The Best Games You've Never Played

Written by Joe Martin

December 28, 2007 | 00:33

Tags: #abandonware #awards #best #beyond #black-isle #bloodlines #evil #good #list #loom #outcast #psychonauts #realms #rez #torment #vampire

Companies: #ico #indie

Beyond Good and Evil – 2003

Status: Available! £4.99 in the UK or $5.99 in the US.

This is a game that regular bit-tech readers may be tired of hearing me rant about, but I’m past caring – the truth is that Beyond Good and Evil is one of the most singularly moving experiences I’ve ever had in my life.

Beyond Good and Evil was released to massive critical acclaim and a multiplatform release on the Gamecube, Xbox, PlayStation 2 and PC – but ultimately failed to make a mark on the marketplace thanks to a cartoony presentation and a 7+ age rating that gave the game a ‘kiddie feel’. Don’t be fooled though – Beyond Good and Evil is anything but a kid’s game.

Set against a complex political backdrop, Beyond Good and Evil stars Jade as a would-be reporter on the planet Hillys. Living in an isolated lighthouse with her uncle Pey’j, an anthropomorphic pig, Jade divides her time between making a living as a photographer and running an orphanage for children whose parents have been killed by the Domz – a parasitic race currently invading Hillys.

Jade is a naïve girl who trusts that the Hillys international army, the Alpha Sections, can repel the Domz threat – but not all is what it seems and the Alpha Sections have an agenda of their own. Pulled down into an underground resistance of spies and reporters, Jade and Pey’j venture out on numerous intelligence missions to expose the conspiracy with the only weapon they have – the truth!

The Best Games You've Never Played Modern Masterpieces
Beyond Good and Evil has some of the most moving moments we've ever seen in a game

Beyond Good and Evil is one of the few games which can truly be described as a triumph of game design on almost every level – in fact, if you removed occasional camera glitches (the game uses the same engine as the Prince of Persia series) then you’ll be hard pressed to find any fault with the game. The presentation is beautifully stylised and deceptively effective so that when the game starts to take deeply tragic twists for the characters you feel like you’ve been emotionally sucker-punched in the best way possible.

It’s easy to see why Beyond Good and Evil is one of the most celebrated and memorable games ever made – you don’t need a fancy GPU or processor, nor a knowledge of games and how to play them. All you really need is the ability to open yourself up and let yourself care for the characters because, if you can commit that, then Beyond Good and Evil pays back in spades.

Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines – 2004

Status: Available, via Steam.

To some of you I’m going to be preaching to the choir here – I know more than a few regular bit-tech readers who are big fans of Bloodlines, but there’s still a lot of people out there who passed by this underappreciated wonder because of the reported technical issues. Those people need to be put straight.

Made by the most talented people from Black Isle when the company ran into financial problems and the developers fled to form their own company, Bloodlines is a classically gothic FPS RPG based in modern day Los Angeles.

The Best Games You've Never Played Modern Masterpieces
Bloodlines has been massively patched since the originally dodgy release

Unfortunately, it was also the first game to be developed using the Source Engine and had a litter of bugs as a result – crippling itself with load times and stability problems. Thankfully, the game still enjoys a fan following and many of the more obsessive geeks out there have taken it upon themselves to patch the game up to spec, adding in features that were cut from the final release and reducing load times on capable PCs.

What we’re left with in the fully patched version (final version is Ver 4.4) is a deeply adult game which tackles issues like sex, drugs and buggery head-on. Remarkably, the game didn’t generate the massive outcry you might expect though and for good reason – while games like Grand Theft Auto use similar themes in an exaggerated or unrealistic manner to glorify themselves and their content, Bloodlines approaches the material from a responsible standpoint.

True, there are strippers and drug users, sadism is featured heavily and there’s plenty of missions that cross over from morally ambiguous to just plain wrong – all of it with racial undertones on the side. The key is that these elements are always featured in a reasonable context and never used just for the sake it. The smut and obscenity complement the game design rather than fight against it.

Still occasionally annoying because of the too-regular load times and unbalanced melee and ranged combat modes, Bloodlines is worth playing purely because no other game will let you take a human blood-slave for your vampiric alter-ego to use, abuse and devour as you wish.
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