COGconnected’s Game of the Year Awards 2020 – Best Game
What a year 2020 was. Unprecedented in a lot of ways, people turned toward video games as a way to escape reality and connect with others. And they had a lot of great options to pick from – 2020 has brought an outstanding variety of games to life. After a lot of discussion, we decided on the ten best of the year. Here they are.
10. Astro’s Playroom
The greatest pack-in tech demo in the history of tech demos, Astro’s Playroom is an absolute joy to play. It handles precisely and has that magic that amazing games sometimes have. It just feels right to play. Sharp control and fun mechanics in gorgeous 4K60 environments. It’s the kind of game that non-gamers can’t put down, and plenty of that is thanks to Astro’s charm. Make no mistake, Astro’s Playroom is just as whimsical and joyful as any Nintendo property. He’s the hero and mascot PlayStation really needs, and we’re salivating at the idea of a full length Astro Bot adventure. It’s also the game that firmly plants the DualSense at the top of the “Most Likely to Change the Industry” list. The combination of the haptic feedback and speaker on the DualSense propels Astro’s Playroom into jaw dropper territory, doing things that literally can’t be done on any other platform. Still, it’s a scant few hours long. As good as those hours are, that brevity means Astro’s Playroom is our 10th best game of 2020.
9. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Animal Crossing couldn’t have released at a more perfect time. As people worldwide were being locked down, the hero we needed and world’s most eligible bachelor was there to save us. He promised an island paradise full of discovery, adventure, and friendship, and the gaming world responded with a collective hell yeah. Catching bugs and chopping down trees were perfect diversions, and even while Nook Industries handed us ever escalating invoices, we gobbled it up. For many, it was a hot and heavy relationship that flamed out after a month or two. In other cases, folks that fell off the video game bandwagon years prior rediscovered a hobby they didn’t know they’d missed. Sure, there’s a lot of repetitive content and mechanics from prior games, but New Horizons is as addictive as Animal Crossing has ever been.
8. Doom Eternal
Following up on the Doom reboot could have been as easy as “more of that.” Why not? After all, Doom was our game of the year in 2016. Instead, iD took the first game as more of an experiment and blessed us with Doom Eternal. It replaced the tight corridor shooting with massive, open arenas and gameplay that requires mastery of multiple mechanics. Chaining double jumps, dashes, Blood Punches, and Chainsaw attacks feels incredible, and it all happens at a barely comprehensible speed. The fantastic art design and outstanding performance on all platforms remained, but balanced every moment on the edge of a BFG. Doom Guy was in a constant dance, narrowly avoiding death while laying waste to everything in sight. It’s a white knuckle thrill ride you’re in complete control of, and also first person nirvana.
7. Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Spider-Man 2018 is a tough act to follow, and Miles Morales managed to do just that. It’s the perfect sequel because it doesn’t feel like a compromised experience. Instead, we got a completely unique thrill ride that solidifies Miles as not only a great hero, but the star of his own franchise under the broader Spider-Man umbrella. It’s a personal story with larger implications, and Insomniac did an outstanding job balancing the two sides of the coin here. We really cared about Miles, and Ganke, and Phin, and absolutely loved the focus on what made each person special. It’s a fantastic and heart-warming tale. Mechanically, the best-in-the-business traversal and outstanding Arkham-eque combat remained, but tweaked things to focus more on Miles’ unique characteristics. You won’t ever mistake Miles for Peter Parker thanks to comic-perfect animation and design choices, and your eyeballs might actually pop when looking at the PS5 version thanks to excellent ray tracing implementation. We still find ourselves popping in for a few minutes here and there, just to swing from A to B. It’s a phenomenal superhero achievement, and good enough for a strong #7 finish on this list.
6. Kentucky Route Zero
Released episodically, Kentucky Route Zero was an event seven years in the making. Now that it’s complete, we finally felt ready to pass judgment on it. And it’s a magnificent accomplishment. The tiny team at Cardboard Computer created one of the most confusing, inspiring, and thought provoking adventures we’ve ever seen, where choices do and don’t matter, and it really is about the journey. It’s a story that everyone can take something away from, and a different something at that. No fetch quests, no items to collect and combine, just excellent characters and situations that challenge players to think critically about what’s happening moment to moment. Will you take away an anti-establishment narrative? Or perhaps a sense of mindfulness about your own state of being? It’s entirely up to you in Kentucky Route Zero: by our reckoning, the best adventure game in a long time, and the 6th best game of 2020.
Ready for our top 5? Head to page 2 for the rest of the list!