There’s no shortage of games deemed “underrated” by the gaming community. The list continues to grow with each passing game that either gets lower scores than it deserved or simply slips under the radar. We’re taking a look at a dozen underrated games that deserve a second playthrough, from cult classics to games that have considerably improved over time.
Before we go any further, this list isn’t in any particular order. There’s no specific criteria for games making this list except for ones that most fans tend to agree didn’t get the love they deserved at launch. Also check outwhile you’re at it. Some honourable mentions include The Saboteur, Sunset Overdrive, Mad Max, Okami, The Evil Within 2, Psychonauts and Nier.
Mass Effect Andromeda
It was easy to write off Mass Effect Andromeda at launch based on its undercooked narrative and weird animations, especially when compared to the superior Mass Effect trilogy before it, but a lot has happened since then. Apart from updates that improved the game’s quality, the core gameplay remains the best in the series. It’s also a beautiful game to look it. Sure, it’s not as good as the Shepard saga, but on its own, Andromeda is better than the initial reviews suggested.
Days Gone might’ve stumped critics at launch but player reception tells a different story. Bend Studio’s ambitious open-world action-drama features a story worth investing in and characters that gradually grow as certain plot revelations arise. You also won’t find many games that can stack waves of zombies on screen at once, but those moments are sadly few and far between. Fans gravitated towards Days Gone not just as the underdog of PlayStation’s exclusive library, but as a pretty good time overall.
When it came out that developer Arkane Studios wereby publishers, it really brought a lot of things into perspective. For one, this has nothing to do with the original Prey. In fact, it could’ve (and should’ve) been a new IP. Perhaps critics would’ve been less harsh if that were the case since 2022’s Prey is a fantastic, well-constructed sci-fi thriller with a few very unique and bold twists to the genre. It frequently goes on sale so if you missed it, make sure you pick it up soon.
Assassin’s Creed Unity
I’ve gone inbefore about why Assassin’s Creed Unity deserves more praise than it got. Before Ubisoft geared the series more towards the massive open-world RPG formula, Unity served as the last bastion of what fans loved most about the Assassin’s Creed series: a densely packed world, solid parkour, a relatable protagonist, a deeper dive into its excellent lore and great stealth. It’s a shame that it got swept under the rug on release but players look back at it much more fondly today.
No Man’s Sky
The redemption story of No Man’s Sky and developer Hello Games is proof that studios are capable of listening, learning and adapting to criticism. I’ll be the first to say how disappointed I was when I picked up the game at launch but thanks to numerous, literal game-changing updates and new content constantly being added for free, I am pleased to say that No Man’s Sky is an absolutely fantastic experience today and well worth hundreds of hours.
There’s a certain charm to games that try new ideas, both aesthetically and mechanically. It doesn’t always work out but in the case of Mirror’s Edge, developer DICE really captured lightning in a bottle on both fronts. A first-person parkour action game with an awe-inspiring city of high-rise glass towers and clean white design sounds good on paper, but despite some of its criticisms, it managed to make it all work cohesively. The result was an outstanding game that really hasn’t been replicated since.
The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction
Rewinding back to the past, you’ll find one of the most underrated superhero games of all time in The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. It may look rough in the visual department (even for a PS2 game), but the rock-solid gameplay is what sold people. It’s the ultimate power fantasy that perfectly encompasses the feeling of being Hulk. You can smash buildings until they collapse, use cars as boxing gloves, throw civilians around like ping pong balls and leap around causing unbridled carnage.
Batman: Arkham Origins
Warner Bros. Montreal might be in players naughty books right now after Gotham Knights, but the studio had a good Mod at another Batman game before and arguably succeeded. Arkham Origins was compared to Rocksteady’s acclaimed Arkham games and while the comparisons are perfectly valid, it still told a great Batman story with memorable villains, some nifty co-op gameplay and more. It’s a shame that it’s considered the black sheep of the Arkham series because Arkham Origins is a very good game.
Spec Ops: The Line
Disguised as a generic military shooter on the surface, Spec Ops: The Line did the unthinkable and masterfully dissected the genre with a surprising amount of tact. It never glorified war (like certain military shooters of the time) and explored the mental toll that conflict takes on its protagonist, painting a very vivid picture of the horrors of war. It’s more appreciated today because games rarely take bold leaps like this and manage to stick the landing.
Team ICO’s artful precursor to Shadow of the Colossus is constantly brought up in arguments about whether video games can be art (the short answer is yes), but it’s easy to see why ICO is always listed as a prime example. Combining beautiful visuals with an incredible soundtrack and almost poetic story, ICO never stops bringing players to the verge of tears. It was applauded as a masterpiece of the PS2 and still wears that badge proudly today.
Beyond Good & Evil
With its sequel caught in development limbo, it’s easy to look over just how monumental the first Beyond Good & Evil was for gaming. It arrived at a perfect time when publishers were not afraid to roll the dice on new creative IPs to push the industry forward. Considering that the publisher was Ubisoft, the irony is not lost. Despite the game doing underwhelming sales, it has since amassed a cult following and gone into gaming’s hall of fame. Lost but certainly not forgotten.
I can write essays about why Sleeping Dogs deserved all the acclaim that the Grand Theft Auto series got, but alas, it was overshadowed and passed off as yet another clone (we’ve thankfully moved past that weird phase). In almost every aspect, Sleeping Dogs shines. The excellent crime story is upheld by a gorgeous open-world, tight gameplay and terrific writing. If you somehow missed this gem, I strongly recommend checking it out and giving it a fair shot.