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Glare Seethe
May 15, 2004

Tenochtitlan, looking east.


Back in spring there was some talk in the Steam thread about janky but charming games and there seemed to be enough interest in a dedicated thread. Hopefully this can be a place for people to discover some odd gems.

I believe it was Gorn Myson who originally considered making the thread but it's been six months and I don't think it happened so I'm seizing the initiative. Sorry, Gorn!
---------------

What do you mean by 'jank'?
'Jank' can mean many things and the definition is ultimately kind of subjective. It could be the devs aimed too high, far beyond their budget and ability, and the game fell flat on its face. Or the localization was botched and the result is an obtuse mess. Or the animation's poor, the art a disaster, the mechanics insane. Or all of these together. Whatever it is, something just isn't quite right about it, yet, crucially, a charmingly janky game manages to endear itself to you somehow. In many cases you can see what it's going for, and you can feel the heart that went into it. You want to give it a pat on the back because dammit, it tried.

Janky but charming games will be a waste of time for many, but a subset of players might find enough in them - an interesting idea, a unique art style or just some plain dumb fun – to make the experience worthwhile.

A lot of AAA games are janky. What's the scope of this thread?
There are plenty of well-known and commercially successful games that are janky as hell. I think it'd be best for this thread to focus on lesser known titles. For example, if we ranked janky RPG developers in terms of recognizability and commercial success, Bethesda might be at the top and a company like Spiders at the bottom, with Piranha Bytes somewhere inbetween. For the purposes of this thread I think PB would represent the cutoff point. Titles like Skyrim and Mass Effect Andromeda might be delightfully janky but they're big enough to be discussed elsewhere.

That said, I'm not into making strict rules or whatever. Arguably games that are odd, inscrutable or difficult, but interesting, and are nevertheless competently made (like, say, The Void) might attract the same type of player and repel others in the way a janky garbage game would. The scope of this thread could perhaps expand to include those flawed gems as well. Maybe?

Bottom line, when in doubt, .

Any examples?
Here are a few janky games that I like just to get the ball rolling.

E.Y.E. Divine Cybermancy: One of the best-known janky games, and for good reason because it rules. Incomprehensible narrative, massive unwieldy levels, opaque character progression, batshit weapons – EYE is an excellent example of the 'genre'.

Afterfall InSanity: Like Dead Space except worse in every possible way. Yet it sticks so close to the formula it can't help but be fun despite itself, and honestly I recall the melee combat being pretty satisfying. Sadly it's been removed from Steam and the developer went out of business after Epic sued them for using a pirated version of Unreal. Many will have a copy of this already as it's been in lots of cheap bundles over the years.

Cryostasis: A slow-paced FPS that has you roaming through a crashed ice-breaker uncovering its story. There's definite jank here but it does cold effects very well and there are some good setpieces. Has a memorable ending. Also removed from Steam for some reason.

Two Worlds: Potentially one of the dumbest games ever made, but you can strap twenty swords to each other to make an uber sword. The faux-medieval dialogue and atrocious voice acting are the stuff of legends and it never stops being funny.

A Valley Without Wind: I am a big Arcen apologist. Their games always have something interesting going on even if the execution leaves something to be desired and the art is painful. AVWW is not their best, and actually some might say is their worst, which makes it perfect for this thread. I genuinely enjoyed the strategic layer of the sequel a lot. The platforming and combat are terrible, though.

Hammerfight: A weirdo indie classic with unusual and difficult controls that, when everything accidentally aligns perfectly, can actually feel amazing. When it doesn't it's a nightmare.
---------------

Anyway post about janky games, and if you've got anything to add to this admittedly spartan OP let me know.

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Glare Seethe
May 15, 2004

Tenochtitlan, looking east.


I feel I should mention that janky cult classic Precursors is available at Fanatical for $1.49 in their Pick & Mix bundle at the moment. I bought it but haven't tried it yet. There are some discouraging reports about how this version runs, and it seems like it requires at least a community patch. On the plus side, Wesp of Bloodlines patching fame posted that he intends to give this and another Deep Shadow title, Xenus 2: White Gold, some attention. Eventually.

I've had Culpa Innata on my wishlist for a while and that looks like it might either be a cult classic or a total mess. Has anyone played it?

And are any of Spiders' games actually worthwhile?

Glare Seethe
May 15, 2004

Tenochtitlan, looking east.


STALKER is great, yeah. I've always had it in the back of my mind to go back and replay at least one of them but I'm bad at replaying games. Even years later I feel like I should be tackling a new game rather than going back.


