We know that 2020 may have been quite the dumpster fire for many people, but there is still a lot to look back on fondly. The Video Games team has come together again to share with everyone our favorite games from last year. Reene, Emily, Tyler, Kathy and myself voted on eleven categories and video games. Games that were eligible for the nomination had to be released between December 2019 to December 2020. And without further ado, here are our winners of the GGA Video Game Awards 2020!

RELATED: GGA Video Game Awards 2019

Best Narrative Driven Video Game: The Last of Us Part II

A good story is what sets truly memorable games away from the rest. It needs to be something that takes players on a journey and drops them on the other side, feeling changed somehow. So it’s no surprise that The Last of Us Part II took this category. Naughty Dog knows how to catch the player’s attention and continue to surprise them until the end credits roll. They can bring the characters to life, which causes us to actually care about their wellbeing. As Ellie sets off on her path of revenge we are right in tow waiting to see what will happen.

Best Indie Video Game: Hades

Hades took us all by storm. A simple roguelike hack and slash from indie company Supergiant Games has become a worldwide phenomenon. It features a story rich with Greek mythology that held our attention through the millions of runs we took to escape the lower layers of hell. Supergiant Games gives players of all different game styles something to enjoy. Do you like ranged gameplay? Grab the bow. Up close but still defensive? There is a shield for that. In fact, they seem to have thought through everything! So grab your favorite weapon, some yummy snacks and get ready to hack your way through the underworld.

Best Fighting Video Game: Granbule Fantasy Versus

For the first time in a few years, we found that there was actually a competition for fighting games! It is great to see how much love Granbule Fantasy Versus from Cygames received this past year in a normally dominated genre. This fighting game introduces us to a world full of unique characters and players’ abilities to enjoy. The best part is that it is really newbie-friendly. So if you are looking to break into the fighting game genre, this is a great start.

Granbule Fantasy Versus (Cygames)

Best Female Lead in a Video Game: Ellie in The Last of Us Part II

There was no shortage of strong female leads in video games in 2020. This made it hard to really decide who we think was the best. In the end, it was hard to ignore just how impactful Ellie’s story and her character is in The Last of Us Part II. We watched as she grew from the young girl in The Last of Us to the hardened adult in the sequel. She is the definition of a character who has changed due to the world’s nature around her. It is hard not to find bits and pieces of ourselves within her, which makes us invested in her journey.

Best Art Style in a Video Game: Hades

Hades may have drawn you in with its epic gameplay, but it kept you because of the art style. Supergiant Games art team went above and beyond when bringing the underworld to life. Each character, room, level and encounter has its own unique style. Hack and slash rogue-like games typically re-use assets repeatedly to help save time, but it tends to leave players looking at the same old things. However, exploring every nook and cranny of Hades felt like a dream come true. No matter how many times I try to escape the underworld, I always find myself getting lost in the beauty of it.

Best Voice Acting in a Video Game: Laura Bailey as Abby in The Last of Us Part II

There are quite a few things that need to come together perfectly to truly tell a good story within a video game. One of those things can be voice acting. A good story can’t save terrible voice acting. But in the case of The Last of Us Part II, Laura Bailey really brought her a-game. Abby did not live a charmed life and struggles with the murder of her father. She is a hardened adult with a cold nature. It can be so easy for voice actors to portray happy go lucky characters, but it takes a true master to bring out the struggles and harshness we find within Abby’s character.

Best Multiplayer Video Game: Phasmophobia

There are multiplayer games and then there are horror multiplayer games. And honestly, isn’t it better to spend time with friends while being scared. You can lean on each other while trying not to have a heart attack. This is why Phasmophobia from Kinetic Games is one of your favorite multiplayer games of the year. You can team up with friends and explore haunted houses while trying to uncover what ghost is living there. It puts players into the shoes of real ghost hunters and requires the use of all kinds of fun tools. But what makes it even better is the reaction you will get out of your friends while trying to hide from the ghost on the hunt!

Phasmophobia

Phasmophobia (Kinetic Games_

Best Single Player Video Game: Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla

Ubisoft‘s long-awaited Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla was released in 2020 and we are still playing and talking about it. The single-player action-adventure puts us into the shoes of Vikings! The open world is full of interesting stories, side missions, vibrant characters and so much more. It is easy to lose yourself for hours just exploring the areas around you. Ubisoft pulled all the stops to update everything and bring players the best experience possible. It also has tons of Norse mythology to keep players thoroughly educated and invested.

Best Music Score in a Video Game: Hades

The soundtrack that has become a large part of my daily working routine, and I assume many others, belongs to Hades. The music comes to us from award-winning composer Darren Korb and it is mesmerizing. Each piece has such a unique quality that works so well with the game itself. If you close your eyes and listen to each piece, you can just imagine wherein the game takes place. What really makes it stand out is how well it works without the additional sound effects of playing. It feels like a complete soundtrack unto itself.

Best Horror Video Game: The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope

Horror games were a bit scarce in 2020, but those that did come out really knocked our socks off. This includes Supermassive Games‘ second installment in their horror franchise, The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope. This time around players are taken on a horror trip through time as we see events from the time of witch trials, the 70s and the present day. The real fear comes as players try and decide what choices are the best to keep as many people alive and hitting those quick skill checks. This story isn’t for the faint of heart and if the franchise has taught us anything, don’t get attached to the characters!

