The 5 Best-Reviewed Games You Might Not Have Heard Of

Assigning scores to video game reviews is always a contentious business. GameFront columnist Jim Sterling tackled this issue in the latest installment of /RANT, pushing back against the idea that Gears of War 3 “deserved” a 9 or 10 out of 10 score that it may or may not have earned.

There’s no doubt that reviewers have a creeping tendency to inflate the scores of influential, hotly anticipated games. It is also obvious that they tend to overuse the high end of the scale — giving a game a 6 these days is like signing a death warrant.

Nevertheless, the negative consequences of score-based reviewing are counterbalanced by some positives. Picking a score requires critics to distill and focus their arguments, and provides an easy reference for potential purchasers. What’s more, a profusion of high review scores can help a game live on well past its natural life span — glowing quotes have a tendency to get lost over time, but statistics are forever.

If you take a look at Metacritic’s best-reviewed PC games of all time, you’ll see mostly the expected standouts. Sprinkled among them, however, are games that got raves and 9+ scores when they came out, but mostly vanished from memory since. Thanks to the numerical component of their reviews, however, their glory is easily resurrected. Below follows our curated list of the 5 best-reviwed games you might not have heard of.

5. Out of the Park Baseball 2007 – 96%

According to Metacritic, Out of the Park Baseball 2007 is the second-best game of all time. This is clearly the result of a loophole in the site’s calculations — its position is based on only 5 reviews, with 5 being the minimum for inclusion on the site — but 100′s from GameSpy and GameShark and a 92 from PC Gamer make the game’s bona fides clear.

Despite its European publishers (whose roots lie in highly detailed soccer sims), OTOP 2007 has a batting-gloved stranglehold on being the best text-based baseball sim ever. This triumph is made all the more surprising by the fact that the game’s lead developer, Markus Heinsohn, is from Germany — not exactly baseball territory.

Responding to fan criticism of the game’s 2006 iteration, Heinsohn introduced a wealth of new features and perfected old ones, creating a vast, flexible game that gave baseball nuts everything they could ever ask for. Its complexity can be summed up by the fact that the .PDF manual clocks in at a whopping 500 pages. The most modern iteration of the game, Out of the Park 2012, was released on June 22, 2011, and can be downloaded from the game’s official site.

4. The Longest Journey – 91%

FunCom has a high profile now, especially with The Secret World entering beta, but back at the dawn of the new millennium it was a little-known Norwegian developer with a preternaturally good adventure game on its hands.

The Longest Journey’s setting blends cyberpunk and fantasy, thanks to the dimension-hopping abilities of its protagonist, willowy art student April Ryan. Universally lauded for its taut, adult writing, believable character development, and organic, logical puzzles, the game received a number of reviews that dared ascend into the nineties. Its beautiful 2D backgrounds also drew praise. In many ways, the game formed part of a generation of late-period adventure games, which showed the power of the genre in a valedictory flourish, before point-and-click adventure titles fell out of favor for some time.

Thanks to digital distribution, however, adventure is back. Available on Steam or GOG for only $9.99, The Longest Journey provides an engrossing expedition into an imaginative, unfamiliar world.

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10 Comments on The 5 Best-Reviewed Games You Might Not Have Heard Of

daniel whatever

On September 21, 2011 at 1:21 am

the Number 4 is – Dreamfall , the longest Journey … i guess :D

daniel whatever

On September 21, 2011 at 1:22 am

ahhh xD that was something else … sorry :p

Ron Whitaker

On September 21, 2011 at 5:54 am

NOLF was one of the the best games of its time. Not only was it fun to play, you could spend all kinds of time creeping around, listening in on the conversations the guards were having about buying and selling monkeys and other inane topics.

If you’ve never played it and you happen across a copy, do yourself a favor and pick it up.

Leen

On September 21, 2011 at 8:24 am

@daniel whatever

Dreamfall The Longest Journey is actually the sequel of The Longest Journey.

Robin

On September 21, 2011 at 10:44 am

I bought both the NOLF games and I enjoyed them very much. I didn’t like the respawning bad guys though. I wouldn’t mind seeing another, but I’m guessing its inclusion on this list means it didn’t sell all that well.

Steve

On September 21, 2011 at 2:19 pm

NOLF did well on its release in 2000. It just didn’t have a cult following that, say, Deus Ex or Hitman: Codename 47 had. It must have garned enough attention since it later spawned a sequel and a spinoff.

Another great game that came out in 2000 that I bet most have never heard of:

Giants: Citizen Kabuto

And mostly like NOLF, a great game with tons of tongue & cheeck humor. Just no massive cult following.

NOLF and Giants:CK are generally filed under “rare little gems”.

DSERiES

On September 21, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, Psychonauts, Grim Fandango, Silent Storm, Nexus: The Jupiter Incident, Beyond Good & Evil, Battle Realms, Outcast, Omikron: The Nomad Soul, Freedom Fighters, Tribes: Vengeance, Uplink, Mafia maybe…

Steve

On September 21, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Ughh… Tribes: Vengeance. I’ll never forgive Irrational for it. It deserves to be forgotten.

Ron Whitaker

On September 22, 2011 at 5:42 am

Three cheers for Nexus: The Jupiter Incident. I had the good fortune to review that game when it came out, and it was a gem.

As far as Tribes: Vengeance goes, I’ll have to side with Steve. Let it go – it wasn’t all that good if you were a fan of the series.

Ron Whitaker

On September 22, 2011 at 5:43 am

Giants: Citizen Kabuto was a gem. It also had some pretty great graphics when it was released. If you haven’t ever heard of it or played it, check it out.