I couldn’t pick just one game of the year now could I?
I’ve not played a huge amount of new releases in 2020, and yet I still struggled to narrow my favourite games from this year down to just five. Whilst the likes of Gears Tactics, SUPERHOT: Mind Control Delete, and Deadly Premonition 2 all hit the spot, there were still a handful of titles that outdid them. So here we are with my five favourite games of 2020.
If I had to narrow this list down to my single favourite game of this year, it would absolutely be Streets of Rage 4. My sister and I played the second and third game in this series to death as youngsters, and after all this time I wouldn’t have expected a new entry to the franchise. Yet here we are with a new game and a hell of a good one at that.
Streets of Rage 4 has taken the excellent gameplay of the second game in the series — ignoring the ultra fast movement and combat of the third — and gives it a beautiful lick of paint. There’s tons of fanservice too, with a heap of unlockable characters from the series’ history to go with the return of classic enemies and even a fun nod to you being on the other side of the law with a certain boss’ special attack. Utterly brilliant, and I’ve played through at least fifteen times since release.
This one is cheating a little bit as the initial chapter wasn’t released this year, but its final chapter was, so I’m allowing it. Song of Horror is a nostalgic survival horror game in the vein of classics like Clock Tower and Silent Hill. You’ll walk around creepy environments, solving complex puzzles hinted at through diaries hidden throughout, all the while trying to avoid often instant death from The Presence.
Whilst there are some technical setbacks, the game itself is great. Each of the five chapters takes place in a different setting as the story delves deeper into some sort of Lovecraftian madness. Add to this the fact that your characters have perma-death resulting in you restarting the chapter should they all perish, and you have a recipe for a constantly tense game. You’ll second guess every decision and dread the next QTE that could spell your doom. Excellent stuff if you’re a fan of the genre classics.
I have a bit of a thing for rogue-like games, and Star Renegades is a brilliant one. It’s part Into the Breach, part JRPG combat, part Darkest Dungeon, and all fun, assuming you can cope with the restarts after a failed run. Your party is made up of a group of misfit rogues looking to fight off an alien invasion that will defeat you over and over again as you hop from timeline to timeline in the hopes that you eventually arrive at one you can save.
The overworld gives you all the information you need to move to your next fight, and the JRPG battles tell you exactly what your foes will do, so any mistakes are yours alone. I love the characters, the combat, and even put aside my annoyance at having to restart simply because of how well put together the whole package is. Plus those 16-bit graphics are gorgeous.
We love a bit of indie at Big Boss Battle, but sometimes you just can’t resist the call of those big budget titles. Doom Eternal takes everything great about the 2016 Doom soft reboot, and turns it up to twenty. Electric combat, devastating weapons, and a soundtrack to get you pumped up for whatever you’re about to do. There’s even a solid story with some deep lore to dive into if that’s something you’re interested in.
Yes, it’s a touch more ‘gamey’ than the 2016 release, and the Marauders feel like a wild difficulty spike at times, but the visceral feeling of the combat is something that just can’t be beat. Then there are the visuals, which are incredible even on consoles and suggest that id may have made some sort of pact with the underworld to get something so gorgeous running so smoothly. Just typing this is making me want to go back for another play through. Rip and tear, even after it is done!
XCOM is the best game series. You may disagree, but deep down you know that it’s true. Othercide takes the XCOM style of turn-based grid combat with perma-death, adds a Lovecraftian nightmare of a story, before mixing it all together with an incredibly striking art style. Develop your forces, send them to fight the demons, and hope they make it back alive to continue your run.
The gameplay is truly unforgiving, and death will come swiftly, forcing a fresh run. Plus the only way to heal your Daughters is to sacrifice another one, meaning that every decision could have major consequences. But when you nail a series of commands against a boss that defends one character and allows everyone else to combo their attacks complete with anime mini-cutscenes, you get a feeling of accomplishment that is hard to beat.
Those are my top games released in 2020! There were plenty of other great ones, but I only allowed myself five to prevent me from ranting for fifteen pages. Here’s to 2021 being another great gaming year!