Written by Rick Warren / Gfn2112
2017 was a year packed full of great games. In fact, there were so many that whenever it comes to choosing my favorites, I’ve struggled to limit myself to only a few of them. I end up listing a dozen titles when asked, and even then there are still games that I forget to mention. With this weeks' top five, I’d like to put a spotlight on some of the forgotten games that have released over the past few years. Whether it was due to a poor release date, bad marketing, a year where there were an abundance of great games, or something else, these are five games that deserved more attention than they received.
5.) Titanfall 2
Reason for being underappreciated: Terrible release date.
Though it’s the first game on this list, Titanfall 2 is possibly the most unfortunate one on the list. It was met with an impressive amount of critical praise, delivering a strong campaign and great post-launch support for its multiplayer offering. However, that wasn’t enough. Not enough people were there at launch, and without a strong install base, the game began to fade away quickly. This should not have happened, though, as Respawn is not to blame whatsoever. They made a great game, but were forced to release it at the worst possible time: the week in between a new Call of Duty game and a new Battlefield game. How EA thought it was a good idea to make this game compete with two of the biggest shooters in gaming (one of which they publish) is something I still don’t understand. While this may have led to Titanfall 2 being overlooked when it released, the game is still worth playing today. Hopefully the next entry in the series does not suffer the same fate...
Next up, a Metal Gear game that divided the large fan base of the series...
4.) Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Reason for being underappreciated: Fan expectations.
Metal Gear Rising was a good game that received an outlandish amount of hate from some Metal Gear fans. Its biggest crime? Not being enough like Metal Gear Solid. While most critics didn’t cite this as a negative, a surprising number of players did, and it created a negative connotation around the game that has persisted for years. I never had that problem. I saw “Rising” in the title instead of “Solid”, and it was enough of an indication for me that the game would be different. That difference in gameplay was exactly what made it good, too. Having a cyborg ninja like Raiden moving through areas stealthily would have made no sense, as opposed to the quick melee focus and sword fights, which did. Rising was an experiment that, in my opinion, paid off. It got its main character right, just like the MGS series did with Snake. If they were to play it, I think it's a game that would surprise many who have only heard bad things about it.
Next up, the sequel to one of the Vita’s strongest games...
3.) Gravity Rush 2
Reason for being underappreciated: Busy year.
This game is a perfect example of what I mentioned in the intro regarding 2017. Having released at the beginning of the year, I forgot about Japan Studio’s PS4 follow-up to the original Gravity Rush... and how much I enjoyed it. The balance between dark and light themes worked as well as last time, and helped the setting keep me engaged. With a deeper range of powers, a larger world, and a more interesting story, this sequel was a strong follow-up to its predecessor. It even eliminated some of the inconveniences from the PS Vita version of the original game, particularly the hard-to-control camera. Despite its improvements, its early 2017 release has made it an extremely overlooked PlayStation exclusive, and one that I recommend picking up as soon as possible.
Next up, a game from one of the standout devs of last year...
2.) Enslaved: Odyssey To The West
Reason for being underappreciated: Ninja Theory still "unknown" at the time.
Given the recent rise of Ninja Theory, I had to mention this game. Enslaved: Odyssey to the West is one of the last games I finished on my PlayStation 3, and I’m glad that I took the time to play it before I moved on. An action game, Odyssey to the West followed Monkey and Trip in an impressive retelling of the iconic Japanese story, “Journey to the West”. Andy Serkis and Lindsey Shaw do a great job in their roles, and the relationship between the two works. Enslaved’s combat fits its gorgeous, post-apocalyptic world, creating a unique blend you could only find in a video game. Hopefully, the well-deserved success of Hellblade inspires new fans of Ninja Theory to check out their previous games, especially Enslaved. It deserves so much more praise than it received at the time of release.
Finally, in the top spot, a game that introduced me to a whole new series...
1.) Yakuza 0
Reason for being underappreciated: Lack of knowledge from Western audience.
Another 2017 title, Yakuza 0 reiterates the dominance of Japan in the gaming space last year. It’s a game that has surprised everyone I know who’s tried it... and that includes me. I had no interest in the series prior to playing 0, but thanks to a good friend repeatedly suggesting that I try the game, I gave it a chance. Everything I thought I knew about Yakuza was wrong. The characters were memorable, and the writing was great. Further, there were hours of cutscenes. This wasn’t another “do whatever you want” kind of game like GTA or Sleeping Dogs. Rather, it was a story-driven action game. Instead of relying on gunplay, the game boasted an incredibly deep hand-to-hand combat system that never stopped being fun, offering tons of unique takedowns and distinct fighting styles. The two playable characters, which had incredibly different stories, were both likable. This shined in the Yakuza’s funny mini-games and side quests, which were a great contrast to the serious main story. Personally, I don’t play many games or watch many shows/movies that lack an English dub, but I’m glad I made an exception this time. I’m about to start Yakuza: Kiwami, and I truly cannot wait to do so. I feel like there are many gamers like I was out there, who were quick to judge a book by its cover. Change that; play Yakuza 0.
I hope you enjoyed this list, and that it inspires you to check out some of the games on it! As always, you'll find an honorable mention in the comments below. Also, you can find my thoughts on five more underappreciated games here, if you're interested.