It’s that time of the year again, folks. Time for pitchforks to be raised, ranting to be had and rage to be unleashed. That’s right, it’s ‘Game of the Year’ season. Now I am not going to sit here and say that your GOTY is wrong, or that the official awards that went down the other day were bad – that would be unbecoming of someone as respectable as myself. What I will say is that my list is obviously better from a subjectively objective point of view, and I will die on that hill. Well, maybe not die – that’s a tad excessive.
Now I won’t be going into individual awards like the best soundtrack or whatever because nobody really cares about that. I know what I was there for, you know what you were there for, and I am going to give you what you desire most – the definitive Game of the Year. So let’s get cracking, shall we?
Who’s In The Running, Toasty?
Because there can only be one winner, I thought it would be wise to give you a rundown of which games are actually being considered. I haven’t played every game that was released this year, and I tend to focus on Switch titles, so this means I won’t be able to consider everything. That being said, I have played practically all the big releases on all the consoles (even if I don’t cover them), so rest assured, this will be quite extensive and based on my totally unbiased opinion…
A Short Hike
Look, I know what you’re thinking. You think that I’m mad. You’re in a tissy pondering: “A piddly little indie game that costs less than a coffee being dragged into a fistfight with the as-of-yet unrevealed titans of gaming? What a douche!” Well, let me tell you something sonny Jim, this game was pretty fricken awesome. It’s a 2-hour experience that manages to pack buckets of charm, fun, adventure and emotion. I picked it up, played till the credits rolled, looked at Brioche and we both agreed that this was easily one of the best experiences we had this year. Pop that spice in your pipe and smoke it.
This is more like it! DOOM mother-flapping Eternal. Like the mad lad it is, it went toe-to-toe with the monstrously successful Animal Crossing and held its own like a champ. This beast took everything that made DOOM (2016) great, somehow dialled that bad boy beyond 11 and delivered an experience that shook me to my core. The gore, the carnage, the over-the-topness and the creative freedom given to you is unparalleled in the genre. I am willing to lay down my chips and say it’s the best FPS to come out in the last 10 years. Maybe more. Maybe ever. Even the bloody Switch port is amazing for crying out loud.
Animal Crossing New Horizons
What can I say about this game that sales numbers and 9 months of cheering fans haven’t already said? No matter what tier of gamer you are, you have either heard of, or played, New Horizons. This monster of a game has stolen hundreds – if not thousands – of hours of peoples lives, and probably kept millions of people sane during the global pandemic we are currently living through. I have sunk over 300 hours into the bugger, which considering my damn profession, is a lot of time I could have spent reviewing other games – I just didn’t want to. To this day I am still popping on, checking my shops, conspiring to kick Pietro off my island and making tweaks to my layout. This is the ultimate feel-good time sink, and despite a few niggling ‘quality of life’ issues, is a corker the likes of which we may never see again.
This one surprised me, even. I wrote this on my ‘contender for potential GOTY’ list when it came out and assumed I would cross it off before the year came to an end. I was wrong. Carrion, like A Short Hike, is a game that is wonderfully brief but filled to the brim with brilliance. It’s a beautifully grotesque amalgamation of style, animation, puzzle and horror that left me completely satisfied. At no point did I feel like I was bored, or that the game was overstaying its welcome. When it ended, I too felt like the game should end. Masterful work and absolutely worth playing.
One Step From Eden
I am going to assume most of you haven’t even heard of this game – which is a bloody shame because it’s fantastic. If you have been around the Toaster for even a little while you will know I am a sucker for both Mega Man and Roguelikes. Thomas Moon Kang obviously made this game for me, as this is a fantastic blend of Mega Man Battle Network and Slay The Spire. Packing more content than I ever thought possible for a game this strangely unique, with gameplay and visuals to match. One Step From Eden made it to my list day one and stayed at the number one spot for a period of time I refuse to specify. If you haven’t played this one yet, you absolutely need to check it out.
Ghost of Tsushima
Ghost of Tsushima took me by surprise. I am not a massive fan of sprawling open-world games in general, so when I saw Sucker Punch’s samurai epic I wasn’t overly compelled to pick it up . Then, one night, I got bored and compulsively bought it to see what all the fuss was about. Slap my cheeks and call me Sally – Ghost of Tsushima is magnificent. I mean let’s just talk about those face-melting visuals and the utterly stunning representation of Japan for a moment. Jiminy Christmas, I didn’t think a game’s world could hook me so hard with visuals alone. Where the game truly shines though, is when steel has been drawn. Combat in Ghost is a beautiful dance of death that manages to balance difficulty, ease of access and depth almost perfectly. Like every other game on this list, you have to give this one a gander.
Supergiant Games have a history of releasing near-perfect experiences. I am talking about Bastion, Transistor and Pyre – royalty Indies that threaten to redefine what an Indie should be. Hades is their latest title and, for me, it’s their best game yet. Screw ‘near-perfect’, Hades is a 10/10 experience. 100%. 5 Stars. Every single facet of this game has been polished to a mirror sheen. This is a roguelike that manages to capture not only that “one more run” mentality, but also hook your heart and soul with a world full of characters whose stories are worth experiencing. What more can I say really.
Final Fantasy VII Remake
If you were born in, or before, the nineties, then Final Fantasy VII was probably the first JRPG you played and probably holds a special place in your heart as a result. I have played the original more times then I can count. Heck, I still own the original copy that I bought when I was 6, and have exclusively played the game on those disks. Remake had a lot to live up to. It’s been hotly anticipated since the PS3-era, and when it finally arrived, I gobbled that bastard up like a goby on a maggot. Graphically stunning, emotionally touching and nostalgic as all hell, Remake was everything I wanted it to be and more.
The Last Of Us Part 2
It would be foolish of me not to address the elephant in the room – The Last Of Us Part 2, otherwise known as the winner of this year’s Game Awards. It’s a quality game with production values up the wazoo and a story and plot that has clearly captured the hearts and minds of many. For me though, it didn’t hook me like the rest of the games on this list. I like it, it’s good, but it isn’t GOTY material for this slice of Toast. Which means…
…The Winner Is…
Within the first few hours, I knew. I just knew. It usurped One Step From Eden, my previous top spot, almost immediately. Simple as that really. Every other game on this list I have negative things I could say. DOOM Eternal is exhausting, Final Fantasy VII Remake has too much filler, Animal Crossing is littered with awful game design etc. etc. But Hades? Nah, Hades is the real deal. A stellar achievement from a developer who has a history of creating the sublime. Supergiant Games are not only masters of their craft, but they are also industry darlings that defy traditional industry conventions.
Sound off in the comments below as to what your GOTY was for 2020. I am sure everyone has a different pick. Obviously, mine is objectively correct, but you can rebel if you really feel the need.
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