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Here are some of the highest-rated action-adventure games this past year.
The action-adventure genre is among the most prominent in gaming. As experiences that are easy to pick up but still demand a level of finesse to play, they're frequently where folks go for a balanced mix of fun and challenge. If you're a fan of the genre, then you'll be happy to know that 2020 was packed with several standout gems.
In the following roundup, you can find a selection of action-adventure games that GameSpot has scored 8 or higher throughout 2020. The games below cover a wide range of styles within the genre as a whole, from action-RPGs and platformers to first-person shooters and beat-'em-ups. Whatever you lean toward, these action-adventure games are well worth playing and come highly recommended.
Like previous years, we've determined as a team some of the best games this year. For a look at what GameSpot finds as this year's finest games, be sure to check out our Best Games of 2020, but if you're keener to see what's in store next year, jump into our hub for the Most Anticipated Games of 2021.
It's worth noting that many of the Xbox One and PS4 games we listed below are backward compatible on new-generation consoles. So if you're vying to pick up any of the games mentioned, then you're well-capable of playing them, even if you've discarded your old consoles. Nearly every PS4 game works on PS5, and all non-Kinect Xbox One games work on Xbox Series X|S.
If you're looking to see what scored best on specific platforms or what stood atop as the best in other genres this year, be sure to check out the features below. Otherwise, read on for all the best action-adventure games in 2020 by score!
“Despite its strong connection to past games, Assassin's Creed Valhalla is more than capable of standing on its own. It takes a little while to build momentum, but when it hits its stride, Valhalla is a confident Assassin's Creed title that takes a few narrative risks which, as a whole, pay off. Eivor is a good hero with an identity that drives the mystery behind the main narrative, and she shines in the self-contained arc structure of Valhalla's story. The supporting cast may not shine as brightly, but it's easy to forgive that when exploring England and discovering new nuggets of worldbuilding is so rewarding.” -- Jordan Ramée, Associate Editor
Assassin's Creed Valhalla is available on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC.
“The best and worst thing I can say about Astro's Playroom is that its role as a demonstration feels a bit wasteful. It's a wondrous little dream world, and I would have loved to spend more time touring it. But that, in itself, is a tremendous achievement. Astro's Playroom, a game that makes no attempt to hide the fact that it is an excuse to show you what a gamepad can do, conjures a world that you will want to see and explore. More than that, its surprisingly delightful celebration of PlayStation and its video games is a great way to kick off a console generation.” -- Mike Epstein, Freelance Reviewer
Astro's Playroom is included with the purchase of a PlayStation 5.
“And yet, like so many challenging score chases, Bloodroots is still incredibly satisfying when you’re eventually successful. At its highest heights, you’ll find your way around, bouncing from weapon to weapon, kill to kill, to string together a perfect run. Better yet, there are so many ways to approach each area that, no matter how well you do, you can always do it better, faster, crazier. Even when playing Bloodroots is painful--like throw your controller so hard it bounces off the ground, hits you in the head, then breaks your TV painful--there’s always a wildly fun run within reach.” -- Mike Epstein, Freelance Reviewer
“That Easter egg owes both its story justification and its level of meta weirdness to Hachi, which is really what sets Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 apart. It's still a classic Castlevania homage at heart, but it has an eccentricity that feels right at home alongside the giant kitty-cats of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. When a game seems to be having this much fun at its own expense, it's hard not to join in.” -- Steve Watts, Associate Editor
“Unsurprisingly, Bugsnax' best qualities are its cleverness and charm. The surprise and delight you feel when you see a Bugsnak wiggling around or watch someone eat one and change their arm into food never goes away. That alone would make Bugsnax worth your time, but creative puzzles and thoughtful story give it the body and depth to make a Snak feel more like a meal.” -- Mike Epstein, Freelance Reviewer
Bugsnax is available for both PS5 and PS4.
