Skip to main content

The most underrated games of all time

There is a slew of fantastic games out there that get their fair share of recognition. Titles like Red Dead Redemption 2, Resident Evil 2, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild come to mind. But what about the games that arguably don’t get the recognition they deserve? These are games that maybe flew under the radar or didn’t sell as well as their publishers had hoped — leaving them mostly forgotten by the community.

In this list, we’ll highlight some games that don’t get the credit they deserve — whether they feature an interesting gameplay mechanic, engaging story, or something else that makes them stand out. These are the most underrated games of all time, across multiple generations.

Recommended reading:

Vampyr (PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC)

Close up of main character of Vampyr.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Dontnod Entertainment did release an excellent sequel to its game Life is Strange, but the studio also had something else cooking that took us by surprise: Vampyr. Set just after World War I, the action-role-playing game stars a doctor who has just been transformed into a vampire and must decide between keeping his Hippocratic Oath and feeding on the living. Its world is filled with unique characters — almost all of whom can be sacrificed to make your character stronger. With supernatural abilities and an atmospheric take on London to explore, it’s enthralling despite its relatively low production values.

The Surge (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

Main character in armor suit in The Surge.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Deck13 Interactive’s Lords of the Fallen was a pretty run-of-the-mill Souls-like, with a fantasy setting and little to separate it from similar clones. The studio took a very different direction, however, with The Surge, a science-fiction action-RPG is equal parts Bloodborne and Elysium. With a limb-targeting system, unique upgrades to an exo-suit, and industrial setting, it stood out from the competition and even streamlined some of the genre’s more frustrating mechanics. Its sequel was more widely appreciated, but the first game is definitely worth checking out for anyone looking for their next controller-breaking obsession.

The Evil Within 2 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

Main character in front of burning house in The Evil Within 2.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Shinji Mikami directed one of the best survival-horror games of all time, Resident Evil 4, and fans were eager for The Evil Within to see if he was capable of surpassing his masterpiece. The game wasn’t able to match the high standards of its predecessor, often feeling like it was retreading the same ground. However, its much weirder and more polished sequel The Evil Within 2 didn’t want to replicate past successes. Instead, it was a completely original and cerebral take on the genre with storytelling that matched its gameplay. Despite this, sales were very low, and it is unclear if developer Tango Gameworks will be given the chance for a third game.

Read our full The Evil Within 2 review

Nex Machina (PS4, PC)

Array of bullets and explosions in Nex Machina.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Developed in collaboration with legendary designer Eugene Jarvis, Housemarque’s Nex Machina might just be the best twin-stick arcade shooter ever made. It’s a relentlessly difficult game that controls like butter, with simple abilities and a huge number of enemies to defeat in order to get through each area and save the humans on the ground. When it comes time to fight a boss, things get quite hectic, and making it through the whole game without dying dozens of times is nearly impossible. Despite being the best game in the studio’s entire catalog, it sold poorly, ultimately leading to Housemarque declaring “arcade is dead” and attempting a comeback in the AAA space, instead. That’s a shame, as it risks losing what made it so special.

Super Daryl Deluxe (PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC)

Daryl on shark in Super Daryl Deluxe.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Designed primarily by just two people, Super Daryl Deluxe is a Metroidvania game by way of Napoleon Dynamite. Set in a high school where the different classrooms lead to a fantastical world, the game stars the completely silent titular hero, who must venture into the unknown in order to prevent total chaos. The game’s strength lies not only in its gorgeous artwork and music, but its often-hilarious writing. It has jokes about everything from Georgia O’Keeffe to Genghis Khan, all told with a sharp wit and knack for wordplay. Super Daryl Deluxe doesn’t try to reinvent what it means to be an action-platforming game, but it does deliver one fantastic take on the template.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

