The tradition of all dead console generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. As we speak, a thousand game devs toil away in offices, working on prettier versions of The Witcher (opens in new tab), Resident Evil 4 (opens in new tab), Silent Hill 2 (opens in new tab), and, uh, Riven (opens in new tab)? They're even remaking remakes (opens in new tab) now: A fit of heedless, fall-of-Rome-style excess that we'll all surely be judged for some day.
I don't, truth be told, have much of a problem with this. Oh, sure, you can make all sorts of probably-valid criticisms of the games industry's relentless drive to resurrect itself—it lacks creativity, it uses resources that could go toward new projects, and so on—but they've never really resonated with me. I may be a prisoner of nostalgia, but my eyes light up like Catherine wheels whenever an executive stands on a stage and promises to once again sell me a thing I remember from when I was 12. No, my problem isn't that we're remaking games, it's that we're remaking good ones. Where's the sense in that?
Hear me out: Resident Evil 4 is great, Silent Hill 2 is great, and The Witcher? You'll never believe this, but it's great. I've never played Riven, but I'm going to say it's probably the greatest game of all time. Why waste time gussying up bonafide classics when history is littered with bad-to-mediocre games that had good ideas at their heart? I don't need a painstakingly sex-card-free (opens in new tab) version of The Witcher, dammit, I urgently need someone to remake Prototype (opens in new tab), for reasons I barely understand myself.
A year from now, or two, or three, I'll sit down in front of my television and once again enjoy Geralt's first videogame adventure, but this time the resolution options will tick up to 4K and combat won't be some kind of amorphous rhythm game mashup. "Yes," I will say to no one, "This certainly was a good videogame at the time and is, indeed, a good videogame now". Then, at the end, The Witcher 1's ultra-HD triumphal procession concluded, I will quietly switch off my PC and go to bed in a world with nothing particularly new in it.
But what if I were playing a remake of Deus Ex: Invisible War instead?
"Wow!" I would exclaim to a room full of dear friends as I traversed the searing HDR of Deus Ex: Invisible War – The Remake's Upper Seattle, "Freed from the design constraints of the relatively underpowered hardware of the original Xbox, the interesting philosophical and mechanical ideas of this unfairly-besmirched classic are truly being given their time to shine!"
My dear friends, who would all also be smart and beautiful, would agree, and add that the extra development time afforded by a remake had allowed the developers to really drill into what was interesting about the original Invisible War while excising the flab that had weighed its original incarnation down. Doesn't that sound better?
I'm driving at a serious point here, which is that I wish I had friends. Wait, no, I mean, my point is that there are games out there crying out for remakes, but they're none of the ones getting remade. Sure, the old classics might have rough edges that could do with sanding down, but they're nothing compared to the myriad diamonds in the rough of the past few decades that could, with a bit more time in the oven, return to us as genuinely great games. It's not just Invisible War and Prototype, it's Alpha Protocol, I Am Alive, and Deadly Premonition (although only its busted PC port, original Deadly Premonition is obviously faultless). Hell, give Mass Effect: Andromeda another bash while we're at it, although maybe some things are better off dead.
I am my own problem here, I admit. As much as I whine, I will absolutely fork over the money for the Witcher remake and all the others, too, because they'll probably be quite good—they were the first time. It's precisely my reliability on this matter that makes remakes of great games such a lucrative pursuit for games companies. Still, it'd be nice if, just once, a real screw-up got a second chance to make good. I wouldn't mind living in that world for a bit: It sounds more interesting.