Year in Games

The funniest video game of 2020 leveraged viral memes for worthy causes

The year's most hilarious game is a slapstick triumph with wit to spare.

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In 2020, we needed something to laugh about. It was a relentlessly bleak year from start to finish, which made any small moments of light shine that much brighter. The world may not have been funny this year, but thankfully video games were.

To find out what gave players a good chuckle this year, Inverse polled its readers and asked what video game was 2020’s funniest. Apparently, readers had strong opinions on that subject. Over 1,575 readers responded, which is more readers that turned out to vote for Game of the Year. While the competition was fierce, only one grabbed the crown and, fittingly, it was Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout with 36.7 percent of the vote.

Devolver Digital

That’s no small feat considering all the competition it had to knock out to reach the top. Both Yakuza: Like a Dragon and Final Fantasy VII were high-budget comedy acts with big-budget laughs (who didn’t cry laughing when an intricately detailed Fat Chocobo first landed on screen?). Still, some of our readers' favorite comedic moments came from smaller, unexpected sources like Hades’ quippy Gods or There Is No Game’s wild meta humor.

Here’s a look at the top three side-splitters of 2020 that had our readers in stitches.

Hades - 16.6 percent

Supergiant Games

Honestly, what can’t Hades do? It’s an unbelievably tight roguelike that solves many players’ issues with the genre by adding real progression hooks and a weighty narrative. The combat is always fun and ever-changing, there’s tons of micro-goals to chase, and on top of everything else, it’s goddamn funny.

Hades might seem moody on its surface, with its brooding hero Zagreus grappling with hellish daddy issues, but there so much to laugh about around every corner. Who can forget characters like Dusa bashfully zipping away from Zagreus after any potential flirt attempt? Or Tisiphone and her never-ending quest to say something other than murderer? And who could forget Bouldy?

The game even sneaks humor into its narration. As I started getting into double digits with run completions, I listened as the game’s narrator tried to create different scenarios to describe how Zagreus ultimately met his match. "In his great hurry to explore the country-side, the hapless-footed Prince steps on the peel of a most-exotic sallow-colored fruit, and tumbles backward with such sudden, violent force that you-know-what occurs."

Hades’ comedy succeeds because it’s always built around impeccably constructed characters. The game has an incredibly eclectic cast of Gods that each have their own distinct personality. Rather than sprinkling in easy one-liners, Supergiant gives every character their own tics that become funnier and funnier the more players get to know them. Like its gameplay, the humor is always building on itself.

There Is No Game - 23.5 percent

Draw Me a Pixel

If you’re looking for our next entry, sorry, but there is no game. Move along. Nothing to see here.

But really, There Is No Game is certainly a fun, left-field surprise here. The game is an expanded edition of a short comedy title from 2015. The game was a viral sensation with its deceptive gameplay that played with players gaming expectations.

A full, five-hour version of the game released this year, turning the jokes up even more. Right from the game’s main manu, you know you’re in for a ride. A quit button prompts players to exit the game before even starting it. Shortly after, a standard autosave message begs players to close the game when the save icon appears so they can accidentally corrupt the game. The less we say about where things go from there, the better.

The game was especially popular with streamers who laughed along with its twists and turns. Markiplier released a let’s play video of the game in September, racking up over 8 million views. There Is No Game is the kind of modern title that’s built for streaming culture. Even if you’ve experienced all the jokes for yourself, getting to watch someone else struggle through it is a genuine delight. We couldn’t all laugh together in a theater this year, but at least games like this offered some shared laughs in spirit.

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout - 36.7 percent

Devolver Digital

Was there ever any doubt that Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout would take top prize? On its most basic level, Fall Guys is a slapstick comedy. Characters tumble over one another in a mass-multiplayer Three Stooges routine. It’s the kind of pure physical comedy that makes every match less about winning and more about surviving the absurdity of the game’s elaborate obstacle courses.

But Fall Guys’ real secret weapon didn’t necessarily come from the game at all. By embracing a goofy Twitter persona, Fall Guys became a shitposter’s paradise. The game spawned countless memes and the developers played along with its community as much as possible. It added fuel to the fire as players randomly harassed the yellow team. It trolled players by revealing that the squishy jelly beans were in fact full of realistic bones. It even added Big Yeetus to the game, an elaborate joke that turned into a useful way to shake-up the gameplay. Every tweet was another news story that kept fans entertained for months.

Fall Guys didn’t just use its power for ironic laughs. When brands tried to get in on the joke, Fall Guys issued a donation challenge for brands to get into the game. The whole ordeal was a stunt that turned insufferable brand Twitter against itself for a good cause. It got a Bidet company to pledge a $420,069.69 charitable donation so it could add an “Ask Me About My Butthole” shirt to the game. Unfortunately, a group of streamers (including Ninja) robbed us of that incredible future. At least it was for a good cause.

The biggest bummer in 2020 was that we couldn’t come together to create new memories with our friends in person. Fall Guys became a platform where players could collectively create those moments together, forming an entire language of inside jokes in a few short months.

Year in Games is an Inverse celebration of 2020's best new video games and most memorable gaming moments.

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