There’s no denying that 2020 has been a wild year, not just because of the fantastic games on display, but because of how COVID has shaken and, at times, stopped the world. But putting all that aside, there really have been some amazing games to play across all the major platforms, and they’ve made coping with the unexpected changes this year somewhat more bearable. Many of them were even made with developers working from home.
Like previous years, we’ve been highlighting some of the best games this year. Our top 10 picks make up our Best Game of 2020 nominees list, but there were plenty of other excellent gems that we liked. If you’re keen to find out which games GameSpot reviewed highest this year, then we’ve got a whole list here to point you towards all the games we’ve scored 8 or higher.
For more of the year’s best, be sure to check out our Best Games of 2020, but if you’re more of a forward-thinking individual, jump into our hub for the Most Anticipated Games of 2021, which contains features highlighting the biggest games coming out next year.
It’s worth noting that many of the PS4 and Xbox One games we listed below are backward compatible on new-generation consoles. So if you’re vying to pick up any of the games mentioned, then you’re well-capable of playing them, even if you’ve discarded your old consoles. In fact, nearly every PS4 game works on PS5, and all non-Kinect Xbox One games work on Xbox Series X.
If you’re looking to see what scored best on specific platforms or what stood atop as the best in particular genres this year, be sure to check out the features below. Otherwise, read on for a more comprehensive list!
“Despite what the box and blurbs might tell you, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim isn’t really a game about piloting giant robots. I mean, sure, you do fight off massive swarms of building-sized creatures hellbent on total destruction in an alternate-universe 1980s Japan at some points. But these seemingly model-kit-ready metal combat suits are just a plot device, a cog in the story. In actuality, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is a character drama: a twisting, turning sci-fi epic jumping through time and dimensions as it follows the lives of its numerous teen protagonists. Missiles, Gatling guns, and armor-crushing metal fistcuffs are merely a side event to the everyday drama of highschoolers who find themselves unwilling pawns in a bigger game with the fate of the world at stake. And you know what? That’s great. Once the narrative of 13 Sentinels sinks its hooks into you, you want nothing more than to go along for the ride up until the very climax.” –Heidi Kemps, Freelance Reviewer
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is only available on PS4 but can be played on PS5 via backward compatibility.
“Many games often aspire to deliver more, sometimes bartering in dizzying excesses–be it in high-octane action or through big, sweeping narratives that thrust you into a heroic position. But it’s the diminutive tales and everyday experiences of A Short Hike that give the game its comforting, even pastoral allure. It’s about seeking quiet communion with nature even as you make your umpteenth hike towards the peak, or finding contentment in stumbling upon tinier, quaint scenes. It proposes that even the smallest and most mundane of vignettes can be as enthralling as grandiose universes and narratives of more ambitious games. As I embark on yet another leisurely trek after ascending the summit of Hawk Peak, I can’t help but heartily agree.” — Khee Hoon Chan, Freelance Reviewer
Also available: PC
“Despite its strong connection to past games, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is more than capable of standing on its own. It takes a little while to build momentum, but when it hits its stride, Valhalla is a confident Assassin’s Creed title that takes a few narrative risks which, as a whole, pay off. Eivor is a good hero with an identity that drives the mystery behind the main narrative, and she shines in the self-contained arc structure of Valhalla’s story. The supporting cast may not shine as brightly, but it’s easy to forgive that when exploring England and discovering new nuggets of worldbuilding is so rewarding.” — Jordan Ramée, Associate Editor
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is available on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC.
“Still, Amnesia: Rebirth feels like the culmination of Frictional Games horror titles up to this point. It refines the ideas and mechanics that have been central to the developer’s games since Penumbra: Overture in 2007, it hones in on effective scares while avoiding the frustrations of failure, and it tightens the focus on character-driven storytelling. Rebirth is an unsettling, strange, tragic story that deepens the Amnesia mythos in a lot of cool ways, while managing to be just as creepy and frightening as its beloved predecessor.” — Phil Hornshaw, Editor
Also available: PlayStation
“New Horizons has a slower pace even than other Animal Crossing games, and at times, that can feel unnecessarily restrictive. But there’s still plenty to do, and each of those activities feeds into the next brilliantly for a rewarding and relentlessly cheerful experience. New Horizons certainly came at the right time, and its strengths are particularly comforting right now. I’m as excited to see what random events await me each morning as I am glad to have it during hard times, and that’s sure to keep me coming back for the foreseeable future.” — Kallie Plagge, Reviews Editor
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is available on Nintendo Switch.
“The best and worst thing I can say about Astro’s Playroom is that its role as a demonstration feels a bit wasteful. It’s a wondrous little dream world, and I would have loved to spend more time touring it. But that, in itself, is a tremendous achievement. Astro’s Playroom, a game that makes no attempt to hide the fact that it is an excuse to show you what a gamepad can do, conjures a world that you will want to see and explore. More than that, its surprisingly delightful celebration of PlayStation and its video games is a great way to kick off a console generation.” — Mike Epstein, Freelance Reviewer
Astro’s Playroom is included with the purchase of a PlayStation 5.