Clocktower and boats in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

After the horrendously broken Assassin’s Creed Unity launched in 2014, expectations for the series’ future were at an all-time low, but Ubisoft managed to turn things around with Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. Going even further into the future — all the way to the industrial revolution in London — the stealth-action game stars two twin heroes and builds on the classic franchise tropes in new ways. Missions are less frustrating with fewer auto-fail conditions, combat is more challenging and refined, and the simple stealth mechanics are complemented by traversal options such as a grappling hook tool. It was overshadowed by the next year’s Assassin’s Creed Origins as the series became an RPG, but Syndicate is still underrated.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

Lara using zipline in Shadow of the Tomb Raider.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

After launching Rise of the Tomb Raider in 2015, Crystal Dynamics passed off the development torch to Eidos Montreal for its sequel, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider delivered a darker, more personal, and extremely violent conclusion to Lara Croft’s origin story. Set in Latin American, primarily in Peru, the game delivered much of the same stealth and all-out action mixed with traversal we have come to expect from the series, and though it certainly didn’t reinvent the wheel, it was a satisfying way to wrap things up. Of course, there is always still room for another game, and despite the lower review scores compared to its predecessor, Shadow of the Tomb Raider proves that the series is anything but dead.

Read our full Shadow of the Tomb Raider review

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare (PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One, PC)

Zombies charging in Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Electronic Arts and Dice have had mixed results with their first-person shooters this generation, ranging from the excellent Battlefield 1 to the underwhelming Star Wars: Battlefront reboot. One game that certainly surprised us, however, was Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, which made use of Dice’s Frostbite engine and was developed by PopCap Games. Taking the tower defense game and turning it into a team-based third-person multiplayer shooter shouldn’t have worked, but the different classes’ goofy abilities and a surprisingly engaging progression system helped to make it an excellent title that never got enough attention. Playing the Garden Ops defense mode with a friend or battling it out against other players never gets old.

Read our full Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare review

Resident Evil: Revelations 2 (PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PS Vita, PC)

Character shooting zombie in Resident Evil Revelations 2.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 7 both got plenty of acclaim this generation, but the spinoff horror game Resident Evil: Revelations 2 went relatively under the radar in comparison. Starring a mix of new and returning characters, including Resident Evil 2’s Claire Redfield, the game plays like a mix of the original series and the newer, more action-oriented entries. Rather than the doomed ship setting of the previous game, it finds our heroes on a secluded prison island, and they go up against some of the most terrifying enemies in franchise history. Resident Evil: Revelations 2 lacks the production values of the more successful main games, but its old-school influences make it a must-play for horror fans.

Read our full Resident Evil: Revelations 2 review

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

Closeup of main characters of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Call of Duty game that players seem to have forgotten, with bigger titles like Black Ops 4 and Modern Warfare taking the spotlight, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare was the first game that Sledgehammer Games took the lead on, but it does not have the growing pains one might expect. With a thrilling campaign that warns against the dangers of private military contractors, a vertical multiplayer component with exo-suits, and some of the best weapon handling and progression in the series to date, Advanced Warfare is an outstanding shooter. Perhaps the move further into the future was its undoing, as it will likely never get a sequel, but it’s a Call of Duty game done right.

Read our full Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare review

The Crew 2 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

Car outside in The Crew 2.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Forza Horizon 4 is the best racing game available from the past generation, but that is no reason to knock Ubisoft’s own open-world games. After the underwhelming The Crew, which suffered from pretty abysmal driving physics and uninteresting world-building, the sequel pulled out all the stops. Cars, trucks, planes, dirt bikes, and even boats are all available as you venture across the United States and compete in races. The game is pretty enormous and has plenty of variety, and The Crew 2 ditches the seriousness of its predecessor for something that just lets you have fun. In a racing game like this, it’s definitely the right move.

Rage 2 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

Character shooting enemy in Rage 2.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The first Rage was a very odd game for Id Software, in large part because it just felt so safe with its post-apocalyptic setting, brown and gray environments, and cookie-cutter combat. For the sequel no one really asked for, the studio partnered with Avalanche Studios of Mad Max and Just Cause fame and managed to deliver a completely different type of game. Still maintaining the vehicular combat of the original, Rage 2’s world is much more colorful and vibrant, its side missions are more entertaining, and most importantly, its first-person shooting feels incredible. Perhaps its relatively uninteresting story remains its downfall, but few other games handle the wasting enemies as well as Rage 2.

