After Casper’s creative list of his top summoners, I was met with an interesting challenge. To be honest, despite many other solid aspects a title might have, there are certain inclusions that can completely break me and make me pissy. Such occurs mainly through elements of the gameplay. Be it a structure, gimmick or genre itself, some parts just make me neglect a series altogether or at best approach it with caution. For the sake of this list; these issues are not enough to make me annoyed by merely one instalment, but have to be to the point that I will not return to a franchise until a revolution is held.
#12 Confusing punishing for challenging (Dark Souls)
I love being continually tested in any interactive product. A wonderful difficulty curve, seeing the errors in my skills, learning from various strategic approaches or simply solving a hard puzzle, is always rewarding when it makes me improve and feel accomplished by overcoming tough obstacles! Dark Souls, almost goes there in my opinion, as I admire how much it leans on the player being both aggressive and defensive. It can definitely feel like you are banging your head against a brick wall on the occasion, but usually, it is due to you not seeing the door on the other end of it!
However, being punished for your failures comes off as a mean spirited move here, since all of your unused souls, the game’s currency and XP, are dropped upon death. Making it more depressing, is how the checkpoints can at times be far from one another and these important trinkets can even be lost at unreachable locations. This is why it is a series I will probably not return to unless other factors appeal more to me. Which is why I still play Bloodborne and Sekiro, yet Dark Souls’s universe never did make the torture worthwhile. You could argue that this makes your achievements much more valuable and you do get one singular chance at picking them up again, but the feeling of defeat in an already unforgiving world makes it disheartening for me to continue unless I am engrossed in its setting.
#11 Forced playstyles and friendships (World of Warcraft)
There is a chance for RPGs to have unbalanced powers and make one build clearly easier than others. Although, even when that is the case, I rarely am bothered by it if using my preferred setup is no matter what entertaining. If a way to play is still worthwhile, despite not as effective, why ruin someone’s fun? Unfortunately, it is here where World of Warcraft comes in and destroys the enjoyment this role-playing title could have had.
Maybe it is just me having only had bad experiences with it, but whenever I went for a raid or simply joined a party, I was expected to be fully set for one specific playstyle. Being told how to play a game with multiple choices or getting shunned for not having appropriate skills, makes for a terrible MMORPG. I have tons of more problems with this entry in general, but I believe this aspect is what made me never want to go back to it and rather offer all of my free time to Final Fantasy 14 and Guild Wars 2.
#10 QuanTic drEam (all of their instalments)
You could probably argue that Shenmue was the one responsible for introducing the concept of QTE, but neither it nor its sequel used this mechanic in an uncomfortable or tedious manner. Just small tidbits, which worked for creating solid immersions. God of War is more accurate for turning this into an unnecessary inclusion, but how about having entire playthroughs made of nothing but this idea? Entering all of the Quantic Dream titles, with each of them containing incredibly shallow setups by trying to make the underwhelming stories become the minimum of engrossing through odd button presses.
I will commend that Heavy Rain at least attempted to make this design choice functional and I adore the ludicrous ending of Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophesy, but this sadly cannot save what is ultimately a studio that is not good at creating games. Honestly, they can barely tell a tale for that matter, with forced themes, character arcs that are lacklustre, and plot holes that are hard to not see. To be fair; even if this is a poor form of interactive media, the next entry is far worse.
#9 Hallway of nothing (Little Missfortune)
Walking simulators is the genre that puts an awful taste in my mouth. I got nothing against focusing on storytelling, but when the only form of movement I need to do can be relegated to a remote controller, I question why this is not a movie at this point. Certainly, there are plenty of titles I could have chosen here that just make you walk in a straight line with nothing to do. So why is Little Missfortune the prime example?
