The end of 2020 means a light at the tunnel for a frustrating and anxiety-inducing year. Thankfully, not every moment was riddled with darkness. There were plenty of fantastic moments in our favorite platforming games, which made for bright spots. From roguelikes that find you delving into ever-changing caves to the return of a platforming icon, we’ve rounded up our favorite platformers of 2020.
Previously in Swaraz’s Best Games of 2020: Action, Adventure, Horror, Shooters, Strategy & Simulation
Spelunky 2 (9.5)
It isn’t every day that you get to spend time in a platformer with roguelike elements as addictive as Spelunky 2. In this sequel, you take control of Ana, the daughter of the explorer you met in the original game, as she delves into a variety of caves seeking treasures and staving off enemies. From lava-filled caverns to dank, moss-filled surfaces, Spelunky 2 is a challenge that’ll have you working hard from start to finish.
“In Spelunky 2 you never get the same game twice, not just because the layout changes but because all the systems interact with each other to kill you in new, imaginative, and hilarious ways. It’s almost impossible to put down.”
Amanita Design’s Creaks subverted expectations by not being a point and click title. It delivered in droves, a platformer inspired by the phenomenon of pareidolia, where items take on human face-like properties. You take on the role of a man who finds a secret passageway behind his wallpaper as he explores a cavern within. We won’t ruin some of the bizarre sights within, but you’ll be up against a massive creature by the end of the game.
“Creaks renovates a well-worn genre, delivering one of the most satisfying indie puzzle-platformers in some time. Between its stunning visual and audio design, absorbing world, and perfectly-balanced puzzles, it’s hard to find serious fault with any part of this game’s construction. If you’re a fan of puzzles or Amanita Design’s past games, you need to grab a flashlight and delve in.”
Ori and the Will of Wisps Review (8.7)
Ori and the Will of the Wisps may very well be one of the most beautiful platforming games on the market. As guardian spirit Ori, players jump, glide, climb, and swim throughout a variety of platforms to rescue a baby owl. But it’s much than that. It’s a gorgeous, emotional trek through some stellar gameplay decisions as well as some of the most arresting visuals we’ve seen this entire year. Here’s hoping a third game is in the works.
“Ori and the Will of Wisps is a truly delightful and devastating game that blends new ideas into a solid foundation, all topped off with an incredible score and even more breathtaking levels to explore.”
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time (8.7)
Crash Bandicoot returns for an official fourth entry in the mascot’s series, right after the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. Crash returns alongside an alternate version of his ex-girlfriend Tawna and they work together to, once again, stop Doctor Neo Cortex and Doctor Nefarious Trophy from enacting their evil plans. This time, it’s enslaving the entire multiverse. This outing adds several new mechanics but keeps the classic platforming tight and familiar.
“Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is as much a brand new title as it is closely entwined with the history of the PlayStation 1 trilogy. Long time fans will find something new to enjoy, while first time players stepping into the jorts of the orange chordata might fall prey to cheap deaths, time and time again.”
Super Mario 3D All-Stars (8.5)
Super Mario 3D All-Stars is a fantastic buy, bringing three iconic Mario games together in one package. It includes Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy. Now that these games are available on the Switch, you won’t have to go back to using your Nintendo 64, GameCube, and Wii, to enjoy them when the hankering hits. You’ll have hours of classic gaming on the go.
“Super Mario 3D All-Stars contains three legendary games, and this package allows you to experience all of them, the way you remember them. Whether or not these games hold up as competitive, contemporary pieces of entertainment is one question, but they do serve as an amazing time machine taking me to the moments I shared with friends and loved ones years ago, and this is a perfect way for you to form new memories with yours. This is three of the very best 3D platformers of all time, at their best.”
Shady Part of Me (6.5)
Shady Part of Me is a striking platformer that looks unlike anything you’ve seen before. It’s a challenge in that you’ll have to use your noodle to make decent progress. But it’ll be a pleasure to do so, since it looks like a painting come to life. It’s a work of art that you just happen to be able to play, and you’ll want to come back to it over and over.
“Shady Part of Me is a decent puzzle platformer, which offers some inventive challenges and an overall polished presentation. That said, almost everything about the game, including its story, aesthetic, and core mechanics, are lifted wholesale from more memorable indie games like Braid, Limbo, Little Nightmares, and Contrast. Like a shadow cast upon your bedroom wall, Shady Part of Me may be fleetingly interesting, but it won’t leave a lasting impression.”
Sackboy: A Big Adventure
There were platformers aplenty in 2020, and we’re grateful for it. Next year, perhaps we’ll see some new entries from some of the familiar faces we know and love, and we can’t wait to see what’s coming up. Did I miss any of your favorite platforming games this year? Hit up the comments section to tell us all about it. Then, look forward to more Swaraz GOTY lists as we jump, double-jump, and turbo run into 2021.