Sometimes, series just don't connect with us. Maybe it's in a genre we're not fond of, or a long-running franchise that's weighed down by other things. Maybe it's something widely beloved, that we just, for one reason or another, don't like.
This week's Community Question deals directly with that conundrum. Or rather, the exceptions in them. What game that's a part of a larger series do you like, even if you don't like the rest of the franchise? Let us know in the comments!
I'm doing my best not to continually side-eye Caty's choice this round, as the resident Assassin's Creed aficionado. Regardless, moving onto my own choice, the field is pretty wide open. I'm finalizing my review of Metal Gear Survive today, a game that's very much an answer to this question. While talking about Survive on The USgamer Podcast, I also noted other games of its type, like DmC: Devil May Cry or Castlevania: Lords of Shadow.
I think I'll probably end up going the last game I mentioned there. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is a very good game in my opinion, but it's certainly not what I would consider a Castlevania game. Sure, it features the first member of the Belmont clan, Gabriel, and showcases the rise of the ongoing force that is Dracula, but the game was decidedly not what came before.
Instead, Lords of Shadow took its cues from the games of its era, notably Sony's God of War. It was a story-driven combat game, with a minimum on the exploration that would come to define the earlier parts of the franchise. Still, it was great. The combat was fun, the games were simply beautiful from a visual perspective, and while the story was a bit weird, the ending was satisfying. If someone asked, "What's the best Castlevania game?", Lords of Shadow wouldn't be mentioned, but if they asked "Which Castlevania games should I try?", I'd be hard-pressed not to bring it up with caveats.
Chrono Cross will forever be my #1 choice here. It's one of my favorite RPGs of all time. It has great graphics, an incredible soundtrack, and an engaging battle system. Its character roster is jam-packed with fun weirdos: There is a luchador priest who plays his role completely straight, and his name is Greco. Nothing about Chrono Cross falls below "superb."
Nothing, that is, except its position as a successor to Chrono Trigger. The games couldn't be more thematically different. Chrono Trigger is a hopeful and straightforward shonen story about saving the world with friends; Chrono Cross is a confused jumble of conversations about paradoxes, fate, death, and regret. Chrono Cross' themes are fine in their own right, but the game makes it very clear it's solidly linked to Chrono Trigger. That happy ending you worked for on the SNES ultimately means nothing. Guaradia Castle fell to hostile forces, the characters you love died sad deaths, and that's all she wrote. Blech.
At least we discover what happened to Schala, who lived in plot thread limbo for years after Chrono Trigger's release. I can't say I find the conclusion worth the trade-off of Lucca, Crono, and Marle, but that's the way it goes, I guess.
Ahem, Square—I'd still love to see this game get the Final Fantasy VII / VIII / IX PlayStation 4 treatment, if not a full HD upgrade.
My answer's pretty recent, actually. It's Assassin's Creed Origins. I've tried playing many Assassin's Creed games in the past, from the ones everyone told me were the best (Assassin's Creed 2, Black Flag) to the ones that weren't. Yet always, they never connected with me. I found the characters annoying, the story dull and nonsensical, the hyperfuture plot of Animus bullshit dragging everything way down.
But Origins, against the odds, is different. I got it on sale back in December, and I've been slowly playing it ever since. I love the characters in it, from Aya (who should have at least been a more prominent duel protagonist, like Syndicate had) to Bayek. I love the world of Egypt it presents, which is endlessly rich and interesting. The new quest structure refreshes the monotonous series and fleshes out the stories of its specific setting and the people who inhabit it, even if the new loot system is straight up bad. If only it didn't still have the Assassin's Creed name and lore holding it back. Then it'd be perfect.