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The WellPlayed 2020 Game Awards Winners

What games Played Well in 2020?

Ahh December, you bring us festive decorations, huge amounts of food, dreaded Christmas carols and stinking-hot weather. It’s also a time to look back at the year that was and acknowledge the best of the best in gaming releases. 2020 has been a tough year for many obvious reasons, but it’s also been a banger of a year for gaming, with the launch of the Xbox Series X/S and PS5 being clear highlights. Consoles are nothing without games though and luckily there has been no shortage of winners to go alongside the sexy new hardware.

We have cast out votes (using the flawless 3-2-1 voting system) and we’ve crowned the 2020 winners of the second annual WellPlayed Awards. With no further delay, here are the winners:

Review Score: 9.5  //  Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment  //  Developer: Naughty Dog  //  Platforms: PS4

Naughty Dog’s first foray into the devastatingly bleak and brutal world of The Last of Us was a masterstroke of storytelling that grabbed the attention and emotions of many a gamer. When it was announced that a follow-up was on its way, the gaming world went into hype overdrive at the thought of Ellie and Joel’s story continuing. After four years of waiting, The Last of Us Part II finally arrived and brought with it a torrential downpour of controversy and conversation. Regardless of the naysayers, The Last of Us Part II is a huge accomplishment in terms of visuals, game design, character development and narrative, making it one of the most talked-about titles of the year. Being a sequel to such a beloved game, Part II had some truly enormous shoes to fill, but for many, including (most) of us here at WellPlayed, it managed to do exactly that.

Our review said:

Featuring generation-defining game design, The Last of Us Part II is an unrivalled masterpiece that stumbles ever so slightly under its own ambitions

Runners Up: Ghost of Tsushima, Hades

Publisher: Supergiant Games  //  Developer: Supergiant Games  //  Platforms: Switch/PC

Supergiant Games are a powerhouse of an indie developer that refuses to produce anything that’s subpar. Bastion, Transistor and Pyre are all absolute classics that raised the bar for indie games and their latest go-around has continued that trend. Whether you’ve played it yet or not, you’ve no doubt seen a lot of love thrown towards Hades and it’s for good reason. A gorgeous rogue-like with a Greek mythology backdrop, Hades includes satisfying combat, eccentric and interesting characters and a gameplay loop that’s as addictive as it is fun. Supergiant hasn’t produced a dud yet, in fact, Hades might even be their crowning achievement.

Runners up: Carrion, The Pathless

Publisher: Devolver Digital  //  Developer: Mediatonic  //  Platforms: PS4/PC

The multiplayer award can be a tricky one; with existing games like Rocket League, Apex Legends and Fortnite having momentum behind them, making it hard for them to be unseated. By the looks of it all, you need to do just that is include a bunch of jelly beans. I’m a not a fan of the term, but Fall Guys was a legitimate phenomenon when it released in August, in no small part thanks to its inclusion as a PS Plus game. The competitive drive to capture a crown, the fun yet frustrating games, the light-heartedness to the entire package, it all came together to make for a genuinely enjoyable experience that could be played by just about everyone. Just when the gaming world needed some levity, Fall Guys was there with a nice welcoming hug…oh wait they’ve just thrown me off the edge, thanks, you jelly bean bastard.

Runners up: Among Us, Animal Crossing: New Horizon

Review Score: 9.5  //  Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment  //  Developer: Naughty Dog  //  Platforms: PS4

The primary reason for playing a Naughty Dog game such as The Last of Us Part II is to experience the narrative and immerse yourself in the bleak and unforgiving world that Naughty Dog has crafted, and while The Last of Us set the bar high back in 2014, Part II is just as good, and in some ways better. There’s denying that The Last of Us Part II made the player feel a range of emotions – it is a world and a cast of characters that you connect with, and when you roll the credits it’s a game that you need to process to fully understand how you feel.

Our review said:

When it comes to the story of TLOU2 – the beating heart of the game – there’s a lot to unpack. Driven by emotion, it’s complex with many moving parts, each with their own place in the world

Runners up: Ghost of Tsushima, Hades

Review Score: 9  //  Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment  //  Developer: Sucker Punch Productions  //  Platforms: PS4

Nothing gets me quite as excited as a brand new IP, especially when it comes from a great developer with a history of making excellent games. That’s why I was so excited to play Ghost of Tsushima. Not only did it promise to be a beautiful samurai epic with cinematic swordplay, but it was also being developed by the folks behind the InFamous series; what a damn combination. Tsushima more than delivered on its promises, giving players a jaw-droppingly varied island to explore with the wind guiding them through it. An engaging combat system kept katana clashes feeling fresh and a simple yet effective narrative gave you purpose. This is a wonderful first outing that we are all keen to see evolve into another PlayStation classic series.

Our review said:

A gorgeous and intriguing open-world and an engagingly authentic Japanese cinema-style allow Ghost of Tsushima to stand head and shoulders above most other entries into the genre

Runners up: Hades, Fall Guys

Review Score: 9  //  Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment  //  Developer: Sucker Punch Productions  //  Platforms: PS4

Publisher: Supergiant Games  //  Developer: Supergiant Games  //  Platforms: Switch/PC

There were two visual standouts this year that we just couldn’t bring ourselves to choose between, so we have joint winners that will have to share the trophy. The two deserving recipients are both graphically top-notch but in vastly different ways. Ghost of Tsushima’s world is so varied and lush that I found myself using the photo mode as often as I was fighting. From sweeping fields of grass swaying in the wind to tall, regal castles littered with blood-red leaves from a nearby maple tree, the game’s cinematic qualities are next-level.