Read our full Rage 2 review

Sunset Overdrive (Xbox One, PC)

Main character of Sunset Overdrive grinding and shooting.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Sure, Insomniac Games’ Ratchet & Clank remake and Spider-Man game are both classics, but we cannot forget the outstanding Sunset Overdrive it released near the start of the console generation. Originally an Xbox One exclusive, the game blends goofy third-person action with traversal mechanics similar to the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series, all with an irreverent and goofy sense of humor that includes several references to video games themselves and fourth-wall-breaking moments. It didn’t have the name recognition of some of the studio’s more recent games, but it’s a truly underappreciated gem.

Read our full Sunset Overdrive review

Darksiders III (PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC)

Fury from Darksiders III.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Rough around the edges but with a very solid foundation, Darksiders III may have been a victim of expectations. It’s the sequel to two fairly enormous action-adventure games but developed by a different studio on a fraction of the budget. As such, it’s smaller and shorter, but the core Souls-style combat mechanics and different forms for protagonist Fury still make it incredibly satisfying. The boss design is also excellent, and you feel like every victory is earned rather than given to you with overpowered special attacks.

Read our full Darksiders III review

Valiant Hearts: The Great War (PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, iOS, Android)

Characters in house in Valiant Hearts The Great War.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Many war video games attempt to tell an anti-war story while also allowing you to kill hundreds of people. Valiant Hearts: The Great War is not one of those games. Set during World War I and starring several different characters, including a nurse, the game shows how the conflict became a matter of survival and self-preservation for many, and the heroic lengths some went to save their fellow humans. Its environmental and visual storytelling, as well as a truly heartbreaking climax, make it one of the most emotional games of the generation, and one that far too few people have played.

Blazing Chrome (PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC)

Ship flying above characters in Blazing Chrome.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The new game Contra: Rogue Corps is terrible, but the Hard Corps spiritual successor Blazing Chrome is not! Developed as an homage to the classic Contra games of the 16-bit era, this 2D run and gun game delivers an excellent blend of all-out action, difficult boss battles, and weapon choice to deliver the Contra game fans really wanted. Not having the Contra name likely means it will not be played by as many people, but it is far better than anything Konami has done with the series in over a decade.

No Man’s Sky (PS4, Xbox One, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PC)

Creature from planet in No Man's Sky.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

No Man’s Sky was certainly not underrated when it launched in 2016. In fact, it was extremely disappointing, with an enormous but relatively pointless universe to explore and little incentive for players to keep going. Over the years, however, updates have added multiplayer, base building, quality-of-life improvements, and plenty of customization options that finally bring it into line with what we expected when it was first announced during The Game Awards. Hello Games isn’t done yet, either, with large content updates released on a regular basis to add even more features. It even has PSVR integration now!

Read our full No Man’s Sky review

Knack 2 (PS4)

Knack fighting enemy in Knack 2.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Yes, we’re serious. The first Knack became a meme for its sheer mediocrity, and for the perplexing decision to make it a PS4 launch game. Its sequel, however, is a much more interesting game, with deeper combat and puzzle mechanics and a charming, if familiar, story. It’s the perfect game for a family to enjoy with their kids, and its difficulty strikes a nice balance between genuine challenge — even for adults — and something that younger players can enjoy without frustration.

Read our full Knack 2 review

Super Time Force (Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One, PS Vita, PC)

Characters shooting at one another in Super Time Force.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Capybara Games’ unique pixel art style has been used for plenty of adventure and role-playing games over the years, but its unique take on the classic sidescrolling run-and-gun might just be its best. Playing like a blend of Metal Slug and a VCR, you control several different time-traveling heroes and can rewind time in order to duplicate them and have them work together to fight enemies. After just a few minutes, the game’s twist becomes second nature, and it deserves much more recognition than it received.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

Battle ensuing in front of fortress in Shadow of War.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

When Middle-earth: Shadow of War first released, it was rightly criticized for microtransactions that had no place in a single-player action-adventure game, but once Monolith Productions removed them and streamlined its progression system, we were left with a brilliant sequel to Shadow of Mordor. Building on its foundation, including the excellent Nemesis system, its mix of Batman-style brawling action and Assassin’s Creed stealth give you numerous ways to approach a situation, even if you just want to send in your minions to do your bidding.

