Quantcast

Niche Gamer’s Favorite Niche Games of 2020

Deep Rock Galactic

Now that our Community GOTY votes are in, and we’ve crowned our personal winners for GOTY, we’d like to take a moment to highlight some of the other really cool games that released in 2020.

As with last year, we’d like to use this space to discuss some of the indie, middleware, or otherwise niche games that might have been lost in the shuffle, or perhaps didn’t get the attention they deserved when it came time for all the big GOTY awards.

While there certainly are some really high profile games on this list, most of them will be games that you might have missed, or otherwise forgotten about from throughout 2020.

Once again this list is limited to games we personally played, and preferably, were reviewed here on the site. The sheer number of indie and middleware games that release each year means its impossible to cover them all. So feel free to tell us what games we should be talking about in the comments below!

Here are fifteen of Niche Gamer’s favorite indie and AA games from 2020:


Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2
Developer: Inti Creates
Publisher: Inti Creates
Platforms: Windows PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Release Date: July 10, 2020
Players: 1-2
Price: $14.99
Our Score: 9

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2

Fingal Belmont: “Anyone who enjoyed Curse of the Moon, will be completely enamored with this sequel. It is more of the same, but the overall design is much more bold and ambitious. The new additions demand more dexterity of the player; and some challenges are white-knuckle, surgical platforming.

It is no where near as crushing as the older NES games that inspired it- even on veteran mode where cruel knock-back is preserved, and lives are limited- and it thankfully never reaches the insanity the sadists at Konami employed in the 80s.

 

Carrion
Developer: Phobia Game Studio
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platforms: Windows PC, Linux, Mac, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
Release Date: July 23rd, 2020
Players: 1
Price: $19.99
Our Score: 8

Carrion

Carrion is a unique little “reverse horror” game that allows you to live out your fantasies of stalking unsuspecting scientists as an amorphous blob monster.

Each encounter is almost like a carefully crafted puzzle, where you’ll need to use stealth and your arsenal of organic weapons and abilities to consume the tasty humans one person at a time. The hilarious gore physics makes it especially satisfying to tear enemies in two and throw their bits at other enemies to scare them senseless. It’s just a shame that the fun is over so quickly.

 

Deep Rock Galactic
Developer: Ghost Ship Games
Publisher: Coffee Stain Publishing
Platforms: Windows PC (Reviewed), Xbox One
Release May 13, 2020
Players: 1-4
Price: $29.99
Our Score: 8.5

Deep Rock Galactic

Brandon Lyttle: Deep Rock Galactic is a fresh take on the 4-man co-op game popularized by Left 4 Dead and Warhammer: Vermintide. With unique mission types and its comedic aesthetics, its hard not to have fun with friends.

While goal-oriented, the almost entirely destructible terrain and physics make it a more laid-back alternative to other co-op action games.

 

Desperados 3
Developer: Mimimi Games
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Platforms: Windows PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Release Date: June 16th, 2020
Players: 1
Price: $49.99
Our Score: 9

Desperados III

Desperados III is a serious contender for my personal favorite game of 2020. It has a great cast of characters with interesting sets of abilities, and each level is a perfectly constructed playground that encourages you to experiment to your heart’s content.

The game sets a new bar for how to reboot an ancient franchise by treading a careful balance between modernizing the series with streamlined mechanics, and still maintaining the feel of the originals. The developers have also been steadily updating the game with free challenge levels to make an already highly replayable game even more engaging.

 

Destroy All Humans!
Developer: Black Forest Games
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Platforms: Windows PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Google Stadia
Release Date: July 28, 2020
Players: 1
Price: $49.99
Our Score: 8.5

Destroy All Humans!

Fingal Belmont: “Destroy All Humans! is as short as the bitter Furon protagonist, but the little package is packed with personality. You are getting quality over quantity. […] Black Forest Games did a good remake by taking enhancements from later entries, and refining the best aspects of the original. The modern Unreal Engine 4 graphics are only the cherry on top.

Newcomers may be disappointed when the game comes to its end, since this is a highly enjoyable action game. Hopefully there will be enhanced remakes of the sequels and a continuation. THQ Nordic has thankfully produced an excellent remake of one of the better sixth generation sandbox action games.”

 

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
Developer: Mediatonic
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platforms: Windows PC, PlayStation 4
Release Date: August 4th, 2020
Players: 1-4
Price: $19.99
Our Score: 9

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout

Brandon Lyttle: Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is a breath of fresh air to the Battle Royale genre. Rather than being one among the dozens of shooting games out there, Mediatonic managed to take the formula to an entirely new genre.

Ultimately Fall Guys is indicative of just how innovative video games can be by taking the latest trends and running in a completely different direction with them.

 

Lumote
Developer: Luminawesome Games
Publisher: Luminawesome Games
Platform: Windows PC
Release Date: February 20th, 2020
Players: 1
Price: $19.99
Our Score: 8

Lumote

Lumote is an adorable little puzzle-platformer with a gorgeous bioluminescent aesthetic that was, sadly, completely buried and largely ignored.

It’s not the most complex or difficult puzzle-platformer on the market, and it probably won’t take you very long to beat it, but it more than makes up for these shortcomings with its stylish visuals and some clever mechanics based around manipulating lights, and the bizarre creatures that populate its wonderous world.

 

Hades 
Developer: Supergiant Games 
Publisher: Supergiant Games
Platforms: Windows PC, Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Release Date: September 17, 2020
Players: 1
Price: $24.99
Our Score: 9

Hades

Fingal Belmont: “Hades is Supergiant Games’ magnum opus. The team finally crafted a brilliant gameplay system that can meet Jen Zee’s magnificent art. The constant flow of features and content keeps the game from ever getting stale or complacent. There is never a dull moment, and there is always something new to see.

