2020 Game Awards: Best Long Game

For this category, I’m looking at games that took between 15 and 30 hours to finish.   I am also going to go ahead and include Call of Duty: WWII, Ghostbusters, and the three BioShock games in this section, because I have no idea what my playtimes were, but they both most likely fell in this range.

(Oh I should note:  I’d recorded the Uncharted: Nathan Drake Collection as a single listing when I looked at my completion list, but it is actually three games. *duh*  I’ve fixed the list, but all three should have been in the running for the Mid-length Award, sorry Uncharted!)

With my game spreadsheet corrected for those multi-game collections, 9 of the 38 games I completed this year fell into this time span.  And the nominees are…

  • BioShock 2
  • Ghostbusters
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
  • The Last of Us Remastered
  • Assassin’s Creed: Revelations

This one was hard to even narrow down to nominees because damn near every game I played in this range was SOOO good, but must pick a winner and that winner is…

The Last of Us Remastered!

This is one of my top all-time games, and there there is just so so much to love about it.  I’d played TLoU already, but I replayed it, this time the Remastered edition, in prep for The Last of Us Part 2’s release.  I’d have thought the second time around it would have had less impact, but instead, it had more, perhaps because while in the first few parts, I was playing and discussing along with others.  With this playthrough, I saw more detail, made an effort at getting all the collectibles (missed 2 in the end), and challenged myself to play it on hard mode!

The gameplay is smooth and works well for the most part, better than the first time around (or maybe I’m just better at actiony games?).  Even though it was on hard mode, it didn’t feel like it was just the bad guys were tougher or any of that, rather the human ones were a little smarter in their actions, some would actually attempt to sneak around themselves, and rather than just making everything harder to kill, you had fewer resources to do the killing.  I alternated between periods of lean where I was basically skimming through enemy areas on a wing and a lot of stealth, and others where I had enough to go Molotov on everyone.

With the updated graphics, the facial expressions were even better, the minute details of buildings more noticeable, and the scenery even more stark and beautiful than I remembered.  And of course, there is the story itself.  I LOVE THIS STORY!  Elle and Joel’s journey together is, in some ways a classic tale: two lonely people who bond and become a family through their shared experiences while going somewhere.  And I picked up some more details and nuances than before, particularly thanks to catching more of the optional conversations and side comments.

I also am apparently in the small minority of folks who do not consider Joel to be a horrible person.  Yes, he was working as a smuggler at the start, but I’m not about to judge people on how they survive in a zombie apocalypse, and the game never shows him being cruel or violent towards anyone other than the guy who screwed them over and tried to kill them.  To me, he was a man who did what it took to live, even though part of him died with his daughter at the start of everything.  There is no question he could be violent and brutal when needed, but it wasn’t all he was and I didn’t find it objectionable considering the circumstances.

Playing this game made me fall in love with it all over again.  It hits pretty much every emotion at some point, leaving me laughing, crying, furious, even despondent.  And yep, got me really hyped for Part 2!  (which I’ll go ahead and note I have NOT finished yet!)