2020 was a big year for video games. Not only did the next-generation of consoles release, but the medium was also one many laid back into like a soft pillow as COVID-19 swept the world. And it was a great year to either indulge in some of the fantastic games that were released or reacquaint ones-self with gaming after some time off. With some of the biggest and best games to be released on the PS4/XBONE consoles being saved for last.
Here are our picks for the Top 10 Video Games of 2020
10.) Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales [PS4, PS5]
For Miles Morales, Insomniac took everything the did in 2018’s Spider-Man and created a more streamlined experience. Following the very green Miles, as he takes over as the only Spider-Man in New York as Peter takes a well-earned (working) vacation, we get a look at Miles’ life living in Harlem and explore his family dynamic with his mother Rio Morales and Uncle Aaron Davis. Miles Morales has a wonderfully diverse group of characters from his best friend/guy-in-the-chair Ganke and childhood best friend Phin to the deaf street artist Hailey Cooper and podcaster Danika Hart.
Miles is blessed with bio-electricity and temporary invisibility abilities which make him feel unique compared to Peter and make stealth sections of the game a hell of a lot easier and enjoyable than the original. Swinging around New York is still one of the most fun forms of traversal in video games and Miles brings his own unique flair to it. An absolutely stunning game with a strong emotional story, Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a must-play for anyone who’s fortunate enough to have a PS5.
– Ashley Hobley
9.) Animal Crossing: New Horizons [Nintendo Switch]
Animal Crossing: New Horizons was an easy time-sink for many in lockdowns around the world in 2020. But it was also a fantastic social tool as people gathered on islands to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and even get married! You cannot dissociate 2020, COVID-19 and how people used Animal Crossing: New Horizon to socialise, build friendships and help occupy their free time. Of course, the game is excellent on its own merits. With a colourful cast of characters, an addictive gameplay loop, and many wonderful and unique ways to use the game’s many items and creation tools — it was a joy to watch people play, and play Animal Crossing in 2020.
You can play and run your island however you want from a wild mess with a dead museum centre in town, to a high detailed art piece with custom bricks to guide you from one shop to another. Seeing Youtubers and Twitch shows born out of showcasing and using the tools of the game was terrific. Animal Crossing: New Horizons was a lot more than just a game in 2020, but it is one of 2020’s best games.
– Dylan Blight
8.) Demon’s Souls [PS5]
The original ‘soulsborne’ kicked off the PS5 generation with an extortionary from remake specialists, BluePoint Games. However, it’s more than just a straightforward remake as the aged games original themes, art direction, and characters seem to come to life properly for the first time thanks to the power of the PlayStation 5.
At its core, the gameplay is what we’ve all come accustomed to since Demon’s Souls original release in 2009. A focus on precise dodging, parrying and resource management between health potions and your stamina. The boss fights are just as terrifying and, of course, frustrating; they also now come to life in awe-inspiring ways. The Storm King isn’t the most groundbreaking fight but thanks to the PS5 it’s a drop-draw battle of god vs man, with a sound design like nothing else in 2020.
It’s a testament to FromSoftware how well the core of their game’s design held up over ten years later in this remake. It’s a beautiful game to look at and show the power of the PS5 at launch. Demon’s Souls is also a great starting point for your soulsborne adventures, so why not jump in, give it a go as it is one of 2009 and now 2020’s best.
– Dylan Blight
7.) Astro’s Playroom [PS5]
Astro’s Playroom is a love letter to PlayStation’s past, present and future. Undoubtedly, if you listen to any of our content, you would have heard me describe Astro’s Playroom in this way, and I doubt my opinion of it will change. A game that came packed in with the PS5 has made its way onto the Explosion Network’s Top 10 of 2020, and it truly deserves to be there.
Every moment of this 6 – 10 hour experience has been crafted with love. With Astrobots cosplaying Sony characters throughout each level, it is hard to play without having a big smile on your face. But Astro’s Playroom was more than just about letting players explore the history of PlayStation; the game is also extremely fun to play. Astro’s Playroom is the most genuine experience of that “next generation” feeling on either of the consoles. The moment you start Astro’s Playroom, it’s obvious that you are about to play something truly special as well as understanding that the next-generation of gaming is finally here.
– Ciaran Marchant
6.) Ori & The Will of the Wisps [Xbox, PC]
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a stunning game with a heart of gold. It has the same thrilling gameplay and sensational platforming that made the first game a success; but now with more upgrades, skills and even side quests. And although the game released on the Xbox One originally, it’s a must-play for Series X owners thanks to the 60fps/120fps and 8K image modes.
The core gameplay has you acquiring ability’s and items to move further on a quest to save your owlet friend, Ku. Typical Metroidvania tropes follow with a combination of backtracking and using new skills to reach previously inaccessible areas, but the game does them all so well. Combat is fast and punchy with many skills and attack types, letting you shape your playstyle. What I’ll remember most about Ori and the Will of the Wisps is its final hour. An intense boss fight paired with some tears shed in the game’s last cinematic. It’s a fantastic game, and one of the 2020’s best.
– Dylan Blight
5.) Final Fantasy VII Remake [PS4]
Five years after it was revealed at Playstation’s E3 Conference, Final Fantasy VII Remake finally got into players hands. I never played the original version, so I don’t have anything to compare this to but, to me, this was a great introduction to the world of Midgar, AVALANCHE and Shinra.
