Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Top Five: Video Games of 2020

  • Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio has owned my gaming time for the last few years and will own 2021 as well when I finally get to play Yakuza: Like A Dragon. (I'll have an Xbox Series X someday. Hopefully.) So I'm not surprised to find them on this year's list. But that's not all I played. What a year.

  • Judgment - After playing through a number of Yakuza games over the last few years, Judgment was both familiar and a breath of fresh air. The game leans more toward a dramatic tone where Yakuza can weave wildly between extremes, but that focus gives Judgment enough distiction to stand apart from its predecessor. The main chararacter, lawyer-turned-hard-boiled-detective Takayuki Yagami, and his companions are much more grounded, but the story is as big as ever. I loved playing this game from start to finish and I hope RGG Studio keeps making side games like this.

  • The Yakuza Remastered Collection - Yes, I'm cheating by combining three games into one slot so that they don't dominate the entire list. I have been infatuated with the Yakuza series since Zero. I knew that, once I finished that game, I would have to play all the rest. Since 3-5 were all Playstation 3 exclusive, I knew that might be difficult, but Sega seems to have anticipated my needs. I have now played to 3, 4, and I'm working on 5 as the year draws to an end. The series continues to be a delight in drama and creativity.

  • Fantasy Life - There is a good chance that I bought this game on the recommendation of Austin Walker (formerly of Giant Bomb and Waypoint). There is so much to it, though, that I quickly ran into a "too-much-to-do" mental block and dropped the game. It wasn't until the pandemic hit that I had the time and desire to lose myself in a fantasy world. Fantasy Life's simple gameplay, colorful characters, and inviting world was a welcome escape in the early days of the lockdown.

  • Hades - I've never done the whole "follow a game through early access" thing before, but Hades was the exact right game to try it on. A lot of credit has to go to the team at Supergiant who had the game nailed from the start. All of the time after I started playing was just adding more and polishing the gem-like core that was already there. It was fun to watch the game grow over time, and it was amazing to play from day one.

  • Kingdoms Of Amalur - Reckoning - It certainly is big game, which is why previous attempts at the game eventually faltered. (The studio name Big Huge Games should have been a giveaway here.) It is easy to fall into the completionism trap when the quests are so diverse and the stories so interesting. But there is so much of it and there is enough sameyness to the dungeons it can feel monotonous. But it's hard not to be drawn to the combat and, maybe, see a glimpse of the MMO that might have come.

  • Since this is going up in April, I'll totally admit that I have a Series X now. Also, I've already beat Like A Dragon. I really need to try harder on these posts.