Due to the range of genres and types of games our writing team enjoys, it’s hard to define a single game of the year. As such, we asked fourteen members of our writing team what game resonated with them the most in 2020. All games released on any console between December 1st 2019 to the same date this year were eligible. So without further ado, here are the Rapid Reviews UK 2020 Games of the Year.
Horace | Rob Lake
Horace is my surprise game of this year. If you’re a child of the 80s and 90s then Horace has a lot of content that you will fondly recognise. Whilst I’m in this demographic my enjoyment of Horace went much further. From the get-go, I felt invested in Horace in both as a character and the game itself. With a cast of likeable characters and a clever story, Horace at its heart is a tale of a robot whose purpose in life is to clean up rubbish but ends up being so much more. If you’re a fan of platforming or even retro games then Horace is definitely a game you should play.
You can read our Rapid Review of Horace here
The Last of Us Part Two | Cartergaz / Seb Hawden
The Last Of Us Part 2 created a sense of openness, hopelessness and devastation I’ve never experienced before in a video game. It did an incredible job of elevating and spotlighting the work of LGBTQ communities. It wrenched my heart more than once along the way. The timeline was disorienting and expertly crafted and the storytelling is incomparable. Humour, humanity, love, tears, compassion, empathy and redemption are rarely words you get the opportunity to assemble all in one place and for that, it’s my undisputed GOTY for 2020.
It’s better in every way than the first game. The story, gameplay, combat and exploration are all superior by far. It’s brutal and fantastic. It made me feel more emotion than any other game this year. The dynamic of siding with one party then the other as it meandered through the story was amazing. I swayed many times over whose side I sat on. I was conflicted and confused throughout the whole story about which side was right and who was the ‘good’ character. It was superb. I was obsessed the whole time I played and everyone in my house was fixated. Its story, graphics and gameplay all add up to a cinematic masterpiece. I know a lot of people didn’t like what happened in the story. Personally, I am a fan of twists and love a story that ruffles feathers. More like this please!
You can read our Rapid Review of The Last of Us Part Two here
Streets of Rage 4 | Pete Beckett
I have chosen Streets of Rage 4 as my Game of The Year, as it was a game that resonated with me, more so than anything else this year. Whilst it is a revival of a classic series that was considered by most to be dead, DotEmu, Guard Crush Games and LizardCube all collaborated to make a game with an incredibly striking art style, impressive music but most importantly, a combat system that felt equal parts familiar but managed to evolve its way beyond what the original creators could have done. It’s a shame that the netcode is somewhat hit or miss though, otherwise, it would have been perfect.
You can read our Rapid Review of Streets of Rage 4 here
Warframe | Brent Gass
This has been one of -if not- the best years for updates as well as community engagement. They started the year with the Empyrean update in December 2019. This introduced railjacks, personal combat space vessels manned by up to four players, that created almost an entire second game of space piracy! This year began with the addition of Kuva Liches, personal bosses that would grow in power and steal your mission rewards until you slayed them with the new Parazon assassination system for a cinematic takedown. The next updates introduced three new warframes, an endless game mode that you can influence the droptables, remastered boss battle, and a mission within a mission mode for extra drops.
The most recent update brought a new planet with an open-world zone, another warframe, a new game mode, two new types of companions with three varieties each, a way to transfer powers from one warframe to another, and a new world traversal vehicle with combat abilities! It’s even possible that the newest update becomes available on consoles this week, bringing another vehicle and new modular weapons. All of the above is without mentioning new cosmetics, weapons, and prime warframe and weapon packs. Not to mention awesome home livestreams almost every weekday and a great digital TennoCon event!
Life is Strange 2 | Alicia Brunskill
My GOTY for 1st Dec 2019-1st Dec 2020 is Life is Strange 2, it just sneaks its nose in the eligibility door with the last chapter being released on 3rd Dec 2019. It’s a game that grabbed my attention from the moment I began playing and tapped into something deep in my emotional core. During each episode, I felt such an acute immersion in the story and universe that grows around the characters. Being able to lose myself in a fictional world is something I value above all else in a game. Another significant element for me is the music that accompanies the action. In Life is Strange 2 each song augments the overall experience, adding poignancy to the emotional rollercoaster of each episode. Even now, months after finishing the game, replaying the soundtrack tugs my heart and my mind back to the unique atmosphere that the game creates.
I think that there’s a beauty in the way the writers and developers have combined film-like yet interactive storytelling, beautiful visuals and emotive music to capture this snapshot of the human condition in such an accurate and accessible way. The coming of age story resonates with me and I identify with aspects of the challenges faced by Sean. It’s messy, there are loose ends and things break and can’t be fixed. In my opinion, part of the beauty lies in the style of gameplay.
The gameplay focuses on the plot and takes you inside the minds of the characters. Day to day tasks blend with pivotal moments where you take actions that affect the course of the story. It makes the game into a tiny mirror for life, a mixture of the routine and the extraordinary. It’s one of those games that stays with you. When I finished my playthrough I felt like I’d been on a journey with Sean and Daniel and, as soppy as it may sound, it’s a journey that I will always treasure taking. For me, Life is Strange 2 is storytelling focused gaming at its finest.
Kiley Wilde | Doom Eternal
Watch the video and you’ll know why Doom Eternal is my game of the year!
Röki | Jonathan Ober
A GOTY for me is a game that kept me glued and engrossed from start to finish. I had been following the progress of Röki from the start of the process and when I got the chance to review the game (which I purchased on my own) I was pleasantly surprised by how engaging Röki was. In a matter of a few days I completed the game which says a lot about how engrossed I had been. The game has you playing as Tove as she searched for her brother Lars through the wilderness and later through a portal where he was taken in by the evil Rhorka.
