It’s been a while since I got enthused about a game of questionable quality. I used to spend a lot of time in this zone, firmly below “Triple A” but not quite unplayable junk.
Games of this sort became known as “Alex Games” at the store I used to shop at. See also: my love of mediocre licensed movie titles.
Valkyria Revolution came out a month ago. My local Best Buy got precisely two Day One Edition copies, one on PS4 and one on Xbox One.
They’ve sat unsold for the last month.
I dismissed the game initially, in part because of its pedigree. Weird, I know. The Valkyria series is made up mostly of highly-praised and beloved strategy RPGs. Indeed, I recognize that they’re high quality games…it’s just that I don’t usually play many strategy RPGs.
I thought that this new entry was in the same genre, and I saw some of the bad reviews and dismissed it out of hand.
Yesterday, I learned that the game is a standalone spin-off that has very little to do with the other three games. Furthermore, it’s a weird blend of Dynasty-Warriors action combat and long ponderous cutscenes.
That sounds like exactly the sort of weird and bad that I can get behind, so I dove in.
Last night I put the disk in my Xbox and walked off to do some other stuff while it installed. When I came back to the machine…it hadn’t started installing yet. Apparently, I accidentally disabled this feature at some point. Frustrating! I clicked on the icon and started the install going, but by the time it was done, I had to go to bed.
So I haven’t played it yet. Not a promising start!
“But Alex, why would you want to play a badly-reviewed game on purpose?”
“Bad” games have so much to teach us. No one sets out to make a bad game. Sometimes people set out to make a game so bad it’s funny, but that’s almost harder than making something good. Every game of a modest budget is the work of several talented people, and the ones that don’t turn out are usually victims of circumstance, bad management, or design decisions that take on lives of their own.
Often, something won’t click with the critical sphere but will find an audience out in the larger gaming public. Heck, even the most terrible games usually have one person that’s out there going “I actually kind of had fun with it.” This subjectivity is at the heart of appreciating artwork of any kind.
Games exist to be played. If no one played them, what would be the point? Sure, we can steer ourselves towards what the consensus thinks is “Quality,” but if I never take the time to play something considered bad now and then, how will I know how to appreciate what’s good?
I look forward to the apparently daunting task of finding the fun in Valkyria Revolution. It’s easy enough for people to bounce off of good games these days, let alone bad ones.
I think we sometimes forget how to enjoy this hobby in the pursuit of things that are ultimately tangential to it.
Every time I play a “bad” game, I either learn something about myself, or I find a new secret favorite.