RELATED: GGA’s Top 9 Most Anticipated Games of 2021

Video Game of the Year

This is where things got very interesting for our team. It seems that each of us found a different game that we felt was GOTY (game of the year) material. So instead of trying to narrow it down to one game, we are sharing why our pick deserves this top spot!

Julia’s Choice: The Last of Us Part II

Naughty Dog’s long-anticipated sequel to its star child, The Last of Us, was destined for greatness. They needed to bring back everything we loved in the original title and make it better. So how did The Last of Us Part II fair? Beyond my expectations. What I loved more than anything is that this isn’t some attempt to make the player feel warm and fuzzy. This is a gritty story of revenge and what one will go through to get their vengeance. Ellie has come a long way and we get to be apart of her continued journey. But The Last of Us Part II is more than just a good story. The gameplay aspects far exceeded the first and Naughty Dog learned from the first game’s mistakes. Altogether they brought us a game that checks off multiple aspects needed when thinking of game of the year material.

Ellie in The Last of Us Part II is one of GGA Video Games Awards 2020 choices.

The Last of Us Part II (Naughty Dog)

Renee’s Choice: Final Fantasy VII Remake

In a wild and crazy year, the city of Midgar was a welcomed escape. For years we waited for the release of Final Fantasy VII Remake and when it was finally in our hands-on March 2nd, the emotional nostalgia hit us hard. To see Cloud, Tifa, Aerith, Barret, Reno, Rude, Sephiroth and the rest in their remade glory was astonishing to see. The story was every bit as enthralling as it was back in 1997: AVALANCHE versus the evil Shinra Corporation. Two entities fighting for the planet, with one trying to control it and one trying to save it. The Final Fantasy VII Remake’s beauty is that it gave us more than the original. It gave us a better look into the lives of Jesse, Wedge and Biggs. It gave us their backstory, including their motivations for joining AVALANCHE. They became more than just side characters; they became characters we cared about. And this is what made Final Fantasy VII Remake the Game of Year for me. It gave me the original nostalgia and added more story and more opportunities to really connect with characters that were once afterthoughts. It’s a beautiful game and I look forward to continuing the story in a couple of years.

Cloud in Final Fantasy VII Remake is one of GGA Video Games Awards 2020 choices.

Final Fantasy VII Remake (Square Enix)

Emily’s Choice: Ghosts of Tsushima

For a title to be “Game of the Year,” in my opinion, it must exceed ALL aspects of the game: narrative, gameplay, audio + visuals, and overall experience. The only game that truly fell into that category for 2020 was Suckerpunch‘s Ghost of Tsushima. This title was not only filled with a variety of diverse and compelling characters (shoutout to Yuna and Lady Masako), but a story that was full of twists, thrills, and emotion. Likewise, Ghost of Tsushima‘s gameplay was varied in that the user could play how they prefer. Do you like the powerful strikes and presence of the Samurai? Perhaps you prefer taking out your enemy in the shadows like a Ghost? Or maybe you are like me and blend a combination of the two! Finally, Ghost of Tsushima is a gorgeous game. The scenery and soundtrack teleport you outside of your home into Tsushima’s countryside with Jin. Ghost of Tsushima is arguably the MOST well-balanced game of the year across all game aspects, and that is why it is my pick for GOTY.

Ghosts of Tsushima is one of GGA Video Games Awards 2020 choices.

Ghosts of Tsushima (Suckerpunch)

Tyler’s Choice: Hades

Hades is an indie hack-and-slash roguelike game from Supergiant Games. The game rests upon three strong gameplay pillars: lightning-quick combat, gorgeous artwork, and a moving story. The Sisyphean task of escaping Hades, only to be constantly killed and forced to start again, is an excellent way to tie narrative progression to the core gameplay loop. Like many roguelikes, Hades has the potential for breaking the game by getting a few lucky pulls in boons and powerups. However, the “godlike” result empowers the player and instills a feeling of vindication for all the countless failed attempts that led to such a moment.

No wonder this game has become so popular among Twitch streamers. The many thirst-inducing characters don’t hurt either! Characters like Megaera and Thanatos balance stunning physical appearance with full-fledged and attractive personalities. Masterful voiceover from the Hades cast makes such character interactions feel treasured and organic. There is something enjoyable in this game for everyone. Our congratulations to Supergiant for turning the tragedy of Greek mythology into something new and magical for all modern gamers!

Hades is one of GGA Video Games Awards 2020 choices.

Hades (Supermassive Games)

Kathy’s Choice: Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla
I was shown and later got to play Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla thanks to a friend. Even though the game series has become a staple of Ubisoft’s, Valhalla takes the cake as one of my favorite ones. The gameplay is unbelievably smooth, the graphics are gorgeous, and the story, drizzled in Norse mythology and familial alliances, is just the kind of game I’ve wanted to play for a long time. Even the skill tree, while massive, is an exciting way to continue your character’s journey throughout the expansive world. Even the soundtrack sets the tone for the rest of this epic adventure. This game definitely deserves a GOTY nomination.
Assassin's Creed Valhalla is one of GGA Video Games Awards 2020 choices.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (Ubisoft)

 
 
 
 
Julia Roth
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