It is safe to say 2020 was a bit of a wonky year for various reasons, one obvious reason does stand out slightly higher than others though. But it was not all doom and gloom, the gaming industry was there to steal our worries away and provide that great level of escapism we all needed. TBG was hard at work bringing you as many reviews and previews as we could as well as tending to our own gaming desires, so with that in mind, the team has come together to provide you with a list of our Top Games of 2020 (even if they didn’t release in 2020).
Maybe there is something here you have been meaning to play or you’ll spot something that went completely under the radar that you might want to check out, so let’s get started!
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
I knew I was going to wind up playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons a fair amount but I don’t think I realised quite how much. As it stands I’ve hit around 540 hours, which is more than I’ve spent on two full Witcher 3 playthroughs combined. I’ve spent that time catching bugs and fish, digging up fossils and making friends with my various villagers. Even when I’ve been doing jobs like sorting out weeds and fixing my flower infestation (with help, it got silly) which are basically chores, or paying off my home loans I’ve genuinely enjoyed every second of it as it’s just an incredibly chilled experience.
I’ve done the majority of what there is to do now, I have the art gallery to finish and some villager pictures to obtain but honestly having a game like this where I could just drop in for a quick play or hammer it for a few hours was really quite useful last year and getting to go and visit friends islands was also pretty amazing.
Golf With Your Friends
What started out as a game downloaded on a whim as part of the excellent Game Pass subscription, ultimately to play a couple of times and forget about, has turned into one of my most played titles of 2020. Yet Golf With Your Friends is still somewhat of a conundrum.
Developed by Backlight Interactive and published by Team17 Golf With Your Friends is an arcade party take on mini-golf. Gameplay is straightforward, featuring several customisation options spread across themed courses. The game is littered with bugs and glitches that often mean forfeiting, even more painful if you happen to have a comfortable lead.
But what makes this game so special is the online multiplayer, there is nothing better than getting together with a group of friends and playing a quick round. The unpredictable nature of each play means one poorly timed shot can see you dropping from first to last or vice versa with the use of a perfectly timed power-up. And there’s no better feeling than screwing someone over.
The game itself is only part of the appeal to be brutally honest, during the ongoing pandemic Golf With Your Friends has stepped up to fill the empty slot in my social calendar as pubs and pretty much everything has been locked down. You can read my full review here.
I had previously rolled credits on this game and put the game down at 90 hours but this year I returned with a new file and began “we try farm”. This game brings me tremendous joy and I gave it a 10 in my review. The collection loop is satisfying as the day brings different food, fish, foraging and fighting.
Visually the game has a lovely SNES look to it and pairs perfectly with the happy tunes playing in the background. I’m over 125 hours into this game now and can’t put it down.
There is something about that the developer has done here that makes the game so peaceful and positive. I highly recommend Stardew Valley, weird times or not 🙂
Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin
2020 was certainly interesting, wasn’t it? Between scalper bots, AAA failures (Looking right at you CP2077), and the wholesale acceptance of misinformation as legitimate news. Thankfully, through all of the confusion, anger, and internet meltdowns there were some solid titles that were released. Personally, 2020 will be remembered as the year we got to meet Sakuna.
Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin quietly made their way to homes around the world and for everyone he picked this little beauty up, your concepts of games and game design were challenged in a way they haven’t been in a while. Somehow developer Edelweiss managed to craft a tale steeped in Far Eastern lore and married it to various gameplay systems that on paper do not make sense. Sakuna at its core is a side-scrolling action-platformer mixed with exploration. However, the kicker here is that everything you acquire in the world is used to craft items or feed your party. Your hub world switches to a 3D view where you wander around your camp interacting with your party members but also learn to farm.
As the title suggests rice is an important crop and is the focus of this tale. Cast out of your heavenly plane of existence, Sakuna must reconnect to her hereditary roots and learn the ancient art harvesting.
Slick controls, beautiful graphics, and a superb musical score suck players into the lower realm world in ways few games in 2020 could. The voice work, while not always there, is well executed and adds to the belief that you truly do inhabit this world with these characters. we look forward to this one spawning a sequel and growing into a mainstay franchise to enjoy for years to come.
You can read my full review here.
Railway Empire: Nintendo Switch Edition
It had been a long time since I last played a tycoon themed game but I remember absolutely loving them and losing hours of my life on them when I was younger. So when the opportunity came along to get my hands on Railway Empire: Nintendo Switch Edition I wasn’t going to say no.
What followed was a great time reviewing said title but also an even greater time continuing to replay and revisit it throughout 2020. With so many gameplay options from a campaign, scenario mode, sandbox and free play modes plus a robust set of difficulty options to help tailor the game to my own preferences which granted, changed from time to time depending on what mood I was in, Railway Empire became more addictive than collecting studs on a Lego game!
Whether it was building a robust network of rural produce supplies to trade with big cities, investing in businesses to control the stock market or sending bandits to hold up my competitor’s trains and reduce public faith in them, the addictive gameplay and varying options have kept me hooked and thanks to the recent eShop sale I now have a healthy dose of DLC to enjoy! Granted I am playing the technically “weaker” version of the game as the switch version does suffer from some muddy visuals and slight latency, but it’s a small price to pay for having the ability to take this title on the go with me. Maybe one day I will even play it while travelling on a train!
Star Wars: Squadrons
My game of the year is Star Wars: Squadrons. It took the Fighter Squadron mode from the recent Battlefront games but refined it and it is glorious!
Being able to play it in VR on the PS4 is an added bonus and really brings the game alive. The frantic dogfights and mission-based gaming is astonishing and playing online with a group of friends against enemy pilots is one of the best gaming experiences I’ve had in a decade!
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