May 28, 2022

ABG’s Game Of The Year 2020 – The Nominations

And the Winner is…

Mayron Lahmany – Editor

1. Final Fantasy VII Remake

This is a big one. I recently saw one of my Facebook memories from 2015 in which a friend tagged me in a trailer for this game. In a comment I wrote, “Looks really good. Will probably only come out at 2020”.

I enjoyed this game so much. For me, this is a clear winner because it’s not just a touch-up on graphics; it’s trying to do what the original did, and define a generation. It might take a little more time with the whole segmented release and such, but it’s to be expected these days! Everything’s bigger and it’s harder to make an impact.

The gameplay is modernised in a beautiful way, the music is as good as ever, and the story is fresh even for those who know every line of dialogue of the original. This really makes one want the next part to arrive, in order for us to see what’s to come. This game ignited something inside of me, made me excited like a kid about a video game again. I really think it achieved way more than I thought it would, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for this series with the second instalment.

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2. Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory

Another rhythm game, I know. I’m sorry. Still, this one is very special.

This series just finished it’s first major arc, spanning 18 years and 10 games. The music from this game is nothing less than iconic at this point, at the very least for its player base. It’s the first rhythm game I feel like I can play blindfolded from the get-go because I know these songs so well. All that’s left for me is to learn the in-game patterns.

There are a few shortcomings in terms of the selection of songs on offer, but that’s to be expected in such a large series. Could always hope for some sweet DLC. I honestly think they should wrap each arc up with a rhythm game. It’s so refreshing for this series and so fitting as even before this game, I couldn’t get enough of its music.

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3. Sayonara Wild Hearts

First off, anything published by Annapurna deserves a lot of love, because it’s so evident that so much love is put into these games. Other than that, this game has so much to teach other game developers.

It’s super stylish. The art is amazing. The story-telling is minimalistic yet impactful and relateable, letting each player interpret it however they want. And the music, which is the core feature of this game, is truly something else.

I keep going back to this game. I haven’t 100% it but I just hop in for a few songs every now and then because it’s just that good. Every time I take something else from it, and every time the gameplay and music is fun to experience.

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Mamma S – Editor

1. Cyberpunk 2077

I ignored the hype and I’m glad I did. This game has real, raw potential. Plus it includes studded dildos! What’s not to like?! ?

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2. Spiritfarer

Beautifully designed management game with a gripping story-line. I feel that this game is highly underrated for the sheer quality and gameplay it has.

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3. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout

Simple, yet such fun. Why no-one thought of a game like this before is beyond me. Would love to actually play this game in real life.

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Olly Southern – Editor

1. The Last of Us Part II

I love all of the references to modern issues that, in my opinion, more games would benefit from. Stuff um full of LGBT+, I say. All hail Neil Druckmann. Just kidding…

I genuinely think it’s the best narrative-driven story I’ve ever experienced. The way the story divides between Abi and Ellie is masterful. The way it toys with your emotion is brutal but expertly done. In my opinion, this is a demonstration of how gaming can be elevated to a higher form of entertainment, on par with some of the best films I have ever seen. And it looks absolutely fucking beautiful throughout. Fuck the haters, this is my clear winner by a county mile.

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2. Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla

I’m now roughly ~40 hours in and going strong. It’s just pure, unfiltered fun, running around the British countryside duel wielding Viking axes. Pure, unadulterated escapism.

Whilst nothing particularly new, but in my opinion, this game takes the well-trodden formula of Origins and Odyssey and more or less perfects it. You can wait for my review for the full detail, but I’ve easily got another 40 hours in me, if not more. Can’t say that for a lot of games these days.

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3. Call Of Duty: Black Ops Cold War

Honestly the best COD I’ve played in years. Stripped back to its foundations, this is the game I fell in love with as a kid. At its core, it still delivers on the high-octane, KD-coveting adrenaline assault it promises. The bar has been re-set back to the days of OG Black Ops and promises to keep me hooked and my multiplayer itch scratched until they fuck it all up next year.

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Jason Wotherspoon – Editor

1. Hades

There are some great characters and development in Supergiant’s newest game, and seeing how this changed kept me invested between runs. The fighting was good and each new boon allowed you a new way to play the game. You always felt like you were progressing even if you had a poor run because you could buy more upgrades or continue a story. I’m not a big fan of Diablo-style combat games, but Hades is a game that even I can say is one of the best this year.

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2. Paper Mario – The Origami King

Beautiful visuals and soundtrack along with some surprisingly deep character moments make this a contender for game of the year. Although the battle system falters, the exploration, collectables and how you interact with the world more than makeup for this. It provides a charming and fun experience that I’d recommend to any fan of Mario or Mario-type games.

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3. DOOM ETERNAL

Every so often you just need some mindless violence and DOOM ETERNAL had that in spades. A great balance between health, shields and ammo that forced you to think and play at a fast pace. The “story” was more an excuse to get to different locations, but I didn’t mind as it kept the guns and gameplay coming. Rip and Tear.

