Despite amassing a dedicated fanbase, NieR (2010) was considered a commercial failure. The game had many great ideas that set it apart from average blockbusters, but its many flaws doomed it to failure. One of 2015’s most interesting announcements was NieR: Automata, a full-fledged sequel to the cult classic. No one saw it coming even though many NieR fans hoped it would happen. Nearly two months after its global release, NieR: Automata is not only a commercial success but also a critically acclaimed title that sparked interest in its predecessors, including the Drakengard series to some extent.
Those who are fascinated by the struggles the trio of androids are faced with are now craving for an HD remaster (as well as a PC port) of 2010’s NieR. We don’t get to see this kind of reaction every day, much less because of a sequel, so it got us wondering what other games could have their names revitalized with a sequel or spiritual successor.
For instance, the DS title Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light (2009-2010) saw its legacy realized in the successful Bravely Default (dubbed as Flying Fairy in Japan to make a connection to its parent franchise). LIMBO, despite being a major success, had its formula enhanced with INSIDE. And how about Saints Row: The Third, which managed to single-handedly lift the franchise to stardom?
We’ll have a look at five video games that didn’t reach their full potential regardless of how successful (or unsuccessful) they were, but could have their names chanted to the four winds if they had a sequel or spiritual successor with the proper funding.
Developed by Access Games with Hidetaka “Swery65” Suehiro steering the wheel, Deadly Premonition is rather rough around the edges. First released in 2010 for the XBox 360 and PlayStation 3 (ported in 2013 for PC), the game draws inspiration from the iconic TV show Twin Peaks, nailing its storytelling structure and supernatural elements to a T. However, the title is not without its flaws. From outdated graphics to incredibly clunky controls and a number of technical difficulties found in the PC port, Deadly Premonition managed to earn a cult following but struggles to branch further.
The Last Remnant
Developed by Square Enix in the Unreal Engine 3, The Last Remnant first came out in 2008 for the XBox 360 and the next year for PC. Despite being a JRPG, it’s a great departure from the FINAL FANTASY formula that the company is commonly known for. The world design and history are more developed and the characters, while weak, have a certain charm to them. It doesn’t count with an epic story, but its promising large-scale battle system makes the title shine. Players control mostly a young man named Rush Sykes who’s bent on saving his sister, the delicate Irina. However, once encounters are triggered, they can manage entire squads composed of different characters. It’s an interesting mix of the premise of large-scale battles and the intricacy of JRPGs, but the final product fell short of its potential due to its many technical flaws and a flat story.
Released worldwide in 2001, Anachronox is an over-the-shoulder computer RPG inspired by classics such as Chrono Trigger. It was favorably received, especially among critics—but in an odd turn of events, it sold poorly. Set in a distant future, the cyberpunk title follows a band of unusual heroes as they explore the galaxy and unveil its mysteries. Despite some problems, especially considering how the industry has evolved in the last decade, Anachronox is a great game that was supposed to have a sequel. Alas, the task could never be accomplished due to the closure of Ion Storm, who held the rights to the IP. In 2015 Square Enix announced it would allow independent developers to develop new games based on existing Eidos IPs, including Anachronox—but so far nothing has been announced regarding a potential sequel or spiritual successor.
Two Worlds II
The first Two Worlds (2007, XBox 360, Windows PC, and Linux) was catastrophic. The game had some many problems that it’s difficult to pin down one reason for its failure. Polish studio Reality Pump didn’t give up there and released between 2010 and 2011 the cleverly titled Two Worlds II. The sequel is a far cry from its predecessor, but still nothing to rival classics such as Gothic and The Elder Scrolls franchise. Its many improvements showed the potential the franchise has given more time and money. Reality Pump announced last year on Steam that it is working on yet another sequel (cleverly titled Two Worlds III), as well as another expansion to Two Worlds II titled “Call of the Tenebrae.” One of the two will likely be their last chance to impress the public.
There’s no denying that Dragon’s Dogma (2012-2013-2016) is one of the best RPGs of its generation. The fluid story that, as usual, puts the protagonist in a prominent role is hit and miss, but the combat is so polished that it makes Skyrim cry desperately. That’s the only memorable aspect of Capcom’s action RPG, though. The world is lifeless thanks to its limited color palette and unimaginative layout, while the side quests fail to impress despite their variety. Japan and those brave enough to face the hurdles of VPN and language barrier have Dragon’s Dogma Online to count for a successor, but the rest of us hope that Capcom sees the game’s potential and starts work on a sequel to the original.
Thanks to the industry’s trends (and sometimes what the developers themselves want), we will probably never see sequels or spiritual successors to any of these games. Working on a title that only has the support of faithful fans keeping its flame alive is a huge financial risk few studios and publishers are willing to take. It is true that the fans are one of the reasons why NieR: Automata turned out to be such a big hit, but the faith Square Enix placed on the potential of its predecessor is just as important. The same can be said about Bravely Default, which was supposed to be a sequel to Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light. The DS title had only good sales to brag about while Bravely Default turned out to be a critically acclaimed standalone series.
Do you agree with our list? What games would you like to see revitalized by a sequel or spiritual successor? Let us know in the comments section below!