What are the best PC games of 2020? With the year now almost behind us, we've played and reviewed our fair share of titles, both large and small. But which ones are absolutely essential?
From Early Access games to long-awaited new entries in acclaimed series or unusual PC ports, our list of the best PC games of 2020 happens to be surprisingly varied. It includes classic adventure series brought back from the dead, a game in which you dismantle ships and often blow yourself up, lovecraftian spooks, and everyone's favorite medieval incest simulator.
The best PC games of 2020 also mark the end of an era. The new console generation is set to inevitably pave the way towards increased fidelity and quality of games across the board.
No less important, the PC games listed below helped us and many other people get through one of the most difficult years in recent memory.
The Best PC Games of 2020
- Death Stranding
- Beyond a Steel Sky
- Hardspace: Shipbreaker
- Doom Eternal
- Streets of Rage 4
- Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break
- Wasteland 3
- Crusader Kings III
- Inertial Drift
- Star Renegades
- Mafia: Definitive Edition
- Amnesia: Rebirth
- Stirring Abyss
- Yakuza: Like a Dragon
- Sam and Max Save the World
You also don't need to bust the bank and upgrade to one of the new GPUs that came out this year to enjoy these titles, although doing so might make some of of them a bit shinier. Without further ado, here is our list of the best PC games of 2020:
Hideo Kojima's divisive masterpiece has made its way to PC after eight months of waiting and it's positively glorious. Following protagonist Sam Bridges in his effort to reconnect a shattered world, Death Stranding mixes lengthy bouts of traversing expansive, beautiful wilds with a story that oozes Kojima's unique madness and combat sequences. What starts off as a walking simulator that tasks you with balancing cargo, quickly branches off in unexpected directions.
In our Death Stranding review, we called it "a masterpiece of game design which surpasses your every expectation", before awarding it the first and only 10 of 2020 thus far. If you want to dip into its world yourself, you can purchase Death Stranding from the Humble Store.
Beyond a Steel Sky
Beyond a Steel Sky continues the story that started with '90s point-and-click adventure classic Beneath A Steel Sky while bringing the series up to modern standards. Set 10 years after the original, in a fully 3D-rendered world, the game sees protagonist Robert Forster heading to Union City in an effort to find two kidnapped children. Tapping into what made LucasArts and Telltale adventure games great, Beyond a Steel Sky doesn't overly rely on repeatedly sending the player on various errands. Instead, it leans on Forster's ability to convince others to help him while, at times, letting him skip over whole portions of quests as long as he spots the right details.
"A worthy 3D follow-up of one of the best 2D adventure games around", is how we described the game in our review. If you're looking for an adventure game to spend some time with, you can purchase Beyond a Steel Sky from Steam.
A game with a rather unique premise, Hardspace: Shipbkreaker puts you in the shoes of a blue-collar worker that disassembles ships in an effort to pay off a massive debt. What stands out the most is the necessity to approach dismantling ships very methodically, as cutting the wrong thing can easily result in a pretty, but deadly, explosion. The need to get used to your tools and learn what to cut and in which way makes for an engrossing experience, even in Early Access.
In our Hardspace: Shipbreaker review, we called it a "surprisingly polished game that’s as immersive and exciting as it is relaxing". If you'd like to get a taste of what cutting ships in space while being indebted feels like, grab Shipbreaker from the Humble Store.
Doom Eternal builds upon its predecessor's formula, expanding it in ways that make its demon-killing experience louder, more visceral but also varied. The rebooted series' excellent gunplay is more refined while its arsenal grows with new weapons and old ones that receive fresh modifications (looking at you, Super Shotgun with your Meat Hook). Additions like the shoulder-mounted flamethrower that engulfs enemies in flames while making them drop armor or the chainsaw that guarantees ammo with each kill require players to think more tactically in the middle of already-intense fights. With more verticality added to levels, a pounding soundtrack composed by Mick Gordon and gruesome, detailed executions, Doom Eternal is an adrenaline-fueled interplanetary journey that's not to be missed.