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Rob Whitchurch – Editor

1. Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla

Where to begin.

The strongest outing from the franchise since Black Flag; its tight game-play mixed with a great setting. New mechanics, including building up your own settlement, and a HUGE map means you won’t be completing everything anytime soon.

It’s my game of the year without a doubt. Now if you’ll excuse me… I’m off to raid a monastery.

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2. Star Wars: Squadrons

Finally EA give us a proper Star Wars game. We wanted Dogfights and we got dogfights. It shipped at a reasonable price too. With plenty of replay value, and EA adding a few new ships, it’s one I’ll be coming back to time and again.

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3. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout

The madness of this simple multiplayer platformer engulfed us early lockdown. Its fast, frenzied, repayable fun… Now how do we make this real??

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Rudy Manchego – Contributor/Bane Impersonator

1. Little Orpheus

So yes, my selection for Game of the Year is a mobile game. So sue me. IT IS REAL GAMING.

The game is Apple Arcade exclusive, Little Orpheus, by British based development team The Chinese Room. If you recognise the name, you should. These guys practically invented the first-person narrative story game with Dear Esther, as well as producing the excellent Amnesia Sequel – A Machine for Pigs. The team also made one of my all-time favourite games, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture

Little Orpheus is a mobile platform game. The game is set in the Soviet era, where Russian cosmonaut Ivan Ivanovitch has been strapped to a nuclear bomb. He is then sent on a mission deep into a remote volcano…only to disappear for three years before being arrested and heaved in front of a senior Soviet general to explain just where he has been and why he has lost a nuclear weapon.

It’s this conversation that carries the narrative as Ivan, while being interrogated, details a dramatic and fantastical adventure near the Earth’s core in glorious platforming technicolour. This is where the narrative expertise of the studio really shines, culminating in a game that stuck in my mind as something refreshingly original and quite unlike anything I had played all year.

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2. Carrion

It’s been mentioned by others in this list, but I was quite a fan of this little inverse horror game. It isn’t perfect by any means. A lack of a map is telling and caused some frustration, but by gosh did the developers nail the movement and savagery of an alien species let loose to cause all manner of destruction.

Short and sweet, I’d recommend this for horror fans, as well as anyone who just wants to let off some steam after a day being on work zoom calls. Mwah haha.

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3. Star Wars: Squadrons

Is this one of the best games of the year? Well, I struggled at first with placing this game over other contenders, such as Ghost of Tsushima, Fall Guys, and Hades. Then I thought, “Nah”, and stuck this game in.

Why? Because this is a game targeted at a particular niche gamer i.e. someone who loved the old Star Wars flight sims like X-Wing or Tie-Fighter back in the day. It really has one aim, to scratch the itch of those gamers who feel all nostalgic. It has a solid, if unremarkable, campaign, simple and not overly complicated multiplayer and coop options and, oh yeah, VR. In VR, this game really shines and made me all giddy. Lock S-Foils in attack position.

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Lucas Richards – Senior Editor (ABG&D Dice-Master)

1. Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX

I am gonna cheat and say that this was my favourite game to come out this year. Before you scream and say that “it’s been out before 2020”, this year it finally came to Xbox. So, on a technicality, it counts!

This collection is a bundle of my favourite RPG games ever. So many great things can be said for (almost) every game in this collection. The first game is such a crazy idea that just works; Final Fantasy characters crossing over with iconic Disney properties? What’s not to love?

Kingdom Hearts 2.5 is a masterpiece of combat, set pieces and epic moments. Throw in the rest of the collection and you will be hard-pressed to find such a bargain to spend your money on a single title.

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2. Star Wars: Squadrons

Star Wars is often defined by its take on space-combat. The bar has often been set quite low for the series when it comes to delivering an authentic and realistic experience of space combat.

The original Star Wars Battlefront 2 had a great (for the time) space combat experience but nothing else has come this close. A new and fulfilling campaign and fun multiplayer modes come all with free DLC. Not to mention tight controls, detailed cockpits, ship variety and load
outs; these are some of the great morsels in this sub-$50 USD package!

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3. DOOM ETERNAL

When Doom 2016 came out, I didn’t know how much I was going to enjoy it. Serious with its tone, but not without humour and fun. Fast forward to 2020, and iD software has taken what worked well in its reboot and improved and expanded its sequel.

DOOM ETERNAL has more memorable set pieces than its predecessor, more variety in its enemy types and more complex map design. With only a few nitpicks [which involve jumping puzzles and enemy difficulty], I
feel like third-place overall is quite deserving of its place.

