Ordinarily a sterling critical reception translates to a lot players picking up your game. It’s a badge of quality, proving that the developers have put in the blood, sweat and tears to craft an experience that will justify your having parted with your hard-earned cash. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time; Red Dead Redemption; Bioshock: all rode that gold star of approval to gaming stardom.
Sadly, not all games meet with the same immediate success. Titanfall 2, Okami, Psychonauts and American McGee’s Alice are examples of games that got the good grades but were largely overlooked. But solid campaigning from dedicated fans and critics alike turned their fortunes around and won them the players they deserved.
Then there are the games that never got the player base, no matter how good the scores and how dedicated the fans. These are games that were the best in their genre, the most innovative titles ever made, or just plain once-in-a-lifetime masterpieces that did the hard work but never got the reward.
And some of these names might surprise you.
Time to redress the injustice and shine a light on those titles that were played by precious few, yet more than deserve a spot on everyone’s hard-drive.
10. Descent 3
The story of Descent 3 is a sad one.
The original Descent was something of a revolution. It popularized the six-degrees-of-freedom control scheme and was the first title to feature true-3D graphics. Add a maze of claustrophobic tunnels filled with mining robots gone rogue, and you had a game that was genuinely original.
Accordingly critical reception was glowing, citing not only its originality and graphics, but also its intelligent enemies and stellar sound design. Players also loved it: released in 1995, it, combined with Descent II, sold 1.1 million copies within three years.
Descent 3, released in 1999, expanded on everything that made its predecessors great, massively improving the graphics, enemy variety and AI, and sound design. The game also featured seamless transitions to brand new outdoor environments, an addition praised by critics for creating varied mission types that never got dull.
Yet despite being apex Descent, it sold only 53 000 copies within six months. One reason cited was its signature control scheme, which even critics found disorientating. Also, the rise of the first-person shooter, with its intuitive controls, meant that more demanding simulation-esque titles like Descent were no longer in vogue.
Descent 3 is still available to enjoy today, and spiritual successors like Overload keep the flag flying high.