Focus Home Interactive isn’t a company that brags about its success. It never outright declared itself an AAA studio, yet it could be considered one. Standing shoulder to shoulder next to the likes of Bethesda, Blizzard, and Rockstar was never their thing. But due to the quality of their games, it was also never considered an indie studio. It always sat in the gray area between the two. Games from the studio could easily be compared to big blockbuster titles, and yet the studio is not as large as some of the well-known companies out there.
We, however, enjoy what games it gave us. And with each passing year, they seem to get better at what they do. Their newest addition to the roster is a rogue-like dungeon crawler called Curse of the Dead Gods. Aside from the early alpha footage, we don’t really know much about the game at the moment. So instead of speculating about it, I thought we could look back at some of its predecessors. More specifically, we’re looking at the top 5 games that got the publisher to the place it is now. Games that are just as impressive as God of War or The Last of Us.
5. The Testament of Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes was always a popular figure in literature. So much so that he was transferred to the small screen on numerous occasions. There are countless adventure titles, yet Focus Home excelled with the Testament of Sherlock Holmes more than any other. Weaving a plot of betrayal, deception, and death, it featured all the elements that make a great Arthur Conan Doyle novel. While the publisher did do an excellent job with another adventure title, The Council, it was here that players got to put their detective skills to the use the most. It was a perfect way to show that after years of handling the license, they can do it justice.
4. Space Hulk: Deathwing
Much like Sherlock Holmes, Warhammer was redone by the publisher numerous times. And in the library that is the Warhammer 40k wiki, their game stands out as being one of the best. Space Hulk: Deathwing took an already formed tabletop game and only gave it a dark sci-fi touch. The story was quite simple, yet at its heart, the multiplayer was the real deal. Customizing your own Space Marine, and joining your brothers in a holy crusade against Xenos never felt so intimate and personal. Through the carnage, hellfire, and bullets, lay a game that many thought was impossible. A simple premise, but with tones of fun to be had, without even realizing. This is Warhammer done right.
Vampires in gaming culture are few and far between. Yes, there is Vampire the Masquerade and the Castlevania series. But, other than that, throughout the history of gaming, there weren’t that many titles revolving around them. Vampyr, however, had the pleasure of introducing many to the concept. The game that had everything. An open-world, a progression skill tree, an equally astonishing cast of characters and voice actors, multiple choices, side-missions. At times, many would consider this to be a Victorian clone of the GTA franchise, and in a way it is. All blending Victorian gothic horror with influences from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Vampyr was ambitious, and for that, it can’t be called just a clone, much like our next entry.
2. The Surge
The Surge was inspired by Dark Souls, yes. It took the fundamental gameplay from it, yes. But it put it in a different setting and gave it its own personality. For starters, it ditches the medieval fantasy trope for a more sci-fi dystopian apocalypse. Then there is the upgrade mechanic, a crucial element for understanding the game. With each limb hacked off by the player being a specific upgrade to his character, it forces you to pay attention, rather than just swing like an idiot. It rewarded with careful precision and with valuable gear. And much like the Soul series, hid its story through a variety of items, each with its own plot twists.
1. A Plague Tale: Innocence
To say that Focus Home created a masterpiece would be an understatement. A Plague Tale: Innocence is more than that. Its rich narrative and gameplay stand tall as one of the best 2019 had to offer. It’s the game that finally cemented their status as a powerhouse in the gaming community. The feeling of dread, horror, and tension throughout this experience is rarely seen in gaming. And while previous years had some cinematic spectacles in game form, last year this was the main highlight. From the moment we saw the trailer, we were taken in by its haunting atmosphere and it invoked a powerful tear-jerker in all of us by the end. We await the sequel with open arms, but until then, thank god for this brilliance.