Animal Crossing: New Horizons
It seems almost impossible to write about the top games of 2020 without mentioning Animal Crossing! The seemingly perfect timing of the game’s release as most of the world was in, or heading into, nationwide lockdowns was probably one of the greatest accidental marketing strategies of all time.
The game instantly became a worldwide phenomenon causing Nintendo Switch consoles to sell out across most of the market. Fans flocked to pick up the console and the latest game in the series, whilst new fans also jumped on the bandwagon.
Whether it was gamers seeking the nostalgia of reliving one of Nintendo’s most popular titles, or newbies desperately seeking escapism from the isolation many found themselves in, Animal Crossing New Horizons certainly captured the imagination and attention of many. With its endless game play and freedom to customise just about everything and socialise with your friends, ACNH helped to bring the world together whilst we were all so far apart.
Many will roll their eyes at the mention of ACNH here as the Game of the Year, but there is no denying the impact this game has had on the industry and its popularity among a variety of gamers worldwide.
The Indifferent Wonder of an Edible Place by Studio Oleomingus
You stand in front of an ornate blue and gold tower. It rises at the centre of a large puddle, surrounded by haphazardly laid about TVs. You, the tower, the puddle, and the TVs are the only things on the small blue patterned island. You look up at the tower. As a government-sanctioned building-eater, you are here to consume it. You are here to erase history.
Dhruv Jani and Sushant Chakraborty are Studio Oleomingus, and they don’t make games in the traditional sense. Their productions are weird, beautiful, unique and more akin to surreal short stories. Most only take 10ish minutes to ‘complete’. As pretentious as it may sound, it feels off to call them games: they’re more akin to interactive experiences.
The game consists of eating the blocks as advised by the many TV screens, occasionally seeing absurdist visions and extracts from letters to your brother about your shame at your occupation. It’s rare that a game feels so charged and deliberate, but that’s Oleomingus. They have three other games on itch.io – all also in the “pay what you want” category, and there’s not a single one I wouldn’t wholeheartedly recommend.
I wanted to choose Cyberpunk 2077 but alas we are still a few days away from its release. Those close to me have been warned that my lack of contact will be due to this game. In its stead, my Game of the Year is Super Mario 3D All-Stars! Just kidding, it’s Factorio.
Now, this could be considered cheating since it has been in Early Access since 2016, but I’ve spent my life far ahead of the haters, and I don’t intend to slow down yet.
I played the game a while ago, and actually reviewed it this February. I affirmed then that this game is a work of art, and upon release I can still affirm it is a work of art.
You spend time perfecting your factory, increasing its efficiency at automation until you can’t possibly perfect it any more. The plot twist is that you can then restart using everything you have learned and make another from scratch. The factory must grow, after all.