A quick preface: Sorry to Empire Of Sin, Worms Rumble, Haven, Immortals Fenyx Rising, Morbid: The Seven Acolytes, Phogs! Crumble, Call Of The Sea, Monster Sanctuary and Cyberpunk 2077. You are all releasing in December and go into the 2021 bag of potential award winners.
Welcome to the strangest year that ever was. Adjusting to the new order of things has taken some time and we are all sliding into a Christmas lockdown with a sense that things aren’t going to get better anytime soon. Still, if a studio that was publicly shamed for excessive crunch can still win a Best Game Studio award then anything is possible! Despite the madness and some studios it has been a great year for video games. ElderlyGoose.com has had a great year stats-wise and views and traffic has almost doubled! I’d like to take this moment to thank the PR, Community Managers and various people that get in touch about their games and products. I do review everything that is sent me and I still have a backlog to get through. I also want to thank you, yes, YOU. You specifically. Simply for reading this. I’m always blown away when I look at the stats and love comments on anything I type. It’s a great boost to know people enjoy my work.
Once again, Thank You.
Anyway. Let’s get this show on the road!
The Most “Why do I feel I have to 100% this?” Game of 2020
WINNER – Fairy Tail
Runner up – Fall Guys
Fairy Tail was a great game, not a bad one but not one I ever thought I’d need to 100%. It was enjoyable enough once the story was complete and the credits rolled around, but I still felt compelled to fire it back up and finish every trophy. It was a bit grindy and the fanservice was ridiculous but there was a real sense of “oh, go on then” when it came to the trophies. Fairy Tail kept me going back until everything was finished and I’m still not sure why.
As for Fall Guys? Well after the initial ‘wow factor’ wore off, I was 100% sure I’d finish that first Season Pass before it ended. I never did quite finish everything but I spent days going back to it. Grinding away, desperate to get crowns enough to unlock a shiny legendary costume part in the store.
In the end though I was simply a fall guy for the fairy’s tail.
The Game That Caused The Most Swearing in 2020
WINNER – Super Mario Bros. 35
Runner up – Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
I hate Super Mario Bros. 35 and yet I still find myself going back to it. It has that strange pull that Tetris 99 has where if I see it on the Switch dashboard I’ll think, “oh just one quick go” and next thing I’m swearing like a trooper. I’m completely calm after playing and the Switch isn’t broken but the air is very blue. The language definitely becomes a lot more rated after a few mins of being killed in the top 3. It’s a good thing there isn’t voice chat.
If you’ve ever played Smash online you’ll know why it’s a runner up. Sunday Smash has been a real godsend to my mood this year and Reu (check out his content here! It’s ace!) is an absolute diamond for starting the tradition at the start of the year. I maybe swearing a lot more when playing Smash and when the Online has issues it is infuriating but now that I’ve a GameCube controller and a better grasp of fundamentals it’s a lot more enjoyable.
I feel like a top 35 ultimate Smash Bro.
The Most Relaxing Game Of 2020
WINNER – Magic: The Gathering Arena
Runner up – FINAL FANTASY XIV
I used to play MTG back in my college days and never really played it again until Arena. Hearthstone was always my go to trading card game for years but when it’s late and I want to just chill out and play something that requires strategy but no quick reactions I’ve found myself back to MTG Arena as it has been an absolute joy. The single player content eases you into the rules and explains the new mechanics nicely. It rewards you with new decks and cards before you can play any other humans. Arena gives you the chance to enjoy a trading card game online without having to put any real money in. It’s always a great starting point for a free to play game to not feel like a grind and after weeks of play I ended up buying the equivalent battle pass and when I want a break from stress, I’ll pop on and have a match and feel better for it (even if I lose)
I played FFXIV a fair bit last year and with the big change in free to play allowance in 2020 my partner started playing on the PS4. I fired up the subscription again and was right back in the thick of it (you can’t party 2 free members together sadly) Before I knew it, I was back to exploring the forests and sinking hours into side quests.
