2020 has been a great year for gamers. With the launch of a brand-new generation of consoles, came some breathtaking games and fresh innovation as the gates open on a whole new world of possibilities. But what games really stood out from the rest in 2020?
Cyberpunk 2022 is the long-awaited title from Project CD Red. After fans rushed the studio (the people behind 2015’s Game of the Year Award winner, The Witcher 3), CDPR was forced to release the game early. The result is an abundance of glitches, bugs and graphical errors, that are -hopefully – soon to be patched.
Despite the many teething errors Cyberpunk presents; there’s still a lot of hope for its future, with many saying they are still really enjoying the game. I have a copy for my PS4 and have had the pleasure of dipping my toes into the murky waters of Night City. I, personally, have decided to wait until I can get a PlayStation 5. Hopefully, they will have a patch by this time; although it may actually be 2077 by the time we finally see an improvement.
From the start, CD Project Red’s new blockbuster does, however, show an abundance of promise. I just have my fingers firmly crossed and await in great anticipation for a wave of the developer’s magic wand that will hopefully see improved graphics; hand-in-hand with the eradication of the game’s many, current bugs. If this happens, then we are in for a rich, immersive experience; packed to the brim with action and storyline alike.
Final Fantasy VII: The Remake
Back in 1997, Final Fantasy VII stormed the gaming scene as many of us kids (at the time) would beg, borrow and bribe their way to a copy of this sensational title. It was talked about everywhere, from the playground and corridors of school, to the parks and homes of friends; it was massive.
Now I have set the scene, it won’t be too hard to imagine the tear rolling down my cheek when Square Enix took all of us oldies by surprise and announced a remake of our beloved game. A game that has set the bar as an iconic title from the true era of gaming.
The wait between the announcement and the release seemed to be suspended in time; as the months, days, hours and seconds slowly ticked away. During this insufferable waiting period, the seasoned veterans of the game and newcomers alike cast wild speculation on what was to come.
Nothing would have prepared us, however, for the angle they decided to take. Instead of the turn-based combat system that we were all watching the horizon with narrowed eyes for; we were instead met with a hybrid of the turn-based fighting from the days of Yore, modernized with a real-time mechanic that works surprisingly well.
Final Fantasy VII remains till this day in the hearts of many gamers, the world over. To have it beautifully restored with stunning high-definition visuals has been a real gift to those that can still hear their ‘90s child calling from the depths of within.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
At first glance, it would be a forgivable mistake to assume that Animal Crossing: New Horizons was nothing more than a game designed for children. With the overly cutesy graphics with a shiny finish, it wouldn’t be a logical conclusion to make. These were pretty much my own thoughts when I heard that my 22-year-old stepson had bought himself a copy; I simply could not see the appeal.
Over time, I have had a chance to play the game for myself and was pleasantly surprised by the playability along with the depth of the game; I hold my hands up. Animal Crossing has been a huge Nintendo favorite, ever since its release in March of 2020. It possesses a rare gaming quality of being engaging to children and adults alike and was a pleasant surprise to play with my kids.
Starting on your island with just your handy NookPhone, you are set to the task of building your new home up and customizing it with a seemingly boundless array of DIY recipes that you can discover and unlock on your very own slice of paradise.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons allows for up to eight people living on one island. Invite and play with your friends as you build your own world around you to greatly satisfying ends.
There’s something captivating in the 1930’s cartoon-inspired graphics of Cuphead. The whole aesthetic is done in a wonderfully unsettling theme that captures the era in splendid style. Cuphead is notoriously difficult and throws challenging levels at you from the start; so prepare yourself for a magnitude of frustrations and maybe the occasional escaped expletive. While the difficulty is enough to drive even the most patient man into a television-tipping fit of rage; it does come with a real sense of achievement when you finally beat a level.
Cuphead also offers quite a lot of variety, spread throughout its many levels. The game is mostly made up of boss battle levels but a scattering of 2D-scrolling ‘Run ‘n’ Gun’ levels offer a break from the tough bosses; breaking any monotony that may otherwise arise.
Due to the difficulty, I wouldn’t say Cuphead would be enjoyed by really young gamers. If you have a love of quirky graphics and nerves of steel, however, there is a lot to be enjoyed about Cuphead the will give you countless hours of fast, slick and stressful fun.
