8 Under-the-Radar Games that were Surprise Hits in 2015

While there were some huge hits in the world of gaming this year, many of them were expected to be big. After all, it’s not like no one knew Fallout 4 or The Witcher 3 would be successful. To me, it’s always interesting to look at are the ones that weren’t expected to be successes that were, or the ones that came out of nowhere to become big hits. These eight games fit that bill perfectly.

Think we missed one? Tell us what it is in the comments!

Until Dawn

Until Dawn wasn’t really intended to be a sleeper hit. After all , it had a Hollywood voice cast (including Hayden Panettiere), looked great on screen, and was basically a callback to the slasher films of the 1980s. SOmehow, either through poor marketing, delays, or what have you, the game was under the radar until it launched, when it promptly exploded. Until Dawnseemed to be everywhere on the streaming scene, and its mix of great atmosphere, choices with real consequences, and solid voice action won over lots of gamers.

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Mad Max

Let’s face it, we all expected Mad Max to be your typical movie tie-in game: Bland, uninspiring, and feeling like it was dashed-off to meet a deadline. But to our surprise, it wasn’t. That’s not to say it was a great game, of course. It wasn’t great, but it was definitely good. But it was a solid title that did a great job of establishing a world and then turning players loose to enjoy it. The sand storms are truly amazing, and there is so much to discover that even driving around aimlessly is rewarding. Any fan of the source material can’t help but enjoy it.

Rocket League

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think the world was waiting with bated breath for a game that let cars play soccer. We didn’t know that we needed it, but we apparently did, because Rocket League is a bona-fide phenomenon. It’s fast-paced, easy to get into, and simple to grasp. However, you can spend hours upon hours trying to master it. The physics are spot-on, the driving intuitive, and dammit, the game’s just fun. We may not have seen it coming, but we’re glad it’s here.

Dying Light

Another zombie game? From the Dead Island developers? Expectations were low for this one. But Dying Light surprised most people by being a pretty damn good game. Part zombie game, part parkour challenge, it dropped players into a city overrun with the infected and tasked you with finding some stolen information. You quickly go from secret agent to savior, taking on the villains on behalf of the infected survivors. It’s even more fun in co-op, as the only thing better than taking out undead hordes is taking out undead hordes with friends.

Grey Goo

The real-time strategy genre has been fairly lean in recent years, but this year Petroglyph Studios tried to fix that with the release of Grey Goo. An old-school style RTS, Grey Goo lets you choose from three unique factions, each with its own play style. These aren’t just differently-colored units, they’re completely unique approaches that you can choose from. Despite this, it’s well-balanced, looks and runs great, and is a hell of a lot of fun. It may not be a huge surprise when you consider that Petroglyph has a number of Westwood Studios veterans on staff, but it’s still a game that came from nowhere to make a great impression in 2015.

Cities: Skylines

Paradox Interactive released Cities: Skylines earlier this year in the wake of the debacle that was SimCity Even with expectations now lowered, not much was expected from the game. But once gamers got their hands on it, they found out that this was, in large part, the game they had hoped from from SimCity. It may not have all the bells and whistles (like multiplayer), but it’s an engaging, deep experience that is expanding daily thanks to the decision to embrace the modding community. If you’re ready to run a city, Cities: Skylines is for you.


Undertale is one of those games that only comes along once every few years. An RPG that features graphics more suited to the SNES, it still manages to grab onto you using the one element that technology can’t improve: great writing. The combat system is adequate, but you’re encouraged to pacify opponents in other ways besides just fighting. It’s both a parody of classic RPGs like Earthbound and a pretty solid effort in its own right. Combine the great writing and interesting characters with the outstanding soundtrack, and you’ve got a game that will capture your imagination like few have.


Outside of Mario and Zelda games, there’s been little excitement around the Wii U. When Splatoon was announced at E3 in 2014, there was some small interest in it, but it was largely forgotten in the host of other titles that came between its announcement and release. But once it released, gamers found that it was one of the great multiplayer title of the year, even if all it let you shoot was paint. Your goal is to cover as much of the map as possible in your team’s paint color, with the highest percentage at the end of the round being declared the winner. It was a fresh, new IP for a company sorely in need of one, and Nintendo taking a chance on multiplayer didn’t hurt either.

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