It’s been a phenomenal year for video games. We’ve seen the next generation heralded in in November, but we’ve had some of the best technically sound, visually impressive, and satisfyingly fun games to play throughout the last twelve months. It’s been hard to pick just ten, but after much deliberating, we here at God is a Geek have done it. Below is a celebration of gaming in its many different forms. There have been so many to choose from that even some superb titles are missing. We’ve included the final paragraphs from our reviews, plus fresh incite as to why these games deserve to be in our GOTY 2020 top ten list. Believe us, it’s been difficult, but we hope you agree that the following games deserve to be here.
10. Astro’s Playroom
“With Astro’s Playroom being a pre-installed game for new system owners, you’ll almost certainly play it, but I implore you to finish it: fully see the credits. The other new games aren’t going anywhere, so explore every nook and cranny and see the other Astro Bots referencing games from PlayStation history. There’s something for everyone here, and some pretty obscure references, too. It was a lovely trip down memory lane, yet Astro’s Playroom is incredibly futuristic and worthy of anyone’s time. What a delightful thing to include with every PS5.”
It’s amazing Astro’s Playroom was bundled in with the PlayStation 5 for free. Not only does it showcase the features of the new DualSense controller, it celebrates the PlayStation in all its glory. The levels all focus on one of the four previous consoles before the PS5, with some great gameplay and plenty of references. Death’s Stranding, Ghost of Tsushima, Tekken, and Bloodborne are just a few of the references on offer, and the final boss fight is perhaps one of the coolest things seen in recent memory.
“So much of Demon’s Souls 2020 impresses. From an atmosphere that fully consumes you to the fluid combat, nightmarish enemy design, superb world-building and level design, and the sound direction that you need to hear to believe. It may not feel as harsh and unforgiving in this post-Dark Souls world as it did in 2009, but it’s still a steep challenge that will test newcomers and even veterans of From’s later work.”
Demon’s Souls on PS5 shows off just how impressive the PS5 is. It looks unreal, with intricate details wherever you look, and a score that captivates you from the moment you begin to play. The opening cutscene sets the scene beautifully, and once you start to play, it’s incredible how it feels both familiar and new. Bluepoint Games are amazing at what they do, and after playing Demon’s Souls, the world is their oyster. The game is superb in every single way. If you want a challenge and are a Dark Souls obsessive, there really is no way you should be ignoring this one.
“Streets of Rage 4 is wonderful. Everything from the combat to the soundtrack is crafted with a great respect to the originals, providing a fresh take on the popular series. With plenty to unlock, including characters and tracks from the original trilogy, there’s lots of replayability value, and with the added Battle Mode, you’ll never be without anything to do. It’s the perfect length, never outstaying its welcome, but quite honestly, I could play this forever and never get bored.”
It’s amazing how the Streets of Rage series is still relevant in 2020. The previous entry released 26 years ago, yet Streets of Rage 4 makes it feel as though it was only yesterday. Whilst it manages to do much of the same, it reinvents itself to stay fresh. The combat is excellent, the new characters aren’t just throwaway additions, and the level design is out of this world. Seeing familiar faces and Easter eggs you may very well miss unless someone points them out to you (thanks, Mr. Cook) allows your nostalgia to remain intact, whilst getting swept up in the gameplay provides countless playthroughs until the skin on your thumbs starts to wear away.
“Immortals Fenyx Rising is an excellent adventure with challenging and inventive puzzles, a wonderful combat system, and a rich world ripe for exploring. The dialogue is funny, poignant, and thrilling, with a story that explores every facet of the human condition in a way that is relatable for everyone. It does share many similarities with BotW, almost shamelessly so at times, but this is without a doubt its own game, and the experience Ubisoft Quebec has in making open-world games is on show throughout. I guess it depends how much you love Breath of the Wild, and whether you can get past many of the same ideas without feeling a little cheated. It offers a different spin on the stories of Zeus and his children, sweeping you up with its spellbinding tale and beautiful, charming world.”
Sneaking in at the last second made everyone involved in the GOTY deliberations redo their lists to make sure Immortals Fenyx Rising was in there somewhere. It combines complex puzzles, varied combat, and a gorgeous world to provide such an engaging experience. Although it takes a lot from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, it’s still a charming and exciting adventure that actually does many things better than Nintendo’s masterpiece (In Chris W’s opinion, don’t attack the team!).
“I instantly fell in love with Yakuza: Like a Dragon. Whilst the amount of time spent watching and not playing might put some players off, it does eventually open up and let you explore what the game has to offer. There are plenty of opportunities to fight, and so many mini-games and side missions that you’ll never find yourself stuck for something to do. The story is excellent, and the characters who populate it all have an important role to play. Ichiban is such an interesting character, and whilst I was unsure how I might feel being someone other than Kiryu, Ryu Ga Gotoku has introduced an equally compelling protagonist into its crazy and chaotic world of the Yakuza franchise.”
Moving away from the story of Kiryu was a massive step for Ryu Ga Gotoku to take, but it pays off almost instantly. Ichiban is the perfect choice as the new protagonist. In many ways he’s different from the Dragon. He wears his emotions on his sleeves, he makes mistakes, and he’s a nerd, something we can all relate to. Using turn-based combat in a series that has always relied on its beat-em-up mentality was a bold move, and utlising the Jobs system actually makes it more fun in a lot of different ways. The writing is excellent, managing to blend serious themes with the absurd on multiple occasions, and is never afraid to step out of its comfort zone.
