Games you may have overlooked

Critical acclaim is not the only measure of a good game

January 12, 2014
Shadow Warrior feature

With the passing of another year come the mandatory best-of yesteryear games lists. With these, we reflect on and remember the games that made the biggest splash in the gaming scene last year.

Games that earned accolade after accolade, and that ever-important high ‘green’ score on Metacritic.

In so doing, games that were not so highly-praised by critics are doomed to be quickly forgotten and shelved in the deepest recesses of gaming archives.

The following games came out in 2013 without garnering too much praise from critics, but with enough praise from non-critics (i.e. the rest of us) to warrant a mention.

A dozen of good user scores are not necessarily anything to go by, but when hundreds of gamers seem think differently to game critics, it can indicate that critics might have been reviewing games as a study in ludology rather than in how much fun they actually are.

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

  • Metacritic average critics score: 72
  • Metacritic average user score: 8.4
  • Number of user scores: 400+

A unique action role-playing game (ARPG) in terms of story, as it focuses on the heir of the well-known fictional vampire hunter character, Abraham Van Helsing, as he travels the decidedly steampunk lands of Borgovia looking for places that are in need of his demon and vampire slaying skills.

It implements the ARPG mechanics quite successfully, and takes advantage of that insatiable need for loot to keep you addicted, but without forgetting to add its own flavouring to the hack n’ slash formula.

The story does not take a backseat to the gameplay, and keeps you grounded from the loot addiction, reminding you that you are not playing just another Diablo clone, whilst your ghostly companion Katarina is also a nice addition that will prevent you from feeling lonesome should you choose to play without a friend.

Shadow Warrior (2013)

  • Metacritic average critics score: 73
  • Metacritic average user score: 8.2
  • Number of user scores: 400+

One would be quick to attribute the high user scores to nostalgia for the original version of this first-person shooter released in 1997. I never played the original Shadow Warrior, and so I find myself in a good position to judge the game on its own merits.

I came into the game with little background on what to expect other than a game with the same sort of humour and gunplay as Duke Nukem: slapstick, crude, and bullet-ridden. I was pleasantly surprised when I found that developer Devolver Digital extended on this formula by putting some extra effort into delivering the story, as well as paying attention to things other than gunplay.

This includes a samurai katana, some ninja shuriken, and magical powers that are cast with key combinations that give the feel of doing an incantation with a keyboard or gamepad.

I cannot help but think that the Duke Nukem remake would’ve been a much better game were it done from the ground-up by this same developer. One should have a flippant attitude when approaching this game; don’t take it too seriously, and you will be guaranteed a fun romp through and through.

Which recent fun games do you think have been overlooked? Let us know in the comment below.

More gaming features

Games coming in January 2014

Top games of 2013

Most played games of 2013

Adventure gaming lives on

Tags: headline, Shadow Warrior, The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

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