There are many genres and sub-genres of games out there. Nevertheless, there are only a few formats that have the say in the bestseller charts for PC and game consoles alike.
From action-adventure games to first-person shooters and sports titles, it sometimes seems like games are becoming more and more formulaic and similar. That’s only true, however, if you discount the creative ferment in indie and developer-led parts of the industry as a whole.
These regions tell a very different story and are home to a variety of innovative and genre-bending titles to discover. Below we take a look at some seriously underrated game genres. Not all of these are necessarily obscure, but most are criminally overlooked and packed with novel gaming experiences to immerse yourself in.
Classics include all games that are adaptations of traditional physical recreational titles. These range from old-school strategy tests to casino titles to popular board games. Today it is possible to experience many of these in the modern video game format.
Chess is a strong example of this. With its origins dating back to the 6th century AD in the Indian subcontinent, it is one of the oldest continuously played games still played today. While the physical version remains dominant, virtual forms of chess, such as those offered by platforms like Chess.com, have grown in prestige over the past decade. This has led to chess being rediscovered by a new generation, leading to its current status as one of the fastest growing esports in the world.
Another type of game that has a long history, especially in North America, is the slot machine game. The first slot machine was invented by German immigrant to North America, Charles Fey, who developed the Liberty Bell fruit machine around the turn of the 20th century. Slots have made the leap into software form over the last 20 years and now people are playing online slots for real money in Canada where the online gaming market is growing at a steady rate of 7.21% through 2026 with an estimated market size of 7 .21% recorded $461 million.
Both roguelikes and roguelites follow the basic format of the 1980s dungeon-crawling classic Rogue. That means procedurally generated combat and exploration, and in the former’s case, the ever-present threat of permanent death. Roguelites, on the other hand, offers a meta-game overlay that allows the attributes, items, or unlockables you acquire from game to game to persist.
That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily easier, quite the opposite, but they offer more incentive to keep playing and unlocking new features. Many reviews of Hades, the latest game from the Supergiant Games studio, clearly state that it is one of the best roguelites of recent years. In this title, you are tasked with fighting your way through hordes of procedurally generated enemies from the Greek underworld.
The expectation of death is baked into the gameplay mechanics, meaning you’ll embrace the opportunity to learn more about the world and encounter new dialogue and events, rather than get frustrated with every mistake. Other notable examples of roguelites that have emerged in recent years include Dead Cells, FTL: Faster Than Light, and The Binding Of Isaac: Rebirth.
Said to be a combination of resource management and survival gameplay, the best colony simulators throw enough curveballs at you to create new and compelling storylines as you and your small community struggle to complete each successive challenge.
A great example of the genre is RimWorld, which user reviews consistently rank as one of the best colony sims on Steam thanks to its compelling AI storytelling and immersive gameplay. This 2013 title has continued to evolve since its release and now offers unimaginable depth for strategic players. Crashed on a procedurally generated planet, your small colony of space travelers must build everything from refrigerators to a guiding philosophy if they are to survive disease, raid squads, mental breakdowns, and climate catastrophe.
Rendered in quirky 2D style, this game rewards each new playthrough with fresh insights. Honorable mentions in the colony simulation genre include 2014’s medieval-themed Banished and the highly anticipated upcoming post-apocalyptic city-builder Atomic Society.