Sure, 2020 is all sorts of terrible. It feels like we’ve had an entire decade of historic events and upheavals compressed in the space of twelve months. A global pandemic, protests, anti-maskers, an endless quarantine that kept us from seeing our friends and family face-to-face – we’d be lying if we can say that this year hasn’t been overwhelming.
While I’ve seen my friends deal with this strange year by baking bread, or upping their cooking game, or working out like never before, I found myself losing access to my one of my constant comfort activites – running. Sure, I’ve seen people running in the nearby park, but I don’t want to risk it.
Surprisingly, with a year spent mostly indoors, I found myself with less free time than I would have liked. So I never got around to the backlog deep dive the way I wanted. So here are 5 of my favorite games that I’ve played this year. Some of these games have not been released this year – these are just the games that helped me through the trash fire that was 2020.
No, I don’t have Animal Crossing: New Horizons, so don’t ask me what I thought of that.
Anyway, here’s the list:
This year, while I’m overwhelmed by stress from all sorts of directions, I just wanted something simple. I just want to play something familiar. Something that I don’t have to stress over, and something that I’ve been playing for decades that I can just be on auto-pilot. And Tetris 99 fills that void. I’ve been playing Tetris since I was a kid, thanks to the proliferation of those cheap “brick game” knock-offs that everyone had, and of course the brief few years I’ve had a working Game Boy.
Given this experience, am I good at Tetris? Hell no.
I’m not a good SINGLE PLAYER Tetris player, and I can’t even break into the top 10. The lobbies I end up seem to be full of exceptionally good players but it doesn’t matter. I just go for one more round, and go into autopilot again as I try to clear one more line.
I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m not a Monster Hunter fan. I put in a few hours into Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, but it didn’t really gel with me and I don’t like to find common free time with my equally busy friends to carry me through the beginner stages.
So while I wait to drop money on the upcoming Monster Hunter Rise, hoping that it’ll be more streamlined for people like me (ie overwhelmed by the game’s myriad systems), I’m putting in more time than I wanted into Dauntless. Monster Hunter vets may scoff at this simplicity, but I like spending very little time hunting down them monsters. I’d rather spend more time being flung in the air by the same monsters, thanks.
If you want to add me up and join me in hunting down monsters, here’s my friend code. Add me up!
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is still my favorite Nintendo Switch game, hands down. This is the game that got me back into gaming, and I’ve never lost an entire week to a game the way BoTW did for me. There’s something about the exploration and discovery that makes this game so, so, special. So as we all wait with bated breath (heh) for the sequel that Nintendo’s been working on, I’m spending time with the BoTW’s dumber prequel, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity.
I’ve avoided musou games for the longest time because I thought that the entire thing is dumb – mash the light and heavy attack buttons and watch as an entire crowd of enemies fly off in the air and you move on to the next objective. But I love The Legend of Zelda so much that I decided to buy Age of Calamity the day it came out, musou gameplay be damned.
And you know what? I love it. I never realized how relaxing it can be to clear an entire battlefield with your ridiculously overpowered warriors. It’s the perfect game when I need to turn off my brain to keep anxiety from overwhelming me.
Do I enjoy Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity? Yes.
Will I buy more musou titles? Probably no, sorry. The Zelda trappings are a huge reason why I’m playing this game. I don’t think I’ll be able to enjoy this genre if I try playing any of the main Dynasty Warriors titles.
Ah, yes. Dark Souls. Dark Souls, Dark Souls, Dark Souls. If you’ve been around any gaming conversation over the last few years, you’d know what Dark Souls is, and you’d know the entire discourse around that game and the “souls-like/soulsborne” genre.
Ashen is like Dark Souls, but less obtuse. It’s also friendlier, with a massively simplified battle system that eases dumbass gamers like me into the rhythm of its fighting, so I can squeeze out a well-earned victory against the game’s moderately tough bosses. It’s been fun, and while I’m still 3/4ths into the main story, I can find myself planning and dedicating an entire day so I can finally beat it.
One of the earliest games I’ve reviewed on this blog is Supergiant’s Bastion. Little did I know that my brief time playing that on the iPad would lead me into a lifelong Supergiant fan, one who’s excited to get their hands on their every game the moment I can. I’ve played through Bastion multiple times, and Transistor has been an emotional journey that I want to play it all over again. While I’ve yet to play Pyre, I made up for it by losing myself into their latest, the roguelite isometric hack and slash Hades.
You know I love roguelites. While some of the other titles in the recent deluge of releases in this genre tend to be samey and boring, Hades just rises above every other game by carrying the signature Supergiant touch – great gameplay, great art direction, writing that fleshes out all of the characters and make them feel more real than most full 3D characters from AAA titles, and S-tier voice acting. And this being a roguelite, you’ll find yourself dying over and over. But unlike other roguelites, the story actually progresses when you die, so it doesn’t feel like an entire waste of time.
Now that we’re stuck indoors for the majority of 2020, and probably a little more this year, a game that lets us grow stronger after every defeat, and lets us fight through insurmountable odds to escape a literal hellscape might feela little too close to home, but Hades sure does make our current hopeless situation so cathartic.
What are your top games this year? Tell me all about it in the comments below!