“Even more so than playing the N.Sane Trilogy, which literally remade the original Crash games from my youth, playing Crash 4 felt like getting back in touch with the series. It's an injection of new ideas into now-classic gameplay that surprises and delights, even as it feels like a homecoming. Truly, games like this are why we come running back to long-dormant franchises with open arms.” -- Mike Epstein, Freelance Reviewer
Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time is available for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
“Quirks aside, Bluepoint's remake is an unmitigated success. It is a technical tour de force and a true showpiece for the PS5 and the power of Sony's next-generation console. But, more importantly, it's also a creative marvel coming from a studio that is clearly showing the world it has its own voice. Bluepoint has taken From Software's original game and expressed it in a richer and fuller way, and in doing so given me something I thought was impossible: the opportunity to relive the experience of falling in love with Souls games for the first time.” -- Tamoor Hussain, Managing Editor
Demon's Souls is a PS5-exclusive.
Destiny 2: Beyond Light -- 8/10 (Expansion)
“Beyond Light might not be the biggest expansion, but it does feel like we've entered a new chapter in the game's life, with new priorities and an approach that makes the game more resonant in a way that goes beyond satisfying shooting. On the whole, Destiny 2 might be more of the same than it is different, but what's the same about it--like its phenomenal raids and tight, satisfying gameplay--is still largely pretty great, and what's different is mostly making the game all the more worthwhile.” -- Phil Hornshaw
“But you never really "win"' Disc Room. You just survive it adequately enough to move onto the next thing. The light, mysterious plot has a weird but worthwhile end, but the real reward that Disc Room gives you is learning how to appreciate your own small achievements. The game is fraught with dangers and failure, but it frames the handful of seconds you are able to hang on as something exciting, something to be proud of. Disc Room helps you feed on those tiny bursts of success, in addition to providing success in failure, to keep you moving and pushing through all its trials. Maybe we could all learn something from these... rooms full of discs. Like all great twitch-action games, Disc Room is at once exciting and stressful, challenging and fulfilling, and its spinning saw blades can seep into your everyday thoughts. But moreover, Disc Room feels like a pleasantly positive take on difficulty-first games--you didn't die after 10 measly seconds, you managed to survive for 10 whole seconds. And that's good enough for Disc Room. Thanks, Disc Room.” -- Edmond Tran
“On the whole, though, Evergate is remarkably clever. It's a short and sweet treat of a game that constantly invents new ways to interact with the world and to blend game elements together, making for a satisfying test of brainpower and reflexes.” -- Steve Watts, Associate Editor
“Regardless of your history with the original game, Final Fantasy VII Remake is an astounding achievement. The wait for its release was a long one, but in gameplay, story, characters, and music, it delivers--the wait was worth it. For first-time players, it's an opportunity to understand why Final Fantasy VII is held in such high regard. It's the chance to experience a multifaceted story that grapples with complex subject matter, be in the company of memorable characters, and be moved by their plight. For returning fans, this isn't the Final Fantasy VII your mind remembers, it's the one your heart always knew it to be.” -- Tamoor Hussain, Managing Editor
Final Fantasy VII Remake is only available on PS4 but can be played on PS5 via backward compatibility.
“I'm also thinking about how much I still have left to learn about Hades, both the character and the game, even dozens of hours in. Like in the Greek myths Hades takes inspiration from, endings aren't tidy, and they're almost never final. They're protracted, often unsatisfying, and are hard to find real closure in, and the fact that Hades understands this is its greatest strength. I'm sure there's a point where, after running through hell enough times, I'll have seen all Hades has to offer, both in its clever and endless fights and its many alluring characters, intimate moments, and rewarding quests. The story does end. But what matters so much more are all the moments between the start and end of a story, and the people who help us see those climactic moments but also stick with us between them. They're the reason we keep trying, and the reason we keep coming back.” -- Suriel Vazquez, Freelance Reviewer
Also available: PC
“Not only has Half-Life: Alyx made good on its shift to VR, it has elevated many of the aspects we've come to love about Half-Life games. It may not be as bombastic as previous games, but the intimacy of VR brings you closer to a world you might have thought you knew over the past 22 years. Even when familiarity starts to settle in, its gameplay systems still shine as a cohesive whole. And as it concludes, Half-Life: Alyx hits you with something unforgettable, transcending VR tropes for one of gaming's greatest moments.” -- Michael Higham, Associate Editor
“But when The Last Campfire captivates--which it does so often--it's difficult not to sink into its breezy pacing and satisfying puzzle-solving. It never overstays its welcome or stretches puzzle ideas beyond their limits, letting each one leave an impression despite their brevity. The Last Campfire's narrative contextualizes each of these with small anecdotes, letting your imagination fill in the blanks of its world between worlds to the backdrop of its colorful imagery. It's a consistently relaxing and pleasant experience.” -- Alessandro Barbosa, Freelance Reviewer
“By the time I finished The Last of Us Part II, I wasn't sure if I liked it. It's a hard game to stomach, in part because so much of who Ellie is and what she does is beyond your control. She is deeply complicated and flawed, and her selfishness hurts a lot of people. At times, the pain you inflict feels so senseless that it can leave you numb. It's all messy and bleak and made me profoundly sad for myriad reasons, but the more I reflect on it, the more I appreciate the story and characters at its core. I wanted almost none of it to happen the way it did, and that's what's both beautiful and devastating about it.” -- Kallie Plagge, Reviews Editor
The Last of Us Part II is only available on PS4 but can be played on PS5 via backward compatibility.
