As the gaming industry grows steadily every year and games become more popular, we see a wide variety of different types and genres of games. Some bad, some good; some offer high fidelity graphics, while some prefer the more nostalgic, pixel-esque route; some enthrall and ensnare us with captivating stories, and some are there for us to just have some good ol’ fun. Whatever their appeal, it’s inevitable that some games, no matter how good they may be in their own right, get less love than others.

That’s why I decided to create a list of the Top 5 Under Appreciated Games And Franchises. We’ve all got our Call of Dutys and our Final Fantasy 7s; our Mass Effects and our Grand Theft Autos. So I think it’s time we give some lovin’ to some of the under dogs. Let’s take a look shall we?

5. Yakuza franchise

The first Yakuza game debuted on the Ps2 back in 2005 in Japan, but didn’t make it’s way stateside until the following year. In the game you get to play as Kazuma Kiryu, a longtime Yakuza who spends one minute beating up street thugs and the next helping a little girl find her cat. Not your typical gangster, is he? Sure, we’ve all played our fair share of gangster titles; Grand Theft Auto for example. However, it’s not often we get a chance to take a look at the seedy underbelly of Japan. The Yakuza are rarely given as much spotlight as their American equivalents.

What sets this game apart though is the fact that Kazuma really isn’t your typical gangster, as I mentioned before. He’s surrounded by a lot of shady characters and deals but throughout the franchise manages to hold on to his own set of morals. At one point, he even opens his own orphanage because he himself used to be one. If that’s not a good, decent guy, I don’t know what is.

Poor guy didn't see Kazuma coming

Poor guy didn’t see Kazuma coming

In addition to the satisfying story—which the game puts a large emphasis on—the gameplay is also very entertaining. You spend much of your time walking around Tokyo and other similar areas, leveling up your hand-to-hand skills by fighting thugs and gang members on the streets. But there are also various other things for you to do, like sing karaoke, go bowling, play baseball, and even go on dates with the lovely ladies of Tokyo.

I had a lot of fun with this franchise, and it’s a shame America hasn’t received it in it’s entirety. I highly recommend giving this one a look.

4. The Darkness franchise

While there has been no shortage of comic book games and movies over the years, The Darkness takes a very interesting and disturbing approach to the sub-genre, creating a very dark and macabre world for the player to explore. The player steps into the boots of Jackie Estacado on his 21st birthday, working as an enforcer in the mob for his uncle Paulie. Upon turning 21, Jackie gains powers from an entity called “The Darkness” which has been dormant within him, waiting for the right time to emerge. This entity grants you a slew of dark powers, including summoning demons and black holes to defeat your opponents. The game introduces a very cool mechanic, requiring players to stick to complete darkness in order to replenish health and powers, for the Darkness thrives in shadow.

The mixture of gunplay and awesome powers made for some satisfying experiences

The mixture of gunplay and awesome powers made for some satisfying experiences

The characters in the story, including the protagonist and his relations, are all very interesting characters and it’s easy to care about all of them. The narrative leads you down many paths, including the mind of the Darkness itself, within which lies a horribly twisted and demented version of the trenches in World War I (as if they needed to be any more so). To this day, I still think about those trenches and in my opinion, they are some of the most disturbing environments and subject gamers to some of the most twisted monsters and events I’ve seen in games.

3. No More Heroes franchise

No More Heroes originally released on the Wii a few years back. It’s a crazy and goofy action adventure game that left me laughing and presented me with quite a few, “WTF” moments the whole way through. You play as a perverted otaku named Travis Touchdown who just bought a new laser sword and thinks he has the skill to climb his way through the ranks of the Assassin’s Guild. I expect no less from the director behind the game, Suda51, who is well-known within the games industry, having worked on titles like: Killer7, Shadows of the Damned, Lollipop Chainsaw, and the the very recent Let It Die announced for PS4.

Travis' beam weapon was a very cool, and the way you charged it back up was hilarious

Travis’ beam weapon was a very cool, and the way you charged it back up was hilarious

The story is hilarious and the gameplay, while a little tedious at times, is action-packed and can provide a lot of bloody fun. I believe this one didn’t get as much attention as it should have because of the fact that it was a game meant for hardcore gamers on a platform that wasn’t marketed to that same audience. Thankfully though, the game got a second chance on the PS3 a few years later.

2. DMC: Devil May Cry

Coming in at number 2 is not the Devil May Cry franchise as a whole, but merely the most recent entry. I’m referring to the reboot of the franchise that had fans up-in-arms over Dante’s, the lead character in the series, new appearance. Unfortunately, this small change turned a few fans of the series against it, myself included. However, after getting a chance to sit down and play the game when it released, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I began to fall in love with it. It’s the same gameplay fans of the series have come to love. I even felt that it was the most polished game in the franchise in this respect.

The animations, both facial and otherwise, are great; Ninja Theory has always done a great job in this regard, and their mocap is always some of the best in my opinion. The combat itself is also very fluid, and the animations for which string together nicely.

This had some of the best gameplay in the franchise.

This had some of the best gameplay in the franchise.

In addition, I felt it had the strongest story in the series. I contribute this to the fact that Ninja Theory worked on the game. They have a history of rich storytelling and cinematography in their games. While the Dante in past games remains the same cocky and playful character throughout the franchise, this new Dante is a dynamic character, which I found to be even more interesting. I personally can’t wait for the sequel to this game and am excited to see this new Dante return, and I hope you all are looking forward to the same.

1. Enslaved

The game that tops my list is another game from Ninja Theory. Their passion for storytelling really shows in their work, and Enslaved is no exception. Very loosely based on the Chinese story Journey to the West, you play as a character called Monkey who unwillingly helps a girl he meets cross miles and miles of a post-apocalyptic world to return her home. The game was very enjoyable and it’s a shame that it had such poor sales over it’s lifetime. While it’s possible the lack of sales was due to insufficient marketing, the real reason is unclear.

The story is top-notch, thought the ending was a bit lackluster. The cinematography also drew my attention while playing, most likely because Ninja Theory worked with a couple different movie directors to get the cinematics just right and learn various hollywood techniques.

While some were not fans of it’s gameplay, I thought it’s third-person action combat was fun, albeit simple. You’re equipped with a bo staff that also doubles as a long-range weapon which you can shoot plasma from. Trip, the girl you are assisting, also contributes to combat with EMP and distraction abilities.

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Being able to use the staff as a ranged weapon was an interesting choice which ended up working well

Made in the Unreal Engine, the animations are fantastic and the facial expressions and acting are absolutely amazing, even by today’s standards. This is partly due to the motion capture directing by famous hollywood actor Andy Serkis, most known for his roles as Gollum in Lord of the Rings and Caesar in Planet of the Apes. He even has an unannounced role in the upcoming Episode VII of Star Wars. Not only does he direct the mocap, but also plays the protagonist, Monkey in the game.

This game is definitely worth a look, especially at the current prices you can probably find it at on Amazon, Gamestop, or other outlets.

I really hope you guys enjoyed this countdown of the most underrated games and franchises. Keep in mind, this is just my personal list. We’d love to hear about some of the great games you think have gone unnoticed in the wake of all of the blockbusters.

About The Author

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Like many of the true race of Gamers, Eric was born with a controller in his hands. You'll often find him playing his favorite selection of gaming's gems, both new and old. Well, either that, or squealing like a giddy school girl at the latest game reveals.