How did you keep your sanity in 2020? Throughout the year 2020, everyone needed a little escape. Our favorite distraction? Gaming! Over the past few decades, video games have evolved tremendously, they’ve moving beyond simple mindless distractions. They’ve built entire worlds that pull us in and immerse us in a story bigger than ourselves. Well, mostly
Today, Scarlett Media Presents the top 10 games that saved our sanity in 2020, transporting us to exotic locations and connecting us with all the friends we miss while in quarantine.
Please keep your arms and legs inside the video at all times, unless it’s to hit those like and subscribe buttons. If that’s the case, then do it, we dare you!
Number 10: Among Us
Among Us, one of the most massively popular games of 2020, was actually released way back in 2018. It sold decently for an indie game, but it certainly wasn’t about to break any sales records.
That is, not until it started to gain traction on Twitch. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what got the ball rolling for Among Us. What we do know is that several streamers were playing it regularly for months, but around July of 2020, those streams suddenly began to take off. More and more streamers began playing the game with their streamer friends, and a new phenomenon was born.
Among Us became a worldwide sensation seemingly overnight, and it’s not hard to see why. With low system requirements, it was easy to play on PCs, phones, and tablets. Plus, with all the social distancing and quarantining 2020 brought, the game’s addicting backstabbing action gave us all a way to come together and reconnect with people all over the world–no matter how sus they are.
Number 9: Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla
Remember life before the pandemic? Ubisoft remembers. It was a time of warring empires, ancient espionage, and plundering Vikings. Of course, this was about 1200 years before the pandemic, but it still counts.
Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla is the latest in the franchise’s yearly installments, and if ever there was a year we needed some consistency, it was 2020. It helped that this particular release saw a slight return to the series’ roots, with stealth and action delicately balanced against an epic storyline.
Though it was released late in the year, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla gave fans a sense of familiarity while also providing a much-needed escape. After all, nothing takes away the quarantine blues like sailing a Viking ship through the open seas.
Number 8: Doom Eternal
When the time comes to unwind and de-stress, some people like to relax with a bath. Some people enjoy exercise. But sometimes, the only thing that works is shooting a few demons right in the face.
No one understands that need better than the developers of Doom Eternal, a game that features some truly unrelenting demon-exploding action.
As the direct sequel to 2016’s Doom and the fifth game in the Doom franchise overall, Doom Eternal couldn’t have come at a better time. It’s still got the same heavy-metal monster-slaying action we all need, but in contrast to the previous game, it focuses a bit more on storytelling.
This time, Hell is taking over the Earth, and it’s up to one man, the Doomslayer, to save the entire planet. In a year like 2020, fighting the legions of Hell with an arsenal of weapons while heavy metal plays in the background is even better than therapy.
Number 7: Half-Life: Alyx
The year was 2007. The latest installment in the Half-Life series had just been released after years of hype, and fans couldn’t wait for the next sequel.
Fortunately for them, they only had to wait 13 years! And not for a sequel at all, but a prequel! At long last, Half-Life: Alyx was released in March of 2020, exclusively to virtual reality consoles.
Fans weren’t sure about the VR-only aspect, but this ended up paying off in a big way. Half-Life: Alyx brought so much innovation to the world of VR that many consider it to not only be the best VR game ever made but a showcase of just what VR was always intended to be.
The game gained universal acclaim for its unique gameplay features, immersive atmosphere, and for living up to the Half-Life legacy–over a decade in the making.
More than any other game this year, Half-Life: Alyx gave gamers an entirely unique way to once again be captivated by a world they know and love.
Number 6: Final Fantasy 7 Remake
Many a 90s kid has fond memories of firing up their Playstation, loading Final Fantasy 7, and crossing their fingers that there wouldn’t be a disc-read error. Oh, and then playing the game, of course.
When Final Fantasy 7 was released in 1997, it was hailed as one of the greatest video games ever made. Even today, it’s considered hugely influential on modern gaming in general.
Needless to say, when Square Enix announced a remake was coming, fans were ecstatic. Finally, in April of 2020, Final Fantasy 7 Remake was released–five years after that initial announcement.
It’s a complete reimagining of the original, expanding the story and gameplay into a game that’s both new and familiar. Of course, it was a massive success, selling over 3.5 million copies in its first three days.
As a standalone game, Final Fantasy is fantastic. But as a way to re-experience our childhoods in a new way–especially in a year like 2020–it truly excels.
Number 5: Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
Among Us wasn’t the only indie game to experience a meteoric rise to fame in 2020. But unlike Among Us, Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout was a massive hit from day one.
