Top 10 Games I Played in 2020
This list was tough to make. I played so many great games in 2020 that it was difficult to pick my favorites. I really liked all the games in this list, but these are far from the only games I played this year. If I hadn’t limited myself to just 10, this list would probably be at least 20 entries long!
A quick note, I’m not including games I re-played in 2020. So my Persona 4 Golden playthrough on Steam isn’t here, since I originally played that on PS Vita a few years ago. Also, I didn’t include any of the games in the Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection, because I’d played 2 of the 3 games before on their original systems.
Even though I’m not dedicating an entire spot to them, I want to include several honorable mentions. Like the games that made the top 10, I really enjoyed these, and each one was a serious contender for the list, only barely not making it.
- Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE Encore
- Dragon Quest VIII
- A Hat in Time
- Gravity Rush Remastered
- Yakuza 0
- Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin
- Pikmin 3 Deluxe
- Luigi’s Mansion 3
One last thing before we get on with the list, these are merely my favorites among the games I played this year. These picks aren’t meant to be objective in any way. Onward, to the list!
10. Final Fantasy IX
My first foray into the PS1 Final Fantasy titles, Final Fantasy IX was a delightful JRPG. It took a little time for me to grasp some of the nuances of the battle system, but I really enjoyed a lot of the battle mechanics. This is an incredible JRPG, and the story has some powerful moments and twists that I still find myself thinking about months later. Though my experience with it wasn’t wholly vanilla since I played using Moguri Mod, I really enjoyed it!
9. Resident Evil 4
I knew of this game’s legacy going in. It’s often considered one of the greatest action games of all time, and after playing it I can definitely see why. It’s a really solid game. There were a few slow moments, but it mostly consists of heart-racing encounters against monstrous foes. It doesn’t completely abandon its survival horror roots though. I was afraid to go on a number of times throughout the playthrough. Remembering the Regeneradores’ rattling breathing is enough to make me shiver even now.
8. Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition
Another game whose reputation I was aware of going in, Ori and the Blind Forest has incredibly positive reviews. I played the Definitive Edition, which further polishes the experience, and found it to be a wonderful platformer metroidvania. Like in other metroidvanias, I loved collecting new abilities that opened new paths, and allowed me to acquire more health and other such upgrades. Combat wasn’t the focus here, but the platforming was excellent, with really unique and satisfying movement.
7. Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair & Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony
Okay, I’m cheating a bit with this entry in the list, but I really couldn’t pick between Danganronpa 2 and V3, so…I picked them both, combining them into one spot so I could sneak 11 games into this list instead of only 10!
Danganronpa 2 was incredible, full of great characters and jaw-dropping plot twists. Danganronpa V3 was equally incredible, with more great characters, more polished visuals and class trial gameplay, and with equally jaw-dropping plot twists. I can’t say enough how glad I am to have gotten into the Danganronpa series. It’s a bittersweet feeling having played all 3 of the main games with no new entry in the series in sight, but I’m so happy I’ve played them all.
6. Zero Escape: The Nonary Games
A two game collection featuring the first 2 games in the Zero Escape series, both of games in this collection were really good, but the game that really earns it this spot is 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors. 999 is an incredible experience. I was charmed by the characters, voice acting, and sci-fi story from the get-go. It was also pretty much the perfect length. It doesn’t overstay its welcome, but it’s also long enough that it feels like a complete adventure. My only real issue with the 2nd game, Virtue’s Last Reward, is that parts of it drag a bit. The puzzles in both games were excellently designed, and that’s another cool aspect that makes these visual novels stand out.
5. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is one of the best examples of video game storytelling I’ve ever experienced. Vanillaware really pulled out all the stops with this one, and accomplished something incredible. The non-linear storytelling here couldn’t be achieved in any other medium. Playing through each of the 13 characters’ stories and gradually figuring out how they connected was extremely satisfying. The light real-time strategy battle mode was reasonably fun too, but the real highlight here is the story.
4. Hollow Knight
I liked metroidvanias before I played Hollow Knight. I’d played Super Metroid and Symphony of the Night beforehand, the foundational metroidvania games, as well as a few other games in those series. Hollow Knight really ignited my interest in the indie metroidvania scene though. Admittedly, it was a slow burn in the opening hours of the game. Before too long though, I unlocked a few new abilities and was hooked. Movement in Hollow Knight is a blast once you have all the upgrades, and combat is likewise satisfying. It’s a challenging game, with numerous tough boss fights, and I’m surprised at how much I enjoyed this aspect of it.
It was only after playing Hollow Knight that I played through several other indie metroidvanias this year, including Dandara, Ori and the Blind Forest, and the aforementioned honorable mention, Blasphemous. Hollow Knight is really something special, and I’m looking forward to Team Cherry’s followup, Hollow Knight: Silksong, whenever that releases!
3. Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology
I had some complaints about this game. It has some flaws, and finishing the new content all the way to the credits was tedious at times. However, the story and gameplay mechanics here are incredible. It combines a medieval fantasy setting, with a few high tech elements mixed in for good measure, with a story centered around time travel and parallel timelines.
There are also numerous side quests, many of which include a choice between 2 options, one of which will lead to one of the multiple of bad endings. Unlocking these bad endings was so much fun, as it really fleshes out the time travel mechanic and helps you understand the main character’s struggle. When you reach one bad ending, you simply travel back in time to fix things.
As I mentioned, the battle system is also awesome, allowing you to move your enemies on a grid to deal damage to stacks of foes at once. The soundtrack, composed by Yoko Shimomura, is likewise fantastic, and complements the game perfectly.
Gris is such a beautiful and emotional game, and it doesn’t even need to use dialogue to convey its emotions. The gameplay is simple, with light puzzle platforming elements, but it was a joy to play from beginning to end. Little details of the gameplay made me smile, especially in unexpected situations. Gris is an indie game I think everyone should play if they are able. It’s short, but well worth every minute of its several hour runtime.
1. Persona 5 Royal
If you’ve read a lot of my posts, it’s probably no surprise to see Persona at the top of this list.
Persona 5 was not a short game, and Persona 5 Royal adds even more content on top of that. PatronusLight and I did shared first playthrough of Royal, and our final playtime when the credits rolled was 137 hours and 15 minutes. That’s an enormous amount of time, and definitely not the kind of free time everyone has to spend on video games. But if you do, Persona 5 Royal is so, so worth it.
The battle system of Persona 5 was stylish and smooth, yet somehow Royal polishes it even further. The soundtrack to Royal also features several new tracks that are just as good as the original OST, including an awesome new battle theme, and adds some much needed music variety to the randomly generated dungeon crawling segments.
I got into the series with Persona 3, which is something of a meme itself in the Persona community since a lot of fans, myself included, haven’t played any of the earlier Persona titles. That aside, since I started getting into the series these games have always been special. No game has gotten me as engrossed as these. The intermingling of school life and supernatural adventures just works for me in a way that I haven’t experienced anywhere else, and I’ll always love Persona 5 Royal for that!