As we look back on 2020, it’s pretty clear that it’s going to go down in history as one of the worst years we’ve gone through as a generation so far. And in a year as frightening, bizarre, and uncertain as 2020, games easily become a refuge for many – be they seasoned gamers or first-time players that first got the opportunity to pick up a controller as a way to escape their lockdown blues. It’s a relief then, that the gaming industry was able to pull through and provide us some of the best pandemic entertainment then.
From relaxing in virtual islands, to traveling back to medieval Japan, to swinging through New York, and even going to literally hell to hunt down demons, 2020 was a banner year for excellent games, and here’s the cream of the crop for all you beloved button mashers:
Easily the star of the lockdown, Nintendo’s newest entry in its social simulator came at just the right time last year, providing a well-needed reprieve from the craziness and uncertainty outside as it gave us escape in the form of an island we can decorate and design for ourselves.
Providing an outlet for millions of players’ creativity, Animal Crossing birthed a thousand memes, gave socially distanced friends a place to hang out, and gave many bored people with cabin syndrome something fun to do. The absence of noise and any distractions in this kind of game is soothing and safe, which is something we all needed last year. For that, it’ll be remembered fondly.
It’s not too late to start your own island life, so head on over to BestBuy here for your own copy.
While Animal Crossing gave its players a soothing experience, that sentiment simply isn’t shared by everyone. Sometimes, people just want to shoot things, and you can’t exactly do that in Nintendo’s life-sim. Thankfully, Doom Eternal offers just that, and only that.
Released around the same time as the game above, Doom Eternal is Bethesda’s follow-up to the excellent Doom 2016 game, and puts you back in the shoes of the Doom Slayer, a silent protagonist that lets his guns and fists do all the talking, which is fine by us. There’s now more of a narrative here compared to the 2016 title, although what we really came here for is the nonstop action and brutal gameplay combined with smart level design and polished mechanics. It’s tough, but your Doom Slayer fists are much tougher.
Violent and loud, Doom Eternal will have you slicing and dicing demons while the best musical gaming score of 2020 provides more immersion and atmosphere, stopping only for a quick breather before you go out and show demons what hell is really like… okay, maybe that’s a bit too much. But it really is that excellent!
See for yourself and show them just how badass you are by grabbing a copy from BestBuy here.
Looking back at 2020, it’s such a shame that Dreams was quickly forgotten because it’s easily one of the best releases last year. The tougher question, however, is which game within Dreams can be a contender against 2020’s best.
A playground for game makers, Media Molecule’s Dreams liberates the closed-off world of game development and instead provides a fun and accessible way for gamers to literally make all their dreams come true.
Filled with inventive and innovative indie titles, a quick browse or “dream surf” in Dreams’ ever-expanding category will give you fan-made games of Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog, a recreation of the P.T. Silent Hills demo, an interactive animated music video, actual original music, short animated films, and so much more. You can really craft anything you want in Dreams, and your imagination is the limit.
A living breathing network of gamers and dreamers, Dreams is a prime example of how much people can achieve if given the right resources. So start your own by getting the game from BestBuy here.
Much-anticipated and long-awaited, Ori and the Will of the Wisps does what a good sequel should, which of course, is built upon the original to create a world that is more complex and nuanced, without leaving behind what made the first game so good.
Still featuring the same gorgeous art and fluid-like mechanics, Ori and the Will of the Wisps follow Ori as the baby owl you raised in the first game gets captured, and it’s now up to you as the player to traverse landscapes and solve little puzzles to help save the day. Demanding creativity, a lot of patience, and a mastery of the mechanics, Will of the Wisps is easily one of the best platformers released ever, and it’s one that will break your heart but also help put it back together.
Start your journey by getting a copy from BestBuy here.
In a year where blockbuster hits like Final Fantasy VII Remake and Animal Crossing: New Horizons is released, it seems like Sucker Punch’s GoT didn’t stand a chance, and yet it did, in all its medieval Japanese glory.
Presenting an incredibly polished and precise action-RPG combat, the game accommodates for different playstyles, whether you will stick to your samurai code and face crowds head-on or utilize stealth in order to weave in and out like a ghost. Either way, timely dodges and blocking are your best friends in this Kurosawa-esque world, where your huge toolkit of skills can be used in any way you want.
Beyond the fluid gameplay, the world is just drop-dead gorgeous and dripping with style and character at every turn, whether it’s a long winding road dotted with Cherry Blossoms or a hidden shrine that a fox led you to. And now that Sucker Punch added the free online multiplayer, there’s now more reason to polish your sword, hop onto your horse, and craft your history.
Step into medieval Japan and live out your samurai dreams by getting a copy from BestBuy here.
Last on the list is a game that no one expected but ended up loving for so many reasons. The only indie game on our list, Hades is easily the highest peak of the sub-genre of games called “Rogue-like.”
Traditionally, the sub-genre focuses on procedurally-generated levels and enemies where you go back to the start after you die and lose all your weapons. What developer Super Giant Games did, is tie it all to a narrative that evolves the longer you play the more you die. Add some amazing voice acting, familiar characters from Greek mythos, beautiful visuals, and adaptive gameplay and you have yourself an irresistible title that is so easy to fall in love with.
In Hades, every failure is its own reward, managing to reinvent how a story can be told via a game where the main draw is to play it over and over and over again. Simply perfect.
Get yourself a copy and start your journey in Hell from BestBuy here.