I canít be the only one who feels a twinge of guilt every time they open Steam. Playing a game on my laptop means having to search through a sea of grey for a handful of bright spots. I realize thatís true of a lot of things in life, but I donít need to be reminded of the banality of my existence whenever I want to sink a few hours into Binding of Isaac.
I feel a perpetual sense of buyerís remorse, the equivalent of waking up the night after a drunken Amazon shopping binge and having to ask myself, ďWhen the hell did I buy Lugaru HD?Ē Because after years of Steam Sales and Weekend Specials and Crazy Uncle Gabeís Low, Low Prices, I have amassed a library of videogames that I will never, ever play.
Plenty has already been said about how Steam deviously encourages a compulsion to collect games, which results in a backlog that does nothing but gather dust in the nebulous ether of digital distribution. But while some people may look to their bloated library with pride, I canít suppress that aforementioned guilt whenever I have to scroll past the likes of Company of Heroes, Dragon Age: Origins, and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. People poured their blood and sweat into those games. Untold hours of entertainment lay within those games. I spent money on those games!
So to honor the titles Iíll never touch, Iíve decided to spotlight ten indefinitely uninstalled games in my Steam library. Perhaps in the hopes that acknowledging their existence will relieve me of their haunting presence, or that the infinitely knowledgeable Destructoid commentariat will tell me what Iím missing out on and convince me to give one of these suckers a whirl. Whatever the reason, hereís my therapeutic look at the top ten games in my Steam library that will never feel my sweet embrace.
10. Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3
Tim Curry and tactically deployed armored bears are the peanut butter and chocolate of my fantasies. Combine that with fond memories of my basement-dwelling childhood spent devising military masterstrokes in the original Command and Conquer Ė I attacked bases from two sides! Ė and the third Red Alert entry in the classically campy RTS series becomes an irresistible siren song.
But I forgot one crucial fact: I am a Bay of Pigs disaster when it comes to real time strategy games. My chief plan of attack consists of spending hours churning out the equivalent of Russiaís populace in ground units and then sending my forces to overwhelm the opposition by dying meaningless deaths. As a result, countless ore mines go undepleted and I have to sate my Tim Curry lust with YouTube clips of Clue.
The dark period of videogame history during which studios tried to turn first person parkour into a legitimate mechanic will be regarded with the same bemused scorn currently reserved for the NHLís glowing puck and Hollywoodís miserable attempt to turn Colin Farrell into an action star. Misguided street acrobat gimmicks aside, Brink is at least buoyed by a lively junkyard metropolis and an absurd amount of customization for characters with 30-second life spans.
But all of that is moot, because after dropping a measly few bucks on Brink I discovered the game lacks controller support. ďBut FPSís are meant to be played with a mouse and keyboard!Ē rises the indignant cry of the noble PC gamer. And yes, they probably are, but when youíve spent your entire life nursing from the teat of console shooters, trying to switch control schemes is like trying to learn how to drive stick. Telepathically. In a car full of angry bees.
Itís just a shame that Rage had to be so late to the post-apocalyptic party. Releasing after Fallout 3 and Borderlands means I have very little space in my heart for any more arid ruins of civilization. And youíre telling me that the most innovative contribution to first-person shooters that the creators of the genre can muster is a godforsaken boomerang? When they give this generation its Mecha Hitler, weíll see if Iím willing to play through the hundredth game that thinks the world ends not with a bang, but with dune buggies.
I have no idea what Rochard is. A puzzle platformer? A run and gun in the Metal Slug vein? A silent foreign film about an impoverished Italian winemaker who must struggle to overcome the loss of his hands? My impression of the game is based entirely on its mystifyingly elegant title and its promotional artwork, which I always think is for Dustforce because of the protagonistís unmistakable custodian vibe.
Incidentally, Dustforce is the only reason I own Rochard, as the two were lumped together in the underwhelming Humble Indie Bundle 6. Thatís the indie grab bag that gave my library such other never-installed classics as Vessel, Space Pirates and Zombies, and Shatter. While those titles may one day engender enough interest for a playthrough, Rochard is the unquestionable complimentary flavor injector of the group, a curiosity to be marveled over but immediately buried in a drawer and forgotten about forever.
