Fallout 1
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The 14 most underrated games of all time

Pick them up on sale.

Hundreds of games are released every year, and if you want to include indie devs, that number goes up to the thousands. It is, therefore, inevitable that some hidden gems avoid the praise and recognition they deserve. To right the wrongs of the industry, here are the most underrated games of all time.

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14. Sly Cooper

You may disagree and say this got all the praise it deserves. However, I still feel that it has disappeared into the annals of time without its due credit. The Sly Cooper games, for me, were fantastic and some of the best the PlayStation had to offer at the time. I loved the quirky characters, fun and innovative movements, and use of stealth and equipment to keep ahead of the enemies. Maybe it is just an underrated game in comparison to its contemporaries in the golden age of gaming.

The funny quips and one-of-a-kind art style made it stand out for me among the many other 3D games out there. The resulting games proved their success with sequels. However, as time has moved on, it seems to have slipped from the collective memory. I think we need to pay homage to what was definitely the sole inspiration for the whole Assassin’s Creed franchise.

13. Fallout 1

There is no doubt that you have heard about the franchise, be it from the catastrophic Fallout 76 or the masterfully made Fallout: New Vegas. Either way, the Fallout series is very well-known in the gaming world. However, most people who loved the more modern games have never returned to pay homage to the granddaddy of it all, Fallout 1.

I consider this game to be an underrated masterpiece in modern storytelling, giving you, the player, hilarious amounts of freedom. Fallout 1, for me, is the interesting turning point in which text-based adventures met the capabilities of 3D graphics and in-game time limits. I could wax lyrical about the glory of Fallout 1. However, the best thing for any Fallout fan to do is just play it themselves and lament the fall of their glorious writing team.

12. Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs Screenshot
Image via Steam

Too many people slept on Sleeping Dogs, to the point that it actually never had a sequel made. The studio fumbled the ball by trying to make Sleeping Dogs 2 an MMO and totally ruined the whole thing. Now, we will never get a sequel to this gritty, dark, neon-drenched underrated game.

Sleeping Dogs came in an age where open worlds had tons of guns. GTA, Just Cause, and Saints Row had already cornered the market for big open-world shooters. Sleeping Dogs did something different. It drops you in the streets of Tokyo. Then, rather than give you guns, it lets you beat the snot out of people with incredibly satisfying martial arts, utilizing everything you can get your hands on as a weapon. The dark and deep story fits perfectly with the brutal hand-to-hand combat. The remaster of this underrated classic is a beautiful game to play if you want a crack now.

11. Citizen Sleeper

Play as a digital consciousness trying to survive in a fallible, fleshy body. It is up to you to stay alive in your new life after escaping from legal servitude. Finding yourself in a huge space station, you’ll work with the various factions to help them in their quests and elongate your life.

Akin to a game like D&D or Disco Elysium, the game works in a combination of dice rolls to determine success in tasks and natural social adeptness when conversing. Skills and upgrades can be made along the way, slowly pushing you toward your goal of survival. This underrated game is both beautiful to look at in the Unity Engine and a pleasure to play, both obsessively or on the side.

10. Killing Floor 2

Killing Floor 2 Underrated Games
Image via Steam

I think the industry is finally starting to realize that a simple game done well is much better than a complex game done badly. This has resulted in the success of games like Palworld and Helldivers 2. Sadly, when Killing Floor 2 came out, people were all hyped up on AAA games boasting 80+ hours of beige, paint-drying gameplay. This resulted in Killing Floor 2 being overlooked and underrated.

Killing Floor 2 has a simple premise. Drop in, buy guns, kill stuff. This gameplay loop sounds basic because it is, but it is insanely addictive. As you progress, you slowly level up, allowing you to buy more from the vendors on the map. Over time, you can buy bigger weapons and armor, resulting in more killing power. The gunplay is masterfully done with heavy-feeling weapons and an engine that still has some of the best dismemberment effects of any game. Wading through hordes of enemies with your friends all geared up to the eyeballs is hours of fun.

9. In Sound Mind

Underrated Game In Sound Mind
Image via Steam

Desmond Wales, a psychotherapist, must explore the minds of four different characters. He needs to break down how they each perceive their psyche. In this underrated horror puzzle game, it is up to you to explore, discover, shoot, and sneak your way around the twisted minds of various unwell people, figuring out how to survive as you go.