I've started playing one of the games I picked up alongside Precursors earlier today and it's a bit of a perfect fit for this thread. It's called Across the Moment and it's a first-person puzzle game that has some trouble explaining itself (but it tries), mostly because of poor English to be honest. There's a lot of abstract visuals and long-winded, philosophizing narration. I'm currently stuck on an annoying jumping puzzle but have otherwise enjoyed it so far. Feels a bit like a cross between The Void, Myst and Antichamber. I guess?

Some screens:






Glare Seethe
May 15, 2004

Tenochtitlan, looking east.


McFrugal posted:

Deios II // DEIDA is pretty drat janky.

The art for this basically immediately grabbed my attention, looks very cool. The dev needs to update pricing on the newest currencies before I can buy it, though.

Kibayasu posted:

I found Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason to be a bizarrely charming FPS despite some large shortcomings.

I agree 100% with everything in this post, it's a pretty perfect summary of Cryostasis. It's been years since I played it but it's one of those games that really leaves an impression.

hifi posted:

Precursors is badass, it's like an open world EYE but the setting reminds me more of kotor. It runs fine but you need the patches because it fixes the weapon sounds playing a second after you press the button.

I'm looking forward to trying it finally. I was waiting for it to hit Steam for years since previously it'd only been available on Beamdog I think (and then not at all). Now they just need to get Boiling Point up there for the complete Deep Shadows trilogy.


Also noticed that Inquisitor is available in a bundle on Fanatical alongside Lichdom: Battlemage (and others), which I haven't played but recent discussion in the Steam thread suggests may also belong in this thread. I might pick that up but it's not time-limited so no rush. One nice things about the older titles is that they're really common bundle fodder.

Glare Seethe
May 15, 2004

Tenochtitlan, looking east.


grate deceiver posted:

I tried to like Xenus 2, but it feels and plays like a Precursors reskin. Like, same skills, same weapon progression, same item functionality, just different names and models. Not sure which one was first, but Precursors at least has the bonus of going into space. Though on the other hand, I remember the space parts being very bad.

Does Arcanum count? It's one of the best isometric rpgs of that era. I'd maybe even put it above Fallout in some respects. But the combat was terrible and there were some really annoying mandatory parts (loving dwarf mines, god).

Arcanum counts, and still has one of my favorite soundtracks in games.

I think Precursors came after Xenus 2 so maybe it benefited from a little extra refinement mechanically (and obviously the setting is just more interesting).

Glare Seethe
May 15, 2004

Tenochtitlan, looking east.


C.M. Kruger posted:

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the Gothic/Risen series yet. They're like one of the prime examples of janky but compelling games.

I'll admit to being a little bit of a Gothic 3 apologist. The first thing I like about it is how it drops you into an enormous world and the only direction it can be bothered to give you is a quest description that says "Find Xerxes". Like fifty hours and a billion dead boars later you shuffle up to Xerxes and he's like "Oh, there you are". Dude I've been looking all over for you.

The second thing I like is that it has a desert map, which is all too rare in games, and also ties into the third thing, which is Piranha Bytes' excellence at crafting the geography of their game worlds. It's just always so fun to traverse the map in Gothic/Risen. Something about the world design in their games just works. I remember the forest region in Gothic 3 being just gorgeous, with sweeping pastures and giant waterfalls crashing into streams that flow into riverside towns. It absolutely shames its peers (like Oblivion or Two Worlds), and probably many games that have come since, though I'd have to revisit it to make sure. Just looking at random youtube videos, though, I think I stand behind that statement.

Sadly the game eventually devolves into PB's standard combat-heavy late-game misery. Every town you take over throws dozens and dozens of orcs at you at once and it's just awful. And fighting through the furnace up north was insanity. That place would just vomit piles of enemies endlessly, it was unreal. I honestly remember that battle taking literally hours.

Weirdly, if I recall correctly, it also doesn't have any female characters. At all. There might be a few female models among the rebels but I don't remember them having any lines. I think it shares that with STALKER.

Glare Seethe
May 15, 2004

Tenochtitlan, looking east.


Vakal posted:

Get Elex if you haven't already. It has all of that stuff but ten times better since you have a jetpack.

Yeah it's on my wishlist but sadly my CPU and RAM are almost eight years old and don't meet the minimum requirements. Maybe some day I will have the funds for an upgrade.

I do still need to get around to Risen 3, anyway, and that should just about run.

Glare Seethe
May 15, 2004

Tenochtitlan, looking east.


Well, so far the furthest I've been able to get with Precursors is this:





Unofficial patch doesn't help, either.

turn off the TV posted:

X3 Terran Conflict and Albion Prelude. They're amazing games that are also strapped in with some terrible path finding, performance problems, bizarre voice acting and CGI, bland plotlines and atrocious menus that will make you question your sanity.

