Here is the Honest Gamer Awards 2020. If you haven’t already, check out the introduction post here. I hope you all enjoy today’s post, let’s get started!
Best Music – Ori and the Will of the Wisps
The music in Ori and the Will of the Wisps is simply magical. It’s a character in the game as much as Ori or the landscapes themselves. It captures the feel of every moment and setting perfectly. Traversing the pitch black depths is foreboding, while more fantastical environments are accompanied by ethereal tracks that ground you in those places. It amplifies the simple, yet emotional story to something special. I’ve had this soundtrack on play so many times since release, it’s incredible.
- Final Fantasy VII Remake – A brilliant re-orchestrated version of the original game’s iconic soundtrack. I actually preferred it over the original music.
- The Last of Us 2 – Sombre and subdued strings make this already depressing game, even more upsetting. It’s still able to bolster the more happy moments. Ellie’s cover of ‘Take on Me’ was something special.
- Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity – It’s more Zelda music, what’s not to like?
- The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV – An epic soundtrack that makes this JRPG even more brilliant.
Best Narrative – Trails of Cold Steel IV
Trails of Cold Steel IV gives us an epic conclusion to this saga. The story and characters have always been the series’ greatest asset, and that remains true here. The story is so detailed, full of interconnecting threads, politics, war, while still being able to give us smaller, more heartwarming moments. The characters are just so well written and memorable and it had such an emotional ending.
- Tell Me Why – This is a powerful game for LGBTQ representation and manages to tell an emotional story that kept me hooked till the end.
- The Last of Us 2 – While I think the story’s execution falls flat when in context with the gameplay, it’s still a well done narrative that deals with important themes.
- The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope – This game’s narrative will be divisive, but in the end, it’s a thoughtful adventure about coming to terms with grief.
- Mafia: Definitive Edition – I wasn’t expecting to like this game as much as I did, but the story and characters were really great.
- Cyberpunk 2077 – This story in this game is so crazy and full of great moments. The side narratives and characters all help to make this something special.
Best Visuals/Art Direction – Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is one of the best and most beautiful looking games I have ever seen. The original was gorgeous, but the sequel looks even more stunning. The environments are much more animated, even far off in the background. The colours on display are striking, it’s like a painting in motion where there isn’t a single moment that looks bad. What more can I say about the visuals, other than look at it.
- Ghost of Tsushima – The scenery in this game is breathtaking, where I spent so much of my time in photo mode.
- The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope – The photo-realism in this game makes the horror aspects all the more terrifying. Excellent texture work and the grotesque creature designs help make the visuals stand out.
- The Last of Us 2 – Naughty Dog are known for their incredible graphics and this game is no exception.
- Immortals: Fenyx Rising – Ubisoft nailed the visuals here. Along with Ori and Ghost of Tsushima, I couldn’t stop taking screenshots.
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons – The cute art style will stand the test of time.
- Demon’s Souls Remake – Bluepoint Games have done an amazing job in bringing this classic to modern hardware/graphics. It’s stunning.
Best Audio Design – The Last of Us 2
The audio in The Last of Us 2 is by far the best this year. Audio is such an important aspect of any horror-related experience. It’s this that helps create the atmosphere and build tension, which the game does with ease. Hearing the clickers nearby never fails to fill me with a sense of dread and unease. This expertise in audio design, extends to the rest of the game.
- The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope – Like TLOU2, the audio is well handled. Every different sound works to keep you on edge and fear what’s around the next corner.
- Resident Evil 3 Remake – The hair-raising audio bolsters the scares.
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Every sound feels like it was carefully created to add to the feeling of normality. Subtle, light noises when going about your routine and activities help you relax.
- Ori and the Will of the Wisps – All the little sounds, whether that be the natural noises in the background, Ori’s abilities or that of the enemy, it helps tie everything together and immerse the player.
Best Game Design – Astro’s Playroom
In many ways, this award is also for the DualSense controller, but Astro’s Playroom does so much with it to make the game/tech demo stand out. The haptic feedback makes you feel everything in the game, from walking across all the different surfaces, to hitting objects and effects made against the player, like the and rain. The use of the gyro and adaptive triggers in the platforming is also brilliant. It’s incredible and so unique, where it still remains the only game that makes great use of the features and shows they are worthwhile.
- Immortals: Fenyx Rising – The physics-based puzzles, other activities and tight controls, make this a blast to play.
- Ori and the Will of the Wisps – Ori is responsive to control, making traversal and the tough platforming a breeze and a lot of fun. Level design and the infamous chase sequences and bosses are also top notch.
- Demon’s Souls – Great level design and gameplay that allows for so many different builds.
- Cyberpunk 2077 – A lot of freedom in player choice, where there are often multiple ways of completing the many excellent quests and other activities, as well as your character build/focus.
Best Performance – Ashley Johnson as Ellie (The Last of Us 2)
Ashley Johnson gives us yet another incredible performance as Ellie in The Last of Us 2. I felt everything that Ellie was experiencing because of Johnson, who provided so much depth. It was powerful and emotional.
- Laura Bailey as Abby (The Last of Us 2) – Laura Bailey had a tough job in this game – for more reasons than one – but she was able to make us sympathise with her story, despite the rough beginning.
