Getting right down to business, Nikki Waln foregoes any preamble and drops her top ten!


1 – Cyberpunk 2077

I realize this game is somewhat controversial, but by no means is it the only controversial pick on my list. When I first booted it up on PS4 I thought it was flawed and buggy. I even had a few crashes as I played over the first week or so, but I began to slowly fall in love with it. Perhaps it’s the setting, the world, the story, or the characters, but something gripped me. Getting in on PC made it even more so, as I’ve now completed it with four different endings and played characters for every life path with different builds. I keep coming back to it over and over, with over 100 hours in and no sign of stopping. Development issues aside, this is truly an amazing game with great storytelling, amazing action, and an engrossing world.


2 – Hades

Until Cyberpunk gripped me in the way it did, this was my Game of the Year — and depending on how you decide the cutoff point for 2020 releases, it still is. While I’m not normally a fan of roguelikes, Hades has a compelling cast of characters, an exciting premise, and weaves a compelling story into its narrative. I’ve never been more excited (outside of a Souls game) to die over and over again.


3 – The Last of Us Part II

This was a very personal game for me — so much so that I wrote a piece entirely about it. Aside from how I related to its story and characters, TLOU2 had amazing graphics and gameplay, but most of all it told a compelling story that tore my heart out and crushed it into pieces (for the most part) in a compelling and engaging way. I had a couple of gripes with pacing that prevents it from taking the throne from Hades and it doesn’t have the replayability of something like Cyberpunk for me, but it’s still an amazing game.


4 – Ghost of Tsushima

I’ve been wanting a samurai open-world game for years now, well before Assassin’s Creed came out. I’ve always wondered why no one made one, but now that one is here, it blew me away with amazing graphics — perhaps the best we’ll ever see on the PS4 generation — and a compelling story with gameplay that avoids much of the busywork and leveling issues I have with current AC titles. Now with the included multiplayer mode, there are reasons to return to it. While I would have liked more character customization and not to be stuck in a pre-set character, it hardly diminished my enjoyment.


5 – Persona 5 Royal (International Release)

Technically an updated version of the original (and even more technically, the Japanese edition was released in 2019) this is included on my list since it was released in 2020 internationally. The Persona franchise, despite some glaring problems, is one of my favorites and P5R nearly takes the cake. Having spent almost 200 hours on this, it was one of the few I’ve bothered to platinum on PS4. I can’t stress enough how the stylish visuals, entertaining gameplay, and engrossing story pull me in over and over.


6 – Arcade Hearts

I reviewed this game for GameCritics and loved it to death. While it didn’t have the most amazing story in the world and the character customization was a bit lacking, it still had heart, charm, and style, all of which I loved.


7 – Star Wars Squadrons

I’m a huge fan of the older X-Wing and Tie-Fighter games. I played all of Tie-Fighter back in the day, completing everything I possibly could. The Rogue Squadron titles came close, but never quite grasped the level of immersion I felt with those older titles. This year’s Squadrons, however, did. Of course, VR helps but even without it, the game filled the notable gap left by the absence of an immersive Star Wars combat sim. While I’ve fallen off playing it due to limited time, it’s one I definitely want to return to again.


8 – Yes, Your Grace

Though in some ways deceptively linear, I found Yes, Your Grace to be a charming and engrossing tale, and one which still holds a strong place in my memory. Though it’s just simple pixel art, I cared about all the characters and thought often about holding court and deciding the fate of the nation. It’s a quick playth, but one well worth experiencing.


9 – Valorant

I don’t normally get into multiplayer games as I gravitate to stories, but I found Valorant gripped me more than I expected it to. Overwatch and Apex, (both similar games that I’ve enjoyed for their characters) have done similar things, but having now spent some time with Valorant, I do find it to be one of the best out there. Its biggest problem are people who quit out mid-match, dooming your team to a slow defeat and hours of wasted time. Once this improves, it would perhaps be one of my favorite multiplayer games, and not just the best multiplayer released in 2020.


10 – Doom Eternal

This would have been higher on the list if it wasn’t for the platforming. I’m not great at platformers at the best of times, and its inclusion here just threw me, broke up the action in a tedious way, and limited my enjoyment of the game as a whole. That said, it still made my list because I really enjoyed my time with it overall. It had a more interesting story compared to the last installment, and its frenetic gameplay was a welcome change of pace from the likes of Animal Crossing (which I also loved, but it didn’t quite make this list!)


…And finally, a few games that I’ve only scratched the service of like Nioh 2, Resident Evil 3 Remake, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, and Genshin Impact would likely have been honorable mentions along with Animal Crossing: New Horizons, but I didn’t get enough playtime with them — I purchased them all at the end of the year, or they’ve been sitting on my hardware for a while!

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Nikki Waln

Nikki Waln

Writer, armature artist, data scientist, and jack-of-all-trades, Nikki has many passions, but video games and storytelling are chief among them. An avid gamer since her first original Game Boy, her favorite titles tend to lean into creative and innovative ways to tell stories.

In her free time she loves to write and travel, having lived in or been to most of the continents, there are still more adventures to be had. Favorite games include the The Last of Us 2, The Witcher 3, KOTOR, and Persona 4&5. LGBT issues and social rights activism is near and dear to her heart. Dabbling in creative writing while teaching herself digital art, she currently pays the bills through freelance consulting. You can follow her random ravings on Twitter at @nikkiwaln, Instagram @newnikki88 & her website newdimensions.io
Nikki Waln

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