These Are Half-Glass Gaming’s 2020 Game of the Year Nominees

2020 Game of the Year

For many of us, the end of 2020 couldn’t come fast enough. Yet we have to admit that there were some absolutely killer video games released this year. So let’s take a look at everything we consider to be worthy of a 2020 Game of the Year nomination.

One thing we should point out here is that Half-Glass Gaming re-launched in July of 2020. We had six months to catch up on a year’s worth of games, and we have a fairly small staff, so we didn’t get to everything we should have. We plan on doing a much more robust list for 2021.

Still, we really do think the games listed below are the ones we’re going to long remember when we look back on 2020.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

Assassin's Creed Valhalla

Forget everything you know about Assassin’s Creed. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla absolutely blew us away this year, consuming our lives for hours upon hours. While none of us actually finished Assassin’s Creed Valhalla in 2020, some of us invested obnoxious amounts of time into it. (Our site owner Josh is up to 135 hours at the time of this writing.)

While it’s certainly not a perfect game, it’s still an incredible one, and one worthy of a Game of the Year nomination. It also has some enormous fish, so bonus points for that.

You can read more about our thoughts on Assassin’s Creed Valhalla here.

Persona 5 Royal

Persona 5 Royal

Persona 5 Royal came out in Japan in 2019, but it didn’t make it over to the United States until March of 2020, so we’re counting it as a 2020 release. While many of our staffers loved the original Persona 5, Persona 5 Royal makes some much-needed upgrades that really seal the deal for us.

But let’s be honest, Persona 5 was always great, even in its most glaring imperfections (for example, the localization was so bad that an entire website was created to explain its badness). Now that those imperfections have been mostly sanded away, Persona 5 stands as a colossal achievement, one worth investing 100 hours into in 2020 (and beyond).

You can read more about our thoughts on Persona 5 Royal here.

Hades

Hades

Hades was one of the biggest surprises of 2020. From the studio that brought us the masterpieces Bastion and Transistor comes a Greek mythology-inspired roguelike where no two runs are ever the same.

Most of our staffers adore roguelikes already, but what makes Hades stand out in what’s arguable an overcrowded genre is that it makes death a fundamental part of its narrative. This ties together two aspects of roguelikes that have always been at odds with each other: narrative vs. gameplay. And even games like the phenomenal Children of Morta, which itself has a rich and rewarding narrative, sort of ignore the fact that you spend much of your game time failing and dying. Hades corrects this, bringing harmony to the genre’s ludonarrative dissonance.

It’s also as addictive as any roguelike should be.

You can read more about our thoughts on Hades here.

Immortals Fenyx Rising

Immortals Fenyx Rising

We had some hesitation about Immortals Fenyx Rising at first. What was originally unveiled as Gods & Monsters had become something else entirely, something we weren’t sure we wanted.

Yet now that we’ve had a chance to play it, all of our hesitation has melted away. Immortals Fenyx Rising is a deeply satisfying open-world game that borrows liberally from Breath of the Wild, yet still manages to create its own identity.

Yes, we have two games on our list based off Greek mythology (and one that contains no small amount of Norse mythology), but in 2020, mythology played a substantial role in the video games we enjoyed. And really, Hades and Immortals Fenyx Rising (as well as Assassin’s Creed Valhalla) earned their places on this list independent from one another. There’s no reason to exclude one just because it shares themes with another.

You can read more about our thoughts on Immortals Fenyx Rising here.

Final Fantasy VII Remake

Final Fantasy VII Remake

Final Fantasy VII Remake was more than just your standard remaster; it took the first six or so hours of the original game, then fleshed those out to a full-length game experience. This means we get to spend more time with side characters like Jessie and Wedge, and mainstays like Barret and Aerith. And really, who could complain about getting to spend more time with Aerith?

We don’t want to spoil anything here, so we’ll just say that despite how faithful this portion of the remake was, the ending opened up the possibility that maybe the next chapter will be something entirely different. And while that could definitely end up being a disaster, here in 2020 we have only the first part of the remake series to look at. And what we’re looking at is nothing short of incredible.

You can read more about our thoughts on Final Fantasy VII Remake (and on Aerith) here.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing Christmas Update

The latest entry in Nintendo’s Animal Crossing franchise could not have come out at a better time. Not only is it super charming and hyper-addictive, but it’s a relaxing game that lets you just chill and hang out with a bunch of digital cutie pies. When you’re playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons, your troubles seem to just melt into the background.

2020 hit us pretty hard, but Animal Crossing: New Horizons was a salve that soothed the sting just a little bit. Its regular updates were perpetually worth looking forward to, and many of the features that seemed absent at launch were simply waiting for the right time to come out.

Let’s be real. If you owned a Nintendo Switch in 2020, there’s a good chance you whiled away a good portion of COVID-19 quarantine in the charming world of New Horizons.

You can read more about our thoughts on Animal Crossing: New Horizons here.

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is in a tough place. Its advertising focused strongly on the fact that this is a visual novel, which probably turned a lot of people off to it. The reality, though, is that this game tells one of the most convoluted yet satisfying stories we’ve seen in a video game in quite some time. It’s the sort of story that would have been difficult to tell in any other medium, because the ability to choose the order in which you experience its events is fundamental to the narrative.

It also shifts genres relentlessly and unexpectedly at several points in the journey, yet by the end it feels like a cohesive plot. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is a masterpiece of interactive storytelling, and we wish more people were talking about it this year.

You can read more about our thoughts on 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim here.

Monster Train

Slay the Spire has long been the undisputed champion of deck-building roguelikes, and for good reason. However, Monster Train showed up in 2020 as a serious contender for Slay the Spire‘s crown.

Any game like this (or anything from the deck-building or roguelike genres, really) thrives on randomness. Monster Train has figured out how to offer satisfying RNG (random number generation) without the drawbacks of such a system. Too often, RNG can lead to impossibly punishing scenarios when the odds are stacked too high against the player. Monster Train gets around this by giving you detailed information about the enemies you’ll be facing before a run. This lets you plan your deck accordingly, allowing you to ready yourself for any of the potential evil that RNG is about to toss your way.

Monster Train is one of the most addictive games we played in 2020, and we think we might be playing this one for years still. It’s that good.

You can read more about our thoughts on Monster Train here.

The Long Dark

The Long Dark

So, we’re maybe cheating a little bit here, since The Long Dark isn’t new by any means. However, it did get ported to the Nintendo Switch in 2020, and it’s still as good as it’s ever been. In fact, with all the love that continues to be invested into it, it’s actually better than it’s ever been. If you still haven’t experienced this absolutely brutal survival game, you need to check out The Long Dark immediately. It’s absolutely incredible.

You can read more about our thoughts on The Long Dark here.

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