At 347 hours played X3: Terran Conflict is my second most-played game on Steam and I love it dearly, to the point where I did the Hub plot legit, with the original resource requirements, and regret nothing. I recently launched it again out of curiosity after six years of not playing and was unbelievably lost. I had absolutely no idea how to do anything. But man just hearing the ship AI voice made me really nostalgic.

Glare Seethe
May 15, 2004

Tenochtitlan, looking east.


anilEhilated posted:

Yeah, I really tried to get into the X games but I can't even figure out how to move my loving ship half the time.

When I first started in Terran Conflict I basically forced myself to not look too far ahead and just take baby steps. Like I would ignore 95% of the game and menus and such and tell myself "My current goal is to learn how to dock my ship at a station". It was rough but bit by bit you end up learning the 'language' of the game, so to speak. There were entire mechanics in that game that I only got to after 100 hours of playtime, for instance. You just have to scale it down so as not to get overwhelmed.

Speaking of, after two hours in Precursors I felt so overwhelmed I had to take a break for a couple of days. I'm back to it now and feel more settled. I think I'm starting to find the charm here, especially now I know how to skip through the voice acting. I'm sticking to just doing side quests and romping around the desert in my buggy running over bandits and that's been fun, but it was a rough start. The gunplay so far is dreadful, hopefully once I level up some more and buy upgrades or whatnot that'll improve.

Some screens:






Glare Seethe fucked around with this message at Dec 16, 2017 around 13:04

Glare Seethe
May 15, 2004

Tenochtitlan, looking east.


I don't want to turn this into my personal Precursors screenshot dump, but have some more anyway. I feel like most of the screenshots of this game that I'd seen focused primarily on the first planet but these are from a ways further in, including one of the space sim stuff. Which is pretty lightweight in terms of actual Stuff To Do, though interesting. Larger ships have locational damage so you can target the engines to prevent them escaping or disable turrets and guns, or blow up their cargo individually, etc. There is a trading system which I haven't messed around with because there doesn't seem to be any info on prices across the various stations so I feel I'd be buying things blind. But theoretically I guess you can do some space truckin'?

The second and third planet I've landed on have been noticeably thinner on content. Nothing like the big city on the first planet with all its side quests, here it's been a lot of empty space, few NPCs and just main missions all over. Could be there's another big hub to come but I wonder if this is where the grand ambition of this game starts to weigh it down. Regardless, it's been a lot of fun and after ~12 hours I definitely feel I can recommend this game.

Also, I like games where you can stuff your inventory full of useless junk and this game has that in spades.





Glare Seethe fucked around with this message at Dec 17, 2017 around 20:41

Glare Seethe
May 15, 2004

Tenochtitlan, looking east.


Not the Messiah posted:

Every suggestion in this thread so far is great, but there's a leaning towards fairly well known cult games (which are amazing and deserve all the attention and praise, don't get me wrong). Let me lower the budget with some unknown indie trash. Allow me to introduce Easy Red

I think this got a brief mention in the Steam thread during the winter sale, but I forgot the title and lost sight of it afterwards, so it's cool to see it again! I just wish it was literally any other setting, the WW2 stuff puts me to sleep immediately. It's so cheap I might still pick it up eventually, though.

I kind of love this type of one-person devs who allow themselves the freedom to just give zero fucks and do whatever.

Glare Seethe
May 15, 2004

Tenochtitlan, looking east.


OutOfPrint posted:

For people who like the concept of Lichdom: Battlemage but hate the game itself, try Fictorum.

It is undoubtedly a janky rear end game. The graphics, animations, and a lot of the sound effects are awful. The plot is non-existent. The enemies were just recently patched to not just run straight at you. It is a bad game, but its fun enough to play that I can pop in for a level or two and have a good time with it. It was $15 on sale, which, for me, is a fair price for the entertainment I got out of it, but, as with every game listed here, YMMV.

This is now 25% off on Humble at the moment if anyone wants to grab it. Still too high for me but I'll keep an eye on it, it looks like good, dumb fun. Also Marlow Briggs is $0.99 and I'm one cent short on my Humble credit.

I think I've finally been convinced to get Dragon's Dogma (eventually) from everything posted in this thread. For whatever reason it's been one of those games I never really took an interest in but I'll probably enjoy it.

Glare Seethe
May 15, 2004

Tenochtitlan, looking east.


General Ledger posted:

I reckon Sea Dogs has a place here as an example of a piece of total jank.

