Favorite games of 2020
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
In the end New Horizons was neither the best game I played in 2020 nor my favorite, but it is my game of the year nonetheless. It defined my experience of quarantine, and I played it more than every other game combined. Whenever the lockdown lifts and I begin venturing outside again it may even be difficult to go back to, like a favorite song from some time of hardship. I literally cannot imagine this year without it.
Hades is Supergiant at the top of their game, drawing on lessons from all their previous work to deliver an immaculate experience. I sometimes found myself chuckling at it in disbelief: of course they let you combine those two boons, or thought to include a line of dialog for this exact situation, or have a subtle sound cue for that event. In terms of pure craft, it was the most impressive game I played this year.
Kentucky Route Zero
The appeal of Kentucky Route Zero resists easy summation. It’s as though it exists in a liminal space between other games, and writing about it is like trying to remember a dream upon waking up. I think what I want to say is that it’s about things in a way that games rarely are, more memorable for me because of the way it tells its story than because of any specific moment. No other game has felt that way to me before.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV
Yes, even this, probably my least favorite Trails game of the whole series, is one of my favorites of the year. It buckles under its own weight trying to juggle dozens of “main” characters, and it fails to pay off some of its multi-game subplots, but it’s still an ultimately satisfying conclusion to an enormous story. On to the second half!
Wide Ocean Big Jacket
A gentle, heartfelt narrative game with whip-smart writing and some clever cinematographic tricks. It’s short and simple, but that only makes its success more impressive to me; it neither has nor needs the margin of error that a longer story affords. Measured in laughs per minute, it’s also the funniest video game I’ve ever played.
These are some games that I’m enjoying so far, but which I haven’t spent enough time with to have detailed thoughts about them yet:
- Horizon’s Gate