Why do you think some games are worshiped and some only have small, dedicated fans who can never shut up about how great the game they’ve played was? By paraphrasing George Orwell: “all games are equal, but some games are more equal than others”, we can easily answer the question. Marketing and familiarity. Games like Call of Duty, Battlefield, FarCry, Assassin’s Creed, etc. are marketed everywhere, and when buying the next installment you kind of know what you’ll be getting. Others are forgotten and become a niche of the underrated games.

On the other hand, new IPs have a hard time rising above the popular games due to being, well, new, and most of the marketing they get is a word of mouth. You might have heard someone mentioning the name of a certain game, but have you actually played it?

Let’s change that.

Underrated games you won’t regret playing

Here are four outstanding underrated games that deserve more love, recognition, and appreciation. Here are the games you MUST play at least once.

NieR: Automata

At first glance, NieR: Automata may look like some Japanese maid fetish with bullet hell sequences and hack ‘n slash gameplay, and well, it sort of is, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to NieR: Automata. 

NieR Automata is a little masterpiece and should not be among the underrated games.

The more you play, explore and dive into the game, the more it blossoms. Most of the world-building is done through side quests (not something games usually do) and each new interaction unlocks the mysteries of the post-apocalyptic future, expands the lore, and asks the existential and philosophical questions about life, love, and free will pushing the player to question their actions.

In the market oversaturated by fast-paced first-person shooters, competitive Battle Royales, and open-world games with endless completion lists, NieR: Automata is a game that respects the player and stays with you long after the credits have rolled. It truly is one of its kind and proof of what games can be and should be.

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A Plague Tale: Innocence

The plague, also known as the Black Death has taken more than 100 million lives. It took 200 years for humanity to recover and to this day is considered one of the darkest periods in human history. That’s the grim setting for A Plague Tale: Innocence – a tale of two people bound by survival in a world that is slowly withering away. 

Among underrated games, A Plague Tale: Innocence is a gem.

The game may not offer the story with jaw-dropping plot twists, significant gameplay mechanics, or never-before-seen puzzles to solve. So what’s so special about it? Just like The Last of Us (you know if you’ve played it) the game is about the bond between characters. What at first seems like another escort mission, the game ties the main characters together in a thrilling tale of death and survival. 

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As gamers, we’re used to fast-paced gameplay, huge open worlds, the XP grind, and even violence. The video game “noise” has become our second nature, something we’re used to and no longer take notice of. Sometimes it takes a special kind of game to come along for us to press pause and take in everything that surrounds us, and GRIS is that game.

GRIS is one of the underrated games

From the very first moment GRIS takes your breath away as you wake up in a giant palm, ready to begin your adventure. GRIS is not different from any other platforming game and it won’t challenge you while solving puzzles or getting from point A to point B, but GRIS is not about the gameplay.

GRIS is an emotional journey, a metaphor left to interpret by whoever plays it. In a hectic, always-on-the-run world, GRIS is a game that makes you stop for a moment, breath in, and absorb its beauty, tranquility, and music. But words mean nothing when describing the beauty of GRIS, it’s a game you have to play.

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Spec Ops: The Line

Spec Ops: The Line was dismissed by gamers as one of those average third-person cover-based military shooters that’s been popping up after Gears of War practically invented the genre. Judging the game by its trailers was the mistake gamers made. On the other hand, if Spec Ops: The Line revealed everything it was carrying, it would not have made such an impact on those who have played it.

Spec Ops the line is one of the underrated games.

Yes, to its core, it still is a cover-based third-person military shooter, but it carries significant narrative and weight buried within. Many games have tried to depict the horrors of war, and dive into the psyche of the soldiers, but none have come even close to what Spec Ops: The Line managed to accomplish. The game has multiple endings, each one more disturbing than the other.

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These underrated games prove video games can be a lot more than just games. They are the proof of the long-running argument that video games are art.