“And yet, like so many challenging score chases, Bloodroots is still incredibly satisfying when you’re eventually successful. At its highest heights, you’ll find your way around, bouncing from weapon to weapon, kill to kill, to string together a perfect run. Better yet, there are so many ways to approach each area that, no matter how well you do, you can always do it better, faster, crazier. Even when playing Bloodroots is painful–like throw your controller so hard it bounces off the ground, hits you in the head, then breaks your TV painful–there’s always a wildly fun run within reach.” — Mike Epstein, Freelance Reviewer
“That Easter egg owes both its story justification and its level of meta weirdness to Hachi, which is really what sets Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 apart. It’s still a classic Castlevania homage at heart, but it has an eccentricity that feels right at home alongside the giant kitty-cats of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. When a game seems to be having this much fun at its own expense, it’s hard not to join in.” — Steve Watts, Associate Editor
“Unsurprisingly, Bugsnax’ best qualities are its cleverness and charm. The surprise and delight you feel when you see a Bugsnak wiggling around or watch someone eat one and change their arm into food never goes away. That alone would make Bugsnax worth your time, but creative puzzles and thoughtful story give it the body and depth to make a Snak feel more like a meal.” — Mike Epstein, Freelance Reviewer
Bugsnax is available for both PS5 and PS4.
“Even more so than playing the N.Sane Trilogy, which literally remade the original Crash games from my youth, playing Crash 4 felt like getting back in touch with the series. It’s an injection of new ideas into now-classic gameplay that surprises and delights, even as it feels like a homecoming. Truly, games like this are why we come running back to long-dormant franchises with open arms.” — Mike Epstein, Freelance Reviewer
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is available for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
“In a sense, Crusader Kings 3 is all over the place. It doesn’t always work perfectly, and at times it really makes you work for it, but there’s something amazing in that any of it works at all. Strategy games can tell interesting stories as their empires rise and fall, but their procedural narratives are rarely as affecting and poignant as they are here.” — David Wildgoose, Freelancer Reviewer
“Quirks aside, Bluepoint’s remake is an unmitigated success. It is a technical tour de force and a true showpiece for the PS5 and the power of Sony’s next-generation console. But, more importantly, it’s also a creative marvel coming from a studio that is clearly showing the world it has its own voice. Bluepoint has taken From Software’s original game and expressed it in a richer and fuller way, and in doing so given me something I thought was impossible: the opportunity to relive the experience of falling in love with Souls games for the first time.” — Tamoor Hussain, Managing Editor
Demon’s Souls is a PS5-exclusive.
“Desperados 3 is a superb package. It’s a clever, cunning game of stealth and tactical thinking that, thanks to a generous quick-save system and wealth of informative visual cues, entices you to tinker with all the toys it has on offer and fully explore the possibility spaces of its elaborate levels. There’s no need for a do-over here; Desperados 3 is a dead-eye shot on the very first try.” — David Wildgoose, Freelance Reviewer
Desperados 3 is available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
Destiny 2: Beyond Light — 8/10 (Expansion)
“Beyond Light might not be the biggest expansion, but it does feel like we’ve entered a new chapter in the game’s life, with new priorities and an approach that makes the game more resonant in a way that goes beyond satisfying shooting. On the whole, Destiny 2 might be more of the same than it is different, but what’s the same about it–like its phenomenal raids and tight, satisfying gameplay–is still largely pretty great, and what’s different is mostly making the game all the more worthwhile.” — Phil Hornshaw
“But you never really “win”‘ Disc Room. You just survive it adequately enough to move onto the next thing. The light, mysterious plot has a weird but worthwhile end, but the real reward that Disc Room gives you is learning how to appreciate your own small achievements. The game is fraught with dangers and failure, but it frames the handful of seconds you are able to hang on as something exciting, something to be proud of. Disc Room helps you feed on those tiny bursts of success, in addition to providing success in failure, to keep you moving and pushing through all its trials. Maybe we could all learn something from these… rooms full of discs. Like all great twitch-action games, Disc Room is at once exciting and stressful, challenging and fulfilling, and its spinning saw blades can seep into your everyday thoughts. But moreover, Disc Room feels like a pleasantly positive take on difficulty-first games–you didn’t die after 10 measly seconds, you managed to survive for 10 whole seconds. And that’s good enough for Disc Room. Thanks, Disc Room.” — Edmond Tran
“Though it can take a bit to get the hang of it, the intricacies of Doom Eternal’s combat, combined with its enhanced mobility and option-heavy level design, create a ton of white-knuckle moments that elevate everything that made Doom 2016 work so well. Its combat is just as quick and chaotic, but requires you to constantly analyze everything that’s happening in order to come out victorious. Once you get the hang of the rhythm of Doom Eternal, it’ll make you feel like a demon-slaying savant.” — Phil Hornshaw, Editor
Doom Eternal is available on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Next-gen upgraded versions of the game are planned sometime next year.