The game shines with its diverse and sometimes brain-bending puzzles broken up with moments of high-octane combat. Discovery and resolutions are rarely as satisfying as in In Sound Mind, and it’ll have you wracking your brains for solutions. The whole game is soundtracked by The Living Tombstones, moving away from the usual strings and stabs of classic horror games and instead opting for some beautifully varied music and soundscapes.

8. Spec Ops The Line

This underrated game has just been completely de-platformed, no longer available to play unless you own a physical copy or somehow attain it nefariously. Spec Ops The Line has a dedicated fanbase that came out of the woodwork once the news came out, but that doesn’t mean this hard-hitting shooter got the recognition it deserves.

What really sets Spec Ops The Line apart from the thousands of other grey, military American savior shooters out there comes a few hours into the game. Our protagonist is your usual jarhead, fighting his way through an abandoned Dubai, shooting at the usual foreign adversary. However, as the game progresses, Spec Ops The Line takes an unexpected turn.

Akin to films like Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now, Spec Ops The Line is about the horrors of war and the mental strain it can inflict. This game is woefully underrated for one that subverts expectations and humanizes the conflict in an era where the superhuman soldier was all we saw in gaming.

7. Hunt Showdown

Hunt Showdown
Image via Steam

I was debating putting Hunt Showdown on the list since it still has peaks of around 30 to 40 thousand players a month on Steam. However, it still counts as an underrated game to me. Not many people have heard of the Wild West, swampy extraction battle royale. The loyal fanbase of thousands are people that have collected over the four years and have never been able to put it down. I have over 700 hours and regret none of them.

Pick your Cowboy from a roster and load them up with your desired loadout. The weapons are all of the time, so think Mosins, Shotguns, and Six Shooters, not to mention crossbows, jars of bees, and Corsatina bombs. Now, with up to a team of three, drop into the Bayou of 1985, in which zombies and untold horrors lurk.

It is up to you and your team to discover clues located in compounds around the map to unearth the boss’ lair. Reach the boss lair before other teams to kill and banish it, praying your enemies don’t close in on you before it is complete. Once the banishing is done, you can pick up the soul to gain a vague outline of other teams, but only for a total of five seconds. It is up to you and your team to kill the others and escape with the bounty. Simple, effective, and created by a team that loves their game deeply.

6. Lost Odyssey

I feel Final Fantasy takes too much of the JRPG limelight. No doubt the game deserves its praise with its long-running and amazing games. However, due to this, other fantastic JRPGs often get overlooked. Lost Odyssey was my step into turn-based JRPGs, and I am always surprised at how few people know about it.

It has all the best elements of the genre, with incredible attacks, bonkers outfits, and a killer soundtrack. You play as Kaim, an immortal who has lived thousands of years. He has lost his memory. It is up to you to discover his and his pals’ histories while fighting through hordes of bad guys. The story is convoluted enough to be a JRPG but not so much that you can’t keep track. It still takes four disks to play, though…

5. Titanfall 2

Titanfall 2 How To Fix Contacting Respawn Servers Error Featured Image(1)
Screenshot: Respawn Entertainment

You’ve all heard of the hit battle royale, Apex Legends. But have you ever wondered where all that greatness came from? Well, the answer is Titanfall 2. This masterpiece still makes a resurgence from those in the know. Every so often, a Steam sale will bring it back to everyone’s collective memory, and the glory will be born again.

Titanfall 2 does movement shooters better than most and is certainly the best in the first-person multiplayer shooter genre. The online multiplayer is masterfully done as you work as a solo pilot without a mech to kill enemies. You can dash and dodge along buildings, boosting and wall-running your way between the hulking machines sharing the map. Once you rack up enough kills, it’s time to call in your titan. The match has now become a mech warrior fight. Rockets, lasers, swords, and shotguns dwarf the small pilots as you try to make the most of your time with your hulking mech before it is turned to scrap.

The multiplayer is what keeps the fans coming back year after year. However, what hooks you in the first place is the deeply engrossing storyline campaign. As an untrained pilot, you happen across a mech warrior. Over time, you bond with the machine and embark on a journey together that takes you through many a mission. Jumping between warring spacecraft, nuking enemies, and gunning down mechs brings you together in a memorable and replayable campaign.

4. Risk of Rain 2

Risk Of Rain Gearbox 2 Rock Monster
Image via Steam

I understand why this title slipped under most people’s radar. But that doesn’t stop it from being a criminally underrated game. Risk of Rain 2 is voted with an overwhelmingly positive review status on Steam because anyone who plays it loves it. It’s a simple premise, as the best games are, but that doesn’t mean it’s simple to play. We gave the game a hearty 9.5/10, and with the constant updates and expansions, it has easily held that title.

