Opinion: We should be asking for Reboots over Remakes
With the increasingly common array of remakes and remasters on the market and in development, we'd like to see a change in direction.
The last few years have seen a serious increase in the amount of remakes that are released/in development at game studios around the globe. Before this, remasters were all the rage, but today's industry is all about taking an older product and rebuilding it from the ground up to suit modern technology and standards. When this trend began, it was quite an interesting change of pace, as it gave fans a way to relive iconic former experiences as though they are brand new instalments, but jump to 2023 and remakes seem to be absolutely everywhere and popping up in all kinds of weird and unexpected franchises.
The next on the cards is Dead Space Remake, an admittedly (from what I've seen at preview events) impressive improvement to an already fantastic survival horror title. Between the improved graphics and visuals, to terrifying audio profiles, and a new Ishimura ship layout that is seamless and no longer split between individual levels, there's a lot of reasons to be excited. But this doesn't change the fact that I'm still not quite sold on the whole idea of remakes - and by extension, remasters.
I understand the reason for remakes these days. Unlike movies and series where content tends to transcend time and remain accessible for years, even decades, after its original release, games are usually limited by their hardware, which generally for older platforms becomes harder to get your hands on as the years roll on. And this often means that some of the games that we celebrate for their brilliance are inaccessible or challenging to play in today's climate. Hence the spree of remasters and remakes that brought older games to modern systems. Yet this doesn't stop me from feeling a little less excited when I see a remake announcement pop up.
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And this is down to the fact that games often don't wait as long before they're remade. A movie could be decades (unless you're Disney), and often when a movie is being remade, it's a slightly different adaptation of the source material, giving it enough of a unique spin that it stands on its own and still allows the original to shine. Take the countless versions of A Star Is Born as an example of that. Games on the other hand tend to be as close to the original product as they can be, in order to serve up the finest degree of authenticity. However, there are remakes in the gaming space that arrive in such a short period of time that you still have a very clear image of the original in your mind, so much so that you begin to question why a remake is even necessary. The Last of Us: Part I is a prime example of this.
Now it does feel like there are a plethora of reasons as to why Naughty Dog decided to revisit their iconic action-adventure game and give it a new, very glossy, coat of paint, with that being down to having a better engine at their disposal, to the PC edition debuting soon, and even the HBO show being on its way. However, none of those are reasons to resell a game you can pick up for a fifth of its current remake price. Especially since the game is still in effect the same thing fans have experienced multiple times before at release and then at the remaster's launch.
I will give Naughty Dog credit for providing a game that looks and feels truly modern in all places however, which is something that isn't always the case for remakes elsewhere in the industry. Take the Destroy All Humans remakes as an example. The original titles can be hard to get your mitts on these days, so the idea of a remake was a welcome one, but what we got was a game from the 2000's that had simply had a graphic and performance overhaul and very little else. The mission formula and small open world levels felt very dated and mundane, and it all made for an experience that made me wish the developers wouldn't remake a title but reboot a franchise instead.
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And this brings me onto the point of this rant. I think it's time that developers start taking a few risks with their older IPs. Let's let these older games exist in history as iconic and brilliant memories, and then let's reimagine the intellectual property as something new, giving fans a new way to re-experience the concepts that made me and no doubt countless others fall in love with gaming when we were younger. The Destroy All Humans series would've been a prime contender for this very idea, and why not Dead Space as well? Don't get me wrong, certain titles wouldn't fit this bill, at least not for a few more years, with The Last of Us being in that very category due to its ongoing and currently expanding story, but for these older franchises that have largely been dead or dormant, a reboot seems like a far more exciting concept over a predictable remake.
One of my favourite game series from the 2010s was Crystal Dynamics' Tomb Raider titles, because we got to go on a collection of action-packed and thrilling adventures with the famous and household icon Lara Croft, except this wasn't an adventure we had been on before, no rather this was something fresh and fun, and for me this is a great example of what reboots can be when handled with care and pride. So why not lean into this? Let's stop as a gaming community being so instantly judgemental when a title isn't adapted in the exact same way as what we already remember and let's start encouraging fresh experiences with the franchises we all know and love. It might surprise you.