Video game history has seen countless iconic franchises, from big names like GTA, Halo, and Uncharted to niches like Bayonetta and Metro.
All of these franchises have found success in one way or another. However, there’s almost always an entry that ruins a franchise’s reputation in the eyes of fans. This may be due to experimentation or a sheer lack of understanding of what makes the franchise revered.
There are many games that have been called the “black sheep” of a particular series. However, it’s not always so black and white. Despite its flaws, an entry is not necessarily a bad game.
Here’s a look at some games that aren’t as bad as their critics think.
Disclaimer: This article reflects the views of the author only.
5 Games That Aren’t As Bad As Opponents Claim
1) Saints Row 4
Volition’s 2013 entry in the underrated Saints Row series is often described as Saints Row 3.5. It technically is, as it was originally intended to be DLC for Saints Row: The Third.
The end product turned out to be the same game, just duller. Saints Row 4 has been chastised for straying from the roots of the GTA-clone series into over-the-top territory.
While the series has always been distant in its vibe, the inclusion of aliens and simulations definitely crossed the line. Add superpowers, and what fans were left with was basically EA’s prototype but with an SR3 skin.
That rules out how the developers canonically ruined any chance of a direct sequel to a traditional Saints Row experience.
While the review is certainly valid, given the game’s bland missions and side objectives, it’s still a fun experience.
Saints Row 4 is a true power fantasy, an archetype of games rarely seen these days. The game’s powers and smooth traversal make for a super laid-back experience that’s fun to have fun in.
For all its flaws, it’s hard to stay mad at what the game achieves.
2) Final Fantasy XIII
Following huge anticipation, Square Enix released Final Fantasy XIII in 2009 for PS3 and 360.
While the JRPG’s stunning visuals and incredible ATB (Active Time Battle) combat were the highlights, it was swept up in several other areas. The main criticism was the absurd story filled with inconsistencies and the hallway-level design.
However, the Paradigm Shift system is quite fresh and the combat is quite tight. Sure, the AI can be weird, but the appealing visuals and decent gameplay are worth it, at least.
The game is far from perfect, but the bubbling hatred of Final Fantasy fans is somehow unwarranted.
3) Dead space 3
This game is best described as Resident Evil 6 from the Dead Space series. Similar to Capcom’s 2012 title, the latest mainline entry in EA’s iconic franchise has taken an action-oriented twist.
While the Dead Space series is famous for its survival and scary factor, Dead Space 3 lets the player go to town focusing on action and constant fights. Its open spaces also looked like filler. Add subpar plot with cliched writing, and you’re left with a mediocre shooter.
The only saving grace is his cooperative. Unlike most games, Dead Space 3 sees the second player controlling Carver, whose existence is tied to the main plot. You’re not a clone that disappears during cutscenes here.
The gameplay repetition and padding is also softened with another player. If anything, Dead Space 3 is worth picking up with a pal because of the decent amount of effort that goes into it.
4) Alan Wake’s American Nightmare
Alan Wake was released in 2010 to critical acclaim, leading to something of a sequel.
Alan Wake’s American Nightmare was released in 2012. Set after the events of the first game, the story takes a pulp fiction route. It features the titular writer in a time loop, but that’s where the major flaws began. The game was called repetitive as players had to redo the same few levels.
However, it improves on the original. Long story short, there’s more variety of guns, the gunplay is improved, and there are more interesting enemies. An arcade mode is included for players who enjoy combat.
The decision to revolve the story around Mr. Scratch isn’t ambitious, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s a side entry after all.
Overall, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare isn’t bad at all. In fact, it’s the most positively received console/PC title on this list.
Hopefully the next sequel of the game will be delivered.
5) Deus Ex: The Fall
Originally released for smartphones in 2013, Deus Ex: The Fall is set alongside 2011’s incredible Deus Ex: Human Revolution. It received a PC port in 2014 and was widely criticized for technical issues and a cliffhanger.
Developed by N-Fusion, it’s essentially a scaled-down human revolution for smartphones, which was honestly quite an accomplishment for a mobile title from 2012.
Narratively, it follows the novel Deus Ex: Icarus Fall’s protagonist, Ben Saxon. After a shortage of Neuropozyne, he sets out to discover alternatives, only to come across private companies meddling in illegal business.
That aside, the gameplay is a close copy of Human Revolution, right down to the gold and black aesthetic. Energy, hack, stealth, and augmentation systems make a return, as does exploration-focused non-linear level design. All of these work quite well in the game’s mobile roots.
The mood is surprisingly good, and the writing is also decent. The essence of Human Revolution can also be felt in its optional side quests.
Too bad Deus Ex: The Fall sits at an embarrassing 45 out of Metacritic. For Deus Ex fans, it’s definitely worth a try, though the story will never be complete as the project is considered a flop.