“Dota Underlords is a diverse and constantly captivating experience where no match plays out the same way twice. Having been with the genre since it was a custom map mod, it’s heartening to see it executed as well as it has been here. Outwitting your opponents and the odds through clever thinking is always immensely satisfying, and the game’s complexity means that there are plenty of interesting strategies to try. Dota Underlords is a wonderfully robust and well-crafted strategy game that is very easy to lose yourself in.” — Joab Gilroy, Freelance Reviewer
“Dreams was in early access for less than a year, but the small community it’s built since then has already created some stunning projects that exhibit imagination, innovation, and artistry. Now that the full game is out in the wild, it’s going to be fascinating to see how the community continues to grow and what creations arise from that growth. Media Molecule has devised something really special with Dreams, placing a hefty toolset in players’ hands where the only limitations are your skills, imagination, and time. There’s nothing else quite like it, and it feels like a culmination of everything the studio has been working towards since the first LittleBigPlanet. The presentation is too charming, the tutorials too informative, active, and engaging, while playing and finding other people’s creations is a breeze. Dreams is a refined constructor for building a wide variety of games, and a community-centric showcase where others can play them. It’s a stunning achievement that encourages limitless creative expression, a place where people can come together, collaborate, and explore each other’s imaginations. It’s a tool for the fools who dream, and one of the most innovative releases in years.” — Richard Wakeling, Freelance Reviewer
Dreams is available on PS4.
“On the whole, though, Evergate is remarkably clever. It’s a short and sweet treat of a game that constantly invents new ways to interact with the world and to blend game elements together, making for a satisfying test of brainpower and reflexes.” — Steve Watts, Associate Editor
“Career mode is still a mixed bag, then, but it’s reassuring that EA has made some additional moves to try and freshen it up. If you do grow tired of simming through training sessions and managing sharpness, FIFA 21 is still chock full of other stuff to do, whether you want to head to the streets of Paris to show off your skills, hop into Ultimate Team with a friend, or play through a season on Pro Clubs. This is a substantial package that’s propped up by exciting gameplay that puts the onus squarely on attacking football. There are moments of frustration on defense when the balance doesn’t feel quite right, but then you’ll go down the other end and score a Puskás Award contender that makes you forget why you were mad in the first place.” — Richard Wakeling, Freelance Reviewer
FIFA 21 is available on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, and PC.
“Regardless of your history with the original game, Final Fantasy VII Remake is an astounding achievement. The wait for its release was a long one, but in gameplay, story, characters, and music, it delivers–the wait was worth it. For first-time players, it’s an opportunity to understand why Final Fantasy VII is held in such high regard. It’s the chance to experience a multifaceted story that grapples with complex subject matter, be in the company of memorable characters, and be moved by their plight. For returning fans, this isn’t the Final Fantasy VII your mind remembers, it’s the one your heart always knew it to be.” — Tamoor Hussain, Managing Editor
Final Fantasy VII Remake is only available on PS4 but can be played on PS5 via backward compatibility.
“Though Gears Tactics wears itself a little thin by the end of its protracted campaign, the rush of pulling together a victory from the jaws of defeat carries an exciting, chaotic energy. Unlike most strategy games, playing well doesn’t necessarily make you feel like a mastermind, so much as though you’ve cheated death. Every successful plan, even a last-ditch effort, feels like a small stroke of genius. That’s no small feat.” — Mike Epstein, Freelance Reviewer
Gears Tactics is Available on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC.