I don't know if this was intended on your part or just a coincidence but I checked to see if it's on Steam and apparently it's literally being added today. Unlocks in four hours. No price yet though.

Glare Seethe
May 15, 2004

Tenochtitlan, looking east.


Going strictly by my Terran Conflict achievements it looks like it took me 347 hours to pass flight school. I guess I didn't hesitate much with the mods.

I was just browsing through some of the soundtrack and landed on this track. When it hit 0:50 while I was slowly cruising in Terran space was when that game blew me away for the first time. I really have crazy amounts of nostalgia for it, probably only short of Morrowind and Link's Awakening, and it's not even that old really.

Glare Seethe
May 15, 2004

Tenochtitlan, looking east.


Cream-of-Plenty posted:

Oh man, I thought I was one of the only people who had ever owned and played this. It's been years since I last checked it out (maybe 2010 or 2011) but I remember it being such a unique and ambitious (but decidedly janky) game. I love the fact that the developers didn't shy away from creating strange, colorful worlds and aliens, and it was really cool that its semi-open-world format allowed you to freely travel between planets.

Really makes me wonder what Precursors might have been with more manpower, money, or experience.

I had a lot of fun with it, and fortunately it picks up again on the last planet in terms of content. But yeah, it's clear the ambition and vision for the game was far beyond the budget (or competence?). There's certainly enough good and interesting in it to make it worthwhile, however, and I think it kind of perfectly encapsulates the meaning of "charming jank".

Your "strange, colorful worlds and aliens" comment reminded me of the Zeno Clash games. The second one suffers a bit from going open-world and neglecting to actually put any content in it, but it was at least really pretty. Think they belong in the same "overambitious but weird and compelling" category. Most of the jank resides in the first-person brawling, if I recall, and I think I ended up using the weapons over my fists for the most part. Good games, though. It'd be nice to revisit that world again, especially if ACE Team could either reign themselves in and deliver a tighter, smaller but deeper experience, or otherwise secure a higher budget to deliver on the full scope of their vision. Probably unlikely to happen though.

Glare Seethe
May 15, 2004

Tenochtitlan, looking east.


You are in for a good time, probably. If there's one thing Piranha Bytes nails every time it's the world design and geography.

I bought Risen 3 in the winter sale but haven't gotten to it yet.

Glare Seethe
May 15, 2004

Tenochtitlan, looking east.


James Woods Fan posted:

Janky games are my lifeblood. I am currently playing The Technomancer.

I'm definitely kind of curious about Spiders' games. There's a bundle of four of them on Steam that looks kind of tempting. I think I remember people saying Of Orcs and Men is just plain boring, though, and they improved with their later games.

Glare Seethe
May 15, 2004

Tenochtitlan, looking east.


Thanks for the rundown! Sounds like The Technomancer is a good place to start, though it's the newest so I'll have to dig around and see if my computer could handle it. If not maybe I'll aim for Mars War Logs instead. It does kind of sound like they're all worth a look in one way or another, though, which is fitting for this thread.

edit: The RPS review for Bound By Flame basically nails what this thread is about :

quote:

Bound By Flame is the kind of game that always lights a spark of hope in even the most cynical reviewer – the kind that, while visibly running on a low budget and very unlikely to seriously threaten the big guns in its chosen genre, has the potential to surprise. To excite. To come out of nowhere and stick in the mind more effectively than something more polished and heralded could do with a thousand expensive advertising campaigns.

Now, sadly this one specifically doesn’t do that, but you probably guessed that already. It is at least interesting though, partly because of itself and partly despite.

...

As juvenile as it all is, there’s a raw enthusiasm to it too. It’s trying to be a bit different, and I’d rather have that than yet another endlessly stuck up bit of high-fantasy claptrap that thinks putting elves and dwarves into a slightly different field is enough to create an original setting.

Glare Seethe fucked around with this message at Jan 19, 2018 around 08:03

Glare Seethe
May 15, 2004

Tenochtitlan, looking east.


I have an excuse to bump this thread since I just played through something called Dogolrax. It's a gleefully strange game in pretty much everything - art, narrative, gameplay - but never in an obnoxious way. To me it comes across as genuine weirdness. The actual gameplay keeps changing, sometimes it's a platformer, sometimes a shmup, sometimes a side-scrolling exploration game, but it kinda remains janky throughout - the controls are often too sensitive and the hitboxes too big, for instance, which leads to a lot of deaths (but there's instant restart, though sometimes from too far back).

Took me about two hours to go through it but there's some bonus stuff I didn't do and I got the impression there may be alternate paths throughout (there are areas where you are explicitly given the option to pick between an Easy path and a Hard one, but I actually mean aside from those).

