12. Demon's Souls
Oh, how this low-key From Software game really did not want to be liked. So much so that Sony - who held exclusive publishing rights - unceremoniously dumped it on shelves in Japan, and sold off international publishing to Atlus and Namco. Why? Because Entertainment VP Shuhei Yoshida quite frankly thought “This is crap”.
Yet, being a fickle beast is what made it stand-out. It was soul-crushingly hard, held zero tutorials and no discernible plot-line. For those not paying attention, a deep combat system and rich mythology could easily go unnoticed as well. The player was basically pushed into a confusing, merciless world and dared to survive.
At a time where cinematic experiences and hand-holding were the norm in the industry, Demon's Souls gained serious traction from word-of-mouth, becoming a sleeper success in the US and Europe. Namco could smell something cooking and snatched up publishing for From Software’s spiritual sequel Dark Souls, the rest now being gaming history.
The sting of Sony essentially owning that groundbreaking franchise - most likely in the guise of Demon's Souls 2 - never sat well. Yoshida has eaten humble pie in the press on several occasions since, with the two eventually mending bridges as Sony landed Dark Souls successor Bloodborne, as a PS4 exclusive.