2017 has been a pretty massive year for games already, and there’s still plenty to look forward to. With such an overflowing release schedule, however, it’s almost a certainty that some quality games are going to be left by the wayside, or just not reach the audience they deserve.
With the year over halfway done and most of us anxiously clawing at our calendars to scramble back our lost youth, it’s time for a bit of retrospection on what me might have missed from gaming in 2017. You’ll find a nice mix of underrated games below, from stealth platformers to space hijinks, so there’s bound to be a gap in your library you can plug.
Bear in mind that these are in no particular order – it’s kind of hard to quantify what’s the most underrated. Let’s tuck in, and remember: if you have any suggestions to make, be sure to let us know down below.
Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Before Yooka-Laylee came along and made everyone want to return to the nineties, Poi was the retro platformer of the year. A bright and bubbly title, comparisons to Super Mario 64 are obvious but also apt; it takes more than a few design hints from the Nintendo classic.
While it isn’t without its faults (some sparse content, for one), Poi is a worthwhile platformer to spend some hours with if you have a nostalgia itch you need to scratch. Per WB Mason’s review:
“Poi is a wonderful flashback to early 3D platformers and while it succeeds with the feel of the genre, a lack of content holds it back from being great.”
With super-polished AAA stealth games like Hitman and Dishonored 2 delivering in a big way, it feels as if fans of the genre are spoilt for choice. Not enough of them seem to want to indulge in the mishaps of an offensive little goblin, though.
While its rough edges are sharp enough to cut someone, Styx: Shards of Darkness is an excellent distraction and one that feels truer to the roots of the stealth genre, rather than an action hybrid. You’re always vulnerable and the challenges offered regularly feel dastardly, but it’s a charming throwback all the same. I gave it a fairly positive review back in March:
“Shards of Darkness is a lovingly crafted stealth game with some rough edges that are easy to overlook thanks to the charm of its protagonist.”
3. Mr. Shifty
Available on: PC, Switch
What would happen if you took a dash of Dishonored and generous helpings of Hotline Miami and chucked them in a pot together? Mr. Shifty is your answer, a hugely fun top-down actioner that is as addictive as it is brutal in its difficulty. If you’ve ever played something from Dennaton, you’re in the right ballpark.
Available for the Switch and PC, Mr. Shifty has more than meets the eye and is absolutely worth seeking out by those who love to be punished. It’s not going to be for everyone, but if you like highly-stylised throwbacks, you’re going to fall in love. Here’s Leon with the verdict from his review:
“Mr Shifty is a very fun, fast-paced game with several hours of playtime in the first playthrough. It has a high replayability factor, with each level being selectable from the menu, letting you try to play each level faster than the previous time, with less deaths, until you manage a perfect run.”
Available on: PC, PS4, Xbox One
If you had to sum up Aaero in one word, it would probably be ‘wub’, because it is full of them. A rhythm game with a twist, Aaero offers a novel spin on a genre that the likes of Guitar Hero made mainstream with hybrid gameplay that will even win over the staunchest of dub haters.
The hallmarks of a rhythm game are all there, but Aaero distinguishes itself with old-school Star Fox-esque combat that can make you feel like a god if you time it correctly with the beat. Even if it might not have a million songs to mess around with, its replayability will tide you over as you seek high scores or to just become one with the Bass Cannon. Here’s the verdict from my review:
“Even if you don’t have a soft spot for EDM, Aaero’s infectious and addictive gameplay will keep you coming back.”
Available on: PC, PS4
The rise of the roguelikes is one that cannot be stopped; indie developers keep making them and we can’t stop dying and crying our way through them. A prime example of that is the sci-fi orientated Cryptark, which successfully blasted its way out of early access in June.
A pixel-tastic delight, Cryptark comes with the traditionally unrelenting roguelike difficulty spikes that are offset by its good humour, surprising depth, and plenty of different ways to approach the challenge ahead. Our own Emil gave it a positive review:
“A superb roguelike with a somewhat unique style and feel for it, recommended for the slightly more tactically-minded players compared to the likes of Spelunky and Rogue Legacy.”