Check out the video games our staff thought were a cut above in 2020!
Hades – The story follows Zagreus, son of Hades, as he attempts to escape the underworld where he makes his home. Along the way he makes friends with various gods and heroes from Greek mythology. The narrative is revealed in drips and drabs, which works excellently with the gameplay. Most of your escape attempts end in failure, but this never feels frustrating because at least you’ve got some new narrative threads to tug & conversations to have each time you return home. During an escape attempt you collect boons from the gods that alter whatever weapon you choose to take with you on a run. But these boons disappear at the end of a run. Certain materials you collect on a run carry over & can be spent to make Zagreus stronger. So many times in the game you’ll encounter something that seems insurmountably difficult, but after a few runs, upgrades, and failures, you’ll be breezing past it with ease wondering how it was ever a challenge. The soundtrack is amazing as well, and the art style is stunning. An incredibly addictive game that tells a touching, slow burn story that’s well worth the wait.
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim – A game that borrows from just about every piece of major science fiction to tell a wholly original, and completely out there, story. The gameplay fluctuates between a visual-novel style where the bulk of the plot and character development happen, and real time strategy sections where your 13 teenage protagonists pilot giant robots to take on hordes of mechanized invaders. Each character’s story feels like a totally different genre, but their tales eventually weave together to form a cohesive whole. It’s a game that keeps the surprises coming right until the end, so every time you think you’ve got things figured out, a piece of information drops that makes you rethink everything.
Ghost of Tsushima – A game inspired by Kurosawa’s iconic samurai films. It tells the story of a samurai, Jin Sakai, grappling with invaders who do not abide by a code of honor like the samurai do, and the moral compromises he has to make to save his homeland. All this against a backdrop of gorgeous visuals and a beautiful score. The gameplay is reminiscent of Assassin’s Creed, but with some key differences. One of which are the epic samurai movie style showdowns between Jin & his foes.
The Last of Us Part 2 – A divisive game that takes on the well trodden topics of revenge and loss in an incredibly engaging way. A mid-game narrative choice forces the player to question the morality of the main character, Ellie, who we’ve followed and come to love since the fist game. A lot of people were upset about a big narrative choice in the beginning, as well as this mid-game twist, but both feel necessary and really work to take the player on the narrative journey that the writers intend. A bleak, upsetting story, yes. But poignant and powerful none the less.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons – The ultimate comfort game. Super adorable visuals combined with features that force you to take your time and enjoy the journey. You play as a character who embarks on a journey to develop an island & are able to invite anthropomorphized animal companions to live there with you. You can decorate your house, create outfits & artwork, collect bugs & sea creatures, and landscape your island to your heart’s content. Seasons changing adds new and interesting features as time goes on. An almost meditative game that really draws you in & relaxes you.
Animal Crossing – I put in 800 hours into my personal island and still working on the library’s island…
Fall Guys – This game was VERY FUN for how simple it was. A nice dose of serotonin
Super Mario 3D All-stars – Technically a remaster of a bunch of old games but any excuse to replay Mario 64 honestly
And because I’m a terrible mobile casual: Pokemon Cafe Mix! I’m still playing it and I love the mechanics and Pokemon collecting.
If you like getting lost in virtual words, I’d recommend these three games. Cyberpunk 2077 gets a bit glitchy, but hopefully they’ll fix that as more users play the game. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla allows you to build your own Viking community, so that was a nice change. The Last of Us Part II is just beautiful, creepy, and the characters are multidimensional and complex.