This is something I’ve wanted to write about for a while. This isn’t really a series of reviews like some of my past posts, but more an eye-opener for any gaming fans, and some diamonds in the rough to look into. Video games are everywhere. There are literal craptons of them, in all forms. Consoles, PC, hand-held, there are thousands. How many will be good? How many are worth playing? Which ones should we avoid? Social media and vast amounts of subjective reviews all over the internet will see to that; everybody is a critic. Nobody can play them all, so countless games will often find themselves under the rug. In the midst of huge AAA titles, many of the smaller, indie titles go under-looked.
Today I’d like to share some games I’ve been playing which I feel are underrated, or are worth a shot, while we’re focused on playing the AAA titans. Some likely won’t be seen as underrated elsewhere, but hey, it’s all subjective. All opinions and articles are.
The Age of Decadence
I had to start off with this. This came out in 2015, and was actually listed in my (uncompleted I might add) Top 10 favourite games of 2015. I enjoyed it that much. Now, this game isn’t for everyone. It is hard, and at times brutal. You’re no champion of warfare, or some jumped-up superhero who is a master of all trades. (Hello Skyrim! You are awesome, but man you had some flaws, this being one of them)
Here’s the game on the “glorious” Steam. http://store.steampowered.com/app/230070 This is an RPG, in much the same mould as games like Pillars of Eternity, Baldurs Gate and Planescape Torment (Possibly the greatest RPG ever made.) Set in a Roman-esque world, there are different factions to work for, large immersive cities, plenty of choice and plenty of believable characters. It’s virtually all text-based, so if reading isn’t your thing, you’re not going to like it.
The combat is tough. Most often you’ll be doing trial and error, and you’ll die a lot. Your character isn’t going to be some god, not initially anyway. Muddling through is what I found was often. It can be a turn-off, definitely. Not everybody will like this game.
Fortunately, there is a way for you guys to play the game for “free,” in which the devs actually provide a sizable demo, available to download on Steam for free. It’s the first chapter of the game, explained very well on their page:
The Big Question: Should You Buy The Game?
Try before you buy. Even if everything I said sounds exactly like your kind of game, try the demo first. That’s what it’s there for. It gives you access to the first Chapter, consisting of 3 locations and about 30 quests split between mutually exclusive quest-lines and decisions.
This is quite impressive by the devs; and frankly this is how demos should be done. Good to, as the game is quite expensive for an indie title, but worth the money. Fortunately the demo is quite sizeable, and you should get at least 7-8 hours of content to play, to test to see if the game is for you. All in all, worth trying, and nothing to lose.
Black and White
This was the very first game review I ever did on this blog. I even went back and updated that review, which I shall leave a link here: https://thousandscarsblog.wordpress.com/2015/12/04/black-and-white-not-as-simple-as-all-that/
It’s certainly under-appreciated in the present day. Sure, it was over-hyped before release and seen as overrated by many critical reviews, but now? It is a hidden gem which I think everyone should play. Lionhead Studios, the guys behind this game, has shut down as of this year, leaving a sad memory in my heart. They eventually collapsed under the weight of their expectations, but games such as Dungeon Keeper, Fable II and this game make me remember it fondly, and even “almost” make up for Fable III and the appalling video game Godus.
Essentially, the game is a god-sim, where you control the lives of your little subjects and do anything you want to them. Me? I’m a prick of a god, and enjoy torturing them. I reviewed its sequel Black and White 2 in my second edition of Flash Game Reviews, but this game just had an edge in overall depth. BW2 was dumbed down a lot, and while many features in the first game weren’t as polished as they should be, it is still an enjoyable experience. There is even a considerable mod-base if you know where to look. The campaign though only five lands is expansive, although it lacks a real sandbox map. Even so, I find this to overall be a good game, and worth looking into. Just be expected to make tweaks to get it to run on modern systems.
Mount and Blade: Warband
Welcome to one of my favourite games of all time. It’s truly that good. What could I say about this? Made by Taleworlds Entertainment in 2010, it was a direct sequel standalone to the original Mount and Blade. The best way to describe this game is an action RPG in a sandbox world.
It’s not a pretty game by any means; it’s graphics are borderline ugly. I’d say it’s a cross between Morrowind and Oblivion graphics. The outdoors (where you’ll do most of the fighting) are occasionally pretty, but overall, it doesn’t look amazing. But graphics isn’t what this game has for it, it’s the gameplay. My god, the gameplay. There are six factions in the game which you can join and fight with, or forge your own kingdom. There is some level of diplomacy, marriage to princesses, hire your own armies and look after them in battle, besiege castles and towns. While it’s not hugely polished, it’s still an awful lot of fun. There is even some trade profit options if you want to go down that route.
The biggest strength to this game though is its adaptability. There are hundreds of fan-made content mods for this, including full conversions which transform the game in every shape and form. The vanilla game surely isn’t perfect, but the modding base really makes it shine. There are giant adaptations of popular genres like Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings and Warhammer universe too.
If you can get this game for around £10-15, buy it without doubt. This is one of the best games ever made (In my opinion anyway), and you’ll get hundreds if not thousands of hours of content. In terms of money for your time, it’s one of the most profitable. It does have a steep learning curve and its presentation is ugly for a 2010-gen game, but the depth more then makes up for it. A solid 9/10 for me.
There are many more out there, but this is just an inkling of what’s hidden under the giants. Check them out, there will be more coming. Steam Sales are very soon too, so a big chance to pick up some true gems!