When it comes to 2020, it will be remembered for all the effects of COVID-19 worldwide. At the heart of COVID-19 was isolation, being smart, and staying home. This allowed many to sit down, relax, and play all the best video games released in 2020. We saw some great releases and, sadly, a lot of delays to 2021; however, now is the time to look back on what we got to enjoy as the industry changed in many ways for developments and releases. So, what are the best games of 2020, and what did they have to offer? This is the Nerd Stash’s top game picks of 2020, picked out by our staff.
Take a look at our picks and share with us in the comments your favorites and if we missed any!
Words can’t simply describe how wonderful DOOM Eternal is to play. DOOM (2016) was my favorite game ever before Eternal’s release, which heightened the series tenfold to offer something more in-depth, exhilarating, and above all else, fun. Ripping and tearing through demon after demon to bombastic soundtracks never gets old. The id Software folks continue to amaze, and I can’t wait to see what they cook up next. I have no doubts it’ll be legendary.
By: Shawn Robison
The Last of Us Part II
In 2013, Sony introduced us to their wonderful post-apocalyptic game, The Last of Us. It was beautiful, had a compelling story, and created some stunning, immersive gameplay. This year, we were treated to the sequel. I was worried that it wouldn’t live up to my huge expectations. It could very easily have been a dark, forgotten shadow of Part I. It pleases me so much to say I loved Part II. It’s emotional, bold, ambitious, and completely satisfying. If you’re keen on playing it but have not had the chance to pick it up, you should play it. I’m certain you will not be disappointed. It represents the high standard of the emotional story that can be achieved from video games.
Persona 5 Royal
Persona 5 Royal isn’t just my best video games of 2020; it’s my favorite, period. It replaces the original Persona 5 on top of that summit by improving everything from story to features and core mechanics. Even as an updated version of the original, it still brings enough new and meaningful content to the table to be classed as a masterpiece in its own right. It does what I thought was impossible – it makes a masterfully designed game nearly obsolete. There’s only so much I can detail in such a small space, but you must play this. No ifs, no buts.
By: Ash Williams
Final Fantasy 7 Remake
Square Enix’s reimagining of Final Fantasy 7 delivers a just as fulfilling experience with the 2020 remake. Real-time battles that have proper weight and balancing make the combat explosive and addicting to play. Final Fantasy 7 Remake exudes flair in its own presentation and play as it tells a new spin on the story. Each fight flows together elegantly, allowing for decisive decisions in the midst of a hectic brawl. Lifting the original story to a new dynamic involves new and veteran players to the experience with a great new story teasing the next part of this reimagined story.
By: Adam Alvernaz
Choosing one game released in 2020 as my favorite is probably one of the easiest choices I’ve made in gaming all year: Final Fantasy VII Remake. Merely turning this game on and watching the introduction was enough to make this game the highlight of my gaming year. Still, it certainly didn’t hurt that the game was absolutely fantastic, both as a nostalgic throwback and a brand new experience. Right from start to finish, the game is wonderfully crafted, and while there were some flaws with the game, they were straightforward to overlook, especially for a fan of the original like myself.
By: Kenny Keelan
Streets of Rage 4
It’s got to be Streets of Rage 4. To be fair, I didn’t play many new releases this year (I’d choose Monster Hunter: Iceborne, personally). But the game’s hand-drawn sprite looks great, plays really smoothly while not trying too hard to be overly complicated, and filled with nostalgia fuel. Not to mention Yuzo Koshiro, the original series composer, is back and still able to deliver a sick soundtrack for this game! Along with Space Invader Extreme 2, Pac-Man Championship Edition, and Tetris Effect, this game is proof that you can always revive classic series without changing the core formula too much.
By: Sidharta Rasidi
Ghost of Tsushima
I still have such a strong memory of starting Ghost of Tsushima for the first time, and it was stunning from start to finish. Wheatfields swaying in the wind. Tranquil forests are covered in vibrant, red leaves. Aside from being absolutely amazing to look at, Ghost of Tsushima has an engaging story, a vast world worthy of exploring and smooth combat. Jin Sakai is easily one of my favorite protagonists in the past few years who has earned a spot among modern greats like Kratos, Aloy, and Arthur Morgan. This is what makes Ghost of Tsushima one of the best video games of 2020.
By: Shelby Royal
In a year of uncertainty and turmoil, many turned to video games to escape. And Spiritfarer was the most pleasant vacation I could’ve asked for in this god-awful year. Its presentation is gorgeous, given its unique, hand-drawn art style and enchanting score. Its characters have more depth than those in most games released this year. Life simulation gameplay, which can be hit-or-miss for me, is given weight due to the game’s story and combined well with platforming mechanics. And its handling of a sensitive topic, Death, is so sincere and healthy that I genuinely believe the game could be used as a form of therapy.
By: Johnny Reynolds
Spritfarer focuses on death and the uncertainty that surrounds it. Somehow, Thunder Lotus Games managed to turn this grim topic into an amazing experience with its outstanding visuals and much of its emotional dialogue.
2020 has been a rough year for everyone. And for me, I think I really needed a game like this to help me come to terms with some stuff going on in my personal life. Admittedly, there’s a chance that Spritfarer hit me in the feels more than it probably intended because of that fact. However, I’d still say that the game exceeds in making you care about its characters. Plus, you have a cat companion along for the ride with you (yes, you can pet the cat too).
Oh, and I almost forgot. This game’s score is the glue that ties this whole thing together. Again, this is a game about death. That said, it’s soundtrack manages to give you a reassuring and adventurous feeling. It’s as if you’re going out on this epic adventure instead of harping on the negativity surrounding the game’s subject matter, which makes this one of the best video games of 2020.
By: Taylor Cole
Trials of Mana Remake
Trials of Mana Remake – Trials of Mana was an incredibly faithful remake that provided a great story and fun beat-em-up gameplay. Since the original Trials of Mana had never before been released to Western audiences (aside from the Collection of Mana that launched a few months earlier), it was great to partake in this adventure finally. The game had great graphics, from the adaptations of the main character to the countless enemies you face. The newly added final level and new-game-plus feature helped with the replayability. The ability to mix and match your party of characters at the beginning of the game had me continually replaying it to see the different dialogues and endings.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
A worthy journey into the Viking Age, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is a masterful work of exploration and conquest that’s filled with intrigue and wonder. Not only is it one of the darker entries in the franchise, but it’s also one of the finest experiences to play this year. From simply expanding your settlement to committing raids beyond the land, there’s so much that you can do as you continuously upgrade and follow Eivor into his everlasting journey of being a vicious Viking. Also, England looks amazing on next-gen hardware, and there’s still more to see in the coming year.
By: Cristian Rivera
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Animal Crossing: New Horizons was a perfect game for people in 2020 because you had more time at home than any other to be able to dive into the world that you create. Once you’ve made your character, you move onto an island and live with start to build a community full of animal characters. The new online feature allows you to open your island up to others whether you know them or not. It became a way, in 2020, for people to connect. It has so many things to love about it, and you can spend as little or as much time on it you want. One of the things I like is that it runs on a calendar and celebrates the seasons and holidays. I also think it is one of the only games I have ever played where the characters expressed their concern when you return to the island after taken an extended break from the game. They seem genuinely concerned! Overall, I think this is a great game and one of my favorites for 2020.
By: Robin Harris
And those are our top picks for the best video games of 2020 from our staff! What were your favorite games? Let us know in the comments below!