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David Parsons – Senior Editor (SEO Management)

1. Final Fantasy VII Remake

A game well worth the wait for it to release, I can’t wait to see where Part 2 goes or ends to make way for the third part. A lot of people weren’t sure how well the combat would work in a more action packed style, whilst mostly forsaking the tactical turn based roots of FF7, but it’s a pure joy to play, making you savour every encounter. There’s so much more content to enjoy around Midgar than in the original and the developer really managed to bring the city to life, in ways not found or even possible back when FF7 released in 1997.

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2. Call of Duty: Warzone

An unexpected hit for me, that really helped during a tough and isolating lockdown. Whilst battle royales are still somewhat the vogue, Warzone seems to stand above the rest with it’s slick, addictive gameplay, content updates and pure teamplay that keeps players coming back. I don’t want to check and see how many hours I’ve put into the game at this point and I’ve even managed to pick up some wins along the way, cementing the games place in my weekly rotation. So to anyone who hasn’t jumped in yet, invite some friends to party, charge your controller and be prepared to die over and over, chasing that elusive first win.

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3. Yakuza: Like A Dragon

Having never played a Yakuza game before, I was instantly drawn towards the latest offering in the franchise, due to the RPG nature of the newest Yakuza outing. The turn based combat thrown in to a large city overworld works seamlessly, with bikes, cones and propane tanks useable weapons, as you play through the story of instantly likeable leading man Ichiban. You’ll make friends and enemies, as take on the seedy and sometimes endearing underworld of Japan. But most of all you’ll wade through an amazing amount of mini games and side activities, ranging from karting, to can collecting, golf, baseball, staying awake at the movies and even make friends with a lobster called Nancy. Yakuza: Like a Dragon is zany, wacky and touching, which makes it a game that just has to be experienced.

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Mike Allen – Senior Editor (Reviews)

1. Ghost of Tsushima

Ghost of Tsushima boasts a fantastic story, intriguing character arcs, beautiful visuals with incredible all-around sound design and general tone. It takes the best that open world games have to offer, condenses and refines it for a truly awe-inspiring experience. A 2020 must play.

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2. DOOM Eternal

DOOM Eternal reigns ruthless-shooter supreme in another iteration that builds on the best mechanics from 2016’s. While I do miss the replayability that Snap-Map offered, this is still a full and complete package. Rip and Tear until the job is done

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3. Cyberpunk 2077

Regardless of its bugs and visual defects in its current state, 2077 is still the most fun I’ve had all year. While it doesn’t deserve to be objectively ranked #1, nonetheless, players can feel the passion oozing from its pores… almost as much as its cut content.

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James Wright – Senior Editor (News)

1. Cloudpunk

If you’re after a Cyberpunk experience in 2020, there’s only one option I can recommend.

Sure, another game in the genre [that you may or may not be aware of] may have a larger fanbase, financial backing, and recognition, but Cloudpunk comes complete with everything you’d need and expect with none of the drawbacks. A seedy, scummy city complete with pseudo-hi-tech buildings and vehicles but replete of humanity dominates the game, with it being as much the focus as the protagonist’s journey.

Voxel in appearance and splendid in presentation, Cloudpunk should be added to your game library at your earliest convenience.

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2. Destroy All Humans! 2020

This one is a bit of a cop-out if I’m honest. I ruddy adored the first game. In fact, it was perhaps the last game I was genuinely excited about the release for.

The remake does nothing to tarnish my fond memories of the OG outing. My love for B-movies, with all of their campiness, is matched only by my love for Crypto. The remake still holds all of the original’s comedy but boasts motion-captured cutscenes [does that mean they have a real-world Crypto running around THQ Nordic?!] with all the benefits of current-gen hardware.

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3. Carrion

A favourite throughout most of ABG, Carrion is one of the few standout titles that make up the “reverse horror” genre of games. Centred around an amorphous blob of destruction and horror, Carrion partners puzzles, platforming, combat, and adventure into a difficult to put down package. The fact that it had a dubious-looking Switch game icon is also top-notch oversight on everyone’s behalf.

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Darren Colley – Website Manager

1. Hades

Hades is the perfect blend of difficulty and character for me, along with being a rare example of an early access release done right. The art design is comic book aesthetic and the gameplay is tight, possibly the best rogue-like ever. Well done SuperGiant Games.

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2. Ghost of Tsushima

Tough combat, great characters and story, what more can you ask for. Suckerpunch games delivered a cinematic story while giving you great open-world gameplay. Really well-designed world and great voice acting. It’s up there as one of the best of the generation.

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3. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockdown

Takeshi’s Castle in game form. Enough said!

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And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the GOTY Winner;

Erm,…well…

It’s a tie between Hades and Final Fantasy VII Remake. So, not exactly ideal. However, Mike K Allen and I have come up with a clever plan; we’re going to run a series of tie-breaker challenges.

If you have any ideas or suggestions that we can incorporate into the tie-breakers, please feel free to drop them in the comments section. We will have a definitive winner, one way or another.


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