Despite many delays and changes in schedules thanks to the coronavirus pandemic worldwide, 2020 ended up being a very strong year when it comes to games across all platforms. From Sega’s own Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio delivering a new take on a beloved franchise to Square Enix finally delivering in spades on a game everyone has been looking forward to for years and Edelweiss’ Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin being a big surprise and more, there were loads of fantastic releases in 2020. Here are our picks for the best games of 2020 on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
Best games of 2020
10. Sakura Wars
The premise of Sakura Wars had us piqued — managing a theatre troupe that’s landed on tough times while protecting Taisho period Tokyo from demonic forces in giant steampunk mecha. The end result was a better than anticipated. Infectious music, gorgeous mecha designs, and an entertaining cast of characters make this reimaging of a classic Saturn era franchise an absolute gem. While Sega would have you believe that Sakura Wars is a soft reboot, this PS4 exclusive manages to toe the line between its remarkable legacy and being accessible to newcomers with ease. There are a few stumbles that prevent it from being a perfect return for the franchise, though they do little to impact what is a surprisingly enjoyable game. Sakura Wars proves you can breath new life into an old Sega franchise. Thanks to its infectious music, gorgeous mecha designs, and entertaining cast, Sakura Wars’ excellent production values made up for its lack of finesse in other areas, making my 20-odd hours in Taisho era Tokyo a treat. Hopefully we’ll see more games in the series from Sega. If you own a PS4 and have a hankering for something different, Sakura Wars is well worth checking out.
9. Nioh 2
The original Nioh was very difficult but equally rewarding. Nioh 2 built on the base of the first game to offer more depth, complexity, variety, and choice. Over the months since launch, Nioh 2 has received multiple updates, new DLC content, and has become an even better action game. While it isn’t as accessible as some would hope, Nioh 2 excels in delivering a challenging and exceptionally designed combat experience. It is going to be interesting to see Nioh 2 on PS5 and PC when it arrives in February 2021. Team Ninja has proved with Nioh 2 that it is the master of action games once again.
8. Granblue Fantasy: Versus
Arc System Works continues to be one of the best developers when it comes to fighting games but the studio is unmatched when it comes to visuals in the genre. Granblue Fantasy: Versus is Arc System Works’ take on Cygames super-popular Granblue Fantasy mobile game and the end result is a sublime fighting game experience that has a quality single-player experience, loads of gorgeous visuals, and excellent music. Granblue Fantasy: Versus is worth getting even if you aren’t familiar with the source material and it is not just the best fighting game of 2020 and one of the best games of the year. Hopefully it continues to be supported well into 2021 and beyond.
7. Ghost of Tsushima
Sony’s first-party output this generation has been second to none. The company’s studios have an uncanny ability to craft highly polished experiences that have fresh and unique settings and no game exemplifies this more than Ghost of Tsushima. Ghost of Tsushima plays like this generation’s greatest hits what with an open-world, skill trees, and gadgets at your disposal. However Sucker Punch has managed to infuse enough of its own influences and ingenuity to make it standout from the crowd with some impactful changes to how open-world games are made aside from its obviously breathtaking vision of Japan. Throw in polished combat, satisfying stealth, solid story-telling, and intriguing characters and you have one of the best PS4 exclusives of the year. Perhaps we’ll see more of Jin Sakai in a PS5 sequel? We sure hope so.
6. Persona 5 Royal
It’s hard to look at Persona 5 Royal and not think it’s a cynical cash grab that exists to milk the franchise’s newfound popularity until the next numbered entry when you consider that most game companies have acted in bad faith in recent times, churning out live service drivel, messing up remasters, and straight up pulling games from storefronts due to bugs and quality issues galore. Persona 5 Royal thankfully isn’t one of those games. Rather it’s what happens when you have a developer and publisher at the helm that’s acutely aware of what its fan base wants and what the shortcomings of its last near perfect entry in the franchise are. From small but necessary quality of life improvement to bigger, narrative-defining decisions like adding a brand new semester, Persona 5 Royal is far from an incremental update. We’d go as far as to say that if you’ve held out on the series till now, this is the best place to start. And if like us you’ve spend an obscene amount of time in Persona 5, Atlus has made the trip back to Shujin Academy more than worth it.
