2020 may have been the worst year I’ve ever experienced, but somehow gaming seemed stronger and better than ever. It was the escape I needed during this time, and I’m so happy developers, and the gaming community went so hard during one of the most trying times. There are so many amazing games to choose from, but these are five games that I keep thinking about this year:
5. Doom Eternal
Doom (2016) signed a huge return for the series’ breakneck and vicious gunplay, but Doom Eternal stepped it up to another level. No longer could you rely on your speed and evasion alone. Each enemy presented a different challenge and would react to your attacks appropriately.
This means you can no longer use your favorite shotgun for every scenario and forces you to change up your approach. While it may feel frustrating at first, once you get the hang of thinking on your feet, each successful battle is extremely rewarding. Along with the satisfyingly brutal combat and crunchy metal soundtrack, that makes Doom Eternal a hellishly fun time.
Developer TurtleBlaze took me by complete surprise with Kunai’s unique traveling method, using dual grappling hooks to swing and dart around its dystopian world. While the idea of this has come up several times before, surprisingly, none have felt as great as it does here.
The physics are extraordinarily accurate and somehow feel natural instantly upon use. Your grappling hooks open up so many exploration possibilities within Kunai’s Metroidvania layout. In combination with swords and various guns, the grappling system feels right at home with its frenetic combat. The muted and pastel colors set Kunai’s visual style apart from many other titles and fit well with the mood of its narrative. It’s a charming title, and one I feel was sadly missed by many players this year.
3. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
I unapologetically poured more hours into Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons than any other title this year. Released when many were starving for any socialization, Animal Crossing let me vicariously interact with others and play in a world where I actually had my life somewhat together. It’s brimming with puns, dad jokes, and adorable villagers that always managed to brighten my day. Completing daily goals and filling my village museum and free monthly and seasonal updates has kept me invested long after my expected drop off. I go into a very different mode when playing Animal Crossing than other games but one that is just as thoroughly entertaining and engaging.
2. Spider-Man: Miles Morales
The original Spider-Man was my favorite title of 2018, so I had a ton of expectations when I heard Spider-Man: Miles Morales was coming out, and thankfully it didn’t disappoint. While a more condensed adventure, the city is still a complete joy to travel around and looks better than ever. Miles’ play style still feels familiar but manages to stand out with his unique abilities and moves. I was happy to see the narrative carry over from the previous game to really explore and flesh out the characters in Miles’ life. I also can’t think of a better bridge to last and current-gen consoles than swinging around the city skylines in Spider-Man: Miles Morales.
1. Final Fantasy VII: Remake
When Square Enix set out to remake one of the most beloved video games of all time, I imagine they were met with countless challenges. How do you make sure that gameplay and graphics appeal to a modern audience without alienating original fans? How do you manage to handle scenes that worked in chibi art style that doesn’t feel out of place with more realistic character designs?
Thankfully many of these concerns were quickly erased when I finally got to play the long-awaited Final Fantasy VII: Remake. This Remake has no problem taking liberties that better support this adventure without disrespecting its foundation. Combat is excellent and fits the feel of the remake while maintaining its core RPG elements. The fantastical cybernetic Midgar is simply breathtaking and a wonderful experience to explore. Hearing orchestrated and remixed versions of arguably one of the best soundtracks ever next to great performances by excellent voice actors completely won me over. It’s one gaming experience I won’t soon forget
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