5 Underappreciated Video Games
Shame On You, Gamers
Shame on you, with your GTA and your Madden. Shame on you for buying terrible sequels and every single game Square releases. We only have ourselves to blame when innovative games slip under the radar or fade into the background when consumers just want more of the same old-same old.
I'm not mad... I'm just disappointed. But enough pointing fingers. Lets take a look back at some gems you might have missed.
Rule of Rose - PS2
Let's go ahead and get this one out of the way. It wasn't great. The controls were shit. Downright awful. I mean it; playing this game was downright maddening at points.
So why am I listing it?
The story was surprisingly... kind of awesome. The story takes place in 1930s and revolves around 19-year-old Jennifer and her dog, Brown. Psychological horror ensues as she finds herself trapped in a world by adolescent girls; the Red Crayon Aristocrats. And, boy, can kids be cruel...
The themes addressed in this are what really surprised me. Pedophilia, homosexuality, bullying. It would have been easy for this game to take the cliche "kids are creepy" approach, but the developers did us one better and made something genuinely disturbing.
A little more time should have been spent on working out the kinks in the controls, but if you find this one in the bargain bin and psychological horror is your thing - do yourself a favor and snag yourself a copy.
Megami Tensei Games - PS2, DS, PSP, and co.
MegaTen is one of my very favorite RPG franchises in existence - if not my favorite.
Some notable members of the franchise:
Devil Summoner - an action RPG with a detective, decidedly noir slant.
Persona - a school drama RPG with character driven storylines.
Digital Devil Saga - set in a virtual, post-apocalyptic type world
And then there are games like Shin Megami Nocturne that... There's not much to explaining this game series. You're a Link-style main character. You catch demons. You fuse demons to make new demons. It's like Pokemon with an adult storyline and gene splicing.
The only problem? These games can be pricey. Atlus is responsible for translation and distribution in the US, and they have a tendency to stop producing the game after its initial release and distribution.
Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem - Gamecube
Ah, yes. Eternal Darkness is indeed psychological horror at its finest. There are twelve characters you'll be playing as protagonist. The storyline spans centuries, all centered around uncovering the mystery of The Tome of Eternal Darkness.
The game keeps you on your toes. You play through quite a few different storylines, but the characters and their worlds are all very well fleshed out. The story is solid, but what makes the game so memorable are the "sanity effect". You have a sanity meter, and once that runs out, the fourth wall comes tumbling down. The volume might go down, the system might appear to turn itself off, you might get your picture back only to find your character standing on the ceiling instead of the ground.
Eternal Darkness offers a few genuine scares, but mostly it's just ridiculously fun to play.
Indigo Prophecy/Fahrenheit - Xbox, PS2, PC
Have you played Heavy Rain for the PS3? Meet its older brother.
It's tough to call this one a game. Like Heavy Rain, it's more of an interactive movie. You wake up in a bathroom to discover that you've blacked out and murdered someone. You quickly get the hell out of dodge, head home, and begin your quest to find out wtf just happened.
Along the way, you play as three different characters, make some moral decisions, and preform a number of quicktime events during cutscenes. This isn't a game for gamers who like to run and gun and skip through cutscenes. This is a fun change of pace for more patient gamers who enjoy games as a medium for story telling. I won't lie, the story does get more than a little... nonsensical... toward the end, but it's still a lot of fun.
Psychonauts - Xbox, PS2, PC
Which brings us to one of my favorite games. In other words, Psychonauts.
Tim Shafer is awesome. Brutal Legend fell a little short, but Tim Shafer... still awesome. And, for me, this will always be Tim Schafer at his finest.
You control Raz - short for Razputin - who has run away from the circus to attend psychic summer camp. What follows is hilarious, imaginative, better than great platforming fun. The characters are likable, the level design is superb, and everything else is just, flat out, unique.
Have you ever wanted to roll around a ball of psychic energy, demolishing a city of anthropomorphic lungfish? Why yes, of course you have. Go get this game now.