Leaning more into the combat style of recent Square Enix titles like Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy XV, VII Remake is an easy entry point for new players while also having the option to play it in a more turn-based style. Switching between Cloud, Barret, Tifa and Aerith keep things fresh as each has their own distinct combat style on top of the Materia and a number of weapon variations, although I suspect most players just played at Cloud with the Buster Sword as much as possible.
Beyond the visual upgrade from the original, which is no small thing, VII Remake fleshes out the characters that people fell in love with 23 years ago. Tifa and Aerith are more developed with increased focus and characters like Biggs, Wedge and Jessie get much more time than the did in the original.
With a story that only covers a fraction of the original and diverges in a number of ways, Final Fantasy VII Remake is a great game for longtime fans and newbies. We can only hope that the next part of this project is not too far away.
– Ashley Hobley
4.) Ghost of Tsushima [PS4]
Set in 13th century Japan, Ghost of Tsushima follows Jin Sakai, a rare survivor of the Samaruis’ effort to see off a Mongol invasion. Starting from his lowest point, we play as Jin as he starts to fight back against the Mongol occupation while contending with how much of his code and himself he is willing to give up to save his people. Featuring a wonderful combat system, each encounter was an enjoyable experience whether you decided to honourably call out your opponents or chose to be more sneaky.
Ghost of Tsushima had some of the best side missions in a game this year with a number of supporting characters proving very memorable. While people loved to talk about Lady Masako and Yuna, it was Buddhist warrior monk Norio who I grew most attached to as he tried to live up to his brother. Of course, I have to mention the Yuriko storyline which had me teary-eyed.
One of the most beautiful games of the year, it is unsurprising that people spent so much time in Ghost of Tsushima’s photo mode with images of Tsushima flooding social media in the days after the game’s release. Whether playing the game normally or in the special Kurosawa mode, the game looked amazing with its minimal hud making the experience very immersive.
Ghost of Tsushima is filled so many wonderful moments, from little things, like writing a haiku while reflection your journey so far or watching a bear attack Mongol soldiers, to big battles storming castles and duels in picturesque locations. Sucker Punch gave the PS4 one more great exclusive to see it off, and then they added a whole new free mode! Incredible.
– Ashley Hobley
3.) Persona 5 Royal [PS4]
Persona 5 was already a great game when it was previously released, and many seemed to have doubted what the release of Persona 5 Royal could change. But the game added a lot including new storylines woven throughout the original story and quality of life changes that revitalised many of the Palaces.
These quality-of-life choices included more time to complete jobs at night, items to recover PP, and several design changes across the Palaces. These changes broke down barriers that prevented so many players from genuinely exploring the Phantom Thieves’ wonderful story (this writer included). Persona 5 gave players plenty of opportunities to explore the Phantom Thieves’ world, but with the newly added semester, there is so much more time for players to explore Joker and the Thieves’ stories further. I could not imagine how I would feel with the original ending of Persona 5 as the new ending in Royal brings the story so much closer to home and makes the conclusion of the Phantom Thieves’ story something truly special.
– Ciaran Marchant
2.) The Last of Us Part II [PS4]
What will be known as the most divisive game of 2020, The Last of Us Part II is truly an unforgettable experience and on a narrative scale that I believe stands on its own within the gaming landscape.
No matter how you felt about Part II, it’s hard to deny the importance of this game when it began smashing PlayStation sales records internationally. The team at Naughty Dog crafted a fantastic story with some of, if not, the best performances of 2020, and implemented medium-changing accessibility options that allowed everyone to enjoy and explore The Last of Us Part II.
It may take a couple of years for everyone to truly appreciate the narrative complexity within The Last of Us Part II and get past some tough choices made by the game directors. But The Last of Us Part II broke new ground for gaming narratives and gave its players much to think about past the credits rolling.
– Ciaran Marchant
1.) Hades [PC, Nintendo Switch]
In all the right ways, Hades was the hardest game to put down in 2020. Supergiants latest is a fast-paced dungeon crawler with flashy and lightning-paced combat that feels different each time you play. Pair that with a story that builds in such a natural way, giving you a reason why you’re replaying the same parts of the game over-and-over, and Hades stands out as a masterclass in game design.
You play the son of Hades himself, Zagreus attempting to escape the depths of Hell. Each time you fail (and you will die) you’re thrown back into the watchful eyes of daddy as he mocks your attempts. Thankfully, some helpful onlookers and gods from above like Zeus, Poseidon and more are happy to lend you some power and help in your mission. As you progress further in the game, you’ll tighten these bonds and learn more about the gods in Hell and above it. Even if you die on your run, you’ll always feel like you’re making progress as you build these relationships and uncover more of the story happening around Zagreus.
Of course, being a rogue-lite, there’s abilities to earn and upgrade as well. What makes Hades so special is it’s a truly unique blend of stellar hack-and-slash dungeon crawling rogue-lite gameplay paired with the writing and characters Supergiant delivered in their last game, Pyre. Tie the writing and gameplay together, and it’s already an exciting game. Still, I haven’t even mentioned the breathtaking art or stellar original music by Darren Korb — who also voices Zagreus!
What’s more impressive is Hades‘ development as covered in the Noclip documentary. It was a well structured, no crunch production, even through 2020 and COVID-19. Hades released into early access in 2018, and the studio used all of the player feedback to fine-tune the final product. And what we got with Hades in 2020 is simply put, the best game of 2020. A finely tuned action game with a large cast of lovable characters you won’t forget.
– Dylan Blight
This Top 10 list was compiled by Dylan Blight, Ashley Hobley and Ciaran Marchant.