Risk of Rain 2 drops you into a beautifully artistic world. You are a simple character with a few key skills, depending on who you pick. It is up to you to survive the onslaught of enemies and extract to the next world. On your journey, you will pick up tens of bonuses, giving all sorts of wacky and wild buffs and boons. It is these that you need to carefully curate to become superhuman. The game, despite its simple design, can tax even the strongest hardware when it gets intense. The longer you take to complete a level, the harder it gets, resulting in absolute mayhem.

What makes this game stand out as such an underrated game — and so unique — is multifaceted. First of all, the gameplay is unlike anything else. It could be described as a top-down directional shooter but also a bullet-hell. It also fits into the looter shooter category and could be called an extraction game. The best of each has been put together to create the masterpiece that is Risk of Rain 2. This all pairs with an art style that can only be described as “beautiful chaos.” It ties it all with a rugged and unforgettable bow.

3. NieR: Automata

Nier Atomata Underrated Game
Image via Steam

This title, I feel, makes itself inaccessible or perhaps unappealing to many players due to its rather niche appearance. Washed-out colors and unexplained mechanics are twinned with a storyline that tries to kick you out at every opportunity and can leave you bewildered. However, stick with this masterpiece from Takahisa Taura. I guarantee you will be recommending it to anyone who will listen.

As a fighting machine dressed in the body of a scantily clad maid, it is up to you to discover what has become of the Earth below. You and your fellow automatons wait above the planet, checking in to see if it is ready for humans to return. Around the planet are the robots designed to clean up the mess left behind. However, these robots have created a society, and it’s up to you to decide how relationships form, for better or worse.

As you play through the game, you will see the credits roll multiple times. Death results in a credits roll, and the first ‘Playthrough’ results in a credits roll. A few bad decisions can result in a credits roll. However, this does not mean the end of the game — and is where I made a mistake years ago. After about a 25-minute playthrough, my time with the main character, 2B, was over. A battle has been won, and the credits roll. I was disappointed. I felt the game hadn’t given me enough of what the source material promised. There was still so much to see and unlock. I put the game down for over a year.

A Reddit post popped up pointing out how many people had made the same mistake. So, I picked up the game, started again, and hit the first set of credits. Then, act two began, and I played the whole game again with another character who I previously thought to be only an NPC. I was completely wrong. All of a sudden, the game is back with a whole new perspective, levels, enemies, and fighting style. Pick this one up on sale and give it a go. It is wacky but a work of pure art.

2. Hotline Miami 1+2

Hotline Miami Screenshot
Image via Steam

This one certainly isn’t for the kids. Hotline Miami games do what they do incredibly well. With what has become a running theme throughout this list of the most underrated games, this one is, again, a simple idea executed gloriously. Top-down, fast-paced mass murder on a brutal level. You die with one hit, everything is a weapon, and it’s down to you to survive.

Every level of Hotline Miami 1+2 comes with an ear-meltingly good soundtrack. The pumping techno rhythms, or creepy, haunting synths, accompany the beautiful top-down maps you have to kick, shoot, and slice your way through. The imagery is so iconic that the most recent John Wick film paid homage to it. The graphics are simple yet so gory you need to watch between your fingers as you decapitate yet another goon with a sword.

The plot of both is often confusing, dwelling very much on the twisted paranoia of the protagonists. Nothing is real, and yet everything has a real consequence. Are you a deranged killer bent on homicide, or is that strange voice on the phone really helping you out…?

1. Earth Defense Force 5

Kill the bugs; kill them ALL. Akin to the recent smash hit Helldivers 2, this game is all about saving the world from bugs. The multiplayer campaign sees you and your friends gear up and rain hell upon the invading forces of aliens from outer space. The fun that can be had as you drop yet another rocket barrage, ‘Danger Close’, and cooking your mates along with the huge creatures never gets dull.

This underrated game from 2018 looks dated, but the gameplay still stands up today. You could do a lot worse than picking up a discounted copy and delving into the unserious gameplay of Earth Defense Force 5. The game can be played casually, or you can master the art and ramp the difficulty right up for some serious third-person warfare.


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Author
Leo Gillick
Leo is a Freelance Writer for PC Invasion. He has a degree in English Literature and Film Studies and more hours buried into videogames than he cares to admit. He has worked extensively in the Videogame and Travel writing industry but, as they say, get a job doing something you love and you'll never work a day in your life. He uses his writing as a means to support indefinite global travel with the current five year plan seeing him through Latin America.