“I’m also thinking about how much I still have left to learn about Hades, both the character and the game, even dozens of hours in. Like in the Greek myths Hades takes inspiration from, endings aren’t tidy, and they’re almost never final. They’re protracted, often unsatisfying, and are hard to find real closure in, and the fact that Hades understands this is its greatest strength. I’m sure there’s a point where, after running through hell enough times, I’ll have seen all Hades has to offer, both in its clever and endless fights and its many alluring characters, intimate moments, and rewarding quests. The story does end. But what matters so much more are all the moments between the start and end of a story, and the people who help us see those climactic moments but also stick with us between them. They’re the reason we keep trying, and the reason we keep coming back.” — Suriel Vazquez, Freelance Reviewer
Also available: PC
“Not only has Half-Life: Alyx made good on its shift to VR, it has elevated many of the aspects we’ve come to love about Half-Life games. It may not be as bombastic as previous games, but the intimacy of VR brings you closer to a world you might have thought you knew over the past 22 years. Even when familiarity starts to settle in, its gameplay systems still shine as a cohesive whole. And as it concludes, Half-Life: Alyx hits you with something unforgettable, transcending VR tropes for one of gaming’s greatest moments.” — Michael Higham, Associate Editor
“Minor shortcomings aside, Project DIVA MegaMix is a wonderful representation of why so many of us cherish Vocaloid-based music and, by extension, these rhythm games starring Hatsune Miku and friends. Sure, there might be a silly aspect to personifying virtualized characters like pop idols, but the music behind it is very real. Vocaloid has given a voice to the voiceless, letting incredible multi-instrumentalists create songs with actual lyrics even if they themselves don’t have the ability to sing. And those of us who don’t have their level of talent can at least take part in playing some of their best songs through the Project DIVA rhythm game series, which now lives on Switch in excellent form.” — Michael Higham, Associate Editor
“As you trek toward the conclusion, Kasio’s mental health is tested in a swirl of panic. But ever since the start, what she’s really been yearning for is acceptance and empathy, which might just be what saves us from denying ourselves happiness, and possibly even our own lives. And when we find both, only then are we able to take full control and begin writing our story for ourselves. That’s not the sole takeaway from If Found, but it’s one that’s powerfully contextualized throughout its affecting, humanizing story.” — Michael Higham, Associate Editor
Also available: PC
“In Other Waters develops its central mysteries in expert fashion, drip-feeding its revelations in a way that feels natural, and dispatching you to inspect the corners of its map in a way that doesn’t feel contrived. As you steadily learn more of what Vas’ partner was up to on this strange planet, and you yourself begin to grasp humanity’s plight, the mystery builds to a confident conclusion–one that satisfies yet remains aware that some questions are more enticing when left unanswered. In this sense, its story echoes the restraint that runs through the entire game to deliver a stylish, assured, and utterly absorbing adventure that demonstrates again and again it knows how to do a lot with seemingly very little.” — David Wildgoose, Freelance Reviewer
“The game doesn’t so much resolve all the seething tensions and unfulfilled promises seen prior, but demands that you shoulder some of the weight of remembering and honoring what you’ve seen and heard. The overall point of the game is that not everyone’s life will be paid off in a way that provides catharsis, or comfort, or satisfaction. Sometimes it just ends, sometimes it keeps going whether we’re there to see it or not, and sometimes it’s just disappointment. Conway has debts to pay, and there is a chance he drops dead working to pay them back. That is as American as it gets in the 21st century. What Act V does, though, is give everyone one last chance to rail against that fact, mourn it, continue to have hopes regardless which, too, is what it is to live here. Kentucky Route Zero has been priming us for seven years to recognize that life isn’t fair, though we’d gain so much if it was, and sometimes we’re lucky enough to make it as fair as it can be. But just as often, we’re not. Kentucky Route Zero is ultimately a story about America’s ghosts, literal and metaphorical. It’s a story about entire ways of life coming to one singular place to die quietly, hopefully with dignity. In all of its oddity, it never backs down from the fact that all that is now dead will stay dead, and for those who have settled in along the Zero, that includes the American dream.” — Justin Clark, Freelance Reviewer
“But when The Last Campfire captivates–which it does so often–it’s difficult not to sink into its breezy pacing and satisfying puzzle-solving. It never overstays its welcome or stretches puzzle ideas beyond their limits, letting each one leave an impression despite their brevity. The Last Campfire’s narrative contextualizes each of these with small anecdotes, letting your imagination fill in the blanks of its world between worlds to the backdrop of its colorful imagery. It’s a consistently relaxing and pleasant experience.” — Alessandro Barbosa, Freelance Reviewer
“By the time I finished The Last of Us Part II, I wasn’t sure if I liked it. It’s a hard game to stomach, in part because so much of who Ellie is and what she does is beyond your control. She is deeply complicated and flawed, and her selfishness hurts a lot of people. At times, the pain you inflict feels so senseless that it can leave you numb. It’s all messy and bleak and made me profoundly sad for myriad reasons, but the more I reflect on it, the more I appreciate the story and characters at its core. I wanted almost none of it to happen the way it did, and that’s what’s both beautiful and devastating about it.” — Kallie Plagge, Reviews Editor
The Last of Us Part II is only available on PS4 but can be played on PS5 via backward compatibility.
“Whether you’re playing Expeditions, drafting a wild deck in traditional PvP, or picking apart a previously successful strategy, Legends of Runeterra finds a way to reward you for it by always having something for you to gain experience toward. Spending time in the game is investing in your future success, and the gains are often represented quite immediately in the form of new cards to toy with, bringing the most avid players back to the drawing board for more. While balance changes are undoubtedly on the horizon and the state of the game will evolve over time, Legends of Runeterra currently does a good job of introducing players to a colorful world popularised by League of Legends, and it’s a rollicking good time to boot.” — Ginny Woo, Freelance Reviewer
Legends of Runeterra is free to play via Riot.
