Joel’s Top 5 Games of 2020

Overall, 2020 was a pretty miserable year, but for us gaming nerds, the giving was good. I got to experience some of the great games, but also witness some of the disasters, like Cyberpunk 2077’s console launch debacle, to go with it. Most of these events were recorded and can be heard on Final Checkpoint which is on Spotify, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and of course, right here on TheGameFanatics.com. With all of my self promoting out of the way, I give you my Top 5 Games of 2020.

5. Hades

The first stop on this magic carpet ride is quite related to 2020 in general and takes place in hell. Hades, developed by Supergiant Games, was an unexpected joy to play and a bully that kept kicking my ass. It took me 54 attempts to finally escape hell. Although I have not been able to escape with the added “heat” modifiers, I do still revisit just to get some leftover scraps of the fluid, fast, punchy gameplay that I love from Hades

Every time I get to talk to a friend or co-worker about Hades, and discuss builds, abilities, modifiers, combos, etc., it reignites my love for that game and I just have to load it up and go on another run. It truly is one of the greatest rogue-likes I have ever played.

4. Animal Crossing: New Horizons

As the world began its new life of stay/work at home, quarantines and furloughed future, Animal Crossing: New Horizons released and felt like the beam of hope that we all needed. It was a cheerful game that brought us together and instantly made us remember what it was like to go outside, talk to friends, go to the local market, go fishing, and most of all, look forward to the next day. 

ACNH was my first time dipping my toes into Animal Crossing in general and I quickly fell in love with it. Having spent nearly 100 hours in Stardew Valley and Minecraft, I realized that Animal Crossing had some shortcomings that I feel hold it back from really rising above my top three games. I still managed to pour 255 hours into this year and came back to it for multiple seasonal events like Turkey Day, and Toy Day, as well as really to get a kick out of fishing. 

3. Ghost of Tsushima

Sucker Punch has created a few of my favorite games of all time, inFamous 1 and 2. When it was revealed they were working Ghost of Tsushima, I was extremely hyped. After playing Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and really enjoying the precise combat from that game, when I initially jumped into GoT it just didn’t click. I actually didn’t love the game. I took a break from playing and set it aside and played other games. Then, with a dramatic return, I gave it a second chance and really blew right through the entire game. Not only did I clear each act, I secured the Platinum Trophy and fell in love with the world, characters, story, and the beautiful visual of Ghost of Tsushima

After completing Ghost of Tsushima and taking a bit of a break from it, I decided to come back and check out Legends Mode. Throughout the main campaign, Ben and I discussed on Final Checkpoint (a wonderful little podcast found on Spotify and TheGameFanatics.com),that the combat seemed to fit more of a co-op/group style game play mode and that eventually came. If you really loved Ghost of Tsushima, you owe it to yourself to check out Legends Mode. It is really fun and has a great gameplay loop. There is a short story campaign broken up into matchmaking missions and there is a round based survival mode. Both modes can have different tiers based on your gear level. There are also four different classes you can play as: Samurai, Assassin, Hunter, and Ronin.     

2. Final Fantasy 7 Remake

Expectations have almost never been higher for any game than Final Fantasy 7 Remake. Not really knowing what to expect with FF7 Remake not being the complete story, once we got to play the demo, my hype levels were through the roof. 

Final Fantasy VII Remake was an amazing walkthrough of a world that felt so familiar. Seeing all of the characters from the original beautifully reimagined and voiced as well as the spin on the story was really entertaining. I am still hoping they can pull off the story bit but either way I’m here to stay for one of the best combat systems I’ve experienced in an RPG. 

Honorable Mentions

Among Us

Among Us isn’t a new game since it originally released in 2018 and I actually didn’t play much of it, but it was definitely a game that not only got me through a really tough year, but really took the gaming, social media, and content creating industry by storm. 

Watching my favorite streamers have some of their greatest content and moments come from Among Us has been fun to watch. From Disguised Toast winning Ninja’s left nut for claiming he was the imposter and voting him falsely, to Steven Suptic fooling person after person into thinking COTC (corn on the cob) was a real medical condition. Among Us brought so many collaborations and fun content that I continue to tune in every morning during “Hafu’s Morning Lobbies”, which helps me get through my weekday work mornings. (I recommend Twitch.tv/SteveSuptic or Twitch.tv/Dakotaz if you are tuning in around 8:00 AM PST.)

Yakuza Like A Dragon (Yakuza Series)

The Yakuza series has always been around, I just haven’t paid much attention to it. In 2019 it seemed like I had started hearing more and more about just how special this series really was, and why it had such a crazy cult following dating back to the PlayStation 2. I finally sat down and checked out Yakuza Kiwami and instantly felt drawn to the story telling, drama, and wackiness of the world and characters. I wasn’t too crazy about the combat system but I was able to get over it due to the rest of the great things I was enjoying about Kiwami.

I decided to set aside Kiwami and dive fully into Yakuza Like A Dragon since it was a 2020 title and it was turn based. It was already really familiar due to my experience with Kiwami, and it had a combat system that instantly clicked. The turn based combat instantly felt like it belonged more than the brawling/fighting combat from the long running Yakuza series with Kiriyu. I am only 8 hours in and I am loving Yakuza Like A Dragon. I feel like I just haven’t played enough to add it to my top 5. I feel like Yakuza is definitely a series I will be visiting often and keeping up with going forward.

1. The Last of Us Part II

The Last of Us Part II was possibly the only game that has ever made me feel multiple emotions to the point that I would almost feel exhausted when I would complete a session of playing. Naughty Dog has really created a special series with The Last of Us, and now TLOU2. It is undeniable that Naughty Dog constantly pushes the industry forward and sets a standard for compelling gameplay, storytelling and quality. 

The fact that there are people denying the greatness of TLOU2 is almost insulting. I pity people that decided to skip out on TLOU2 just based on the leaks and rumors they initially heard about the game. When a game takes a story and flips it on its head and makes you care about characters you did not think you would even think about like Abbey, and other characters from TLOU2, it really shows that you go through a journey in this game. The Last of Us was my top favorite game of all time, and when the dust finally settles, it is possible TLOU2 could be the new number 1. In the meantime, it takes the top spot of my top five list for 2020.

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