The GAMINGbible Team's Favourite Video Games Of 2020 So Far
We're three months into what is proving to be a strange and testing year. Video games are a great friend in these trying times, and the team at GAMINGbible has, below, picked their standout releases from the year so far.
Who knew that all we wanted, right now, was our own deserted island away from all of this, eh?
Dan Wilson picks... Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Has there ever been a better time to escape to a deserted island, but without the shame of being one of these berks that goes on an "isolation holiday", inadvertently putting extra strain on the local NHS services and p*ssing off locals? However this isn't isolation, folks - this is Animal Crossing.
The game has become a staple part of my stay-at-home routine now - even when out on my daily stretch-of-the-legs. (Got to keep that step count up, aye?) I'm looking at my local park thinking about planting money trees and catching black bass. I've even stopped thinking about my bills in real life, as I'm more concerned about repaying the Nook loan. If you're suffering from cabin fever and looking for escapism, then this is it. (Read our review here.)
Ewan Moore picks... Ori And The Will Of The Wisps
I've always been a sucker for a good metroidvania. But Ori And The Will Of The Wisps isn't a "good" metroidvania game - it's a phenomenal one. Moon Studios' Xbox One sequel is a stunning experience that marries challenging platforming with a beautifully designed open world crammed full of secrets, danger, and ingenious puzzles.
It's a game that was frequently able to reduce me to tears with little more than a haunting piece of music and wordless interaction. It had me punching the air after every thrilling set piece and boss fight, or wooping in delight at every inventive new idea it threw my way - and it tosses out new ideas, challenges, and locations at an almost alarming rate.
Ori And The Will Of The Wisps doesn't just deserve to be regarded as one of the best games of 2020, but as one of the very best examples of what a studio can do when they're given the time and resources to really put everything they have into their vision. A breathtaking achievement on all fronts. (Read our review here.)
James Daly picks... Persona 5 Royal
If you read my 10/10-scored review then it'll be no surprise that my favourite game of 2020 so far is Persona 5 Royal. In fact, it'll take an almighty effort to knock it off that spot by December.
What makes P5R such a phenomenal JRPG is a combination of excellent elements. Characters offer alluring levels of depth, in-game locations are brimming with life, and the story is as enjoyable as it is heartbreaking. While all of this was in the original Persona 5 back in 2016, Royal goes beyond in every sense.
There's new characters, more locations and additional story content, too, and it's all superb. Gameplay seamlessly blends crawling through dungeons and turn-based combat with rich social encounters and relationship building that would rival any high school sim. Persona 5 Royal gives you a fascinating world capable of hooking you for over 100 hours easily, and at a time like this there's no better game.
Julian Benson picks... Animal Crossing: New Horizons
I've never been hooked by an Animal Crossing game before, and I can't tell if New Horizons' current grip on me is a case of the game being more accessible, my tastes changing, or what's going on in the outside world. What I do know is I've been hopping into the game multiple times a day to fish, pick fruit, and try to sell my turnips for a hefty profit.
It's not just me, though. Friends who I've never played games with before are turning up in my DMs to ask questions like, "You got peaches? I'll give you peaches for cherries." We're sharing tips, showing off our houses, and complimenting each others' aesthetic choices while quietly stewing in jealousy at their gorgeous pink sewing machine.
I'm still so early in the game - I've only just upgraded Resident Services into a brick and mortar building - but I'm already in love with New Horizons. I don't know if I'll become the sort of Animal Crossing player I see on Twitter, the kind who has pixel-perfect, custom-designed clothing and islands that would be featured on a documentary about the UK's 'Village of the Year', but during the lockdown at least, I'm sure I'll be playing every day.
Honourable Mentions: DOOM Eternal, Dota Underlords
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Mark Foster picks... Animal Crossing: New Horizons
I've never played an Animal Crossing game before. In truth, I dismissed it as a game for kids and kid-like adults. As a 30-year-old man, where's the fun in skipping around an island, harvesting fruit and running up crippling debt for a capitalist raccoon? No. it's not for me.
Then I played Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and realised what a moron I've been for letting this game pass me by for years.
Maybe it's the current state of the world that's allowing me to look at this with rose-tinted glasses; daydreaming about living life on a far-away island bleached in tropical sunshine, while I spend literally hours and hours of my real-world day in pursuit of exotic sea life and butterflies. It's utter bliss. I've even decorated my in-game home like my studio apartment, which is weirdly cathartic. I can escape inwardly to this little world when the real one seems so surreal.
