As the pandemic rages and forced everyone into lockdown, I rekindled my love for video games. Prior to 2020, I only play casual on mainstream titles (Mobile Legends, Pokémon, etc.) and saw them nothing more as a way to pass the time. However, after downloading Steam last May, my collection has expanded and my taste for gaming has refined.

In this blogpost, I want to celebrate the games I’ve played through an awards night. It’s special because the characters I’ve met and the stories they shared accompanied me in the middle of the pandemic. Of course, I am by no means a game journalist and all winners are based from my personal taste.


  1. I will only include games that I finished, excluding DLCs or extra content. As long as I finished the main storyline, I will put it in the list. It doesn’t matter if I wasn’t able to achieve full completion. The only exception for this is the Best Ongoing award.
  2. I will include games I’ve bought this year, irregardless of their publication date. So if a game has been released two years ago, but I’ve only played them this year, then I’ll still put in the list. You might probably see some 2015 or 2018 titles here.
  3. For each Award category below1, I will choose (1) winner and optionally, one to two (1-2) runner-ups:

    Category Description
    Game of the Year the defining game of my year, the best overall experience.
    Best Action Game the best game in an action genre focusing on combat.
    Sit Back and Relax the game you play after a long hard day, your moment of zen.
    Best Score the game that triumphs with its catchy tunes and reflective music.
    Best Narrative the game that gripped me with its narrative and storytelling.
    Best Art the most visually-appealing game with its creative direction.
    Best Ongoing the standout game that I’m still currently playing.
    Developer of the Year the game developer or studio that made a positive impact on me.


Sit Back and Relax

These games are perfect after a long hard day, just as you hear the light rain fall outside the window while sipping a cup of hot chocolate for the night. The atmosphere, music, and visuals evoke a sense of calm, and the difficulty invites flow than frustration.

Award Title Citation

A Short Hike takes the top spot in this category. Your only objective is to reach the mountain's summit. The fun part is that the game won't rush you through it. Instead, it presents a tiny open world where exploration and "getting lost" is key—you meet new friends, play mini-games (my favorite is volleyball), and get to know the island.

Even after I completed the game, I still visit the island every now and then! For 2020, I consider A Short Hike my happy place.


At first glance, Terraria may not be the game you play to relax: you fight hordes of zombies, face Eldritch horrors, and stop your world from being corrupted. However, I find that once you get past through the initial learning curve, Terraria's gameplay loop induces flow.

One of the best parts of my Terraria experience is when I played co-op with my girlfriend. It's fun to hunt monsters, build houses, and explore the procedurally-generated world as if we're in the same place. Terraria also got a new update, so perhaps it's time to once again don that armor and start hacking away!

Best Score

This award goes to the game that expertly used its music to enrich its atmosphere, narrative, and gameplay. Off-game, the developers may have taken extra steps to cater their music-loving fans by providing vinyl records and remixes. Knowing myself, their OST album must be on loop on Spotify for days!

Award Title Citation

It's fitting that the winner for Best Score is a game about a singer, Red, who has lost her voice. Transistor's music is a treasure: personally I enjoy the triad of Impossible, Blank Canvas, and Paper Boats, they take me back to the final sequences of the game.

Gameplay-wise, I love that Red has a hum button: a moment of calm amidst destruction. Supergiant Games just released an orchestral version, so listen now!


Celeste's music is nothing short of fantastic. It nails down the theme of determination as you climb the titular mountain. Lena Raine's masterful use of leitmotif is reflected through the characters and pays-off satisfyingly in the game's main beats.

In addition, the game's official remixes (known as their B-side track), is always a joy to listen to. I personally like 2 Mello's Mirror Temple Remix and In Love with a Ghost's Golden Ridge.

Best Narrative

This award goes to the game with almost perfect storytelling. The plot is accessible, and offers layers of meaning when closely read. In addition, the game’s narrative elements are elevated by its gameplay, scoring big payoffs during the crucial points of its story.

Award Title Citation

Celeste's story is simple— it's just a girl climbing a mountain. There are no big twists nor subverted expectations, it's linear through and through. However, it tells a compelling, character-driven story that has touched me in many ways. It's so good that I wrote a three-part essay on it!

Celeste stood out because its gameplay lent itself to the story. Precision-platformers are notoriously frustrating, but this is exactly what the story wants you to feel. Every moment is powerful, and it'll be one of the bests in my gaming history.


On the other end of the spectrum is Pyre, with its innovative gameplay, merry cast of characters, and multiple endings. Each character is well-made, and their interaction with you differs for each playthrough.

Pyre's main theme of found family shines. You get to forge strong bonds with the Nightwings, know their stories, and make the tough decision when the time comes. Pyre is a game that I hope I can experience again for the first time.

