So here’s some games I consider to be either underrated and/or largely overlooked. All good games in their own regard, which however doesn’t mean that the majority of them can be considered to be overwhelmingly above standards. As far as quality goes, many are 7’s, with having great ideas and potential but barely not delivering to their full extent. Regardless, all are still worthwhile experiences.
Alice: Madness Returns
This is one of those games that is completely built up on atmosphere. If you’re not into the freaky goth vibe that the game has going, you might want to give it a pass. If however, you like responsive controls & tight melee combat, then it’s still a smart choice. A surprisingly long game filled with authentic Victorian-era British dialect and a schizophrenic narrative, which does start to seem wane in the latter part and the finale feels a bit rushed. A good title to zone out to.
Enslaved: Journey to the West
A story-driven game – these types of linear titles have become quite rare. Its got a pretty simplistic combat system but it allows for chaining in multiple different attacks for cool combos to create a very seamless and cinematic battle, each time you face off your robotic foes. The plot is slow to get going but once it does, it will keep you on the edge of your seat and you’ll be lost in its beautiful post-apocalyptic world for hours.
Yet another game that suffers from a wonky ending and a misunderstood combat system, which is actually quite superb once you get the hang of it. I’d even go as far as to say in some regard it tops even that of the Arkham series, where most of its fighting mechanics obviously originate from. Another game set in Paris, this time in a near-future setting, that is absolutely gorgeous.
Splinter Cell: Conviction
The first Splinter Cell that really changed the formula, Conviction is a game where you can blandly cover-shoot your way out of most any situation OR really take the time to play around with your gadgets and more importantly, the environment. It’s good to finally play a stealth game where the gloves are off and the aim is not to sneak past your enemies undetected but to stalk them like your pray as a vicious predator! Also, fantastic story-driven online co-op that has a very interesting twist at the end.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
This Action-RPG fantasy title had an all-star cast of writers and baseball players, plus a huge budget but regardless, the company went bankrupt soon after the release. Hard to say what was lacking but it sure wasn’t the quality. This is a content-packed game that you’ll be coming back to time and time again. A polished title that truly never got the sales it so desperately deserved!
Phantasy Star Universe
So this might be a bit far-fetched in regards to being underrated. First, the voice-acting is horrible, the graphics were sub-par even back when it was released and is repetitive as hell, with a story that feels like it’s written by a grade-schooler. Still, there’s an inexplicable charm to it. Once you’ve spent a couple of hours in the game, it’s easy to lose track of time and find yourself enjoying the grinding. Think cheesy anime Mass Effect, which is pumped up on hormone pills. It used to also have an online portion, which has since been closed.
Condemned: Criminal Origins
This game was released at a time when shooters where trying to reinvent their formula. With the likes of Half-Life 2 & F.E.A.R. which both enjoyed great success, this one might have been the most unique of the bunch but definitely didn’t get the love it should have. It was before first-person survival horror was a thing, so consider it a game ahead of its time.
Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut
Case in point: if you like Twin Peaks, you’re going to love this Japanese take on it. The gameplay is horrible and it’s a buggy mess, no matter which platform you pick. Though I recommend the PC, because at least it has a fan-made fix. The graphics also range from PSone era to ‘pretty good’… for 2006 standards. The game might look a bit intimidating at first but it is actually surprisingly accessible.
Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon
Again, a somewhat broken and silly game from Japan, that is usually considered to be in the “it’s so bad it’s good” category. The constant mayhem is hilarious but at the same time the gameplay is quite challenging. One of the more polished ones in the series and a superb co-op game on its own. There are multiple character classes to pick from and upgradable weapons.
This is one of the very few truly awesome games made under the Marvel license. It’s funny as hell and overall a blast to play! The biggest issue I would say is that it is on the short side, with an abrupt ending. Not that length matters but it really feels like the ending came abruptly and lacking any real closer. Then again, if you known Deadpool, then you won’t care for a classical style of narrative delivery. Visually it looks good overall and with a robust weapon system. The game also gets away with a lot of crude humor.
