Jank exists in every game to some degree. There are some titles though, where the jank is almost elevated to an art form.
First off, a definition. Jank, to me, is a certain level of unpolished-ness that has a direct effect on the player’s ability to complete and enjoy the game. This can cover a wide range of aspects in games- from graphic glitches, your character getting stuck in geometry, and so on.
The genre that contains the most jank per capita is the open world/sandbox format. The first Saint’s Row and most of Rockstar’s catalog come to mind. That being said, I’m going to focus on a few other titles in much need of some tender love and care. These are the titles that are more often than not panned, but still contain huge redeeming qualities.
This whole article came about because I recently picked up and played through Alpha Protocol, so where better to start than with Obsidian? While I’m not a sports fan, I can’t think of a better analogy for loving Obsidian’s output than being a Chicago baseball fan. You stick by them, love your time with them, but you know they’re never going to win the World Series.
There were points in Alpha Protocol where I honestly couldn’t believe the game was as broken as it was. And still, I kept playing because the narrative was SO strong, and there were features implemented I still want to see Bioware and other companies adapt into their titles (such as the conversation wheel time limit). It reminded me of their most-recent release, Fallout: New Vegas, an equally broken title. If you’re a fan of strong storytelling, and have an appreciation for jank, Alpha Protocol is akin to Mecca.
But let’s not stop there. If jank is what you crave, you need to hunt down copies of Two Worlds, the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series, and The Witcher. The latter two can be found on Steam, and you can pick up Two Worlds on Good Old Games for pretty cheap. These titles not only formed my current obsession with jank, but Eastern-European releases as well.
I love games that have a healthy amount of jank because they build character. These games make you have an even greater appreciation for the more stream-lined titles out there, and in some small way also takes you back to your youth, when ALL games were heavy on the jank.