“My wife first used the phrase “chore game” when I bought her Stardew Valley several years ago. “Why did you get me this chore game?” she lamented. Weeks later she was busy filling out the community center with all kinds of weird and wonderful items. I feel much the same way about Littlewood. At heart it’s a checklist of chores. But it’s such a wonderfully warm, endlessly charming checklist of chores that when they’re all done, I’m not going to want to leave.” — David Wildgoose, Freelance Reviewer
“MLB The Show 20 doesn’t make any large strides forward, choosing instead to focus on refining areas that needed improvement from last year. This results in a game that feels more balanced in terms of variety across an assortment of game modes, while the action on the diamond has been tightened up with rewarding consistency and added dynamism that maintains the series’ lofty standards. It’s the ideal foundation to build upon as the PlayStation 5 looms on the horizon, and with the baseball season suspended for the foreseeable future, MLB 20 goes some way to filling an empty space in our pursuit for escapism.” — Richard Wakeling, Freelance Reviewer
MLB The Show 20 is only available on PS4 but can be played on PS5 via backward compatibility.
“With a bit of good old determination, however, Moon’s flaws and frustrations are easily overcome. Despite being almost 25 years old, Moon remains a thoughtful, beautiful experience that has a lot to say about the static nature of video games, how the way stories are presented affects our perceptions of reality, the rewarding nature of kindness and stewardship, and how simply being a part of the world makes us important and valuable. I don’t think I’ll forget my experience in Moon World anytime soon, and should you embark on this journey and see it through to its conclusion, I doubt you will, either.” — Heidi Kemps, Freelance Reviewer
“Still, Mortal Shell succeeds more often than not at capturing the specific feelings intrinsic to Souls-like games. The twists it adds to From-inspired mechanics do well to help this sort of game become more approachable than most, while maintaining the same air of mystery and foreboding that makes the genre itself so intriguing. Mortal Shell makes for a strong introduction to Souls-likes, a demonstration for new players of what so many have found so interesting about From Software’s games and those like them. But Mortal Shell is also a lovingly crafted, weird, and deceptively deep game in its own right that rewards you for wandering its twisted paths and challenging its deadliest foes.” — Phil Hornshaw, Editor
Mortal Shell is available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
“Mr. Driller Drill Land is the kind of game you can play for 10 minutes on a lunch break or for an entire afternoon. It’s the sort of game where you’ll be in a groove… only to screw up a section catastrophically and ruin a run. But you’ll only be bitter about it for a minute before eagerly diving back in to try again. If you’ve never played Mr. Driller–or if it’s been a while since you and Susumu went excavating together–Mr. Driller Drill Land is one relic that deserves a spot in your gaming museum.” — Heidi Kemps, Freelance Reviewer
Also available: PC
“It’s a game that gives me anxiety about having to upgrade my computer. But it’s also a game that gives me a great sense of calm as I cruise through clouds far above the Earth. Microsoft Flight Simulator is a tremendous experience that makes you appreciate natural beauty and man-made ingenuity in equal measures. Being encouraged to dive into the rabbit hole of learning how to operate genuine, complex machines to perform amazing feats of science is giddying, as is being able to journey across a realistic, mostly accurate depiction of our entire, beautiful planet. Microsoft Flight Simulator is a spectacular technical achievement and a deeply inspiring experience filled with glorious possibilities.” — Edmond Tran
“NHL 21 is a fantastic ice hockey game that pushes the series forward with an enjoyable, engaging story mode in Be A Pro and a flashy, arcade-style way to play with HUT Rush. The new skill moves are a welcome addition to the mix to give players new ways to be slippery and keep defenders guessing, but the best part of NHL 21 is its solid foundation thanks to its excellent controls and presentation package that is getting even closer to mirroring a TV broadcast.” — Eddie Makuch, Associate Editor
NHL 21 is available on PS4 and Xbox One.
“At times, I wondered if maybe some of these bosses should be a little shorter, as there were many bosses where I felt I had mastered their patterns but couldn’t finish because they landed a single one-hit-kill late in the fight. Ultimately, that excruciating difficulty and the feeling it evokes are baked into Nioh’s DNA, though, and its boss fights remain compelling even as they vex and frustrate. Though it sometimes feels like a curse as you play, it is a testament that Nioh 2 successfully grabs and holds your complete attention so close for so long.” — Mike Epstein, Freelance Reviewer
Nioh 2 is available on PS4. A new-gen upgraded version on PS5 and a PC port are expected sometime next year.