“Still, Mortal Shell succeeds more often than not at capturing the specific feelings intrinsic to Souls-like games. The twists it adds to From-inspired mechanics do well to help this sort of game become more approachable than most, while maintaining the same air of mystery and foreboding that makes the genre itself so intriguing. Mortal Shell makes for a strong introduction to Souls-likes, a demonstration for new players of what so many have found so interesting about From Software's games and those like them. But Mortal Shell is also a lovingly crafted, weird, and deceptively deep game in its own right that rewards you for wandering its twisted paths and challenging its deadliest foes.” -- Phil Hornshaw, Editor
Mortal Shell is available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
“At times, I wondered if maybe some of these bosses should be a little shorter, as there were many bosses where I felt I had mastered their patterns but couldn't finish because they landed a single one-hit-kill late in the fight. Ultimately, that excruciating difficulty and the feeling it evokes are baked into Nioh's DNA, though, and its boss fights remain compelling even as they vex and frustrate. Though it sometimes feels like a curse as you play, it is a testament that Nioh 2 successfully grabs and holds your complete attention so close for so long.” -- Mike Epstein, Freelance Reviewer
Nioh 2 is available on PS4. A new-gen upgraded version on PS5 and a PC port are expected sometime next year.
“That finality could signal that this is the last Ori game, a farewell to the fantastical world and memorable characters that made Moon Studios such a standout developer from its very first effort. If that is the case, you could hardly ask for a better send-off. Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a remarkable synthesis of artful design and beautiful moments.”-- Steve Watts, Associate Editor
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is available on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
“Making a good retro-style game is hard--balancing old-fashioned play mechanics with newer advancements in game design is a tough tightrope to walk. But Panzer Paladin manages that balancing act with few slip-ups, delivering solid platforming action, fierce weapon duels, epic boss fights, and a cool weapon-sacrifice mechanic, all dressed up in an immensely charming classic-robot-anime wrapping. While it might have its brief moments of annoyance, the amazing globe-trotting, alien-smashing adventure of Flame and Grit proves to be a delight from beginning to end.” -- Heidi Kemps, Freelance Reviewer
Also available: PC
“Paradise Killer is a singular, exemplary experience. It's a detective game that feels like real detective work in a way few games do, and it makes its extremely complex worldbuilding feel effortless. I put off the final trial for as long as I can not only because I wanted all the evidence I could find, but because I did not want to leave the island or the game. Paradise might have been killed, but when you're deep into untangling the game's conspiracies, it feels very much alive.” -- James O'Connor, Freelance Reviewer
Also available: PC
“Although Pikmin 3 Deluxe may not offer much in the way of substantial new content, the game still holds up wonderfully thanks to its unique gameplay and carefully constructed levels, and the tweaks and additions that have been implemented here help smooth over the whole package for newer players. Even three installments in, there is no other series quite like Pikmin, which helps Pikmin 3 still feel fresh seven years after its original release.” -- Kevin Knezevic, Associate Editor
Pikmin 3 Deluxe is only available on Nintendo Switch.