6. Lead and Gold: Gangs of the Wild West
My interest in team-based shooters is one of pure vanity. ďLook at those Halo and Call of Duty troglodytes with their kindergartener free-for-all antics,Ē I scoff over my cup of chamomile tea and dog-eared copy of Zarathustra. ďThanks, but I prefer a thinking manís FPS.Ē
Except in practice, the very notion of being relied upon to do anything more than spastically spray bullets sends me into a crippling panic. Even if Lead and Gold appeals to my natural love of anything Western and features a class that deals heavily in bear traps, it isnít enough to get me over the fear that I might have to interact with people in a capacity more cooperative than calling them a homophobic slur.
A 2D beat Ďem up with a Saturday-morning-cartoon-by-way-of-Robert-Rodriguez aesthetic is the kind of stylized reimagining of a classic genre that gets my indie-loving heart throbbing. Yet as happy as Iíd be to play a game whose very name conjures the delightful image of a shiv being buried in the kidney of an unsuspecting snitch, Iím hesitant to give Shank a try.
Brawlers have a reputation for getting boring after youíve taken a lead pipe to the head of your 50th generic baddie, which usually happens around the fifteen-minute mark. As awesome as choking an oversized butcher with his own meat hook sounds, I fear Shank may match a masterpiece like Castle Crashers in terms of sheer personality, but not in depth. Iíd rather not deal with all that blood-spattered disappointment.
4. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. gets a pass from my Armageddon exhaustion because it released right before the recent deluge of end-of-the-world games. It also gets points for going with a The Road-style collapse of humanity, which Iíve always found much more believable than any kind of Mad Max badlands imitation. Piece of advice: if youíre bracing for doomsday invest in windbreakers, not dog skull codpieces.
What Iím less eager about is the equally realistic approach to gameplay. Guns that jam, a hunger system, the inability to withstand more than a few bullets? Hey, I get it. Being shot would be a total bummer. I donít need a videogame that pits players against whatever the hell this meaty ray of sunshine is to try and teach me real world lessons. Iím all up for a challenge, but the reason we donít have to constantly feed the characters we play is the same reason they never show people going to the bathroom in movies.
Amnesia showed major developers that they had learned all the wrong lessons from Resident Evil 4. The plucky Lovecraftian indie reminded us all that survivor horror games aren't about jump scares or quick time events, but rather the unshakable dread that a creature of unfathomable terror is always seconds away from wearing your skin as a lovely Sunday.
Though while Iíll admit that all those reaction videos of people emotionally breaking down more than I did at the end of Silver Linings Playbook sell me on Amnesiaís horror chops, Iíve always thought the game looked like a glorified simulator of that scene in every slasher flick where our teenage hero believes theyíll escape harm by knocking a bunch of furniture over in the path of 200 lbs of lumbering chainsaw-wielding hillbilly cannibal. That, and I kind of spoiled myself by looking up a screenshot of the gameís chief monster. Things are a lot less scary when you realize you spend the entire time being stalked by Oogie Boogie.
2. Greed Corp
I wish I was the kind of person who could play Settlers of Catan without quitting halfway through having the rules explained to me. Unfortunately, any board game that doesnít strictly adhere to dice-based tile movement or involve an overly complicated Rube Goldberg contraption designed to catch mice is out of my league. Greed Corp may have caught my interest by offering a challenging strategy game doubling as a critique on unchecked capitalism, but Iíll never make it past the gameís tutorial.
Besides, Iíve always found something depressing about playing titles specifically designed for multiplayer by myself. And when the alternative is actually being friends with the kind of person who knows how to play Greed Corp, Iím not sure I want that either.
1. Recettear: An Item Shopís Tale
There was a very dark period of my life where I played Lemonade Tycoon every day for two weeks straight. I once stayed up until 5AM during a marathon session of Game Dev Story. Do you remember RollerCoaster Tycoon? Because I remember. I remember watching loan collectors circle like buzzards as I tried to keep Dr. Moosingtonís Funporium Park afloat by courting the fickle needs of a never-ending parade of greedy little monsters.
The business simulator is my heroin, a genre that preys upon my self-destructive compulsion toward turning arbitrary numbers into better numbers. For this reason, a discounted Recettear was at once impossible to pass up and impossible to play. Cutesy item shop economics and a heaping helping of RPG elements are the ingredients for a sim speedball, and the moment I start this game is the moment I disappear down the rabbit hole forever.
Okay you beautiful, opinionated angels: tell me which of the games currently languishing in Steam purgatory deserves a better shake. Or perhaps you have your own shameful list of uninstalled titles youíll never play? Share Ďem in the comments, and letís all try to calculate how much money could have been better spent on charity.