The sheer number of video games that come to market means that there will always be some gems that fly under the radar. Sometimes those games become cult classics, and sometimes they languish in obscurity, but all of them are criminally underappreciated. These eight games fit that bill perfectly. If you haven’t tried any of them, I highly recommend remedying that as soon as possible.
Don’t see your favorite underrated title on this list? Tell us what it is in the comments!
“Putting the Bioshock franchise on a most underrated list is crazy,” you say. You might have a point, if not for the fact that Bioshock 2 is consistently passed over in discussions of the series, or mentioned only in passing as something everyone would like to forget. Often dismissed as nothing more than a rehash of the first games, Bioshock 2 is actually the superior product, in my eyes. Rapture feels more real, while retaining its air of creepiness, and the remote hacking tool and updated hacking mechanic make the game far less frustrating. The story is much less black and white, leaving you to make decisions that are almost all tinged with a healthy dose of grey. Finally, the ending is much more fulfilling, with the choices you made throughout the game all coming to fruition in the last act, both for good and for ill.
Sid Meier’s Sim Golf
The only game that Maxis and Firaxis ever collaborated on, Sid Meier’s Sim Golf showcases the best aspects of both those studios. It’s a brilliant mixture of the depth of a Sid Meier game and the irreverent humor of a Maxis game. You’ll build an 18-hole course that has to both look good and be enjoyable to play without frustrating golfers too much. You’ll also add concession stands, tennis courts, and other amenities to attract players. Once you get the money, you can use it to improve your course even more. You’ll even be able to host tournaments and play your course yourself. It’s completely worth your time if you’re into sim games or golf.
Tim Schafer’s heavy metal RPG/RTS hybrid was that strange animal: A new IP that wasn’t really like anything else before or since. It features the voice acting talents of Jack Black as heavy metal roadie Eddie Riggs. Transported into another dimension by an on-stage accident, Riggs helps liberate the people there using a guitar that casts magic spells and a massive axe. After you do enough action-RPG questing, you’ll face huge hordes of enemies that you have to eliminate in RTS-style battles. This mix of genres wasn’t a huge hit when the game released, but if you buy in, the experience is quite fun. Add in the stellar cast of voice actors (Lemmy Kilmister, Rob Halford, Ozzy Osbourne and Lita Ford, to name a few), and you’ve got an awesome heavy-metal themed experience that’s completely worth checking out.
Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood
I’m a sucker for just about anything set in the Old West, and Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood is actually a prime example of a fun Western-themed game. A tale of two brothers who went on the run after deserting the Confederate army in a vain attempt to save their home from the advancing Union troops, Bound in Blood lets you live life as we saw it in the spaghetti westerns. You’ll travel across the West through shootouts, gun duels, stagecoach chases, bank robberies and more. The gunplay is well put-together, and the rendering of the Old West feels very authentic. It might have a formulaic, linear story, but Bound in Blood is definitely worth a spin if you’re a fan of Westerns.
Beyond Good & Evil
Beyond Good & Evil was released in November of 2003, putting it right in the middle of a lot of high-profile releases,. like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, and Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, just to name a few. An action title that worked in both stealth and puzzle elements, Beyond Good & Evil left reviewers and gamers split over its quality. But if you were one of those who picked it up anyway, you know that the stealth was great, the story was outstanding, and even the puzzle solving was worthwhile. Despite rumors of a sequel abounding over the last few years, we’ve yet to see more than one teased screenshot. Still, if you can find room in your library for the original Beyond Good & Evil, you won’t regret the purchase, and you’ll be ready if the sequel does materialize.
Obsidian’s spy story is decidedly not a great FPS, something the marketing team would have done well to emphasize. It strengths are in its espionage and stealth mechanics, as well as its story and narrative. As you play through the game, you constantly have the impression that you’re shaping the narrative, and that the characters are responding to your actions. There’s a huge selection of customization options, which means that you can replay the game multiple times and have a different experience. Its believable characters, top-notch stealth, and awesome narrative make Alpha Protocol a game that just any any fans of the genre would enjoy.
Collect animal DNA to combine it and produce the armies that you need to defeat your foes. It may sound like a weird Crichton novel, but it’s not – it’s Impossible Creatures. A scientist living in self-enforced exile has created a way to join any two species together at the DNA level, and you’re going to use this discovery to raise an army. With 76 species to choose from, including wooly mammoths, Komodo dragons, great white sharks and more, you can make just about sort of creature you want, and thanks to the game’s multiplayer, you can then use those creations against your friends. Unfortunately, the online multiplayer is no longer operational, but you can still play on LAN. There’s also a full single-player campaign to play through as well.
Some people wish they were James Bond, but others just want to be the maniacal super-villain. If you’re one of the latter, then Evil Genius is for you. In short, it’s Dungeon Keeper meets Goldfinger. You’ll construct your evil lair, and dispatch minions to both defend your lair and carry out nefarious missions around the world. Your lair can be filled with traps to catch intrepid secret agents who might wander in, including piranha tanks, poison gas, and even a Tesla coil. The more agents you catch, the more money you get. Evil Genius is a game that never takes itself seriously, and as a result, it’s one of the funnier games you’ll play. It’s definitely worth a look.