Thankfully she grew tired of playing so the fantasy became final and I could go back to the Arena for another dose of magic.
The Biggest Disappointment for 2020
WINNER – Doom Eternal
Runner up – Predator: Hunting Grounds
Hoooo boy. Doom Eternal is going to be a lot of people’s GOTY this year and that’s fine. I just feel like we were playing different games. DOOM was just a stellar, out of this world FPS rush that I still go back to occasionally for a shot of action (that soundtrack is one of the greatest of all time) It was with these high expectations I jumped into Eternal and it started well. Learning that I now needed to saw through enemies for ammo, it was the same run and gun action I loved. Then came the platforming and bosses. As much as I enjoyed the scenes in the game where a boss would have an elaborate introduction, much of the joy fizzled away after bumping into the 4th clone of it. I hated some of the level designs and spent a lot of my time feeling baffled I didn’t know where to go next or running for monsters to get ammo from. The lore was a little too heavy for my liking to and I just didn’t click with it at all. After the credits rolled I just felt burnt out and disappointed.
With Predator: Hunting Grounds the burn out came much sooner. I played the beta with a large amount of curiosity. Was this going to be the title that brought back the Predator? No. No it really wasn’t. The shooting as a soldier felt mediocre with too many spongy enemies. Due to the asymmetrical nature of the game, the Predator was only allowed for short bursts of fun between dull gameplay and generic fps grind.
Still at least I’m not doomed to eternally hunt in the grounds anymore.
The Most Self-aware Game of 2020
WINNER – Going Under
Runner up – Game Dev Tycoon
Given how many video game studios had controversial moments this year it’s amazing how much of the industry is reflected in the narrative for Going Under. From finding out about sexual harassment and to crunching people until they break, the video game industry this year has been pretty horrific. Going Under somehow managed to reflect the stories that happened but the really impressive thing is how the writing and direction took a serious tone when it was needed. There’s humour and style to help process the lines but it’s told in an understanding way. It’s a cracking game that isn’t Hades and deserves to be recognised for more than its enjoyable dungeoneering.
Similarly the port of Game Dev Tycoon to Switch this year was a great reminder of how many things have changed in the industry since its humble beginnings. From scraping a living, coding in a garage to managing a big corporate team in a fancy office, balancing a budget of millions.
It’s a difficult time in 2020 to be a game developer but hopefully the ethical ones can rise to the challenge and not go under.
The Game That I Couldn’t But Wanted To Finish in 2020
WINNER – Spelunky 2
Runner up – Sayonara Wild Hearts
I would love to award Spelunky 2 with GOTY but I can’t get past the first boss and I’m still playing it as much as I can and still sucking at it. It’s become my Ninja Gaiden, do I just award it and hope for the best? After all Spelunky 2 is superb. It’s incredibly fun and I just suck at playing it. Every run of the game I will dive in, progress to about the 2nd level or the 1st boss and just die in some stupid way, only to dive right back in. I pick a character, skip to 1-4 and then try to rush or kill as many shop keepers as I can. Then I die and the process repeats all over again. It’s incredibly enjoyable and once I tweaked the controls back to Spelunky 1 settings I just can’t get enough. It’s not quite GOTY material (I’m not 100% sure on the multiplayer aspects) but it’s solid gold.
Sayonara Wild Hearts is a game I wish I could enjoy more but after a few minutes of play I have to stop. The motorbike scenes for some reason were causing incredible motion sickness. Despite a fantastic soundtrack and enjoyable story I just can’t seem to get into it as easily as others.
Still I aim to get through to the end eventually and hopefully gain enough wild hearts to survive spelunking on the moon.
