The Top Ten Cult Classics of the Last Generation

Presented in alphabetical order

The new console offerings from Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft have a lot going for them, that much is apparent. Between shiny new hardware and the ability to produce amazing games with breathtaking graphics, it can be hard not to be swept up into the ‘next-gen’ fuss. We, as video game fans, are quick to adopt the newest technology and all too often brush off the systems we had loved so much in the past.

There is nothing inherently wrong with this, of course. However, the newest consoles quickly become the go to gaming devices in more and more households, it is important to not forget the games that made the previous systems we once loved so much what they were.

Scattered amidst the huge AAA titles and overlooked on store shelves, the past console generation was privy to some tremendous video games that were slept on by the vast majority of gamers. Those who pride themselves on looking past the games with the shiniest bells and whistles were quick to adopt these titles, instantly falling for their often bizarre, yet brilliant charm.

These games, the ones that will forever be talked about by those who played them with a smile on their face, are the cult classics that will never be forgotten. Presented below in alphabetical order are the ten best video games released during that last console generation that have achieved near-instant ‘cult status’. Before making the switch to your new console, do yourself a favor and give these games a playthrough; you won’t regret it.

Alan Wake:

AlanWake

Remedy Interactive’s psychological thriller, Alan Wake, went through an egregiously long development period before being released to the public. The wait, however, was well worth the while. Alan Wake’s brilliant writing brought the game’s haunting story and memorable characters to life in a way that few video games ever have, players felt a connection to the town of Bright Falls in which the game was set.

Alan Wake’s story was not its only strong point. The game boasted beautiful visuals and some of the best lighting effects of the past generation. Gameplay in Alan Wake never wavered either, the game’s thrilling action sections melded with near perfection into storytelling segments in a way that felt completely natural.

Those who are looking for an interesting story in a beautiful game need to look no further than Alan Wake.

Bayonetta:

Bayonetta

Developed by the venerable team at Platinum Games, Bayonetta is one of the last generations most enjoyable action games. Players were thrown into the stiletto heels of the titular Bayonetta, a shape shifting witch, as she wakes from a 500 year sleep.

Bayonetta’s combat is some of the fastest and most enjoyable ever found in a video game. With an emphasis on crazy combos against larger than life foes, Bayonetta’s combat proved gripping in every last encounter. In addition to great combat, Bayonetta featured some truly tremendous character and level design that made the game’s world – no matter how absurd it actually was – feel wholly believable within the context of the game.

Catherine:

Catherine

Atlus’ first offering on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 instantly stood out among all of the games released during the last generation. In an era where first person shooters and attempts at gritty realism often ruled the market, Catherine elected to tell a tale of relationships, fidelity and moral obligations, all rolled into an addictive challenging puzzle platformer.

Catherine told the tale of Vincent Brooks, a young man with no real direction in life, whose relationship with the mature and adjusted Katherine has begun to head in a serious direction he is not ready for. As Katherine begins to talk about parenthood and marriage, Vincent begins to withdraw and seek refuge in his local bar. Vincent’s life is forever changed one night, when he meets the flirty blonde, Catherine, who makes him question everything about his life.

Atlus did a tremendous job of integrating real-life drama into Catherine. The game was not afraid to challenge the player to think about every choice they had to make. As they player struggled in various moral conundrums, so too did Vincent, as his suddenly complicated life followed him even in his dreams. Each night, Vincent found himself forced to climb an evolving and dangerous tower, where one false move mean falling to his death, never to awake again.

Deadly Premonition:

DeadlyPremonition

Every single aspect of Deadly Premonition screams ‘cult classic’. From the game’s seemingly intentional dated visuals, to clunky controls and unfathomably absurd characters, Swery65′s Deadly Premonition is a wonderfully strange video game experience.

As FBI Agent Francis York Morgan, players investigate a strange murder that defies logical explanations. As York begins to investigate the murder and learns about the residents of the seemingly normal town of Greenvale, Deadly Premonition is quick to show players that nothing is normal.

Packed with undeniably brilliant writing and often hilarious exchanges, Deadly Premonition is a campy thrill ride that instantly draws similarities to Twin Peaks. While the game may not appeal to everyone, those who ‘get it’ will be quick to tell others just how amazing Deadly Premonition is.

Folklore:

Folklore

The early PlayStation 3 exclusive RPG, Folklore, blended action-RPG elements with European folk-myth characters to create an offbeat and engrossing tale of an Irish village with plenty of secrets.