It has that kind of carefree 'vision first' attitude that a lot of the games in this thread share.

Glare Seethe
May 15, 2004

Tenochtitlan, looking east.


Yeah, Vangers... it showed up in my Steam library a couple of years ago since I owned some of the publisher's other games. I tried, I really did. But the combination of the tank movement and topography kept landing me upside down in a ditch over and over again. If there was quicksave I think I'd have soldiered on but without it I gave up after an hour. Definitely felt kind of bad about ditching a cult classic. The gameplay seemed reminiscent of Escape Velocity, i.e. top-down, ferrying goods around and gradually working through a narrative. Maybe I'll try again sometime, in general I was into the weirdness.

I do remember the default controls to be kind of bonkers. Like something was assigned to 'F23'. Should've taken a screenshot when I still had it installed.

Glare Seethe
May 15, 2004

Tenochtitlan, looking east.


OutOfPrint posted:

I'm pretty sure they go for $2.49, $4.99, and $9.99 on sale, respectively, for play times of around 30, 20, and 40 hours for Risen's 1, 2, and 3.

They're actually super cheap at Fanatical at the moment for anyone who needs some good jank right this instant.

edit: Or just the first and third. They don't seem to sell the second one separately from the not-discounted franchise pack for some reason.

Glare Seethe fucked around with this message at Feb 14, 2018 around 18:14

Glare Seethe
May 15, 2004

Tenochtitlan, looking east.


Sekenr posted:

I actually managed to reach the second world, to discover that the inhabitants are much less chill than the slovenly worms. I got immediately demoted to slave for not having a "slave box" on me, they taken my car and put me into this tiny flea that has no weapons, a cargo hold barely big enough to hold the drat slave box but jumps very very high. There are means to avoid it but being their slave is kind of fun for awhile. Ironically the flea car is pretty good for this world's geography however to really progress you need a bigger car and they can't jump as high. This is where I had to quit. There are pretty decent highways but of course drat vangers blow them up all the time and if you fall into water its 10-20 minutes getting out of there.

The AI, I must say is pretty good. Reputation system determines how they react to you. There are some missions where you have to carry a boss (non vanger) creature in your car for "inspection" and other vangers will dare not touch you and scramble to GTFO of your way.

This post makes me want to try it again. But it exemplifies a common characteristic among the games in this thread in that reading about them makes them sound weird and interesting and kind of amazing, but when you actually go to play them many require so much effort and/or patience to get to the fun that it's easy to just give up. I have a feeling that once you settle in with Vangers it probably is worth your time, but who knows how long it takes to get to that point.

edit: I suppose the flipside to that is that the more effort you have to make, the more special it is once you do actually get to the fun. That difficulty and inscrutability can make a game more memorable.

Glare Seethe fucked around with this message at Feb 15, 2018 around 13:41

Glare Seethe
May 15, 2004

Tenochtitlan, looking east.


I'm 25 hours into Risen 3 and I have to say I'm finding it not much janky at all. Maybe I'm just used to the Piranha Bytes formula so much that I just gloss over it all. It is very much a PB game through and through though - the gruff lead, the almost complete lack of female characters, getting endlessly stunned/knocked down for the first ten hours, the relative paucity of gear/loot, and of course, the gorgeous and superb world design. It's just such a treat to wander around these islands. I pick up every drat clam I come across.

Having a lot of fun with it. It seems bigger than the first two as well as I haven't even started chapter 2 yet. I'm deliberately postponing my decision on which faction to join although it'll probably end up being the Mages else I've been hoarding all these crystals for nothing.

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Glare Seethe
May 15, 2004

Tenochtitlan, looking east.


Joined the mages and am now gradually depleting my quest log. At 41 hours played I think I'm not too far from wrapping this up - just the Forbidden Valley on Kila left as the last big area I haven't been to. One thing that annoys me about the game is the interruptions by sea monster battles when I just want to turn in some quests on another island. Likewise for the underworld segments when I want to sleep til daylight. Just gently caress off already. I think I'm done with the former, at least - I've done three now and the dialogue seemed to indicate that was that. Feels like they took that ship combat from Assassin's Creed really, much like how the Astral Vision is basically the Eagle/Witcher/Batman thing.

edit: One of the design decisions I really like about PB's games is that they let you do quests even if you haven't picked them up the intended way. You immediately get the experience and can turn them in with a dialogue option like "I already did that" or something like that. It bugs me when a game only spawns in an item / enemy if you've picked up the relevant quest, rather than having it just exist in the world.

Glare Seethe fucked around with this message at Mar 24, 2018 around 15:30

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