Franchises rise, franchises fall. This is the nature of video games. However, there are many fallen or dormant franchises that deserve a second chance and with the arrival of a new generation of consoles, what better time to resurrect some of these overlooked franchises.
Honourable Mention – Beyond Good & Evil
You can’t really classify one game as franchise, but after the cliffhanger conclusion of the critically acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful Beyond Good & Evil, this was always meant as a series of games that could be turned into the next big franchise. Unfortunately, the second outing of the franchise has been in limbo for years. First development was looking promising, then it was put on indefinite hold and the most recent rumour is that it’ll be the an exclusive game for Nintendo’s new NX console.
Either way, this is a franchise that deserves another shot. It’s unique blend of genres would fit well within the modern landscape of video games, and it has a talking pig who’s nothing but loveable. Hopefully, with recent rumours this may be one franchise that we will see resurrected in the not too distant future.
A somewhat overlooked launch title on the Xbox 360, Condemned was a terrifyingly visceral, horror game. Rather than equipping your hero with a full-on military arsenal, Condemned instead equipped your hero with wooden planks and crowbars to go mano a mano with the crazed denizens of its gritty underworld. It had a great cloying atmosphere, that was oppressive and really showed what the next generation of consoles could do.
Condemned was even lucky enough, to get a sequel which revamped the melee combat and added a really interesting multiplayer mode, that was different from your usual gun-ho fare. The sequel even ended on a cliffhanger, setting up the franchise for another instalment that we sadly never saw.
With the rise of modern horror games, Condemned could see a revival. However, it’s far less likely to get the triple A treatment it got before and would likely need to be picked up and backed by an indie developer to nurse it back to health.
4. Left 4 Dead
Now we’re all aware that Valve aren’t fans of making anything that has a 3 on the end of it. Half Life 2, Portal 2, Half Life 2: Episode 2, all these games are eagerly waiting a third instalment and Left 4 Dead is no different. After two games in the space of two years, Left 4 Dead was and still is one of the best co-operative games out there. Thanks to it’s AI director, every game of infected blasting is different, creating moments of emergent gameplay the linger long in the memory.
With the rise of zombie shooter and survival games, the true king of zombie slaying deserves another instalment to show the new kids on the block how it’s done. Just the thought of a modern Left 4 Dead game that fully utilises the advancements in video games that has been seen in the preceding years is tantalising enough.
3. Crash Bandicoot
During the heady days of the original PlayStation’s dominance of the video game landscape, Crash Bandicoot was practically Sony’s unofficial mascot. Now he is a but a long forgotten marsupial, who has been desperately unloved since Naughty Dog handed over the reins to a series of developers who could never quite recapture the magic of the originals.
Recently, I checked whether my joy for the originals was merely rose-tinted nostalgia, but jumping back into the first instalment, I realised how pleasingly enjoyable and addictive it was. It would definitely benefit from a reboot, one that recaptures the zaniness and sheer joy of the originals. There have been some rumblings that Sony have been planning a come back for the much loved marsupial, but they have yet to pull back the curtain. Here’s hoping those curtains are pulled back soon.
2. Legacy of Kain
In many ways the Legacy of Kain franchise was ahead of its time. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver had a large open world that was interconnected, similar to that of Dark Souls, and it had some of the best writing and voice acting in video games then and now. Therefore, it’s no coincidence that its writer Amy Hennig went on to work on the Uncharted series and is now working on a new Star Wars game with Visceral Games.
However, since the last game Amy Hennig was involved in – Legacy of Kain: Defiance – the franchise has been mostly quiet. There was the misconceived multiplayer game Nosgoth, which was set in the world of Legacy of Kain but had little other connecting tissue, but that has recently been cancelled. There was also leaked footage of a cancelled game called Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun, that looked to reboot the franchise and had some interesting ideas, but sadly (and ironically) never saw the light of day.
Yet, I believe this franchise should make a comeback, especially if it captures the spirit and intelligence of the original Soul Reaver games. Both Raziel and Kane are intriguing and complex characters who deserve to be seen in another, modernly retooled game.
1. Dead Space
For a time Dead Space was a franchise that could do no wrong. The games were terrifying, yet full of action that was tense and cinematic. The lore of the Dead Space universe was expanded on excellently in animated films, comic books and spin off titles. They even made an excellent action game for iOS that not only fit into the Dead Space mythos but was actually one of the first console quality games on the platform.
However, then Dead Space 3 came along. Whilst the game was by no means a bad game and had great moment to moment gameplay, it lost sight of the psychological horror that made the original two games thrilling yet disturbing. Fans and critics seemed to agree and since then the Dead Space franchise has gone sadly quiet.
Recently though, Dead Space has become backwards compatible on Xbox One and is one of the Games for Gold this month so a new generation can jump into one of the best action-horror titles. If you need convincing how great this game is, take a look at my playthrough below:
Hopefully, this will give the franchise a new lease of life and may convince EA and Visceral Games to make another entry in the franchise.
So what do you think? What dormant franchises do you think need resurrecting? Let me know in the comments below.