Fall Guys: Knockout
Available on Windows and PlayStation 4, Fall Guys: Knockout is a knockout tournament game; where you and 59 other players battle it out for the top spot over a series of minigames. Fall Guys manages to be both family-friendly and provide hours of entertainment – two qualities rarely seen together.
The gameplay itself is reminiscent of the old and outlandishly bizarre TV show, Takeshi’s Castle. Most of the rounds put you in on a long obstacle course built of what looks like a bouncy castle. In these busy races, you jump, duck and run your way to the finish line before the qualification places have all been taken. As it turns out, this is heaps of fun and a good laugh when played in a party. Fall Guys has certainly gained a spot on our Top Ten Video Games of 2020 Hall of Fame.
The Doom franchise has resided in the hearts of games for nearly three decades. With only Wolfenstein as its predecessor; Doom became the flagship of first-person shooters and has been the first game on a lot of minds on hearing “FPS”.
Nearly 30-years-later, Bethesda have proven that the franchise isn’t dead and instead have come storming on to the scene with a game that is faster, more brutal and is oozing the violent glorious gore that Bethesda does so well. Rather than take Easy Street, straying right off the beaten path and giving us another generic shooter; Bethesda has stayed true to their core fans, taken something the know if great and injected it with steroids. Everything we know and love about the original is omnipresent throughout the game. While Doom: Eternal looks and feels like a game of our times; it still offers up that fluid, pacey, arcade-awesomeness that we have come to associate with the franchise over the years.
The Last of Us: Part II
After ripping at our emotions (and nerves) with Part 1, Naughty Boy are back again with the eagerly awaited The Last of Us: Part 2. Set five years later than the first installment, TLOU2 follows two protagonists, Ellie and Abby in a post-apocalyptic United State as their stories unfold, and their paths begin to cross. Like the first game, the Last of Us 2 is a thrilling, cinematic game that drips in tense, edge-of-the seat moments that will stay with you long after the credits roll.
Naughty Dog received ample praise for the characters, the acting and the absorbing narrative. However, opinions were firmly divided about the introduction of the first transgender video game hero. Those without old-fashioned views of bigotry commended the bravery of the innovative developer studio.
GHOST OF TSUShIMA
Ghost of Tsushima was crowned the Game of the Year at the 2020 Game Awards event. Aside from this, it picked up the Best Direction Award at the same event and was nominated for The Golden Joystick award. With such commendations, it’s needless to say the game stands out with its graphical prowess, compelling storyline and expansive world.
The combat in Ghost of Tsushima is fluid and unique in a way that you need to use different fighting styles to fight different types of enemy. Seamlessly switching from one to the other as your slash your way through merciless Mongolians is extremely satisfying giving the combat mechanics an edge that doesn’t become tiresome or repetitive as the game goes on.
Dreams is a refreshing escape and entirely different to the average game, in that isn’t really a game. It is, in fact, a platform on which to build your own creations and share with other ‘dreamers’ around the world. The possibilities that Dreams creates are limitless and without any boundary but your own mind. In a nutshell, if you can dream it, you can make it. Anything can be crafted using Dreams, from music and pictures to animations and even games of your very own.
While the intricacies of making games in Dreams don’t mirror those in a real coding environment; they do follow fundamental computer logic. Wrapped up in a neat package of tools and tutorials, Dreams is a great first step to game development. If development isn’t your thing and you just want to be creative; you can create, sculpt and design elements for others to use, or to keep all to yourself.
Aside from the ability to create ‘dreams’, you can visit and play content that other ‘dreamers’ have created. This opens up a broad range of imaginative games to play, worlds to explore and animations to watch.
PAPER MARIO: THE ORIGAMI KING
A top games of 2020 couldn’t be complete without the world’s favorite plumber and his elusive brother. Paper Mario: The Origami King is an absolute joy to play through. Those that grew up with the Mario Brothers will feel an inner warmth at the many nods to early Mario games.
The papery world in which Mario is set boasts layers of comedy that have you laughing out loud at times and inwardly smiling at the clever ways the use of paper is inocorporated into the game.
Fans and new players alike will get hours of fun out of Paper Mario: The Origami King. The fun storyline is punctuated by frequent laughs as you meet the many NPCs scattered across the Mushroom Kingdom.