There were a lot of great games this year — so many, in fact, that our favorites wouldn’t all fit on our best games of 2020 list. We’ve compiled a list of games you may have missed in 2020, highlighting some of our favorites that didn’t quite make the cut when we voted on our “best” list. These titles include gorgeous platformers, ambitious RPGs and demanding strategy games, so there should be something to suit every gamer’s taste.
What’s more, these titles run the gamut from Nintendo Switch to PC, and from Xbox One to PS5. Whether you’re fully invested in the next-gen ecosystem, or hanging onto your old consoles for a while longer, you’ll be able to find a game that works for you. Each one of these games has the personal recommendation of a Tom’s Guide staffer, and if we loved them, we’re confident that you will, too.
Remember the game that single-handedly created the genre of “Let’s Play” on YouTube? Well, it’s back. Serving as a direct sequel to the classic Amnesia: A Dark Descent, Rebirth delivers on the promise of great storytelling and spine-chilling gameplay, much like its predecessor.
The main highlight of Amnesia: Rebirth is its nerve-racking atmosphere. Playing as a member of an archeological expedition to Algeria, you’re forced to retrace your steps across temples and caves as you struggle to keep your character sane. You won’t be able to fight off any of the creatures you encounter throughout your journey to find your crewmates, so be prepared to run or hide for your life. If the prospect of jumping at the sight of your own shadow excites you, this game is definitely for you. — Denise Primbet
A cynic would describe Astro’s Playroom as just a demo to showcase the capabilities of the PS5’s DualSense controller. And they’d be partially right: It’s a wonderful way to show off the advanced haptics in what I feel is a rather innovative controller. But Astro’s Playroom is far more than that, as it’s also a surprisingly good platformer. It takes you on a journey through levels and environments that are loosely linked to parts of the PS5’s internal hardware, as well as referencing PlayStation consoles from the past. And each area has a certain technique or gimmick to master using the DualSense controller. It’s not an incredibly deep platformer, along the lines of of Super Mario Odyssey. But for a bundled game, it’s surprisingly smart, and just a joy to play while the real world implodes from the rigors of 2020. — Roland Moore-Colyer
Bugsnax is, if nothing else, one of 2020’s weirdest games. You play an investigative journalist who makes their way to Snaktooth Island and discovers something extraordinary: Bugsnax. These creatures are, as the name suggests, half-bug, half-snack, and it’s your job to catch them all and solve a mystery involving an intrepid explorer and the settlement she founded. The game takes a lot of inspiration from games like Pokémon, but there’s no combat here — just exploration, puzzle-solving and documenting your discoveries as you go. The other big draw is following the story, which is equal parts bizarre cartoon comedy and sincere community drama. — Marshall Honorof
Final Fantasy VII Remake
Remaking an old game is always a perilous process. What should you change? What should you keep the same? And how should you appeal to new players while rewarding returning fans? Final Fantasy VII Remake walked a delicate tightrope, delivering something instantly recognizable for Final Fantasy veterans, while providing a perfect jumping-on point for newcomers. In this cyberpunk action/RPG, you play as Cloud Strife and a party of freedom fighters as they battle the greedy Shinra corporation in the futuristic city of Midgar. Fighting varied foes in the game’s complex real-time battle system is a joy. But as the story continues, Cloud’s past comes back to haunt him — and some mind-bending new twists make players wonder where this classic story will go next. — Marshall Honorof
Ghost of Tsushima
Few games start off with as clear an intent to wow as Ghost of Tsushima. You’re a samurai warrior — one of the last of your clan — and facing off against the invading Mongol army, who clearly have a numerical advantage. And as you gallop down the hills of Tsushima to cut them off, fire rains from the sky and blades fly left and right. Over many more hours of tight, well-paced gameplay, which you can set in the visual tone of your choice — including a black-and-white Kurosawa-style filter, if you’re a film buff — you will continue to defend Tsushima, and explore a beautiful open world. While Cyberpunk 2077 tried and failed to do the open-world thing with a sheer mass of content, Ghost of Tsushima shows a more selective touch, which is artistically stronger and more successful overall. — Henry T. Casey
This game is your childhood dream come true — provided your dream is to be smaller than an insect, that is. Grounded throws you headfirst into the dangers of your own suburban backyard (yes, really), where you have to fight against ants and other creepy-crawlies for your survival. No need to worry if you’re scared of spiders, though: The game features a unique “Arachnophobia Mode” that allows you to turn spiders into cute round blobs instead.
Developed by Obsidian Entertainment, the studio behind Fallout: New Vegas and South Park: The Stick of Truth, the game has an immersive survival environment. However, as is expected with every early access game, it’s not without its bugs (pun intended). With a story mode and more advanced RPG elements due to be featured in the full release sometime in 2021, Grounded is well worth playing if you’re a fan of survival games. — Denise Primbet
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity combines two ideas that, at first glance, seem incompatible. Like the first Hyrule Warriors game, it’s a Zelda-inspired take on the Dynasty Warriors formula, where one character takes on thousands in big, open battlefields. But Age of Calamity is also a direct prequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: a quiet, contemplative open-world game where combat was just one activity among many. Still, by combining an interesting, heartfelt story with the distinctive characters and art style from Breath of the Wild, Age of Calamity delivers a lengthy, deeper-than-expected experience, with plenty of characters to build, side quests to complete and lore to uncover. — Marshall Honorof
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Much like Ori and the Blind Forest, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a quiet, beautiful, contemplative experience with a lot of heart behind it. This incredibly gorgeous platformer casts you as Ori: a forest guardian spirit who must traverse a varied and deadly world in order to unravel a dreamlike and moving story. Like its predecessor, Ori and the Will of the Wisps features tight gameplay and absolutely stunning visuals. This time, however, the save system is a little more comprehensible, and character upgrades have a little more depth. If you play the game on Xbox Series X, you can get some welcome visual upgrades, too. — Marshall Honorof
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2
The spirit of the 90’s is alive in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2: a surprise remaster of sorts, which arrived this year to a rousing chorus of applause from ’90s kids. Its overly complicated set of menus, though, has almost been repellent to me — I just want to skate. But the game thrives thanks to online play, which has truly revitalized the competitive spirit of the game’s high scores, since we can’t go 1-on-1 in person at the moment. Oh, and its soundtrack has the classic songs from the original games, plus new tracks that totally fit the skater vibe. — Henry T. Casey
XCOM’s shift from randomly-generated, permadeath-prone soldiers to a fully fleshed-out cast of cops no doubt raised some eyebrows among fans. Likewise, the extremely streamlined strategy layer between missions may not be as deep as in previous entries. Still, as someone who prefers sci-fi shootouts to office admin, I very much appreciated Chimera Squad’s faster, simpler approach, and found I cared much more for my pre-written team than for the blank slates in the mainline games.
The delicate peace of humans and aliens living together also makes for a much more interesting backdrop than yet another invasion — not to mention good justification for having the most exotic combat abilities available immediately, courtesy of your E.T. squad members. — James Archer