The 2010s were a unique time for gaming. We all know about the big ones, the ones that made a cultural impact, the ones that made history like Fortnite and Grand Theft Auto V, but how about the ones that flew under the radar?
From critical darlings to games that were overlooked either by their predecessors or by their sequels or simply unknown, here is some of my picks for the most underrated games throughout the decade. Let’s begin.
1: BioShock 2 (2010)
The original BioShock took the world by storm in August 2007, it had been heralded as a watershed moment for gaming at that particular era. The original BioShock ended up being the most significant game of the 2000’s and of the new generation, it proved to us that games could be much more than entertainment, so of course, a sequel to this game would face an epic amount of derision.
Ten years later, after it’s original release, BioShock 2 is a forgotten gem of the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 generation. Where the original BioShock was impressed by its own cleverness, BioShock 2 opted to add emotional stakes and it worked. The choices were more complex than X and Y , the story tugged at the heartstrings, its gunplay was better, and its DLC laid the groundwork for what would become the walking simulator gem “Gone Home”. I’ll never understand why BioShock 2 didn’t hit resonate as much as the original game or BioShock Infinite.
2: Sleeping Dogs (2012)
Grand Theft Auto has a lot of things to it that makes it a unique game, but what if, it had a little bit more heart to it and a little bit more oomph? It would’ve been Sleeping Dogs.
It’s a genuinely good crime story that started off as a game within the True Crime franchise, a franchise that had peaked in the 2000s, right on the heels of Grand Theft Auto. It’s a shame that Sleeping Dogs never took off.
#3: L.A Noire (2011)
Despite its critical and commercial success with the original and the remastered version which released in 2017, I still think L.A Noire is an underrated game of the past ten years and one of Rockstar’s least known works.
Set amid the golden age boom of Hollywood in 1947, you play as Cole Phelps, a newly minted detective, who has arrived home after serving with the Marines in the Pacific during World War II, he must clean up the streets of LA and bring criminals to justice. L.A Noire is a very different game to many other games out there, the focus is on your investigative skills instead of your trigger finger. L.A Noire used MotionScan which delivered pure performance from those within the game. Every wrinkle, twitch, facial movements, and swallows were captured and shown onscreen. It is a powerful tool that should be used more often.
L.A Noire isn’t a perfect game, but it’s a one of a kind game that never comes. It’s not everyday you see a game like L.A Noire release out into the world, it’s a perfect noire story but ultimately falls short due to the ending, it’s a bold and unique take on gaming. You should go play.
#4: Dead Space 2 (2011)
Usually, when it comes to sequels, the second entry is usually a hit or miss but most of the time it is a miss as many sequels try to replicate the success and ideas of the original piece of product that spawned it and only a few go down as better or equal to the original, in the case of Dead Space 2, it’s legacy is legendary and one of the few sequels that enter the hall of fame but it’s a shame that not many know of Dead Space.
The original Dead Space is as legendary as it comes, it is one of the greatest horror games of all time. While not as historic as the original game in 2008, Dead Space 2 is just an iconic piece of gaming history that launched earlier in the decade. It’s a shame that nobody knows of this iconic franchise, if you’re into scares or want something to play at night, this is a very good piece of horror that will keep you up at night.
#5: Rise of the Tomb Raider (2015)
Raider of tombs, OG of female protagonists, and so much more, Lara Croft is the one. Her reputation precedes her. Rise of the Tomb Raider and its sequel, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, is possibly one of the most underrated games of the decade.
Rise of the Tomb Raider wasn’t wildly embraced, since it came out on the same day as Fallout 4 and the critical reception was lukewarm. However, the gameplay is top notch and for playability, it holds up quite well plus it gives Uncharted a run for its money.
#6: Star Wars: Battlefront II (2017)
The verdict on Battlefront II may have been very negative and still to this day, the verdict remains the same, since the whole situation with the loot box fiasco back in 2017, but the game has always had its criticism.
For a while now, Battlefront II has changed and turned into an actual good game. The campaign may not be that great, but it’s multiplayer, is the one that steals the show. Where else can you play as a Jedi or a Sith or a Stormtrooper in some of the franchises’ most iconic places from the movies. With years of support and downloadable content, there is no better time to hop in and see what you’ve been missing.
#7: Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (2017)
A haunting combat game with a very real view on mental health, Hellblade was well received, but it can be draining. Granted it’s not easy to play, but you owe it to yourself to crack on with one of the most challenging games in a long time.
You play as Senua, a 8th century warrior, on a quest to save the soul of her former lover, Dillion, from the goddess Hela. Anything but a fantasy adventure, Senua uses her lover’s severed head as a vessel to his soul and experiences hallucinations, delusions, and other mental afflictions in what is an absorbing experience.