For all the time there was available in the Year of Our Lord 2020, I didn’t play that many games. Not only have games become more and more expensive, but more and more of them are harder to run on this five-year-old computer. But I can say that every game I did get to play that year was a meaningful experience. They were the silver lining on the dark cloud that was 2020, a year that shall long live in infamy.
Instead of the usual top ten list, I only have five games I can make note of for 2020. I didn’t play only five games throughout the year, but I don’t think I can add titles like Valorant in the discussion since I didn’t have that much fun in them. Perhaps what really qualifies these games is how it helped me stay sane throughout the pandemic.
I didn’t get affected as much as others by the pandemic due to my work and life situation. I work at home and I don’t go out much in the first place. However, while my social anxiety does make me the recluse I am, I’ve learned not being able to choose to go out when I want to has also negatively affected me. That rut was dampened mostly by these games.
Also, to redeem myself for having posted too sporadically on this blog over the past two years, I’d also like to list my top five games of 2019.
My Top 10 Games of 2020
Honorable Mention: Among Us
I will never touch this game since social deduction games make me short circuit. I blame childhood trauma for that. But I do enjoy watching other people play it.
Watching Among Us gameplay on YouTube helped me stay sane during lockdowns, especially Disguised Toast videos. I see why people like the game, and I wish I can partake in it too without stress and anxiety.
But for now, I’m content with just watching. I find the mechanics fascinating and how different forms of chat, whether text or voice, actually change the gameplay dynamics. Also, the meta can be affected by who you play with.
In the leadup to Cyberpunk 2077, I had been playing a lot of DOOM Eternal, and Ghostrunner served as a bridge. The movement that was axed from CP77 was in this game, especially wallrunning, can be experienced here. You can say it prepares you for melee combat in CP77.
It has issues regarding clumsy pacing, cybervoid levels that seem unnecessary, overt use of exposition for narrative, and extra busywork in certain parts that doesn’t fit in with the core gameplay. It’s like it retains a lot of the flaws of Mirror’s Edge while adding more to them.
I advise you to not think of it as an action game, but a puzzle game. That’s what 3D platforming really is, and you’ll have a better time if you go in with that mindset. With its combination of first-person platforming challenge and stylish melee combat, fans of games set in sci-fi settings should play it at least once.
It had been out in Steam Early Access since December 2018, so putting this in the list may be cheating. However, I think the official release added enough to the game to make it a 2020 title.
Any game that comes out of Supergiant Games is bound to be special in its own way. All Supergiant Games products follow a template—top-down action with hand-drawn art style, thematic story, amazing music, and well-done voice acting.
This one is no different, but its adaptation of Greek mythology is such that it makes age-old mythological figures relatable to modern audiences. Hades turns the God of the Underworld and his progeny from dreary antagonists into relatable characters and the afterlife into a setting ripe for roguelike gameplay.
Mind you, I still have yet to complete a full run in this game. Playing it, particularly with the Twin Fists of Malphon, makes my thumb hurt from mashing attack and dodge simultaneously.
Perhaps if I take time to learn how to properly play the game this year, I won’t have to utilize such a brain-dead playstyle to get by and I’ll actually finish it.
3. Mafia: Definitive Edition
This is the remake of the game I made a review of over four years ago. It’s still my most viewed video, and I’m working on the review for this remake as we speak. This is how remakes should be done—not an HD remake, but a full overhaul.
Hangar 13 didn’t just make the graphics and gameplay better, but the writing as well. It’s usually a sin to fetter with the source material, but the changes they made to the story and dialogue actually made this experience a lot richer and more relatable.
Playing this game took me full circle from one of the games that influenced my life to fondly looking back to the past while also looking forward to the future. I submit this game as a case of a remake done right. It’s actually better than the original, and I express that sentiment proudly.
2. Cyberpunk 2077
I’m used to playing broken and unfinished games. Some of my all-time favorite games were released in various states of unfinished and QA-deficient. I’m not excusing the practice of pushing unpolished games out the door, but I give them passes if they’re not turds.
As far as turds go, Cyberpunk 2077 is shiny and sweet-smelling. Beneath its diseased skin is a beating heart and a full soul. If you can get past its fairly slow start and numerous bugs and glitches, you’ll find fleshed-out characters and interesting storylines throughout Night City.
