Feature Friday: Underrated Gems

In the last feature I wrote, I spent a lot of time talking about games that I felt gathered way more praise and attention than necessary- and as a result, took that spotlight away from games that deserved it more.

This time round however, I’ll be bringing those underrated games into the spotlight, and will kick things off with one that I absolutely love and adore.

Nier

In terms of gameplay and graphics, there is nothing special about Nier, but where this game really excels is its storytelling and soundtrack. The soundtrack itself is one of the best I’ve ever heard in a video game and really matches the tone and setting of the story. I’ve always felt a brilliant soundtrack is the one thing that makes the difference between a good game and a great game. As to whether or not Nier can be considered an all time great… that’s down to opinion.

There is one key rule that the game itself follows throughout the whole story, and that is no-one is allowed to be happy. Unfortunately for those of you that love games that have those happy endings where the hero saves the day and all is well, you may not enjoy this as much. Without giving away any spoilers, where Nier really shines is when you replay the game using the “New Game+” and you see things through the perspective of the so-called enemies during the second play through. Then that realization hits you that all those deeds you’ve been performing weren’t as heroic as you thought, leaving you feeling sick and disgusted with yourself.

I have plenty to say about Nier, but sadly, if I did that this article would end up turning into a review. So instead I’ll just finish up by saying that Nier is definitely a title for those of you that enjoy great storytelling in games.

Now That, Is A Manly Protagonist

Toonstruck

Toonstruck is a Point-and-click adventure game set in a cartoon world starring, wait for it… wait for it… The legendary Christopher Lloyd. You control Chris as the main character along with his wisecracking sidekick, Flux Wildly, voiced by Dan Castellaneta (that’s Homer Simpson for those of you that don’t know). Many other famous actors and voice actors make appearances and brief cameos here too such as: Ben Stein, Tim Curry, Jeff Bennett, Tress MacNeille, Jim Cummings, and many more. So there’s plenty of fan-service in there for those of you that watched a lot of 90′s cartoons.

If I was to describe the whole style and tone of the game, I would have to say that it’s kind of like a more dark and twisted Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (if you can imagine that.) One would normally think that a game with such a setting would be targeted for the kids, but you could not be any more wrong. An example would be a particular re-occurring joke that always makes me laugh, where Lloyd’s character constantly introduces his character as “my friend Flux Wildly” which is the kind of crude humour that’s involved, along with seeing a masochistic cartoon cow in full leather getting whipped of all things.

Despite the all-star cast and the fact that it is the most fun one can have playing a game regardless of whatever genre you’re into, Toonstruck itself was a complete flop that didn’t really sell that many copies- mainly due to bad marketing and promotion.

Great Scott!!! It’s A Carecrow

The Cat Lady

The Cat Lady is an Indy title which was released a year ago, and is in my opinion, is one of the most original, creative and inventive games that I’ve played in a long time. Just like I mentioned with Nier earlier, there’s no real happiness involved in this game. It’s a really dark, bleak and surreal story, which was written amazingly and full credit goes to R. Michalski.

The game itself deals with a lot of real-life issues, which some people may find sensitive; such as depression, suicide, and terminal illness. This is a one of a kind adventure game that I cannot recommend high enough though. For those of you that have not tried it yet, I can promise this is a game unlike anything you’ve ever played before and is especially something for those of you that like trying things that are completely different.

The Cat Lady has just got greenlit quiet recently as well and should be coming to Steam soon.

Asura’s Wrath

Now, it can be questionable whether or not you can classify this as an actual game, due to the fact that there isn’t that much gameplay involved. A majority of the game requires you to go through cut-scenes while performing QTEs. Before any of you say anything, I would just like to say that I hate QTEs in games and I find them to be a massive hindrance. However, Asura’s Wrath implements it the correct way, which is by making it part of the game itself rather than just randomly throwing one in there out of nowhere like certain other games.

Asura’s Wrath at times felt like I was sitting through an Anime rather than playing an actual game, mainly because you go through each stage episodically and it ends with a cliffhanger. It’s very cool and is what I believe the developers were going for, especially the way you get a quick credit sequence at the beginning of each episode.

The one thing that I really hated more than anything else however, was the way the game ended originally, making it look like they were potentially building up to a sequel only to release two DLC episodes later on to give you the true ending. Now that is what’s generally known as a d**k maneuver. I don’t know if this was done because of bad sales, but it’s something I find unacceptable and it’s turning into common practice in the mainstream industry. I’m sure most of you remember a certain other game that did something similar to this quite recently.

SO HUGE!!!!! (That’s What She Said)

 

As much as I’d like to sit here all day and go into even more detail about the underrated games that I’ve rummaged through during my 20+ years of gaming, I would end up taking so much space that you’d be scrolling down for all eternity, so here’s a quick list of some of the titles I couldn’t go more in-depth with:

  • Shadow Hearts
  • Bad Mojo
  • Bujingai: The Forsaken City
  • SMT: Digital Devil Sage 1 and 2
  • SMT: Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs The Soulless Army
  • System Shock 2 (never got European release originally)
  • Eternal Champions
  • Ninja Gaiden (Sega Master System)
  • Time Hollow
  • Shadow of Memories
  • Amber: Journeys Beyond
  • God Hand
  • Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
  • Splatterhouse (reboot)
  • Turrican SeriesĀ 

I am fully aware that there maybe some games missing from the list and some games that certain people may not agree with, but remember this is just my opinion. Also I’ve gone through so many games in my time (good, bad, and ugly) that’s it’s really hard for me to remember a lot of titles that I would normally have put in there.

So, if there’s any games you feel should have made the list, feel free to state them in the comment section.

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I've been an avid gamer since I was a child (which is going way back when) the very first console I owned was the Sega Master System, during my time as a gamer I have pretty much come across nearly every console including the Bally Astrocade(which requiered cassette tapes to play games) so I have broad range of knowledge when it comes to video games. My favourite game of all time is between Shadow Hearts (a rare gem of an RPG released for the Playstation 2) and Final Fantasy VIII (in my honest opinion, the best in the Final Fantasy series).
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