We’ve narrowed down the best underrated games of 2022 to a select group of four. A couple of the games below are nominees in The Game Awards 2022, though they’re either huge underdogs or still relatively unknown. Some of them have been given a fair amount of attention but only received passable scores at launch. Others were 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 shift the scales a bit, and give these underrated games we’re thankful for more attention than they’ve been getting lately.
Capcom Fighting Collection
Capcom has made so many video game compilations that this June release seemed very much par for the course. Similar compilations like Sonic Origins and Pac-Man Museum+, which both released around the same time, were somewhat middling too, so it sounded like Capcom Fighting Collection would be just another slapdash anthology, a low-effort crash grab of little note.
Lo and behold, Capcom had something special up its sleeve, putting several unexpected games in the collection that were never widely released in America. Along with all five Darkstalkers games, it includes Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo and the little-known but still fantastic Red Earth. It could have probably swapped out Cyberbots with Street Fighter II or III, but the rollback netcode for online multiplayer and the sheer amount of content in the museum are well worth the price of admission.
Following in the footsteps of the brilliant Disco Elysium and the surrealist Kentucky Route Zero, NORCO is an incredible text-based point-and-click adventure game set in a dystopian version of a real-life town located in Southern Louisiana. The cinematic pixel art is exquisite, accentuating the Southern Gothic atmosphere of a narrative that blurs the lines between reality and divinity. The game starts off with you searching for your missing brother Blake by following a fugitive security android and eventually becomes a story about a world that has suffered for decades under the detrimental effects of the oil industry.
Though the story sometimes shifts its direction abruptly, the prose itself is well-crafted and deftly deals with the interconnected themes of survival, industrialization, and family. NORCO is cerebrally challenging and can be brutally honest about what is happening to towns like it and the families that live there. But if you’ve got about six hours and fifteen bucks to spare, we think that you should give this game a shot.
It might be difficult to remember any game that released before Elden Ring this year, but OlliOlli World is a fantastic skateboarding platformer that blows the first two OlliOlli games out of the water. Develop Roll7 revitalized the series with a wonderful artstyle full of pastel colors and, despite how cartoonish the world of Radlandia looks, gameplay that asks for incredible precision. There’s nothing like being able to get through an entire level without bailing once, performing one long combination of tricks right to the end.
Meanwhile, OlliOlli World has silly, chill vibes. The input windows are relatively generous, the artwork will likely remind you of Adventure Time, and the lo-fi hip hop soundtrack is great to listen to just on its own. The game is pretty much available on every modern platform, so we recommend that you check it out if you haven’t already. It even has an outside shot of winning the Best Sports category in the The Game Awards 2022 against the likes of NBA 2K22 and FIFA 23. Hopefully, it gets the recognition it deserves.
Disney Dreamlight Valley
Apart from Kingdom Hearts, Disney games have been few and far between these 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 seemed like a longshot at best. I doubted the game too, but saw that it was in the Xbox Game Pass catalog, so I gave it a try. And so far I’m pleasantly hooked. Seemingly out of nowhere, the game has surprisingly managed to be backed by a loyal fanbase of players eager to mingle, 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 have also been seasonal events for Pixar and Halloween, so there’s bound to be more content slated to arrive in the developer’s roadmap for the game.