“That finality could signal that this is the last Ori game, a farewell to the fantastical world and memorable characters that made Moon Studios such a standout developer from its very first effort. If that is the case, you could hardly ask for a better send-off. Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a remarkable synthesis of artful design and beautiful moments.”— Steve Watts, Associate Editor
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is available on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
“Despite those unfortunate technical issues, Othercide is still a great tactics game. The variety of classes and abilities make for a wide range of strategies, but no matter your team composition, the Daughters work together beautifully to take down their enemies. Boss fights are by far the most memorable and really showcase the reaction and combo system, but they also feed into the game’s unique and engrossing story. While Othercide’s maps and missions leave something to be desired, it’s still a blast to cut your way through hordes of Others and pull off deadly combos that look cool as hell. With an exceptional story, atmospheric horror visuals, and tense, rewarding combat, Othercide offers a challenge you’ll want to rise to, again and again.” — Jenae Sitzes, Commerce Editor
“Making a good retro-style game is hard–balancing old-fashioned play mechanics with newer advancements in game design is a tough tightrope to walk. But Panzer Paladin manages that balancing act with few slip-ups, delivering solid platforming action, fierce weapon duels, epic boss fights, and a cool weapon-sacrifice mechanic, all dressed up in an immensely charming classic-robot-anime wrapping. While it might have its brief moments of annoyance, the amazing globe-trotting, alien-smashing adventure of Flame and Grit proves to be a delight from beginning to end.” — Heidi Kemps, Freelance Reviewer
Also available: PC
“It’s a concession I’m willing to take, though, since just about every other part of Paper Mario: The Origami King works so well. With a newfound combat system that steals the show and offers a novel take on turn-based combat, its winking, nodding, and adventuring shine all the brighter. Its world and characters might not be the series’ best, but it’s still able to consistently throw left turns, good gags, and smart surprises at you. Each piece of The Origami King elegantly fits into its whole, taking its irreverent flair to new heights. The Paper Mario series has recently shown that being clever and being smart are two different things, but thankfully, it’s once again managed to be both.” — Suriel Vazquez, Freelance Reviewer
Paper Mario: The Origami King is only available on Nintendo Switch.
“Paradise Killer is a singular, exemplary experience. It’s a detective game that feels like real detective work in a way few games do, and it makes its extremely complex worldbuilding feel effortless. I put off the final trial for as long as I can not only because I wanted all the evidence I could find, but because I did not want to leave the island or the game. Paradise might have been killed, but when you’re deep into untangling the game’s conspiracies, it feels very much alive.” — James O’Connor, Freelance Reviewer
Also available: PC
“As P5R comes to a close, it tries to ease you into its end with heartfelt scenes, some new and some familiar. But in doing so, it only makes it harder to say goodbye again. Persona 5 Royal is many things: a collection of small inspiring stories, an ambitious harrowing journey with some good friends, a stunning visual and auditory experience, a resounding call to action. By refining what was already great and building on its best qualities with a brilliant new story arc, Persona 5 Royal asserts itself as an unforgettable and empowering RPG that should be recognized as one of the best games of our time.” — Michael Higham, Associate Editor
Persona 5 Royal is only available on PS4 but can be played on PS5 via backward compatibility.
“PGA Tour 2K21 improves on the mostly stellar foundation of The Golf Club series, offering the most realistic and pure golf experience in a game to date. There are still some minor annoyances that can temporarily take you out of the experience, but it offers a closer approximation of the actual PGA Tour schedule and a relaxing, streamlined approach to MyPlayer. For the most part, PGA Tour 2K21 admirably captures the peculiar magic of the game of golf.” — Steven Petite, Associate Commerce Editor
PGA Tour 2K21 is available on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
“Although Pikmin 3 Deluxe may not offer much in the way of substantial new content, the game still holds up wonderfully thanks to its unique gameplay and carefully constructed levels, and the tweaks and additions that have been implemented here help smooth over the whole package for newer players. Even three installments in, there is no other series quite like Pikmin, which helps Pikmin 3 still feel fresh seven years after its original release.” — Kevin Knezevic, Associate Editor
Pikmin 3 Deluxe is only available on Nintendo Switch.
“Whether or not you’re an old-school Mystery Dungeon aficionado or a total newcomer to the long-derelict spin-off series doesn’t necessarily matter: Mystery Dungeon on Switch improves upon the originals with some valuable quality-of-life tweaks, making it a worthwhile play regardless of your familiarity with the series. It features a distinct combat system that provides an intriguing alternative to the mainline Pokemon formula with tile-based strategizing, humanizes the Pokemon you’ve fallen in love with over the years, tells a riveting and emotional story that will make you view the franchise in a totally different light, and does so with a stylish suite of visuals and music. Eventually, every ugly Ducklett becomes a Swanna.” — Cian Maher, Freelance Reviewer
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX is only available on Nintendo Switch.
