Making video games is a tough business, and the games that manage to get perfect scores are few. Factor in the sales and you’ve got an uphill task of paying back debts, the employees and other tech involved in the development process. However, just because a game didn’t get a score of 80+ on Metacritic or topped the sales charts doesn’t mean it’s not worth playing. In fact, many titles are panned by gamers and critics alike due to a few minor flaws. This often overshadows the other positive aspects of the game that might be better than the vast majority of other titles.
Other times, it’s just the result of a bad release window or poor marketing that a game gets lost between hundreds of other titles released everyday. In this piece, we’ve put together a list of games that are either underrated or suffer from one or two design flaws because of which they were cast aside and forgotten. They are a joy to play otherwise:
Prince of Persia (2008)
This game is one of my all-time favorites. With gorgeous cell-shaded graphics and some of the best characters Ubisoft has ever designed, it makes for several dozen lines of memorable dialogs and conversations. The problem with it was the combat. The fanbase was used to the challenging platforming and hack and slash gameplay of Prince of Persia: Warrior Within and The Two Thrones.
When the 2008 reboot was released, it had an overly simple combat, one where the Prince never really died and was revived by Princess Elika whenever he was defeated. This divided the fanbase and critics alike. While IGN gave it a review of 9.3, some other critics gave it a rating of 60% or even less, and sales were decent but just not enough to warrant a sequel, causing Ubisoft to shelf the project.
Mafia III is one of those games that start off extremely well, but then go south as you progress more into the story, giving you the impression that the developers ran out of funds and couldn’t actually complete it, so they decided to fill the interior with fluff enveloping the beginning and ending with the best content.
Despite all that the game holds up fairly well. The focus of Mafia III is the settings- 1960s America. Classical music, Playboy magazines, old country accents and racism, yes it’s all depicted without any filters. The hard truth, the best as well as the worst of 20th century USA is what makes Mafia III really worth playing. The country vibes are unlike any other game and is nothing if not authentic.
Watch Dogs was Ubisoft’s first attempt at trying out something new, and while the game was pretty solid it wasn’t without faults. The PC version was riddled with bugs and graphics optimization issues and although the main campaign was decent, the side-quests were typical, repetitive Ubi-styled activities that got boring soon enough.
The game is still worth trying out, especially now that the optimization problems and bugs have been ironed out. Watch Dogs has many fresh concepts that allow you to control pretty much every aspect of the city, and giving you a peek into the lives of modern Chicago citizens.
Remedy is known for the Alan Wake franchise. So, when they decided to make a Microsoft exclusive named, “Quantum Break” I was super-excited. Packed with a stellar cast in an episodic game-TV show format, it was most certainly an intriguing prospect.
Then the reviews came and the game finally launched to a less than enthusiastic reception. I’m not sure entirely sure what went wrong, but the game has a strong plot with great visuals, and while the gameplay may not be quite up to the mark, Quantum Break is still one of the better sc-fi games out there.
Obsidian Entertainment is best known for making RPGs most notably Pillars of Eternity, Tyranny and the fan-favorite Fallout: New Vegas. So, making a third-person spy thriller has to have been a challenge for the indie studio. Luckily, they did pretty well, but despite that very few people have actually heard of Alpha Protocol.
Imagine BioWare’s Mass Effect styled dialogs in a James Bond setting with ample romance options and a similar combat minus the powers- that is mainly what Alpha Protocol boils down to.
Mad Max is a Just Cause spin-off of sorts by Avalanche Studios based on the movie set in the same post-apocalyptic setting. Lots of punching, maggot eating, driving a war-machine and blowing stuff up are some of the core aspects of the game. However, behind all that it hides a deep and heartbreaking story that everyone might not appreciate.
The main flaw is that the game gets insanely repetitive, but I found that it’s also a great way to let off some steam. After all, in real life you can’t shoot someone at point-blank range with a double barrel shotgun like it’s business as usual.
Dragon’s Dogma can be best described as Capcom’s attempt to replicate Skyrim. The results were less than encouraging, but they did succeed in making a unique RPG, one that incorporates some of the best elements of JRPGs and WRPGs.
Dragon’s Dogma has a vast world (though nowhere as big as TES) with tons of multi-headed bosses that are ridiculously fun to beat- Chimeras, hydras, drakes, cyclops, griffins, you name it, it’s got them all. The best part is that you can scale each and every one of them and target the weak organs or body parts for maximum damage. The downside to this game: There is no fast travel and with the sheer size of the world, backtracking is inevitable and it significantly takes a toll on the player after a while. Still, if you are a fan of the genre, I’d highly recommend Dragon’s Dogma.
We Happy Few
We Happy Few can be called the spiritual successor to the BioShock franchise. The game takes place in a satirical setting where everyone is happy, at least on the surface. And they will do everything to keep it that way, including purging their memories and banishing anyone who doesn’t have a smiling face.
With a lot of comedy and whimsical dialogs, We Happy Few isn’t just high on humor but also targets some of the more obscure problems of our society. One of the biggest problems (and the only) I had with “We happy Few” was the amount of backtracking. Fast-travel is restricted to some select areas and in the cities, unless you acquire certain skills you can’t run, and it takes forever to walk all the way to the objectives. Other than that it is a splendid and unique experience.
Binary Domain is one of those TPS that didn’t do well just because it wasn’t from a popular franchise like CoD or Battlefield. It’s a solid shooter otherwise with versatile weapons and lots of gigantic enemies.
Unlike most shooters, it also has a surprisingly good story with emphasis on single player campaign, something we don’t see much of these days. The subjects it revolves around are native to anime and JRPGs like AI, robots, androids and other related topics.
A cult classic, Deadly Premonition is for people into weird horror mysteries with lots of blood and silly humor. The game has a lot of flaws such as flimsy controls, audio glitches and dated visuals, but the well written narrative keeps it all together.
This game is all shades of weird with quirky animations, surprise visits from grim-reapery things as well as wall-crawling ghost girls. You’ll either be laughing or scared out of your mind. Overall, though ancient and flawed in more ways than one, Deadly Premonition is one hell of a roller-coaster.
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