Five games that deserve another shot

clive barker undying

Now I could write a list for this that everyone agrees with, but that wouldn’t be very interesting, would it? To be frank, I don’t care about Shenmue or Shadow of the Colossus or whatever else generally shows up on this kind of list.

I am, however, interested in yours, NAG Online readership. So have a look at my ideas, and then share yours with me in the comments. There will be a prize for the best idea.*

*The prize is a lie.

Clive Barker’s Undying

I believe I’ve discussed this game on this site before in some or other capacity; I seem to have an odd fixation with it.

If you haven’t played it, it’s a relatively old-school FPS horror that merges your standard genre weapon-play with magic as well, and then throws in a bit of detective work to boot.

What I liked about this game is that it really created a specific type of atmosphere and environment, and then allowed you to explore that world with relative freedom. Everything that appeared relatively normal had a sinister undertone if you looked at the right things at the right time or took the time to investigate the details.

It’s like a combination of Doom, Hexen and Dear Esther. I’d love to see an updated, well-made version of this – possibly even with a new setting or storyline. I’d just like it to have that same kind of shit-your-pants originality and pervasive sense of unease that I feel I haven’t gotten from a game in quite some time.

Rise of the Triad

I’m kind of cheating here, since this did get a remake a couple of years ago – I even wrote a review on it.

It was decent – I think I liked it more than most – but really it was just the original game with updated graphics and engine. There wasn’t a whole lot new on offer, which works as a pleasing dose of nostalgia but lacks something in terms of excitement.

Still, nostalgia has no doubt gotten this one on the list. It’s a part of my childhood, much like Doom, Quake and Wolfenstein, and all of those have been developed into long-running franchises.

RotT, on the other hand, has been discarded. It actually began life as a Wolfenstein 3D sequel, before some rights and publishing issues had it redesigned as a standalone title. Still, it was such a groundbreaking title when it came out that I’d love to see it get the royal treatment; with not only an updated engine but a brand new design with a tight narrative.

You know a game's old-school when the screenshots aren't widescreen. Still, that's a quality gib right there.
You know a game’s old-school when the screenshots aren’t widescreen. Still, that’s a quality gib right there.

Half-Life: Opposing Force (sort of)

Right, here we head into murky territory. This isn’t strictly in line with the title, but whatever, this is my party and I’ll cry if I want to.

For those who somehow don’t know (shame on you), Half-Life: Opposing Force was a sequel to the original game in which you play out the same events, but from the perspective of the soldiers who were trying to murder you the first time around (you, of course, being Gordon Freeman).

I don’t want to see another Opposing Force (okay, I do, but I have a problem) – but what I would love to see is another game utilise this same idea. I think there’s something particularly awesome about playing a completely new game that is simultaneously the same game, and getting to be a villain to boot.

Bioshock 2 kind of tried this, but didn’t really pull it off as effectively – you didn’t have that same feeling of hunting yourself. It was also, well, not very good.

The Stanley Parable/Gone Home (sort of)

I thought I might as well get this wishy-washy stuff out of the way at the same time. Perhaps a better subtitle for this one would have been “Source-powered indie FPSes with no combat”.

What I’m getting at is that I don’t necessarily have to see sequels to these games specifically, but more games exactly like these. I love the idea of using the first-person view to deliver a compelling narrative, without ever shooting anything’s face.

I’d really like to see a big studio take something like this on; a story-driven title based purely on exploration and investigation, never once falling back on various combat set pieces when writing a decent plot became too hard. The real challenge there would be keeping it interesting enough to hold a player for the length of a full-retail title – although apparently these days four hours is good enough for that.

if you haven't played The Stanley Parable, don't come back here till you have.
if you haven’t played The Stanley Parable, don’t come back here till you have.

Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines

I’d be interested to know how many people have actually played this game. A quick Google search tells me that it still has somewhat of a following since a Steam release, but at the time it came out I don’t remember it being all that big a deal – outside of my friend circle, anyway.

It got a lot of things right – you had so many choices to make for a 2004 game, and all of them had a pretty big impact on the game. There was a central storyline, but any number of side missions you could go faffing about with as well. I’m not an RPG guy, but I loved this game.

Unfortunately – it was a buggy mess as well, mostly due to a strained three-year development with a lot of internal disasters.

Part of how great it was was how much it did that other RPGs weren’t doing at the time, but even now I think how fluid and dynamic the experience was is something we haven’t seen a lot of in games since. I’d love to see a revamped, reimagined version with the same level of narrative brilliance, but without all that dodgy code. Unfortunately, developer Troika Games went boom quite some time ago, so we may never see it.

But still, can’t vampires make a comeback? I’ve had about enough zombie bullcrap as I can stand.