The year 2020 is sure one for the record books. We will all remember the turmoil, the hardships and the civics lessons that will no doubt be written for decades to come analyzing the state of our nation. But in regards to the video game landscape it’s actually been a pretty great year overall. Sure we’ve had bumps in the road, from COVID cancelling E3 and all major press events, to cancellations and delays upending the holiday release schedule. But we’ve also had 2 successful console launches, massive successes in services and install bases for things like Game Pass and Nintendo Switch, and of course scores of amazing video games that we should be celebrating now perhaps more than ever.
The fact that we were treated to such incredible masterpieces in the shadow of such a trying year makes me that much more grateful to those people who worked so hard in difficult conditions. Countless developers, artists, producers, PR representatives and more worked uphill just so people like you and I could still enjoy video games in the year 2020. For that I say thank you.
And just like any other year, we here at Mega Dads are capping it off with our individual picks for the best video games of the year. Without any further delay I present to you my list of the top three video games of the year 2020, as well as two special categorical mentions for Best Soundtrack and Best Surprise. Enjoy.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake in all respects took what we loved and remembered fondly of the 1997 original, stripped it down and built it back up to not only meet todays standards, but exceed them. This is just as evident in the games powerful score as anything else in the game. Hearing classic tunes remastered and repurposed in my ears carried a lot of the nostalgia load during my time with FF7R.
There was nothing quite like hearing orchestral renditions of my favorite songs playing exactly where I remembered them being, but also some overtures were cleverly inserted into places they never were to play with the players heart and remind them what is in store for further chapters on the horizon.
Add this to a swelling and powerful ballad to close out the game in “Hollow” composed by series veteran and fan favorite Nobuo Uematsu and performed by Japanese rock star Yosh. Final Fantasy 7 Remake’s soundtrack is simply fantastic from start to finish.
I’ve never played more than five minutes of a Minecraft game before this year, and I certainly had no connection to the property. So it was a huge surprise to me when I found myself completely taken with this dungeon crawling delight. Minecraft Dungeons takes what is otherwise a very unappealing aesthetic to me and somehow makes a visually dazzling isometric trip through jungles, caves, mines and castles as you dispatch wave after wave of baddies with your co-op partners.
By simplifying the formula and making loot finding a constant wave of ways to refresh and break up the experience, Minecraft Dungeons held me in its grips for months. My son and I continually go back to this game thanks to its high deployability and pick-up-and-play mechanics. A true charmer and a heck of a surprise.
GAME OF THE YEAR – THIRD PLACE
I almost didn’t play Ghost of Tsushima. I was coming off of a handful of PlayStation open-world adventure games that had a broad focus on killing and violence and I wasn’t sure I needed another game like that so soon, but I am very glad my curiosity got the better of me. Ghost of Tsushima is not only a top of its class open world game, but it’s the best new IP from PlayStation this generation.
Suck Punch has delivered a game that isn’t as loud or as flashy as many of its counterparts, but instead the brilliance of Ghost is in its quiet intent. The world is soft and quiet with glowing sunsets, flowing creeks, billowing poppies and many many other vistas of reserved atmosphere. The lead character in many ways is a reflection of the world around him, Jin is quiet and intentional. While his actions are brutal and decisive, it is the quiet storm behind those actions that compels you as the player to see where his journey takes him.
Ghost of Tsushima is quite honestly a masterpiece and a breath of fresh air. In a field of games that try to overload your senses with massive set pieces and non-stop thrills, Ghost of Tsushima is intentional in its direction and it excels because of it.
GAME OF THE YEAR – RUNNER-UP
I waited a long time for Final Fantasy VII Remake. When a title is so heavily anticipated, rumored, delayed and secretive there is every reason to think that the game which will emerge won’t be able to overcome expectations and end up underwhelming. Final Fantasy 7 Remake however took every single challenge in its path and obliterated them with the best RPG of the year, one of the best directed games of the year and an absolute powerhouse video game from top to bottom.
What SquareEnix achieved here is nothing short of miraculous in my eyes. They somehow managed to be everything to everyone by offering trips of nostalgia and subverting expectations in equal measure. I won’t spoil the game for you (which is a remarkable sentence for a remake in and of itself) but needless to say if you think you know Final Fantasy 7, you don’t.
Remake absolutely shines in every regard to deliver one of the most memorable gaming experiences in 2020 and an effort which was absolutely worth the wait. In my eyes Game of the Year is a photo finish once again with only one game edging out Final Fantasy 7 Remake for the top spot.
GAME OF THE YEAR
In a field of masterpieces (all of which earned a 5 out of 5 rating here at Mega Dads) it is impossible to escape the fact that nothing tops the masterwork Naughty Dog delivered in The Last of Us Part Two. A game that transcends the medium itself to deliver an experience unlike anything I have ever played before. The Last of Us Part Two is a challenging experience that side-steps the sequel formula and even the framework of traditional video games.
By forcing the player to confront truly uncomfortable and oppressive moments of despair and hatred we bear witness to Ellie, a character we’ve all come to love, transform from a wide eyed and hopeful teenager who wants to save the world, to a young woman consumed by pain and anger who wants to burn the world to the ground. The storytelling and directing in this game simply blows away anything that has come before it. I’ve never felt so many things from one video game before and it is a credit to everyone at Naughty Dog who put their effort into this work of art.
By the end of The Last of Us Part Two my heart felt like it had been pulled from my chest. Director Neil Druckmann said from the outset that this was a story of hatred and this game delivers on that promise. Every action, consequence, reflection and lesson learned in The Last of Us Part Two is derived from the actions of hatred. It is a common truth that we all are blinded by the powerful feeling from time to time, and the story told here is not only one of what happens when that feeling is left unchecked but a story of how love can be the greatest motivator to lose ourselves.
The Last of Us Part Two is quite simply a work of art. An experience that shines a light on how video games are the only medium that can put us in the center of a storm to make us feel things we couldn’t possibly feel any other way. I give it my highest marks and it is undoubtedly the greatest video game of 2020.