Well here we are, at the end of a challenging year – but one in which video games became something of a lifeline for people stuck at home while the new coronavirus ravaged the world. The Most Agreeable team has picked a few of their favourite games of the year, and as ever it’s an eclectic list from a team with eclectic tastes: we present them below in alphabetical order for your delectation. Let us know your standout games from 2020 in the comments!
Baldur’s Gate III (early access)
James: Yes, it’s only in early access, but it’s already really good! So far I’ve sunk over 20 hours into it, and I’ve very much enjoyed myself. A fresh entry into the Baldur’s Gate series has long been anticipated, and I’m very glad it’s shaping up as well as it is.
Although you can reasonably question whether it’s closely related enough to the previous games to merit its sequel status (at least at this stage), there’s no denying Larian Studios is doing its utmost to live up to the franchise’s reputation. They’ve brought their own style to BG3, but they’ve also brought a proper appreciation for the source material; both the earlier games and the Dungeons & Dragons world they’re based on. It looks great, the writing and voice acting is terrific, and I feel they’re on the right track with the gameplay and quality of life improvements they’ve already introduced. I look forward to seeing more of it as we move through 2021.
Crusader Kings III
James: Crusader Kings III is all about family. Happy families, sad families, angry families and families you have to kill, murder or imprison in order to expand your kingdom.
You’re in charge of a single noble dynasty. The character you actually play moves down the family tree as the generations pass. I am currently playing as the great-grandson of the character I started as. As well as keeping your family strong, you’ll still need to manage the needs of your kingdom and your squabbling vassals. Paradox Interactive do a fine line of deep, expansive strategy games (Stellaris, Europa Universalis, Hearts of Iron), and they’ve made great strides in making them easier to get into. Crusader Kings III is one of their best – a wonderful, time-evaporating experience. The perfect game for our times!
Abhik: I’ve been waiting for this game for ages. The 2016 game was about bringing Doom to the new age, and I was blown away by what they did. id Software delivers polish, and they didn’t disappoint with Doom Eternal. It took fast-paced, first-person arena action and turned it into an exhilarating combat puzzle. The new mechanics also add a lot of depth to the gameplay flow. It did feel a tad bit lengthier than it should have been, but I find myself coming back to some of the Master levels every now and then.
Abhik: Dunno if it exactly counts as a 2020 release, because it’s been in early access for almost 8 years, but Factorio finally got fully released this August – and I’ve already spent way too many sleepless nights perfecting my factories and trying out new mods. Steam nominated this game for the ‘Haunts My Dreams’ award, and I can’t think of a more fitting category for it. I recommend this to anyone who likes games about resource management and optimization. Or just about anyone at all really, because I had no idea I would love this game so much until I tried it. Also, the community is really helpful and active, so you’ll have a fine time just lurking around forums, looking at other people’s creations and ideas.
Ghost of Tsushima
Lewis: When I was thinking of which games to put on this list, I decided to focus on the games that made a strong impression on me in 2020 – ones that I’ve kept thinking about long after I’ve finished them – rather than necessarily the games that are ‘objectively’ worthy or stunningly original. And Ghost of Tsushima had me entranced for weeks, if not months.
There is nothing really new here, per se. If this game was released as ‘Assassin’s Creed: Japan‘, no one would have questioned it. But it weaves an affecting tale of samurai honour and strife in feudal Japan, and the game world is so beautifully realised that simply galloping across it is a joy. Ghost of Tsushima is a place I lived in for a while, and it’s a place I want to go back to.
Abhik: How can I not? I’m such a huge fan of Supergiant Games: I’ve played every title they’ve released, and it’s so cool to see Hades grow into an extremely well-polished rogue-like that’s so fun to pop in and out of. It’s definitely worth the price, and an important addition to anyone’s library.
In Other Waters (review)
Lewis: The brilliant conceit of In Other Waters is that you can’t actually see the bizarre alien life you’re tasked with cataloguing. As an AI in a diving suit, you can direct the scientist you are enveloping towards fauna and flora, but your only images of the things you discover are the ones you conjure in your mind from the detailed written descriptions she provides. And imagination has the best graphics.
Eventually, if you collect enough data, Dr Ellery Vas will make a sketch of the things you’ve been collecting, and it’s fun to compare the images in your mind with her detailed line drawings. Sometimes the two were close; other times, my mind camera varied enormously from the pencilled reality. But what a fascinating place to explore, and a fascinating way to do it.
Lair of the Clockwork God (review)
Lewis: Lair of the Clockwork God is one of the funniest games I’ve ever played. There is a brilliant, deadpan rapport between the lead characters Ben and Dan, based on the real-life developers Ben Ward and Dan Marshall, and their easygoing back and forth banter reflects the lifelong friendship of the creators. Also, there’s a wanking booth.
But the standout moments of the game are unfortunately the very things I can’t talk about, for fear of spoiling it for everyone else. I wish I could wipe my mind to go back to experience one twist in particular for the first time again: a gag that paid off brilliantly after literally hours of set up. Go and play this game and experience it for yourself.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Abhik: I’m sure anyone who’s played this game has had a blast. The whole art style is just so beautiful, and every boss encounter feels uniquely significant in the way they’re staged and composed. Brilliant platforming fun, and a stunner in terms of look and feel. I’m not forgetting this any time soon.
The Procession to Calvary (review)
Lewis: What a fantastic idea for a game. Developer Joe Richardson has taken Renaissance paintings and cut them up to make a genuinely hilarious, Monty Python-style point and click adventure, with many of the gags tied to the bizarreness of the original paintings. You have never seen so many tiny, weird lions in one game before. And the trickster Jesus was a particularly amusing highlight.
Welcome to Elk (review)
Lewis: If there’s one game that has really stuck in my mind the most in 2020, it’s Welcome to Elk. The game is essentially a collection of real-life stories, some funny and others shocking, all presented with a beautiful cartoon aesthetic and a sensibility close to the cult TV series Northern Exposure. And it’s not afraid to break the fourth wall at times, either. Truly a fascinating game.
Wide Ocean Big Jacket (review)
Abhik: An absolute gem of an indie title. It’s such a wholesome, well-written short story, and it made me think a lot about what I expect from a game. It turns out that engaging narratives can be more immersive than flashy graphics.
Worms Rumble (preview)
James: Worms Rumble is the latest entry in Team17’s long-running Worms franchise, and it’s great fun. As I mentioned in my preview of the game, I was sceptical of the concept when I first heard it. A deathmatch/battle royale spin-off of the famous turn-based series just sounded like a mis-step. However, I was completely wrong, and I had a good time being proved incorrect. There isn’t a huge amount of depth to it, but who needs depth when you’ve got a jetpack and a rocket launcher? If you’re looking for a bright and enjoyable game that you can drop in and have a quick blast on, then Worms Rumble is an excellent option.
Yes, Your Grace (review)
Lewis: A game about a leader struggling to keep control while everything goes to hell around him is possibly the perfect parable for 2020. Yes, Your Grace is a great analysis of the impossible decisions that those in charge have to make on a daily basis, as well as their unforeseen consequences, but it’s also a rather touching tale about family bonds – and the things that are truly important.