“Whether or not you're an old-school Mystery Dungeon aficionado or a total newcomer to the long-derelict spin-off series doesn't necessarily matter: Mystery Dungeon on Switch improves upon the originals with some valuable quality-of-life tweaks, making it a worthwhile play regardless of your familiarity with the series. It features a distinct combat system that provides an intriguing alternative to the mainline Pokemon formula with tile-based strategizing, humanizes the Pokemon you've fallen in love with over the years, tells a riveting and emotional story that will make you view the franchise in a totally different light, and does so with a stylish suite of visuals and music. Eventually, every ugly Ducklett becomes a Swanna.” -- Cian Maher, Freelance Reviewer
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX is only available on Nintendo Switch.
“Risk of Rain 2 is lo-fi beats to relax to with the bass boosted until the subwoofers catch fire. And explode. And bleed? What begins as a chill loot-shooty time quickly escalates to a frantic fight for your life where everything is burning and there's a big red target on your back. The lack of any strategic layer between the action did leave me feeling burned out. But the additive nature of the game's builds give Risk of Rain 2 the feeling of a pebble skittering along a rocky cliff. When the avalanche begins, enemies would be well advised to get out of your way.” -- Andrew King, Freelance Reviewer
“At least, that seems to be the case right now. The original Spelunky's proc-gen depths hid secrets that took time for its avid community to discover, so it's possible that Spelunky 2 has secrets of its own that I have yet to find, and they could push the game in a different direction from its predecessor. Spelunky 2 is a successful evolution of what made the original Spelunky work; the tight controls, impressive use of procedural generation, expressive art style, and interesting stage themes are better than ever here. But the more notable changes in how we play and talk about this game will likely happen in the coming months as players discover the heart of the game in the deep, dark depths we aren't yet even aware exist.” -- Andrew King, Freelance Reviewer
Also available: PC
“All in all, though, Streets of Rage 4 is an admirable comeback for this long-dormant series. It looks great, sounds great, and plays very well. Even if the experience is relatively short, it's the sort of game you and your buddies can easily enjoy playing and re-playing. If you're craving some classic brawling action with a modern edge, these rage-filled streets are calling your name.” -- Heidi Kemps, Freelance Reviewer
Streets of Rage 4 is available on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
“Taken all together, Mario 3D All-Stars is a worthwhile collection, featuring the best versions of Mario 64, Sunshine, and Galaxy to appear on a Nintendo system. Although the individual games have been sparingly touched up and there's little in the way of ancillary material to pore over, the titles themselves hold up well and are a delight to revisit. Despite their age, the games are still rife with inventive ideas and surprises, which more than makes up for the collection's presentational shortcomings.” -- Kevin Knezevic, Associate Editor
Super Mario 3D All-Stars is only available on Nintendo Switch. It''s only available both physically and digitally until March 2021.
“Superliminal is a great puzzle experience, full of smart ideas that are richly realized. The game's playful use of the first-person camera and clever perspective manipulation puzzles take video game tropes and mechanics most players will be familiar with and wring something truly fresh out of them. Superliminal achieves its clear central aim--it offers up some genuinely fresh perspectives on what first-person puzzle games can do.” -- James O’Connor, Freelance Reviewer
“Treachery in Beatdown City uses humor skillfully as a tool to deal with contemporary issues with the gig economy, insidious tech company ploys, and obnoxious bigots. It has some lulls and a bit of an abrupt conclusion, but that’s overshadowed by how especially fun the conversations and combat are. The mechanics stand out and push against the standards of the brawler genre, injecting a strong tactics twist that lets you make some freestyle combos in the blink of an eye. In the end it was a short, satisfying playthrough that maintained its action movie aura the entire time. Treachery in Beatdown City is all about fighting, but it shines because at its core it’s about fighting back.” -- Funke Joseph, Freelance Reviewer
Also available: PC
“Watch Dogs: Legion is an anti-fascist game, and it's admirable that it sticks to that message and sees it through to a satisfying and affirming conclusion. It also bolsters the franchise's clever hacking gameplay to offer more creativity than ever. One of Legion's more profound messages is about what it means to be a true Londoner, and by the game's end, you'll have a DedSec crew made of wildly diverse and disparate citizens from unique cultural, ethnic, and economic backgrounds--all united in their goal to restore their home. If anything, that's as powerful a message for the game as you can get.” -- Alessandro Fillari, Editor
Watch Dogs Legion is available on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC.