And it’s that time of the year. Today, we are sharing our Games of the Year 2020 awards. In this list, you’ll find the games that DSOGaming’s writers enjoyed the most. Do note that this isn’t our “Top 10 Most Optimized” or “Top 10 Worst Optimized” lists; these lists will be published next week. So without further ado, here are our GOTY 2020 PC awards.
Well, this has been an astonishingly shitty year in general, and probably the worst in recent memory. Even so, it wasn’t all bad for gaming. We had several good games, and a few of them were actually fantastic. I had fun with most of the games I played, but Doom Eternal and Wasteland 3 are probably my favourite games of 2020.
Still, and while I like Wasteland 3, I think I’ll go with Doom Eternal, mainly due to the fact that it was so polished at launch. Wasteland 3 had many issues, which prevented me from fully enjoying it. On the other hand, Doom Eternal was almost perfect at launch (at least from what I played). And, to be honest, this is something that you don’t really see that often anymore. Thus, my game of the year is Doom Eternal. A masterpiece of mayhem, blood, and guts. A playground of torturing and killing demons. A funhouse filled with dismembered, blown up, ripped in half demon corpses.
I had a lot of fun with both of the latest DOOM games, but I think I like Eternal a tiny bit more. That’s because DOOM Eternal provided me with more options. I did like the strategic element tied to the ammo management, and I also enjoyed the platforming and puzzle sections that were between the fights.
Of course no game is perfect, and while Doom Eternal has its flaws, it was still an amazing experience. I also love gore in games, and Doom Eternal had more than enough to satisfy my thirst for demon blood.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year. Stay strong, be safe, and, hopefully, everything will be back to normal soon enough.
All the best guys!
I hate roguelikes, yet I love Hades because all aspects of it feel meaningful. There’s a delightful cast of extremely well-written and brilliantly voice-acted characters to interact with every play session. The story is so good. Seriously, the unfolding plot is magnificent, and the overall setting gets better and better the more you play.
Gameplay-wise, each ‘run’ lasts from 10 to 25 minutes, usually. The combat is sublime, with truly dozens upon dozens of unique combinations, depending on what upgrades you randomly find each attempt. Enough unlockables are provided to also make each run rewarding. The inclusion of an optional ‘God Mode’ gives a permanent, stackable 2% defense buff upon each death, making even failure grant you progress.
Then there’s the graphics and mind-blowing 2D/3D art style. Gorgeous is the correct description for all the game’s settings, backdrops, effects, characters, and other elements. Plus, there’s basically zero bugs. Granted, Hades has downsides. The enemy variety is limited, and there are only four different zones. Still, even after completing the story, there’s so much optional content, including continued plot lines.
In summary, Hades is immaculately playable and richly rewarding, whether you pop in for 5 minutes or go for a 5-hour marathon. Considering the game is less than half the price of other games, I keep asking myself, “How is Hades so insanely good?!” Yet, it is! Hades is absolutely the best game I played this year and one of the most expertly crafted video games ever made.
Nick’s Runner Up: Death Stranding
Hideo Kojima’s latest game should be boring and hokey. You laboriously deliver packages to ‘connect the world’ together in harmony. That’s pretty much it. And yet, I found Death Stranding to be completely mesmerizing. It’s just so different than any other game, with its wild premise and quirky world-traversal systems.
Besides a gripping (but bizarre) story told through extremely impressive (but rare) cutscenes, there’s a courage to Death Stranding’s commitment to inspire each player to asynchronously help other players out. It’s very addicting to build structures and support other players, and it feels good to know we’re all in this bleak, difficult world together.
Given the real-world isolation of 2020, Death Stranding seems extra prophetic, and I guarantee you’ve never played another game quite like this. Some won’t get the appeal of this game, but I ate up Hideo Kojima’s brand of innovative, off-the-wall design. Hence, Death Stranding, for all its simplicity and tedium, was very nearly my personal game of the year.
By now everyone probably regards 2020 as the ‘annus horibilis’ of the gaming industry. While a select few titles did manage to charm critics, many gamers were left with searing disappointment upon the release of games they had been anticipating for months, or even years.
At least gems like One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 and Gears Tactics ensured that we were off to a good start. In fact, before the claws of this loathsome pandemic really dug in, it was a pleasure to play through most of the games I reviewed in early 2020 (aside maybe from Dragon Ball Z Kakarot).
However, there was one title from this group that stood miles above everything I wrote about in the last year. This game soared out of 2020’s league and immediately established itself as one of the best I have ever experienced. That game was Ori and the Will of the Wisps.
Ori 2 (as I nicknamed it in my review) is a sequel to an already excellent metroidvania game released in 2015, and it somehow improves on every single strength of its predecessor. In fact, I would dare to say the developers, Moon Studios, have just set the new standard for this genre.
A key reason why it was so much fun to play as the titular protagonist, Ori, lies in how buttery smooth and agile this little forest spirit felt to control. Like a tiny, luminous ballerina, Ori ran, climbed and leaped through every level with a flowy grace that was extremely entertaining to observe.
By providing the player with an engaging series of platforming and combat abilities, Ori 2 created an incentive to experiment with the limits of what its protagonist could do. The game ensured that exploration and collecting was always a pleasant experience that never felt drawn out or repetitive.
The thrill of exploring was also enhanced with careful level design that didn’t try to force the player in a specific direction by locking them out. Instead, Moon Studios shaped their levels as layered, sprawling structures that opened up new pathways as Ori gained new abilities.
