It’s really quite amazing that some titles just keep on coming year after year, sequel after sequel. From your “update” style sequels for sports games like FIFA and Madden, to your “same franchise, different studio” titles like Call of Duty and Forza. While the sale numbers might fluctuate a little though, I can pretty much guarantee that most game developers would give their left nut for the sales figures of a “poor selling” Call of Duty, these series’ keep on rolling.
Outside of these annual behemoths, there are other series’ that while less frequent, continue to flourish. Though both the recent entries of Halo & Gears of War aren’t quite up there with their respective franchise peaks they are still popular enough to warrant further entries being put into production. Even Uncharted 4, which seemingly brought the series to an amazing close in 2016, was followed by its own highly rated spin off last year with Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. This year the pattern continues as one of the most eagerly anticipated is the next in the long line of God of War games, which have been going strong for over 12 years.
So by now you’re thinking “Okay I get it, there are a lot of sequels….what’s your point?”
My point is that while these series have had game after game, sequels and prequels and spin offs, some of my favourite titles couldn’t even muster up a part 2. It’s normally down to sales numbers or middling reviews but that kind of fact based logic that doesn’t help me get more of the games I love so I’m ignoring it… or blaming all of you, the consumer, for not buying them or having the same opinion as me (that’s how the internet works right?). Regardless of this long winded intro, these are the games that I long for a sequel to. And I do meaning sequel, not a reboot. An actual continuation of the series is what I’m after, building on what came before, and nothing else will do. Sorry, one more thing before we start; I am not including any of the current generation sequels I want as they were mainly covered in my previous article about Xbox Exclusives (so go read that one…NO NOT YET! I mean when you’re done here).
Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
In 2002 Nintendo published EternalDarkness: Sanity’s Requiem, a horror adventure game by Silicon Knights on the Gamecube. Jarring against the “kids console” image of Nintendo’s little blue box, Eternal Darkness was the next step in video game terror. Borrowing elements from the Resident Evil franchise, the game also had an enjoyable time hopping plot and some nice graphics.
The stand out feature was its “Sanity Effects”. As your character went through the game, they’d have a Sanity Meter which would decrease as they encountered enemies. As this meter drains away, weird stuff would begin to happen on screen to demonstrate how your character is beginning to “lose it”. These effects would start small with things like altering background animations, creepy sounds and turning the screen upside down before working their way up to full blown 4th wall breaking situations like a screen pop up about deleting all your saved games or showing the blue screen of death. This mechanic was mind blowing and very effective, as the build up is slow and with so many possible effects that you would legitimately question what is real.
Unfortunately, even though a sequel was often discussed, developer Silicon Knights filed for bankruptcy in 2013 before releasing a follow up. There have been number Kickstarter attempts for a pseudo sequel called Shadow of the Eternals but each attempt has been unsuccessful. There has been a large horror resurgence this generation with Resident Evil 7, P.T., Alien Isolation, Evil Within and Until Dawn so maybe Nintendo will join the fray and resurrect the series on Switch. Though with the original having huge critical success but still suffering poor sales, I’m not getting my hopes up. It’s enough to drive you mad.
Very (very) loosely based on a 14th Century poem called Inferno, which itself is only the first part of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, Dante’s Inferno was a hack and slash adventure telling the tale of a knight fighting through the nine circles of hell (Limbo, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger, Heresy, Violence, Fraud & Treachery) to save his wife’s soul from Lucifer. It was very much in the vein of God of War with environmental puzzles, light platforming and oversized boss fights. Unfortunately that comparison is also what hampered some of its reviews and the general opinion of the game, “it’s just a poor man’s God of War”. This is to do the game an injustice as while it does play similar and have many shared traits with the Kratos master class, what sets it apart its story and unique character designs.
Each of the nine circles are nicely crafted with haunting imagery to suit, like Lust having the phallic shaped “Carnal Tower” which homes enemies like pregnant demons and psychotic babies and, of course, the gigantic & monstrous form Cleopatra who battles you alongside her beloved Marc Anthony.
The most pressing reason I am longing for a sequel is because it ends with Dante in Purgatory, which is the second part of the original poem (Purgatorio), with a strong hint that there is more to come. With the recent closing of developer Visceral Games (thanks EA) the chances of an official sequel are as dead a Dante. There is again a sequel of sorts out there called Dante’s Redemption, and while really it’s nothing more than a passion project by Naughty Dog Cinematic Animator – Tal Peleg, the trailers he has produced are brilliant and should make any publisher with sense take notice. Your move EA.
