Games don't have to be prestigious award-winners to justify your time and money

Nier Replicant
(Image credit: Square Enix)

Like most people, I'm a sucker for an expensively-produced blockbuster. I loved being angry at everything for my lack of hair in God Of War, while the mind-blowingly rich world of Red Dead Redemption 2 completely blew me away. Even The Last Of Us Part 2 was… yeah, not bad, I suppose. Quite good. I liked it, but it doesn't make my top ten PlayStation games. 

Perhaps you consider it a masterpiece, and that's okay. Different people like different things.

There's no such thing as a game that's loved by every single person who plays it, and besides, you don't have to absolutely love a game in order to enjoy it. If you sit down and think about it (I won't be offended if you don't, I know you're busy), you'll realise that for every game that amazed you, there will be at least ten that you liked – just a lot less. And I bet there are a few in that list of ten that other people actively hate. Especially if they're a little rough around the edges. 


(Image credit: Focus Home Interactive)

If you refuse to look twice at a game that scores lower than 8/10, you're missing out on a lot of good stuff. Even when you dive down to the murky depths of the sixes, there are good times to be had. Remember, anything that scores higher than five out of ten is, by definition, above average. PlayStation Magazine scored Ghost Recon: Wildlands a 5/10, yet some of the staff adore it.

I'm here to stand up for the lower-budget games that might not look great, that might have some pretty obvious flaws, yet still have plenty of fun to be squeezed out of them. Where others see trash, I see potential. I'm waiting to hear back from 23andMe to see if I'm part Womble.

Take Vampyr, Dontnod's 2018 RPG, and the most solidly 7/10 game I've ever played. The combat is absolutely terrible, while it apparently considers lip synching to be something that happens to other games – yet I adore the thing. The story and atmosphere are good enough for me to take the bumpy ride all the way to the end and, you know, you get to be a vampire

Past imperfect

Aliens: Colonial Marines

(Image credit: Gearbox)

"If you refuse to look twice at a game that scores lower than 8/10, you're missing out on a lot of good stuff."

PS3's library was crammed full of lovably imperfect games. Mercenaries 2 was ugly and unfocused, but provided a great sandbox for playing around with vehicles and blowing stuff up. Stranglehold was a little clunky and often frustrating, but it was brilliant at making you feel cool while starring in your own John Woo movie. 

Resident Evil 6 is abysmal in parts, but still has moments of greatness. Even the notoriously bad Aliens: Colonial Marines has some fun that you can drag out of it, provided you like Aliens enough (and don't all of us like Aliens?).

It's disappointing when a game has outdated character models, or bafflingly stupid AI, or scenery that grabs you back, or largely empty environments, or a shoddy framerate. But as the saying I just made up goes, 'Be not a haughty peacock, but a noble raccoon'. If you're having no fun with a game, stop playing; it doesn't sound any good to me.

But, on the flipside, don't dismiss a game outright just because it doesn't look super-shiny and covered in perfect tens. Show the runts of the litter some love, and sometimes the little critters will love you back.

For more, check out all the biggest new games of 2021 to keep an eye on, or watch our latest preview of Resident Evil 8 below.

Luke Kemp

Luke contributes regularly to PLAY magazine and has also written for PC Gamer, SFX, The Guardian, and Eurogamer. His crowning achievement? Writing many, many words for the last 18 issues of GamesMaster, something he’ll eagerly tell anybody who’ll listen (and anybody who won’t). While happy to try his hand at anything, he’s particularly fond of FPS games, strong narratives, and anything with a good sense of humour. He is also in a competition with his eldest child to see who can be the most enthusiastic fan of the Life Is Strange series.