In our review, we said that "Doom Eternal’s combat encounters are, quite possibly, the best in the genre". If you'd like to show Hell's denizens what's what yourself, you'll find the game on theHumble Store.
Streets of Rage 4
Streets of Rage 4 sees the popular beat’em up series triumphantly returning. This latest entry proves that moving to the right side of the screen while punching, kicking and slamming thugs into the ground to the sound of an awesome, electro-infused soundtrack has aged quite well. The fresh coat of paint makes its cartoonish character models easily stand out from its detailed backgrounds, while its short-but-sweet campaign doesn't overstay its welcome and can be also be played in co-op.
In our review, we called Streets of Rage 4 "a heartfelt throwback to the golden years of couch co-op" that caters to "both newcomers and Streets of Rage fanatics alike". Should you want a piece of the action for yourself, you'll find the game on the Humble Store.
Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break
Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break is yet another great entry in developer Ace Team's strange and unique series that marries racing and tower defense. In it, players face off against various historical figures, the ultimate goal being that of breaking through the doors of their fortresses and squishing them under the weight of the giant rock that you control. To this effect, both you and the AI alternate between placing defensive units on the enemy's track and taking control of a massive boulder, making sure it reaches the other end intact. As hilarious as ever, the Monty Pythonesque cutscenes that mark the start of confrontations make a return, while the third entry in the series also comes with its own level editor, allowing players to create their own stages.
In our review, we called the game "ridiculous fun" and gave it an 8.5. If you're looking for a title that's quite different from anything else out there, you can purchase Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break from the Humble Store.
Wasteland 3 trades the arid desert of the previous entry for snowy Colorado while providing an excellent mixture of turn-based combat and role-playing which makes the skills you give your characters matter. Fully voiced and with a killer soundtrack, you'll encounter a wide palette of characters, some of which will already be familiar, as you set off to bring order to the region. A vast arsenal alongside a large variety of skills not only keep things fresh during your first playthrough but work with the available choices to ensure that you've reasons to return after completing it once.
"A fantastic RPG that superbly mixes player choice and great combat to create something bigger than the sum of its parts." reads the verdict of our Wasteland 3 review. If you'd like to see just how great of an RPG it is, you can pick Wasteland 3 up on the Humble Store.
Crusader Kings III
It can be hard to outrun 7+ years' worth of DLC, but Crusader Kings III successfully pulls it off, acting as not just a sturdy base for Paradox to build upon in the future but also as an excellent game on its own, that's prone to effortlessly devour hours upon hours of your time. While titles, claims and marriage still play an instrumental role in perpetuating both your reach and your dynasty, secrets and hooks breathe new life into court intrigue, reforming one's faith is more complex than ever, while the changes that war has seen under the hood make you actively consider the types of Men-at-Arms you take with you into battle. On top of everything, CK3 also greatly improves its new player experience without sacrificing complexity.
In our review, we said that "Crusader Kings III masterfully paints a complex medieval world teeming with living characters that have desires and ambitions" before awarding it a 9. If you'd like to try your hand at being a medieval ruler, you can purchase the game from the Humble Store
Arcade racer Inertial Drift stands out thanks to its upbeat nature and intuitive controls which make its races a total blast. Although short, each of its four story modes follows a different character while introducing new cars to try out and race tracks to learn. You'll easily distinguish between how different vehicles control, the game' Style mode excellently complementing the more straightforward races and time trials by emphasizing how you drive over being first across the finish line.
We awarded Inertial Drift a 9, calling it "an espresso shot full of arcade-y goodness" in our review. If it happens to be right up your alley, you can purchase the game from the Humble Store.