5. Resident Evil 3 Remake
While its opening moments hit too close to home what with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Resident Evil 3 Remake is an incredible reimagining of the 1999 original. Much like 2019’s Resident Evil 2 Remake, Capcom has made a host of changes that make for a better game. The stellar pacing, memorable characters, and monster aplenty combine with sublime gameplay make this well worth playing and makes us optimistic of what to expect from Capcom’s next reimagining from the series, particularly with the classic Resident Evil 4 being the next mainline entry that may get the remake treatment. Though the biggest win is Capcom’s ongoing commitment to accessibility. Even if you have an older PC or budget machine like ours, Resident Evil 3 Remake is an easy recommendation thanks to a slew of easy to customise settings. That said, outside of a few day one niggles on Xbox One X, Resident Evil 3 Remake is a treat to play regardless of your platform of choice.
4. Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin
Edelweiss’ Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin has been showcased at E3 multiple times and it finally released this year on PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC. What makes Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin stand out is in how it blends a detailed rice farming experience with a 2D action brawler. Both aspects of the game complement each other well and Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin feels like a product of a big studio and not a game made by two people. Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin is the biggest surprise of 2020 and one of the best games of the year regardless of what you play it on. With multiple delays under its belt, the final product proves that the wait for Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin was more than worth it.
3. Yakuza: Like a Dragon
Yakuza Like a Dragon is what happens when Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio decides to make a game heavily inspired by Dragon Quest all while delivering a remarkably engrossing narrative that kept us hooked until the end credits. It helps that there’s addictive turn-based combat rather than real-time encounters akin to prior entries. While fans were concerned with what to expect, the move turned out to be the right one. There’s a great cast, memorable dialogue, and a wealth of mini-games as well, making Yakuza Like a Dragon one of the best entries in the franchise. Perhaps we’ll see more of protagonist Ichiban Kasuga and his friends in future entries. Right now though, Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio’s Yakuza Like a Dragon proves that different gameplay and combat mechanics can invigorate a long-running series that was built on action-adventure tropes.
2. Final Fantasy VII Remake
Final Fantasy VII Remake marks a return to form for Square Enix after the divisive Final Fantasy XV. It’s not just a brilliant reimagining of its most influential entry in the long-running franchise, Final Fantasy VII Remake is far and away one of the best-looking games available regardless of the platforms you have access to, merging pre-rendered cut-scenes and gameplay in such a way that without its subtle camera cues, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference.
What’s more is, it looks as good as it plays, sporting a slick combat system that kept things fresh through our 30-hour playthrough. However, it’s biggest changes are in its narrative. Without venturing into spoiler territory, certain aspects are brilliantly fleshed out such as the many residents of Midgar you come across in your travels each with their own motivations, backstory, hopes, and dreams that fit into the overarching story well. If you’re a fan or a first-timer to the series, this is well worth playing.
1. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim
When 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim arrived in Japan, everyone probably saw the countless praise from designers and developers like Yoko Taro, Masahiro Sakurai, and more. The reason 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim stands high above the rest is in how it intertwines multiple stories across different protagonists to be a sci-fi story unlike anything else out there. Add in Vanillaware’s signature visual style, an awesome soundtrack by Basiscape with one of the best vocal tracks in gaming, and you have a near perfect experience.
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim almost feels like a game that shouldn’t exist. Visual novels or adventure games that use visual novel elements have never felt looked and played this great. While some didn’t care for the combat segments, they served as a nice break from the narrative in 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is not only Vanillaware’s best game but it is also one of Atlus West’s best localisations and our Game of the Year for 2020.
With this year finally done for games, 2021 is looking quite busy right from the get go across all platforms. Regardless of if you ended up buying a PS5 or Xbox Series X|S, or are sticking to the PS4 and Xbox One systems until there’s more out there to justify a next-generation console purchase, there’s a lot to play through native releases and backwards compatibility.