Read our full Middle-earth: Shadow of War review

The Punisher (PS2, Xbox, PC)

The Punisher interrogating someone in The Punisher.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Back before Volition became famous for the Saints Row series, it developed The Punisher, a game based on the comic book vigilante. This game is quite good, giving you a fun, arcade-style action game with shooting and interrogation mechanics. Things get wacky and over the top quickly, but almost always feels satisfying to play. It has cameos from many Marvel heroes and villains like Iron Man and Daredevil, along with some pretty cool boss fights. It’s a shame we haven’t gotten a proper new Punisher game (The Punisher: No Mercy doesn’t count) since then, but we’ve got our fingers crossed for the future.

Spec Ops: The Line (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)

Promotional art with main character from Spec Ops: The Line.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

We don’t get games like Spec Ops: The Line often. While many military shooters tend to glorify war, Spec Ops offers more of a realistic take and is poignant — to the point of making the player uncomfortable at times. But that’s what makes it so special. It dared to tell a story that few other military shooters even come close to, which is why it’s a shame it flew under the radar when it launched in 2012. Spec Ops didn’t sell as well as publisher 2K had hoped and is likely why the series has been dormant since this game released. Nonetheless, we highly recommend giving it a playthrough.

Mirror’s Edge (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)

Side view of Faith from Mirror's Edge.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

As with many underrated games, Mirror’s Edge is such a unique experience, even 13 years after its release in 2008. Its premise focuses on free-running (or parkour) from a first-person perspective. It’s one of the most satisfying gameplay loops that almost puts the player in a trance once it clicks. Running atop buildings or up tall structures to reach your objective is so rewarding, especially when you do it in a stylish way — and it remains unmatched to this day. Its follow-up, Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, is not bad, but the first game is definitely the superior entry. EA absolutely took a risk with Mirror’s Edge and commercially, it likely didn’t pay off — hence why you don’t see games like this too often.

Einhänder (PS1)

Fighter spacecraft from Einander.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Einhänder is a game that absolutely needs a remaster or modern port of some kind because it was truly awesome on the original PlayStation. It’s a 2.5D shoot-’em-up developed by Square (before it became Square Enix). Its visual style and sounds are memorable, but the real star of the show is its gameplay, which consists of the player controlling a ship (pictured above) with various weapons and power-ups to defeat enemies. It’s creepy, satisfying, and above all else, an absolute blast to play.

Wario Land 4 (GBA)

Cover art with Wario and friends in the jungle for Wario Land 4.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Enough about Mario — one Nintendo character that always feels left behind is Wario. And his game, Wario Land 4, is a shining example that Nintendo is at its best when it gets weird. What makes this game so fun is its levels, which are designed to be completed forward and backward. Each stage is wildly colorful and beautiful, with a ton of personality. Add in some weird humor, hilariously disgusting creature designs, and some Wario charm, and you get one of the Game Boy Advance’s best platformers.

Yakuza: Like a Dragon (PS4, Xbox One, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PC)

The cast of Yakuza: Like a Dragon.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Even though Yakuza: Like a Dragon gets its fair share of credit, this game deserves a lot more. After all, it’s one of the quirkiest, most heartwarming games of the past generation, full of memorable characters, well-written dialogue, and a story that will make you shed a tear (or several). Beyond its narrative merits, Like a Dragon is the first game in the series to feature revamped turn-based combat, making it feel more like a JRPG and less like a brawler. While the brawler mechanics from the older games are fun, the conversion to a turn-based formula was exactly what the series needed. By the end of the 50-hour story, the main cast will feel like your family, proving this game has some of the best characters in recent memory.