Simply put; I expected more. Fran Bow was a fascinating point-and-click that I am so happy to have experienced, and this product seemed to bring a similar form of darkness to it. What I did not see coming was that it was going to be a slow and long walk where you only held down one button. Yes, not only is this a bland hallway, but this is on a 2D plane, meaning even less than what the 3D takes do offer. This is truly something that goes for a whole playstyle and not just this series, but it still makes me worried for future projects of Killmonday Games.
#8 RNG be damned! (The Binding of Isaac)
Rogue-like is a beautiful idea on paper, but I often find the randomization to be an excuse for not making a proper challenge. There is a difference between using this generator to create intriguing runs and just having all progress be based on luck, as the latter can cause playthroughs to be either completely dull or unfairly difficult. Granted, while not the first, the trend started with The Binding of Isaac, which initially hooked me. However, like eating cheap potato chips: I did get a sense of instant satisfaction, yet got quickly sick of it too.
Titles like Risk of Rain 2, Gunfire Reborn, Wizard of Legends, Crypt of the Necrodancer, Downwell, Going Under, and Children of Morta do showcase that this genre can be done exceedingly well, which is why I do not avoid it entirely. Regrettably, the moment it is used as a selling point, I begin to get concerned and ignore the game for something that has a defined structure, as I have been burned multiple times by other entries with this concept included. If I ever get recommended one, it has to be through a thorough review and come from a close friend.
#7 Old swordplay mixed with a modern camera (Devil May Cry 5)
Making an old franchise please both fans and newcomers is not easy, but absolutely possible. Resident Evil 2 got a great remake that did not overshadow the original, the Streets of Rage trilogy received a fourth instalment that is arguably the best one of them all, and there are too many indie projects to point out that do this fantastically in their own rights. The Devil May Cry series is one that I also hold dear to my heart, and despite the reboot not being exactly what the fans wanted, it was still a solid hack & slash.
Unfortunately, the fifth entry has tons of problems in this regard, with my most agonising one being its camera. The ones prior to DMC had stationary ones for fights against hordes of foes in order to make controls that are sensitive to movement work. Bizarrely enough, Devil May Cry 5 uses this design alongside a manually controlled camera that can also shift perspective automatically in the middle of a battle! It does not help that this game is all over the place with characters and their abilities either, with the new summoner breaking the stages in half by giving S ranks effortlessly. Sure, the second title is the worst, but with the amount of praise this one got, I think I will be sticking with Bayonetta from now on.
#6 Janky Roleplaying (The Elder Scrolls series)
The most accurate way to describe my relationship with The Elder Scrolls is troublesome. A part of me adores its vast world, intriguing inhabitants, lore that is well integrated, and plenty of bewitching locations to discover. It honestly can provide a magnificent experience, but the moment I play any of these instalments, I realise how utterly bad they can be too. Each has issues in balance and mechanics that do not only destroy the gameplay, but also the immersion, which is no doubt a big part of these RPGs.
Arena contains tons of bugs, Daggerfall has RNG dungeons that can make them impossible to conquer, Morrowind offers an ugly universe and tedious combat, Oblivion‘s antagonists level up alongside you, and Skyrim favours specific builds. I will be kind to say that Bethesda has delivered some truly outstanding titles like Dishonoured, Fallout 3, and Doom Eternal, but their most recognizable franchise is the one that I quickly end up hating ever spending time on.
#5 You cannot save that day (Sierra puzzlers)
Even with how much nostalgia I have for their projects, Sierra’s point-and-clicks can be utter jerks! Having my logical or creative thinking tested is something I always welcome, but this studio had a terrible fascination for outright locking you out from progressing further on, without ever making you aware of what your misstep was. Perhaps you did not pick up the right item, maybe you took a wrong decision or just thought to explore a bit? If you saved at the wrong time, then you could have easily destroyed your chance to ever get to the end and would then need to restart from the beginning.
This is awful enough, but with how their titles could have your characters dying in varied and imaginative manners out of nowhere, you were already heavily encouraged to save before anything unfortunate happened. It is here I get angry, as you are being taught what to do early on through clear dangerous setups, but once you follow this reasoning, you can be smacked in the head again for not being even more careful. At this point, these games do not deserve anything else than your middle finger and you playing something by LucasArts.
