Some years, it's pretty clear which game or two is going to take Game of the Year from most award shows and outlets. This year, while not clear to us immediately, one game separated itself from the pack as more on staff played it. That does not mean it did not have stiff competition, as we saw some amazing games, including the swansongs of the last generation.
Here's all the nominees for our Game of the Year (and check this link for all of our awards):
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Our Review)
- Cyberpunk 2077 (Our Review)
- Doom Eternal (Our Review)
- Final Fantasy VII Remake (Our Review)
- Ghost of Tsushima
- Hades (Our Review)
- Half-Life: Alyx (Our Review)
- The Last of Us Part II (Our Review)
- Spider-Man: Miles Morales (Our Review)
- Yakuza: Like A Dragon (Our Review)
So here's the winner of TechRaptor's Game of the Year 2020 for the best game of the year, whose sum of its parts is greater than any other.
Readers' Choice - The Last of Us Part II
Developer: Naughty Dog | Release Date: June 19th, 2020
We're at the point that just about any new Naughty Dog game is going to be at least in the discussion for Game of the Year. The consistency in their output is rivaled by few, and The Last of Us Part II continues their excellence. From the memorable characters, to the tense moments, Part II is as close to a prestige drama as we're going to get.
Fifth Place - Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Developer: Insomniac Games| Release Date: November 12th, 2020
By George Foster
Considering how beloved Marvel's Spider-Man was when it first launched, it's an incredible accomplishment from Insomniac Games that Marvel's Spider-Man Miles Morales takes that formula and makes it almost impossible to want to return to Peter Parker. Miles is a more endearing protagonist with a more interesting moveset and down-to-earth story, in a New York City that's far more interesting because of its winter setting. Miles Morales has more of the same great gameplay throughout but improved at pretty much every turn with all of the fat trimmed off to make it a much slimmer package. A fantastic start to the new generation and easily the best Spider-Man game yet.
Fourth Place - The Last of Us Part II
Developer: Naughty Dog | June 19th, 2020
By Robert Scarpinito
Regardless of how you feel about the narrative developments in The Last of Us Part II, it’s hard to deny the level of polish and shine in Naughty Dog’s latest. Every location looks exceptionally detailed, and each character was painstakingly modeled to feel like and look like real human beings. The mix of stealth and action gameplay create dynamic, tense combat encounters. The acting performances—by Ashley Johnson and Laura Bailey especially—bring these characters’ struggles to life. By presentation alone, Ellie and Abby’s journey deserves praise for looking like a high-quality TV show and feeling like a rock-solid game.
Despite all the negative discourse surrounding The Last of Us Part II, it’s clear that the game made a huge impact on the gaming community. Many expectations were subverted—or to some people, dashed—and it’s created some of the most lively discussion around a AAA title in 2020. Even if you hate it, it’s hard to deny that the year wouldn’t be the same without it.
Third Place - Ghost of Tsushima
Developer: Sucker Punch Productions | Release Date: July 17th, 2020
By Tyler Chancey
Ghost of Tsushima is the swansong for the PlayStation 4. One last original experience for Sony's machine that pushes its hardware to the limit and showcases the talent on display at Sucker Punch Studios.
While the narrative emulates the spirit and tone of venerable filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, which can be too taciturn and serious-minded for some, the real star of the game is the island of Tsushima itself. The entire island is filled to the brim with beautiful bamboo forests, flowing rivers, snowy mountains, wide open fields, and colorful trees. This beauty helps showcase the game's waypoint system where nature itself shows the player where to go with gusts of wind, animals guiding their eye to places of interest, and even the weather itself changing based on how the player chooses to fight their enemy.
Combine that with some of the most polished and refined sword combat and sharp stealth mechanics, and Ghost of Tsushima is a truly awe-inspiring experience. For that, it earns a respectable third place for our games of the year.
Second Place - Final Fantasy VII Remake
Developer: Square Enix | Release Date: April 10th, 2020
By Nick Maillet
It’s not often that a game comes along with as much hype and anticipation as Final Fantasy VII Remake. From its announcement at E3 2015, its long and tumultuous development period, and everything leading up to the games launch, Final Fantasy VII Remake had big shoes to fill. Thankfully, developer Square Enix was able to not only meet the game's expectations but exceed them in almost every way.
It's a celebration of what's arguably the most popular entry in the series that not only respects the source material, but takes risks in the form of new content, characters, and story threads that, quite frankly, feel like they should have been there all along. Whether it be its fun combat, the hours of excellent story additions (The Honey Bee inn), or its fleshed out pseudo open world gameplay, Final Fantasy VII Remake raised the bar for what we should expect with a modern remake and easily deserves its spot on our game of the year list.
Winner - Hades
Developer: Supergiant Games | Release Date: September 17th, 2020
By Don Parsons
It's not often that an indie game is able to go toe to toe with the biggest budgets in the industry, but Supergiant Games is one of the small studios able to do so, and have done so with their game, Hades. Taking the roguelite basis, Supergiant then polishes the core gameplay concept to a mirror shine, adding to it a visual flair, musical excellence, and unusual narrative elements for the genre.
On a gameplay level, Hades brilliantly allows for a diverse amount of styles and difficulty. This is a game that you can beat on run 1 theoretically but opens up new options to you over time to make the journey easier as you persevere, and combines that with improved player knowledge to create more successful runs overtime. Zagreus' toolset is customizable and boons different enough that even if you aren't particularly good at action games, victory is something you will be able to achieve when you find what works or get on a good run.
Narratively, Hades evokes Greek tragedies and various legends, taking advantage of the rich mythology to its utmost. The task to escape is pitched as a Sisyphean one in-world (and appropriately enough you meet Sisyphus), but with godly might, Zagreus is able to succeed between his weapons, innate abilities, and family members helping with giving him different abilities. The different characters react to what you are doing and have a variety of dialogue that serves up the story as the reward for reaching certain points in the game, making your progress all the sweeter.
Hades didn't invent roguelites, or the idea of a variety of playstyles in them. Nor did it invent working narrative elements into the roguelite formula. What it did, though, was show exactly how well it can be done with a level of excellence rarely seen in all elements. Whether it's narrative, visuals, audio, gameplay, or anything else, Hades shines bright, and that is why it is TechRaptor's Game of the Year.