By Josh Speer / January 22nd, 2020
One of the best parts of any new year are novel experiences on the horizon. As an avid gamer, I always highly anticipate upcoming releases in the new year. To say it was hard for me to narrow my list down is a bit of an understatement, but I did my best to whittle it to only 10 most anticipated games of 2020. As if that wasn’t enough, I also have a few honorable mentions that I had to include. So technically that brings me to more than 10, but who’s counting? The following are listed alphabetically to be fair. Here’s hoping I didn’t forget anything! And thanks to Brandon for the great featured image.
Game #1 – Axiom Verge 2
While it’s very true that I jumped on the Axiom Verge train pretty late (mostly cause I was waiting for it to come to a console I owned), I wound up being spellbound by such a different and haunting Metroidvania. Though I’m still not 100% sure I understood everything that happened in the first Axiom Verge, I had a hell of a good time exploring, fighting monstrosities and unlocking tidbits of story. When I saw that Axiom Verge 2 was coming out in the near future, I was flabbergasted. Not cause the first game doesn’t a deserve a sequel, it absolutely does, I just didn’t expect one. Here’s hoping more of the plot is revealed in the sequel. Fall 2020 is shaping up well for my most anticipated games thus far.
Game #2 – Cat Lady
Sometimes the best games are those that come out of nowhere. When I first heard about Cat Lady, I found the general premise interesting but didn’t know much else. Fast forward a few months, after my having played a couple demos and the early access, and now Cat Lady is firmly on my radar as one my most anticipated games of 2020. The heady mix of cutesy art, pumping tunes, challenging combat and humor galore make me very happy. I firmly hope the final version of this crazy game lives up to my hype, cause if it does, it’s gonna cement itself as one of my all-time favorite indies!
Game #3 – Cris Tales
I’m often as drawn to a game by its art as its premise, but Cris Tales has the benefit of being outstanding in both regards. Visually, it’s like a stained glass panel brought to life. Gameplay revolves around time travel to right wrongs, as well as turn-based RPG combat with time-based inputs. It looks utterly amazing, and the only complaint I have is that I haven’t been able to play a demo yet. Though after watching a lengthy presentation for Cris Tales at E3, I am almost positive it will easily be one of my most anticipated games of the new year.
Game #4 – Infernax
I was drawn to Infernax by the siren song of Just Shapes & Beats. See, it’s made by the same folks behind JS&B, Berzerk Studio, and every year I’ve attended PAX West and been captivated by those pumping tunes. While it’s true Infernax is decidedly different from that title, it looks promising in interesting ways. For one, it has bloody, gory art full of squishy details. For another, it’s a fond nod to the “classic” Castlevania game, Simon’s Quest. It just expands upon that game with some modern conventions, but without disregarding the hardcore difficulty. Infernax looks truly distinct, even in my eclectic roster of most anticipated games. Here’s hoping it’s another hit from Berzerk Studio.
Game #5 – KUNAI
If all I knew about KUNAI was that it was a Metroidvania in a world controlled by robots with ninja swords, I would have been hooked. When you throw in a cartoony, vibrant art style, challenging platforming, menacing enemies and big, bad bosses, it’s a done deal that I’m gonna love this game. Which isn’t that surprising, since it’s published by the Arcade Crew, who is quickly growing its brand by pushing out really quirky games that I generally love, such as Blazing Chrome. I really think KUNAI has the chops to be one of the best Metroidvanias of 2020, and that’s saying something when it has fierce competition from games like Axiom Verge 2. If nothing else, no other game will ever have such a delightful, derpy faced little ninja-bot.
Game #6 – N1RV Ann-A
If this list of my most anticipated games of 2020 wasn’t alphabetical, there’s a good chance N1RV Ann-A would have showed up earlier on it. After all, much like with Axiom Verge, once I played the game which preceded NIRV Ann-A, none other than VA-11 Hall-A, I was quickly turned into a raving fanboy. Because the universe of both games is just so vivid and full of life, humor, angst and regret. But more than anything, this is a fun world and a great mirror to our own reality. Sure it’s full of cyberpunk characters and talking dogs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from it. So I’ll be more than ready to grab a tumbler, mix a drink, and listen to the woes of my customers when N1RV Ann-A finally comes out this year.
Game #7 – Panzer Paladin
The fine folks at Tribute Games are wizards. They always seem to be cooking up some arcane brew when I’m not paying attention, and then when I do discover it, I’m spellbound. I still don’t entirely remember when I discovered Panzer Paladin, but I’m glad I did. It looks like a mixture of games like Castlevania, Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, Mega Man and Blaster Master. It’s a really strange and wonderful blend. And though I haven’t had a chance to get hands on Panzer Paladin yet (please set up a demo at E3 or PAX West, Tribute Games!), I have a feeling I’m gonna like it. While it might seem premature to list something as a most anticipated game that I know so little about, I trust my scent for sniffing out promising adventures. And I have a feeling Panzer Paladin will be something special.