Developed by the now-defunct Game Republic, Folklore spun the tale of two characters who travel to Doolin, Ireland on a quest to uncover the dark truth of the Otherworld. Folklore featured vibrant visuals and inspired character designs that made its folk inspired world come alive to the player.

In addition to Folklore’s interesting story told across two main characters, the game also featured one of – if not the – best implementations of the PlayStation 3′s sixaxis motion controls. When in combat, players could attempt to capture various Folks by abusing their weaknesses and whipping the controller upwards. While a small feature, this implementation went miles to add to Folklore’s immersion.

Nier:

Nier

The unjustly slept on action-RPG from Square Enix, Nier, deserved much more attention than it ever recieved.

Nier’s tale of a father’s unending question to save his daughter from a horrible disease called the Black Scrawl leaped off of the television and instantly resonated with the player. Nier’s drive and dedication echoed real world emotions, and when combined with the game’s full plot – that unlocked during a second (shorter) playthrough, Nier instantly became a completely experience.

Despite lackluster visuals and relatively shallow combat, Nier’s memorable characters, top-notch writing and amazing music instantly established the game as an underground favorite. Available at a bargain bin price currently, Nier is one game that you must play.

Prey:

Prey

First Person Shooters dominated the previous console generation, thanks largely to the gargantuan sales and success of the Call of Duty franchise. While many games attempted to capture the success of the military shooter, 2006′s Prey took the genre in a different direction.

Prey told the story of a Native American man who found himself abducted by an organic alien ship named The Sphere. As Tommy comes to grip with his new, dire situation, he must learn to trust in his Native heritage as his best chance for survival as he traverses through the ship.

As the game progresses, Tommy encounters mind-bending portals that allow him to explore the ship further and alien weaponry that he can use to devastate his foes. Prey’s best quality is it’s dedication to creating a FPS experience that stood out from the rest of the pack.

Shadows of the Damned:

ShadowsoftheDamned

Shadows of the Damned is the brainchild of Shinji Mikami and Suda51 that blends elements of both storied developers’ best games together. Players controlled the demon hunter, Garcia Hotspur, as he journeyed into the underworld to rescue his kidnapped girlfriend.

Gameplay in Shadows of the Damned feels markedly similar to Resident Evil 4 in terms of shooting mechanics and navigating through the game’s world, but with a decidedly Suda51 twist. Packed with more ridiculous one-liners than you could possibly imagine and plenty of over the top humor and action, Shadows of the Damned instantly jumped out to players as a journey through Hell that would not soon be forgotten.

Vanquish:

Vanquish

Another Platinum Games offering, Vanquish is one of the last generation’s most thrilling experiences. In Vanquish, players took control of Sam Gideon and his Augmented Reaction Suit as he ran, blasted, slid and dodged throughout the game’s near-future setting. While many games attempt to create a level of unbridled action, few are as successful as Vanquish in established a non-stop thrill ride.

In addition to Vanquish’s breakneck action, the game also featured unique gameplay elements that constantly kept players on their toes. In between traditional third person shooter segments, Vanquish threw players into ‘bullet hell’ sequences that best resemble hectic shoot ‘em up segments. Also of note is Vanquish’s signature slide boot mechanic that allowed players to utilize their AR Suit to quickly navigate through levels.

Xenoblade Chronicles:

XenobladeChronicles

Nintendo’s Wii console earned a place in many gamers’ entertainment centers for the games diverse selection of motion control oriented games. Xenoblade Chronicles, however, was Monolith Soft’s take on the open-world RPG genre that quickly became the definitive role playing experience on the system.

The lengthy, explorative world of Xenoblade Chronicles offered players tons of beautiful locations to traverse in between realtime battles. Xenoblade Chronicles is in many ways a perfect combination of old school RPG ideas mixed with modern advancements to the genre, all wrapped in an immersive and enjoyable package.

Of course, this list only looks at ten cult classics. What games do you think deserve to have made the list? Leave us a comment below to let us know!

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  1. Drew P.

    Totally agree with you Ray. Just played Alan Wake recently and it ruled. Was a huge fan of the first two Max Payne games and I love the storytelling, tributes/nods to other movies/books/games, and Viking themes. Sam Lake/Remedy Entertainment has a good formula going and with all the similarities between the two games, it’s like enjoying one director’s style of directing (like I am with Tarantino, Scorcese, etc.) in multiple movies/games.

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