As 2020 (thankfully) comes to a close, the DualShockers staff is coming together to share their personal favorite games throughout the year. Unlike our official Game of the Year Awards, each of these lists is meant to reflect which games stood out personally to each of our staff members. Additionally, any game — not just 2020 releases — can be considered in each Top 10 List.
While 2020 has been a hot mess, some good did come out for me. Back in May, I finally graduated from college with an English major and journalism minor. It’s the biggest accomplishment for me this year, and my future is still up in the air thanks to the dumpster fire that is 2020. I remember so many times where I’d be tired from class and I’d come home and unwind by playing last year’s Tetris Effect or some other game. With 2020 coming to an end, I’m hoping things take a turn for the better.
Though this year didn’t go the way we planned it, we got a ton of great video games to sink our teeth into. Besides the games listed below, I also enjoyed games like Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and DOOM Eternal. Boiling this list down to ten can be tricky, but there’s not one game I played this year that I considered atrocious. With so many great games coming next year, hopefully we get as many great games in 2021, if not more than this year.
From the first time I saw it in June, Bugsnax has been one of my most anticipated PS5 games. I reviewed it for DualShockers last month and loved it. The story, characters, and art style are so charming and entertaining; the story and characters in particular go in some unexpected directions that kept me guessing. The Bugsnax themselves are also really fun to catch, and it feels so good to figure out how to catch each one. Even after the credits roll, there’s still so many side quests to do and Bugsnax to catch. Of the PlayStation 5 games out now, Bugsnax is one that shouldn’t be missed.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Bugsnax.
9. Astro’s Playroom
Speaking of PlayStation 5 games, Astro’s Playroom was the biggest surprise of the console’s launch. I figured it would be good after playing Astro Bot: Rescue Mission but I didn’t expect it to be so amazing. Developer Team Asobi took what made Rescue Mission fantastic and they brought it to the PS5 alongside some cool DualSense controller functionality.
By far my favorite part of Astro’s Playroom is all the nods to PlayStation history. I would freak out at some references I understood and each one was so cute and adorable. What’s even better is it’s around four hours long and it’s also an easy Platinum Trophy to earn. Since Astro’s Playroom is pre-installed on each PS5, there’s no reason to miss out on one of the best PlayStation 5 launch titles.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Astro’s Playroom.
8. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Like a ton of people who played Animal Crossing: New Horizons earlier this year, it helped get me through so much stress. It was the first Animal Crossing game I’ve ever played, and it was the perfect game to chill out to after long school or workdays. I loved how the game opens up over time rather than giving you each feature right at the very beginning. Between all the cool features and charming characters, it’s so easy to spend a ton of hours making your island as amazing as possible. With so many content updates and more to come, I can see myself playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons for many more months, if not years to come.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
7. Ori and the Will of the Wisps
After playing Ori and the Blind Forest earlier this year, I was so excited to play Will of the Wisps. From the first hour I played, I could tell I’d love it even more than the first game. It builds on the first game in so many ways, from its gorgeous graphics to its amazing score. The gameplay has also improved and the abilities at your disposal are so cool to use. It also provides an amazingly emotional story that’s gripping from beginning to end. Having loved both games, I’m so excited to see where developer Moon Studios goes from here.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Ori and the Will of the Wisps.
The one type of game that’s hard for me to grasp is roguelikes and roguelites. I think the idea of playing something, dying, and going back to the beginning is what mainly turns me off. With Supergiant Games’ Hades, I can’t stop playing it.
I think what hooked me with this one is how with each time you die, the story mixes things up; also having multiple weapons to choose from adds some great variety. What makes each run even better are the skills you can choose from, which can make a huge difference in defeating the final boss. Between freshening up the roguelike genre, to its amazing graphics and score, Hades is a game I can see myself playing over and over again.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Hades.
5. Yakuza: Like a Dragon
One franchise I’ve always been interested in is the Yakuza games. I had heard so many great things about it, especially from other DualShockers staff writers.
Yakuza: Like A Dragon is the first game in the series I’ve played and I can’t get enough of it. It’s crazy how the story manages a mix of heart-warming emotional scenes to bonkers and hilarious moments. The mini-games, including the business management one, are so fun to play and can get really addicting. In addition to the main story, the substories are also really interesting and can open up more of the world to you. There’s so much more of Like a Dragon for me to see, and I’m excited to play more Yakuza games in the future.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Yakuza: Like a Dragon.
4. Final Fantasy VII Remake
Among the long list of games I’ve always wanted to play, Final Fantasy VII is high on that list. I’ve heard so many people put it as not only one of the best Final Fantasy games ever, but one of the best games and RPGs in general. While I know that Final Fantasy VII Remake is just a portion of the whole FFVII story, I loved every minute of it. The story hooked me from the beginning and I loved every character, especially Barret. The story is also complemented by a fantastic score and great gameplay that I enjoyed messing with.
