This generation of consoles has truly been amazing. But with so many great games coming out all the time, there’ll inevitably be some that fall through the cracks. Luckily I’m here to remind you of some of these gems, so without further ado here are 5 under-appreciated games available on Xbox One. (We won’t be including backwards compatible titles since they were covered on a separate list.)
Microsoft and Insomniac’s first and final endeavour together, sadly, failed commercially. Even though everybody who played Sunset raved about it, Xbox’s fractured public image in 2014 overshadowed the game’s quality, and there’s also the fact that Xbox One sales were lagging at the time.
Regardless, Sunset Overdrive was still exceptional. Its world was vibrant and bursting with colour. Its tongue-and-cheek humour was spot on. And Sunset’s collection of weapons were deliciously over the top in true Insomniac fashion. But where the game shined the most was in its open-world traversal. In Sunset Overdrive, hordes of mutated monsters are rampant in the city, so simply running and gunning will get you overwhelmed and overrun.
That’s why Sunset Overdrive includes the best traversal in any open-world game. You can bounce, swing, and slide off or on almost anything. Chaining together multiple moves are essential to mastering the game and it feels oh so good. Bouncing on a car, swinging on a traffic light only to grind on railings, dash mid-air and wall run to your destination.
Gamers can’t be too sad about a lack of sequel since most of what Insomniac mastered here went to good use in Spider-Man 2018, but if you’re an Xbox gamer and you haven’t played Sunset, it’s on Game Pass right now.
Child of Light
While Child of Light was another overlooked 2014 gem, it couldn’t be more different from Sunset Overdrive. Even though it was published and developed by Ubisoft, Child of Light sheds the AAA clutter and hyper masculinity that many of Ubisoft’s games have been known for recently.
Child of Light is a turn-based RPG, entirely written in rhyme, with a beautiful water colour aesthetic. A soaring, intimate soundtrack goes hand-in-hand with the sensitive aesthetic and story that Child of Light conveys. Despite being a throwback to the golden-era of JRPGs like Final Fantasy 6, Child of Light steers clear of any tropes found in the genre. In fact it cleverly subverts many cliches in a remarkable and emotional coming of age tale.
Child of Light isn’t all style though. It also features one of the most mentally engaging combat systems in any modern RPG. It has an ATB gauge that takes inspiration from games like Blue Dragon and Grandia II. Enemies and allies can be pushed back midway through taking an action but the fact that you can actively heal allies or slow enemies makes Child of Light much more active than your typical turn-based RPG. All of the characters have fantastic movesets and the option to switch allies in and out of the party mid-battle means your strategy can be constantly evolving.
When Child of Light was at its best all of its unique moving parts would crescendo into something incredible. Beautiful writing, one of the best soundtracks this generation, an incredible combat system and phenomenal world building weren’t enough to give Child of Light a sequel. Ubisoft has reiterated their commitment to big budget productions despite the fact that the original’s director has a script for a sequel ready.
Final Fantasy Type-0 HD
This might be a bit of a contentious choice. How can an entry in one of the most beloved franchises be under-appreciated? Well, no one talks about Type-0. Mainly because it’s a port of a PSP spin-off so, naturally, the camera sucks and graphically it is not great. But apart from that, FF Type-0 is truly special. It takes the mythology, iconography and name of Final Fantasy and puts it into a gritty war story.
From the first scene it’s evident this Final Fantasy is drenched in the brutal reality of war and violence. That doesn’t just come from throwing blood on chocobos and calling it a day; Type-0 is about as emotionally realistic and resonant as JRPGs get.
The game also mixes in some Persona inspirations. Since you mainly control child soldiers, you’ll spend a lot of time at the academy/military hub to train, find out about the lore, interact with characters or breed chocobos. On top of that FF Type-0 has an addictively kinetic, action combat system. Throw in perma-death, a plethora of playable characters with different move sets and a great soundtrack, and you have the most underrated title in the FF series.
The Fullbright Company didn’t play it safe when it came to the following up of their critical darling, Gone Home. While Gone Home was a domestic, family drama set in a singular home, Tacoma is set aboard an elaborate space station floating in space. After an accident on the spacecraft, the player character is sent to investigate the incident. Of course this is the future, so the vessel has been recording the activities of the entire team in the form of holographic projections that move, talk and interact in real time. These holograms can be paused, rewound, and fast forwarded at any point.
It’s an incredible twist on the ‘walking simulator’ genre that makes the world feel slightly less lonely. Regardless, Fullbright once again, subtly captures the humanity in everyday life. Every member of the space station is given thoughtful and respectful development, care and attention. Even if some of them aren’t given major moments in the spotlight, finding more about them through environmental clues and items is a joy. The path the story ultimately takes is anything but cliched and for a story about mortality, capitalism and space, that should be applauded.
Tacoma proves that Fullbright are the of masters environmental storytelling. Tacoma shouldn’t have been as relatable and effective as Gone Home but the way Fullbright constructs intimate story bites defies expectation. Fullbright’s sophomore effort didn’t set the world on fire in the same way their breakout hit did, but Tacoma remains just as effective and essential as Gone Home. Also, it’s on Xbox Game Pass so you have no excuse now.
It’s heartbreaking that ONRUSH was such a commercial failure – leading to layoffs at developer Evolution studios – because ONRUSH is genuinely one of the most joyous and innovative racing of the generation. In fact, it’s so creative that it’s almost misleading to call ONRUSH a racing game. It’s more of a hybrid between an arcade racer and a hero shooter.
There are several different car classes with unique special moves, passive skills and ultimate abilities. Another departure for the genre is that winning races doesn’t depend on you coming first; it depends on your entire team’s contribution toward different objectives like controlling points, or collectively passing through more checkpoints then the enemy team. Boosting at break neck pace and smashing through enemies in the process will never get old.
ONRUSH only lags behind the Forza Horizon series in terms of energy and pure fun to be had with a racing game on Xbox One.
So that’s my list of underappreciated gems from Xbox One – what do you think? Let us know as always by posting in the comments or hitting us up on the usual social channels. We’d love to hear what you think.