Top 10 Worst Best Games Of 2020

Games at the end of a console generation are supposed to demonstrate the outgoing systems’ true power – the culmination of developers’ years of practice and technical expertise. But I guess sometimes that doesn’t work out, and studios just need to push whatever they have out the door so they can start working on better things. That was clearly the case in 2020, which gave us a truly disappointing barrage of mediocre titles. Of course, that doesn’t stop some people from wrongly saying they are great – which is why I’m here to correctly call out the worst so-called “best” games of the year.

10

Astro's Playroom

We don’t see a lot of traditional 3D platformers anymore, and Astro’s Playroom shows us why. It uses a design template from the late ‘90s based solely on collecting doo-dads, but then adds a bunch of cheap gimmicks to show off what the DualSense controller can do (it vibrates). Did no one tell Sony that this game would come preinstalled on every PlayStation 5? Because it feels like Astro’s Playroom is trying really hard to sell me something I already bought. 

9

Yakuza: Like a Dragon

Imagine that an evil wizard is holding you captive in a tower, and every day for many years, you are fed only bread and water. Then, one day, the evil wizard gives you bread and apple juice instead. After doing the same boring thing for so long, does this evil wizard deserve your praise and gratitude for finally changing things up a little bit? No, but gamers are too stupid to see that. Instead, they love Like a Dragon because it has a new hero, city, and battle system. In other words, it finally tries something slightly different after more than a decade of delivering the same old slop.

8

Final Fantasy VII Remake

Oh, look, I obtained the secret pitch for Final Fantasy VII Remake. It says, “We need a remake doomed to exist in the shadow of its original form from 20 years ago. But here’s the twist: We’ll only retell the first four hours of that game, stretched and padded beyond recognition to justify full retail price. Then we can ruin the story at the very end after people have already played the whole game.” Okay, I lied. That is not the real pitch document. But things don’t need to be real to be true, you know?

7

Assassin's Creed Valhalla

After so many years of iteration, I can’t even tell the Assassin’s Creed games apart anymore. Each one is more like a greatest hits album from some old band, mixing and matching previous successes instead of creating something new. Let’s face it, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla may as well be called “The Essential Assassin’s Creed Compilation.” It takes some base-building from one entry, sailing from another, and then borrows light RPG systems to hold it all together. Sure, it has a new Viking setting, but that’s basically the video game equivalent of “lovingly remastered tracks” anyway.

6

Ghost of Tsushima

Many people complain that all open-world games feel the same now, just giving players a bunch of different icons to chase on a big map. Ghost of Tsushima proves them wrong, because this time, the map is in JAPAN. That obviously makes a huge difference, because running after dumb foxes and liberating countless indistinguishable farmsteads suddenly becomes awesome and fun when you are doing it with a katana … apparently.

5

Among Us

I hate to be a stickler here (not really), but Among Us does not qualify to be one of the best games of 2020. I ask that you stop enjoying it immediately. I don’t care how fun it is to play. I don’t care how well the development team has supported it. The fact is this: Among Us came out in 2018, and therefore cannot be a good game that you played in 2020. Sorry, but that’s just pure mathematics.

4

Hades

Okay, full disclosure: I didn't even play Hades. I just know I won't like it, because the people who do like it are very annoying online. From what I can gather, Hades is a dating simulator about hooking up with hot gods, and maybe it has a combat system. Whatever it is, I’m comfortable saying that Hades is overrated garbage, because people use the word “roguelike” to describe it, so I automatically know everything I need to. I’ve basically already finished the game without playing a single second, and it left me disappointed.

3

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim

Ugh, can everyone just please stop talking about 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim already!? I don’t know what sort of conspiracy or media bias is at work here, but it seems like everywhere I look, this game is getting another award or being streamed by some big-time influencer or member of Congress. Granted, 13 Sentinels has a clever narrative with some cool sci-fi inspirations – but how many people are going to see through the hype and see it for what it is? This is a textbook case of mainstream overexposure creating too much noise and unrealistic expectations.

2

The Last of Us Part II

A thing happened in this story that I did NOT want to happen, making this one of the absolute worst games ever made.

1

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Playing video games is supposed to be an escape – something people can do when they are tired of paying off loans, pulling weeds, and managing the escalating insecurities of their friends. Animal Crossing: New Horizons wants to steal that from you. This insidious ploy from Nintendo is designed to transmute your entertainment into work and replace your real-life anxieties with virtual analogs. Everyone blames the worldwide pandemic for how awful 2020 was, but I’m just saying: Things only got really bad about the same time Animal Crossing: New Horizons released.

