We’ve already established that critics sometimes get things wrong. They’re not exactly flawless, and have often undervalued games, regardless of what your opinion on scores or objectivity are. Sometimes though, the foolishness goes the other way. Rarely. Very rarely in fact. I’m nigh on infallible. But every now and then, I decide to skip a game that, by all accounts, is absolutely incredible. This list is dedicated to those games that I ignored in spite of the advice of all those experts in the field I enjoy. Pfft, experts!
Unusually for my lists, these are all games I haven’t played! But they are games that received very good reviews pretty much across the board or regularly appear on top 100 game lists. I’ve tried to avoid games from genres that I generally don’t like. So no Fez here! I’m also skipping ones that I didn’t own the system for. Can’t blame me for not playing Xenoblade when I don’t own a Wii U! So here we go, 5 games I just didn’t bother playing, even though I probably should have.
The Last of Us
Right, I know pretty much everyone on planet Earth (and probably some people not on it) will tell me I’m absolutely wrong for having not played this before. Everyone loves this game. Critics, players, small animals, anyone who has played it has gone on to describe it as one of the greatest games ever made. An adventure through a zombie apocalypse (of sorts) with a genuinely good story and well rounded characters. I should want to play this. But in spite of having two opportunities to play it via two separate console generations, I still haven’t bothered.
Part of the problem was that when this was coming out, I was about a month away from becoming a father to a daughter. The constantly pushed emotional side of the story from the previews made me think that it might hit me a little too hard as a father. It’s a hard one to explain, but that was certainly a factor. The other reason was somewhat more rational: I’m not a fan of Naughty Dog’s games. I find the controls less tight than they need to be, the shooting slippery and the stories less than engaging. This is also why I’ve not played an Uncharted game since the second one. I know I shouldn’t write off a supposedly tremendous game based on the developer, but they do seem to have a distinct style in their 3rd person games, that I simply don’t like. Try to convince me otherwise if you’d like!
Shadow of the Colossus
A follow up to the wonderful Ico (which I played and really enjoyed as it happens) which has received high praise for more than a decade. I think part of the reason for it being remembered for so long is the never ending development cycle of The Last Guardian, a spiritual sequel. A grand adventure (that reminds me of Ocarina of Time every time I see it being played) across a barren landscape, to fight and destroy giant beasts that roam the world with the aim of reviving your partner. It boils down to exploring a world and taking on a number of epic boss battles in which you find a creatures weak point to take them down by climbing across their gigantic form, avoiding limbs and clutching on to tufts of hair to avoid falling to your doom. Few games have attempted to ape the style of game (Titan Souls is the only game that springs to mind) in which there is nothing but discovering more and more complex boss fights. But I didn’t play this one, so I suppose I don’t know what I’m missing!
This one came out at a very unfortunate time for me. I was just finishing university and thus had very little money. What little money (and time) I had was going into my World of Warcraft addiction! It also came out at an unfortunate time in Europe on the whole. Coming out in February 2006 here meant that the next generation of consoles had released (with the XBox 360 having come out a couple of months before) and the previous generation had been left behind by many so it’s quite possible a number of players missed it at the time. I do feel that I missed out on this one somewhat, and a re-release on this generation of consoles would probably catch my interest. On the other hand, already knowing pretty much everything that happens in the game (this is the internet age after all) means that it might not have the same impact.
Red Dead Redemption
It’s like a cowboy version of Grand Theft Auto they tell me! With a riveting story, a huge world to explore, and interesting characters to meet. There are plenty of secrets to find, animals to hunt, and the small matter of that very popular zombie expansion Undead Nightmare to play. It’s received countless awards, requests from fans for sequels and remasters. Recently it was added to the Xbox One Backwards compatibility list and saw a sudden spike in sales. I’ve not played it and I probably never will either.
I’m about to say something that is heresy in most gaming circles. I don’t like Grand Theft Auto. I’ve played a lot of them (GTA, 2, 3, and 4) but I don’t know why I keep allowing myself to be convinced to come back to the series when I just don’t enjoy them. The stories have never gripped me, the characters I find reprehensible in most cases, the worlds don’t interest me and all I see outside the main story is busy work. I skipped GTAV for this reason, and I skipped RDR for that as well. Perhaps I just don’t like playing as a character that I find unpleasant. This might mean I miss out on what others see as a great experience, but it wouldn’t be an experience I enjoy. Rockstar has developed, and published, many games that I enjoy. This will never be one of them.
Looking Glass Studios could do no wrong from the mid 90s to early 2000 and their untimely demise that same year. System Shock 2 is a game that sticks with me to this day. That SHODAN reveal gave me chills. The Thief games were ones I never really played though. I had a go at a demo of the original game, but that’s about as far as my experience with this series got (although I did download the most recent one when it was free on Games with Gold).
In simple terms, I didn’t enjoy the demo of the first game. That switched me off from the series almost immediately. I suspect that, at the time, this wasn’t the right sort of game for me (or I wasn’t the right sort of gamer for this game) due to my not being a fan of slow methodical games back then. System Shock worked for me as it was a bit faster paced, and the sci-fi setting was more to my liking. If I had been a little older when this had been released I may well have enjoyed it more. Going back to play the series now is probably not the best option as it will likely be very clunky by today’s standards. I’m probably more than a little spoiled by modern games.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
I have a lot of respect and a lot of time for John Bain, aka Totalbiscuit. I find his YouTube videos entertaining and enjoy listening to the Co-Optional podcast during my walk to work. So when he described this as one of his all time favourite games I took a good long look at it…and then decided not to bother with it. Not because it looked bad either, it looked like a tremendous game. Just not something that I would enjoy. And that’s saying something, as I normally thoroughly enjoy a game with a good story.
There’s something unquantifiable about this one. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is that turns me off from this game. I’m not a fan of puzzle platformers, which this seems to have elements of, but it seems to be more than that genre. I’ve grown a bit tired of silent protagonists, but this supposedly tells a fantastic story without voice acting. I think the issue her is that I really dislike the idea of controlling each character with a different stick on the controller. I remember a game on PS2 called Twin Calibre, which allowed you to control your character’s two guns independently by using the two thumbsticks. It controlled horribly and made the game very hard to play. I suspect it’s this issue with dual stick control that has turned me against this game before even trying it. That may be a little irrational, but I think that’s what my issue is. Convince me to try it out if you’d like!
Some other mentions. Okami is one that I simply missed at the time. It was another game to come out during university so it simply passed me by, in spite of being very impressed by the games art work. Destiny is something of a polarising one with a lot of people. I avoided it merely due to feeling I didn’t have the time to put in to get the most out of it. I probably would have enjoyed the game, but it’s an issue gamers face as they get older. The next one people may be surprised at: Undertale. This is one that I really wanted to play, but there was so much mentioned in podcasts, write-ups and reviews that I feel I’d had a lot of it spoiled. It is one that I may end up playing some day.
How about you? Are there any games you regret missing out on? Ones that you saw everyone enjoying but just couldn’t understand the buzz? Let me know!