In the gaming world, there are few things worse than a bad game. They’re infuriating, take your money, and more importantly, they take your time which is more valuable than ever in this edge of great gaming. But for the most part, bad games are avoidable; it is the disappointing games that really knock us down. They open a world of possibilities on what could have been, what they could have changed to make this work. It makes us live in a world that should have been. Well, I’m here to take that world that should have been and expand it out into details that are truly overkill. Here are five disappointing games and the great studios that should remake them.
5. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl
Either you have never heard of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. or you’re cursing me for putting on this list– but hear me out! S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is a wholly unique game that has an incredible community that support it with mods and updates, and I personally adore it. For those of you who don’t know, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. was an open-ended and open world RPG-like first-person shooter that was deep, difficult, vague, and unlike any other game. It took place after the devastation of Chernobyl and had elements of horror and the supernatural. Sadly, all of these unique elements also brought with them endless bugs, vague systems, and an honestly unfinished state. If a capable studio had these incredible elements and the means to bring them to life best, best believe it would be on some people’s favorite games lists. But which studio should raise this broken game from the grave?
The Great Studio: 4A Games
4A Games exploded onto the gaming scene with its breakout debut Metro series. With this series 4A rather than compete with huge AAA first-person shooters with slick gameplay and shooting, 4A brought a level of detail, survival, and depth to its world that is very rare within the industry. Finding the human moments is desperate horror within the metro was something I had experienced in another game—A game where the world is the main character. This is why I believe 4A would be a dream studio to bring S.T.A.L.K.E.R. to its next evolution. The eerie and strange open world of Chernobyl lends itself perfectly to the detail and gritty oriented 4A games; not to mention the level of immersion and survival built into the horror that they have already played with. Though similar to their original Metro series, it would be fascinated to watch 4A step into something new with what they have learned and push a new horror first-person game with more RPG systems at work and an altogether different approach to an open-world. 4A games could bring the world of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. to its peak, making them an absolute dream studio to remake such a game.
4. Too Human
Too Human began life as a highly ambitious and anticipated game from a then-respected developer in Silicon Knights. But soon the game’s development process to a left turn directly into development hell that lasted nearly 10 years and spanned multiple consoles leaving the game feeling dated and confused when it finally did hit the shelves (and dismantling the studio over it). But what makes this such a disappointment is that Too Human’s potential for its setting is nearly unmatched. Too Human is an action RPG that reimagines Norse mythology into a science fiction setting where the Gods are replaced by cybernetically enhanced humans worshiped by those unaltered. The player fills the shoes of Baldur, a god with fewer enhancements than the rest, making him “Too Human”. I don’t even have to tell you that that sounds incredibly awesome and ripe for one hell of an adventure because it is so damn obvious. But which studio would be the most equipped to bring life to such a dream to life?
The Great Studio: Guerilla Games
The world knew Guerilla Games as a capable studio with their long-running and nicely acclaimed Killzone series. But in 2017 Guerilla shocked the world from moving from first-person shooter to sprawling RPG with intuitive and deep combat mechanics and one of the most stunning game-worlds players have ever seen with robot dinosaurs to boot. It was nearly zero to a hundred with how Guerilla Games reshaped themselves as one of the best RPG studios out there. It isn’t the robot dinosaurs alone that make Guerilla the perfect pick to helm Too Human, but the fact that they made robot dinosaurs believable and purposeful. Guerilla took the grand and gave it a purpose; which is why their take on an RPG reimaging of Norse mythology is something that would not only appear and sound cool but would take the concept to the next level with narrative and mystery. Not to mention the ability to create a unique and compelling combat system from the ground up and a compelling and unique world created with detail, compelling the player along with the yearning to learn and adventure.
Lair is truly the game of my dreams. A high fantasy dragon-flying-minion-killing-fest with more enemies on screen that seemed even humanly possible, especially for the time, and even a grappling hook to hijack other people’s dragons. My mouth still waters when thinking about the early trailers and gameplay for this game. Just like the next game on this list, Lair was set to be an awesome new launch title to show just what Sony was capable of (of course this was the PS3 though). That launch sentiment is exactly what crashed this game in on top of itself. In an effort to display everything the PS3 had to show off, for the most part, it served them well; the graphics still look good today, the story was sweeping, a unheard of amount of enemies on the screen (as I said before), but one of the things Sony wanted to show off simply crippled the game – Motion Controls. Even though admirable for its commitment to using the Six-axis abilities in the Dualshock controller, they simply were either too imprecise or flat out broken. That combined with an awful lock-on system, Lair fell out of the air before it could even take flight.
