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Hades’ success won’t be a surprise to many. Even before its full release, Supergiant Games spent over a year polishing the game through Early Access, allowing for plenty of time for word-of-mouth to spread. The result is a finely-tuned experience that’s the best the company has delivered yet. The developer’s usual high-water marks are all present: characters are well-written and realized, the music drives the action in all the right ways, and the art style gives a fresh look at well-trodden ground.
But none of these things would matter if the core gameplay loop wasn’t compelling. Fortunately, Hades is one of the most enjoyable games to play in quite some time. Everything from movement to the distinct nature of the game’s six weapons lends to the feeling of a top-notch action game and that’s before the rogue-lite elements kick in. Even then, Hades’ grind is among the most accessible in the genre, each run offering new opportunities for unique builds, and every return to home base giving some new dialogue with the delightful cast. The game is so smooth it’s easy to recommend even to those who might not enjoy rogue-likes to begin with. At the end of the day, Hades is one of the strongest and most fun titles of the year and deserving of RPGamer’s Game of the Year Award.
I was ready to count Final Fantasy VII Remake out. In my head, it was a game I was convinced did not need to exist and given the high expectations fans had of it, there was definitely room for failure. I was beyond surprised how much I loved my time with Final Fantasy VII Remake. It is abundantly clear that Square Enix put a lot of care and thought into this first part, from developing personalities for its main and supporting cast, to filling in plot holes from the original 1997 release. The overhauled combat system felt so refreshing and tactical, while the revised soundtrack breathed new life into familiar favorites. Final Fantasy VII Remake deserves to be a runner-up to our Game of the Year award because it is a rewarding experience that shows old can be new again.
Trials of Mana underwent one heck of a transformation, going from a wonderful top-down sprite-based RPG to a fully explorable 3D action-adventure experience. Every map and zone from the original has been recreated from the ground up and is a picture-perfect copy of its original, creating a game that is much more enjoyable with these nostalgic touches. 2020 might have had its fair share of disappointments in and out of the gaming world, but Trials of Mana was a pillar of how remakes should be treated moving forward. For the majority of RPGamers who missed it when it was left untranslated on the Super Famicom for so long, this game offers a great RPG experience with a lovely world to explore, six party members with unique stories, a memorable soundtrack, and a battle system that keeps one entertained throughout.
by Zack Webster, Sam Wachter, and Ryan Radcliff