As I mentioned in my kickoff post, I decided to break my usual Top 10 Games of the Year list into two separate Top 5 lists: the ones actually from 2020, and the ones from my backlog. I’ve already written in more detail about each of these games, but 5 separate 750 word posts isn’t a very digestible format!

So as a supplement, here’s the version of the list that gets right to the point.

5. Dragon’s Dogma

Dragon’s Dogma is an oddball mashup of JRPG and western open-world RPG sensibilities, resulting in lots of surprising, unique, and sometimes hilarious systems and interactions. It’s a game where the wilderness between settlements is genuinely dangerous, and where you never quite know what’s coming next. Twists and subplots never failed to surprise and delight, even far into the game.

For more details, read my full write-up.

4. Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor

A polygonal sci-fi adventure game about picking up trash and wanting to leave a crappy place. It’s weird and obtuse, but gives the player space to figure things out. It finds a critique of capitalism and labor politics that’s incisive, but less dour than many of its indie contemporaries. The world of Spaceport Janitor is offbeat and full of intriguing details. It’s grim, yet also charming. It’s bizarre, but also relatable.

For more details, read my full write-up.

3. Disco Elysium

Disco Elysium is a grim RPG that’s deeply wrapped up in political philosophy. It has some of the most effective dark humor I’ve seen in games as well as a cast of odd and memorable characters. While other games approach similar subject matter with irreverence, Disco deploys equal parts cynicism, bitterness, and hopefulness with profound sincerity and a dash of noire melodrama.

For more details, read my full write-up.

2. Pathologic 2

A survival game about plague, industry, and community in a fictionalized version of the rural Russian Steppe. It’s both relentlessly brutal and relentlessly strange and dramatic. It uses theater as both a running metanarrative subplot and an inspiration for its lighting and framing. Characters speak in riddles, the town’s impression of you shifts, and death pursues the townsfolk indiscriminately. Pathologic 2 is hard to recommend due to its overwhelming difficulty, but it’s hard not to recommend for its sheer audacity and originality.

For more details, read my full write-up.

1. ECHO

ECHO is a stealth game in which you face an army of doppelgangers that learn what you do and use it against you. The gimmick of AI that learns from your actions is neat on its own, but the masterful execution (as well as stellar level design, UI design, and creeping horror elements) is what makes it work. It’s tense, terrifying, and deeply uncanny. I think ECHO has the potential to be a true cult hit, and to inspire all manner of clever ideas in future stealth games.

For more details, read my full write-up.


Thanks for following along with my GOTY list so far! Coming up next, I’ll be counting down my Top 5 Games of 2020 (you know, the ones that actually came out this year). Look forward to that in the days to come!