In the vast sea of games (opens in new tab) out there, it’s hard to stick out. Everyone wants your time and if a game isn’t part of an established series or isn’t doing something that a trailer or screenshot can capture, they can drift under the radar.
These are the PC games that should have a much bigger presence than they already have, whether it’s because they’re doing something nobody else has done before or because they simply do what they do well. Some games didn’t come out at the right time, were overshadowed by something else, or took a bit to get going.
Below is a list of games that we love from the last five years. Each of them are still playable today so if you want to check them out yourself, you can maybe help them get the recognition they deserve.
What is it? A PvPvE extraction shooter set in the 19th century Bayou.
Hunt: Showdown is what comes after battle royale (opens in new tab). Twelve players duke it out on sprawling maps, racing to hunt down boss enemies and fighting over the bounty tokens they leave behind. With three futuristic Crysis games under its belt, it’s incredible that Crytek has crafted such a precise, rewarding shooter with guns pulled straight out of Civil War documentaries and western films. It’s the most inventive, intense, and unique competitive FPS on Steam right now, and yet it only attracts around 17,000 daily players on PC. Hunt deserves to blow up, but I sort of hope it doesn’t (opens in new tab). – Morgan Park, Staff Writer
We Were Here
Price: Actually free
What is it? An excellent co-op campaign about escaping from a castle full of puzzles.
The entire We Were Here series are some of the best co-op games (opens in new tab) on PC and the first one is completely free. Castle Rock is chock full of head-scratching escape room puzzles, and being required to communicate by walkie-talkie to swap clues while separated is a friendship-testing twist on puzzling. You will come across We Were Here if you’re really hungry for co-op games, and they’ve done well enough for Total Mayhem to have made four of them, but they’re not nearly as common knowledge as they deserve to be. Genuine co-op campaigns (not live service) feel hard to come by lately, so if you played It Takes Two or Man of Medan, this should be next on your list to try with the bestie. – Lauren Morton, Associate Editor
What is it? A frantic co-op game where you and your bird buddy try to send out mail.
It’s surprising to me that KeyWe didn’t catch on. Everyone loves the chaos of trying to plate dishes under a time limit in Overcooked, but sending mail as a Kiwi bird wasn’t enough I guess. This co-op-focused game is easy to pick up and play with a friend. Each level has you hopping around one room trying to complete tasks and avoid obstacles, like malicious vines that swipe typewriter keys as you try to write out an address. If you complete the level well under the time limit, you get more currency to spend on the cosmetic unlockables, which include things like aviator glasses and a suit of armor.
KeyWe’s simplicity and room for disaster within its increasingly more complex levels is exactly why it’s a great game to flip on with a friend over Discord. More people should pick this one up, especially if you’ve squeezed Overcooked dry.
Honkai Impact 3rd
Price: Free-to-play (opens in new tab)
What is it? An action RPG with an Evangelion-inspired storyline that makes Genshin Impact look like a Saturday morning cartoon.
Genshin Impact wouldn’t have existed without Honkai Impact 3rd. Hoyoverse’s older gacha game features similar third-person combat with arena-clearing abilities and character switching, but this game is wrapped up in a much more adult storyline. It’s still a gacha game, so it’s understandable why it hasn’t necessarily exploded in the west, but its level-based structure allows for its combat to be satisfying way earlier than Genshin Impact’s (opens in new tab) combat is and you don’t have to engage with its gacha mechanics as much to have fun.
Honkai Impact 3rd is far from perfect: it’s still fundamentally predatory like a lot of gacha games, but doesn’t pester you about it quite as much as other games out there. If you can stomach those parts, you’ll see that it’s an example of Hoyoverse’s strongest and most satisfying combat system, at least before Zenless Zone Zero (opens in new tab) is out. It’s always funny to hear the way people talk about Genshin Impact’s combat when Honkai Impact’s battles have way more opportunities for extremely over-the-top attacks and mobility that don’t require you to manage a stamina meter.
The game unfortunately feels a bit like a mobile game with its big menus and bite-sized structure, but if you can get past that, it’s got a lot going for it. The storyline continues to expand and even suggests direct ties to Genshin Impact. It also just got a reworked new player experience. Genshin Impact is the broadest version of what Honkai Impact 3rd does best, but it’s a little sad to see that very few people recognize how unparalleled the action is in the game that came before it.
Escape Room Simulator
Price: $14.99 (opens in new tab)
What is it? First-person escape room game full of intricate puzzles.
Escape Room Simulator isn’t that old of a game, but it seems like people forgot it’s out there. This game is a satisfying way to avoid the messiness of a real life escape room right now. It’s a first-person puzzle game that drops you into a room that you have to solve your way out of. The puzzles range from simple math problems to obtuse pictograph translations. In some ways it feels designed for you to have some friends around to bounce ideas off of.
There’s a demo available if you want to give it a shot before you buy it. In it, you can see how much the game is interested in forcing you to keep track of every little thing that surrounds you. The timed levels can be a bit annoying, but once you get used to the language of its puzzles, it’s not hard to figure out what you need to do before you have to restart.
Escape Room Simulator even has a level editor if you rip through all of the developer levels or if you have some ideas for puzzles yourself. It’s the kind of game that you can keep going back to for a while, and it’s a little surprising that more people don’t have it in their regular rotation of games to play.