Following on from our countdown of the Top 10 Best Games of 2020
here’s a look at the honourable mentions -- games that didn’t make the final list but reinforce just how great 2020 was for games. And not, you know, everything else. From long-awaited sequels to high-end remakes, to riffs on classic design to even a VR stealth-action game, here’s more goodness well worth checking out. These also don’t appear in any specific order, they’re just the 10 that fell achingly, millimetre short.
The Last of Us Part II
Yep, this won numerous Game of the Year awards -- something a particular group of people have passionately reminded us about, but please note our annual list is still the 20 best games of the year, with the Top 10 Best being a subjective list based on a few parameters. But all the way, The Last of Us Part II
was in close contention to break into that final 10. Stunning and brutal in equal measure, and with a cast of characters forever memorable, TLouPII gave us an emotional rollercoaster across character arcs and even history versus the game’s main timeline setting. Still absolutely worth your time and money.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon
Reimagined as a traditional JRPG, Yakuza: Like a Dragon
excels in just how expertly and surprisingly it marries classic concepts and design choices with the long-running series’ focus on crime stories and wacky mini-games. What elevates it all though is the sheer infectious charm of protagonist Ichiban Kasuga
, who lives his life in a way that’s befitting a Hero -- no matter whether that’s helping an old lady cross the street or a dominatrix find her match.
Immortals: Fenyx Rising
No doubt the Breath of the Wild comparison will follow Immortals: Fenyx Rising no matter where it goes, but if you’re going to model an experience after something, well, there’s nothing quite like The Legend of Zelda. And as far as Zelda-likes go this is great. Immortals: Fenyx Rising
is a wonderful adventure through Greek myth and legend, bolstered by a lighthearted tone and stunning painterly visuals. And getting to see some veteran Assassin’s Creed developers drop their history books for those of pages filled with gods and monsters is a treat. Plus, the ability-based combat is brilliant.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
’s elevation to the narrative lead in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
was a stroke of genius. The team’s “love-letter” as they explained to us, to Black Ops, delivered on that promise and more. While multiplayer remains largely an unchanged experience, newer Zombies
jaunts and hidden Activision
arcade cabinets and Atari
classics like River Raid
threw nostalgia into the machine and gave the overall experience one that feels like few games in one. But the real winner here was Raven’s narrative and their pacing of it. Easily the best Call of Duty story since at least Modern Warfare, and in our eyes, actually better.
Phantom: Covert Ops
Released exclusively for the Oculus Rift
and Oculus Quest VR
platforms, Phantom: Covert Ops
has one of those premises that defies logic. Set in the 1990s, you play a covert agent infiltrating an ex-Soviet
installation to stop World War III
… on a kayak. As a VR action-stealth game though, the premise is genius. Sitting down in the real world means intuitive and responsive kayak-movement blended with the sort of spectacle that is reminiscent of Goldeneye 007
, Metal Gear Solid
, and Call of Duty
Raji: An Ancient Epic Tale
We missed this one for review, but having played it post-release, it simply shouted from the Hindu
temple rooftops with a chorus of art, pacing, simple-yet-rewarding combat and a story unlike so many other games. From the puppet-show story cut-scenes to the grandeur of the game's gorgeous fixed-camera game-world, Raji: An Ancient Epic
tale simply delivers and delivers. Reminiscent of the brilliant Stela
, but stooped in known mythology truncated through believable characters, this was a standout Indie for us, and one you should have on your radar if you don't already.
Super Mario 3D All-Stars
Celebrating 35 years of Mario
put together perhaps one of the most sought after collections in recent years -- with Super Mario 3D All-Stars
bringing remastered versions of Super Mario 64
), Super Mario Sunshine
), and Super Mario Galaxy
) together in a single celebratory package. Even though the remaster effort is mostly “let’s get them to run on the Nintendo Switch
” that doesn’t detract from the fact that all three still play remarkably well. It also gives us hope for a handful of other ‘Best of Ninty’ collections we all desperately want *cough* Samus
is hardcore tactical stealth set in the Old West, and one that also features an engaging story. In the age of turn-based tactics, getting to experience a real-time depiction of intricate open-ended puzzle-like combat scenarios felt like a breath of fresh air. Not for the faint of heart, it definitely lives up to its ‘hardcore’ descriptor, Desperados rewards patience, perseverance, and experimentation.
Locally made by ex-Gamespot
alum, Daniel Hindes
is his love-letter to stealth games. Running a syndicate of deep-dives into the world of stealth games under the moniker Sneaky Bastards
, Hindes and co have crafted a transmedia world dedicated to the art of stealth, culminating in Wildfire (now available on console as well). Charming from a pixel-art perspective, 2D in delivery, but surprisingly deep in its systems, the game is challenging and large in scope. If it’s not for all of the above, which coalesces brilliantly, check it out anyway to support local game development -- you won’t be disappointed.
Final Fantasy VII Remake
A built from the ground-up remake of one of the most beloved games of all time. From characters to story to music to even the way the turn-based battles led to some truly epic boss encounters, Final Fantasy VII
is easily the most recognisable entry in one of the most recognisable franchises. But remaking a game from the original PlayStation
, with real-time visuals that eclipse any and all 1990s FMV, is something of a work-in-progress -- with the Final Fantasy VII Remake
we got last year presenting the first Chapter in what is set to be an epic retelling of a fan and cultural favourite.
Phew. And another year done. Thanks for all your support, for the support of publishers and developers and everyone else who makes the media machine still fun, engaging and accessible to the likes of even independent sites like ours. Without you, we wouldn’t have Liam Neeson reasons to make lists
. We just like making lists.
Here’s to 2021 and beyond, and please stay safe, wherever you are.
-- The AusGamers Team