than play games this year which is a silver lining that I don’t want to take for granted. I’ve never before had the time to play as many good games as I have this year. Without further ado, here are my favourite games I’ve played this year in no particular order (You can read my 2019 GOTY list here).
Half-Life: Alyx ¶
Half-Life: Alyx is the best VR experience I’ve played. That’s not saying much because as I’ve previously discussed most VR games are complete trash. There’s not enough VR headsets in the wild to make it financially viable to build AAA VR games. I discussed the current state of VR in more detail back in November.
Half-Life: Alyx is an exception to the rule, it shouldn’t exist but it does. It’s another Half-Life game that is trying to revolutionize the medium of video games, this time through VR. But, it’s unclear how much of an impact Half-Life: Alyx is going have compared to its predecessors which were innovative and trend-setting in their own ways.
The VR market is miniscule and so even though Half-Life: Alex is amazing, it made a gigantic splash in a tiny pond.
Crusader Kings 3 ¶
I ended up having a great time with Crusader Kings 3 this year. Crusader Kings 3 puts you in the role of a middle to late Medieval Era ruler. Unlike previous entries in the series, Crusader Kings 3 focuses more heavily on playing one ruler after the other and building your dynasty over the course of a few hundred years. You can start out as a small, weak and poor ruler of the smallest piece of land in the world and through play, and role play, you can become the ruler of a world-spanning empire.
You participate in, or defend against, holy wars of all kinds, including the Crusades. You can create your own religion, whether it’s a small Christian sect or a fanatical cannibalistic but egalitarian Satanic cult, and spread it far and wide. You can rule as a diplomatic and benevolent ruler, you can be an absolute tyrant or anything in between.
Crusader Kings 3 can sometimes be a power fantasy, but it’s most fun when you’re struggling and suffering. It can be played alone or in multiplayer, I’ve done many hours of both and I’ve greatly enjoyed all my time spent playing Crusaders Kings 3.
Slay the Spire ¶
Slay the Spire is a card battling, deck building, roguelite game. It has a peculiar visual design that isn’t for everyone. But, every other part of the game is tuned and polished to perfection, creating a strategic and thoughtful experience that is both welcoming to new players and rewarding if you stick with it.
I love easy to learn but hard to master games, Slay the Spire is one of these. The greatest strategy games require you to be constantly thinking, making interesting and tough decisions during play. Slay the Spire does exactly this and does it better than most of the games I’ve played.
Ace Combat 7 ¶
I have fond memories of playing the early Ace Combat games on my original PlayStation when I was a young lad. I lost track of the Ace Combat games from the mid 00s until this year. I talked about my childhood gaming experiences, including my early love of Ace Combat, earlier this year.
Ace Combat 7 is a modern reimagining of the series, it achieved critical success in the mainstream because of its nail biting gameplay and ridiculous story.
Ace Combat 7 got my heart pumping like no other game this year. I’ve never been especially interested in flight and jets but Ace Combat 7 viscerally showed me how thrilling travelling at the speed of sound could be.
A Hat in Time ¶
A Hat in Time is a heartwarming and easy to get into 3D Mario 64-esque style platformer. The world, and its characters, is so whimsical and I really enjoyed existing within it for a short time this year.
The platforming is tight, the level design is on point, the art is beautiful, it’s dripping with heart and soul. It’s easy to tell that A Hat in Time was a labor of love. If you’re feeling down, A Hat in Time might be just the thing you need to perk you up.
Hunt Showdown ¶
It’s rare for me to get into a multiplayer first-person shooter these days. As I grow older, and my boomer reflexes worsen, I feel less and less compelled to dive deep into these high intensity games.
A game has to be doing something extremely interesting for me to be even somewhat interested in playing it.
Hunt Showdown is that game. In Hunt Showdown, you’re a bounty hunter dredging through demon-infested Louisiana swamps in an alternate timeline of 1895, with some anachronisms thrown in. You need to track, then kill a monster and, finally, leave the swamp as quickly as you can. Problem is… You’re not alone.
It’s spicy, it’s weird, it’s unique and if you’ve got a group of friends to play with then you should absolutely play it.
I’m compelled by games developed by Japanese developers with American characters. They’re familiar in some ways, yet completely foreign in others leading to bizarre and unique experiences. Games like Silent Hill, Resident Evil and Dead Rising all fall into this category and I find them all fascinating.
Vanquish does too. Although it isn’t a survival horror game, it’s more of a character action shooter… Think Bayonetta but with guns. I’m a big fan of the games developed by PlatinumGames and Vanquish is no exception.
I felt a deep attachment to the characters and their struggles in Vanquish. Its semi-serious yet absurdist tone hit me in just the right spot. Certain scenes had me shouting at the screen like a madman, while others had me rolling on the floor laughing.
It was a ride unlike any other. Vanquish made me unironically enjoy playing as an acrobatic American super soldier in a bombastic and nonsensical science fiction story with space terrorists out the wazoo.
Following in the tracks of games like MudRunner and Spintires, which I talked about in my GOTY list last year, SnowRunner is another one of those… In which you gradually gather a fleet of heavy duty off-road vehicles by trudging through the wilderness in them.
SnowRunner, as the name would imply, adds snow into the mix. For the first time in the series, you can now trek through the wilderness of THE greatest country in the world, the United States of America, specifically the states of Michigan and Alaska.
The environments, the vehicles and the game systems are the best the series has to offer and if you’re interested in these games, I recommend you take a look at SnowRunner.
Closing Thoughts ¶
2020 was a great year for video games but not a great year overall. I can’t complain much, I’m healthy and I feel great, all things considered. Until the world starts spinning the right way again, I’ll be here playing some games, having a good time and telling you all about it.
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