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
Another game loosely based on some ancient literature, this time it’s a reimagining of the 16th century Chinese novel Journey to the West. A beautiful action-platformer, this game was created by a ridiculous amount of talented people. It was developed by the clever folks at Ninja Theory, the story was written by novelist Alex Garland (The Beach) and featured motion capture work by the best in the business; Andy Serkis (who also voiced the male protagonist “Monkey”).
Set in a post-apocalyptic world 150 years in the future and mankind is on the brink of extinction after yet another world war. We play the role of “Monkey” , escorting “Trip” back to her village against his will. Why? Well because she has put a slave-band on his head meaning he has to do what she asks and if she dies, so does Monkey. It’s an interesting dynamic that creates an instant animosity between the two protagonists, making the script between more interesting than the stereotypical “lets team up and kick evils butt” banter you’d get in similar games. Gameplay wise, it has enjoyable combat mixed with some nice cinematic platforming. This was broken up by skateboarding style sections on Monkeys Cloud Disk and defensive missions protecting Trip. The art style of the game was one its more lauded accomplishments at release and it still holds up today. Though post-apocalyptic it was still so bright, colourful and lavishly detailed.
Unlike some other entries on this list the developer is still active, with Ninja Theory having just released the rather good Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. Unfortunately, despite its quality, it under performed at release leading to the developer confirming that sales where not good enough to continue the franchise and that the planned sequel has been scrapped. The IP is still owned by publisher Namco Bandai but as they haven’t even green lit it to join Xbox Ones backwards compatibility list, I doubt they even remember they have it.
The KotOR morality system plus Chinese mythology plus real time Kung Fu style combat equals awesome in any language, right? Well yes to put it bluntly. Coming fresh off their success with Knights of the Old Republic, Bioware decided to pass KotOR sequel duties on to Obsidian and focus on their own original IP. Using the framework they had created for the Star Wars blockbuster they striped out all the Jedi & Space stuff and layered in a beautifully crafted world of martial arts, magic and monsters. This was a project of love for the developers, taking influence from Chinese novels and movies; going so far in their immersion that they created their own language for the game, Thou Fan. Choosing to replace the slower turn based combat, Bioware instead created a much more free roaming fighting system which would work better with the martial arts style they were incorporating.
Playing as a Spirit Monk (with your choice of gender) you are tasked with bringing down the current ruler of the Jade Empire, the evil Sun Hai. As expected you build up a merry band of misfits to join your crew as you take the fight to the Emperor. Obviously, being written by the same folks as KotOR there are lots of twists and turns in this tale and numerous choices to make that will lead you to one of several endings.
It’s a truly great game and while it’s tragic it never got a sequel, Bioware then went on to release Mass Effect two years later and then Dragon Age: Origins, so they have been a bit busy. There is still a chance they’ll return to the Jade Empire universe some day, the fact that they are trying to launch a brand new franchise with Anthem means it won’t any time soon.
Project Gotham Racing
Now before you say anything, yes I know that Project Gotham Racing got three sequels, but my point here is that the series has been dormant since PGR4 released in 2007. While Microsoft has been riding along the Forza highway, alternating the simulation of Motorsport & with the open world of Horizon, it has left its former prize racer gathering cobwebs at the back of the garage. Don’t get me wrong, I think Forza Horizon 3 is easily the best driving game of the generation and there are definitely things it “borrowed” from PGR, like its Kudos system. However the joy of PGR wasn’t just its great arcade handling but also its environments. Based in ridiculously detailed reproductions of some of the greatest cities in the world, the tracks were comprised of numerous routes drawn around each metropolis. The open world nature of Horizon and the race tracks of Motorsport just don’t capture the same magic as driving over London Bridge before swinging a left on my way to St Pauls Cathedral.
This was also enhanced by the equally awesome soundtrack, its radio stations playing licensed music. The series just continued to improve with each iteration as they expanded with more cities, more cars, they even added bikes in PGR4. They also added weather. Not just snow, rain and hail…but actual weather. The console would download information from The Weather Channel, so you could race in conditions that matched what was really happening in the respective cities.
The PGR games, along the Dreamcast title Metropolis Street Racer that it evolved from, were the perfect combination of the beauty of Gran Turismo and the arcade fun of Ridge Racer, then all mixed together with its own form of driving pixy dust…Oh and it had Geometry Wars!!
Since its developer Bizarre Creations is now no more (thanks Activision), I can only hope that Xbox High Commander Phil Spencer will ask someone to take off the dust sheet from this classic and take it out for a ride.