It’s easy for some games to sweep under your radar or not be able to gather enough attention to make it to the big time. After all, each year brings with it a plethora of new games released almost every single month, some of which are really good, while others don’t fare that well. Let’s take a look at some games that either didn’t receive the light of day or didn’t score very well despite being extremely fun or engaging. It’s been a year since the release of the PS5 and the Xbox Series X consoles, and with them still being hard to find, what better time is there to revisit some old and overlooked games and appreciate what once was?
Arkane Studios is one of my favorite developers in the industry, and rightfully so! They have never made a bad game. While some of us are enjoying Deathloop and others are waiting to get their hands on Redfall, let’s look back and appreciate where it all started with Dishonored. Since the first Dishonored was a 360/PS3 era game, I’ll focus on “Dishonored 2,” and yes, I know it got a remaster, and yes, you should definitely play it.
“Dishonored 2” takes the series to the south of the isles, to an island called Karnacka. You get the choice, in the beginning, to play as Corvo Attano from the first game or his daughter, now the empress, Emily Kaldwin. The weird, wacky charm of the first game is rightfully retained here, and the new locations are just breathtaking. Dishonored is an immersive simulation, which means the game lets you play the way you want to after giving you a brief tutorial. Stealth your way across without killing anyone or without ever being seen or go wreak havoc and murder everyone and everything you see. The choice is yours. “Dishonored 2” was the best next step taken for the series and showcased what true freedom in a video game looks like. Crazy powers, brilliant writing, and a timeless art style and visuals make this one of my favorite games from the last generation.
Speaking of Arkane and their brilliance, I cannot possibly overlook “Prey.” Another immersive sim that launched a year after Dishonored 2, “Prey,” took us to a space station orbiting the moon.
The plot takes place in an alternate reality where J.F.K. survived the assassination and focused on investing lots and lots of money into space programs. Humanity’s venture into the stars brought with it crazy technological advancements and gave us the answer to the age-old question: Are we alone in the universe? You play as Morgan Yu aboard the space station known as TALOS-1, which may or may not be infested by an alien race known as the Typhon. I won’t say a word about the plot because it’s as memorable as it is intriguing.
TALOS-1 can be fully explored, and objectives can be tackled the way you want them to be tackled, much like in Dishonored. As I said, I won’t speak much about “Prey” because it’s something people should experience for themselves, so if you have not played this game, please go check it out. You won’t be disappointed.
D.O.N.T.N.O.D., the guys behind the Life is Strange series, experimented with the idea of what an open-world RPG with vampires will look like. This game does not get the credit it deserves. Period. Dr. Jonathan Reid, a war doctor, returns to his home in London to see it ravaged by the Spanish flu. The game literally begins with the doctor waking up in a mass grave and finding out that he’s a vampire now. Again, no spoilers for the story here, but the plot focuses on figuring out what happened to Dr. Reid and possibly finding a cure for the flu.
The gameplay revolves around combat, exploration, and conversations with people. The twist is since you are a vampire, you can choose to mesmerize people and consume them to rank up and get stronger, which in turn makes London fall deeper into madness. Or, you can avoid killing people and build relationships with them, helping communities flourish. “Vampyr” gives you a lot of choices and delivers a beautifully written story with great voice acting, action-packed gameplay, a beautiful world to explore, and amazing characters to meet. You get to the bottom of all of this by choosing to either follow the Hippocratic Oath you took or kill everyone and watch London burn.
A Plague Tale Innocence
From one plague to another, “A Plague Tale Innocence,” developed by Asobo Studios, focuses more on storytelling and showcasing the true horrors of one of the worst plagues in humanity’s history. The bubonic plague, also known as the “Black Death.”
Amicia De Rune and her younger brother, Hugo De Rune, are siblings from a noble family who are on the run after their father was murdered by the Inquisition and they were stripped of their noble lineage. The story here is very well-paced and written, and the game wastes no time in showcasing disgusting and horrifying images of rats running rampant and ending civilizations as a whole. The black plague, the 100-year war, and the Inquisition were all very real things, and all of them happened in such close proximity to each other that they left Europe ravaged. “A Plague Tale” doesn’t shy away from showcasing the horrors of that era while gamifying and exaggerating them a bit for the sake of the videogame.
Anyone who has played “A Plague Tale” knows how well-made this game truly is, and with its sequel “A Plague Tale Requiem” already out to rave reviews, what better time is there to go check it out in case you haven’t?
‘Journey To The Savage Planet’
Typhoon Studios, created by veterans of the industry, including people who worked on games like Far Cry, put their hat in the ring with their game “Journey To The Savage Planet.” Exploration is more or less all this game is about. As a member of the Kindred Aerospace Company, which is the “4th best interstellar aerospace company,” you are dropped on the mysterious planet ARY-26 to find out if it is suitable for human life or not. Accompanied by a smart yet sarcastic A.I., you venture into the depths of the planet and find out all its secrets.
“Savage Planet” is a platformer through and through, set in an open-world setting with fun combat, crazy traversal, beautiful vistas, cute creatures, and a unique and exotic setting. You can choose to find all secrets and get all upgrades and complete your mission or dip in the middle of it by finding three power cores.