Is it still a game about skipping around an island, harvesting fruit and running up crippling debt for a capitalist raccoon? Absolutely. Does that sound like a chore to me anymore? You bet your bottom Bell it doesn't.
Honourable Mention: Resident Evil 3
Mike Diver picks... Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Well, this is becoming awkward, isn't it? I've started New Horizons later than a lot of people in my Twitter feed, which has led to some serious envy when I'm spying the fancy pads they're calling their own, and the many and varied villagers that they're sharing their island with. Because here's me, on my little spot of paradise, with just a single rickety bridge and one ladder to go around. I'm still sleeping in a camping cot, uh.
But there's no doubt that my first-ever Animal Crossing has its paws in me - in my few moments of calm right now, I find myself wondering how Blathers is doing, and what those Nook nephews are putting out for sale. It's going to be my long game for 2020, I'm sure of that; and while I'm less bothered than most about catching a particular fish, I'm just loving the chilled-out good times whenever I fire up the Switch.
Honourable Mentions: Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition, Coffee Talk (it has the best chill-out soundtrack of the year so far), Persona 5 Royal... and Thronebreaker and Stories Untold on Switch if we're allowing ports
Phil Boon picks... Animal Crossing: New Horizons
I'm sure it won't come as a surprise to readers that my favourite game of this quarter is Animal Crossing: New Horizons, along with some (most) of my colleagues. Having played Wild World back in the day, I am fully aware of how much Animal Crossing can consume your life, and New Horizons certainly hasn't disappointed when it comes to that. There's nothing better than diving into a new world knowing that it'll be your home from home from now until something else comes along.
New Horizons couldn't have come at a better time with all that's going on in the world right now. I've found myself spending my free hours during the day playing it, as well as any spare minutes at the start and end of the working day. As I'm writing this, I'm fighting off serious urges to chop down trees and craft furniture for my island retreat. There's no better feeling than playing a game like Animal Crossing and knowing that you've still got so much to experience, and so many new islanders to meet!
Honourable Mentions: Two Point Hospital on Switch, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered
Tom Ryan-Smith picks... Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Without looking at everyone else on the team's choice for their GOTY so far, I'm gonna say the majority picked Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Ewan may possibly have picked Ori 2, James will have picked Persona 5 Royal, and Phil may have pulled a fast one and chosen Modern Warfare 2 Remastered after only one day. But I, it seems, fall in with the majority.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a bloody delight, and as a newcomer to the franchise I can honestly say I have no idea why I've never played a game in the series before. Of course, with the world in a bit of a kerfuffle right now, AC:NH dropped at the perfect time. For both myself and my partner (who is addicted to this game) it's the perfect getaway to a chilled-out world where everything is bright, joyous and adorable - and social distancing is completely unheard of.
Although, I seriously wish the other inhabitants would actually shell out something for the construction works.
Honourable Mention: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered
Will McCue picks... Ori And The Will Of The Wisps
Our very own Ewan Moore persuaded me to play the wonderful Celeste about a year ago, and I adored it. So when he reviewed Ori And The Will Of The Wisps and called it "the best game on Xbox One so far", I knew I had to give it a go.
I completed 2015's Ori And The Blind Forest in about three days earlier this year, and immediately moved onto the sequel. Will Of The Wisps is a more fleshed-out version of its predecessor, offering side quests and boss battles while still telling an emotive story in a completely enthralling world.
The soundtrack that plays as you jump, glide and boost through different areas of the new setting is so relaxing that I found myself listening to it on Spotify while trying to chill out and forget about the outside world for a while. The plethora of environments are a real treat on the eye as you tackle challenging platforming puzzles and make new friends on your journey - friends with personalities that you actually care about. There are segments, especially towards the end of the adventure, that can be pretty tricky - but they're never so difficult that they make you want to put your head through a nearby window.
During my time with the little guardian spirit, I thought that Ori would make a fantastic animated movie adaptation - you know, a Pixar one with all the feels. Will Of The Wisps is probably the best metroidvania game I've played.
Honourable Mention: Call of Duty: Warzone
Featured Image Credit: SEGA/Atlus, Microsoft, Nintendo