Reviewer Rodeo: Forget the Critics

Welcome to the ZTGD Reviewer Rodeo. Each week, we’ll grab on to the hottest issue, hold on for dear life, and wrassle it to the ground.

This week, I want to try something a little different. Let’s have some fun. Everyone has a game or two that is near and dear to their hearts that most people didn’t like; a guilty pleasure, that critics may have bashed or the general population didn’t care for. Let’s talk about some of those games. What’s a game that you personally enjoy that critics and the majority didn’t like?

Ken “ZeroTolerance” McKown
Well, over my years of gaming, I have loved many games critics hated. Narrowing it down to just one is near impossible, so I will just rattle off the most recent. NeverDead was a game I was excited about from the moment it was announced last year. The game released to a panning from reviewers and it made me nervous going into mine. As it turned out, the game actually was quite entertaining, if a bit too long for its own good. Sure, the gimmick mechanics were a source of frustration and the story quite nonsensical, but I did complete it without feeling the urge to “have to”. It had a lot of cool ideas that really could be fleshed out in future games (everyone knows this one isn’t seeing a sequel) and even turned into some genuinely unique gameplay experiences. As it stands, though, the game does not deserve the abhorrent reviews it received. It was a decent game with plenty of problems, but that didn’t stop me from truly enjoying it.

Kelsey “rinelk” Rinella
The existence of good board games is relatively little known in mainstream American culture. Digital versions of Carcassonne, Catan and Ticket to Ride have probably made some inroads in developing mindshare for the idea that board game design has advanced since the childhood of the baby boom generation, despite the ubiquity of awful “classics” like Monopoly and Risk. While I enjoy Ticket to Ride and think it does an excellent job of providing interesting play with minimal rules overhead, the games which have become popular in the digital realm are still not the greatest available because they tend to eschew complexity.

So when I say that I played many days worth of dumbed-down Risk, the embarrassment of this fact is best appreciated in the context of a high degree of snobbery about board games, digital or otherwise. But Dice Wars, a simple flash game with relatively basic graphics and annoying sound, was my go-to time-waster for years. I still feel great affection for it.

Drew “FrustratedFury” Leachman
When I think of games I really enjoyed that a lot of people didn’t like, two come to mind from recent years. The first would be Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard. The game played pretty horribly at times. It was glitchy, the visuals were not that great, but it did one thing that almost no game can do: it made me laugh. I admire a game that can actually be funny. The satire on the gaming industry, and video games in general, was a breath of fresh air, and for all the problems that it did have, I could look past them because of the amount of charm that game had.

The second game is Alone in the Dark. You know, the one from 2008? I don’t care what anyone says, Alone in the Dark is one of the most innovative games I have ever played. There were things done in that game I had never seen before. I really loved the way it played out like a television show. It was almost like you were watching a DVD box set the way you could fast forward and go back. The soundtrack was amazing, as well. If you could get past the bad controls, and see what the game was trying to do, you would have a very good time with it. Of course, the critics didn’t agree with me, but I really don’t care.

That’s it for this week’s Reviewer Rodeo. Thank you all for reading and while you’re here, why not leave us a comment telling us what your favorite non-popular game is?

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