As we look back on a year that will famously be remembered for apparently being worse than the plague, it’s hard not to say that it’s actually been a great one for gaming.
Each month, we had at least one fantastic title to devour, whether that’s Nathan Drake’s final foray with Uncharted 4 or the surprising excellence of jumping into a giant robot for the second time. People are still buying and selling games in their drives, but as always, there are those that unfairly slip under the radar.
Not all of these titles are classics, but these are the most underrated games of 2016 that deserved better than what they got. Titanfall 2 doesn’t make the cut despite not selling particularly well because everyone is in agreement that it is the bee’s knees, the best thing since sliced bread, and definitely better than intimate relations with someone you love/swiped right on to start the mating process.
How do you prove to gamers that you aren’t a one-trick pony developer? Release something that’s a major departure from what you made your name on.
Making a sequel to Slender: The Arrival would have been much easier for Blue Isle Studios and would have probably seen them strutting all the way to the bank. The mere fact that Valley exists, a beautifully cathartic series of leaps around a secluded valley, is worthy of applause: they’re clearly taking risks, and it pays off in a big way.
The mainstream media didn’t give Valley a fair rub of the green and might have been expecting something else. Leave it to gamers to fill in the blanks: it’s had a very positive reception on Steam and it’s acclaim that’s totally deserved. Strap on your L.E.A.F suit and jump into one of 2016’s true hidden gems.
Deceptively simple, Inversus is one of those pure games that not enough people were made aware of, which was something I mentioned in my review.
Playing locally, Inversus is a dream. The arena style is suited perfectly to grabbing a friend and getting stuck into some hard-to-classify domino shooting. When you think you have it mastered, the stakes are raised and your fingers will be twitching more than a cowboy with a Red Bull problem.
Unfortunately, thanks to a busy release schedule, Inversus never really managed to land with a big enough presence to connect to a multiplayer audience, at least on PS4. If you’re looking for a palate cleanser to play with a few friends, Inversus is more than worth your time.
Challenging and tittersome (a word that is in my New Year’s resolutions to use whenever possible), Riveis a rough diamond that might not be an immediate attention-grabber. Once it does grab you, though, it resents letting go until its end.
As a space salvager, you’re tasked with making your way through a space station and finding the sweet, sweet bounty within its depths. Of course it isn’t as simple as that: Rive offers a mighty fine challenge that can, at times, seem unfair, but as with all games of its ilk, mowing through enemies and the bosses that accompany it is satisfying when you eventually pull it off.
Better yet, it doesn’t outstay its welcome and lasts for just about the perfect length. All the better reason for you to don your trucker cap and get lost in a sea of space lunacy.
“Have you played Aragami yet?” “Why haven’t you played Aragami?” “Seriously, play Aragami or I will burn your house do–”
So goes the transcript for most of my conversations with friends last year. Aragami is a game that I simply cannot recommend enough as it bridges a gap between the stealth classics and the new with ease. It has style and substance, a formula that had me hooked from the first shadow.
Taking control of an aragami, a spirit brought back to fulfill a quest, you must save a princess from the clutches of evil. If that sounds familiar, it’s supposed to: Aragami is a game all about callbacks and homages that never seems forced. Nods to Mario and Zelda are obvious within the first hour, but then it becomes its own game the further you go.
Difficult but never unbalanced, Aragami is probably my go-to for the most underrated game of last year. Pick it up now or I will burn your house do–
Say what you want about Adult Swim and Double Fine, but there’s no denying they always do things differently, often to great success. Headlander is the perfect example of this as a game that quickly moves past being just a quirky gimmick and into something that’s easy to recommend.
As a head, literally just a head in helmet, you’re tasked with emancipating the consciousnesses of the last vestiges of humanity from an omnipotent AI on a space station that looks like a swinger’s paradise. If that doesn’t swing your opinion, how about the fact that you can attach your head to other bodies? Still no? Okay, I’ll bring out the big guns.
Equal parts puzzler and actioner, Headlander is an acquired taste, but if your tastebuds are seeking new experiences (this metaphor got away from me), it’s one worth having.
Probably the best game available for free on PS Plus in 2016, Furi‘s ultra hard difficulty means it’s hard to recommend to everyone, but I’m going to anyway. As long as you don’t have a heart condition or are prone to rag-induced blackouts, Furi is a very easy sell.
A series of ever more difficult boss battles await you in The Game Bakers’ brave departure from what they’ve tried before. It will probably just click with you at some point or another without you even realising it, a game that quietly creeps into your mind until you’re a few hours in and a few seconds away from combusting after being bested by the same boss for the ninth time.
From the outside looking in, Furi may appear to be a relatively straightforward affair, but there’s really a rhythm game at its center. Progress is determined by how well you can remember patterns and follow the same beats, which makes it all the more satisfying when you beat the utter bastards trying to take you back to jail. Buy this game, tell your friends to do the same and then bask in their utter adoration for your wisdom.
What do you think of my choices? I’ve deliberately avoided AAA games that were only slightly undervalued (Dishonored 2, Hitman) and have just included games that I’ve played. Have any to add or recommend? Let me know below.