It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole year already, but here we are. In between the entire world going to hell in a figurative handbasket and the political climate becoming toxically divisive to the point of parody, there were also some video games here and there. As I played a hell of a lot of them, here’s a breakdown of my four favorite PC games of 2020, plus the one that improved the most.
This is easily my favorite game of the year. It’s not particularly long or challenging, but it’s totally packed with a massive amount of character. You play as a detective named Love Dies, who is an immortal returning from exile. She’s been allowed to return to civilization for the purposes of unraveling a murder mystery that has quite a bit to it. It’s very much based on walking around and talking to people, as well as collecting evidence. But it’s also an open-world game with a lot of collectibles and the like to find.
The world itself is lovingly handcrafted in addition to being bright and colorful. But the narrative is so unique and original that it’s hard to truly compare it to anything else. It’s like if you took a Danganronpa game, mixed it with the aesthetics of Suda 51, and then brought in a healthy dose of original ideas. As far as I’m concerned, not much else this year really holds a candle to this one. The only sad thing is that I’ll have to wait years to play it again in order to forget enough details.
Serious Sam 4
Doom Eternal was good and all, but as far as I’m concerned, Serious Sam 4 takes the cake when it comes to absolutely ridiculous action. The Serious Sam games have always successfully filled this niche, but the latest entry amps things up to preposterous heights that make it unrivaled in regards to chaotic first-person shooters. Stepping foot into giant areas and being completely overrun by hundreds of enemies while you circle strafe and blast until your ammo runs dry is worth the price of admission alone.
Sure, it might not be the best-looking game around, but the levels are insanely massive and have sidequests and plenty of secrets to find. My favorite thing about the game, though? The dual wielding. Sam can dual wield every last gun he gets his hands on. With the right perks, he can dual wield one of any weapon. I don’t know about you, but having a chain gun in my left hand and a rocket launcher in my right is what I consider a good time in an action game. The game is also pretty funny, even if the cutscenes are kind of a jankfest. Serious Sam 4 is easily one of my favorite games of 2020.
Someday You’ll Return
I’ve played a fair number of narrative-focused, spooky adventure games in my time, but they rarely resonate with me like this one did. Someday You’ll Return didn’t get the best reviews, but I loved it, and it’s one of my favorite games of 2020. It’s about a guy named Daniel whose daughter goes missing, so he ventures out to the place his cell phone tracker indicates. This ties in with the fact that he’s a terrible parent who doesn’t care about boundaries or how his actions affect his family members. He’s rude, arrogant, and just an outright unlikeable jerk. Which works wonders for the game because it’s very much like Silent Hill.
Honestly, it’s the closest you can get to a good Silent Hill game without playing the original trilogy. In some ways, it’s even better. The game was made by two people and it doesn’t at all look like it. It’s gorgeous and deeply atmospheric, with a large, interesting world with a lot to share. The developers have made a fair amount of major changes to the game due to complaints but I had few issues to begin with. There are stealth sections and puzzles too, which made for a game with a lot of variety. But the rawness of the story and the game’s themes are what made it so compelling.
Immortals Fenyx Rising
Yeah, I know. It’s an open-world game by Ubisoft. You go out into a huge world and collect stuff to make your character stronger. And you fight enemies and mark waypoints on your map. Immortals Fenyx Rising has a lot of Assassin’s Creed‘s DNA in it, but hey, I loved it. The game is just a joy to play and it’s so bright and colorful that I found it difficult to not have fun. And the story is extremely funny. I like Greek mythology and I greatly enjoyed what the game did with the source material, especially in regards to the personalities on display. I haven’t played Breath of the Wild, so maybe that has something to do with it, but I think this is a standout title on its own merits.
That’s not to say that there aren’t negatives to be found. You only get the three weapons, which limits combat variety, but I never got bored with combat. I think the puzzle design is excellent and that the developer did an amazing job crafting a ton of unique content. It’s just the kind of game where you boot it up and then several hours have passed. It’s honestly exactly what I love about open-world games. Plus it’s fun to coordinate the outfits.
Special mention — most improved game: Elderborn
Every now and again there are games I review harshly, mostly due to them not quite living up to their potential. I reviewed Elderborn nearly a year ago and felt it had some clear issues. The core was good and the combat is kind of great, but the balance was poor and some of the gameplay decisions made it a pain to play. But the developer kept updating it after release. By the middle of the year, most of my loudest complaints were patched out of existence.
As for what was fixed, there was plenty. Difficulties were reworked to actually make sense. The horrid way the game handled order of input was scrapped and made more standard. And, most importantly, enemy positions and aggro ranges were adjusted so that you didn’t typically need to fight an entire horde simultaneously. As it is now, Elderborn is a good game and I’ve enjoyed my most recent playthrough much more than I did in January. Kudos to developer Hyperstrange for turning the game around.
Anyways, that’s it for my favorite games of 2020. It’s been a hard year, but we’ll be back in 2021 with another 12 months of reviews.