(is there already a thread for this? if there is, i’m sorry for the duplicate thread).
anyway, this is a subject i think about a lot. one of my favorite films of all-time is Showgirls, which i think is a total classic film, but still is only just being recognized as an actually worthwhile film. it’s actually intentionally about Hollywood and hierarchies between women and US culture’s weird obsession with money filtered through a kind of performative hyper-sexuality, and not “so bad it’s good” or whatever, but maybe a lot of critics and audiences didn’t want to see it for what it was.
anyway i especially think about this when it comes to several indie games recently that seem to get lukewarm scores that i often end up liking a lot more than universally well-received games (i.e. your Edith Finches, your Celestes, etc). it’s gotten to the point where i feel like i can’t really trust even the most basic critical perception or overall popularity of a game at all for random indie stuff i happen to find and be interested in, which in a way is kind of liberating… (who knows what gold is hidden out there?) but it also makes things deeply confusing.
of course as time passes our perception of which games from previous decades hold up as something truly unique vs. which feel like relics of the time and place also changes. off the top of my head the three most well-known examples of critically misunderstood games of the past that are now considered classics are Earthbound, Deadly Premonition, and God Hand, which i’ve seen people on here and elsewhere talk about to death so i don’t really think we need to revisit those particular games (as good as they are).
the best example of a recent game i can think of that fits into this Rain World, which was received fairly mediocre reviews but contains some of the most beautiful art direction of any game i’ve ever seen. i admit to not being near finishing it, but i was pretty blown away by what i did play. and at least a few of my friends who have played it through to completion consider it to be a complete masterpiece. the critical response to it still genuinely confuses me also. i think critics want platformers to control exactly like Mario and will not accept that you can approach that space differently.
Ministry of Broadcast is a fairly unassuming-looking game that feels kind of like Prince of Persia mixed with a LucasArts adventure game, but with more gore. i played through some it of during IGF judging not expecting much because there are a billion dystopian games out there and (with the exception of Anodyne 2) it was my favorite of the 40 or 50 things i played during judging. admittedly i haven’t finished it!! but everything i did see of the game made me feel like it was something pretty special. and so i was kind of bummed to see the release came and went like so many things do these days and it got a relatively lukewarm critical reception.
there are other things i can bring up here that have been panned a lot by various people but actually seem kind of awesome to me (Die Hard for the NES, recent Clock Tower spiritual successor NightCry, a billion others) but i’m kind of curious to see what you all think. especially with games that might be lesser-known and aren’t the usual cult favorite games that we all know and love today.