“Final Fantasy VII Remake is simply stunning. It’s a mesmerising video game from start to finish, and even in its many slower moments there’s humour to be found, or scraps of character, or Easter Eggs for the observant fan. It’s sadly not perfect, but it’s more than I could have hoped it would be, and a staggering masterclass in remaking something beloved for a new – and old – audience.”
It’s still a surprise to see Final Fantasy VII Remake in shops. After five years of relative silence, it only seemed to ramp up in the year to its release. Die-hard fans of the original were worried about whether it would live up to the hype, and newcomers were excited to see if it played as good as it looked. The speculation finally ended in April, and players around the world got to see exactly how fantastic it was. It fleshed out the story significantly and added a lot more than previously seen in the original. The visuals were more than impressive, and the combat was layered and challenging, offering plenty to get stuck into.
“Ghost of Tsushima is a landmark game that blends its narrative and visuals perfectly, and has delicious, satisfying combat to boot. It does everything in its power to stay true to the greats of Samurai cinema, paying tribute to Akira Kurosawa by creating a mode dedicated solely to his style. Turning Kurosawa Mode on gives you a black and white filter with a gritty edge akin to his landmark movies, something the game never needs but is made better for having the option. The Stand-offs are great, and the way you’ll cut through Jin’s enemies will take your breath away. Traversing mountains and buildings can be clumsy, and the story takes a while to get going, but Ghost of Tsushima is a breathtaking experience that feels like nothing else I’ve played before.”
It’s hard to know where to start with Ghost of Tsushima. There hasn’t been a world this year as beautiful or as inviting, with combat that consistently improves the more you play. It’s incredibly stylised, with nods to filmmakers like Akira Kurosawa and Zhang Yimou in the way battles unfold and the stunning island comes to life. The story might not be one of the best of the year, and Jin Sakai is far too stoic to relate to, Tsushima still managed to captivate players like nothing else that had come before it.
“There’s a wonderful lightheartedness to a lot of Hades that can, every now and then, take a darker turn. The atmosphere is on point, the music is excellent, and the gameplay itself is incredibly satisfying. For a roguelite it’s surprisingly giving in terms of buffs, progression, and player aids, which will make it much more accessible for newcomers. While the Switch version doesn’t utilise the touchscreen controls or offer anything “new” that the PC version doesn’t, it’s still absolutely worth grabbing if you have the chance. Utterly addictive and endlessly playable, with a late game element that will keep you coming back for a very long time, Hades is simply one of the best and most likeable roguelites available on PC or Nintendo Switch.”
Hades featured in the majority of our discussions for various categories in our GOTY, mainly because it has so many feathers in its cap. It manages to tell an interesting story, especially given the roguelike genre doesn’t always do this. The gameplay is easily the most satisfying this year, and Zagreus is such a good character it keeps you playing for hours. With a range of combat options and different enemies to fight against, Hades deserves to be on our list for a multitude of reasons.
“I won’t apologise for sentimentality in a world that is ever increasingly moving towards anonymity and the cold. If you are looking forward to Animal Crossing: New Horizons as a long term fan, know that this is everything you could have hoped for, which is to say it’s more Animal Crossing with quality of life improvements on what might be the best console Nintendo’s ever put out. It’ll sell millions, earn new fans, and top play counts for years to come. Knowing my family will be playing this together for a long, long time, makes me feel like everything is going to be alright, and goodness, what more could you ask for?”
I don’t know where we would be without Animal Crossing New Horizons in our life, giving us an escape from the real world and allowing us to connect with friends and family around the globe. Checking in on our residents, building a life for them and for us, and getting into a routine became some of the many reasons it captivated millions of us. It also helped those that don’t necessarily play video games to find a new hobby and play with others in the same house via local play. Much of the GiaG team spent hours playing with loved ones in its chilled-out world, and gave us an experience that was nothing like anything else this year.
“There are things here that will leave you stunned. You will put the controller down and wonder “can they do this in a game?”, and then when you’ve gotten over that, Naughty Dog will up the ante again, and again, and again. You will see things and go places that you never thought a game would go. It will bend you to its will and change your feelings as you play. You will feel anger, sadness, elation, fear, and everything a truly magnificent piece of art should elicit from you. Make no mistake, The Last of Us Part II is art, and despite my misgivings about its conclusion and that it maybe, just maybe, outstays its welcome, it’s still an absolute masterpiece.”
It comes as no surprise that The Last of Us Part II is our game of the year. Adam Cook nailed it when he said it “will leave you stunned.” The story takes turns that few would have been as brave as Naughty Dog to take, even within the first few hours. Joel and Ellie’s story in the first game was about protecting the ones you love at any cost, but this sequel makes you question everything you thought you knew about those that we chose to protect. Abby won our best new character, and rightly so. She starts off as the villain, but over time we realise we might be entirely wrong about her.
Everything from the original has been improved upon, including the gameplay to the visuals. Gustavo Santaolalla’s music is breathtaking, emotive, and subtle. There are so many powerful moments in The Last of Us Part II that it’s hard to pick one that stands out above the others. All art is subjective, but nobody can deny that the risks Naughty Dog took with this game paid off, regardless of how you felt about the ending. It provided tears, laughter, fear, and every other emotion on the spectrum, never once being afraid to give us the best version of itself.