Critics play an important role in entertainment. They tell us if a movie or game is worth our time and money. They tell us when it’s not. And most importantly, they tell us WHY it is or isn’t worth our time. And for the most part, general audiences and professional critics tend to agree on a piece’s overall merit and quality. But sometimes the critical consensus does not align with the overall opinion of general audiences. It mostly stems from positive opinions – critics laud the qualities, craft, and structure of a piece, but audiences can’t seem to agree on the consensus. This can be for a myriad of reasons. Maybe the story is weak or frustratingly ambiguous, and critics push that flaw aside to focus on the overall craft. Maybe the piece is technically strong but boring to consume – think of all the bland Best Picture winners over the years.
But this dichotomy is also prevalent in negative opinions – the critics bash what they consider to be a technically-poor game or movie, but audiences either don’t recognize, or knowingly overlook, the flaws. There have been many good, and even great, video games released for the PS4 that have received middling reviews. Now, we’re not saying that the gap between critics and audiences are huge; it’s rare to see a critically-panned game receive unanimous praise from general audiences. But sometimes the critics can be a little too harsh, even if their opinion was generally positive.
These are fifteen PS4 games that are way better than the critics say.
We think the general meh-ness of The Evil Within tarnished the evaluation of its legitimately great sequel. The Evil Within 2 took its bland predecessor and cranked everything up to 11, providing players with a much more rounded and enjoyable experience. The gameplay was much smoother, the story was clearer and more emotionally impactful, and it had its fair share of imaginative spooks. It was one of the best horror games of the year. And critics gave it a big shrug. It only has a 76 on Metacritic and has received its fair share of punishing reviews, many of which site derivative gameplay mechanics and a ridiculous story.
A King’s Tale is a 2D, beat-em-up spin-off of Final Fantasy XV. Critics weren’t really having it. It currently stands at just 65 on Metacritic (granted, only five reviews have been counted,) with most saying that it was decent, if insubstantial, nostalgic side-scroller. And then there’s Video Chums, which said it was “an awful interpretation of classic beat ‘em ups.” It’s way better than that, darn it! And we’re not the only ones who think so, as it has an 8.9 user score on Metacritic. It hearkens back to the glory days of arcades, AND it’s set in the Final Fantasy universe. What more could you want?
Beyond: Two Souls was David Cage and Quantic Dream’s follow-up to the critically acclaimed Heavy Rain. The expectations were just a LIIIITLE too high. Critics were generally split on its qualities – some loved the story-heavy, gameplay-light approach, while others thought the lack of gameplay AND messy story resulted in an entirely forgettable experience. It stands at 70 on Metacritic, but it has a much higher 8.1 user score. General audiences didn’t seem to mind the lack of traditional gameplay (they knew they were buying an interactive novel, after all,) and they were much more forgiving on the story and writing. Hey, not everything needs to be Shakespeare!
And while we're on the subject of David Cage and Quantic Dream, we may as well mention Detroit: Become Human. This is the latest venture by the ambitious storytelling team, but like Beyond: Two Souls, critics generally shrugged it off as a fine, but shallow, experience. It has a relatively solid 78 on Metacritic, but general audiences again found it much more enjoyable - it holds an excellent 8.7 user score, putting it among the best games of 2018. We don't know if we'd go THAT far, but there's no denying that the critics were way off-base with this one.
Critics really didn't care for Darksiders III. Standing at just 63 on Metacritic, this game was the subject of some real gross comments. The Daily Dot said that it felt "brutally ancient," Game Revolution called it "a hobbled, confused mess," and Game Rant declared that it was "a complete nightmare to play through." And yeah, it's not a masterpiece or anything, but maybe critics were a little too harsh. It holds a 7.5 user score on Metacritic, and while everyone tends to agree that it was a disappointment, it's fun enough for a playthrough - just don't set your expectations too high.
Farpoint is an FPS for the PlayStation VR. Despite its ambitions, critics were lukewarm towards the game, many of whom called it little more than a novelty item. To them, it was a rudimentary FPS disguised by fancy new technology. And while that may be the case, that fancy new technology went a long way. It holds an 8.1 user score on Metacritic (compared to the 71 Metascore,) as audiences loved the immersive element of the virtual reality. It probably won't be remembered (to be honest, most people have already forgotten about it,) but it makes for a solid stepping stone to legitimate greatness.