#4 An empty landscape (The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild)
Open world is a severely difficult genre to nail in my eyes, but one to effortlessly satisfy the general audience. Impressive sizes to scour can be exciting, but they need to have interesting structures, NPCs, enemies, discoveries, and places to witness. Some do this tremendously well, such as Immortals: Fenyx Rising, The Witcher 3, Sleeping Dogs, and Marvel’s Spider-man. You could even argue that the original The Legend of Zelda is a great example of a retro product doing this wonderfully.
Sadly, Breath of the Wild is one of my least favourite in the entire series because of how dull its landscape is. Having at best thematic areas, no unique layouts, minimalistic lore, and a forgettable adventure, made its scope a tiresome bother. I can see a groundwork here for more stuff to put in it, but this makes me worried for the franchise’s future. Which speaks volumes for a man with the triforce tattooed on him.
#3 Variety because drunk (Conker’s Bad Fur Day)
There are few things I would say aged even adequately on the N64, but I cannot act like I do not love certain aspects of its legacy and got some good memories from the times I borrowed one from a friend of mine. However, Rare’s last project for it starring an immature squirrel was one that I had negative opinions about from the start. Sure, it is humorous, has a bizarre journey, and its presentation is truly something to behold, especially for the system it was released on. Despite its toilet comedy.
Regrettably, it is also an entry that has tons of ideas thrown into it with none of them working. TPS segment, escort missions, arena battles, bat flying, and many more varied gameplay styles that were implemented amateurishly. It should be obvious then why this was a messy drab to get through, particularly since none of them got fleshed out. While the Xbox version at least ironed out one of many issues, I could easily die happy knowing a sequel would never occur. Hopefully, a new Perfect Dark or Banjo Kazooie will instead be prioritised.
#2 Sandblocks everywhere! (Minecraft)
Probably a strange point to make, but whenever someone compares a project to Minecraft, I get uncomfortable. Admittedly, there are fantastic titles using this formula much better, such as Valheim, Deep Rock Galactic, and Terraria. Sadly, my main problem with the birth of this phenomenon, is how barebones of an experience it is due to its bland design. Definitely true to its name by having you mining and crafting, but that is it and this concept never evolves onwards.
Because of this and having no overarching goal either, the overall structure is hard for me to become invested in. The sandbox genre can be enjoyable, but when it all relies on you creating your own fun, I can only pretend to have a decent time. We presumably will never see a Minecraft 2, but whenever I hear someone recommend to me a game and draws a parallel to this Swedish product, I always try my best to meet it with an open mind and just pray that it is not nearly as dreadful.
#1 Pacing issues (Red Dead Redemption 2)
I cannot stress how much this aggravates me. Unskippable tutorials, a slow beginning, and clumsy forms of varieties are things that can be pet peeves of mine. However, when the entire playthrough becomes a slog due to off mechanics, tedious travels that can take forever, forced segments, and hours upon hours of nothing happening, I get furious. Many projects do this to me, but Red Dead Redemption 2 is the one I would argue that does it the worst.
Every single move takes an eternity in order to make them seem realistic, yet simultaneously makes the gunfights a chore with no risks to them and contains RPG elements that do not even seem to function. There is no sense of challenge or interesting gameplay aspects, with the side content being lacklustre too. Because of this, I will never return to this series again, unless I am asked to make reviews of it. Especially, if it can waste 50-100 hours of my life with nothing of it being entertaining.
Despite this being a fun article to make, I did notice how angry I could get while writing it, meaning it is time for something more positive. With this in mind Casper, I want to hear your top games that you would wish to have remade! However, this list cannot consist of those you simply enjoy and just want to see polished. These have to be severely flawed entries that clearly have potential and you believe could be good if they got a second chance through fixing specific issues!