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Under-Appreciated Awesomeness: Volume 1

Here’s the deal. You like games. I like games. You don’t know what to play. I have suggestions. Three of them, to be precise. They’re games that were either undeservedly panned by critics, or just flew under the radar for most people. Either way, you may not have played them, and if you’re looking for games to play, this is a good place to start.

SONG OF SAYA

Try if you like: Silent Hill, Dangonronpa, anything Cronenberg.

This visual novel is probably the most messed up thing you will ever play. It may make you feel ill. It may lie a little too far outside of your moral comfort zone.

This is not a nice game. There are explicit sex scenes, but they aren’t there to titilate. They are there to disturb. This is a dark game that obliterates the boundaries of good taste with themes such as psychosis, rape, and pedophilia. And cannibalism. And, well, other incredibly nasty things.

I, however, think it’s masterful. It paints characters that are simultaneously repulsive and sympathetic, it’s original, and actually really creepy and well told.

If you like your horror to actually horrify you, check this out. If you’re itching for something like Silent Hill, check this out. If you love psychological and/or body horror, check this out. And if you like your horror to actually have something to say, check this out.

If you have a weak stomach — or you think Game of Thrones is is a little morally questionable — don’t go near Song of Saya with a ten foot pole.

RISEN

Try if you like: Gothic, Dark Souls, Morrowind

Imagine you’re playing a Gothic game, but instead of being huge and expansive, the area you explore is more intimate and refined. The locations you visit have more character, and the characters have – well they also have more character. There are choices to make that have tangible consequences, including you choice of faction, which not only decides which quests you can pursue, but also alters the story and even the gameplay.

Even in the sidequests, there are choices to make. Do you scheme with the villains, or do you take the honorable path? Okay, that’s been done before, but there’s a quest that asks you to put a dead cows head in someone’s bed. How can you not love that?

Risen is deep, overflowing with choice, and featuring a cast of memorable characters.  So why aren’t more people singing it’s praise from the rooftops? Well, it’s kind of buggy. It’s also really, really difficult, slow paced, and the first act tends to turn people off since it features a lot of fetch quests. But if I’m perfectly honest, that slow start is what helps makes the game so brilliant.

Helpful tip: the sequels are godawful. You might want to avoid them. 

SINGULARITY

Try if you like: Bioshock 2, Crysis 2

This is a neat little First Person Shooter that received middling reviews on release for being a touch generic. It’s odd looking back at it from the “fuck it we’re all Ubisoft now” days and calling it generic, but I guess copying Bioshock was the In Thing back in 2010.

I don’t know what reviewers are smoking half the time. I used to be one of them, and I still don’t know what they stuck in my pipe. They just say “smoke this, then pick a number between 7 and 10 and then vehemently justify that number in 500-1000 words.” 

Singularity is fun. That seems to be a naughty word in video games these days, since even Naughty Dog is going gritty and dark. Singularity starts gritty and dark and then promptly takes a left turn into crazy town. There’s mutants. There’s time travel. There’s super powers. There’s sniper rifles which allow you to control the bullets in mid air. There’s an ability that allows you to instantly age enemies 1000 years. There’s force push. And there’s cold war nonsense.

Look, Singularity is dumb fun, but it’s well made and highly polished dumb fun, the kind of which we just don’t get that much of in our shooters these days.


 What games do you feel aren’t quite as appreciated as they could be? Let me know in the comments, and I may mention those games in a future one of these.  I may turn this into a weekly thing, I don’t know yet. For now, I just wanted to talk about games and think about something that wasn’t Dark Souls 3.

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