Every year you’ll see article after article dedicated to debating and choosing the top games ever released. While this can be entertaining, and definitely stimulates plenty of discussion, it’s also a practice that’s prone to throwing up the same old titles over and over.
But what about those games that are either critically or commercially overlooked, and have yet to undergo a renaissance?
Here are a handful of underrated releases that deserve to be revisited and reappraised.
Dark Souls 2
From Software usually wins plaudits for its paradigm-shifting efforts, earning accolades for the original Dark Souls and continuing to innovate with Bloodborne, Sekiro and Elden Ring.
However, Dark Souls 2 is the black sheep of the Soulsborne family, with complaints regarding its enemy design and world geography placed front and center. This leads to it being unfairly dismissed, even by the biggest fans of its predecessors and successors.
Revisiting Dark Souls 2 today is well worth it, especially if the aforementioned Elden Ring has been monopolizing your play time recently. The world will feel more focused, the storyline more bleak, and even the boss battles compare favorably, especially in the end game where the difficulty curve is managed in a fairer way, unlike its newer cousin’s unbalanced final hours.
Golden Nugget 64
In the 21st century if you want to gamble, you can give it a go with new PayPal casinos from any smartphone. Back in the 1990s, your only option was to visit a land-based casino, which wasn’t exactly convenient.
Enter Golden Nugget 64, a comprehensive casino simulator that of course came to the Nintendo 64 at a time when such games were virtually unheard of. Supporting single player as well as local multiplayer across games like poker, slots, blackjack and more, Golden Nugget 64 earns a place on this list because of how it foretold the future of the industry, both in terms of the rise of digital gambling and also commercial tie-ins.
Few games still look cutting edge more than a decade after their original release. But taking a look at Mirror’s Edge today will still leave players impressed with the presentation of the sterile utopia in which it takes place. The clean architecture, bright colors, slick movements and solid first-person platforming all come together to make it a joy to play.
The other advantage which is often overlooked when discussing Mirror’s Edge is its length. It doesn’t overstay its welcome, unlike the overstuffed open-world titles that are commonplace right now. It also invites ample replayability as a speedrunning game, and a competitive scene remains in place if this is your bag.
A critical darling but a commercial flop, Psychonauts is a cult classic that has since been remastered and even earned a well-received sequel as well.
The story is the star of the show here, with the wacky world of psychic super-spies as envisioned by Tim Schafer always being a funny and involving place to spend some time. The platforming mechanics and collect-a-thon aspects of the gameplay might become tiresome, but it’s the characters and dialogue that keep you coming back for more.