With 2020 feeling like a distant memory, I’m taking one last look back at my year in gaming – and what a time it was to delve into the backlog. I picked my favourites from the 66 games I completed to create my own Top 10 list of the year, however, over here at gamergal.exe, I like to do things a little differently by adding an extra title to all my lists, keeping the theme from my [11:11] series last year. Since I’ve been focusing on the ever-expanding backlog, I haven’t played many new games (aside from otome releases) and somehow managed to avoid the majority the ‘popular’ choices of the year, so I image my list will be quite different to others you may have seen.
Without delaying it any longer, here’s my list of the 11 Best Games I Played During 2020!
11. Little Nightmares
Developer: Tarsier Studios
Release Date: April 2017
A dark, atmospheric puzzle platformer with 5 creative chapters and equally, if not more, impressive DLC. Expect tense moments and horror themes throughout as Six attempts her journey to escape from The Maw. With unique art design, effective lighting and smooth animation, Little Nightmares provides a solid gaming experience lasting between 5-10hrs.
I have to admit, I wasn’t completely sold on Little Nightmares at first. The atmosphere was very impactful with fantastic visual animations, but sometimes it did feel like these slowed the game down and the controls could be a little clunky when you needed to do things quickly – although this did also create more tension. A variation of locations with different mechanics kept the gameplay fresh, but I actually found myself enjoying the DLC much more than the base game as it cleverly tied in with Six’s journey from a different P.O.V. Overall, I did have some issues with Little Nightmares, but I still really enjoyed the game and I’m now excited for Little Nightmares 2!
10. Trine 2
Release Date: December 2011
A puzzle platformer involving 3 playable characters with their own personal abilities, each required to solve various physics puzzles to progress through a number of vibrant fantasy themed settings. Trine 2 provided many hours of entertaining levels for up to 3 players, or for solo play if you’d prefer.
Trine 2 made this list due to the crazy amount of fun I had playing it with WesleyWhale and ModerateWaz using Steam’s Remote Play Together. Part way through we discovered that 2 planks and a lot of jumping could enable us to fly; not only was this hilarious, but it was actually incredibly broken as it was useful in a vast amount of situations, sometimes skipping the intended puzzles altogether. Trine 2 is certainly an improvement on the first game and I would highly recommend playing with friends for the best possible experience.
We filmed our Trine 2 journey and composed a Twitter thread of some of our best moments. Take a look here if you’re interested:
9. Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty
Developer: Just Add Water
Release Date: July 2014
Remade from the classic PS1 game ‘Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee‘, New ‘n’ Tasty brings Abe’s journey to modern systems with an updated look in this platforming adventure. Featuring a 2.5D perspective, experience Rupture Farms and beyond in a new light whilst still including familiarity of the original series with it’s creative and unique design.
As a newbie to the Oddworld series, I thoroughly enjoyed this game. Abe is a fantastic character thrown into a terrible position and following him on his adventure was a really refreshing change of events from start to finish. I admire the creativity of this series, and although this wasn’t the best port with it’s rather frustrating controls, I thought the visuals were quite an improvement despite the slight lack of atmosphere when compared to the original. If you’re new to the series, like myself, then New ‘n’ Tasty isn’t a bad place to start!
8. Collar x Malice
Developer: Otomate, Idea Factory
Release Date: August 2016 (Vita – Japan), June 2020 (Switch)
An otome visual novel with a strong focus on crime and mystery. Follow Ichicka Hoshino as she becomes a target of Adonis, an organisation committing serious crimes each month with a countdown to an unknown event known as X-Day. Accompany each of the 5 dateable characters to uncover the secrets of these crimes that contribute to the overall plot, whilst finding love along the way!
Collar x Malice has one of the strongest plots I’ve come across in otome. Each route brings a section of the plot together in a really effective way whilst the entire cast provides a whole range of emotions with heartfelt moments and comedic relief too. As well as an interesting storyline, there’s also a fair amount of action included and a fantastic mix of both main and side characters complete with excellent voice acting.
7. A Plague Tale: Innocence
Developer: Asobo Studio
Release Date: May 2019
A fantastic gaming experience. Follow Amicia and her young brother, Hugo, as they are forced to flee their family home into plague-ridden France where many challenging obstacles await them. A Plague Tale: Innocence provides exceptional storytelling and world building with a strong, eerie atmosphere throughout.
