Earlier this year, it was leaked that Sony was prepping a new God Of War, allegedly with a Norse mythology backdrop. The issue is, God Of War hasn’t changed much since its initial outings on the PS2, and a new setting is not going to cut it.
Imagine my delighted surprise when Sony introduced an entirely new take on the series – with a refined focus on characterization and the exploratory, adventure- game elements of Tomb Raider and Uncharted at its E3 press conference. While it remains to be seen how this will play out, on paper, humanizing Kratos and stripping the design of its most dated and repetitive elements was possibly the best tactic Sony Santa Monica could have applied.
With endless sequels and variations on a theme, there are plenty of other series that could be revived with some changes in the spirit of God Of War’s new direction. With that in mind, here are a few that should be priorities.
Legacy of Kain
Legacy of Kain, Eidos’ once-proud series known for its baroque storytelling and memorable characters, has fallen on hard times. Square Enix’s multiplayer spin-off, Nosgoth, was shut down in May after a year of service, having never gotten out of beta.
Leaked footage of a cancelled installment, the far-in-development Dead Sun was put online early last year, but it appeared to lean too hard into the triple-A standards and likely would’ve left longtime fans unmoved. A non-linear third-person design focused on puzzle-solving (ones that require actual brain power), tools for environment interaction and a strong, dramaturgical narrative would be the right way to go, whether with Kain, Raziel, or someone new.
If Max Payne 3 was a story about Max unable to escape a life defined by death, a fourth game could be a character study of a man in hell. Picture an older, gruffer, bulkier Max, even lower than his lowest point in 3, reaching past the breaking point of nihilism seen in games like Kane & Lynch 2 and Spec Ops: The Line. Would he have to murder his way out? Maybe, but gunplay shouldn’t be the sole, core focus here. If Rockstar would ever deign let someone make this – or inject with the same cynicism as something like Manhunt, it would be a game to remember.
I’ve had countless conversations over why Indy has never had as many games as Star Wars. (Star Wars makes more money and has a wider cast, I know. Indy still brings in cash by the truckload). At any rate, it’s high time that changed. The last decent Dr. Jones yarn, minus the LEGO games, was back in 2003, when The Emperor’s Tomb was released for PS2.
The game that was in development for the PS3, shown at E3 2009, was reportedly all smoke and mirrors before it was cancelled. No need to worry about the death count most games have – though Indy brawled his way out of a lot of situations in Emperor’s Tomb, an over-abundance of combat could be what separates Indy from all the rest. A hybrid third-person game with puzzle solving, set piece and optional character moments and different ways to explore environments could show Lara and Nate how it’s done, if someone at Disney would just make it happen.
Yes, I know – the thought of a survival horror game where the enemies are dinosaurs is a bit ridiculous. And the original game, designed by Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami, certainly embraced that cheesiness (intentionally or not), though it didn’t detract until the series started into sci-fi nonsense in its two sequels.
Still, if Resident Evil 7 can 180 as hard as it has, all hope is not lost for Dino Crisis. Given that these are animals and that the atmosphere of the original was oriented around being powerless, limiting access to weapons and encouraging stealth, avoidance, outsmarting the dinos and simply running could be a triumph of intensity. Capcom, seriously, this is a no-brainer.
While I love that Koei-Tecmo’s Nioh is essentially making a new Onimusha in all but name, Capcom needs to resurrect its original PS2 samurai series. Incorporating some kind of Metal Gear Rising-style sword cutting would be an interesting turn for puzzles, if it would be possible for the current tech – imagine slicing through an entire space separated by shoji, as in the end of Sword of Doom.
Other ideas: a wider range of Kenpō to study and learn, a large period-set world to travel through, furious battles with numerous oni at once, demanding offensive and defensive skill; and, perhaps most important a more mature narrative that strays away from the inherent B-movie flavor of the original trilogy. Finally, since the original trilogy used the likenesses of famous Japanese actors, it’s time for Toshiro Mifune and Tatsuya Nakadai to take the stage, with or without Samanosuke. Capcom has been renewing trademarks for Onimusha of late, so perhaps it’s finally time. It absolutely should be.