With the summer launch of PlayStation Plus’ new tiered system, subscribers to the revamped gaming service now have the chance to explore and immediately download/stream a trove of exciting titles that range from critically acclaimed new exclusives, to PlayStation’s A-list of system-selling classics, and highly regarded indie standouts. However, not every game featured on PlayStation Plus was equally respected at launch, with a number of unsung titles failing to resonate with critics and receiving poor reviews. The purpose of this guide is to highlight some PlayStation Plus underdogs, and give these enjoyable gaming experiences their due when critics wouldn’t. Here are some PlayStation cult classics that received low critic scores, and are available to download right now on PlayStation Plus.
ABZU – PlayStation Plus (Extra)
ABZU is a peaceful, underwater adventure game providing players with oceanic exploration, intermingling with the creatures of the deep, a dialogue-free story told through its beautiful visuals, and a soundtrack that itself feels inspired by the water and its inhabitants. ABZU plays like a spiritual successor to the legendary 2012 adventure title Journey, but unlike the latter, it failed to achieve acclaim, garnering a 78 Metacritic Score upon release in 2016. While 78/100 isn’t necessarily terrible, a C+ grade is far too low for Giant Squid Studios’ unique, compact experience that deserves a second look by PlayStation Plus subscribers who haven’t yet experienced its magic.
Days Gone – PlayStation Plus (Extra)
What do you get when you combine zombie apocalypse action-horror, a massive open-world Northwestern United States explorable by motorcycle, and a former Army Ranger turned biker gang member as a protagonist? Apparently nothing special according to Metacritic, which gave the PlayStation 4 exclusive Days Gone a meager 71 Metascore. While Bend Studios faced numerous delays before the new IP’s April 2019 release and some minor bugs during the initial launch, anyone who has invested time into this unique take on the zombie apocalypse knows that Days Gone is among the top horror experiences available on PlayStation Plus. The game has achieved cult classic status with a huge disparity between critic and fan scores, as its 71 Metacritic Score pales in comparison to Days Gone’s 8.4/10 User Score. To put this into perspective, this fan rating makes Days Gone the 71st highest rated PlayStation 4 game of all-time, earning the same User Score as PlayStation’s massive 2017 hit Horizon Zero Dawn. However, both open world PlayStation exclusives had two very different trajectories since their respective launches as Aloy and Horizon Zero Dawn went on to an acclaimed sequel and are considered among PlayStation royalty, while Deacon St. John and Days Gone were relegated to the PlayStation bench and will reportedly not receive a second game.
MediEvil – PlayStation Plus (Extra)
In 2019, Other Ocean Interactive released a remake of the 1998 PlayStation 1 exclusive, MediEvil. The hack and slash classic was recreated with updated graphics and improved the gameplay, but managed to walk the fine line of retaining the original elements that made MediEvil a fan favorite of the late ’90s. The MediEvil remake even includes a playable, unaltered version of the original PS1 game from SCE Cambridge Studio as an award for 100% game completion. While the remake should have helped to bring a new generation of fans to the story of Sir Daniel Fortesque’s humorous travails as an undead, cowardly knight the same way Crash Bandicoot’s N. Sane Trilogy or Spyro Reignited Trilogy did for their respective franchises, instead, MediEvil was dealt a low 67 Metacritic Score for its PS4 remake. However, despite its harsh critical assessment, MediEvil was thoroughly enjoyed by fans, who awarded the game with an 8.1 User Score, which is a testament to its value as an underrated PlayStation Plus title.
Star Wars: Bounty Hunter – PlayStation Plus (Premium)
In 2002, following the Spring release of Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, LucasArts launched Star Wars: Bounty Hunter for PlayStation 2 in November of the same year. The game serves as a prequel that examines Attack of the Clones’ secondary antagonist, Jango Fett, and explores his origin story, as he traverses the galaxy collecting bounties dead or alive with his arsenal of weaponry and gadgets in an action-adventure, third-person shooter. Star Wars: Bounty Hunter features an impressive voice cast, which includes Temuera Morrison reprising his role as Jango Fett, Leeana Walsman returning to voice Zam Wessell, and legendary character/voice actor Clancy Brown (aka Mr. Krabs in SpongeBob SquarePants), as Jango’s rival, Montross, a character introduced in Star Wars comics published by Dark Horse. Unfortunately, the game was panned by critics with an abysmal 65 Metacritic score, but its 8.1 User Score demonstrates that there is much more to this nearly 20-year-old PS2-era title than meets the eye. Star Wars fans and subscribers to PlayStation Plus’ “Premium” tier owe it to themselves to give Star Wars: Bounty Hunter’s PS4 remaster a try.
Until Dawn – PlayStation Plus (Extra)
Before SuperMassive Games became known as the premier interactive horror-story studio, the developers’ first plunge into the genre was in 2015’s PlayStation 4 exclusive Until Dawn. With a star-studded cast, most notably featuring Hayden Panettiere and future “Best Actor” Academy Award Winner Rami Malek, Until Dawn serves as an homage to horror, merging a variety of subgenres while telling the traditional teenage cabin in the woods story with a variety of frightening twists and turns. Every decision and quick time event is vitally important, as Until Dawn’s butterfly effect can lead to the entire cast of characters surviving until dawn (as the title suggests), or all dying gruesome deaths. Despite these interesting features, Until Dawn could only muster a 79 Metacritic score, and even its 8.3 User Score doesn’t show the game the respect it deserves.