Three boss battles, three distinct areas of the planet, and the choice to play it solo or in co-op with a friend make this short and cute adventure a memorable one no matter when you play it.
The folks at Ninja Theory are extremely talented and make some of the best games in the industry. Hellblade anyone? “Bleeding Edge” was an experiment they tried by making a 4v4 melee-based arena brawler of sorts. While the game is far from perfect, it is still one of a kind and didn’t receive the credit it deserved. In a squad of four with a selection of multiple characters, you go through objective-based game modes on brilliantly designed maps to score a victory.
The art style is unique and heavily punk rock, with a lot of colors put into the mix. And since the game is multiplayer-only, the balance between characters and the gameplay opportunities available here is quite an impressive feat. They stopped updating the game due to a low player count, but we can always change that, right? You can play this game solo, but it is best enjoyed with friends, and I’d highly suggest checking it out and getting addicted to the fun it offers!
Bloober Team makes some fine horror games let me tell you. From “Layers of Fear” and its sequel, “Observer,” to “The Medium,” each game is unique and comes with a fresh take on the psychological horror genre, in my opinion. Among their mix of games, they released “Blair Witch,” and let me tell you, it is good. Set in the well-established and well-known universe of “Blair Witch,” this game takes the cake when it comes to presentation and some really spooky stuff. Ellis Lynch, a former police officer, accompanied by his trusty German shepherd, Bullet, joins a search party to find the whereabouts of a missing boy lost in the Black Hills Forest.
Once the adventure begins, it fires on all cylinders. The forest is genuinely scary and evokes the feeling of being lost there. As you go deeper and deeper into it, the forest plays with you, reminding you of your deepest, darkest secrets and the past Ellis is trying to run away from. His sanity, and by extension, yours, will be put in line, and the game sells its atmosphere perfectly. No reliance on jumpscares, just pure psychological horror—that’s what “Blair Witch” is, and it genuinely invokes the feeling of being lost, helpless, and alone in the woods.
I am going to keep it short and simple here and say outright that “Onrush” was wrongfully received poorly. In the sea of racing games like Forza and Need For Speed, it makes sense that a new racing I.P. may fly under the radar. But the sad part was that “Onrush” was not trying to compete but was trying to do something unique. Cars of all shapes and sizes, motorbikes, beautiful environments, music bursting with personality and style, everything is popping with colors and Burnout levels of destruction. That’s “Onrush” in a nutshell. This game was and still is a very good time, and it is that one racing game that I am sad didn’t receive the love it should have.
‘Watch: Dogs 2’
The biggest name on the list by far. Ubisoft created a lot of good with “Watch_Dogs 2,” and yet the game didn’t get the attention it deserved despite being rated very well. Why? Probably because of the bad taste that was left in people’s mouths after the release of the first game. Separate these two games, and you’ll see how brilliantly “Watch_Dogs 2” was created, so much so that I am willing to go out and say it is better than Legion as well. The bay area of San Francisco, along with parts of Oakland and Silicon Valley, is built with so much care and attention to detail that it practically acts as a virtual tour of the real locations.
The story was dripping with personality and genuine humor after Ubisoft decided to go for a tone shift and show us the quirky side of the world of hackers. Marcus and Wrench are by far two of the most memorable characters I have ever met in any video game, not because they saved humanity or anything, but because of how lifelike they were written and performed. “Watch_Dogs 2” captured the true essence of the series and successfully built an identity around it with brilliant and open-ended mission design, a beautiful world to explore and hack, and some of the best and most human writing and performances in any video game I have ever played. Give this game some love!
‘Agents Of Mayhem’
Finally, we have “Agents of Mayhem,” and while I cannot sell you on playing this game, I sure can give you reasons as to why it was very entertaining. Developers Volition tried expanding the Saints Row universe with this one, and while they didn’t succeed, I’d beg to differ and say they didn’t fail either.
Set in a futuristic version of Seoul, South Korea, the game lets you play as 12 different agents from the organization known as M.A.Y.H.E.M. (Multinational Agency Hunting Evil Masterminds), who is trying to stop the evil organization that goes by the name L.E.G.I.O.N. (League of Evil Gentlemen Intent on Obliterating Nations). Juvenile, I know, but Saints Row humor has always been potty-mouthed and very juvenile. What makes this game special in my eyes is the Crackdown-style gameplay that makes this game what it is. Run across rooftops or drive at high speeds on the streets. Collect crystals and stuff to power up, or just go Guns-Blazing and explode everything. Agents of Mayhem is not unique or interesting and has a lot of repetitive gameplays, but despite that, it never fails to be funny and delivers on the promise of having a good time.
Look, I know this one doesn’t sound that promising, but trust me, once you play it and explore the beautiful version of Seoul, you’ll experience all the unique gameplay styles and combinations the 12 characters bring to the table. You’ll automatically see where I am coming from.
There you go, 10 of the most underrated games from the last generation, in my opinion. Not all of them are must-plays, and some of them do deserve the ratings they got, but despite that, there is no arguing that all of them are very good. Especially now that you can buy them at bargain-bin prices, there are quite a few more games from the last generation that didn’t receive the love and attention that they deserved, but we can talk about them some other time.
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