Top 10: Divisive Video Games

Mass Effect 3

We all know that there are games you either love or you hate and there are many examples of titles that divide the fan-base into two opposites. Nowadays that “love/hate” relationship with certain games becomes more noticeable because the video game community tends to be pretty vocal about it and social networks make sharing one’s opinion easier than ever before. I’m sure not each one of the titles below will be of everyone’s liking, but if you’re up for something different, be sure to check out some of the most divisive video games ever made.

To write the list I took into account games that are different to everything else and they may even have flaws (technical or otherwise.) As an interesting exercise I also included the two sides of the argument when it comes to certain games just to illustrate the ideas I see online when one of these games comes up in a discussion. What do you think? Did I miss any divisive games? Which one’s your favorite from the list? As usual, use the comments below to share ideas.

10. Dark Souls

Dark Souls - Taurus Demon

Why you might love it: this is one of the most unusual and gratifying experiences the medium has to offer. Like most of the games on this list, it’s certainly not for everyone, but those who manage to play Dark Souls for a handful of hours, they’ll be hooked. This is a brutal yet challenging game that will satisfy both RPG fans and newcomers alike.

Why you might hate it: Dark Souls is one of the most punishing games you could play, one that abuses the player and relishes on killing you again and again. Also, the game has a steep learning curve which means that you’ll keep learning new rules until the credits roll. Most of these rules you’ll have to teach yourself or you’ll die again and again which translates into trial-and-error, memorization and patience.

Should I play it? Absolutely

9. Grand Theft Auto IV

Grand Theft Auto IV

Why you might love it: back in the PlayStation 2 era, the Grand Theft Auto trilogy seemed perfect, so the release of a new GTA was the perfect opportunity to see what Rockstar was going to do with the franchise. GTA IV had a mature story with a more realistic tone which rubbed some people the wrong way, but it looked fantastic, it told a great story, the new characters were intriguing and the actions you performed had more weight to them. Also, the atmosphere felt alive and realistic and the combat system was more precise.

Why you might hate it: the driving part wasn’t very good, the sense of anarchism wasn’t there when you were blowing everything up, a lot of people missed the sillier tone, the satyrical sense of humor that permeated previous GTA games wasn’t as pervasive and the relationships between certain characters felt forced and contrived.

Should I play it? Anyone who enjoys open-world games or the Grand Theft Auto series should give it a chance.

8. The Legend of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

The Legend of Zelda II (He Is Error)

Why you might love it: it defied expectations by doing something completely unexpected with the 2D Zelda formula. It also introduced some new mechanics that became staples in the Legend of Zelda series. There are other titles on the franchise that can be considered divisive video games, but The Legend of Zelda II is certainly the black sheep of the family, but that doesn’t make it the terrible game that everyone in the internet usually describes.

Why you might hate it: the shift from Legend of Zelda to II was completely unnecessary and at the time, there were better side-scrolling platformers and open-world RPGs at the time of the game’s release.

Should I play it? If you’re into classics games and completely different experiences, go for it.

7. Dragon Age II

Dragon Age II

Why you might love it: like Final Fantasy XII, Dragon Age moves away from the sprawling environments to a much more linear experience. The result is single-player-driven experience that’s long (around 50 hours,) so you can get lost in this gargantuan universe for weeks.

Why you might hate it: Dragon Age’s combat was famous for all the micromanagement you had to do to be successful in battle and Dragon Age II pretty much gets rid of it completely. Also, most players found the narrative to be poor and unsatisfying, so not a lot of players stuck to see its conclusion.

Should I play it? Dragon Age II has been sitting on my (virtual) shelf for months. I’ll let you know as soon I play it.

6. Final Fantasy XIII

Final Fantasy XIII (PC)

Why you might love it: one of the best-looking video games of its generation also happens to be one of the most divisive video games of its generation. The battle system is malleable allowing you to craft a unique character. People who usually find side-quests frustrating will like the fact that Final Fantasy XIII uses a more linear path that focuses on battles, characters and atmosphere.