Best Art

This award goes to the game with stunning graphics, clear presentation, and impressive art style. I appreciate games with a distinct look, and flexes it without overloading the player.

Award Title Citation

Hollow Knight is a modern masterpiece. The character designs are clean and simple, but they mesh with a sprawling background to provide an atmospheric look. From the lush jungles of Greenpath, to the ruined City of Tears, Hollow Knight's art makes you feel that you're there.

Aside from its gorgeous art, Hollow Knight's visual design is well-directed. Each biome is color graded, blobs of infection contrasts the background, and animation is well-choreographed. To sum, this game is a work of art.


Even after 9 years, Bastion's art still holds. The lush digitally-painted environment, and the bright bittersweet theme of a fallen world caught me off-guard. There's a certain level of craftsmanship that Jen Zee and Supergiant exuded in this game.

I also enjoyed reading case-studies on how they managed to render large assets in this game. I highly-recommend watching GiantBomb's Building the Bastion series. It's a perfect case-study of good game optimization in XNA.

Best Action Game

This award goes to the game with a combat-oriented gameplay. They exemplify good battle mechanics, with a wide-array of synergies and options for the player to experiment upon. Each fight requires some strategy and thought, not just a simple hack-and-slash.

Award Title Citation

Dead Cells introduced me into the fun and thrill of roguelites. Apart from its fluid controls and satisfying combat, its weapon system hooked me in for hours as I discover new synergies and combos!

It's a game about managing risk and reward as you make tough decisions in your run. Clearing a screen requires careful planning and perfect execution, punishing you for the slightest mistakes! I'm hoping to finish 5BSC next year!


At first, I didn't enjoy Hollow Knight's combat: it's clunky, slow, and unexciting. However, as I dug deep into the world, fought bosses, and unlocked new charms and skills, the beauty of Hollow Knight's combat revealed itself to me.

Hollow Knight teaches you to study attack patterns. Every fight becomes a dance—don't overextend, keep-up with the rhythm—making every boss fight intense and satisfying.


Transistor introduces a unique mechanic that meshes tactical and real-time combat. At any point in the game, I can activate a command that brings me into a phase where I can queue and chain various skills together— very unique!

In addition, the synergy between each skill brought the gameplay into a whole new level. You can combine 16 skills in unique ways to suit your playstyle, with the number of combinations reaching-up to a thousand! All in all, playing Transistor is always a unique experience.

Best Ongoing

This award goes to the games that I’m still playing, but has already blown me away. I can’t put them in other categories yet because I haven’t finished them, but they’re so good that I already want to talk about them! I’m pretty sure that they’ll be strong contenders for my next year’s game awards.

Award Title Citation

Spiritfarer was just released last August, and it's already up there on my list. As you ferry spirits from purgatory to the afterlife, you learn about their stories, then once ready you let them go for good. As a resource management simulator, the gameplay loop is relaxing.

It's a good game to process grief, whatever form it took in our lives. It is pure and bittersweet, exploring the themes of mortality and relationships. As one Steam review says: "If 2020 break [sic] your soul, Spirifarer will heal it."


Slay the Spire is my first deck-building game and I'm already amazed by it! Its rogue-like structure also made it very addicting! As all card-games go, you think about synergies and combos, but the variety of plays you can do in your deck kept the game fresh after hours of game time!

I just started playing again after a brief hiatus due to focusing on Hollow Knight, so I'm not yet deep into the game. However, I already enjoy Ironclad's strength-scaling deck, and The Silent's poison deck!


Sayonara Wild Hearts is a game I played because of its soundtrack. It's a pop-album game in the style of an endless runner. The music is so good, that it's almost on loop throughout my day!

I haven't explored the game much yet, and I don't think I've reached halfway its story. But watch this space! I think that I'm in for a ride!

Developer of The Year

This award is given to the developer or studio that has made a positive impact on me. They’ve pushed the boundaries of what it means to make games, and more or less I’ve played all their titles!

Award Title Citation

Hands down, Supergiant Games earns the top spot in this category. I believe it's hard to produce a highly-acclaimed game, but doing it four times is almost genius. The level of craftsmanship and innovation they've added to all their games made me love the group. I highly-recommend watching their NoClip documentaries on developing Hades, it's very inspiring!

Game of The Year

This award is given to the game that has made an impact on me this year. In addition, it exemplified quality in both its artistic, musical, and narrative aspects—making it one of the games that defined my 2020.

Award Title Citation

Celeste is my game of the year. It taught me how to deal with my struggles and overcome difficult situations, both in-game and in real life. The game feels personal, and perhaps that's what it wants me to feel. The gameplay, sountrack, and narrative work together to convey the themes of acceptance, determination, and love. It's a beautiful game and I wrote more about it in this three-part series.


