There are a lot of good video games. There are even more mediocre video games. There are so many more bad video games. There are even bad parts of good games. Obviously, today, we’re going to be talking about all the bad stuff. Remember, the only recommendations you’re going to find on this list are what you need to stay as far away from as possible. Here are the 10 worst video games we’ve ever played.
The Talos Principle
The worst part about The Talos Principle is that the core game isn’t that bad at all. In fact, it’s a solid puzzle platformer set in visually stunning environments. Where it becomes a worst game is in its story. This is easily, far and away, without a hint of hyperbole or sarcasm, the most self-indulgent, condescending piece of trash narrative we’ve ever stumbled into. What we thought was going to be a fun, plotless distraction turned into us getting lectured by the game’s stand-in for the Christian God. They even stick you in cathedrals while the omnipresent voice lectures you about the hubris of man, the dangers of self-awareness, and how powerful AI could become if humans would just get out of the way.
To be fair, we posted about this on Steam forums awhile back and a programmer responded with the coding metaphor he took from it. His post was intriguing, but when a guy on a public forum does a better job of explaining your game than you did after sledgehammering the player in the face with monotheism and omnipotence, your writing could use some work.
Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon/Link: The Faces of Evil
It’s so hard to mess up a Legend of Zelda game that Nintendo had to outsource the job. Philips Media is the company responsible for this direct insult to the series’ otherwise spotless record of adventures. Cutscenes play like bad high school sketch comedians writing during the cocaine craze of the ’80s and the animations looks worse than when a toddler gets their hands on an Etch-A-Sketch. Obviously they don’t play well either, because that’d be too much to ask of a game developer with a serious head injury.
To say that rape as a gameplay mechanic is frowned upon would be a horrifying understandment. To say that rape is your only gameplay mechanic should be a crime against humanity. But that’s exactly what Custer’s Revenge has. You play famed General Custer taking his revenge, which, in this world, means dodging arrows with your enormous boner sticking out as you charge remorselessly at a Native American woman tied to a wooden post. This is a drunken joke from a freshman year college dorm room gone way too far, to the point where if any Native American nation was to take the developer to court, even this long after the game’s release, we think the only rightful compensation would be for the nation to reoccupy their old territory, no matter who’s there right now.
Aliens: Colonial Marines
The world is waking up to the fact that nostalgia is not enough to carry a game, movie, or TV show. It’s doing it excruciatingly slowly, but at least it’s something. Aliens: Colonial Marines is part of that reawakening. Playing on PC (don’t even think about playing on console; the quality is insultingly bad), you’d swear you were in a virtual museum for the Alien franchise. But as soon as actual gameplay kicked in, you were treated to an uncharacteristically bad FPS from Gearbox, the same studio that produced the excellent Borderlands series. There’s absolutely no challenge, with enemies often identifying where you’re aiming and moving to stand there instead of the solid cover they’re behind, the xenomorphs swarm you like mindless zombies instead of stalking you like the menacing aliens from the early movies, and you can carry enough weapons to supply a South American guerilla war. Everything scary about the movies is stripped out in favor of a mindless, boring shooter. Do your inner Alien fan a favor and pick up Alien: Isolation instead.
Enemy Front isn’t necessarily a bad game, it just commits one serious sin against good gaming, and that’s somehow making World War II boring. Actually, take that one step further and say that it makes the Polish Resistance of WWII boring. The real life Polish Resistance was one of the most active, successful, and hardest fighting resistance groups in history, and was the largest resistance group active under the Nazi Reich, yet this game treats them like they thought “conflict” and “urgency” were things Americans had to import to occupied Poland. We didn’t even make it a full hour into the game, which makes us feel like we were complicit in the Nazi occupation of Poland and we really don’t like that feeling.
RAGE was very similar to Enemy Front in that we don’t remember anything about it beyond it being entirely too boring for its setting. From our research, we found out it’s a post-apocalyptic Earth. But look, if you have a game set on Earth after humanity is nearly wiped out by an asteroid and there’s nothing that grabs our attention within the first hour and we have to do cursory follow up research, you may not have done the best you could with the material provided.
We’re also seeing that we’re in the minority here, so RAGE might be worth a second chance. We’ll reinstall and see if it actually deserves the criticism here. See? We’re open minded.
The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct
The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct probably should have faded into the dark, wide obscurity that is misguided tie-ins. It’s not a good video game and no one should remember it. But it’s one of two The Walking Dead video game franchises and the other one (the Telltale one) is so good, its existence reminds everyone of the time Activision tried to con gamers out of their money by pandering to the audience’s love of the Dixon brothers. Again, this isn’t a war crime of a game, but it’s so much worse than its Telltale counterpart.
It’s difficult to put our unadulterated hate for gimmicky indie games into words, but let’s give it a shot. The entire idea for a game can’t be “what if one unrelated thing was actually a totally different, also unrelated thing?” For example, this game’s premise is, “what if a gingerbread man was a ninja?” That’s some bullshit hack writing right there. You shouldn’t be able to force a pun and expect people to buy your product. That artificially devalues all the good video game writing out there, and goddamn is there a lot of it.
Star Wars Battlefront II (2017)
This is not the Battlefront II that is widely recognized as one of the finest tactical shooters ever made. This is the one that caused international gambling lawsuits. You have to make a truly offensive game if you’re going to get states and other countries to start looking into whether or not that “game” you just published is actually a downloadable casino. Other companies get to destroy entire ecosystems and economies with oil spills and they get better PR than EA did after they tricked kids into mortgaging their parents’ houses in pursuit of higher rated Star Cards.
The worst part was, this game probably would have been enjoyable if it got a more traditional release. A straight up and down tactical shooter set in the Star Wars universe is something people have consistently paid a lot of money for and had a ton of fun playing. But as soon as you let some chickenshit rich kid buy his way to the number one slot on your leaderboards, you should know you made something bad.
We’re realizing a more accurate title for at least a handful of these picks would be “Criminally Boring Video Games” but readers probably wouldn’t click on that. Just chalk Dead Island up under that subtitle though. Because Dead Island starts out as a mildly good time, then quickly grinds into repetitive zombie slaughter. Basically the only progression here is finding a slightly stronger hammer to make slightly higher numbers appear above a zombie’s head every time you hit it. That’s not enough to expect someone to keep playing long enough to finish a single playthrough.
This is also one of the biggest discrepancies between implied promise for quality, by way of a singularly amazing trailer, and what the actual product was. If Dead Island was released to minor fanfare and left to stand on its own, it would probably be remembered as a decent, if somewhat forgettable, zombie game. But if you release an Oscar worthy short film as your reveal trailer, you better make something good enough to follow it.