Immortals: Fenyx Rising (PS4, Xbox One, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, PC)

Fenyx drawing a bow in Immortals Fenyx Rising.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Ubisoft makes a lot of open-world games, so it’s easy to see why Immortals: Fenyx Rising (formerly known as Gods and Monsters) went under the radar. At first glance, this game might seem like just another open-world collectathon, but it has a lot more going for it than that. For starters, it has a wonderful cast of famous gods that include Zeus, Hermes, Aphrodite, Odysseus, and others. What’s fascinating about Fenyx Rising is that it plays similarly to Breath of the Wild, most notably in that you can scale nearly every surface to reach higher points on the map. It still follows the traditional Ubisoft formula, wherein you must visit points on the map to either collect an item, take on a challenge, or talk to a character, but the journey is worth experiencing — if nothing else, at least for its solid gameplay.

Read the full Immortals: Fenyx Rising review

The Medium (PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PC)

Marianne from The Medium.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Medium most certainly was overlooked when it launched in 2021, partly because it launched for Xbox Series X|S, which was hard to find at the time. Those who played it praised its psychological horror elements, which covered areas of mental health and trauma. The main standout feature is the split-screen system that simultaneously shows you two realities on-screen: The “real” world and the spirit world. By changing something in one reality, it alters the other, making for some interesting puzzles and gameplay sequences. The Medium also borrows elements from classics like Silent Hill and Resident Evil — most notably in the animations and atmosphere — making this a gem. It doesn’t always nail everything it sets out to accomplish, but it’s well worth checking out.

Editors' Recommendations

Gabe Gurwin
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Gabe Gurwin has been playing games since 1997, beginning with the N64 and the Super Nintendo. He began his journalism career…
Best PlayStation Plus Deals: Save on Essential, Plus and Premium
Best PS Plus deals

The PlayStation 5, much like the PlayStation 4 before it, is a very popular gaming console, but it does require a subscription service to have access to online multiplayer, unlike a gaming PC where that's not necessary. To that end, Sony created the PlayStation Plus (PS Plus) subscription service, with various tiers giving you different rewards and includes the basic subscription tier, which also adds new games every month for you to check out for free. Besides the basic Essential tier, there is also the Extra and Premium tiers, both of which have a couple of extra add-ons that might be worth grabbing. While you're here, be sure also to check out these excellent PS5 game deals and PlayStation deals that include some great games and accessories you can get for a great price.
What is PlayStation Plus?
Along with online multiplayer and other in-game network features, a PlayStation Plus Essential membership grants you access to exclusive discounts and other promotions. Perhaps the most notable benefit of PlayStation Plus is that every month, Sony gives subscribers one PlayStation 5 and two PlayStation 4 games that are free to download. You have one month to add these free PlayStation Plus games to your library.

After that, these titles are yours to keep so long as you have an active PlayStation Plus subscription. The free-to-download games are generally pretty good (they are often some of the best PS4 games that have been out for a little while), and these alone justify the cost of PS Plus even for people who don't do a lot of online gaming.

Read more
Will Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 be on Xbox Game Pass?
Key art for Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War season 2.

Activision Blizzard, which is now owned by Microsoft, has just confirmed that the next Call of Duty game is titled Call of Duty: Black Ops 6. There's been one major point of contention ahead of this year's Call of Duty: Will it be on Xbox Game Pass at launch? A new report from The Wall Street Journal suggests that is the case.

Historically, Microsoft has added all its first-party games from Xbox Game Studios and Bethesda to Game Pass the day they launched. That applies to big AAA releases like Starfield, as well as more experimental titles like 2022's Pentiment and Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2, which came out this week. Microsoft's public messaging thus far has teased that Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 will come to the Xbox Game Pass. That said, Microsoft has not officially confirmed it, so there have been conflicting reports on this actually being the case.

Read more
The best survival games
Valheim Feature Image


If you want to be really technical, basically every game is a survival game. After all, the point is to avoid dying, right?

Read more