Our review said:

Fields of long grass, dense bamboo forests, snow-capped mountains and monasteries littered with cherry blossom trees all come together to create a map that is bursting with sights worth seeing. It’s almost daunting the amount of unique and beautiful visuals that this game has to offer.

On the other side of this GOTY coin we have the indie rogue-like, Hades. Supergiant’s games are all visually striking in their own way and Hades is no exception. The broad colour pallette mixes together the shades of crimson that you would expect from the underworld, with many other vibrant hues, ensuring that there a zero dull portions on the screen. A dizzying amount of combat effects, explosions and projectiles further add to the beautiful chaos unfolding around you. The narrative might be the main focus when it comes to character, but Hades’ presentation is on par.

Runners up: Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Review Score: 9  //  Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment  //  Developer: Sucker Punch Productions  //  Platforms: PS4

Review Score: 9.5  //  Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment  //  Developer: Naughty Dog  //  Platforms: PS4

Ghost of Tsushima didn’t garner the love that it has based on its combat and visuals alone; no, the way that you explore the island of Tsushima is just as responsible for the positivity. Wiping the screen of a distracting HUD and allowing the aforementioned visuals to shine, GoT introduced the Guiding Wind mechanic that sees the breeze gently suggest which direction will take you to your destination. Feeling as though the island itself is supporting your cause, the Guiding Wind may not be a revolutionary shakeup, but it certainly fits the narrative and aesthetic of the title. Atop this, Tsushima’s four-pronged combat does deserve a shoutout, as it constantly has you adapting to each encounter. It’s clear that GoT was made with genuine care and it more than paid off.

Our review said:

These mechanics not only allow for a minimalist HUD, but they work thematically as well, as it feels like the island aiding you in your quest to save it

Everything about The Last of Us Part II has been expertly crafted from the talented folk at Naughty Dog. From the incredible cinematic set pieces to the meticulous attention to detail in the game’s world-building, it all helps immerse players in the overall experience. And then there are the game’s accessibility options, which have been praised by practically everyone for allowing payers with a range of disabilities to tailor their experience.

Our review said:

In a lot of ways The Last of Us Part II is an unrivalled masterpiece that raises the bar and sets new standards in game design and storytelling

Review Score: 9.5  //  Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment  //  Developer: Naughty Dog  //  Platforms: PS4

The Last of Us Part II Best Sound Design

It’s pretty clear Naughty Dog spared no expense while producing the sequel to one of PlayStation’s most beloved titles, and this extends to its incredible sound design. Whether its quietly traipsing through a still wood with the crunch of leaves underfoot, hunkering behind cover and listening to the painful shrieks of the Infected, or unloading a shotgun in the face of The Rat King, the soundscape has been meticulously engineered to within an inch of its life. Complementing the absurd visual fidelity and gripping narrative, the sound design expertly heightens the tension, emotion and action in every scene. Plus, you can play Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters on the various guitars you find, which is nice.

Our review said:

Listening to the harrowing screams of the runners (the closest to human of the infected) or the terrifying presence of clickers and stalkers creates incredible tension, and just knowing that one wrong move is all that separates from you being eaten alive are some of the best moments in the game

Review Score: 9  //  Publisher: Bethesda Software  //  Developer: id Software  //  Platforms: PS4/Xbox One/PC/Switch

DOOM Eternal Best Soundtrack

When you require a choir of metal singers to produce your soundtrack you know you’re onto a winner. Just like its predecessor, DOOM Eternal assaults your earholes with sweet, sweet djent riffage that pairs perfectly with the ultraviolence. Face-melting chunky guitars and guttural screams are just the thing you need when you’re dabbling in a bit of demon cleansing, and DOOM Eternal gets that.

Our review said:

Perhaps the devs are tapping into some sort of necromantic power of their own, but the time they took to delay the game and polish the experience was obviously very well spent

Review Score: 9.5  //  Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment  //  Developer: Naughty Dog  //  Platforms: PS4

For a lot of people, Ellie is the golden child of The Last of Us (and Part II), and while Ashley Johnson did an incredible job voicing Ellie again in Part II, Laura Bailey’s phenomenal performance as Abby helped take the game’s narrative to a whole other level.

Our review said:

Then there’s the performance of the characters, all of whom are voiced and acted to almost perfection, always eliciting some form of emotional response from the player

Review Score: 7.5  //  Publisher: Team17  //  Developer: SMG Studios  //  Platforms: PS4/Xbox One/Switch/PC

I’m a big fan of party games that have you working with (or against) your friends. There’s something inherently entertaining about sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with your mates while you all take part in some ridiculous shenanigans. Melbourne-based dev team SMG Studios brought exactly that to the table with their whacky removalist game Moving Out which turned out to be a bit of an indie sensation earlier this year. Chock full of charm, Moving Out also provided the goods in terms of simple fun, with a premise that would usually evoke thoughts of the opposite. Is it the perfect party experience? No, but it’s an absolute cracker of a time nonetheless and it’s our Australian-made game for 2020.

Our review said:

Slapstick charm and some genuinely welcome quality-of-life features mean there’s a lot to love in this chaotic co-op removalist sim, but like any renter will tell you, moving can get old pretty quick

And there we have it, another year of gaming in the books. The trophies will be sent out to the dev teams in the next few weeks, so Naughty Dog, Sucker Punch, SMG Studios, id Software and Supergiant Games should start thinking about clearing a shelf or two, though our awards seemingly went missing in the mail last year. Strange.

Anyways, those are the winners of the WellPlayed Game Awards for 2020, do you agree with our decisions? What games would you have chosen for these categories? Let us know.

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