2020 was an amazing year for gaming and 2021 is shaping up to be even better. With next gen consoles flying off shelves, gamers are excited to jump into some new titles, though with the PlayStation 5 and XBox Series X being so hard to nab, it could be a while before you get to try that new 2021 IP. That’s okay though because there are lots of great games from this past year that you can still play.
Obviously, there are high profile titles like Animal Crossing New Horizons and Ghost of Tsushima. But there’s also a ton of hidden gems that 2020 left for us to treasure, no matter what year it is. Here are some underappreciated games that you could show some love to.
Immortals: Fenyx Rising
Focusing entirely on Greek mythology, Immortals: Fenyx Rising follows the story of Fenyx, a human mortal adventuring in the world of ancient Greek gods on a quest to save their brother from a terrible fate. This free-form open world is absolutely beautiful with different unique regions correlating to various Greek gods. Each section has secrets to uncover and puzzles to solve bringing you closer and closer to saving your brother. The combat system is fast and versatile, offering players different ways to slash through enemies using swords, an ax, or a bow. With a humorous tone and exciting storytelling, this game is absolute must have for any adventurers who need new lands to play through.
Developer: Ubisoft Quebec
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Stadia, XBOX Series X, Steam
This action RPG is unlike any you’ve seen before, it’s a classic revenge story with a little bit of a twist. Or actually, a pretty big twist as you play the game as a young bull shark who is seeking revenge against Shark Hunter “Scaly Pete,” the nefarious hunter who killed his mother. To make this game even more quirky, the game’s story is told through the lens of a reality TV show called “Sharkhunters vs Maneaters” watching your character as he hunts down Scaly Pete.
While some reviews have complained about janky controller issues, if you’re looking for a mindlessly violent tale, the game still has a lot of value past it’s small bugs. With only 10 hours of gameplay, it’s an easy game to sit down and take a bite out of. Maneater‘s open-world may not be as engaging as others, and controlling the shark isn’t always intuitive, but Maneater is truly unique in every sense possible. Even with finicky controls, splashing around as a massive shark is always a blast.
Developer: Tripwire Interactive, Blindside Interactive
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore
Many people have compared this title to the 2020 Japanese release, Persona 5, and while it’s easy to see similarities, Persona 5 isn’t available everywhere in the US until February 23. In the meantime, Tokyo Mirage Session #FE Encore is a great way to fill that void for US gamers. The game focuses on a group of youths trying to protect the world against Mirages, otherworldly beings who feed off of humans “Performa” energy (first seen in the Fire Emblem series). Your team can each summon their own Mirage giving your characters special abilities. At its core, Tokyo Mirage Sessions is a light-hearted story exploring the entertainment and idol loving nature of pop culture in Japan. For Persona fans and JRPG fans in general, Tokyo Mirages Sessions is a Switch game that can’t be missed.
Developer: Intelligent Systems; Atlus
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
After the issues that came with the release of Cyberpunk 2077, games of the same genre have gotten a lot of attention this year. If you decided to wait until these issues were fixed or are still waiting for Cyberpunk 2077’s PS5 update, this next title is something that can fill the hole developers CD Project Red left. Cloudpunk is a slower-paced, non-violent cyberpunk title with a pretty simple plotline. You play as Rania, a refugee who recently arrived in the multi-tiered city, Nivalis, where our story unfolds. Rania is doing her first shift with the delivery service Cloudpunk, while excited to have a job, this delivery isn’t exactly a legal operation. That’s not a problem for Rania however, all she needs to do is pick up and deliver these packages, no questions asked.
If you’re looking for an easy to play game that’s set in a beautiful future, this is the one for you. There’s no combat, no puzzles, just a city to explore and characters you can learn more and more about. Cloudpunk is a blissful and relaxing title that holds onto classic cyberpunk title elements such as socioeconomic divisions and what it means to be human, for homo sapiens and artificial intelligence alike. It’s just a little more relaxing to play than most other similar titles.
Developer: Ion Lands
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
2020 was a hard year filled with a feeling of loss due to most of us feeling isolated, stuck in quarantine around the globe, as a result of COVID-19. Sadly, for many, that feeling of loss extended to the actual loss of family members and friends who had passed far too soon as a result of this pandemic. This game may just be what the world needs in a time of such tragedy. Spiritfarer will probably make you sad at times, but in a way that makes you think about these losses, and what they left behind with you. How you can still be close to those that have left us and what happens after they do.
Spiritfarer is about Stella, the pilot of a boat that carries spirits across the river that joins this life and the afterlife. This game is a management sim at its core as Stella works to upgrade and design her boat in a way that’s as welcome as possible to newly desecsed spirits. With gorgeous artwork and stunning animation on top of deep and meaningful character interactions, this game makes you think just as much as it will relax you.
Developer: Thunder Lotus Games
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, Microsoft Windows
Super Crush KO
It’s impossible to believe that 2021 is here, and even harder to remember anything about the beginning of 2020. Super Crush KO was released early in 2020, and with all the stress that early last year brought, it makes sense that this title flew under the radar of so many gamers. However, this was one of the most entertaining 2D action games this past year. When an alien heartthrob who controls an alien army kidnaps Karen’s adorable kitten Chubbz, Karen has no choice but to gear up and start kicking some serious alien robot butt.
