by Jayce Ham
While 2020 was terrible for a myriad of reasons, the video game industry thrived. At a time when people needed an escape most, video games provided. It is almost impossible to determine the best games of 2020 because so many amazing games released. So instead I will be determining my favorite games of 2020, they may not all be considered the best by all critics, but they are the games that I personally loved the most last year.
The games will not be put in order of most favorite to least favorite because that is just too dang hard.
The first game that comes to mind when I think of my favorites of 2020 has to be Tell Me Why released by DontNod. It was an episodic game consisting of three episodes that released a week apart in August and September. The game is the first to ever feature a trans male protagonist. This game was instrumental in me coming to terms with being a trans man and finally coming out. In the game, you play as Tyler and Alyson Ronan, twins who are reuniting after ten years of being separated due to Tyler spending the last ten years in a juvenile detention center. The twins revisit their hometown Delos Crossing, Alaska, to prepare their childhood home to be sold. Throughout the game, the twins uncover the mysteries from their childhood. The art style is beautiful and the gameplay is fun, truly DontNod at their best.
13 Sentinels, made by Atlus and Vanillaware, is a gorgeous turn-based strategy game and JRPG (Japanese Role-Playing Game). You play as thirteen different characters, all of whom pilot giant robots called sentinels used to fight off kaiju (giant monsters). The game features a complicated but brilliant science fiction story that with so many twists and turns it will constantly keep you guessing on what exactly is going on. All thirteen characters’ stories intertwine in such a brilliant and incredible way I am still in awe of it. I fell in love with every character, which is a testament to the sheer brilliance of the writing staff for this game. I could not put this game down and finished it within just a few days.
Bugsnax, made by developer Young Horses, was a game I had anticipated for a long time. The promise of a cutesy game with a dark and twisted mystery was all I could think about after the trailer’s first release. In Bugsnax, you play as a journalist who goes to visit Snaktooth Island after hearing of these mystical creatures called bugsnax. Bugsnax are bugs made out of different kinds of food (i.e. a spider made out of french fries or a cinnamon roll snail). The goal of the game is to catch these different bugsnax with various methods and devices. The island is also inhabited by grumpuses, anthropomorphic walrus-like creatures who are there to eat bugsnax. All of the bugsnax you capture are for completing tasks for the many different characters. But what is the horrifying origins of bugsnax? Where is Lizbert, the grumpus who asked you to come to the island? Play the game yourself to uncover the mystery.
I have never played a Final Fantasy game before but finally, with the release of the remake of Final Fantasy 7, I decided to give it a try. I was not disappointed. The remake of Final Fantasy 7 is considered game of the year by a lot of people for a reason. The original game has been beloved by fans for years, and the remake improved upon the original greatly. The heart of the original still remained, but the gameplay and graphics have been much improved. The game features Cloud Strife, an ex-soldier turned mercenary, who is hired by an eco-terrorist group to help them blow up a reactor within the evil corporation Shinra, who is harming the planet by their constant use of mako, the liquid form of the planet’s lifestream. Cloud Strife is a handsome and complicated protagonist whose cold and sarcastic demeanor makes him beloved by fans. Final Fantasy 7 is an action JRPG (Japanese Role-Playing game) whose gameplay is fun and not too difficult to master. Every character is a joy to get to know, and the game takes you on an emotional and exciting ride.
Over the last few months, I have developed a deep love and obsession with the Kingdom Heartsseries. Luckily, right as I was on the cusp of my obsession a new Kingdom Hearts game released, a rhythm game called Melody of Memory. Rhythm games are not typically my cup of tea, but I had to try because it was Kingdom Hearts. I was surprised by how much fun it was and how much I loved it. The game lets you relive the amazing moments of the whole series through music and, once you get to the end, features new story bits that lead to and tease the upcoming Kingdom Hearts 4. I loved every minute of the game and lead me to the enjoyment of a new game genre I had never considered playing before.
Persona 5 Royal, originally was not going to put on this list because it technically released in 2019. However, the U.S. release was in 2020 so I decided to count it after all. This has become one of my favorite games of all time, so it was too difficult to keep myself from including it. Persona 5 Royal is a re-release of Persona 5, which released in 2017. Royal includes many improvements to the original game as well as hours and hours of new content, including the chance to build a friendship with a fan-favorite character Goro Akechi and an extra school semester’s worth of content. Persona 5 Royal is a turn-based strategy game and JRPG (Japanese Role-Playing Game), made by Atlus, who made the previously mentioned 13 Sentinels. You play as a sixteen-year-old who has just transferred to a new school after being put on probation for assaulting a man while trying to save someone. I cannot give a name for this protagonist because you get to choose the protagonist’s name and live vicariously through him. The character becomes a phantom thief who steals the hearts (metaphorically, of course) of rotten adults to change their hearts and make them confess their crimes. He does this alongside several other phantom thieves. Along with stealing hearts, you also go through the daily life of a high schooler, make friends, and even romance one of the amazing female characters in the game. The turn-based combat is exciting and challenging and the characters are all so easy to fall in love with. While the original Persona 5 is still available to play, I highly recommend playing Persona 5 Royal instead as it is a greatly improved version of the original.
My final favorite game is not a full game, but instead a DLC (extra content) for Kingdom Hearts 3 called Re:Mind. Re:Mind adds some closure to Kingdom Hearts 3 and teases where the series is going, just like the previously mentioned Melody of Memory. The DLC is exciting because you are given the opportunity to play as many different characters, not just the usual protagonist Sora. This DLC was so enjoyable it was almost better than Kingdom Hearts 3 itself. I can’t wait to see what happens next in the Kingdom Hearts series.
As you can see, I could go on and on with how many amazing games came out this year, but these are what I consider to be my favorite games released in 2020. Here’s to another year of great games!
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