While the upper brass of CD Projekt RED defends itself against detractors and angry investors, the developers are continuing to fix the game. There will even be free DLC early this year. The fact that despite everything riding on its much-anticipated launch, it came out without any form of DRM says a lot about its makers.
My current playthrough is now 70 hours in. I went from level 28 to 44 from just doing gigs and fighting crimes. I’m having that much fun with it.
1. DOOM Eternal
The game that came out at the start of quarantine back in March is still the game I’m pushing as my GOTY for 2020. It let me experience again what I felt when I first picked up StarCraft II a decade ago—that mechanical magic.
But unlike StarCraft II, which was more of a discovery along the way, I was hyped for DOOM Eternal right from the start. I was already playing DOOM 2016 when the sequel was announced, and I saw all the new mechanics and gameplay additions. I couldn’t get hyped enough for it and I sucked up information wherever I could get it.
I bought it on the first day. I didn’t care if there was any possibility of it falling below expectations because I was sure that I was going to like it with those mechanics. This game accompanied me throughout quarantine. The better I got, the more I enjoyed the game.
While I’m taking a break from it at the moment to focus on Cyberpunk 2077, I’ll get back to it soon enough. It’s exactly the kind of game that can hold me over for years to come.
My Top 5 Games of 2019
Honorable Mention: Pathologic
As I’ve mentioned in this blog post, I’ll never play this game. But unlike Among Us, it’s because Pathologic was designed to be a grueling experience to begin with.
My vicarious consumption of this game through reviews and video essays by MandaloreGaming and Hbomberguy throughout 2019 informed me of its qualities. I’ve consumed many games through second-hand accounts this way, and what it does for me is help me understand that even games I don’t gravitate towards have their own charm that other people better understand.
Being a Russian indie game, Pathologic and its sequel were not going to be darlings of the mainstream. It wasn’t going to win awards like The Last of Us and be the fodder of discussion, debate, and debasement on social media. But in 2019, it did have a brief time in the sun thanks to critics who took the time to get shitfaced for dozens of hours of their lives in this game.
5. Untitled Goose Game
Funny enough, perhaps it would’ve been better if it came out in 2020, but it was still a fun experience in 2019. Causing chaos and mayhem as you go through your checklist is a funny way to show how it is to be a goose, but it’s just a goose game and not an actual simulation of how it is to be a real goose.
There’s a review of Untitled Goose Game that doubles as a Marxist interpretation of the game and its waterfowl protagonist. Take it how you will, whether you’re someone who thinks recreational media should always be free of political grime or just don’t care about it, but I think being able to do that is a sign of the game being compelling.
Of course, that also goes with not taking it too seriously and understanding that the goose is just a goose. There’s nothing wrong with either. It’s still fun to startle people with a honk, nonetheless.
While I have yet to finish this game, my experience with this game has been quite interesting. I quite liked the atmosphere and setting. It’s one of those games where the setting itself is a character on its own. The Bureau of Control building is like a living creature, and perhaps even sentient with mysterious intentions.
Control is perhaps the closest we’ll get to a AAA game based on the SCP metafictional universe. The various anomalies that exist within the Bureau of Control and their relation to the protagonist’s quest to find her long lost brother make for a story that somehow ties into the Alan Wake series. It’s no Max Payne, but I do see how it’s a testament to Remedy Entertainment’s continued evolution.
Perhaps the only bad thing I can say about it is how it’s somewhat dreary a lot of the time that I don’t feel compelled to return to it in order to see the end. Maybe that’s more of my problem than the game itself, and I’ve yet to see what they added to the Ultimate Edition.
3. Resident Evil 2 Remake
Here’s the first Capcom title on this list, and it’s a good one. The only Resident Evil game I’ve ever finished was Resident Evil 3 Nemesis, one of the small handful of PS1 games I played at length in the past. I tried replaying that game many years later and found the “traditional Resident Evil” gameplay too much for my now adult-life-handicapped sensibilities.
This “REmake” has fixed a lot of those foibles with better inventory management, a map that tells you which areas you’ve fully explored, third person perspective with camera control, and seamless entering through doors. I don’t have to burn daylight waiting to enter another room—I can just walk in now and even flummox zombies with it.
