Top Ten INDIE Games of 2020
Each Year I do a big Top 10 games of 2020; however, I have such a love for indie games that making only one list is NOT ENOUGH. I have considered making the other one just Top 10 AAA games, but I really want a pure top ten list. That being said, only writing that list would leave behind too many amazing indie games. I realize that many indie games are niche, and not for everyone. However, all the games on this list are truly phenomenal art, and I recommend each of them. I picked my top few to go into the upcoming "pure" Top 10 list, but honestly I think all ten of these are worthy for the main list. I define indie games as small to medium sized studios that are still largely independent. They are allowed to more well known publishers as Microsoft and EA have both made huge steps in publishing and promoting small teams. They are allowed to have partnerships with larger subscription services as well. Here are my Top 10 Indie Games of 2020. (This list does not include any GiFriends members or Paid Promotions)
10. Ori and The Will of Wisps
I was extremely excited to play Ori and the Will of the Wisps. It was one of the first new games I played on Game Pass this year. Ori is a prime example of the benefit of Game Pass. I admit I never played the original and I don't know if I would have played Ori otherwise, but I am so glad I was able to experience it. The art style in this game alone is just beyond gorgeous. I had no idea that the narrative was so daunting either with Ori often put in real danger, with some more intense story instances. I honestly always thought this was a kid friendly cartoon experience, not the more mature and artistic adventure it turned out to be. I also was impressed by the degree of difficulty being decent; as I went in expecting a more simpler cartoon experience.
9. South of the Circle
Narrative focused games, mixed with beautiful art styles can be some of those rare jewls of the gaming industry. This artistic narrative about crashed plane survivors is truly a great experience. the face that I was able to experience this on my table with a controller is even more phenomenal.
8. Crossy Road Castle
I played way to much of the first Cross Road. I was really good at it too, as with practice I was able to beat all of my co-workers in a tournament. When a spin-off sequel was announced with Crossy Road Castle, I was ecstatic! This cube shaped adventures tackles a new nostalgic adventure for me. Where Crossy Road brought back all my early child hood memories of playing frogger endlessly, Castle does the same but with Super Mario.
7. Super Hot Mind Control Delete
God I could listen to the a game hypnotically chant that at me for way longer than I'd care to admit. This game is so addicting, and offers one of the strongest, "just one more" syndromes of the year. This sequel to the hit time based shooter recaptures the quality of the original, while offering new and exciting concepts. I love the laser gun, and the addition of lives to offer greater challenges. This game's concept is just so unique, and really truly hasn't been replicated yet.
6. Cake Bash
Animation that brings childhood nostalgia for Pixar level whimsicalness, mixed with fun and diverse gameplay, all wrapped up in a design choice that will make your sweet tooth crave cupcakes, I have nothing but positive things to say about Cake Bash. I first heard of and experienced this game during the Xbox Summer Demo event, and instantly became one of my most anticipated indie titles. I love the diverse set of mini-games, and over all art style for the title.
I'm historically hard on platformers. I require something truly unique about them to stand out either in terms of art or gameplay. It's one of the oldest genres, and one of the first I have ever played in my life thanks to Mario. At this point in 2020, with even indie studios able to produce quality 3D experiences, simple 2D platformers seem like a relic of the past. It takes more and more to impress me in this genre, and Deleved manages to pull this off. I first played the game in the Xbox Summer Demo event, and fell in love with the game. The game gives me what I require of this niche genre, and introduces a innovative and unique gameplay mechanic to make it rise above. Deleveled deletes the "jump button" This simple concept, explores how the physics of 2D platformers operate when in order to "jump" momentum of a falling partner piece much be conserved. It is a crazy physics adventure that proved to in the late game really test my puzzle solving skills. This game is a phenomenal test of ones ability to think logically and sometimes the occasional puzzle will really test you.
4. Butter Royale
I lost one major Royale for my iPad in 2020, and I needed something else to game on on my iPad when in my day job break room, and nothing filled the void quite like Butter Royale. This game is just a joy to play, and can such in countless hours of fun. What's better still is the lack of micro transactions and the ability to level up and earn skins just by playing. This game is definitely better with a controller also. I love the foot fight concept and the various weapons and characters.
Gosh, if "peer pressure" exists in the gaming industry than Hades is the prime example. Where the hell did this game come from? I never even heard of it until it was at the Game Awards. Then all the major outlets started putting it high in ALL the end of year lists. Not a single "Best of 2020" list seemed absent of this game. I have never felt more pressured to play a game in my life! Good god I get it Hades is fucking great IGN, Gamespot, Kotaku, Reddit, MOM. I barely have had enough time to play the game to experience it for my own lists. ....finally broke down and just played it, and yes yes it is every bit as awesome as they all have been saying. Yes, the shield of chaos is one of the most fun, chaotic, and ridiculous weapons of all time, and yes it makes you feel like fucking Captain America himself, LEAVE ME ALONE.
2. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockdown
After playing through both the Last of Us Remastered and The Last of Us Part 1 back to back, Fall Guys was like being splashed with cold water. Going from one of the most gritty, grey, mature, visceral, and also kind of depressing experiences of my gaming career, Fall Guys was there with a big smile and bright color palette to remind me that video games can be happy again. They don't have to pull my emotions in different directions other than controller tossing anger at losing thanks to an idiot who tripped in front of me. They can have color. They can make you laugh. Fall Guys was a game I knew about but forgot about, and didn't even make enough noise for me to put it on my 2020 Anticipated list. But despite not knowing how needed this game was for 2020, we all needed Fall Guys in 2020. With one pandemic outside, and a zombie outbreak inside, I never needed a little happy break like Fall Guys than when it came out. Fall Guys helped save 2020.
IGN, GameSpot, and everyone else leave me alone with who you think should be the Indie GOTY because I have waiting for this game longer than any of these other games on this list. I remember seeing the original tech demo for this game way back in 2014! I never forgot the perspective warping concept, and I have been waiting for the actual game ever since. I have never seen a game with the mechanic before so I got major props for innovation in my review. It also doesn't rely on one way of using that mechanic and instead keeps you having to experiment in how to use this concept throughout the whole thing. You will question what is real in this game. You will question everything. The only thing that I wonder is how THIS game wasn't on every single one of those top ten lists out there because this is a puzzle gen that reaches the heights of Portal. If you haven't played this game, as the first 10/10 I gave out this year, it is a must play. My only criticism I could come up with for the entire thing was I just wanted more of it.