As budgets of triple-A titles spiral out of control, mid-tier budget games have sadly somewhat fallen by the wayside; there is now a vast rift between independently-developed games and triple-A titles with little room for games that fall in between these categories. The truth is, the market has changed. Games that cannot be made on an indie-sized budget, yet don’t have the sales power of triple-A blockbusters to make a hefty profit, are sadly trapped in the middle ground, in limbo.
To say I’m a fan of of B-grade games is a huge understatement; I’m unabashedly, unapologetically a passionate defender of fun low to mid-tier budget video games, a layer of game development that has more or less been stripped away by today’s bloated AAA industry. Personally, there is something innately ingrained in my very core to give every title a chance, particularly the scrappy underdogs that don’t get the enormous marketing push of the big publishers.
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The poster child for games of this ilk is Deadly Premonition, a critically divisive, shoestring-budget, open-world survival horror opus, which is legitimately one of my favorite games of all-time. Its critical reception was so divisive that it’s been featured in the Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition for “Most Polarizing Survival Horror Game.” If you haven’t had the opportunity to experience it, I implore you to change that as soon as you reasonably can, especially if you’re a fan of survival horror.
To me, Deadly Premonition was a startling discovery, a sort of personal breakthrough; it was an astonishing reminder of just how amorphous and characterless blockbuster video games had become and opened up my eyes to just how creative and downright charming a small team with a focused vision, working under the constraints of a tight budget, can come up with. There really hasn’t been any other title that has left me grinning from ear-to-ear like a silly Cheshire Cat than Access Games’ ludicrously insane and heartwarming horror cult hit — it’s a game full of heart, which is something that is lacking in most AAA titles.