Don't get us wrong - Hitman 2 was well-received by critics. It holds a respectable 82 on Metacritic, and many found it to be a worthy follow-up to 2016's Hitman. But come on - this game deserves BETTER reviews! Some outlets really didn't care for the game - GamesRadar ("feels like an expansion pack") and IGN ("embarrassing" story) among them - and the middling reviews may have hurt the game's performance. It debuted in tenth place on the UK charts, and sales were down 90% on Hitman: Absolution. In short, it was DOA. We're not saying the critics were solely responsible, but they certainly didn't help.
Knack II is an action platformer developed by SIE Japan Studio, a team that has been involved in such esteemed games as Bloodborne and Shadow of the Colossus. However, if those games are all-time classics, then Knack II is a... not all-time classic. Knack II became a bit of a meme thanks to Dunkey's YouTube review, but all laughs aside, it was a legitimately solid game, complete with enjoyable platforming, combat, and co-operative gameplay. Was it perfect? No, it certainly had its flaws. But we don't think it's worth the measly 69 Metascore. The 7.6 user score is much more fitting (even if it was propped up by Dunkey fans.)
Holding just a 37 on Metacritic, Left Alive got absolutely destroyed. Nearly every facet of the game was singled out for attack, leaving behind some truly horrible (and hilarious) reviews. PlayStation Universe called it "the sort of crushing disappointment that only comes around once in a while." We Got This Covered said that it "works better as an unpolished frustration simulator than a game." And while it's certainly not great by any means, it is better than the critics would have you believe. It holds an 8.0 user score, with many users admitting the technological flaws but praising the overall atmosphere and narrative.
The little indie title Calvino Noir is another game that was butchered by the critics. Standing at just 44 on Metacritic, critics conceded the game's stellar atmosphere and noir aesthetics, but chastised the frustrating, and oftentimes nonsensical, gameplay mechanics. But, much like Farpoint, audiences seemed to forgive the wonky gameplay in favor of the overall aesthetic experience. Here was a game that successfully captured the tone of noir, a genre that is disappointingly absent from the gaming landscape. They are there (L.A. Noire, Grim Fandango,) but not nearly enough. Calvino Noir was a breath of fresh air, even if its gameplay was lackluster.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse is a fighting/RPG hybrid, allowing players to fight within 3D battle arenas. It was received well by general audiences (7.7 user score on Metacritic,) many of whom called it one of the best Dragon Ball video games while praising the graphics and character creation system. However, the critics gave a resounding shrug. Many publications criticized the shallow single player mode and the archaic fighting mechanics, believing that it was a 2004 game wrapped in a pretty 2015 package. This game was intended for the die-hard Dragon Ball fans, and they seemed pleased. We suppose that's all that matters.
It's no secret that the zombie genre has been over-saturated to death and back. That said, Dying Light was a hidden gem within the festering, walking corpse that is the zombie genre. It played a lot like Dead Island, only with fast zombies, a unique parkour system, and a day-night cycle. It was well-received by gamers and almost single-handedly revived the genre, debuting at number one on the UK charts and becoming the fastest-selling new survival horror IP. It was a true Cinderella story. Which is why the 74 Metascore is so surprising. We get that sales don't necessarily correlate to quality, but come on... 74!?
Gamers have been clamoring for a faithful Lovecraft video game for a long time. We haven't really gotten one. Amnesia came pretty darn close, and Call of Cthulhu was looking to be the one - the game that finally captured the dread, the madness, the sheer incomprehensibility of Lovecraft's horror. It... didn't. The gameplay and graphics were a little janky, but its atmosphere was haunting, and it mostly succeeded in capturing the allure of Lovecraft's literature. However, the game is sitting at just 63 on Metacritic, which may deter some gamers looking for a memorable horror title. Pick it up for $20 and thank us later.
Until Dawn's 79 Metascore does not do the game justice. Yes, it's a solid score, but Until Dawn is arguably the best interactive, choice-based video game available on the PlayStation 4. It nicely hearkens back to the cheesy slasher movies of the '80s, and it stars a game cast that includes the likes of Peter Stormare, Hayden Panettiere, and the Oscar-winning Rami Malek. The story is intriguing, the choices sweat-inducing, and it features many twists, turns, and branching paths. Don't look it up on YouTube - play this game numerous times and experience it for yourselves.
Perhaps Fury Road grossly inflated expectations for the Mad Max video game. Fury Road was a modern-day masterpiece, a breath of practical-effects-heavy fresh air among a cloud of CGI toxicity. The Mad Max video game was just... good. Players enjoyed the game's vast open world, the sheer amount of content on display, and the game's fantastic driving mechanics and physics engine. Professional critics didn't seem to have as much fun, criticizing the repetitive gameplay and general bloat. It's an enjoyable game, but it's destined to be little more than a footnote within the Mad Max franchise. It's a darned shame.