“Ring of Pain is interesting and enjoyable in ways that can keep you enthralled despite doing almost the exact same thing for hours. The quick runs are really nice for just jumping in and having a few goes rather than oversaturating yourself with this world. It nails the creepy aesthetic from the art and sound design right down to the way it plays. It can make you feel a bit unsettled no matter what stage of the game you’re at and how confident you’re feeling. Ring of Pain swings between frustration and satisfaction but thankfully leans heavily to the latter most of the time. It’s a delightfully disturbing mix of roguelike and card game genres that’s worth stumbling in the darkness to discover.” — Hope Corrigan, Freelance Reviewer
Also available: PC
“Risk of Rain 2 is lo-fi beats to relax to with the bass boosted until the subwoofers catch fire. And explode. And bleed? What begins as a chill loot-shooty time quickly escalates to a frantic fight for your life where everything is burning and there’s a big red target on your back. The lack of any strategic layer between the action did leave me feeling burned out. But the additive nature of the game’s builds give Risk of Rain 2 the feeling of a pebble skittering along a rocky cliff. When the avalanche begins, enemies would be well advised to get out of your way.” — Andrew King, Freelance Reviewer
“At least, that seems to be the case right now. The original Spelunky’s proc-gen depths hid secrets that took time for its avid community to discover, so it’s possible that Spelunky 2 has secrets of its own that I have yet to find, and they could push the game in a different direction from its predecessor. Spelunky 2 is a successful evolution of what made the original Spelunky work; the tight controls, impressive use of procedural generation, expressive art style, and interesting stage themes are better than ever here. But the more notable changes in how we play and talk about this game will likely happen in the coming months as players discover the heart of the game in the deep, dark depths we aren’t yet even aware exist.” — Andrew King, Freelance Reviewer
Also available: PC
“Spiritfarer is somehow a game with no risk but all reward. There’s no death, no pain, no rush on any task, and yet I don’t think I’ve ever felt this complete. You’re allowed to totally take your time, play on your own terms, and even though your tasks are easy, they are incredibly fulfilling. If the game had kept giving me quests, I feel as if I would have kept doing them for eternity, just because I wanted to. All of Spiritfarer’s novel mechanical variations kept potentially repetitive actions from ever growing old. Its gleeful little islands got more exciting to explore as new platforming abilities were unlocked. The characters, even small ones with funny little quips of dialogue that you encounter, were friends that I cherished. I absolutely adored existing in Spiritfarer’s beautifully animated, compassionate world so much that it genuinely came to feel like home.” — Hope Corrigan, Freelance Reviewer
“No matter how many hours I spent in Star Renegades, every run, every battle, every turn felt like a new captivating puzzle to solve. In my experience, roguelites lose their luster when the runs start to feel the same no matter how you change things up. Even after playing for dozens of hours and having seen the vast majority of what there is to see, I never lost interest in picking apart each battle to dismantle an opponent for a turn, then another one, and another until the battle is finished. The satisfying feeling of living in the moment and conquering it never gets old.” — Mike Epstein, Freelance Reviewer
“All in all, though, Streets of Rage 4 is an admirable comeback for this long-dormant series. It looks great, sounds great, and plays very well. Even if the experience is relatively short, it’s the sort of game you and your buddies can easily enjoy playing and re-playing. If you’re craving some classic brawling action with a modern edge, these rage-filled streets are calling your name.” — Heidi Kemps, Freelance Reviewer
Streets of Rage 4 is available on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
“Taken all together, Mario 3D All-Stars is a worthwhile collection, featuring the best versions of Mario 64, Sunshine, and Galaxy to appear on a Nintendo system. Although the individual games have been sparingly touched up and there’s little in the way of ancillary material to pore over, the titles themselves hold up well and are a delight to revisit. Despite their age, the games are still rife with inventive ideas and surprises, which more than makes up for the collection’s presentational shortcomings.” — Kevin Knezevic, Associate Editor
Super Mario 3D All-Stars is only available on Nintendo Switch. It”s only available both physically and digitally until March 2021.