The Game That Was The Most Frustrating To Install 2020
WINNER – Microsoft Flight Simulator
Runner up – Minecraft
On day 1 when Microsoft Flight Simulator launched on Game Pass nobody had a good time. It didn’t matter how you went about it, what PC you had or what the internet connection felt like doing. The client would need to be installed and then would proceed to download gigs of data at a temperamental rate. Sometimes it would do the entire process in one sitting, other times it would lock up, occasionally it would think it had finished and require an uninstall of the corrupted data to start again. MFS is worth the download though and I enjoyed a nice quiet evening flying over the English Channel in a tiny plane, just the moonlight and engine to guide me.
If you have the Windows 10 edition of Minecraft just leave it at that. Don’t bother trying the Beta as once you’re in it’s an absolute bugger to get back out. I naively installed the Beta to try the RTX effects and although they are stunning I wanted to go back to regular for a bit. Multiple uninstall/reinstalls, refreshing the windows store and dead ends. It took a PowerShell command to finally force it to reset and all of this was simply to enjoy the realm I had accidentally auto-renewed.
You could say I was crafting my own Microsoft store simulator or just a flight of madness.
The Game My Partner Most Enjoyed 2020
WINNER – Animal Crossing New Horizons
Runner up – Spiritfarer
815 hours. My Animal Crossing New Horizons Switch arrived on the 20th March and I’ve clocked up 145 hours since playing the game over the months. I’ve enjoyed my time fishing and slowly creating a village that is a nice balance of nature and camping. El has crafted a city. Her island is staggering with designated areas for seasonal goods, shops and luxuries. Every villager’s house has ornate gardens and paths to a specific structure. Those hours of daily gameplay have resulted in an island that is stunning and an impressive collection of animal portraits hang in her mansion of a house. All relationships cultivated over those 815 hours+ of play.
It was a similar case with Spiritfarer. In 2 weeks she had already finished everything in the game. I can see why, Spiritfarer is a stunning game with incredibly well written characters, stunning animation and moments. It’s not my cup of tea as I found the back and forth a little tedious but El was hooked and I can appreciate why.
This year has been one of animals crossing and spirits that are looking to new horizons.
The ElderlyGoose GOTY for 2019
WINNER – Gears Tactics
Runner up – Tetris Effect Connected
I never expected Gears Tactics to be my GOTY 2020. Every award show for this year has been a landslide of wins for The Last Of Us 2 and although I love the fact the game has great LGBT representation and accessibility features I never really enjoyed the first one. I know Ghost of Tsushima is another contender for a lot of those lists but the idea of an open world game feels tiring at the moment. It’s one of the reasons I’ve slowly lost interest in Genshin Impact and COD Warzone. As much as I enjoyed sinking days worth of hours into Animal Crossing New Horizons it has slowly become more tedious as little bugbears have continued to tick throughout. The game I keep thinking about the most and rooting for in awards isn’t Hades either, it’s Gears Tactics.
X-Com style strategy games have always been things I enjoy to play but the outside of combat management was always stopped me going back for more. Gears Tactics has a great setup for the tinkering outside of combat, with just such light management that you’re never too far from blasting locust enemies and enjoying a quip from your squad. The writing and voice acting is simply superb and the turn based combat is the best of it’s kind. It’s fair but ruthless. Even at harder settings and challenging missions, Gears Tactics is just the best thing 2020 has to offer. Turns out playing with mini figures in the mud and rain, rolling dice and shouting out quirky one liners, is still the best way to get through 2020 after all.
Tetris Effect Connected was released on the 10th November 2020. I never played Tetris Effect so naively thought it was a new game. Diving into the single player content without VR and putting the Xbox1X through it’s paces. Upon learning that the game is an updated version of the original with more features, I dove into the multiplayer and have been blown away. Everything Tetris Effect already did with its sound work, light and colour was already magical but there is something very special in playing with strangers to overcome an obstacle. Syncing with the beats of the music to win against challenging AI bosses. It’s simply amazing but Gears Tactics was just that little bit more memorable.
Tactically I’d say to give them both a go, you’ll likely connect with some gears.
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