A while ago Ravanel made a post about Fandoms that I never though I’d like (bud did)*. It is a pretty interesting post (and topic) and I’ve been meaning to write about it since then. Unfortunately certain things got in the way so I am only writing about it now.
Anyhoo, unlike Ravanel I can’t say I always had an open mind. Sure, if you asked teenage me I would have said that I was the most open and accepting people in the world. But the truth is there was a lot of things I snubbed down or outrighted hated because it didn’t conform to what I felt was the way the world and myself “should be”. Nowadays I try to police myself better to not fall into those kind of traps and to actually have an open mind. But it is a constant battle for that, one that I do not always win.
So this post is about those franchises I snubbed in the past then through certain circumstances gave it a try and found out that I was wrong, that I actually really like it. Here are my picks, in no specific order:
1) Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Back when the first Deus Ex game was released I was going through of my phase of “This is a thing that I don’t like and is popular for some reason therefore I have to hate it” with FPSes. Granted, Deus Ex is a RPG, was marketed as so, but it had the looks and interface of a FPS of the time. Still I decided to give a try because one of the things people (at least in my circle of people) were talking about was how you could interact with everything in the environment and even move things and people around. Those were things I never heard about in games before then (and I am pretty sure someone will point out how it was a feature in some other older game). My brother had a copy of it so that is what I played. For maybe 5 minutes. Since the game looked like a FPS for me I tried to play it like a FPS and since I had always been terrible at those and hated them it made me not enjoy those 5 minutes and give up on the game forever.
Or so I thought. Turns out I got interested in the game again when Deus Ex: Human Revolution was announced. I don’t know exactly why I got interested in reading stuff about that game. Possibly because there are so few non-fantasy CRPGs out there that anything like that automatically grabs my attention. Anyway, reading about Deus Ex: Human Revolution I found out there was a lot more about the original Deus Ex than I was led to believe. Turns out it wasn’t just the world that was meant to be extremely interactive. You had a choice in how you wanted to tackle the missions, for example, you could try to be completely stealthy, trying to find different paths through a level to complete a mission or just go Rambo and shoot anything that moves. Even better the NPCs in the game would comment on those kind of choices. The story was supposed to be pretty good too, with some interesting questions about transhumanism. Deus Ex: Human Revolution was supposed to try to recapture all of those elements and although I can’t say they quite nailed it I do believe they did a pretty good game.
Since then I’ve decided to go back and play the original Deus Ex game. I haven’t done so yet (I tried briefly but retrogaming for me requires a certain state of mind) but playing Deus Ex: Human Revolution certainly changed my perception of the series, making me appreciate everything they tried to achieve.
2) Dark Souls
I am not a person driven by challenges. In fact of all my motives to play games “challenge” is at the bottom of the list. When I heard about Dark Souls all I heard about it is how it was brutally hard but fair. Exactly the kind of game that seems targeted to people who love challenging games. So I just shrugged and moved on with my life. Then I started watching this “Let’s Play” of Dark Souls on YouTube by the folks of Extra Credits. Since I already liked their other shows and this “Let’s Play” was supposed to discuss Dark Souls from the point of view of game designers it looked like another fun one to watch. It was so fun that I actually got interested in playing the game, almost obsessively so. Since I was still unsure about it though I waited for a Steam sale before purchasing it. Turns out it was a surprisingly very good purchase.
Yes, the game is challenging and when people say that is also fair, they aren’t making excuses about it. The game is fair. It rewards attentiveness and patience while punishing recklessness. But it isn’t just the gameplay I found enjoyable. The world has also a… hmm… I am not sure how to put it into words, I guess the best I can come up with is that the world has a certain tragic beauty to it. There is a lot of places that are in ruins but you could see that it was once a proud fortress. Also almost everybody in it is an undead (even the player character) who became mindless (and the player character could possibly become one too) and those who are not aren’t always the trustworthy types. Even the story is told in a very non-traditional way, mostly by piecing together what the NPCs are willing to tell and the descriptions from the items you acquire.
Despite my love for the game it is one that I unfortunately have not finished yet. My excuse is that my ADD kicked in and I got distracted by other games. But this is definitely one I intent to go back to finish it and then play its sequels.
3) Life is Strange
My first contact with Life is Strange was through the Steam store page. Actually, I might have read about it before its release but forgot. The Steam store page was where I actually started paying attention to the game. I looked at it because the title caught my attention and seemed intriguing. Unfortunately the game description didn’t feel interesting to me and it was an episodic game, in the style of Telltale games, from a company I never heard about. All of that made me decide to give a pass on the game.
