We’ve narrowed that down The best underrated games of 2022 to a selected group of four. Some of the following games are nominees at The Game Awards 2022 despite being either huge underdogs or still relatively unknown. A fair amount of attention was paid to some of them, but they received only passable results at launch. Others rated highly for a niche game but were easily swept away by bigger titles like Elden Ring and God of War Ragnarok. So let’s tip the scales a little and give these underrated games, for which we’re grateful, more attention than they’ve been getting lately.
Capcom has made so many video game compilations that this June release came naturally. Compilations similar to Sonic Origins and Pac-Man Museum+, both released around the same time, were also a bit mediocre, so it sounded like Capcom Fighting Collection was just another slapdash anthology, a low-effort crash-grab of of little importance.
Lo and behold, Capcom had something special up their sleeve, adding several unexpected games to the collection that never saw widespread distribution in America. Along with all five Darkstalkers games, it includes Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo and the little-known but still awesome Red Earth. It probably could have replaced Cyberbots with Street Fighter II or III, but the rollback netcode for online multiplayer and the sheer volume of content in the museum are worth the price of admission.
Following in the footsteps of the brilliant disco Elysium and the surrealistic Kentucky Route Zero, NORCO is an incredible point-and-click text-based adventure game set in a dystopian version of a real-life town in southern Louisiana. The cinematic pixel art is exquisite, emphasizing the Southern Gothic atmosphere of a narrative that blurs the lines between reality and divinity. The game begins as you search for your missing brother Blake by following a fugitive security android and eventually grows into a story about a world that has suffered from the ill effects of the oil industry for decades.
Though the story abruptly changes direction at times, the prose itself is well done, deftly addressing the interconnected themes of survival, industrialization, and family. Cerebrally challenging, NORCO can be brutally honest about what’s happening to cities like this and the families who live there. But if you have about six hours and fifteen bucks to spare, we think you should give this game a try.
It might be hard to remember a game that released before Elden Ring this year, but OlliOlli World is an awesome skateboard platformer that blows the first two OlliOlli games out of the water. Develop Roll7 enlivened the series with a wonderful art style full of pastel colors and, despite the caricatured look of the world of Radlandia, with gameplay that requires incredible precision. There’s nothing quite like being able to get through an entire level without ever folding and performing a long combination of tricks to the end.
Meanwhile, OlliOlli World has a goofy, laid-back atmosphere. The input windows are relatively generous, the artwork will probably remind you of Adventure Time, and the lo-fi hip-hop soundtrack is great to listen to on your own. The game is available on pretty much every modern platform, so we recommend giving it a try if you haven’t already. It even has a chance to win Best Sports at The Game Awards 2022 against NBA 2K22 and FIFA 23. Hopefully it gets the recognition it deserves.
Disney Dreamlight Valley
Aside from Kingdom Hearts, there have been few Disney games in the last five years. Developer Gameloft is also best known for games on mobile platforms, so on paper the idea that it would succeed with a Disney-themed Animal Crossing-like game was a long shot at best. I also doubted the game, but saw that it was in the Xbox Game Pass catalogue, so I gave it a try. And so far I’m pleasantly hooked. Seemingly out of nowhere, the game has surprisingly managed to be supported by a loyal fan base of players eager to meet, farm and fish with their favorite Disney characters and villains.
Technically, Disney Dreamlight Valley is still in Early Access, with many more characters from Toy Story, Beauty and the Beast, Lilo and Stitch, and more planned for future updates. There were also seasonal events for Pixar and Halloween, so there’s bound to be more content coming in the developer’s roadmap for the game.