Hardly anybody knew who Zagreus was, but Hades has created a legend for the figure that is very hard to top. This may become the definitive characterization of the myth for years to come. Now when anyone discusses Greek Gods, this game will certainly almost always be mentioned.”

It is hardly a surprise the game won not only our Indie Game of the Year 2021, but also voted by you as our Community Indie Game of the Year 2021.

 

Sense – 不祥的预感: A Cyberpunk Ghost Story
Developer: Suzaku
Publisher: Top Hat Studios
Platforms: Windows PC, Mac, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Release Date: August 25th, 2020
Players: 1
Price: $19.99
Our Score: 8

Sense – 不祥的预感: A Cyberpunk Ghost Story

Sense – 不祥的预感: A Cyberpunk Ghost Story has been receiving a lot of attention lately because of its busty female character designs from the more prudish parts of social media [1, 2]. Luckily, there is a lot more to the game than just some pretty female faces.

Sense is set in a rather unique cyberpunk world where traditional Chinese folklore and human augmentation collide. While it is definitely a fairly linear game with straightforward puzzles, the narration and atmospheric locations help flesh out a world with some fresh takes on the cyberpunk setting.

 

Monster Train
Developer: Shiny Shoe
Publisher: Good Shepherd Entertainment
Platforms: Windows PC
Release Date: May 21st, 2020
Players: 1 
(with online multiplayer elements)
Price: $24.99
Our Score: 8.5

Monster Train

Ryan Pearson: While my personal GOTY was awarded to Streets of Rage 4, I must admit the game I poured the most hours into has been Monster Train. You must defend a train carrying a giant crystal to defrost hell; under assault by angelic forces.

No two runs are ever the same as you build your deck, and you’ll keep coming back to beat more difficult runs. RNG can sometimes be a bit cruel, but you’ll nearly always have a path to victory with the different synergies on offer to you. Finally, a new faction will be available soon as DLC.

 

Mobile Suit Gundam: Extreme Vs. Maxi Boost ON
Developer: Bandai Namco
Platform: PlayStation 4
Release Date: July 30th, 2020
Players: 1-4
Price: $59.99
Our Score: 8.5

Mobile Suit Gundam: Extreme Vs. Maxi Boost ON

Gundam might not be a niche franchise in its homeland of Japan, but it’s games have a much more narrow appeal here in the West, to the point that we really don’t get new ones very often.

Mobile Suit Gundam: Extreme Vs. Maxi Boost ON is certainly not a game that will appeal to everyone. Between its dizzying roster of 183 mobile suits, near limitless unlockables, and soundtrack of classic theme songs, it is laser-focused on overwhelming you with fanservice.

However, if you are a Gundam fan and can get over the initial hurdles of learning the game’s deceptively deep mechanics, then you’ll find one of the best Gundam games currently on the market.

 

Sakura Wars
Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega
Platform: PlayStation 4
Release Date: April 28th, 2020
Players: 1
Price: $59.99
Our Score: 7.5

Sakura Wars

While Sakura Wars has a long and storied history with a devoted cult following, it has always been a bit obscure in the West. Hell, we didn’t even get all the games in the franchise over here.

The new reboot is no exception; with its complete lack of a dub version, and gameplay that mostly consists of trying to woo one of five waifus, with mecha battles as a side order. While the story was fairly cliché and predictable, and with combat that is on the simplistic side, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t keep me entertained the whole way through with its charming cast of easily likeable characters.

 

Elderborn
Developer: Hyperstrange
Publisher: Hyperstrange
Platform: Windows PC
Release Date: January 30th, 2020
Players: 1
Price: $14.99 USD

Elderborn

Elderborn is a love letter to classic swords and sorcery fantasy, and features brutal, skill-based melee combat with a decent selection of weapons and enemies, all to the tune of a really good metal soundtrack. The game has only gotten better since it started in Early Access, with the inclusion of a New Game+ and various community-requested features and changes.

 

Ghostrunner
Developers: One More Level, 3D Realms, Slipgate Ironworks
Publishers: 505 Games, All in! Games
Platforms: Windows PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Release Date: October 27th, 2020
Players: 1
Price: $29.99 USD

Ghostrunner

Speaking of brutal melee combat, Ghostrunner is basically Mirror’s Edge with cyber ninjas. The game is hard but fair, and checkpoint reloads are quick to make sure there is basically no lull in the action, no matter how many times you fail. The gameplay is smooth, slick, and compelling, ensuring that you’ll always want to keep pushing forward no matter how terrible you are at being a cyber ninja assassin.

 

Fae Tactics
Developer: Endlessfluff Games
Publisher: Humble Games
Platform: Windows PC
Release Date: July 31st, 2020
Players: 1
Price: $19.99 USD

Fae Tactics

Finally, we come to Fae Tactics, an adorable little strategy RPG that a lot of people probably missed this year. The game has some rather unique mechanics that make it accessible, but still full of interesting tactical choices.

Characters will perform their actions and spells automatically when they move, are placed next to an enemy, and other conditions. The story is on the weak side, but the overall tone is pretty charming, and the tactical battles more than make up for these shortcomings.


What about all of you? What were some of your favorite games from 2020? What indie and middleware games did we miss? Sound off in the comments below!

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Frank Streva

About

Niche Gamer’s resident indie expert. Digs through the Steam new releases so you don’t have to. Massive fan of miniature and board games as well.