One thing the PlayStation 5 has in spades is bonafide blockbuster games. We're talking titles like Marvel's Spider-Man 2, God of War: Ragnarök, and more. Despite these heavy hitters hogging the spotlight, there are plenty of underrated gems to discover.
With a small handful of hotly-anticipated video games sucking much of the oxygen out of the room every year, who could blame anyone for missing a few hidden gems along the way. Whether judged unfairly or just passed over too quickly, a lot of underrated games fly under the radar every year. That’s where we come in, though, to shed some light on some great underrated PS5 games that everyone can play on their big shiny PlayStation 5 right now.
1. Lost in Random
Drenched in German expressionism stands Lost in Random, one of the PS5’s most underrated games so far. The winding trees and twisted buildings immediately make the player feel like they’ve been plopped into a Tim Burton movie or MediEvil’s Gallowmere. The dark and quirky town of Random is indeed its own place, though, full of appropriately bizarre townsfolk and peculiar situations for our heroine, even as she leads an effort to rescue her sister, the aptly named Odd, from the evil queen’s grasp.
The literal roll of the dice determines everything in Random. It shapes characters' lives and much of the Lost in Random‘s gameplay. Luck shapes combat here, as the weapons and abilities for every fight are determined— you guessed it— randomly. There is some choice in the matter, though, with the ability to customize a deck of cards that represents the options. Still, the ability to think quickly and play the hand that's dealt is often what separates success from failure. The hand-crafted levels, charming characters, and extremely unique gameplay set this one apart from the herd in all the right ways.
2. Scarlet Nexus
Scarlet Nexus might be an acquired taste, especially if would-be gamers aren’t acclimated to anime-style action games. We can promise that it is well worth getting over that hump. The combat is intricate, fast, and extremely chaotic, with lots of meters and cool-downs to monitor. Enemies respond differently to different elements, which is typical of the action RPGs nowadays. These strange creatures called “visitors,” which are fusions of aliens and random inanimate objects, all bring increasingly challenging battles to the player. They require effective management of the game’s large roster of telekinetic attacks as well as borrowing different powers from party members. The party system itself also runs quite deep as players get to assign different buffs to each member as well as direct their focus to be defensive, aggressive, or some balance of the two. The campaign runs about 30 hours long, which is nothing to shake a stick at, but that is effectively doubled if one decides to replay it with another of the two available characters and see the story from their perspective.
3. The Pathless
Being a launch title for a hotly-anticipated franchise can be a blessing or a curse. In the case of The Pathless, it might have been more of the latter than the former. Being overshadowed by bigger launch titles like Godfall, Astro’s Playroom, and Demon’s Souls was unfortunate, especially given how great of a time The Pathless offers. Gliding around this game’s open world while hunting down the next boss feels vaguely reminiscent of Shadow of the Colossus much of the time, and that’s a compliment we don’t make lightly. Taking in the gorgeous environments and solving the light puzzles is just as engaging as wrangling the game’s many dangerous enemies. Because of all this, despite a lower-budget, The Pathless is an extraordinary game that all PS5 owners should consider.
Soulstice might evoke the cornucopia of hyper-active action games from 20 years ago, but it has a few tricks up its sleeve to stand out. This is a game that is ultimately about duality. From managing the distinct combat systems of our two heroines, Briar and Lute, to alternating between casting the banishment and evocation fields to reveal hidden items and deal damage to certain foes, it challenges the player to go back and forth between different mindsets. Even the camera system tends to bounce back and forth between the classic fixed camera of the early 2000s and the more free-form style of modern games, depending on the situation. Between the excellent combat, interesting characters, and attractive, gothic level designs, Soulstice brings a lot more to the table than it tends to get credit for.
While THUMPER technically landed on Sony’s PS4 first, a souped-up version runs natively on the PS5. THUMPER is perhaps even more of a hidden gem on the PS5 than it was on the PS4. One part rhythm game, one part horror game, and one part acid trip, THUMPER will make a lasting impression. Sliding down an infinite pathway while avoiding spikes and grinding on rails isn’t the most revolutionary idea in theory. Still, in execution, this game puts such a hard twist on the concept that it becomes impossible to ignore. The odd time signatures and offbeat music make the already challenging gameplay even more disorienting, so while we highly recommend it, we also suggest preparing for a steep learning curve.
6. Tormented Souls
Retro horror fans rallied around Tormented Souls when it was released, and rightfully so. Despite some rather obtuse puzzles, this is one of the better horror games of the generation. Some modern horror enthusiasts shrugged it off, citing the fixed camera angles and high difficulty, but we highly suggest revisiting that thought process.
Bugsnax made a bit of a splash as a rather eye-catching launch title for the PS5, but quickly faded into obscurity soon afterwards. The over-simplified notion of it being “basically Pokemon Snap” surely figures into that reception. Regardless, Bugsnax is a rather special game that many PS5 owners already have in their library thanks to their PS+ subscription. The core gameplay resembles Snap in some ways, but it veers headfirst into its own directions more often than not. Some rather heavy themes about grief and trauma get tastefully explored, the gameplay expands greatly, and the rather strange world of Snacktooth Island quickly becomes much more than it seems. For those who find themselves in the mood for something a little different, Bugsnax is waiting.
