EGM’s Best of 2020: Ray Carsillo’s Picks
I know it’s passé to say this, but 2020 will be a year none of us will soon forget. I don’t need to explain why, but on the gaming front it saw countless remakes and remasters, triple-A delays, and the last generation of consoles sort of limp across the finish line before welcoming in the new—which had really no major exclusive titles at launch. It was a changing of the guard with little to no fanfare on that front, but through it all a handful of games rose to the top. Here are my top five games for an unforgettable year outside of gaming.
|#5||Paper Mario: The Origami King
Publisher: Nintendo ▪︎ Developer: Intelligent Systems ▪︎ Platforms: Switch
Simply put, The Origami King is the best Paper Mario game since Thousand Year Door. Although not a true RPG like those early games, it makes up for this by providing one of the most intriguing battle systems we’ve seen to date. Transitioning to a ring-based arena to battle, and moving your enemies around to line up attacks based on Mario’s iconic hammer swings and jumps, harks back to grid-based action-RPG hybrids like Mega Man Battle Network. Throw in origami-based powers that you acquire as you progress, and few battles ever play out the same. And I can’t forget it features the best and most humorous writing yet in a Paper Mario game. The Origami King was one of the more refreshing titles I played this year.
|#4||Watch Dogs: Legion
Publisher: Ubisoft ▪︎ Developer: Ubisoft Toronto ▪︎ Platforms: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, PC
Watch Dogs: Legion rolled the dice in a fascinating way: having an open-world game without a true central protagonist. And Ubisoft pulled it off. Able to recruit a roster of up to 45 NPCs from the thousands that populate Ubisoft’s digital London, I collected them like Pokémon, playing different ones in different scenarios to get the job done. Sure, favorites would arise, but being able to switch to a doctor to sneak into a hospital or a cop for a police station, and then a getaway driver to escape the scene in style, made for fun and inventive ways to tackle each scenario and objective. Plus, flying across London on the construction worker’s drone is the only way to travel in the future.
|#3||Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Publisher: Xbox Game Studios ▪︎ Developer: Moon Studios ▪︎ Platforms: Xbox One, Switch, PC
This was one of my most anticipated titles for 2020, and it delivered in spades. After Ori and the Blind Forest took home my personal 2015 Game of the Year, I was ready to explore and bring life back to a world plagued by decay and corruption as our favorite guardian spirit. Will of the Wisps again delivers tight platforming in a sprawling map that will have you exploring for hours. Streamlined systems like an autosave and easier upgrading keeps the pace fast, and new enemies and massive bosses keep the action frantic. And the art, music, and story all come together with these other elements to make a top-notch sequel.
|#2||Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment ▪︎ Developer: Insomniac Games ▪︎ Platforms: PS5, PS4
I’m a sucker for a good superhero game, and Insomniac’s Spider-Man on PS4 was one of the best. So, being able to take on even a brief adventure back in that world this holiday season was a welcome way to warm up my PS5. Yes, the world is the same with just a winter wonderland skin, but Miles Morales brings a whole new set of abilities and villains to the story, and a special flair all his own, while Peter Parker is galavanting around Europe. Sometimes you just want more of a good thing, and that’s exactly what Spider-Man: Miles Morales is—making everyone who played it feel like we made Santa’s nice list this year.
|#1||Ghost of Tsushima
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment ▪︎ Developer: Sucker Punch Productions ▪︎ Platforms: PS4
As I danced around the field, avoiding my opponent’s sword, and chrysanthemum petals twirled around us, I knew this was my game of the year. This, and other duels on sandy inlets as water splashed the shore, or as fog enveloped us near a monument to fallen warriors, left an unforgettable impression on me like no other game in 2020. Ghost of Tsushima is a Kurosawa film come to life in the best ways possible, and a terrific story all its own. Jin’s struggle as he willingly casts himself out from the only family he knows in order to stop an outside invader was amazingly told, and made you feel the weight of every decision. There was no world I loved exploring, and no adventure I enjoyed more, than Ghost of Tsushima. It strikes a perfect blend of gameplay, graphics, sound, and story, like a samurai delivering the final blow to a rival.
The “Best Replacement for Real Sports in a Pandemic” Award
MLB The Show 20
While most gamers got through the early days of the pandemic with Animal Crossing: New Horizons, I dove deep into another game released around the same time: MLB The Show 20. I always loved the series, but hadn’t picked up an entry in the franchise in a couple years, and there was no better time as it served the dual purpose of being entertaining and the only sports I really had for four months. It prompted me to start my own Twitch channel and dust off my play-by-play skills, and it was easily my saving grace during a tough time for everyone.
The “Best Wind Through My Hair Simulation” Award
Iron Man VR
I look back at where VR was even just two or three years ago to where we are now, and its growth is promising. One of the better games to come out this year showing that growth is Iron Man VR. The PSVR really made it feel like I was playing as ol’ Shellhead when I put the headset on. Being able to use my two gauntlets independently of each other to fire rockets, repulsors, or control my flight, gave a sense of control I’ve felt in few other VR games. And it only got better when I turned my living room A/C towards me so it really felt like I was flying through the skies while fighting great reimaginings of supervillains Ghost and Living Laser.
The “What’s Old is New Again” Award
Resident Evil 3
I gave this award last year to Resident Evil 2, but in a year defined by remakes and remasters more than anything else (Tony Hawk Pro Skater, Crysis, Mafia, Demon’s Souls, FFVII, Destroy All Humans, etc.), it felt fitting to bring it back and give it to my favorite of the bunch. Resident Evil 3 takes a lot from the original, but the redesign of Nemesis and how he stalks you, some new sections that play terrifically, and a graphical and control overhaul made me thrilled to revisit Raccoon City once again. And, if you splurged for the $60 version, Resident Evil: Resistance was a fun multiplayer add-on, too.