Most importantly, Ori 2’s visuals showed even more detailed textures and an even wider gamut of colours than the first game. The result was a breathtakingly beautiful game that often felt like playing through a painting in a fairytale book. This game definitely deserves a nice big screen.
What ties all of this together is a wholesome, heart-wrenching story in which Ori set out to rescue a little owlet, named Ku, from dangers lurking in the forest. While hardly an example of deep storytelling, it was surprisingly effective at sending me on a rollercoaster of emotions during my playthrough.
The word ‘masterpiece’ is easily overused, but Ori 2 reminded me of what a masterpiece game truly means. Therefore, Ori and the Will of the Wisps (damn that’s a mouthful) wholeheartedly receives my highest recommendation of 2020. If you give this one a pass, I feel truly, deeply sorry for you.
In last year’s game of the year editorial, I selected Halo: Reach and I was actually pretty certain I was going to pick another Halo game this year, whether it be CE, 2, 3, ODST or even… 4? Not really 4. It was definitely a very good year for the Master Chief Collection. That’s probably what a lot of listeners of Gaming After Dark were expecting as well because Halo manages to make an appearance on approximately 75% of our output.
As it came time to write this up though, I spent some time thinking about this past year. It was a rough year for a lot of us. My brother having been out of state for years came back around for a few months due to covid. We’d grown up on the Sega Genesis and in particular relished a franchise called Streets of Rage. We relived some of those memories with this year’s Streets of Rage 4 and I wrote about the new game in an enthusiastic review back in May. So I’m picking Streets of Rage 4.
As a long-time Sega fan I’ve always loved the Streets of Rage franchise but my expectations for 4 weren’t the highest for two major reasons: A. I’d seen many classic Sega IP revival efforts fail (Secret Level’s Golden Axe, anyone?), B. One of the developers involved, Guard Crush, didn’t have much history to go on as a studio. So with that in mind I headed into the game and was thoroughly surprised.
The gameplay is tastefully updated even if I do miss the sprint on the main roster, there’s a sort of rhythm to the combat that wasn’t quite there on the earlier titles. You notice it most when you take a break from the game and you come back awful, having to rediscover the flow, on the Genesis you could largely come back and play decently. The game takes the original mechanics, adds some minor tweaks here and there, delivering an experience that feels “new”. A careful balancing act for an IP that has a lot of passionate fans.
Being an active member of the Sega community, the most common critique I saw was about the soundtrack. Some fans didn’t like it, though you can switch to the old tracks in the game. To be honest, I really like the new tracks. Nothing wrong with the old ones which are some of the best tracks off any video game OST out there but the new tracks fit the game they were composed for. They won’t go down among the best in history like the original game’s OSTs though. That’s true.
I ended up putting 40 hours into a game HowLongToBeat lists as a 3-hour title. A core element in the appeal of the Streets of Rage games, and really its genre, was how replayable they are, and Streets of Rage 4 delivers. The game incentivized the replays through a bevy of unlockables and I shared much of this with my brother, as I would have on Sega’s 16-bit wonder. Couch co-op was actively part of the experience I was having with a game for the first time in years. And especially this year, I truly enjoyed it.
In case you didn’t know, I love single-player games. While I loved Quake 3 Arena, Unreal Tournament and GRAW2, I prefer playing single-player games. And 2020 offered us some amazing single-player games on the PC.
The games I enjoyed the most this year were Death Stranding, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Doom Eternal, Mafia Definitive Edition and Yakuza: Like A Dragon.
Mafia Definitive Edition is an incredible remake that looks and plays great on the PC. The only downside with Mafia Remake is that I’ve already played it when it first came out, so it wasn’t a new experience for me. And while Doom Eternal was one of my favourite FPS games of 2020, it still was not able to top the other games. So, that leaves us with Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Death Stranding and Yakuza: Like A Dragon.
In my opinion, these three games are simply outstanding, and you really have to play them (especially if you are a single-player gamer). Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a phenomenal and emotional platformer, with one of the best soundtracks. On the other hand, Death Stranding has some of the best cut-scenes I’ve ever seen. Mads Mikkelsen’s performance, in particular, is exceptional, and his facial expressions are full of emotions. The game’s story is great, and I didn’t really mind its “hiking” gameplay mechanics. Sam’s movements (and animation transitions) are also among the smoothest I’ve seen in a video-game in 2020, and the combat mechanics were quite polished. However, my GOTY 2020 award goes to Yakuza: Like A Dragon.
This comes as a surprise as I didn’t expect to like Yakuza: Like A Dragon THAT much. I mean, I loved Yakuza 0 but when I heard that this new Yakuza game would be a turn-based JRPG, I was a bit worried. However, Ryu Ga Gotoku has managed to create one of the best modern JRPGs. The game has solid JRPG gameplay mechanics, though – and like most old-school JRPG games – there is some grinding towards its end. So, if you are a fan of Final Fantasy 7, Dragon Quest, and Super Mario RPG, you’ll love Yakuza: Like A Dragon. Moreover, it comes with all the mini-games and side-missions you’d expect to see in a Yakuza game. Not only that, Yakuza: Like A Dragon packs an incredible story, some VERY COOL easter eggs for all Yakuza fans, and the best Japanese voice acting I’ve seen in a game. The Japanese voice actors are so passionate in this game that you MUST play it with the Japanese voices. What was also important, at least for me, was the feeling I got when I finished it. The game does not end in a cliffhanger and provides a complete experience with a satisfying ending. And that’s something that I really appreciate!