The best games of 2020 got us through a difficult year that saw online connections replacing in-person ones, watched a new generation of consoles launch, and stories attempt to handle more complex and emotional subject matter than ever before.
In our top 25, voted for by the GamesRadar team, you'll find a mix of indies and big blockbusters, games that showed us what the PS5 and Xbox Series X could do, and games that proved the older consoles could still deliver amazing experiences. We spent 2020 visiting friends' islands, on missions of bloodthirsty revenge, and feeding snacks to strange creatures until their legs were entirely made of hot dogs.
Check out the list below, and let us know on Twitter what your game of 2020 was.
25. Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition
Developer: Cardboard Computer
Format: PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One
What is it?
A text-driven adventure game that's one part road-trip mystery and one part surrealist art project, the whole combining to create something utterly original and unforgettable.
Why should you play it?
Kentucky Route Zero has spent seven years en route to a destination many of us hoped it would one day reach. Not to its inevitable, obfuscating conclusion, but to a wider audience – beyond those with at-capacity Steam libraries. Kentucky Route Zero ushered 2020 in with the release of its fifth and final chapter and a complete collection, encompassing all of its acts and side stories for console, bringing the surrealist journey from 5 Dogwood Drive and back again to a close. Regardless of how you experienced it, Kentucky Route Zero is today as it was in January 2013 – a whole vibe. It feels reductive to brand this game a point and click adventure or a visual novel, such is the nature of its somewhat ethereal design, but regardless, it's a game of the generation that defies classification and absolutely demands your attention. Josh West
Developer: Tuxedo Labs
Format: PC (Steam early access)
What is it? A first-person heist game where you play with physics as a one-person demolitions team instead of a stealthy cat burglar.
Why should you play it? Physics-based destruction is one of those video game features that lives in store page bullet points while rarely making that much of a difference in how you actually play. Teardown is built entirely around the concept: each bit of every building can be pulled down, wedged loose, or blown up if you have the right tools. Or can find a gas tank lying around.
Teardown's physics simulations are fun to play with all by themselves, but the game's brilliance is revealed when you begin your first timed heist - going from just "smash" to "smash and grab." Grabbing your first objective will start a countdown until the cops arrive, and making it through fast enough to pick up the rest will require making some modifications to the environment. Thus begins a "destroy, run, destroy" optimization loop that smashes through your spare time like so many brick walls. Connor Sheridan
23. Persona 5 Royal
What is it? High school students in Tokyo unite to take down a corrupt society using mystical powers.
Why should you play it? Persona 5’s 2020 re-release bundles in new characters, combat options, locations around Tokyo, and a whole epilogue to make Persona 5 Royal, the definitive edition of the 2017 JRPG. The characters we adored in 2017 are back once again, matched only by the excellent newcomers to the re-release. Royal retains the eye-popping visuals and standout soundtrack that breathed life into the original game, but the entire experience is much smoother this time round for the 90-hour RPG thanks to subtle quality of life changes. There’s more to see and do in Persona 5 Royal, as our truly outstanding cast of characters reunite for more adventures, complimented by memorable new allies and a compelling new final act. Hirun Cryer
22. Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time
Developer: Toys for Bob
Format: PS4, Xbox One
What is it? The long overdue successor to the original Crash Bandicoot trilogy sees developers Toys for Bob reinvent the iconic platforming franchise for a new generation.
Why should you play it? Developers Toys for Bob could have just replicated the orange marsupial’s greatest adventures and called it a day. It went one better – and arguably surpassed them. It’s About Time takes Crash, Coco (and a sprinkling of friends and foes past and present) through several luscious alternate dimensions and time periods. Each level – complete with mask power-ups that can affect gravity, slow time, add a spin dash, and phase reality – sees its every step burst with creativity and serious challenge.
On top of the Crash formula’s already-solid foundations are lessons learned from some of the best platformers in the past decade. The rich, vibrant environments of Rayman Legends, the kinetic energy of Ori, and the hard-as-nails-but-never-unfair difficulty of Shovel Knight all combine to create a game that simultaneously pays homage to the past while confidently forging forward on its own path. Wherever Crash spins off to next, his future is safe. And it’s about time too. Bradley Russell
Developer: Young Horses
Format: PS4, PS5, PC
What is it? A Pokemon Snap-inspired adventure with animals made entirely of food, and rather than just taking photos, you need to catch them with ingenious methods and help return the residents to the village.
Why should you play it? On the surface, Bugsnax looks like a cute kids game with a happy, bouncy theme song and loads of adorable food-creature hybrids to catch. The characters are all lovable (except Cromdo, damn guy) and the island has a lovely charm and allure to it. As you progress through the story and start returning the Grumpuses back to Snaxburg however, darker undertones start to arise in the story, culminating in a terrific ending that M. Night Shyamalan could only dream of. Bugsnax isn't too long, nor does it overstay its welcome, with 150 bugsnax to catch in total (I wonder where they got that number from) and seven unique biomes to explore. It's a wholly unique idea and an IP that I'd love to see more from over the next few years. Ford James
Turn to page two for the rest of our best games of 2020...