The point and click style gameplay and combining items to complete puzzles was a big part of why I plowed through the campaign. On top of the gameplay, Röki has a varied cast of playable and non-playable characters. There is a great story to follow and heart warming tale of family and love. Röki is my game of the year 2020.
You can read our Rapid Review of Röki here
Xenoblade Chronicles : Definitive Edition | Stephen Warcop and Dan Yuill
This was a real close decision, but I just loved everything about XCDE. I love the characters from Shulk to Melia, the music is fantastic, locations are massive and entertaining, the story was wonderful and action-packed, and of course, the voice acting was awesome! The additions that were added into the Definitive Edition to make this game even better was also very good. Over 90% of the soundtrack being remastered was a fantastic treat with the option to switch between the old and the new. The brand new models for the characters being more expressive and more cleaner was the main complaint!
The QoL options from the quest tracking and chance arts were wonderful editions! Then we have Future Connected, I really did love this new addition to the story. From expanding on a couple of characters, the new music added for the story and hints towards the future of the series. I love both Bug Fables and Xenoblade Definitive Edition, but XCDE meant a tiny bit more to me, and as such it is my game of the year.
Having fallen in love with Xenoblade Chronicles 2 when it released for the Switch, I was already hooked on the idea of replaying the original. Thankfully Monolith Soft answered my prayers and remastered the Wii cult classic game. With an engaging battle system, a soundtrack that was awe-inspiring and visuals that did not show the age of the game at all, XCDE was an amazing experience from start to finish. The story was a rollercoaster with twists and turns, emotions running high and heartstrings being tugged. This game is beautiful in every single way.
You can read our Rapid Review of XC : DE here
Spiderman Miles Morales | Squashpickle
Full of set pieces, action and character, Insomniac’s more compressed Spiderman game takes my number one spot for game of the year. Although the core gameplay of the 2018 main game is present, the new Morales‘ features do enough to make this spinoff stand out and hold up its own identity. The new electrifying “venom” abilities shake up the combat. The subtle percussional changes to the soundtrack make swinging through the city as exciting as the first game.
The shorter length of the game does not water down the narrative and this new entry delivers a well-focused story with enough momentum to propel me to the end. With cinematic audio and astounding visuals, Morales is a strong introduction to the next generation of gaming. The game’s slogan is “Be greater. Be yourself” and Spiderman: Miles Morales sure is both great and a stand out from the other games on offer.
Death Stranding (PC) | Chloe Osborn
Death Stranding is a totally unique title and doubles as a cinematic experience too. As my first big game on my PC which I built in the summer, I was in awe of the limits that the graphics could reach. The motion capture and voice acting was superb, genuinely feeling like a live-action film at times! You’re in for a long ride with the 50+ hours of content, but with an immersive world and story, it never felt like wasted time. Sure, it could be cheesy and downright weird at times, but Hideo Kojima really has created something original. Featuring the timefall and cargo weight mechanics, I know this title won’t be for everyone. But personally, it stood out for me and was something entirely new. Insane, quirky and breathtaking, it’s not a hard decision for Death Stranding to take place as my GOTY!
You can read our Rapid Review of Death Stranding here
COD: Modern Warfare Warzone | TmXGhost
Warzone is not entirely its own game, but deserving of a spot in the GOTY lineup. This game mode has been the staple of Twitch streamers incomes, YouTube videos, Reddit posts and more. It has survived and thrived through Covid-19, giving people something to play with seasonal updates. It has kept gamers together and provided a FREE game to pick up and play whenever the time comes, and its transition to next-gen with Cold War has embedded it as a long term game. The real question is, would this have been the same if 2020 wasn’t spent in lockdown?
Marvel Avengers | Lewis Langton
Now some people would I think I was crazy to choose this as my GOTY but I enjoyed Marvel Avengers a lot! The game was well made despite having some downfalls such as PlayStation exclusive characters etc and a few glitches but the story was awesome. The fact you can play as any Marvel Avenger or character with still more incoming just has me so excited. The graphics were phenomenal and the gameplay was pretty good. I enjoyed the voice acting and think they did an excellent job, I would have loved a free roam mode like in other Marvel games but I still really enjoyed it.
You do not have to spend money on cosmetics but they are available to get; I’m saving mine up for a really good costume and all DLC will be FREE! All in all, I think this game was fantastic even though people were not huge fans of it. I enjoyed playing through it and I’m really excited about the new storylines and locations coming soon.
You can read our Rapid Review of Avengers here
With so many games releasing this year, many of our writers had games they deemed worthy of an honourable mention.
Cartergaz | Paper Mario The Origami King & Good Job
Pete Beckett/ Kiley Wilde | Final Fantasy 7 Remake
Alicia Brunskill | Doom Eternal, Resident Evil 3 (remake), Manifold Garden, Yakuza Kiwami and Evan’s Remains (all on Xbox One).
Squashpickle | Astrobot, Ghostrunner, Sackboy A Big Adventure, Watch Dogs: Legion
Jonathan Ober | Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
Stephen Warcop | Bug Fables
Chloe Osborn | Animal Crossing New Horizons
Seb Hawden | Demons Souls, Hades, Astros Playroom, Ghost of Tsushima, Tony Hawks 1& 2, Patapon 2 Remastered
TmXGhost | Two Point Hospital
What a year it’s been for games and what a year we’ve had at Rapid Reviews. Thank you to our readers for your continued support and to the publishers and PR teams that have given us the opportunity to write reviews for some excellent games and products. With plenty of releases next year, stay tuned for our next Rapid Review!
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.