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Cut Short Of Brilliance – 5 Games Just Shy Of Greatness

Cut Short of Brilliance – 5 Games Just Shy of Greatness

We recently had a chance to clear a game off our bucket list we’ve been itching to play for years, Child of Light. Somehow the game is better than we hoped thanks to an extremely rewarding combat system and some stunning animation. Unfortunately the game features the bizarre feature that all conversations rhyme even between characters forcing some regrettable exchanges and honestly getting in the way of a really good game. It’s shocking how much one bad element can ruin an otherwise great game. This got us thinking about other recent games cut short of brilliance due to one bad choice. Here are five examples.

Ori and the Blind Forest Hates its Villain

We recently reviewed this one and argue that it’s still perhaps the best Metroidvania game you’ve never played. The art design is breathtaking, the music and ambience of the magical forest is breathtaking, and it features some truly incredible sequences. It’s really, really good, especially for an independently developed game. It does feature one regrettable sin that brings us to SPOILER territory so if you wish to be surprised, please skip ahead to the next in the list……OKAY, you’ve been warned.

Yeah, the owl is a jerk, until you figure out why.

So the big bad of the game is this owl who late in the game is revealed to have lost her children when the tree sent out its beacon looking for you. Basically she’s pissed at you for being the reason she outlived her kids. We kinda get it. But in game about the redemption and sympathy where death is a fixable condition, we thought we clearly saw the ending this game needed – namely she’s returned to her family and becomes the change character you expect. NOPE, the game’s not over until you kill the mom owl too then you can celebrate. It’s a fantastic story, but it’s hard to feel like you’re not the bad guy when you get to the end of it.

The Division Needs Gun Worship

Man we had some fun with this game. We joked for a while that this game would never make it out of trade shows after seeing highlight reels for this game for three E3s in a row. We honestly believed it’d never go gold. When it finally did get our hands on it we found a thoroughly satisfying cooperative 10 hour shooter experience. We never really had much fun in the Dark Zone and after shooting down that final helicopter we didn’t feel compelled to play any more. It’s unfortunate because like its obvious competition, Destiny, this was meant for a compelling endgame that never materialized.

Awesome. A “Light Machine Gun.” This changes everything.

The problem here, in our opinion, was the loot grind was flawed from the start. Bungie has its fair share of problems but it absolutely nails gunplay. Halo and Destiny feature the best FPS combat we’ve ever experienced. Destiny took this a step further with some serious gun worship that makes the loot grind worth it. We loved the Icebreaker when it was king. We equally love Thorn when we got our hands on it. This were significant moments in Destiny and kept us playing for hundreds (yes, hundreds) of hours. The Division didn’t really do that. Yes, you can find slightly higher quality weapons, maybe the occasional orange colored unique one, but gamers weren’t chasing anything specifically. A little gun worship in a game designed for loot grinding would go a long ways.

Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide Botches its Leveling System

Valve is arguably the most frustrating developer in existence. Most everything they touch is pure gold but they operate at a snail’s pace (at least we hope). We aren’t holding our breaths for a Half Life 3 or Portal 3 anytime soon but we are stunned we never saw another Left 4 Dead considering how quickly they were releasing those for a bit. For us, L4D and L4D2 are significant games coop-minded players must play. So when Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide promised to pick up the baton and run with the formula some more, we were thrilled. Co-Optimus even named this the best coop game of 2015.

There’s a lot to like here. The leveling up system is NOT in that list.

So what’s wrong with it? Well besides the obvious one of the name being too long, WET-V (that acronym is gonna raise some eyebrows) somehow barely misses the mark by prolonging the level up system. We know, it’s new as L4D didn’t feature and “RPG elements” making each playthrough completely disposable, WET-V promises you the ability to find and create new weapons and includes a level up system that has no value whatsoever. You don’t get faster or stronger; instead leveling up occasional yields another weapon. And the weapon upgrades are minimal at best. You can play this game 30 hours and have close to the same gear you had when you started. Don’t get us wrong, they get so much right here including some truly incredible levels and a great take on the L4D formula, but sadly they botch the landing by giving us a worthless leveling system.

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst Doesn’t Know How to “Open World”

Oh my god, DICE, how’d you f this up so badly? Mirror’s Edge will forever remain in my top, eh, 30 games ever. I loved speed running levels in this game especially the final summit climb up the skyscraper all the way through to the helicopter rooftop fight. I even dug the combat. Play it right and you could execute this graceful but fatal sprint through every encounter like Trinity from The Matrix. Our hopes were high for the sequel, which isn’t just bad, it’s forgettable.

For a game designed around death-defying platforming, sure would be great to play it instead of watching it.

The foul here is Dice’s attempt to make a game designed around speed runs into an open world game. The core parkour mechanics are largely the same but the game just isn’t fun. Dice opts to include trivial fetch quests and arbitrary missions (i.e. keep the guards in close proximity as you escape?) instead of just letting us figure out how to reach the end of the level. It’s such a tragic misfire that we couldn’t even make it to the lazy nonplayable final fight. Seriously, WTF, Dice?

No Man’s Sky Terrible, Horrible, No Good PR Campaign

No game inspired more animosity last year than the vastly overhyped No Man’s Sky. They were featured on The Late Show with Colbert for Christ’s sake. The game’s promises could never be kept. This seemingly infinite shared universe is comprised of server side parameters passed to the client to render planets and structures in realtime on your Playstation. It’s not really a shared world hosted on a server somewhere. This keeps it light but also means you’ll never interact with other players in realtime.

Those sand worms have to be around here somewhere.

All of that is fine except for one problem. Sean Murray. The new Peter Molyneux which is saying something as he’s only associated to one game. He made so many public appearances promising ideas that weren’t ready for primetime or just flat out lied. The PR of this game was atrocious and most of that was due to Sean Murray going off script over and over. They made their money, but gamers were burned and hopefully won’t forget.

What other games narrowly missed the mark in your opinion? Let us know in the comments below!

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