While 2020 stunk out loud, it did provide me more videogame time than I’ve logged in a long, long while. Even with all that extra time, one thing remained true — I didn’t play any of the big hits!

So, instead of compiling a top ten list (or as I like to call it, Ten Games I Played This Year) I decided to focus on five titles that may not have received much attention, but are still worth a look for those interested in something a little different. As a bonus, most can be completed in less than 10 hours!

In no particular order:


Carto

It’s rare when a game is released nowadays that offers something totally fresh, but Carto did just that with its unique map manipulation. Players move chunks of the map around to change the landscape, reach new areas, and solve puzzles. This top-down adventure is all about exploration and is perfect for anyone looking for a chill, stress-free experience.


Worm Jazz

Worm Jazz is an excellent puzzler that combines elements from the classics Snake and Bomberman. It’s a unique blend, but one that works better than one would expect – eat pellets, grow longer, and occasionally blow up on purpose! There’s no timers or game overs, just laid-back puzzle solving with smooth, smooth jazz in the background. Puzzle fans looking for something new should definitely check out Worm Jazz.


Fury Unleashed

Fury Unleashed is a tough-as-nails rougelite action-platformer, but the developers proudly made sure their game was accessible to a wide range of players. While it was made to be played in hard mode, the developers included tools to adjust the difficulty, health, and enemy strength to fit any player’s preference. Plus, gamers can switch between modes at any time, without penalty. Oh yeah, it also has some radical boss battles!


Neko Navy

This excellent shmup was actually released in early 2019, but I didn’t actually receive the review code until mid-2020. I’m guessing many people missed it on initial release, so I’m including it here! Neko Navy is an excellent shmup featuring flying cats with over-the-top projectiles. While the graphics and story are lighthearted, gameplay is a well-designed challenge featuring some great boss battles, and never feels impossible. It also has a killer soundtrack!


Project Warlock

Another game that wasn’t new in 2020, but one that received console releases this past summer. Project Warlock is an excellent tribute to retro first-person shooters with just enough modern touches thrown in for good measure. Pixelated demons, humongous bosses, and a fantastic array of firepower make this game all fans of the genre should check out.

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Brian Theisen

Brian Theisen

For his tenth birthday, Brian was given the option of receiving a GameBoy or a Game Gear. He chose the GameBoy. No longer were videogames confined to the home PC, he could now squeeze in a quick game on the trip to the store or right before bed. Over twenty-five years later and with two young kids, Brian still needs to squeeze in time for videogames, but now gets to do so on slightly better hardware.


When he does find time to play, Brian’s preferred games of choice are platformers, beat-‘em-ups, or a good adventure game.He still enjoys the retro gaming scene, could talk about the Nintendo 64 more than he might like to admit, and misses playing in actual arcades. Brian also gets to pass on his love of gaming, as his oldest son is just now starting to join the fun.

As for that GameBoy - it’s sitting in Brian’s nightstand, waiting patiently for four AA batteries.
Brian Theisen

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AJ Small
AJ Small
20 days ago

Excellent choices! Carto (here is my required Game Pass shill part of my post – Carto is on Game Pass), Fury Unleashed are excellent! I think you nabbed the Project Warlock review code before I could get my hands on it, but it is now on my wishlist.