- August Aiden as Tyler (Tell Me Why)
- Briana White as Aerith (Final Fantasy VII Remake) – Briana White gave so much personality to this beloved character.
- Andrew Bongiorno as Tommy (Mafia: Definitive Edition)
Best RPG – The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV
Trails of Cold Steel IV is an excellent JRPG that ended this saga in a memorable and epic way. The turn-based combat was satisfying and strategic, with plenty of challenge. The story and characters were top notch and the music was equally brilliant. This is a JRPG and series I recommend to anyone that might be vaguely interested.
- Cyberpunk 2077 – This was an engaging and ambitious RPG that had a lot to love. The side quests continued CDPR’s excellent and memorable design.
- Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition – I never played the original, so this was new to me. I really enjoyed my time with this game. Great combat and emotional storytelling.
- Nexomon Extinction – This charming adventure is heavily inspired by and a parody of the Pokemon games. But it distinguishes itself with an actual narrative and being genuinely hilarious.
- Demon’s Souls Remake – Full of player freedom to approach the game with whatever build they want. Great boss design and stunning visuals.
Best Action/Adventure – Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is simply an expertly crafted game. The gameplay is so fun and fluid, offering so many heart-pounding and thrilling moments. It’s one hell of an adventure that will stick with you long after.
- Ghost of Tsushima – An epic Samurai tale of choosing between honour and what’s best to save your home.
- Mafia: Definitive Edition- A gripping adventure with a well written story and likeable characters.
- Immortals: Fenyx Rising – A surprise hit that’s full of creative, physics-based puzzles, a charming narrative and great humour.
- The Last of Us 2 – A gruesome tale that will get under your skin and leave you hollow afterwards. The gameplay was visceral and improved over the original, alongside excellent level design.
Best Combat – Ghost of Tsushima
Part of what made Ghost of Tsushima so great, was the superb combat. It was so sharp and engaging, while also having some strategy involved with the different stances that you needed to rapidly change in the heat of battle. Wielding a sword never felt better.
- Trails of Cold Steel IV – Very strategic and enjoyable.
- Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity – Hacking through endless hordes of enemies is always incredibly satisfying.
- The Last of Us 2
- Ori and the Will of the Wisps – Ori is great to control and that extends to the much improved combat.
- Demon’s Souls Remake – Combat is the most important aspect of this game, and it mostly excels here.
- Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales – It improves upon the original game’s combat, making this great aspect even better.
PlayStation Game of the Year – The Last of Us 2
This was a tough choice, as Ghost of Tsushima was another great PlayStation game. However, The Last of Us 2 does many brilliant things, despite some narrative/pacing issues I had with it. It’s an exceptionally well-crafted game that will stick with me.
- Ghost of Tsushima
- Astro’s Playroom
- Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
- Demon’s Souls Remake
Xbox Game of the Year – Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Ori and the Blind Forest was already an amazing game, but Will of the Wisps was somehow able to improve upon pretty much everything you can think of. Story, combat, visuals, music, you name it, this game does it all so impeccably well. Xbox may not have had as much as Nintendo and PlayStation in 2020, but this game is one hell of an adventure.
- Tell Me Why
Nintendo Game of the Year – Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Animal Crossing: New Horizons came at a crucial time in 2020. With the world gripped by the pandemic and lockdowns coming in to force pretty much everywhere, people needed a relaxing escape. A huge amount of people became obsessed with this game, me included. Developing your own little island and visiting your friend’s and family’s island was something engrossing and tranquil. The game may have some annoying flaws in its design and needs quality of life improvements, but its impact is undeniable.
- Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
- Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition
Game of the Year – Ori and the Will of the Wisps
What more can I say about Ori and the Will of the Wisps? It’s simply a masterpiece and easily one of the greatest games I’ve ever played. It wowed me and left an impact on me than any other game in 2020 and firmly plants Moon Studios as one of the best, new developers of the last decade. I cannot wait to see what they do with their next game. Oh yeah, play Ori and the Will of the Wisps.
- The Last of Us 2
- Trails of Cold Steel IV
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons
- Ghost of Tsushima
- Cyberpunk 2077
Thank you so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed the post. Let me know what you thought in the comments below, what was your GOTY 2020?
Stay safe and stay tuned for more content like this.
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For what it’s worth, I will say that The Last of Us Part II is a better game than the original. It had snippets of writing I thought were much stronger than those of the original, it was overall more daring, and the gameplay was much tighter. If that kind of care and attention was applied to the story as a cohesive whole or if they ironed out the story beats that didn’t work so well, I probably would’ve given it more points than I did.
I really need to give Ori and the Will of the Wisps a spin at some point.
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I still personally prefer the original, which I felt was more focused. I definitely feel Part II dragged on for far too long. By the time I got to Abby’s campaign, I was starting to feel a bit of fatigue. The gameplay is definitely better, but that excessive length kind of counteracted that improvement a bit.
Overall though, it was a very daring game, like you said. It left a bigger impression on me than any other Sony game in 2020.
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I loved Ori and the Will of the Wisps so much! So glad to see you enjoyed it too!
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I thought the original was a brilliant game, but Will of the Wisps really blew me away. It’s now one of my favourites of all time!
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