Like Bugsnax, SIFU generated a bit of buzz around its launch but didn’t maintain it for long. It has, however, maintained a rather solid cult following, though, and it’s fairly easy to see why. The addictive nature of trying levels multiple times to improve combat skills combined with the urgency of maintaining precious lives is a great mix for this off-beat brawler. While gameplay offers a generous amount of lives, once they’re used up, it’s back to the beginning. Branching pathways and a wealth of different types of breakable weapons help ensure that players can win stages multiple ways, and each attempt will almost certainly be different from the last. Timing and improvisation are paramount here, and the satisfaction of mastering them is palpable.
9. Cult of The Lamb underrated PS5 games
Dungeon crawlers, strategy games, and rogue-likes are dime-a-dozen these days. Many of them are good, but few of them are great. Cult of the Lamb stands out as one of the great entries, and one of the underrated PS5 games.
The juxtaposition of the cute main character and the occult setting catches the eye, but the satisfying mix of additive dungeon crawling and team management keeps folks playing it. Excellent side activities also go a long way to hanging onto the player’s attention. While not as deep as some other dungeon crawlers or base builders, it manages to create a striking flavor of the genres it borrows from.
The shoot ‘em up genre dates back as old as gaming itself, yet few games have truly revolutionized it. While Chorus doesn’t quite reinvent the wheel, it does bring the arcade shooter formula firmly into the 21st century with a captivating story, outstanding graphics, and a few modernizations to the typical control scheme. It may start a bit slow, but once the stage is set, Chorus brings the heat in all the ways that matter.
11. Valkyrie Elysium
Valkyrie Elysium got a bad rap, in our opinion. On one hand, sure, it is a rather slimmed-down version of what fans of the Valkyrie games generally expect. It also rather ham-fistedly converts combat into a much more conventional hack-n-slash format. Some long-time fans of the franchise were disappointed to see this transition. On the other hand, a great character-driven action game emerges from the wreckage of that destruction. Elysium’s sparkly combat is fluid, fast, and fun. Calling on different “einherjars” also mixes things nicely as they imbue the current weapon with a element while they help out in battle. Taking out growing numbers of enemies with increasingly complex combinations of an ever-expanding arsenal of weapons, divine art attacks, and the powerful einherjars, always feels gratifying. The buttery smooth frame rate the PS5 version offers is also a welcome bonus.
12. The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe
The Stanley Parable is already a well-known classic among PC gamers, but we console folk are a little late to the party. Ultra Deluxe effectively ends that problem (at least in this case, anyway) with a highly optimized version of the game and some extra content packed in. Given that The Stanley Parable is best experienced as blindly as possible, we won’t spoil it here. Suffice it to say this game is not at all what it seems. It has some of the best writing and game design of the last 20 years and easily warrants multiple playthroughs.
13. Final Vendetta
It seems that a few retro-themed beat ‘em ups drop every year or so, and while Final Vendetta certainly fits right into that sub-genre, it is a strikingly successful entry of the genre. The outstanding aptitude of developer Bitmap Bureau for animation and retro character design is once again on display here. Instead of the top-down action games they are mostly known for, Final Vendetta reels more in-line with Streets of Rage or Vigilante as a challenging beat ‘em up, that, thankfully, doesn’t cost a quarter every time a player loses a life. The music, visuals, and controls all rank on-par with— if not exceed the quality of— the many arcade classics that inspired it. Fans of challenging arcade action need not look elsewhere.
14. Evil West
There’s a lot to like with Evil West, from the Western setting that mixes overly violent vampire and werewolf slaying action to the unabashedly arcadey combat system. Instead of managing actual ammo for the various weapons, Evil West opts for a cool-down system that while odd at first, becomes second nature. Having the shotgun, rifle, pistol, health regeneration, and more all assigned to their own buttons is a surprisingly intuitive and fun way to blast through hordes of monsters for the 15-ish hours of its campaign. The game also feels a lot like the new God of War games, with a close-up camera angle and flashing arrows that highlights potential threats in Jesse’s periphery, both of which mix into Evil West’s gameplay quite nicely. Reviewers often cite the lack of variety with the enemies, which is a valid point to make. Still, that doesn't bother us when smashing them into smithereens refuses to stop being so morbidly fun.
15. Severed Steel
The first-person shooter genre seems like it gets a boost with lots of retro-ish games that strip back the pomp and realism in favor of speedy, simple, visceral action as of late. Severed Steel falls into that trend, although unlike many recent Doom and Quake-like games, Severed Steel looks and plays much more like a modern game with fully 3D environments and realistic physics. Sliding and jumping around these levels while barely clinging to life enthralls a player and testifies to the power of good-level design. Shooter fans of all stripes have plenty to look forward to here, and PS5 owners, in particular, have a slick 120 frame-rate option to enjoy if they wish.