As the year begins, we usually recollect the best things we had last year and wish more of the same this one. But not this time. The gaming industry produced tons of great stuff in 2018, but some of the titles are better off unreleased. Sorry if the very idea of this top (or rather a bottom) of worst video games seems inadequate. You may take this as a hangover after a good party. It’s inevitable if you party hard, and gaming world did last year, with consequences down below.
So, if we sum all the critics’ opinions and rates, our bottom (pardonne moi) looks like this.
Xbox One may feel so desecrated with this title that it takes more than one RDR2 or God of War to clear it. The story of an ex-soldier with three years of his life replaced with strange nightmares was supposed to be… What? A third-person shooter, or a post-apocalyptic survival, or a psychological horror, or a puzzle-based adventure? All of these? Sorry, but it takes a special sort of talent to make these ninja pirate zombie robots come alive. Instead of intended jolly trash (what else could have worked out in such a setting?), we have an undecided story with lousy acting and voicing, poor level design, abrupt storylines, and monotonous gunfights.
It’s good to be an indie developer with no producer to supervise you, but sometimes the producers do the right thing. The game would have been much better if the authors cut half of their ideas and gave more time and space to the rest. Unfortunately, Thanos ignored it.
When you select hell as the setting for your game, that doesn’t mean that “hell of a game” will sound like praise. With Agony, it’s instead a curse. Hell is not where the action happens, but rather what players might experience with it.
A sinner’s soul goes through hell to get itself back, and its way is glorified with violence, gore, sex and blasphemy (the latest is the logical consequence of all the rest). Well, even if you consider all this stuff a good thing (why the hell not?), too much of it still makes you sick and blasé. Gore scenes cause no shock, sexual content doesn’t seem exciting or even explicit in this setting, and a cynical grin behind it all fades away too soon. So no matter how much the designers try to impress with their satanic inventiveness, finally they miss.
As for the gameplay itself, it offers nothing worth discovering. The first hours of gameplay keep some revelations (like a necessity to creep and crawl rather than leap and brawl), but it gets dully repetitive too soon, partly due to bad acting and voicing again. And while its esthetics is a forgivable sin, being dull is a deadly one.
JRPGs are a special type of games, and its audience may love things that a gaijin considers strange. Not that Fantasy Hero is the worst of its kind, but it looks terribly outdated to be ported to Nintendo Switch in 2018. It’s like Monster Hunter deprived of that living world immersion that made the franchise this famous.
There’s nothing to recompense it in design and graphics, given that the original was made for PS Vita, boasting more than moderate performance for today. So even portable mode, on a smaller screen, cannot conceal all of its visual poorness. Gameplay is also a series of strong and moderate attacks upon your enemies, sometimes encountering virtually invincible ones, so you have to spend unreasonably much time to upgrade your characters. Last but not least, the game was ported with a bunch of bugs.
What we finally see is of nostalgic value if of any. Yes, Dragon Quest XI for Switch will only be released in 2019, but Fantasy Hero is a poor way to spend your waiting time.
So, you’re in the late XXI century, with human genome explored, rise of the machines resulting in almost two billion deaths, and chemical intervention into the whole humankind’s genes only summons new dangers to life. Everyone seems to be obsessed with violence, evil, conspiracy, and riot, so when it gets to the story, you don’t really know which threat gave life to which resistance. The plot seems a mishmash of The Terminator, Resident Evil, Johnny Mnemonic, and other sci-fi/cyberpunk classics, but it’s not the issue, compared to the fact that the most exciting events only appear as flashbacks.
Well, we’ve got used to great games based on B-movie ideas, but it’s not the case with Gene Rain. It’s as B-made as B-planned, partly due to its Chinese origins. The global version of the game hasn’t been translated or appropriately voiced, so the whole action is unintendedly funny, with both voices and grammar utterly unprofessional.
As for the gameplay, it seems secondary with all this. That’s a shame because it’s quite decently made third-person shooter in 3D, and the idea of switching playable characters from antagonistic sides is quite amusing. Rough but expressive visuals are something one can put up with. But this miserable acting and hardly English text make it look like a concentrated we-don’t-care-what-you-laowai-think, and even if you swallow it out of curiosity, the story is too hard to follow because of the narrative matters. So it’s even more regrettable to see a potentially decent game killed and dismembered by ignorance.
The Quiet Man (PS4)
Is it a response to Netflix’s Mute or the classical Zatoichi? There’s no more reason why make the protagonist of the game a deaf person. And, as we see and hear the world through the prism of his perception, the game is virtually silent. A powerful dare, but this time the developers sacrificed something too essential.
OK, even the most eccentric idea can be justified by technical perfection. But not with The Quiet Man. The story is the kind we’ve seen a lot: the antagonists captured someone the protagonist cares about, the protagonist has to set the taken one free and to bring all the villains down. This time he’s deaf, so he cannot hear enemies approach, but as he sees them, he’s up for a kill.
Not that the game has been hopeless from the beginning. It’s fun to see its FMV interludes, made in cinematic style. But playing it yourself? Too strange to take it as a regular game, too obvious to call it an arthouse one. The final nail in the coffin is the contrast between FMV and combat scenes, with the same characters looking drastically different, so you don’t even get it at once. That kills all the immersion you start to experience in these cinematic inserts.
It would be no surprise to see some indie developer obsessed with such an experiment. But seeing Square Enix logo on the cover makes you think that the Gene Rain story is not the worst kind of apocalypse.
There is only one thing to defend all the worst video games listed: at least, they managed to make some noise, and that may be their real value. There are even lessons to learn from these failure stories: think before trying to replay the past, don’t mix too many ingredients, present your product responsibly, never neglect the basics of perception, and dilute your shocking content with at least something playable. And what do you think about the worst games that still got noticed?