Star Renegades is a turn-based RPG that mixes in rogue-lite elements, an enemy system that mirrors Shadow of Mordor's and some of the most gorgeous pixel art upon which we've layed our eyes. As pretty as it looks, the real star of the game is its turn-based combat system that emphasizes delaying an opponent's attacks over blindly hacking at their HP bar. You'll still need to bring it down, however, you'll need to take a few extra tactical layers into consideration while doing so.
Although its meta-progression and occasional difficulty spikes did bring about some frustration, our review calls it "one of the best indie game experiences" of the year. You can help thwart the Imperium's advance by getting the game from the Humble Store.
Mafia: Definitive Edition
Mafia: Definitive Edition is one example of how remastering a game with the proper passion and attention to detail can elevate the original experience. This is a remaster that stays true to the essence of the first game in the series while bringing its visuals and mechanics in line with modern-day games. It's a grand way to revisit Tommy Angelo's story while taking in the stunning sights of the new-yet-old city of Lost Heaven.
In our review, we found that the remaster "updates an 18-year-old title into a proper next-gen game, and actually makes it better than the original." before awarding it a 9. You can try it our for yourself by getting it from the Humble Store.
The Dark Descent contributed greatly to developer Fricitonal Games earning its reputation as an excellent maker of horror games. Ten years later, Amnesia: Rebirth comes to further solidify that claim. Although it tells a separate story set far after the first game's, Rebirth uses familiar gameplay mechanics on which it improves in several spots. Not only that but impressive visuals and some of the best puzzles in the series make it a must-play for fans of the genre.
When we reviewed it, we found that "[...]when judged by its own merits, Amnesia: Rebirth is a quality horror title made by passionate developers out to tell a disturbing story" before scoring it an 8.5. If you want to experience its desert horror for yourself, you can purchase it on Steam.
Many games have tried their hand at effectively using Lovecraftian elements but we're not sure how many people expected a turn-based strategy to count among those that pull it off. Stirring Abyss is one such game that blends XCOM-style turn-based combat with eldtrich powers and the need to look after your crew members' sanity. A varied roster of enemies and difficulty options offering different levels of challenge make exploring the game's ocean surprisingly approachable without robbing it of potential challenge.
In our review, we called Stirring Abyss a "capable indie strategy title that does more with its Lovecraftian setting than most similar games of the past decade" before awarding it an 8.5. You can grab it from the Humble Store.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon
Although it's a significant departure from the previous games in the series, Yakuza: Like a Dragon nailed that transition. Not only does it feature a new protagonist but it also steps into JRPG territory, replacing the action focus that the series is known for. Undoubtedly a bold move, fully embracing this new direction while keeping its trademark wackiness makes the new Yakuza one of the best PC games of 2020.
Sam & Max Save the World
No, reaching this point in our list of the best PC games of 2020 didn't magically conjure up a time machine that sent you back to 2007. We're talking about the Sam & Max Save the World remaster, developed by a small group of four developers who also worked on one of Telltale Games' first titles. The remaster retains much of what made the game great back then, not looking to change its gameplay inspired by classic point-and-click adventure games. It adds a few new music tracks and makes the original look and sound better, which is really just what was needed.
In our review, we called it "a delightful return to the comedic antics of our crime fighting duo," and gave it an 8.5. You'll find it on Steam, where it's discounted by 50% if you own the original release.
Haven is quite the departure for developer The Game Bakers, who you might know for ruthlessly challenging boss rush brawler Furi. Although the studio's latest effort isn't entirely devoid of challenge, it focuses more on relaxing exploration and story, while also adding a few survival elements in there. Gliding across shattered islets feels incredibly satisfying and protagonists Kay and Yu have a handful of surprises up their sleeves, being backed up by writing that exhibits a good amount of range. Combat's still there, relying on learning attack patterns and having the couple synchronize their attacks.
Haven got a 9 in our review, and we found that it "exudes an amount of confidence that’s not often seen." If you're looking for a cozier experience for the holidays, you can pick it up from the Humble Store.
Let us know in the comments how your list of the best PC games of 2020 looks.
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