Shortly after the crew of a podcast I listen to, called Diecast, started to talk about the game. Their praise for it made me change my plans to buy the game after all episodes were released. But even those plans changed once Episode 3 of Life is Strange was released. The folks at the Diecast praised it so much, with one even saying something along the lines of “If you are on the fence about this game buy it now while it is still good. Because it might become bad later.” That is when any resistance I had was finally broken and I bought all the 3 episodes available at the time and the other ones as they released.
I liked the game so much that I would definitely count it among my favorites of 2015. The though that I won’t see Max and Chloe, the heroines of the game, anymore also makes me miss them even more.
4) Tomb Raider
Back when the first Tomb Raider game was released I just couldn’t get what all the hubba-hubba about it was. For all I could understand it was a platformer game with a wannabe Indiana Jones as the protagonist. Back then I was really into JRPGs so there were very few other games in the consoles that would grab my attention. A platformer wasn’t one of those. It didn’t help that I was always terrible at jumping in games so platformers used to be something I played because that is what most of the games I had available to me. After I found my love (and had more access to) JRPGs I didn’t have much reason to play that genre anymore. So I moved on through life knowing nothing more about the game series besides that it existed and that it didn’t see something I’d enjoy.
The Spoiler Warning “Let’s Play” of the rebooted version of Tomb Raider made me reconsider my position. I don’t know if what convinced me was the way the gameplay looked fun or if it was because I was craving for something different or both. But when a Steam sale of the game came I decided to buy it. What followed were some hours of a lot of fun as I jumped and climbed through the wilderness of the game with some mix of shooting arrows at bad guys and hungry wolves. There was also the occasional break for light puzzles as well as looking for historical artifacts.
The weak part for me was the story. Although I won’t say it was bad, it did feel silly a lot of times as they were going for some grimdark tone which clashed when you had areas where there were some rickety wooden houses built on the side of the mountains. If the story of the game wasn’t trying to be so serious and grimdark it wouldn’t be an issue. In any case, it was a very enjoyable game, one that some times I consider playing again just for the gameplay fun.
5) The Avengers Comic Books
Back when I was a teenager I used to read super-hero comic books. The avengers however were not one of those. My preferences were more towards “underdog” super-heroes like Spider-man and the X-Men. A team led by “Mr. Perfect” Captain America sounded to me as boring as its leader so I snubbed them. Eventually though I had to stop reading comic books altogether because my addiction to them was getting out of hand and I was not only spending my all my allowance on them but I was also in eternal debt to my mother. Stopping altogether was the only solution I found to work. This was somewhere in the early to middle 90ies.
Fastforward some years. The Marvel Cinematic Universe movies are doing so well, being praised so much I decide to check them out. Despite my usual distaste of adaptations of… well, pretty much anything to movies, I found myself enjoying them. Even more surprising I found the Captain America and Avengers movies to be very enjoyable. It made me regret to not having read them back in the days.
Now despite having stopped reading comics I still found myself wanting to get back into comics during the years. The only thing that stopped me was the idea of having to buy over a decade of comic book issues to catch up. Sure, I could just start again with the latest issues, that is how I started with it anyway, but that I am pretty sure I would have a hard time reconciling everything I knew with whatever is the current status quo. Fortunately I kind of found a good compromise. Marvel has a service called Marvel Unlimited that is kinda like Netflix but for their entire catalog of comics. The service has its issues but I am generally happy with it.
So I subscribed to it and decided to read all the avengers comics starting from number 1. It was pretty interesting to see the team origins and the way they grew and changed over the years. I stopped reading at about 1996, I think, because that is when a big even happened in the marvel universe that made the team “disappear” for a few years. That and it seemed like a good point to catch up on other comics series I snubbed like The Hulk and Fantastic Four. :p
Now if only DC did the same for their catalog so I could catch up on those Batman comics….
So those I believe are my top 5 franchises I snubbed then through circumstances found out later that I actually liked it. Of course it is not limited to these 5, in fact, I had trouble choosing which ones should be in this list as there were certain details about them that might not qualify it. These 5 though I think fit well in the list.
* Yes, I didn’t only copy the post idea but title posts are too similar. I tried to come up with a better title but alas I failed miserably.