The Great Studio: Hurricane Games
Where a game like Lair fails or soars falls into how it feels to fly—and there are few studios better at creating unique and exhilarating traversal systems as Hurricane Games. With both the likes of the Just Cause series and Mad Max under their belt, Hurricane has created exciting and wholes original traversal systems with the former’s wingsuit and grappling hook mechanic and the latter’s nuanced vehicle combat. Seeing hurricane take a step into the unknown and swing the way of fantasy is something that makes me excited just thinking about it. With a tying factor of a grappling hook and Hurricane in top form designing exhilarating ways of getting around, the dragon flying grappling hook gameplay of Lair would be a match made in gaming heaven.
As a headliner for the early PS4, almost nothing was as disappointing and stuck down by both critics and fans alike as The Order 1886. The game wasn’t awful by any stretch, but with its inspired sooty steampunk London setting and striking visual presentation (for real this game is still one of the best looking out there) we had the potential of getting to play the next great Play Station headlining series. Instead, we all know the tragic reality we got in the end; a drastically short and uninspired third person shooter with a pretty dress on. There were a few fun set pieces and the acting and graphics are all tip top, but it wasn’t nearly enough to keep this shallow game afloat. But with great a great setting, interesting premise, and story potential, who would be the right studio to bring this idea to the next level?
The Great Studio: Tango Gameworks
It would be easy to stick a great third-person shooter developer in here and have it be perfectly adequate, but that’s not what makes the Order 1886 special in my eyes. Instead, I believe that the newer studio, Tango Gameworks, the creators of the Evil Within series, would truly lean into and bring out what is truly special about this game. Rather than a focus on third-person shooting and combat, Tango Gameworks creates their games around horror, atmosphere, mystery, and the detail of the world. Tango’s the Evil Within series went from brilliant atmospheric horror to brilliant atmospheric horror open world (something that many say could not be done) by creating a realized world and knowing how to thread the needle between player choice and atmospheric set pieces, taking immersion and tension to the next level in a way that hasn’t been done. Tango could take the Order 1886 and make its dingey London shine with life, its werewolves something to dread, and its tense and dramatic narrative something to be admired.
1. Army of Two
Though I got enjoyment out of the games in the rest of this list, none surpassed the enjoyment I got with the Army of Two series. Obviously, I’m not alone as there is a cult following for the game and at least enough attention to warrant two sequels, but I’m not blind enough to ignore that this series, while novel, has many (many) shortcomings. The shooting is a bit uninspired, the AI is idiotic, the coop systems could be deeper, and the story could really use some life shot into it. But customizing your guns and masks and running into battle while your buddy grabs the agro to pull the fire was still crazy fun. Who would be the right studio to turn this good idea into a masterpiece?
The Great Studio: Platinum Games
Rather than leaning into the third person shooting and cover tactics of Army of Two, taking an experimental look at co-op mechanics and breakneck speed, I believe the insane Platinum Games could do things with Army of Two that we couldn’t even imagine. We need only look at Platinum’s unique third-person shooter underground hit Vanquish to see the possibilities. Vanquish is a third-person shooter that moves at a fun break-neck speed due to the game’s hook: it’s rocket boots that let you slide and propel yourself around the battlefield. Platinum could take Army of Two and shoot its unique ideas straight to the forefront with weird and wonderful customization and unique mechanics with deep implications, due to their experience with designing complicated and nuanced fighting systems. Platinum could also inject some uniqueness into Army of Two’s stagnant narrative, with weird and thoughtful themes a la their masterpiece Nier Automata, taking Army of Two to the next level. Many people have pined for Platinum’s return to the third person shooter, and I believe Army of Two could take their talents to new heights in a truly fun, unique, and deep experience; Which is why Platinum Games’ take on Army of Two is my number one pick for a talented studio’s take on a disappointing game.
These are my dreams of what a perfect gaming history looks like. But sadly it isn’t the history we have – But that’s okay. The gaming landscape requires bad decisions, crucial missteps, and tragically missed opportunities to learn and create a better future for games. Every artistic industry is propelled forward by learning and by competition and each one of these brilliant studios in this list are here due to learning and innovating on ideas: some old and some new. I think these games would be brilliant, but you know what I find endlessly more exciting? Dreaming and learning about what’s around the corner for the future of gaming.