Game #8 – Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin
I’m gonna start this off with an admission – I haven’t played anything by the two man team known as Edelweiss yet. Which isn’t the same as not owning anything by them, since I can look at my Steam library and see Astebreed glaring at me. But thanks to me being oprainfall’s EIC, I tend to read about a lot of games even if I haven’t played them personally, and Astebreed looks tremendous. So does their next game, Sakuna; Of Rice and Ruin. In many ways, it reminds me of another game I loved, Muramasa: The Demon Blade, as well as Odin Sphere. And really, any time a game is compared to a Vanillaware title, you know that’s a good sign. Sakuna is a mix of a farm sim and action platformer, and it really spoke to me both times I demoed it. Even though I’m not that familiar with Edelweiss personally, I have a feeling I’m gonna be a fan after playing the final build of Sakuna.
Game #9 – Shantae and the Seven Sirens
If you know anything about my tastes in gaming, you should know that I love Shantae. Ever since I started the series with Risky’s Revenge, I fell in love with this colorful, humorous and raucous world of genies, pirates, monsters and secrets. While each game in the series has been very distinct, both in game style and in challenge, and though I feel the series reached its peak with Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, I have high hopes for the next game. Shantae and the Seven Sirens looks to once more bring my favorite genie into the Metroidvania format, and it looks to be an expansive adventure. When you throw in several new genies to meet and greet, what’s not to like? Cause honestly, it was never a question whether Shantae’s latest would be one of my most anticipated games of 2020. Honestly, the challenge is deciding whether Shantae is my only WayForward waifu, or whether she shares that distinction with Rottytops…
Game #10 – Spiritfarer
I’m generally not a fan of sim or management games. I prefer to be rambunctious and start fights than sit and tend to gardens. But if I’ve learned anything in recent years, it’s that the folks at Thunder Lotus Games make wonderful experiences. So when they make a game like Spiritfarer, with you riding a boat, helping ease departed spirits and deal with all sorts of fun minutiae, I’m willing to give it a chance. One reason is that the artistry on display with every one of their games is breathtaking. Each and every one is also blessed with emotion and great music. And I suspect Spiritfarer won’t be the one to buck that trend of magnificence. Who knows, maybe after 2020 I’ll be a fan of sim games once and for all!
Now if I wasn’t a crazy person, I’d be done with my most anticipated games list now. But I am a game fanatic, so here’s a few games that didn’t quite make the cut, but still deserved an honorable mention.
Honorable Mention #1 – Carrion
Carrion is a reverse horror game where you play the monster and murder your way out of a facility bristling with guards. I played it briefly at PAX West, and found it very compelling, and more than a bit bloody. The biggest reason it’s not on my main list is that I thought it was technically out in 2019, but looks like that might not be the case. Either way, I’m looking forward to spending some time as the bad guy when Carrion wiggles its way to Nintendo Switch.
Honorable Mention #2 – Haven
I’m typically not a fan of romance stories, but Haven looks more than a bit different. It has two star crossed lovers marooned on an alien planet, searching for resources, fighting monsters and generally flying around and exploring. That might be just enough to get me to invest in this romance, especially since it’s coupled with an interesting plot and lush visuals.
Honorable Mention #3 – Indivisible
I’ve been hyped for Indivisible since I first demoed it. It has beautiful art by the folks behind Skullgirls, it has rapid fire strategic combat, and it has lots of heart. So you’re probably wondering why the honorable mention? I just felt it wasn’t fair to list it as a 2020 game, since it technically came out in 2019, just not for my console of choice. Once it makes the Switch, I’ll be spending a lot of time with it.
Honorable Mention #4 – No Straight Roads
Even though I demoed No Straight Roads not too long ago, I struggle to accurately describe it. Sure, it’s a rhythm game. And it has cartoony art and crazy characters. There’s even boss fights against diabolical DJs. But as to how to classify it, I’m still not sure. All I know is that it was a lot of fun, and has the potential to be something special.
Honorable Mention #5 – Super Crush KO
I almost feel guilty for including Super Crush KO, just due to the fact I just finished reviewing it. But it’s still 2020, and I still enjoyed it, so I guess that works. I love platformers and colorful art, and Super Crush KO has both. It may not have been a perfect experience, but it brought a lot to bear that was very fun.
And now that’s it for my most anticipated games of 2020. Much like last year, I think the new year is shaping up to be a whopper, full of interesting and outstanding video games. Thanks again for tuning into oprainfall, and be sure to check out the other most anticipated game lists that are coming!
2020Axiom Verge 2CarrionCat LadyCris TalesgamesHavenIndivisibleInfernaxJoshKUNAIMost AnticipatedN1RV-ANN-ANo Straight RoadsoprainfallPanzer PaladinSakuna: Of Rice And RuinShantae and the Seven SirensSpiritfarerSuper Crush KO