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Top 5 single-player games of 2020

Image via Bethesda, SuperGiant Games, PlayStation Store
Image via Bethesda, SuperGiant Games, PlayStation Store

Despite what certain publishers will have players believe, single-player games like GTA or Uncharted are far from "dead" and have continued to gather all sorts of acclaim and accolades. The gaming community has always embraced the single-player experience, which represents some of the best work the industry puts in every year.

Studios like SuperGiant Games, Naughty Dog, and Rockstar North have continued to put out solid single-player experiences that have captivated the audiences. 2020 has been an otherwise difficult year, but not for video games, as players have gotten to play some truly wonderful titles.

Specifically, single-player games have continued to set the bar for the rest of the industry in terms of narrative and technological innovation. Here is a celebration of a fantastic year in gaming by looking at some of the best single-player games that came out.

Five best single-player games this year

Honorable Mentions

  • Half-Life: Alyx
  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons
  • Final Fantasy 7: Remake
  • Assassin's Creed: Valhalla

#5 - Ghost of Tsushima

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SuckerPunch Studios, most well-known for the inFamous franchise, has been quite a successful first-party studio with Sony. Therefore, when news broke of the studio working on a Samurai-themed open-world game set during the Mongol Invasion, fans' interest was piqued.

Ghost of Tsushima, quite possibly, delivered the most stunning visual experience in modern AAA gaming and backed it up with a reliable combat system. The game succeeds in many areas, the strongest of which is perhaps is its heartfelt story of Jin Sakai and his struggles to maintain his honor while facing insurmountable threats.

The title does a great job keeping players engaged throughout its considerably long narrative through brilliant pacing. Rarely does a game compel players to explore the widths of a map purely through its visual quality, as each area in the game looks absolutely pristine.

That is not to say that the game lacks in content as there is plenty of post-Main Story content that players can jump into. The game succeeds by not stretching itself too thin and having just the right amount of content needed for an air-tight and focused single-player experience.


#4 - Ori and the Will of the Wisps

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2015's Ori and the Blind Forest marked Moon Studios' arrival as a bold, new voice in the indie games industry. The title was a bright spot in a relatively quiet year for games. The Metroidvania action-platformer gained all sorts of accolades, and the expectations from a sequel were quite monumental.

Following up on a fan-favorite is quite the task, but the Austrian studio stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park with the sequel. Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a fantastic evolution of the Metroidvania genre and introduces plenty of new elements to keep things interesting.

The game feels both familiar and new for fans of the original and delivers a substantial Metroidvania experience that keeps getting better with each playthrough. The game world feels incredibly open, despite the two-dimensional nature, and never does it feel restrictive.

While players knew that the gameplay would be top-notch, the story told perhaps elevates the game to another level entirely. The brilliant art-style, mixed with a sublime score and a wonderfully paced narrative, makes Ori and the Will of the Wisps an instant classic.

#3 - Hades

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SuperGiant Games, at this point, has established itself as the incumbent king of the indie genre. Each time the studio puts out a game, it seems to set a standard for others to strive for.

Even with the impressive catalog of SuperGiant, which includes the likes of Bastion and Transistor, Hades might just be the studio's best game to date. There is a lot of hype and expectation attached to each of the studio's release, but perhaps none could have anticipated Hades to succeed the way that it did.

The game is tough to critique as its action-packed tirade through hell leaves not a lot to be desired. Each section of the title seems to punish and pummel the player into the ground, but the payoff is unlike anything they will experience.

The story, not one to cower behind the gameplay, also takes center stage as one of the most charming and engaging narratives gamers can enjoy in 2020. Hades is chock-full of interesting and likable characters as well as some genuinely nasty enemy types, making for one entertaining ride through hell.


#2 - Doom Eternal

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Someone on the internet hit the hammer right on the nail when they described Doom Eternal as "a horror-survival game, and you play as the horror." In a year that has been extremely testing, punching through and sawing demons in half while Mick Gordon's brilliant score plays in the back makes for a surprisingly therapeutic experience.

Doom Eternal could have just as easily fallen prey to the problem most sequels suffer from in an attempt to go bigger and more expansive than the original. However, that is not a problem that Doom Eternal suffers from, as it expands upon the original's ideas while also maintaining a consistently enjoyable core gameplay experience.

The game is somehow even more aggressive and faster-paced than the original, which seems almost impossible, but that is precisely what the title is. The game represents how a sequel can build upon the original without losing sight of what makes it work in the first place.

Doom Eternal truly is one of the best games of 2020, and players would be hard-pressed to find a more exhilarating and heart-pounding experience.


#1 - The Last of Us Part 2

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For quite some time, the AAA games industry has sort of settled into a warm and comfortable spot regarding narrative and how each game tells a story. Naughty Dog essentially takes a flamethrower to that spot and burns it to a crispt.

It not only pushes the envelope of what the genre is capable of but ultimately shreds it to bits and delivers one of the most powerful albeit contentious narratives of all-time.

The Last of Us Part 2 represents a studio that is willing to look past the conventions and expectations of a video game and redefine it. It tells a compelling story that will have the players feeling uncomfortable and wrestling with ideas not typically extracted from games.

The game tackles issues such as loss, grief, and vengeance in an incredibly powerful and visceral way, which would definitely cause a split within the fanbase. The game excels on all those fronts only because it is backed by a frankly insane level of technical mastery in terms of sound design, graphics, art-style, and just about everything else.

The Last of Us Part 2 set a lofty benchmark for narrative-driven single-player games for years to come and solidifies Naughty Dog's position even further in the industry.

Note: The games in this list are the writer's opinion, and what may seem the best for one may not be so to another.

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Edited by Ravi Iyer
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