In the gaming world, there is a lot of talk from gamers about game studios being “overrated.” Fans and haters of different critically acclaimed studios battle it out on forums all across the internet in a never-ending flame war over which studio is overrated or why another studio isn’t.
What about the other guys, though–the game developers that bring us great titles but don’t necessarily get the appreciation or attention they deserve? There are some that bring up how underrated a developer may be, but for every one of those, there are thousands of gamers saying a developer is overrated. Well, in these “Underrated" articles, we are going to take the time to name developers that could be considered underrated and tell you why they deserve your time.
From Software (Armored Core, Dark Souls)
Japan has been the birth place of many great game studios, with big names like Square Enix, Capcom, and Team ICO being just a small sample of Japan’s wealth of talented developers. The Japanese game industry has given us many great gaming experiences throughout its history and continues to deliver them year after year. Unfortunately, due to the incredible wealth of talented studios in Japan, it is quite easy to skip over a deserving studio here and there–even if it has been there all along.
In 1986, From Software was born and has since remained a constant industry presence on the global stage. From Software released King’s Field in 1994 on the original PlayStation as a Japan exclusive. This marked the studio’s first game launch and it was the first RPG to launch on a PlayStation console. From Software continued to develop within the King’s Field franchise until 1997, when the studio decided to branch out and try new things–something From Software has continued to show it is unafraid to do ever since.
In 1997, the beginning of one of From Software’s greatest accomplishments was released to the world. It was called Armored Core–a third-person mech game set in the distant future. Unlike mecha games before it that chose to give us a more weighty mech experience, Armored Core had a new, incredibly fast-paced approach to mech warfare. Gone were the days of being forced to deal with the realism of gravity effects on your colossal, mechanized death machine. From Software proved that it was unafraid to go against the grain and deliver a risky new gaming experience to the world.
The Armored Core franchise has continued to evolve throughout the years. From Software is currently developing Armored Core: Verdict Day, the 15th entry in the Armored Core franchise, and a release date is set for September of this year. The multiplayer component is the focus of Verdict Day and From Software looks to raise the bar for mech-based online multiplayer. Verdict Day will allow players to form massive 20-person squads and fight for control of the Armored Core world, but worry not, all you lone wolves out there! You will be able to hire AI-controlled mechs to assist in your lone-wolf rampage.
From Software has created many great games, and as shown with prior ventures, is unafraid to develop in radically different genres. Which brings us to Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls, two action-RPG that were designed to torture gamers with incredibly difficult enemies and level design. Dark Souls had simple controls and complex enemies, which meant that you were almost always the underdog. Only through persistent trial and error could you proceed through its menacing world.
The narratives within Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls were very simple, which would normally be an issue for an RPG, as narrative tends to be what drives the role-playing experience, but From Software managed to successfully create games that allowed the player to create their own narrative through their actions. From Software had once again delivered new gaming experiences within an old genre and both remain two of the most difficult games to come out this console generation. Indeed, Dark Souls is From Software’s most critically acclaimed game to date, and PSU’s very own Steven Williamson gave it a well-deserved 9.5 out of 10.
From Software has proven to be an incredibly versatile studio and its games continue to evolve with every iteration. Compared to last generation, the presence of Japanese game studios on consoles has unfortunately diminished, but there is one studio that has remained as much a presence on PlayStation as it did 15 years ago. With Dark Souls II and Armored Core: Verdict Day on the horizon, we have much to look forward to from… well, From Software.
Next week, we will talk about another developer that we believe is considered underrated. If you missed out on our last installment of Underrated, check it out right here. Do you think this studio could be considered underrated? What studios do you think are underrated? Let us know in the comments section below and be sure to come back for next week’s installment!