Video games certainly have come a long way since the early days of Pong and Pac Man. Now, the video games industry is by far the largest media sector operating in the world today. In 2021, consumers spent over $180 billion on video games, up from $121 billion in 2017. For context, global movie sales – which factors in cinema tickets, rentals, and DVD/Blu-ray sales, only came to around $5 billion last year. In truth, the last time the music or movie industries out-performed the games industry was back in 2002. With that enormous growth has come great diversity in the types of games that are being made. Many of the best established and most successful game genres took on their recognisable forms in the 1990s, from first-person shooters (FPS’) to beat ‘em ups, racing games, and sports titles.
Yet there have always been compelling games that defy conventional genre boundaries, or that belong to niche or underrated categories that seldom get the recognition they deserve. This has never been more relevant than in the present day, where innovative titles, put out by small independent studios, get lost in the fanfare surrounding the latest Call of Duty or Madden release. But for the discerning gamer, there are so many intriguing and impressive games and micro-genres out there to explore. Below we’re going to be taking a look at some of the most underrated of these, all of which are worth checking out if you’re tired of the Triple ‘A’ gaming monoculture that dominates the industry in 2022.
Browser-based online games are somewhat of an unsung hero in the games industry. They’re among the most widely played in the world, yet they rarely get a mention when people discuss great games or genres. Perhaps this is understandable, given that the moniker encompasses a huge variety of different games, and not all of them are very good. Yet when one looks at the modern classics of the HTML5 gaming genre, the spiritual successor to Macromedia’s now discontinued Flash codec, one can witness some incredible titles. Some, such as Miniclip’s 8 Ball Pool are incredibly successful and demonstrate that small-scale games with compelling gameplay can beat out much more sophisticated competition, even in 2022.
Browser-based games also incorporate modern digital variants of classic brick-and-mortar casino titles, with industry leaders such as Vegasslotsonline.com serving up a comprehensive who’s who of the best table games provided by online casinos. Platforms such as this are not only a great way to find the best bonuses and promotions on well-known titles like blackjack. This is because they also offer an effective means to discover novel online slot games, as well as casino classics from around the world such as Sic Bo, a mainstay of Macau’s bustling gaming venues. What’s more, many of the most successful app games of the past 20 years live on in HTML5 forms, such as Bejeweled Blitz, Angry Birds, and Peggle, making this nebulous genre a true sleeper hit concealed within our midst.
A portmanteau of the names of classic game series’ Metroid and Castlevania, anyone who has played one of these will immediately have a pretty clear idea what this genre entails. This is by no means a new type of game, and in fact back in the 16-bit days, it was one of the most popular out there. What’s new is the name, which came about to describe a trend in indie game design that was being witnessed on platforms such as the PC and Nintendo Switch over the 2010s that saw many new titles seeking to build on the vintage side-scrolling action of these classic franchises.
Among the best known and loved Metroidvanias are Hollow Knight, Dead Cells and Ori and the Blind Forest. Each of these references their source material and inspirations faithfully, while carrying the genre forward into the 21st century with stunning visuals, novel gameplay mechanics and captivating storytelling. As of 2022, Metroidvanias are more popular than ever, and there are an amazing number of lesser known examples out there making waves in space, from Axiom Verge to Chasm. Following the revival of interest in this type of title, Nintendo unveiled Metroid Dread, the first 2D release for the franchise in over 19 years, following 2002’s Metroid Fusion on the Gameboy Advance. The game was met with broad critical acclaim, and serves as a fitting vindication for developers in the genre who strove to revive the experiences Metroid, alongside Castlevania, pioneered all those years ago.