“Superliminal is a great puzzle experience, full of smart ideas that are richly realized. The game’s playful use of the first-person camera and clever perspective manipulation puzzles take video game tropes and mechanics most players will be familiar with and wring something truly fresh out of them. Superliminal achieves its clear central aim–it offers up some genuinely fresh perspectives on what first-person puzzle games can do.” — James O’Connor, Freelance Reviewer
“Through the Darkest of Times paints what feels like an accurate portrait of life in Nazi Germany. Cherry-picking major events, like the Reichstag Fire or the opening ceremony of the Olympics, it convincingly places you at the scene, putting you in the shoes of a regular German trying to come to grips with how one person–or even five people–can respond in the presence of evil. It depicts everyday life, and everyday people, both those seduced by ideology and those finding the strength to rally against it. I’m not sure it offers any answers–indeed, I suspect my frustrations with futility were intentional. One person alone can’t change the world. But that’s no reason not to fight for it.” — David Wildgoose, Freelance Reviewer
“Because it nails so much about that original Tony Hawk experience, it’s really hard to be mad at Pro Skater 1 + 2 for any of its downsides. The load times aren’t enough to keep you away from the plethora of satisfying combos, and the lack of level goals for every skater isn’t enough to keep you from jumping back in with a new character. Playing through the newly remade levels is immensely enjoyable, and that on its own is enough to call Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 a success. However, smart additions and an engaging challenge system make it an experience that’s more than just a brief skate through Tony Hawk’s past.” — Mat Paget, Tech Commerce Editor
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is available for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
“Treachery in Beatdown City uses humor skillfully as a tool to deal with contemporary issues with the gig economy, insidious tech company ploys, and obnoxious bigots. It has some lulls and a bit of an abrupt conclusion, but that’s overshadowed by how especially fun the conversations and combat are. The mechanics stand out and push against the standards of the brawler genre, injecting a strong tactics twist that lets you make some freestyle combos in the blink of an eye. In the end it was a short, satisfying playthrough that maintained its action movie aura the entire time. Treachery in Beatdown City is all about fighting, but it shines because at its core it’s about fighting back.” — Funke Joseph, Freelance Reviewer
Also available: PC
“In one poem called “War Photographer” by Carol Ann Duffy, the effects of war are explored through the eyes of a war photographer. He trembles as he recalls his experiences during combat, replaying vivid memories as he develops his pictures in a dark room, his reaction a stark contrast to the apathetic readers that see his pictures on the Sunday papers. Even though readers may be momentarily moved by these images, they were ultimately unable to empathize, having been sheltered from the horrors of war, with reading the news becoming a simple activity to pass time between meals. Umurangi Generation wants to incite its players into taking up a more active role in this fictional crisis–not as a transhuman supersoldier with cybernetic implants, but as a photographer who’s trying to make a living in this hellish, urban landscape. Not only is the game a realization of our anxieties about our current, looming future, it’s also a powerful evocation of the corporatist state that threatens to overrun our lives, and a startling statement of resistance against them. For a game that’s ostensibly about photography, Umurangi Generation achieves so much more.” — Khee Hoon Chan, Freelance Reviewer
“Watch Dogs: Legion is an anti-fascist game, and it’s admirable that it sticks to that message and sees it through to a satisfying and affirming conclusion. It also bolsters the franchise’s clever hacking gameplay to offer more creativity than ever. One of Legion’s more profound messages is about what it means to be a true Londoner, and by the game’s end, you’ll have a DedSec crew made of wildly diverse and disparate citizens from unique cultural, ethnic, and economic backgrounds–all united in their goal to restore their home. If anything, that’s as powerful a message for the game as you can get.” — Alessandro Fillari, Editor
Watch Dogs Legion is available on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC.
“What the Golf was already excellent on PC and mobile, but the Switch version is the definitive one, especially if you have another player handy. It’s still wildly funny, weird, and lots of fun, and if it was just the campaign again, it would still be the best version of the game thanks to the ability to switch between touch and stick controls–but the addition of Party Mode really elevates the whole package. In my original review I said, “Like all great jokes, you’ll want to share it,” and now that’s easier than ever.” — James O’Connor, Freelance Reviewer
“By stripping back XCOM combat to its bare minimum, Chimera Squad is able to make nearly all your choices vital. This isn’t a series of small choices that slowly accumulate into something interesting; it operates more like a one-two punch of big decisions. You don’t spend any time in an encounter here patiently edging forward, stationing your squad on overwatch and wearing down the enemy. Instead, the enemy is right there in your face from the jump, and you’ve got to act now and act decisively. Luckily the Chimera Squad is there to back you up.” — David Wildgoose, Freelance Reviewer
“Although not every aspect of Xenoblade Chronicles has aged as well as others, Definitive Edition proves that Xenoblade Chronicles is still a fantastic JRPG with an immense amount of strategic depth that’s still impressive in 2020. Its bevy of improvements and additions, as well as its fantastic epilogue, make this an adventure worth embarking on a decade later.” — Jacob Dekker, Video Producer
Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition is only available on Nintendo Switch.
“For RGG Studio’s first crack at an RPG, it’s a damn fine result. It delivers what I love most about Yakuza and introduces new ideas that largely pay off. Ichiban isn’t doing it alone, either. He has friends and mentors, ones who’ve helped him fight and overcome personal tragedies. It was an absolute thrill to watch him grow, and that’s what’s most important for a game so focused on its characters. Yakuza: Like a Dragon is a passing of the torch, and a fantastic entry in a beloved franchise that proves that it’s in good hands with Kasuga Ichiban.” — Michael Higham, Associate Editor
Yakuza: Like a Dragon is available on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PS4. The PS5 version is expected to release in March 2021.