A lot of great beat ‘em up games came out last year, but Super Crush KO is easily one of the best. It’s a brawler with lots of heart, bright, candy-colored visuals and one of the cutest cats in gaming history. Featuring lightning-fast gameplay that seamlessly blends run ‘n gun action and intense combat, this title is one that is sure to get your heart pumping.
Developer: Vertex Pop
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, Steam
Serious Sam 4
Taking place during the Mental War and prior to the events of Serious Sam 3: BFE, Serious Sam 4 finds humanity under siege as the full force of Mental’s hordes spread across the world, ravaging what remains of a broken and beaten civilization. The last remaining resistance to the invasion is the Earth Defense Force led by Sam “Serious” Stone and his heavily-armed squad of misfit commandos. This style of shooting action is old school chaos but this 2020 release tightens up those mechanics to create a terrific, mindless shooting game. Some fans complained that Serious Sam 4 really didn’t do anything to reinvent the series or add anything completely new to the gameplay. To that I say, why fix something that isn’t broken? Sometimes you just gotta show up and start shooting and this game promised to deliver on this and did. If you are looking for a game with deep RPG mechanics or a titillating story, there’s a lot of options on this list that will deliver. But Serious Sam 4 is just some serious fun with lots and lots of violence.
Platform(s): Stadia, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam
Another beat ‘em up title, Battletoads, features fast-paced action, bright and colorful graphics, and quirky voice acting. This 2020 release saw the return of the classic Battletoads characters Rash, Zitz and Pimple as they make their way through zany worlds. The 1991 original NES release for this series, under the same name, is considered to be one the hardest games ever released for that system. While it was designed as a one-player adventure, you absolutely needed some help from friends to finish the game. Unfortunately, on top of hard to play driving levels, the Co-Op was sometimes even harder to play as friendly fire was a huge obstacle to overcome. Luckily this new game fixed all the issues of the past. Levels are easier to play, especially by yourself. The couch co-op has been fixed so 1-3 players can take control of the Battletoads and storm through unpredictable stages without doing damage to each other. If you have a kick for beat ‘em up titles, this is an absolute must.
Developer: Dlala Studios, Rare
Platform(s): Xbox One Steam
If you enjoyed the dungeon crawling, roguelike hack and slasher game Hades (which has received critical acclaim and awards for it’s gameplay) Going Under should be on your “I need to play this” list. Unfortunately for Going Under, it was released just a week after Hades came out. It was completely overshadowed by the launch but it’s a title we should all be paying some attention to. Going Under is a satirical dungeon crawler about being an unpaid intern exploring the cursed ruins of various failed tech startups. You reside in the dystopian city of Neo-Cascadia, where you wield office junk as weaponry, making your way through the offbeat dungeons beneath your company campus. This game nails the satire of start-up culture and has excellent dungeon-crawling gameplay. If you’ve already made it out of Hades or just are looking for a new hack and slasher to play, consider turning in your crown as the prince of darkness and try becoming an unpaid intern instead!
Developer: Aggro Crab
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
BATTLE THROUGH TIME
Adventure titles based on established IP often seem to undersell when it comes to gaming. Time and again, we’ve seen titles like Desperate Housewives The Game or Transformers: Devastation unable to tap into their core audience who watches the TV Show or films that inspired them. Samurai Jack: The Shadow of Aku was released in 2004 and while it wasn’t an overall failure, reviews of the game felt as though it missed the mark of what made the show so special. But with the 2020 release of Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time, dedicated fans of the beloved character got the game Jack deserved. Despite this, Battle Through Time was still not able to make a huge dent in the gaming market, which is a shame because Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time isn’t just an excellent licensed game, it’s an overall excellent action platformer.
With gameplay that is a throwback to classic platform action games of the PS2 era, it captures what made the animated series so special to so many fans. One of the best titles I had the pleasure of exploring this past year, the game is canon to the franchise and adds extra untold information about Samurai Jack that seamlessly ties into the epic series finale we got after the show’s revival in 2017. If you’re looking for some nostalgia with your adventure this year, this is the game for you.
Developer: Soleil Ltd
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
MAID OF SKER
This first-person pacifist horror game was another title overshadowed by a higher-profile release thanks to Amnesia: Rebirth. This genre is already a bit crowded and with a new sequel to an already established and well-liked series sharing the marketplace, unfortunately, no one was talking about Maid of Sker. In Maid of Sker, you play as Thomas, a man desperately searching for the missing Elisabeth. A letter from this missing lover leads Thomas to the Sker Hotel, a decrepit building that is filled with people who have transformed into the ‘Quiet Ones’, fearsome creatures who are blind but hunt with sound.
The game is influenced by multiple Welsh folklore tales, as well as the historic Sker House in Wales, made famous by the book under the same name by R. D. Blackmore. Maid of Sker has everything a decent horror game needs to succeed. The game isn’t quite as scary as Amnesia: Rebirth but if you’re looking for a horror game that’s a bit of an easier ride, this is the perfect title for you.
Developer: Wales Interactive
Platform(s): Steam, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch