It’s felt like an eternity, but we’re finally approaching the end of the utter hellscape of a year that is 2020. You don’t need us to retread this old, traumatic ground, but we’re here now and the end is in sight. Well, the end of this year anyway. Odds are likely that 2021 will be just as terrible, but at least we’ll have some shiny next-gen consoles to protect us, right?
In any year of gaming, it’s pretty standard that plenty of games will go overlooked, underrated or simply just not get the traction they deserve, but given the circumstances of 2020, it’s felt like even more games have been victim to this than others. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the most underrated games of 2020 so far, in no particular order, that you should perhaps catch up on. If you have any other suggestions, feel free to drop them in the comments below.
1. Going Under
Developer: Aggro Crab Publisher: Team17 Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
It’s not that Going Under hasn’t been well received, because it was. Once the review embargo dropped, many outlets had a lot of positive things to say regarding Aggro Crab’s roguelike, ourselves included. Its accurate satire of start-up culture, combined with excellent dungeon crawling gameplay, made for an engaging combination. So why is it underrated? The fact is, Going Under was overshadowed by the launch of Hades a week prior.
Another dungeon crawling roguelike, Hades blew everyone’s collective socks off when it launched, garnering near or even perfect scores from plenty of different outlets. It’s definitely in the running as a GOTY contender, and is arguably one of the best roguelikes ever made, but its launch has surely impacted the release of Going Under.
Still, once you’re done trying to escape the underworld in Hades, consider starting an unpaid internship with Going Under.
2. Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time
Developer: Soleil Ltd Publisher: Adult Swim Games, Cartoon Interactive Group Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Action adventure games based on established properties always seem to fly under the radar, with games like Platinum’s Transformers: Devastation not quite having the same impact as something like Bayonetta. Devastation is still a banger though, and you check it out if you haven’t already, but the logic still stands and we’re getting sidetracked.
Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time fell victim to the same curse, as the hack and slasher based on the popular cartoon hasn’t generated as much buzz as the iconic series that came before it. It’s a shame really, as while it might bear some flaws in its execution, it’s still a wholly enjoyable romp. Fans of the series should really check this one out.
3. A Fold Apart
Developer: Lightning Rod Games Publisher: Lightning Rod Games Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Mobile
I’d imagine that when Lightning Rod Games were initially developing A Fold Apart, they didn’t realise the real world similarities that the game would hold once it was released. An indie puzzle game that’s available on pretty much every platform, A Fold Apart explores a couple who follow career paths that lead them in opposite directions, though they remain committed to a long-distance relationship.
Given the effects of lockdown during the past six months, A Fold Apart’s main story of a relationship where both parties can’t see each other has become something of a reality for many people.
If you’re looking for something a little bit more hopeful, that still (tangentially) acknowledges certain realities, A Fold Apart is worth checking out.
4. Maid of Sker
Developer: Wales Interactive Publisher: Wales Interactive Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
First person pacifist horror games have always been incredibly popular, thanks in no small part to the success of games like Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Outlast. Heck, we’ve even got an Amnesia sequel to play this month. With a crowded genre, it can be hard for new blood to make headway, leading to titles like Maid of Sker failing to set the world alight.
On paper, Maid of Sker has everything a decent horror game needs to succeed, with a story based on real-life myth and legend and a tried and tested gameplay formula that’s raked in the big bucks before. Unfortunately, Maid of Sker has gone somewhat unnoticed since launch, which is a real shame.
That said, it’s set to be available as part of Xbox’s Games With Gold program, so it should find a new audience just in time for Halloween.
5. Minecraft Dungeons
Developer: Mojang Studios Publisher: Double Eleven Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Spin-offs always have the danger of going overlooked when compared to their bigger brethren, especially when that spin-off shoots for a completely different genre than the original game. Turning famous survival game Minecraft into a top down action RPG for Minecraft Dungeons was a huge gamble, but one that led to a shockingly enjoyable experience, yet months later, it managed to fall out of the public consciousness.
At its core, Minecraft Dungeons followed the same gameplay loop as titles like Diablo, with players exploring levels and earning better loot so they can take on harder difficulties to earn even better loot. It’s a decent copy paste of what’s come before, though perhaps Dungeons’ short campaign has ruined any staying power the game might have had.
Still, it’s on Game Pass, so if you haven’t checked it out yet, give it a shot.
6. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot
Developer: Bandai Namco, Cyberconnect2 Publisher: Bandai Namco Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One
When writing this article, I ended up nearly giving myself a heart attack when realising that Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot launched in 2020.
Feels like it’s been years since I was donning that iconic orange outfit to batter some Saibamen across the Earth and Namek, but nope. It was a 2020 launch, and it’s all but forgotten about now, even by me and I reviewed it. Whoops.
An extensive retelling of Dragon Ball Z’s most iconic story arcs, players take control of Goku and friends as they navigate the events of the Saiyan, Frieza, Android, Cell and Buu Sagas. With fast paced 3D combat on both land and in the air, Kakarot is a fantastic game for those looking to relive the greatest hits of one of anime and manga’s most recognisable franchises.
Even if you’re not the biggest DBZ fan, Kakarot is still worth checking out.
7. Rogue Company
Developer: First Watch Games Publisher: Hi-Rez Studios Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
The world of free-to-play shooters has become so crowded recently, with options like Apex Legends, Call of Duty: Warzone, the ever-present Fortnite and Warframe all gunning for your attention. While it might achieve a comparable level of success now that it’s available as a free-to-play game, Rogue Company certainly slipped under the radar of many players when it launched as a paid-closed beta earlier this year.
A 4v4 tactical shooter, Rogue Company contains over a dozen playable Rogues with their own loadouts and abilities. Gameplay-wise, Rogue Company plays like a third-person version of Valorant or Counter Strike, which is a niche that’s not being filled in the console free-to-play market, meaning Rogue Company could still find its audience.
Developer: Metronomik Publisher: Sold-Out Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
A music-based 3D beat’em up/boss rush might be a little bit of a tough sell, admittedly, but No Straight Roads nails that premise and is absolutely begging for more attention. As the indie rock duo Bunk Bed Junction, you have to stand against the full might of No Straight Roads, an EDM empire that’s made rock music illegal. It’s like Rush’s 2112, but with enemies getting smacked by guitars, so better in my opinion.
As Mayday and Zuke, you’ll take on a variety of bosses that represent different styles of dance/pop music, with both characters offering their own weapons and play styles that make them stand out from each other.
With support for both single-player and local co-op, No Straight Roads is a musical adventure that you might just play on repeat over and over again.
9. Hotshot Racing
Developer: Sumo Digital, Lucky Mountain Games Publisher: Curve Digital Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Another Game Pass game that might have slipped a lot of people by is Hotshot Racing, a delightful throwback to the arcade racing of games like Daytona USA, Virtua Racing and others besides. While the low poly visuals might look bad to many players when compared alongside the likes of Forza Horizon 4, Hotshot Racing’s gameplay remains just as satisfying.
Players can choose from one of 8 characters, each with five classes of car that offer their own stats and specialisations, meaning players can experiment heavily with the game to find the car and character combo that works for them.
Featuring fantastic drift-based handling, and the ability to earn some boost for higher speeds, Hotshot Racing is some simple, wholesome racing fun.
10. Captain Tsubasa: Rise Of New Champions
Developer: Tamsoft Publisher: Bandai Namco Platform(s): PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch
Currently, the gaming world is heavily preoccupied with FIFA 21, the latest installment of EA’s long running football series, but if the past iteration is anything to go by, the gameplay is going to be incredibly disappointing and the Ultimate Team microtransactions will be hugely invasive. It’s time to consider an alternative, so why not have a look at Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions?
Based on the Captain Tsubasa anime and manga, Rise of New Champions offers a retelling of one of the series’ biggest arcs, while also including a brand new story arc to boot with your own created character.
The gameplay is more of an arcadey throwback, especially when compared to FIFA’s simulation heavy approach, and it’s by no means flawless, but Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions offers hours of fun, regardless of whether you’re a fan of the original source material.
Developer: Tripwire Interactive, Blindside Interactive Publisher: Tripwire Interactive, Deep Silver Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
As a genetically altered shark, you’re out for blood against the shark hunter that murdered your mother, which is motivation enough to tear chunks out of hundreds of innocent beach-goers if you ask me. With surprisingly enjoyable combat and gameplay, plenty of gore and often hilarious voiceover from SNL alum Chris Parnell, Maneater is an adventure that’s worth dipping your toe in.
Just be careful, you don’t want to get eaten.
12. Moving Out
Developer: SMG Studio, DevM Games Publisher: Team17 Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
The local co-op game discussion is often dominated by the likes of Overcooked, which has probably crumbled more relationships than it has strengthened. That said, consider checking out Moving Out, a physics-based puzzler that’s exactly as it says on the tin. Instead of creating a series of dishes to impress paying customers, you’re hired to yeet someone’s fridge through their front window. Anything to get the fastest time.
To be fair, this entry is only really applicable if you have people to play local co-op with, and considering that the lockdown has made that one much harder, you can probably skip Moving Out if you’re only going to play single player.
Moving Out can be played solo, but the game absolutely comes into its own once you have two to four players together, as your attempts to move some furniture around become increasingly more chaotic.
13. Zombie Army 4: Dead War
Developer: Rebellion Publisher: Rebellion Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One
Rebellion’s games have always managed to provide some cheap and cheerful laughs, with the Zombie Army series being no exception. A spin-off to the Sniper Elite series, Zombie Army took the action of sniping nazis in the dick and improved it by making them zombies. Now there’s hundreds of them to massacre, and the game will even offer cinematic slow-mo shots for certain kills. You love to see it.
Zombie Army 4: Dead War builds on the previous entries, creating more of a fully fledged, standalone game than just “Sniper Elite: Undead Edition”, with weapon upgrades and perks, new items to unlock and plenty more levels to dig into.
Rebellion are planning to support the game with more post-launch content than what’s currently on offer, so if you’re looking for a new four player horde shooter, this one is a pretty safe bet.
14. Gears Tactics
Developer: Splash Damage, The Coalition Publisher: Xbox Game Studios Platform(s): PC (Xbox version launching November 10th)
The turn-based tactical strategy genre has seen a huge boom ever since the incredible success of XCOM: Enemy Unknown and its subsequent updates and sequel, leading to a number of copycats and revivals. Gears Tactics falls hard into the former category, while the Wild West-themed Desperados 3 falls into the latter, yet more focus has been placed on Desperados 3 post-launch than Gears Tactics.
Much like Minecraft Dungeons, this could be due to the fact it’s a spin-off of an already established game series in Gears of War, swapping the third person cover shooting for a turn-based strategy game, but Tactics is a compelling addition to the long-running series.
While it’s only available on PC at the moment, it’ll soon launch on the Xbox, the same day as the Xbox Series X, so perhaps it’ll be better remembered by the year’s close.
15. BPM: Bullets Per Minute
Developer: Awe Interactive Publisher: Awe Interactive Platform(s): PC (Console launch set for next year)
If you want to be bowled over by a tongue-twister of a genre name, try “rhythm-action first-person shooter rogue-like”. That’s the cliff notes version of BPM: Bullets Per Minute, which essentially combines the gameplay of huge arena shooters like Serious Sam 4 with the Karaoke minigame from the Yakuza series. It’s DOOM Eternal for DJs, I guess.
Initially only available on PC, with a console launch set for some time in the future, BPM sees you choosing your own Valkyrie to descend into the bowels of Hell to lay waste to its plentiful demons, all in time with the music. Whether it’s dodging, shooting or reloading, all are done in time with the beat.
While the game has found some success on PC already, that impending console launch should hopefully allow BPM to get the recognition it deserves.
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