As you may have guessed, we love single-player games. We share our love every day through the work that we do, but the pace of this industry means that we rarely get the opportunity to stop and look back.
Join us this week as we celebrate the best that single-player gaming has to offer as part of Single-Player Appreciation Week.
Some games, despite their high quality, do not receive the attention that they deserve. As part of Single-Player Appreciation week, OnlySP has come up with seven classic underrated titles that deserve your attention.
3D Dot Game Heroes
Legend of Zelda fans who were thrilled by the retro stylings of the Link’s Awakening remake might have their eyes open for something with a similar gameplay feel. Those willing to look back one console generation to the PlayStation 3 might wish to consider trying out 3D Dot Game Heroes from Silicon Studio.
3D Dot Game Heroes is a voxel-based action-RPG that strongly resembles the early Legend of Zelda titles and takes inspiration from Dragon Warrior. Players move from screen to screen, fighting enemies and collecting items in a colourful fantasy world. Players can choose from one of many pre-generated characters, or create their own with the 3D sprite editor.
The plot is a love-letter to classic RPGs and contains many sly references to video game history, such as recreations of classic box-art using the game’s sprites.
Ecco: Defender of the Future
Lots of venerable franchises from the 8- and 16-bit era did not survive the switch to 3D. Thankfully, Ecco the Dolphin did not fall prey to those pitfalls and everyone’s favourite video game dolphin got a great game out of his 3D debut.
Ecco: Defender of the Future successfully transferred the classic gameplay into 3D, keeping much of the feel of the Mega Drive games, while telling a brand-new story. The visuals of Defender of Future are still stunning, even two decades after its release. A shame that Ecco has not had a game outing since.
The Xeno series has had a number of twists and turns, and the most recent entry, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, is in the odd position of being a spiritual sequel to a spiritual sequel. The first entry in the series, Xenogears started life as a proposal for a Final Fantasy storyline but instead became its own entity. Gameplay uses a similar ‘Active Time Battle’ system to Final Fantasy VII, while the story incorporates complex themes involving religion and Jungian psychology.
Development woes meant the second half of the game was mostly told in cutscenes, which might be off-putting for some players, but seeing how the series all began is worth the trouble.
When the words ‘real-time strategy’ are mentioned, most people will immediately think of titles such as Command & Conquer or Starcraft, and if you were to ask what the first real-time strategy game was, the majority would probably point to Dune II. However, preceding all of those was Herzog Zwei, created by Technosoft and released on the Mega Drive in 1989.
Herzog Zwei puts the player in control of a flying, transforming mecha. The mecha allows the player to control multiple other combat units, a process that requires the player to heavily micro-manage the battle.
Despite the lack of commercial success, Herzog Zwei has been cited by developers at Blizzard and Westwood Studios as being a key inspiration for later iconic real-time strategy titles.
Handheld consoles like the Game Boy Advance are not typically the first system that comes to mind when ‘epic RPG’ is mentioned, but some hidden gems are tucked away on the console, such as Camelot Software’s Golden Sun.
Golden Sun does not do anything remarkable with the traditional JRPG formula, but instead refines everything that already existed in that genre to create one of the finest examples. Subsequent entries in the Golden Sun series were less well-received, but the original is definitely worth tracking down. A remake on the Switch would also be nice.
Double Fine Productions received a mixed reception when Brütal Legend launched in 2009. Part of that was due to many players not quite understanding what the game really was, with some being uncomfortable with the hybrid of action and real-time strategy.
Those who managed to navigate the unusual gameplay were rewarded with a well-crafted world drenched in heavy metal music lore and excellent vocal performances from famous names such as Jack Black, Rob Halford, and Ozzy Osbourne.
Independent Bulgarian game studio Haemimont Games attempting to leave its mark on the action hack-and-slash genre with the release of Victor Vran on Steam in 2015. The title was subsequently ported to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One as Victor Vran: Overkill Edition, a version which included two expansion packs, one of which is based entirely around metal band Motörhead and features music from the band as BGM.
Aside from the musical connection, Victor Vran shows off polished hack-and-slash mechanics and highly versatile progression systems to suit many styles of play. Perhaps a sequel is in order…
So many games deserve a second look, such as Drakengard, Killer 7, Madworld, and Dark Saviour, that if we were to continue, we’d be here all day. Perhaps our loyal readers would like to comment on what they think the most underrated games are?