Released in August for PC and PS4, Fall Guys managed to gain 1.5 million active players in just a single day, and it quickly became the number one most downloaded PS Plus game of all time.
The game draws inspiration from the Japanese game show Takeshi’s Castle and the US show Wipeout. It’s basically a battle royale version of an obstacle course, with cute characters, saccharine music, and bright colors.
This obviously turned out to be a winning combination, and it took the world by storm. Though its popularity has faded a bit in the months since its release, Fall Guys’ innocent appeal was a welcome distraction from the world around us. That is, until you couldn’t pass round three, no matter how hard you tried. Ugh [frustrated sound]!
Number 4: The Last of Us Part II
From the developers that brought you Crash Bandicoot, Jak and Daxter, and Keef the Thief comes The Last of Us Part II–a sequel to the little-known indie gem, The Last of Us.
When this sequel was announced in 2016 with a small teaser, fans went crazy. But art takes time, and four years of hype later, The Last of Us Part II was finally released in June of 2020. Somehow, the game managed to live up to the hype–and then some.
Set five years after the first game, things in post-apocalyptic America haven’t exactly gotten better. But then, with a game about a zombifying fungus and total societal collapse, that was expected. The Last of Us Part II tells a bleak but extremely well-written story that takes Ellie and her companions to some truly dark places.
In 2020, many people thought that we were on the brink of an apocalypse ourselves. But between the killer torture cults, the marauding bandits, and the hordes of zombies, The Last of Us Part II reminds us that, “Hey, things could always be worse!”
Number 3: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 (the nostalgia angle)
Is it possible to sell nostalgia in a video game box? Well, Activision certainly thinks so. And with the release of the remastered versions of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2, it turns out that he is absolutely correct.
Nothing is so wholesome as perfecting a kickflip, a manual, or the iconic 900. It transports us back to a simpler time: when Bam Margera was a role model, Blink-182 was at the top of the charts, chunky sneakers were all the rage.
The game doesn’t have any fancy storyline to distract from the sick tricks, just time limits and the inner drive to beat your own high score.
Things have changed since then, but more than ever, paying a visit to simpler times is a welcome invitation.
Number 2: Ghost of Tsushima
Remember the old Sly Cooper games from the PS2 era? Well, as it turns out, their developer hadn’t just fallen off the face of the Earth, as I had assumed. In fact, they released one of the best games of 2020.
Ghost of Tsushima centers around a samurai undertaking the noble mission of protecting Tsushima Island from invading Mongols. That may have sounded like a brief history lesson, and that’s exactly how Ghost of Tsushima excels.
Beyond the gorgeous, atmospheric visuals, the intuitive combat, and the accurate portrayal of feudal Japan, Ghost of Tsushima is a story about honor and integrity. It’s about a warrior who cares for his country and its people and will fight to defend it.
These 13th-century ideals resonate now, more than ever. For those of us in the 21st century, being transported to an ancient, beautifully-realized world was a refreshing adventure.
Before we break into the number one spot, be sure to hit the like button, and if we missed any games, be sure to let us know in the comments!
Number 1: Animal Crossing
In March of 2020, winter was still in full swing, and worldwide, things were just beginning to go downhill. The pandemic was still an epidemic, but it was becoming clear that the year could get rough.
But somewhere, on a tropical island populated by friendly talking animals, things were perfect. This island may have only existed inside the Nintendo Switch, but for players of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the escape was no less real.
Honestly, the fifth game in the Animal Crossing series couldn’t have been released at a better time. Through the coming months, people experienced all kinds of unfortunate circumstances, and lockdowns were common. In the midst of all that, being able to connect with friends all over the world in an idyllic paradise was the perfect distraction.
This is partly why, after only nine months, the game is currently the 28th best-selling video game of all time. There’s just something therapeutic about building a community from scratch, fishing, and shaking trees. The only downside? The massive amount of debt you owe to one greedy raccoon.
And there you have it! Much like 2020, this video is over. Are there any games you think we should have covered? Maybe some that you disagree with? Let us know in the comments! And as always, thanks for watching. See you next time!
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Scarlett.Media productions are for commentary, criticism and parody. All media samples are for transformative and fair use.
See Hosseinzadeh v. Klein, 276 F.Supp.3d 34 (S.D.N.Y. 2017); Equals Three, LLC v. Jukin Media, Inc., 139 F. Supp. 3d 1094 (C.D. Cal. 2015).
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