The games industry incorporates a diverse range of experiences nowadays, with indie developers and international studios alike putting out a steady stream of iconic titles for gamers to enjoy.
Yet there’s no denying the fact that certain types, or genres, of games are more popular than others. Among those that regularly top the charts you’ll typically find FPS games (First Person Shooters), Battle Royale titles like Fortnite, and popular sports games like Madden and NBA 2K.
While there’s nothing wrong with this, sometimes it means more innovative or unique titles that do not conform to these tropes fly under the radar and fail to garner the attention they rightly deserve.
Below we’re going to take a look at some of the most underrated game genres in 2022 – each is home to some incredible games that are worth checking out.
Generally speaking, titles belonging to the mind-sport genre are games of skill based upon intellectual ability. Many of these are well known to the general public and predate the emergence of the term itself.
Yet with the rise of online platforms, and the impact of the growing global esports scene, this term has come into general use to describe titles, competitions and events covering games belonging to this nebulous genre.
Among the most popular mind-sports played today are chess and poker. The former has enjoyed a boom in popularity over recent years following the knock-out success of Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit, the rise of younger and more relatable chess prodigies such as Magnus Carlsen to the top of the game, and the growing coverage of chess matches taking place on streaming platform Twitch.
In fact, it has been said that chess can rightly be considered the fastest growing esport today, with its de-facto online HQ, Chess.com, gaining over 5 million new users in Q1 2021 alone.
The established game of poker, however, represents the esports old-guard. By curating rich and organic competitive communities around its more popular variants on leading providers over the past decade, this mind-sport helped lay the foundations for the current esports phenomenon.
As such it should come as no surprise that poker is now among the most popular games streamed on Twitch. While the broader genre of mind-sports still has some strides to take before it can be said to enjoy mainstream popularity, by walking in the footsteps of trailblazing esports categories like the MOBA game, its emergence as a major genre is thought to be simply a matter of time.
Roguelikes are a niche genre of RPG adventure games based upon the classic 1993 title Rogue. Roguelikes have a reputation for difficulty, and because of this are a favorite among gamers who miss the intense challenges that retro gaming is known to offer.
A roguelike is typically built around a couple of common features. For one, these games normally feature procedurally generated levels and maps. This means that, instead of them taking place in set levels that are the same each time you play, the game generates randomised rooms, dungeons and maps for you to battle through. This means that you never know what to expect, and it ensures that no two play-throughs are ever the same.
In addition to this, true roguelikes incorporate a ‘permadeath’ mechanic, meaning that if your character loses all of their health and dies, there is no way to revive them – resulting in the player having to start the entire game over from the beginning.
This strongly influences the way these games are played, as a single mistake can cost you many hours of work. Modern classics of the roguelike genre include The Binding of Isaac, Dead Cells, and FTL: Faster Than Light.
What’s more, the recent resurgence of interest in roguelikes has given rise to the ‘roguelite’, a term used to refer to games that draw on the mechanics of the roguelike genre, while offering a more forgiving experience to casual players.
One of the best recent examples of a roguelite is Hades, the first game ever to win the prestigious Hugo award. In this game, players must battle through procedurally generated levels, and should they die, they return to the start of the game.
It departs from the core roguelike formula in the fact that unlocked abilities, items or levels persist through play-throughs, giving greater flexibility to players. What’s more, Hades is designed around the expectation that players will be defeated time and again, and actively incorporates this outcome into its storytelling and narrative progression.