Well…that was a year.

Despite the absolute cacophony that was 2020 it was an undeniably amazing year for gaming. There were games released from not one, not two but three separate developers who had previously won my extremely coveted Game of the Year nomination. Couple that with numerous other massive releases, several surprise gems and a lot of free time thanks to you know, the virus, last year reminded me of just how good games can be and made me extremely excited for what’s in store for this calendar year.

Whilst I wasn’t able t maintain my breakneck pace that I set back in 2019 I did manage to get through a very solid 48 titles for the 2020 year. Of them no less than 8 have qualified for my honourable mentions section, scoring 9.0 or above with a good number of them also hovering around the 8. Honestly I can’t think of a time when we had so much choice with good games to play and if it wasn’t for a global pandemic ruining the rest of the world for us 2020 would’ve definitely been a year to remember much more fondly.

As always here’s last year’s list in chronological order, scores included:

I really do feel like I’m punching down this year when I give out the wooden spoon award to Paws and Soul as it’s quite obvious it’s been made by someone who just doesn’t know what they’re doing. The unfortunate reality though is that, in its current state, there’s nothing really to salvage. The amount of work required to take it from what it is now into something resembling what I think they wanted to achieve would take just as much effort as starting over anew. Do I still stand by my review after having said that? Absolutely, it’s total garbage and playing it does nothing but waste your time.

The honourable mentions list is quite big this year so here’s some points in rapid fire form:

  • The Division 2: Warlords of New York: Was great to get back into the world and have an objective to chase for a good long while. Shame about the lack of matchmaking for the raid at the time.
  • Kentucky Route Zero: So glad I waited to play this all the way through. Bonus points for giving me another song to add to my “So You Want Tears” playlist on Spotify with their song I’m Going that Way.
  • Satisfactory: Oh man, I should go back to my factory. Shits probably all kinds of wild that I’ve left it running for that long. Thoroughly enjoyed it and will probably go back for multi with some mates, one day.
  • Arrog: A real surprise gem and I’m so glad I found it. It’s rare that I’ll come across something that’s both completely unknown and completely amazing these days.
  • Universal Paperclips: Thanks to my mate who told me that a first playthrough that took more than a few hours was likely due to other people being total noobs. Honestly I’m surprised I didn’t cross paths with this one earlier.
  • DOTA 2: Turbo Mode: Because I really want more bad habits and going back to an old one is the quickest way to acquire more.

Enough stalling however, this year’s Game of the Year is:

Yes yes, I know. This isn’t the choice that many are going to make but the thing is Ori and the Will of the Wisps did to me what no other game managed to do: TWICE. There I was, sitting down to play it and thinking “You’d better not make me care again and then betray me” and yeah, they did, and they even managed to make it hurt that much more by naming the bird Ku. Not only did they make me care about the characters, all of them, so deeply the fact that the game play was just so good I considered 100% the game just for the heck of it goes to show just what a masterpiece this game is. Does this mean that the other 2 nominees are any worse because of this? Hell no, but none of them have managed to grip my soul in such beautifully horrific ways as the Ori series has.

For what its worth had Ori not released this year it’s almost guaranteed I would’ve picked Hades for my game of the year and I wasn’t even really expecting it or looking forward to it. Honestly I should’ve known better when it comes to Supergiant games as they have a habit for taking a genre I can’t stand (strategic isometric beat ’em ups, visual novels, Roguelikes) and making me like them. That’s something that no other developer has really managed to do and it’s a testament to the developer’s prowess and the straight up goodness that is Hades.

Finally a, some would say expected, final shout out to The Last of Us: Part II. I’m glad that the “controversy” stirred up around it was just a storm in a teacup, especially for those of us knew Joel for the tragic hero that he is. I may not agree with everyone’s opinions on various parts of it but, as a whole, it’s still an amazing experience. Is it the sequel that a lot of people wanted? Probably not and compared to the rose tinted glasses that we don when looking back at the original it can be easy to feel like you’ve been let down. But casting that aside for one moment you can see it for what it is, a brutal exploration of the cycle of violence. That may not be for everyone, but then again Last of Us wasn’t either.

It’s going to be hard for 2021 to follow in 2020’s footsteps (for good and for ill) and looking at my list of games that I want to play there’s a few interesting ones in there, but no standouts that scream “HOLY SHIT HERES YOUR GAME OF THE YEAR” like 3 of last year’s titles did. I’ve still also got a good backlog of 2020 titles which I want to get through, none of which I think are GOTY material but it’s likely one or 2 might make an appearance in next years post. Here’s hoping for more surprises though as if last year showed me anything it was that there’s still gems out there, waiting for someone like me to discover them.

About the Author

David Klemke

David is an avid gamer and technology enthusiast in Australia. He got his first taste for both of those passions when his father, a radio engineer from the University of Melbourne, gave him an old DOS box to play games on.

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