Why you might hate it: the game’s problems come down to a linear storyline, shallow combat and clichéd characters.

Should I play it? As a fan of the Final Fantasy series, I would have to say yes. Ultimately, it depends on your relationship with the series.

5. BioShock Infinite

BioShock Infinite 03

Why you might love it: BioShock Infinite’s city on the clouds looks stunning, the plot twists make sure that you don’t know where the story’s going, the characters are deep and relatable and the final sequence is thought-provoking and unique.

Why you might hate it: the game’s all about the narrative, so the combat’s secondary, there’s a variety of weapons and vigors, but they all feel similar, the story can be too convoluted for its own good, the gunplay isn’t that good and the rail sequences might have felt promising on the trailers, but they aren’t always as satisfying as they look.

Should I play it? I think BioShock Infinite is as good as the original BioShock if not better. So definitely.

4. Gone Home

Gone Home (PC)

Why you might love it: Gone Home offers an interactive story that’s short yet powerful. Despite its simplistic premise (exploring a house after spending some time abroad and discovering the secrets of an entire family encourages imagination,) the result is deeper that you might think. The players decide what kind of game this is, since you can play it as a horror, mystery or graphic adventure if you want.

Why you might hate it: some people think that this was a pretentious art house game that offered a simplistic, short, uneven and pompous experience that took itself too seriously. Since it doesn’t really belong to a specific genre a lot of players don’t know what to make of this game.

Should I play it? Unless you actively dislike slower-paced games, go ahead and play it.

3. Mass Effect 3

Mass Effect 3 (Custom)

Why you might love it: Mass Effect 3 is the culmination of one of the best video game trilogies and despite its problems, this is still a strong science-fiction opera that fans of the genre will certainly appreciate. It may not be as good as its predecessor, but Mass Effect 3 is still worth playing, especially if you’ve played the two games that came before it.

Why you might hate it: Mass Effect has several issues, but it all comes down to the ending (which, by the way, was changed since the game came out.) There are also rushed story moments, bugs, uneven visuals and unnecessary DLC.

Should you play it? It depends, but I think it basically comes down to your experience with the series. If you’ve played Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, you owe it to yourself to finish the story.

2. Deadly Premonition

Deadly Premonition

Why you might love it: this is certainly an acquired taste and probably the definition of a divisive video game. The story is unforgettable, the characters are charming, Twin Peaks fans are in for a treat and this is an ambitious open-world game unlike any other.

Why you might hate it: the visual aspect isn’t the best, the story is certainly not for everyone, the controls are terrible and the eccentricities of the different characters will put off some people.Also, the interface, menus, level design and maps cane be tricky to navigate.

Should I play it? I think it all comes down to your relationship with Twin Peaks. If you’re into the unconventional crime drama, then go for it.

1. Metal Gear Solid 2

Metal Gear Solid 2 Substance Screenshot (PS2)

Why you might love it: when it comes to divisive video games, it doesn’t get more divisive than this. Metal Gear Solid 2 is one of the most ridiculous games out there and one that never takes itself too seriously. It uses every means necessary to surprise the player, relying on political conspiracies, urban legends, philosophical themes and plot-driven cutscenes. Ever since Sons of Liberty came out, the game has had a tremendous impact on the medium and a lot of people even consider it an example of games as artistic expression.

Why you might hate it: Metal Gear Solid 2 can be a cheap game that takes some of the most beloved parts of the franchise and removes them, just to piss of its fans. But there are more problems to take into account: the plot is incomprehensible, the cutscenes are extremely long, the dialogue is disjointed and the list goes on and on.

Should I play it? Divisive or not, I would definitely recommend this game.

Here are other divisive video games that were taken into account for the list: Super Mario Sunshine, Too Human, Far Cry 2, Chrono Cross, Nier, Prince of Persia 2008, Resident Evil 6, Beyond: Two Souls, Destiny, Metroid Other M, Metal Gear Solid IV, Majora’s Mask, Heavy Rain and The Wind Waker. For more divisive video games check out this article on Games Radar which was also an inspiration to write my own version.