The review aggregator, Metacritic, has recently published its list for the best games released in 2020 across multiple platforms.
Metacritic is a useful shorthand for an at-a-glance look at the best games due to the way that it averages out multiple reviews to arrive at an average score, reflective of the general critical opinion.
The downside with Metacritic is that these scores often lack the specific context and critical arguments meant to support the scores in question.
Metacritic ranks 13 best games from 2020 with a score greater than 90
Despite the unique challenges to 2020, last year saw the release of a healthy handful of strong games. These games ranged from strong narrative experiences and stories to games built on unique systems and moment-to-moment gameplay. There’s no one way to make a great game, something that only becomes more apparent when looking at how different 2020’s highest scoring releases are.
Metacritic's list of best games were decided by average critical scores. Metacritic does not offer an argument or reason behind why a game scored how it did, and for that, readers will have to look at the individual critical reviews.
The 13 best games that earned average scores above 90 on Metacritic are:
- Half-Life: Alyx (93)
- Persona 5 Royal (95)
- Hades (93)
- Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition (91)
- The Last of Us Part II (93)
- Ori and the Will of the Wisps (93)
- F1 2020 (91)
- Microsoft Flight Simulator (91)
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons (90)
- Crusader Kings III (91)
- Demon’s Souls [Remake] (92)
- Yakuza 0 (90)
- Spelunky 2 (91)
Of this list, the best game for 2020 overall is Persona 5 Royal with an impressive score of 95. One thing to note is that Metacritic's list for best games was limited to only include those with seven or more reviews.
Breakdown of 2020s’s best games
These 13 best games can provide some insight into some of the wider trends of gaming. It’s noteworthy that of the 13 different games that earned a score of 90 or higher, just one of them is an original property (Hades). Every other title on the list is either a sequel, remake, or remaster of some previous title.
This shows a continuation of the trend for game developers to be risk averse, but it also shows how difficult it can sometimes be to get a unique concept made, let alone to have gamers catch on to it.
In games, like in movies, tried and tested ideas, alongside franchise recognizability, help get gamers to buy the product in question. Gamers tend to be far less critical of sequels and remakes because the metric used to judge them is different.
Remakes and sequels are usually judged with their previous titles in mind, and that can color what players consider to be good. Had Demon’s Souls released, only for players to find that it was actually Super Mario Odyssey, the game would have been considered to be much worse. That’s not because Super Mario Odyssey is a bad title, but simply because it doesn’t fit players’ expectations about what a Demon’s Souls game should be.
From a development perspective, making a sequel or remake is easier, as they can more clearly know how their game will be judged, whereas making an original title can be quite a risk. When an original title gets released, the developer can only guess if the game will be judged by its visual style, narrative, characters, gameplay, balance, or any other such thing.
So it’s easy to see how sequels often have a better shot of achieving both critical and public acclaim. Despite this, players and developers shouldn’t be too shy about trying out some original titles now or in the future.Published 09 Jan 2021, 00:25 IST