Despite A Plague Tale’s grim nature, the game looked stunning and was incredibly atmospheric, not being afraid to show certain themes within its setting which other developers may typically avoid. Levels were full of varied mechanics including simple but effective gameplay involving both puzzles, light combat and stealth missions – let’s not forget some mild crafting. I played a bunch of other games with similar mechanics shortly after, but nothing came close to how much I enjoyed A Plague Tale: Innocence.
6. The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters
Developer: Devespresso Games
Release Date: December 2019
A Korean survival horror adventure following high school student, Mina Park, as she is unexpectedly transported into another world. Explore Sehwa High and venture beyond to try to find your way home, but always be on the look out for hiding spots as you never know when you may need them! Although The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters is sequel, it greatly surpassed it’s predecessor and doesn’t specifically require the first game to be played beforehand.
I was surprised how much I enjoyed The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters as I typically don’t find horror games all that interesting, with the first game (The Coma) being no exception. This sequel addressed the majority of issues I had with the first game and being able to leave the school this time was a great design choice, bringing more environments and atmosphere to the world as apposed to be trapped in the stereotypical school. I also loved the graphic novel style storyboards to present the narrative between each level, which varied depending on whether you decided to take the time to craft each area’s key item or not. I was very impressed with The Coma 2, and I definitely recommend it to horror fans!
5. Piofiore: Fated Memories
Developer: Design Factory, Otomate, Idea Factory
Release Date: October 2020 (Switch)
An otome visual novel set in the fictional Italian town of Burlone (1925), a region run under the influence of 3 Mafia organisations. As a orphan residing at the church, Liliana Adornato, suddenly becomes entangled within the Mafia’s affairs in 6 unique and gripping routes, winning the hearts of each dateable character as she tries to uncover the reasons why she has been targeted.
Piofiore: Fated Memories is a bit of a strange one to be placed so high on this list, but despite it’s flaws, it’s one of my favourite otomes to date. I appreciate that Piofiore was aimed at an older audience compared with other otome titles, showcasing darker themes and violent battles on multiple occasions. Aside from the most gorgeous CG art I’ve ever seen, I absolutely adored all the characters (maybe not so much Dante…) with each individual route being so refreshingly different. Some of these sub-plots even involved the main cast to be full-on enemies; but even with these individual routes being highly intriguing, the overall plot was rather underwhelming. Without wanting to spoil it, I’ll just say that nothing seemed to piece together and I was left with more unanswered questions than I was intending.
4. Yakuza 0
Release Date: March 2015 (Japan), August 2018
A story-rich, action RPG set in 1980’s Japan. Experience events in both Tokyo and Osaka as Kiryu and Majima with a hefty chunk of thrilling combat, bizarre side quests and a tonne of minigames all contained within huge open world maps for you to explore. Bringing both the wacky side of Japan and excessive gang violence together, Yakuza 0 will keep you entertained for hours on end.
Yakuza 0 is one of those games that you really need to experience for yourself to realise how fantastic it is. The contrast of the brutal combat vs. the slightly OTT minigames (e.g. the karaoke scenes) makes you question whether it’s even the same game, but it works so incredibly well! Not only did the plot have me on the edge of my seat in multiple instances, but it showed off just how well the character’s personalities were crafted. To top it all off, Yakuza 0 has a excellent soundtrack to get your blood pumping!
3. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore
Release Date: January 2020 (Switch)
Tokyo Mirage Sessions is a JRPG set in modern day Tokyo originally released for the Wii U in 2015. After a series of mysterious disappearances, a group of teenagers come together with the help of allied beings known as Mirages (based on the characters of Fire Emblem) to help fight the evil whilst posing as idols under the protection of Fortuna Entertainment Talent Agency. Expect a lot of exploration and turn based combat accompanied by an outstanding soundtrack as you follow the group on their Idol / Mirage Master journey!