After playing it, I want to go back and play the original Final Fantasy VII and other Final Fantasy games that I haven’t touched yet like FFVIII and FFIX. If you’re like me and haven’t played FFVII before or you’ve never played a Final Fantasy game in general, Final Fantasy VII Remake is a good entry point. I’m so excited to see where part two of the remake takes its characters and world next.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Final Fantasy VII Remake.
3. Ghost of Tsushima
Of all the first-party teams at PlayStation Studios, Sucker Punch has always been one of my favorites. The Sly Cooper and inFamous franchises hold so much nostalgia for me and are some of my favorite series of all-time. With Ghost of Tsushima, I was instantly in awe of the island of Tsushima and how breathtaking it was. There are so many things to do on the island and I loved exploring it, especially with the Guiding Wind mechanic. Each of the main story quests were so interesting and gave you a better idea of the supporting characters you meet in the story.
Speaking of the main story, I enjoyed playing as Jin and seeing his journey. It was a unique take on the internal battle between sticking with tradition or doing things your own way. With Jin, I also loved customizing his skills and outfit to make the ideal samurai I wanted. The multiplayer mode was always a welcome addition that’s been fun to play while not feeling out of place in the core game.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Ghost of Tsushima.
2. The Last of Us Part II
I feel like there’s so much to say about The Last of Us Part II. Before release, I was so excited and nervous to see where Naughty Dog would take the world we saw in the first game. 2013’s The Last of Us is not only one of my favorite PlayStation exclusive games but it’s also my favorite game of all-time. By the time I finished Part II, I didn’t know what to think. There were parts of the story I liked and others that confused me. It took me a couple days to process what I experienced, and I couldn’t stop thinking about the game. After playing it a second time and getting the Platinum Trophy, I enjoyed The Last of Us Part II even more.
By far, the story in The Last of Us Part II is one of the most complex, dense, and thought-provoking stories in a game I’ve ever played. There’s so much symbolism and many perspectives you can interpret the story in, from how it tackles grief to how it’s an unconventional love story. The story is elevated to new heights by Ashley Johnson’s Ellie and Laura Bailey’s Abby, who each bring so much to their roles. Both characters are complemented by an outstanding supporting cast who bring out the best and worst of Ellie and Abby.
In addition to the story, Naughty Dog makes each area of the game feel so large, expansive, and filled with great environmental storytelling. The combat in the game is also expanded upon, which makes each enemy encounter feel more visceral. You can’t talk about The Last of Us without mentioning composer Gustavo Santaolalla’s beautifully haunting score, which really puts you in each gut-wrenching moment.
This all adds up to another fantastic game from Naughty Dog that takes so many risks. It’s not for everyone, and the studio made a lot of choices that’ll leave you baffled. Regardless, The Last of Us Part II is a game you should experience to not only form your own opinion on the story, but to see how Naughty Dog elevated storytelling in games.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of The Last of Us Part II.
1. Persona 5 Royal
One game I’d always wanted to play was 2017’s Persona 5. With school and work keeping me busy at the time, its 100+ hour story always turned me off and I was intimidated to start playing it. As I was finishing my senior year in college, Persona 5 Royal was coming out and I decided to finally see what the hype was all about. I finished the story in around 78 hours and I loved every second of it.
The opening sequence hooked me and didn’t let go until I reached the credits. From there, I was in awe of each turn the story took, especially the climax which I didn’t see coming at all. I fell in love with each character, and all I wanted to do is max out my Confidant rankings with each one.
What struck me from the very beginning are the game’s graphics and incredible sense of style. Each part of the game, from its menus to loading screens, feels so well thought-out and slick. Its sense of style transcends to combat and how fun it can be, especially when doing flashy finishing moves. As with any RPG, there’s more to Persona 5 Royal than its story and characters. From going to movie theaters and fishing, to studying for school and hanging with friends, there’s so much side content to do. Each activity is fun in its own ways and you can increase your stats with each one, which makes me want to do them even more.
Like The Last of Us Part II, I couldn’t stop thinking about Persona 5 Royal for days after I rolled credits. I fell so in love with the story and characters that everything I played afterward just didn’t feel as good as Royal. Every aspect of the game, from its incredible soundtrack to fleshed-out world, feel meticulously detailed and handled with care. At the same time, it’s stuck with me even more since I played it at a time where I was ending a huge chapter in my life. Playing it made me want to play older Persona games and it increased my excitement for the upcoming Persona 5 Strikers. I feel like Persona 5 and Persona 5 Royal have set a new standard for RPGs, and its influence will be felt for years to come. It’s not only my favorite game this year, but one of my favorites games of all-time.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Persona 5 Royal.
Check out the rest of the DualShockers staff Top 10 lists and our official Game of the Year Awards nominees:
December 29: David Gill (Staff Writer) // Allisa James (Senior Staff Writer)
December 30: Rachael Fiddis (News & Culture Editor) // Cameron Hawkins (Staff Writer) // Charlie Wacholz (Staff Writer)
December 31: Iyane Agossah (Managing Editor) // Otto Kratky (Executive Editor) // Mario Rivera (Video Manager)
January 4: Game of the Year Awards 2020 Official Winners Revealed
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