Welcome back to the PC Gamer Q&A. Every Saturday, we ask our panel of PC Gamer writers a question about PC gaming. This week: which game do you regret spending money on? We'd also love to hear your suggestions in the comments.
Tim Clark: Elder Scrolls: Legends
Unless you're willing to grind like a seaside donkey, CCGs are expensive to stay up to speed with. I generally don't regret spending money on cards, but I do regret quite how much I spent on The Elder Scrolls: Legends. Somewhere along the line I decided I wanted an all-premium (i.e. golden) midrange Sorcerer deck, which meant crafting three copies of each super expensive legendary card, including my favourite: Supereme Atromancer. (I love her partly because she's OP, but also because she looks like British celebrity chef Gizzi Erskine.) I'd almost finished the deck when developer Direwolf Digital swung the nerfbat at fiery queen, and honestly was so annoyed I've hardly played since.
Samuel Roberts: Harry Potter & The Philosopher's Stone
My one and only lesson about crap tie-ins. Well, this wasn't crap, as such—but I did buy it at full price, so dazzled was I by the idea of Harry Potter being translated into a game for the first time. But this was a tie-in from early '00s EA, which should've rang alarm bells. I had already been reading PC Gamer for three years, and should've known better.
The Philosopher's Stone isn't too bad—it's just a middling puzzle/platformer that felt like it was aimed at a slightly younger age than I was at the time (13). It translated the Harry Potter universe into a boring, magic boarding school for super posh children who I would've thrown pencils at when I was in year 7 (hang on, that's basically what the books are, isn't it?). I paid full price for this, and quickly regretted that decision. Luckily, my dad sold it for a reasonable sum of money back when that was a thing you could do with your PC games, and we used the cash to buy Medal of Honor: Allied Assault instead.
I later learned that Fort Frolic mastermind and BioShock 2 director Jordan Thomas worked on this game. I'm sure there's at least one person out there somewhere who prefers collecting a million Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans instead of helping Sander Cohen complete his masterpiece.
As for Harry Potter, those films and books never got a great tie-in, which is a shame. I bet Lionhead circa Fable 2 would've done a smashing job in making something fun out of that universe. As a deep cut, though, I quite enjoyed the Game Boy Color Harry Potter games, which were like very basic JRPGs with nice pixel art.
Andy Kelly: The Silver Case
A weird visual novel written and directed by Goichi Suda sounded like precisely my kind of thing. So when this 1999 cult classic was re-released on Steam last year I immediately bought it. But far from the cool, stylish weirdness of Killer7, I found an impenetrable, miserable point-and-click game that was 90% scrolling through text. And not even very good text at that. Part of me thinks it might have gotten better later, but I'll never know, because I refunded it. Oh well.
Wes Fenlon: Dead Space 3
I feel a little guilty speaking ill of Visceral given the studio's recent closure, but Dead Space 3 was a maddeningly bad videogame. I was angry almost the whole time I was playing it, because Dead Space and especially Dead Space 2 were so good. They got the action right; they got the tone right; they kept their sci-fi stories and characters lean enough to be interesting. Dead Space 3's shooting was still excellent, but it made a mess of everything else.
The characters are all constantly angry and constantly idiots, which I guess is a fair thing to be angry about. Every encounter with the main human antagonist is so contrived it has to be on a Hollywood action script template, somewhere. The tone was just a mess. I even bought the DLC, which I believe cost $15 for about two hours of added story, because—and this honestly seemed like a selling point in this stupid-ass game—I heard the final boss was a moon. Somehow, even that was a letdown, probably because Dead Space 3 took itself entirely too seriously. What a waste of a great series, and a perfectly useful moon.
Jody Macgregor: Starship Titanic
Douglas Adams was my favorite author so a game with his name on it was an automatic purchase. Starship Titanic had his name above the title in big letters: he served as a writer and designer and the concept—a spaceship crashes into your house then takes off with you in it, and you spend most of your time on this amazing voyage trying to arrange an upgrade from economy class—is pure Adams. But it's also an adventure game from 1998 so the puzzles are bullshit.
The biggest problem is how bad it is at letting you know what's possible. At one point you have to distract a parrot with a roast chicken. Clicking on the chicken in your inventory then dragging it onto the parrot does nothing. You're supposed to waft it nearby, an action you've never been shown is possible and with no clues leading you to suspect it. The ship has a staff of comically unhelpful robots, who can be talked to by typing directly into a text box then waiting to see which words they're programmed to recognize, and later one of them will help you solve a puzzle if you ask it to. But again, you have no reason to suspect that's an option. At the end of the game you fly the ship via a process so complex you'll just be reading straight off the walkthrough. I have more complaints, like how slow the elevators were at taking you through this gigantic art deco hotel in space (looking back, it's visually the same basic concept as Prey), but the point is I paid 90 Australian dollarydoos and regretted it. Starship Titanic is the reason I started reading reviews before buying games.
Andy Chalk: Will Rock
The only thing I knew about Will Rock was that it had a funny title and looked a lot like Serious Sam, which I absolutely adored. Based on that alone, I bought it the moment I saw it sitting on a shelf. And it was garbage—not even super-bad, really, which at least would have made it memorable. It was just a lazy, half-assed ripoff that tried to parrot Serious Sam and failed, utterly and in every conceivable way. I probably didn't spend even an hour with it before I gave up in disgust.
Looking back on it now, though, I'm not angry, just... disappointed. Such a great name, such a faceplant of a game. I mean, just look at this mess.
Jarred Walton: Trespasser
Trespasser. Yeah, the old Jurassic Park game that became the laughing stock of the industry. I bought it back at launch. The pre-release hype and acclaim were strong, and it was supposed to be this amazing Jurassic Park experience, continuing from where The Lost World left off. Steven Spielberg himself was involved, which only serves as proof that game design and film have little in common. I guess I was just excited about dinosaurs and ragdoll physics.
For a moment after first launching the game, I actually thought it was going to be so cool. Then the user interface gets in the way, everything bogs down, and it all becomes a horrible mess. Your primary connection with the player character Anne is through her arm, her chest (a tattoo on her breast is used to indicate health), and her super irritating running dialog. "Four shots left. Three... Two, empty." Yes, empty like the game itself.
This was the No Man's Sky of 1998, a game many people were eager to play, that ended up being hailed as the worst game released that year. It had high aspirations, and there were some cool technical achievements, but they were all overshadowed by bugs and interface problems. Never again would I preorder a game. Well, except for backing some Kickstarters like Wasteland 2 and Pillars of Eternity, but those turned out good.
Chris Livingston: Broken Age
There have been many over the years, but I'll put the bullseye on Broken Age. I backed it on Kickstarter back in 2012, and then spent 3 years deleting backer emails that seemed to appear daily in my inbox. Look, maybe all this one-way communication makes people feel like they're "part of the development process" but just send me one email, when it's out. I trust you're making progress: you crowdfunded like $3 million and change. If I wanted this much mail I'd delete my Linkedin filter.
Then it came out, sort of. I played the first half of the game in 2014. And... I don't know. It was fine? It was okay. I think I was just sort of bored. I didn't really take to it. When the second half came out over a year later I just couldn't summon the interest to even download it. I don't think I even ever checked around to see if people liked it. Did people like it? Email me if you liked it. But only one person email me, or I'll just delete the rest.
But which games do you regret spending money on? Let us know below.