I absolutely love games that incorporate music elements into their plot, so I knew I had to give TMS a try. Typically, it takes me a long while to get into JRPGs (unfortunately this was no exception), but once I’d finally beaten Chapter 2’s boss, I was well away! The mix of main characters worked well combined with their Mirages to provide a variety of personalities and combat styles, each being required for specific areas. Although it could be a pain trying to keep everyone around the same level, the combat was fun and engaging, incorporating unlockable special moves, team finishers and a range of costumes into each battle. The addition of stylised cutscenes designed as music videos was the perfect finishing touch to bring the whole game together whilst doing a great job at showcasing a highly addictive original soundtrack.
2. Bioshock Infinite
Developer: Irrational Games
Release Date: March 2013
BioShock Infinite is the third and final game in the BioShock franchise. This story rich FPS game is packed with intense action, controversial topics and provides a fantastic environment throughout. Play as Booker DeWitt, an agent who receives a mysterious contract to ‘bring them the girl and wipe away the debt’ and therefore travels to a floating city to carry out the mission. However, the city of Columbia is not what it appears to be as hidden beneath this beautiful utopia, a darkness resides.
Revisiting BioShock Infinite confirmed my thoughts from when I experienced it for the first time many years ago. Contrary to the popular opinion, I strongly believe this is the best game in the series as it has so much more to offer. The setting was absolutely stunning to look at, but the further you got through the game, the more obvious it became that something felt off about Columbia – it was this juxtaposition that won me over. The gameplay was smooth with some really fun mechanics including the variation of available plasmids and plenty of ziplines – and let’s not forget that Elizabeth is probably the most useful sidekick you’ll ever get!
Mild Spoilers: I can’t move on without mentioning BioShock Infinite‘s soundtrack! Due to the technology advancement in 1912 Columbia, music from the late 20th century has essentially been plagiarised and re-arranged in an old fashioned style. This has been done exceptionally well and ties in with the plot nicely as well as contributing greatly to the environment throughout the entire game.
Developer: Team Ninja (Koei Tecmo)
Release Date: February 2017, November 2017 (Steam)
Nioh is a souls-like, action RPG with a strong focus on Japanese folklore. Play as William, an Irish pirate who travels to Japan in search of his kidnapped Guardian Spirit where war is in full swing and supernatural beings have invaded from beyond the veil. Set during the Sengoku period (early 1600s), expect a challenging samurai experience with a range of different weapon builds, abilities and Guardian Spirits to shape your playstyle.
It’s rare for souls-like game to have a fully incorporated co-op system, but this feature was the main reason I decided to play Nioh. Progressing through the main story without any summoning or having to do each fight twice was a complete game-changer as it didn’t become tedious for myself and WesleyWhale to enjoy the game together. As a fan of Japanese folklore, I was intrigued by the enemies and challenging boss fights which did test my patience on a number of occasions, but provided a satisfying feeling with each victorious battle. Not to be a complete girl about it, but I appreciated the customisation options with plenty of pretty weapon skins and a vast amount of Guardian Spirits to unlock – not forgetting the main feature of being able to purchase other characters to use in place of William (not that I didn’t like his character). Despite working our way through Nioh for over 2 years, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and I’m very excited for Nioh 2 coming to Steam next month!
That brings us almost to the end of my 11 Best Games I Played During 2020 list, however, what about those games that don’t have an ending? It would be so wrong of me to wrap up this post without mentioning a specific game that’s kept a lot of people occupied over the course of these lockdowns…
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Release Date: March 2020
The most recent entry to the Animal Crossing series, New Horizons, is a life simulation game with comfort and escapism in mind. Start your Animal Crossing life by travelling to a deserted island where creating your own paradise is the top priority. Build up your own secluded town in any way you like with an extensive amount of customisable features and hundreds of villagers to meet!
As a previous player of Animal Crossing: Wild World, New Horizons was everything I remembered – and more! A brand new crafting / customisation mechanic, the ability to place buildings wherever you want them and completely mould the land into any form made the possibilities seem almost endless. Although I haven’t put even half as much effort into my island as I’ve seen others do, I’ve enjoyed visiting my town regularly to participate in all the seasonal events and gradually watch my island become taken over by flowers… With new updates being added periodically (one expected any time now), there’s always something to do in your own relaxing space where you really can escape real life.
Thank you all for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post.
Let me know which games you enjoyed most during 2020!