In this segment we will be discussing games that deserve another shot at glory, whether that is a sequel or a reboot. We’re not talking about the games that were commercial hits but remain without sequels such as Red Dead Redemption. We’re talking about games that had very good ideas but were not entirely well executed or received mixed critical and user receptions, and therefore weren’t commercially successful enough to warrant a sequel. We’ll also include games that were mostly considered good, but for some reason didn’t hit the sales targets to activate a follow up being developed.
Now we’re not going to simply say that we want a sequel/reboot because we want one. We’ll tell you why we think it deserves it as well as who we think should develop it.
We have been in the current generation of consoles for just over 18 months. Enough time has passed that I thought we would touch on a couple games that are more recent than the titles we have discussed in previous issues.
First off let’s talk about an exclusive launch title:
Ryse: Son of Rome
I’ll be the first to admit, I thoroughly enjoyed this game; it is the sole reason I purchased an Xbox One on launch day. The only other game I picked up on launch was Dead Rising 3, which to this day I have played about 90 minutes of. The next game I bought was Titanfall. Essentially I put all my Xbox hopes and dreams into Crytek’s Roman action-adventure. My first dip into the waters of next-generation gaming was everything I hoped it would be: beautiful graphics, an engaging story and brutal cinematic finishers – even if they were controlled by QTEs.
For those that want to complain about QTEs, shut up. The style of combat in Ryse (hack and slash) is probably the most appropriate canvas for QTEs. I had no problem with them being in the game; my only gripe is that you were not punished for getting it wrong. If you’re going for the money shot and you hit the wrong button, the enemy should counter or your player misses the takedown.
In Ryse: Son of Rome you play as Marius Titus, a Roman general who leads the defence of Rome against Celtic barbarians. Marius transports the Emperor Nero into a safe room and Marius begins his story of how he came to be where he is. The game is played out through these flashbacks.
The effort Crytek put into Ryse was worthy of applause and it was a shame the game divided both players and critics. It is reminiscent of the later-released PlayStation exclusive The Order: 1886. Although the game did not meet commercial and critical expectations (60 on metacritic), Crytek had seemingly greenlit a sequel, until it was scrapped. Reportedly there was a stoush over who would own the rights to the IP, a perception that Crytek CEO Cerat Yerli choke-slammed in an interview with Eurogamer: “We have a good relationship with Microsoft. We are constantly looking at what we can do together. We are not 100 per cent happy with Xbox One sales right now. So we want to wait till the current-gen catches up. For Ryse 2, we aren’t saying it’s cancelled. It’s our IP. It just has to wait for the right timing. And the right timing means higher installed base across current-gen.” I hope that if Crytek ever get the chance, they resurrect the IP. If they do, here is what I would be looking for in a sequel:
Story-wise, I’d like to see Marius’ tale continued, with maybe a darker side to the Romans being shown. I’d love to be able to invade foreign lands and just generally fuck shit up and have the option of side-quests to complete and raids to obtain new weapons and knowledge. It also needs a better upgrade system, the first one was balls. Or maybe just scrap the upgrade system all together and have town merchants that can upgrade your armour, weapons and health (for a price of course, technically still an upgrade system). Naturally I’d like to see a greater variation in terms of combat. Keep the brutal finishers, but make the player earn it.
Given that Crytek own the IP and the beautiful CryEngine, I cannot see anyone else doing the sequel.
Murdered: Soul Suspect
At E3 2013, I witnessed one of the best announcement trailers I have seen. It came from publisher Square Enix and developers Airtight Games and was for a little title called Murdered: Soul Suspect. It was originally launched as a PS3 and 360 game, but after a delay it was announced that the game would make an appearance on the latest consoles. I was stoked. This was in my top three most-anticipated titles of the new generation thus far.
When I opened it (yes Kieran, surprisingly I did) and finally played it (after reading the mediocre reviews), I, like many, felt a great sense of disappointment. There was great potential here, and there still is, that’s why we are here. Essentially you play as Salem Police Detective Ronan O’Connor who is murdered and then has to solve his murder, as a ghost, to be allowed to cross over into the afterlife.
As a ghost your ability to touch is non-existent, so you must gather clues by using your new skill set. You have the ability to possess people and hear what they are thinking, as well as being able to inspect items that trigger flashbacks and as a result, clues. You can also teleport or walk through walls to access certain areas that are blocked by doors, as well as interact with other lost apparitions. You’ll also be helped by Joy, a local youth that has the ability to see ghosts and interact with them. You’ll help her in her hunt for her missing mother and she’ll help you in searching for your killer, forming one of the greatest ghost/teen girl detective duos ever.
To solve a puzzle, Ronan must piece together evidence to form a conclusion that allows the player to progress. However, the player is not penalised for getting puzzles wrong. In fact, most of the time the game is holding your hand through these moments. This is one of the biggest downfalls of the game according to critics. It’s a shame that the game fell short as it had all the foundations: great story, good atmosphere and superb voice acting. It just lacked in the key area: gameplay.
Given that Airtight Games shut down (RIP) shortly after the release of Murdered: Soul Suspect, we won’t be seeing them doing another entry. As (I assume) Square Enix owns the IP, I thought I would pick out a developer that has priors with the Japanese publisher.
I’ve gone with Dontnod Entertainment. They are currently developing episodic teen-drama, Life is Strange. Their pedigree also extends to 2013’s Remember Me, which I enjoyed. First off, I’d like to see the second game as a prequel. Why? After finding out about Ronan’s life prior to his death I feel like there is a story to tell in there. How that would tie into the whole ghost aspect, I am not sure. Maybe his wife could be a playable character. The game could centre on her, or even another female character. The whole game could be about saving one person’s life. The choices made could determine the outcome.
So what can Dontnod bring to the table? Well, Remember Me had a rather quirky futuristic art style, so I believe they can make an interesting game world. Secondly, on the story side I things, they could easily find an intriguing concept given that both Life is Strange and Remember Me had good stories. The combat would be interesting, given that the extent of the combat in the first one was sneaking up behind demons and hitting the designated button, it wouldn’t be hard to improve. But it would really depend on the story the developers choose. Lastly, make sure that there are ramifications for getting puzzles wrong. No hand holding.
(Sidebar – Intermission image stolen fair and square from http://stanleykubrick.neocities.org/intermission.jpg, credit where credit is due.)