While I’m sure that we’d all love for every great game to be a financial success and take the world by storm, there are many that don’t get quite as much attention as they deserve. Each year, games that are genuinely good are overlooked for a variety of reasons, whether that be the strength of the IP itself, its marketing efforts, or its release alongside other big hitters in the industry.
I know I’ve missed out on a ton of games because of this, but I’ve also been lucky enough to play a few that many haven’t. That’s why in this issue of Countdown, I’ll be listing five games that deserved more attention than what they got.
Sleeping Dogs (2012)
Originally beginning as a new entry in the now dormant True Crime series. It was subsequently cancelled by Activision and bought by Square Enix. The game eventually released in 2012 and was met with praise by critics. However, it didn’t set the world on fire.
Sleeping Dogs puts players in control of Wei Shen, an undercover police officer tasked with infiltrating and taking down the Sun On Yee, a dangerous triad organisation. Shen is forced to balance completing his mission while also earning his loyalty with his fellow gang members and progressing through the ranks.
While the game was held back by some poor driving mechanics, Sleeping Dogs was held up by an engaging storyline, interesting mission design, and some great melee combat mechanics.
The game was overshadowed by many high-profile releases that came towards the second half of the year, but I consider it to be a great alternative to games such as Grand Theft Auto, which I enjoyed much less than Sleeping Dogs.
Developed by Arkane Studios, the same developer that brought us the highly regarded Dishonored series, Prey had some high hopes to live up to. While it was met with praise from critics, players haven’t gone wild about Prey and it doesn’t look like it was the big hit that Bethesda were hoping for.
This is a shame to see as Prey has one of the most interesting gameplay premises I’ve seen in quite some time. Enemies in Prey, known as Mimics, have the ability to transform themselves into any object in the room. It allows for some interesting encounters as you progress through the game, and can even result in some great jump scares if players aren’t too careful.
Rayman Legends (2013)
A sequel to the equally entertaining Rayman Origins, Rayman Legends had an interesting development history to say the least. Beginning as a Wii U exclusive, Rayman Legends was eventually delayed in order to be ported to the Xbox 360, PS3, and other platforms, largely due to the Wii U’s struggling sales and the poor performance of ZombiU.
When it was released, gamers were subjected to a splendid game that was a beautiful as it was fun to play. Critics raved about it, yet the sales told a different story. It took over a year for the game to sell over one million copies, and while it continued to sell as time went on, I think the game deserved to be a much bigger success than what it was.
Splinter Cell: Blacklist (2013)
Splinter Cell: Blacklist was one of the final big releases before the new generation of consoles took the world by storm. Unfortunately, this lead to the game being largely overlooked, especially with it releasing only a few weeks before Grand Theft Auto V.
It’s sad to see that Blacklist didn’t meet Ubisoft’s high sales expectations, as it had a lot going for it. The game features an interesting campaign, as well as an equally enjoyable co-op experience for players to run through with their friends.
The multiplayer portion of Blacklist was also surprisingly fun. It was the first time I’d played Splinter Cell’s multiplayer, and the fantastic stealth gameplay present in the single player mode worked well in a multiplayer setting, creating for some tense encounters with other players.
Remember Me (2013)
Starting to notice a pattern here? Like the previous two entries, Remember Me was released in 2013, around the time when most gamers were ready to move across to the newest consoles that came out months later.
Remember Me follows Nilin, a memory hunter that’s on the run. Nilin journeys throughout Neo-Paris, a cyberpunk world that’s unlike any other that I’ve seen, as she attempts to recover memories that were taken from her.
Unfortunately, I felt that it’s gameplay mechanics didn’t quite land as well as DONTNOD would have hoped, with its combo lab being an interesting mechanic, but one that could have been fleshed out a little more.
Where the game truly shined is in its storytelling and world building. Neo Paris is gorgeous, and it’s clear that DONTNOD put an enormous amount of effort to ensure that the world had its own unique identity. The plot is also surprisingly interesting, and something that I’ve never seen explored in a video game before, and I think it’s worth checking out because of it.