Astro’s Playroom Is A True Next-Gen Experience

Astro's Playroom

On the PlayStation 5, you can swing around a lovingly recreated New York City as Spider-Man, zipping around at 60 frames-per-second or in 4K resolution. You can listen to the explosions in Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War surround you in 3D audio. You can marvel at the way giant AAA games load in a matter of two or three seconds, wondering how you ever dealt with load times in the past, disgusted by the mere thought. 

Also, you can put this cute little robot named Astro in a spaceship, and when you do that, you have to zip him in there. Here's the best part, though: When you zip him up, the DualSense controller that comes with the PS5 rumbles, and it feels like a real zipper! That's next-gen gaming, baby. That's the reason I spent $500 on this big ugly box in the middle of a pandemic and financial crisis. 

But seriously: Of all the games I've played on the PlayStation 5, Astro's Playroom (review) is the only one that truly feels like a next-gen experience. This is partly because it's the only game I've played so far that’s not also on the PlayStation 4 (I haven't had time for Demon's Souls, sorry). Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Call of Duty look pretty, and they load very fast, but they don't make extensive use of the PS5's new features. But in Astro ... that zipper, man. 

Astro's Playroom

Multiple times a day I zip my pants up and down. It is, without question, one of the most unremarkable things I do in a 24-hour period – unless I get something caught in there, in which case, it's pretty memorable. But to feel my controller rumble in such a way that I can feel a zipper opening and closing, it's unlike anything I've ever felt in a video game before. I've never lived in a time where controller rumble wasn't a thing, but this feels new and unique. Even if it is just mimicking something as mundane as zipping your pants. 

I love the little details in games. When the lips of a character move accurately to the words spoken on screen, I eat that up. When a character's clothes have a visible thread count, I go ballistic. The other day I watched a video that showed Miles Morales' suit visibly flapping in the wind and I could've sworn I'd time-traveled to the year 3020. 

In a way, caring about these tiny details is a little silly. I can see lips move alongside words by talking to literally anyone in real life; I can look at my own shirt and see the threads that hold it together. To prove this point, while writing this, I am zipping my pants up and down, feeling each tooth of the zipper with my actual human hands. I love these things in games, though, because they make our fantasy computer worlds feel more real. They allow us to be more immersed because each tiny detail more closely resembles our own world. The PlayStation 6 is going to shoot pheromones out of the controller, and I'm going to be able to finally smell Kratos' musk. You best believe I'm going to be more immersed than I was in those archaic, non-scented games. 

Astro's Playroom is designed with a couple of key objectives in mind. Firstly, it's a celebration of 25 years of PlayStation. It is effectively a big fun advertisement for the box you already bought. It's also a showcase for the DualSense controller and the new haptic feedback and rumble technology therein. Does feeling the sand between my palms or rain on my hands add anything to the game? Probably not. Is it really cool? Of course. I didn't need to feel a zipper in Astro's Playroom, but it's really cool. That's what next-gen gaming is all about: new, interesting, and cool stuff that these big new boxes can do. 

Astro's Playroom

Astro's Playroom is fundamentally designed around the rumble of the DualSense, so each in-game texture has a unique rumble and feels completely new to the types of gaming experiences I'm used to. Higher framerates, faster loading, better resolution, all this stuff is cool, but it's not new. If anything, consoles are just catching up to where PCs have been for years. But you show me one damn Dell, HP, or Alienware that can accurately model the hand-feel of a zipper. You can't! This is truly something new, and I appreciate it for that. Sure, the other games of the launch lineup are doing things with the controller, but I never got a good sense of what was different in Miles Morales and I am weirded out by more accurate triggers in Call of Duty, which make my headshots feel more lifelike. Astro is constantly throwing new feelings at you. For the one or two hours I played that game, nothing in my hands ever felt the same. 

If you ask me, much like the touchpad on the PlayStation 4 (which I am genuinely shocked makes a return on the PS5) or Nintendo's own rumble tech with the Switch, I imagine this is going to be something really awesome the PlayStation 5 can do that developers may never dedicate the time and resources to fully support. At the end of this generation, I suspect Astro's Playroom will stand among only a few games that made the most of what the DualSense can do. And that's fine. Doing anything in game development is expensive from a labor and cost perspective, and if it isn't absolutely crucial to the experience – which I really don't think cooler rumble is going to be in every case – it might not make the cut. But for now, compared to the other games you can play on the PlayStation 5, Astro's Playroom stands out as the only one that provides something that wasn't possible before.