At the risk of jumping onto the seasonal bandwagon, the time has come to dish out some approving nods to the best video games to grace our screens this past year.
There’s something arbitrary about stamping a single title with the accolade of the best game of the year. After all, when it comes to entertainment – or any art form for that matter – subjectivity is king.
In that spirit, we’ve opted to have our writers pick their highlights for the year rather than picking one single game. And, in a rather apt parallel to what’s been an excellent year of video games, the results are relatively diverse.
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
William White – Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
This action-adventure game by From Software still feels like a Soulsborne game, but extra variety easily lets it stand on its own.
William Worrall – Sekiro Shadows Die Twice
This one is sort of obvious. It’s basically just Dark Souls with stealth. As ways of shaking up the familiar style of Soulsborne games it was a great plan to shift the focus onto verticality and stealth.
Ryan Smith – Death Stranding
Weird but wonderful. Stands apart by thinking completely out of the box in a crowded industry.
Thomas Bardwell – Death Stranding
Imperfect, innovative, frustrating, and emotive all at once, Death Stranding is an oddity that lingers even after Sam’s delivered his last package, whether you loved or hated the game.
William White – Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
It’s easy to see why Bloodstained was such a good game with its return to classic Castlevania gameplay, as well as an interesting story and characters.
William Worrall – A Plague Tale: Innocence
Getting to see a slice-of-life in medieval France was really interesting, especially devoid of magic as it was (Sort of). It was also cool to see rats used as a metaphor for the plague, and combining that with an interesting dynamic between brother and sister was a stroke of genius.
Thomas Bardwell – Hypnospace Outlaw
While Hypnospace Outlaw stands tall as a worthy and comedic sleuthing game, it truly shines in how elegantly it harks back to the early days of the internet. It’s like digging through digital ruins in search of a simpler time.
William White – League of Legends
Ten years after its release, Riot held a massive anniversary event with plenty of free content for players. It also helps that loads of new games and shows were announced in the universe during this time.
William Worrall – Apex Legends
As far as contenders for the battle royale throne go, Apex Legends might as well be the only contender. The different heroes really make the game what it is, and let’s face it, any game in which you can be a robot with a zip-line is going to be a winner.
Ryan Smith – Fortnite
I prefer watching CS:GO, but I think Fortnite probably takes it. Continues to grow from strength to strength.
Thomas Bardwell – Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition
Before you lambast me and say Age of Empires 2 isn’t an eSport, head over to Twitch on any given weekend and watch as pros bust out crazy APMs and bag decent cash prizes in the process. It’s not League or Fortnite, but the Definitive Edition gives the game all the tools and quality of life improvements it needs to chart a path to eSports relevance.
William White – Apex Legends
No one was expecting a new game in the Titanfall series. Especially not a battle royal game that shadow dropped out of nowhere, but Apex Legends is a welcome surprise.
William Worrall – Dark Devotion
Honestly, I thought this would be terrible. The 2-D Dark Souls thing has been done to death. Dark Devotion managed to make it interesting by making some radical changes without losing the spirit of what a good Soulsborne game could be.
Thomas Bardwell – A Plague Tale: Innocence
An equally macabre and enchanting tale of resilience and siblinghood in a grim recreation of 12th century France teeming with crazed clerics and ravenous rats, A Plague Tale: Innocence is one of the most surprising and memorable games of the year for all the right reasons.
William White – Pokemon Sword and Shield
The missing National Dex, lazy animations and poor responses from Game Freak more than make this the biggest disappointment of the year.
William Worrall – Kingdom Hearts III
It was a long time coming, and it couldn’t have been a bigger letdown. An unsatisfying ending, no Final Fantasy characters, and honestly, it just felt shallow coming off of the previous games. No, the DLC doesn’t make up for it. Especially if you have to pay for it.
William White – Resident Evil 2
It feels strange to say it, but the Game of the Year is a remake. It’s a dang good one and completely revisits Raccoon City in all the right ways, but it’s still a remake.
William Worrall – The Outer Worlds
This game may not have been perfect for everyone, but personally, I was happy to see Obsidian back at the helm of a first-person RPG. The fact that it was set in a sort of hilarious parody of corporate culture, but in space, also helped this one to be my top game of the year.
Ryan Smith – Disco Elysium
I love the artwork. It has a great depth of choice, and the Estonian creators bring a fresh angle to the RPG genre.
Thomas Bardwell – Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Sophisticated, unforgiving, and rewarding with eye-candy aplenty and precipitously deep lore for those with the inclination and time to sacrifice, few games this year played as well as Sekiro. More importantly, it shows that From Software can still innovate and offer a fresh perspective on its signature style.