Great Games, Rough Edges
I’m an outspoken Metal Gear Solid fan for a reason – MGS makes the most of every mechanic, while being highly polished, unique and just generally well put together. It’s the same reason I’m a fan of Final Fantasy or the The Legend of Zelda – however, not all great games receive the love (or money) that these series do.
Some games I love despite that fact that they’re honestly pretty awful, such as Drakengard. However, this post is about games that are genuinely great, despite some (often extremely) rough edges.
First up is my go-to example when this sort of thing is brought up – Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines (the name doesn’t help).
When you first boot this game up, you’ll notice that it’s kind of…not good. The opening cutscene is notoriously glitchy and hard to watch, and those kind of problems continue throughout. Animations are generally just bad, and there are some fairly serious glitches. Looking past that, though, The Masquerade is one of the best RPGs ever made.
The game begins with you selecting your ‘clan’, or type of vampire. This choice seriously affects your game, with one clan being forced to spend most of their time in the sewers and another that’s literally insane (it gets unique dialogue options, and unique conversations with inanimate objects).
Other than that, the options were great – it was a lot like the original Deus Ex in the sense that there were several options for any situation. The story was interesting, the characters memorable, and so on. It was just a genuinely great game tarnished with serious glitches and poor animations.
Another series I love that arguably has ‘rough edges’ is Monster Hunter. Now, I need to say upfront that the Monster Hunt series is polished to a mirror sheen, both in terms of animations and gameplay. However, I consider it “rough around the edges” because of the awfully high barrier of entry and poor tutorial. This is a game with serious depth, and it’s a huge issue that they drop the ball at the beginning.
Similarly, another game I love – and this one is actually quite great – is Dark Souls. However, I’ve always thought that Dark Souls drops the ball in a big way, and that’s explaining it’s own mechanics.
I get that a huge part of the series is about building community, and one way in which it does this is by keeping things vague. Communities gather as they figure out how mechanics work and slowly piece it all together, and that’s great – what isn’t great is finding out that the reason this already difficult game is nearly impossible is because you’ve made a terrible character. This is compounded by the fact that the game never actually explains major mechanics like weapon or element scaling – this stuff is super important for building a decent character, but you have to look online to find it.
Some wouldn’t define that as “rough around the edges”, but I think it’s a major enough problem to be included. The entire series suffers for this, though Dark Souls 2 included a way to change your character’s stats later in the game, all it took was an explanation at some point to fix it. Whether or not the community building was worth the obscurity is up to you.