Warhammer 40K: Space Marine
This Warhammer game came completely out of nowhere and it’s baffling how little recognition it got. A truly solid game but not a perfect one mind you, feeling somewhat repetitive and one-sided at times but the melee combat is extremely satisfying – and the voice acting is not that bad either. It can be considered a good addition to the lore of the 40K franchise.
This game wasn’t particularly overlooked but I consider it to be strongly underrated. What you got is a Zeldaesque narrative-driven action-adventure, with combat resembling that of the God of War franchise. Nice Warcraft-style visuals with a mature story-line that is actually exciting, if you’re not turned off by the apocalyptic angels vs demons troupe, that is. Also, has a great sequel that recently got a definitive edition released.
The Bureau: XCOM Declassified
Considered a mediocre game and a far cry from its original vision, this one is still quite a unique looking 3rd person tactical-shooter with a decent plot. You don’t even have to be a die-hard XCOM fan to appreciate it. In fact, it’s more likely that the non-hardcore fans of the series are the ones to enjoy this game the most. Basically serves as a prequel to the entire XCOM universe.
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions
Another rare licensed game that is actually good, though Spider-Man games for the most part tend to be above average, at least as far as super hero games go. Its got multiple gameplay variations for each Spider-Man, who share one interwoven plot, which is pieced up into segments featuring different foes from the four Spider-Man universes represented in the game. The Noir Spider-Man particularly stands out from the bunch.
A JRPG exclusive to the Xbox 360 by the company that went on to make the very excellent Wii title The Last Story. A notable feature of the game is the music that’s composed by the man behind most of the Final Fantasy series tracks. However, the game is plagued by long loads scattered throughout and the size and scope are clearly way too ambitious for the 360, being released on four dual-layer DVD’s. Apart from that, the story and combat sections are very satisfactory.
I Am Alive
It generated a decent amount of buzz back when it was first announced but once released, after multiple delays, it had lost most of the hype. Still, it was considered to be an emotionally powerful game but also quite a difficult one. Great for people who like their stories a bit darker and their challenges challenging.
One of the best and most underrated modern sci-fi first-person shooters with an awesome game mechanic, creepy atmosphere and an intriguing plot that will keep you entertained all the way to the end. Maybe its biggest flaw is the extremely linear level-design that might make it feel like a generic corridor shooter.
Red Faction series
These are sorely overlooked. The franchise started as an FPS but is mostly known for the last few 3rd person entries that are both equally good, making use of different physics-based game elements that really give them a unique feel. Plus the Mars theme is also a great look. Guerrilla shines most with its destructible environments, while Armageddon does physics-based combat extremely well.
One of the best modern Shoot’em ups out there. It’s extremely challenging and beautiful with cool unconventional voice-acting. It might sound that the the characters are speaking in some fantastical made-up language but turns out it’s Hungarian. Though you’re playing as anthropomorphic animals, flying decked out diesel punk fighter-planes, the story is actually quite dark in contrast.
A silly, yet fun game that is a bit buggy at times and seems to drag on at some parts but it has some fun British humor. It took the best parts from the original and built upon those. It’s surprisingly difficult and quite a bit of planning and strategizing is needed in order to beat it. You always feel accomplished once you complete a particularly difficult mission, especially the latter ones.
Gorgeous environments, a recognizable cast of voice actors, score-based stylistic combat and tongue in cheek humor that stays fresh with its puns all the way through. It’s a grossly underrated game, made by the Poles who were in charge of porting the original Gears of War onto the PC. So if you got a soft spot for single-player based shooters with witty writing, don’t miss this one!
The Last Remnant
This game was originally exclusively released for the Xbox 360, which is well-known for not being the preferred console of RPG enthusiasts and had technical issues running on the system. Fortunately it was ported to the PC with all the bugs fixed and the whole experience running a lot smoother and being just a blast! Though once You pick it up, it becomes clear why it was released for a console not common to the RPG crowd. There’s very little difficulty for the most part, compared to similar titles. Take that as you may.
DmC: Devil May Cry
Lastly, a game that got A LOT of attention, mostly how Dante looked emo and there was little discussion of how the game actually played. It is truly an underrated super-fun action hack’n’slash with some of the best combat I’ve ever experienced. The whole plot catered much more to the Western market, because after all, it was the first Devil May Cry game to be developed by Westerners.