Considering that 2019 wasn’t exactly the most bountiful year in video game history, you’d think that every great game that came out would attract the appropriate level of attention. Yet again, though, we’re left with a series of titles that just didn’t get the amount of love they deserve.
With that in mind, here are some of the underrated games of 2019 that you absolutely need to play.
Judgment (which was technically released in Japan in later 2018) initially drew some hype as a detective spin-off of the Yakuza series, but the hype around it kind of cooled in the weeks following its release.
While Judgement’s gameplay isn’t nearly as refined as it should be, its story and noire atmosphere hit a sweet spot that hasn’t really been explored since L.A. Noire. It’s a niche title, but its best ideas will leave a mark on anyone.
Hypnospace Outlaw’s central premise (which sees you serve as a kind of internet cop patrolling webpages ripped straight from the early internet days) sounds like a gimmick, and it kind of is. There’s a degree to which you have to be “in to” the style and culture of that time to care about this game.
Yet, Hypnospace Outlaw’s true brilliance lies in the little things. The weird world-building moments, the strange story sections, the surprisingly deep characters…this is a game about the joy of embracing the thrill of discovery.
Leading up to its release, there were quite a few people who felt that Shenmue 3 was going to be a massive, massive failure. A weird thing happened, though, when it was released and just kind of…disappeared.
The truth of it is that Shenmue 3 turned out to be a pretty good game for fans of the series. Yet, as a game that delivers something that no other games before or since really do, it’s a title that’s more unique than its premise and personal history may lead you to believe.
Risk of Rain 2
The original Risk of Rain was a cute little roguelike with old-school aesthetics, but it didn’t exactly push the envelope. Risk of Rain 2 attempts to do just that by converting those 2D concepts into a 3D world.
That transition can be a little rough, but Risk of Rain 2 ultimately nails its better ideas. It’s a game that taps into the simpler appeal of 3D action games and lets you experience it with your friends.
It’s honestly bizarre that Astral Chain has seemingly been forgotten as we enter awards season. Maybe we’re just taking excellent and strange PlatinumGames action titles for granted.
Regardless, this remains one of the year’s best 3D action games. It starts off somewhat slow but soon rewards you with some truly excellent battles and one of the best overall experiences of its kind since Bayonetta.
Greedfall is an absolute technical mess that suffers from its ambitious attempt to recreate larger RPGs on a smaller budget. You can’t talk about the game without addressing that elephant in the room.
However, you can’t completely deny the appeal of a BioWare-like RPG at a time when even BioWare isn’t making those types of games anymore. At the very least, it’s a great first step into a fascinating future for this studio and franchise.
As an open-world horror RPG, Pathologic 2 already scratches a few itches that aren’t necessarily fulfilled by other major games out there.
Pathologic 2 essentially carries on the “legacy” of underrated games like Cthulu: Dark Corners of the Earth. It’s an ambitious and genuinely frightening horror game that also so happens to feature some of the best mythology and psychological writing of the year.
Remnant: From The Ashes
It could have been easy for Remnant: From the Ashes to phone-in the core concept of a Dark Souls-style co-op shooter. We’ve seen phoned-in Dark Souls games in the past.
What saves this title are the ways that the developers manage to expand the appeal of the co-op shooter by using Dark Souls concepts. The added sense of danger this game presents you with means that the highs it offers from victories are higher than what you get with other, similar games.
My Friend Pedro
There’s no talking around what My Friend Pedro is. It’s a glorified take on an Adobe Flash action game that offers many of the things that Max Payne and similar older action titles endeavored to offer.
At a time when such games aren’t exactly plentiful, though, My Friend Pedro is a lovely break from the more serious and weighty titles out there. It’s just a good time for anyone who loves a solid action game.
The easiest way to describe Later Alligator is as a Saturday morning cartoon made specifically for video games. It’s a goofy, wild, and often light game about solving a mystery in “Alligator New York City.”
You just don’t see a lot of video games that attempt to replicate such a style, and you see fewer still that actually manage to pull that style off quite as well as this one does. It’s an especially great game for those who love brilliant original soundtracks.