Despite the gameplay being updated, it has not lost the spirit of Resident Evil. It still delivers the same experience as the old games, but with less barriers to enjoyment. Of course, that means enemies have to be harder, like the lickers that always give me a scare. A lot of these remarks apply to the Resident Evil 3 remake as well.
I also enjoyed the Chrisposting memes popping up in social media that year.
2. Devil May Cry V
I’ve not finished the previous Devil May Cry games, which I know is a travesty. I’ve watched let’s play videos of them, including the middle child of the franchise, which is Devil May Cry 2. That does mean I don’t have much credibility when it comes to the series. I played a bit of Devil May Cry 4 and DmC: Devil May Cry—the latter of which brings my credibility even closer to zero.
But I did finish the campaign of Devil May Cry V right up to Son of Sparda difficulty. Since I played it on PC, I haven’t played the Special Edition yet (which is only out for PlayStation consoles). I did get to try playing Vergil, and he does take some getting used to for me as he doesn’t suit my playstyle. Nero is more my speed.
What makes me put this game in the second spot for the best game I played in 2019 is the story. Devil May Cry V is a love letter to the franchise. It has all the good parts of the previous games and ties a neat little bow on top. The new characters Nico and V are also quite interesting in their character designs and dialogue.
I also liked Vergil’s character development at the end of the game. It’ll be interesting how Capcom will carry the franchise forward as it’s like this game hits the same endpoint as Tekken 7, or I could be wrong in that assumption. I still pick this game up every now and then as the systems are still fun to play with.
Also, the soundtrack (excluding Subhuman) is amazing. When Bury the Light came out to hype the Special Edition release, I had it on loop for three days straight.
1. The Outer Worlds
I played this game non-stop for two weeks upon its release, and I haven’t really touched it since. It has the same gameplay as Fallout 4 and Cyberpunk 2077—first-person RPGs with guns. I did at least two full playthroughs, each taking me 40 hours to complete.
Both times, I played a good guy who cared about his crewmates and helped everyone around him. I never felt compelled to work for the Board, the corporate antagonists in the story. That was because they were antagonists—unabashedly and unapologetically so.
Throughout the game, you encounter people whose lives are beset by the Board’s disregard for their well-being. You then encounter their mouthpiece, Sophia Akande, who blew her only chance to woo me to the board’s side. She had little charm to her, only talking down to me and offering me things I knew my Earth-born characters wouldn’t care much for.
Why was this my GOTY for 2019 then? This is no Fallout: New Vegas, which made it seem like Obsidian Entertainment has made yet another Pillars of Eternity—a game with incredible potential in its setting and lore, but falls short in execution. But for what The Outer Worlds lacks, it does make up for with its atmosphere.
I had fun in that game. Perhaps I’ll get back to it and play through the Peril on Gorgon DLC once I feel like it. Looking back, what I liked most about it was the crew. The companions are all well-written and fleshed out with their own backstories. I also found the Tactical Time Dilation system to be a good replacement for VATS in Fallout: New Vegas.
But perhaps that’s why I haven’t gotten back to it yet—that it was merely a reimagining of FNV. However, while it didn’t live up to high expectations, it’s still the most compelling game I played in 2019. Just look at how much I had to say about it here.
For 2021, I may have a good plan for being able to play more games and create content at the same time, or at least put myself in a position to do so. My Twitch channel had been gathering dust since 2013, but I can say that I now have both the means and requisite confidence to take advantage of it now. Hopefully, this year will be much better and I can stay the course.
My new year’s resolution for 2021 is centered around one word—tenacity. I wish to embody that through my work this year. I can’t guarantee that I’ll start shitting gold all of a sudden—it likely won’t turn out that way. It’ll be a struggle to get into the habit of making content. But that’s part of the deal, and I’ll need tenacity to pull it off.
And of course, I should have fun while doing it.
You know that final conversation between Majima and Sagawa at the epilogue of Yakuza 0, where Majima first adopts his trademark style with the snakeskin jacket and crazy attitude? Majima’s answer is the inspiration for this. Yeah, I have no problem with being inspired by a video game. Isn’t that what this thing is all about?
Have something to say? Do you agree or am I off-base? Did I miss a crucial detail or get something wrong? Please leave whatever reactions, questions, or suggestions you may have on the comment section below.
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