It seems that my top games are about climbing a mountain and this one is no different. A Short Hike is a beautiful surprise that I just only played last November. It speaks about taking a break, friendship, and connectedness. Despite that, the game's quite chill, with a good soundtrack following you as you traverse the mountain. As I've said before, Hawk Peak Provincial Park is my happy place.


Lastly, Hollow Knight's expansive world of Hallownest is as perfect as it should be. The gameplay and exploration is rewarding: I still remember the first time I saw the City of Tears, and the moment I first defeated the Mantis Lords. Its breathtaking atmosphere made me feel that that their world is so alive, as if they're just there somewhere. With stunning art and gorgeous visuals, Hollow Knight deserves to be one of my top games this year.

Next Year

I can say that my gaming life has only started this year, so I’m definitely looking forward to all the games that I’ll play for the next! Here’s a low-down of the titles I’m looking forward to play, and unreleased games that I’m so hyped about!

Games I look forward to play

These are games that I already have in my collection, and they’re just waiting for me to launch and sink hours on them.

Title Description

Needless to say, with all the accolades and awards they received this year, Hades is my most-hyped game of 2021. I predict that Hades is an example of, "what if Dead Cells has a good story?" With rogue-lite progression (one of my favorite genres) and Supergiant's touch of storytelling, I feel that Hades is another strong contender for my next year's Game Awards.

I am excited to play Disco Elysium because it will introduce me into a new genre I've never played before— detective problem-solving with DnD elements. I feel that it's only unique to this game, but upon seeing the gameplay online, I dig this mechanic.

I actually spent a few minutes playing it, and I'm so amazed by the possibilities in this game (I just need a new graphics card haha). Hoping to sink more hours into it next year!

Whenever I tell someone how I love Hollow Knight, the common response is if I've played Ori and the Blind Forest. Friends, I haven't, but hopefully next year! I love platformers and I think that with its gorgeous visuals, I'd enjoy going through this game.

I'm aware that they recently released Ori and the Will of Wisps, a metroidvania akin to Hollow Knight. I'm also excited to play that, but we'll see if I'll dig their first installment.

Unreleased games I look forward to

These are unreleased games that are currently in my Steam Wishlist.

Title Description

Of course, it's Silksong! I really dig Hornet's princess-protector and chosen one character, so I'm very excited to see how Silksong will play out. She has more spunk, compared to our Knight's edgy silence. In addition, her moveset is much more fluid and fast-paced, so I'm keen to imagine how boss fights will work.

All in all, always hyped for Silksong. My prediction is mid or late 2021, but I hope I'm wrong in a good way!

I've been following news about Sea of Stars ever since their Kickstarter launched last year. Since I grew up playing a bit of Pokemon and Final Fantasy, I'm drawn to its turn-based combat mechanic, it feels like home. Unlike Pokemon, I like the idea of not having random encounters in your trail, it's good to see the enemies in the overworld so that I can plan ahead whether to engage them or not.

If executed properly, I predict that Sea Of Stars will be a strong contender for next year's Game Awards—and I'm not talking about mine.

If you haven't watched Eastward's trailer, I encourage you to see it now! Set in an apocalyptic society, you follow the story of two of its inhabitants to discover the secret of their world's past. Combat looks fantastic too, and there's a lot of environmental puzzles to solve.

The game looks wonderful to look at, with its impressively-drawn pixel art world and slick animations— each frame is like a cover on a lofi hiphop album. The trailer's music sounds fantastic too! It reminds me a bit of Shovel Knight. I have high hopes for this game come 2021.

Sable's artstyle is captivating. Again, I highly recommend watching the trailer (the music sounds amazing too!). The details about the story are a bit sparse: it's a coming-of-age story, there's some clans, and that's it. Either way, I'm excited for the seemingly open-world gameplay it introduces. After playing A Short Hike, I realized that I enjoy games in this genre (please recommend me more open-world titles!).

The trailer's been released since 2018, so I'm hoping for a 2021 release just like Silksong.


To end my 2020 Game of the Year Awards, all I can say is that 2020 has been my Year of the Games. I developed a deeper appreciation to games this year, and I saw them as tools for creative expression. You’d probably notice that most of my titles are indies, and I think it speaks alot about the quality and craftsmanship indie game developers have.

Lastly, being an adult with money to buy games feels like candyland! I’m still exploring this hobby until next year, but I started dabbling a bit by creating small games in PICO-8. I realized that it’s very mathematically involved, computing jump trajectories, momentum, collision and more. It’s a fun experience, and I think that by playing games, I develop a certain level of sensibility that I can apply to the things I create.

I’d like to thank all game developers and indie studios for the games that accompanied me during this pandemic, you are the real winners!


  1. Some of the award descriptions were based from The Game Awards, Golden Joystick, and Steam Awards.