While everyone else may be out here celebrating the BEST games of the year, I’m sitting here trying to figure out what the worst ones are. As someone that actually uses the entire 1-10 scale, I reviewed and gave plenty of scores far below 5/10, so I had a lot to work with for this list. Anyways, I did it, so here are the year’s 10 worst games, starting with some honorable (rather, dishonorable) mentions.
Honorable Mention 1: BALAN WONDERWORLD
Probably my biggest disappointment of the year – especially so since I originally included this one in my “top 10 upcoming 2021 games” feature. As much as I love past Yuji Naka games – Sonic Adventure being one of my all-time favorites – I just could not get into this one-button platformer. Great visuals, but some utterly bizarre design choices like removing your ability to jump when equipping most costumes (yes, a 3D platformer without a dedicated jump button). Just a mess all around and a waste of time for how much I was looking forward to it.
Honorable Mention 2: Neptunia Virtual Stars
Neptunia games are always hit or miss, especially the spin-offs. So yeah, this was not all that surprising. The gameplay is a bit bland, but at least not terrible – the real problem lies in the completely tacked-on VTuber element, the numerous technical issues, and the utterly boring storyline that takes up a solid 70% of the game time. Very disappointing overall package, even for a Neptunia game where the bar is already kinda low.
Honorable Mention 3: Succubus
Succubus honestly would have probably made my top 3 this year, but it didn’t feel right to put it there because I personally did not finish the game. And no, not because I did not want to (I was playing it for review after all), but because the game straight up corrupted my save file not just once, but twice. Even putting aside the crashes and save corrupting issues, this game is just not good, with the weightless and clunky combat being my main issue. So although I was unable to finish it, I felt it was worth an honorable mention regardless.
10. Road 96
I was actually kinda excited to check this one out, as I – unlike a lot of others it seems – actually like games that can tackle heavy political topics. What I don’t like, however, is a story-based game with completely unrealistic and stereotypical characters, cheesy and oftentimes painful dialogue, and writing that is so off the walls that it kills any attachment I could have had with said story or characters. That’s Road 96 in a nutshell and although the gameplay is kinda cool, the writing and characters make it a no-go.
9. Gods Will Fall
Here we have a game that tries to tackle multiple genres at once, but doesn’t seem to know what it wants to do with that combination. The gameplay is too repetitive for it to work as a roguelike and the combat is too clunky for it to work as a straight hack and slash game. A shallow experience overall, with little in the way of story, gameplay variety, or depth of any kind. In fact, it wasn’t until I started putting together this list that I even remembered playing it – so yeah, not a good one.
8. Genesis Noir
Genesis Noir is weird – and, unfortunately, not in a good way. It has some great visuals and audio – and some cool storytelling on top of that – but fails in what really makes a video game, well, a game. The gameplay is poorly designed and feels like a chore and the story is simply not interesting. It is the definition of style over substance and although I may have cleared the game in four hours – it felt like I spent double that time because of just how slow it was. As someone that usually enjoys these artsy indie games, I was left disappointed by my time with it.
7. Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles
I like Demon Slayer and I like fighting games, but this combo unfortunately does not land with The Hinokami Chronicles. Aside from being yet another 3D anime arena fighter (which we get way too many of), The Hinokami Chronicles fails in several basic departments for the genre. Bland combat, repetitive game design, a tacked-on and boring story mode – there’s just not a lot to like here and when it becomes hard to tell the difference between two characters that have entirely different styles – you know something’s up. A disappointment as both a Demon Slayer and fighting game fan.
6. Mobile Suit Gundam: Battle Operation Code Fairy
I will admit, we rarely get good Gundam video games and it hurts putting this one on the list simply because the idea is great, but the execution was off – by quite the margin at that. Yes, Mobile Suits are supposed to be slow, but the combat here is that to the extreme. Clunky movement, a shallow combo system, and fights that quickly devolve into just backing up and shooting until all enemies are dead. Combine that with the game’s mediocre mission design and aimless story and you get a bit of a boring one. An absolute shame given the numerous opportunities that the Gundam franchise holds for video games.
5. AKIBA’S TRIP: Hellbound & Debriefed
Despite the praise that its sequel may have received, the original Akiba’s Trip is a real mess – before they figured out what clicked for the series. The combat, for example, is not polished in the slightest, with the camera constantly working against you, hits not always registering, and stun locking being way more common than it needs to be. And when you’re not doing that, you’re suffering through it’s painfully mediocre storyline – one more so focused on cheap laughs than actually enjoyable content. The strip mechanic was at least a cool idea, but the rest of the experience is entirely forgettable.
4. Panorama Cotton
Released just a few months after the excellent Cotton Reboot, Panorama Cotton takes all that I liked about that one and just chucks it out of the window. The change to a rail shooter is fine, but loses its appeal once you realize that the depth perception is off and it’s hard to tell where shots are going to land or where that enemy will be when it gets closer to you. That and the port to modern platforms was not the greatest – including untranslated Japanese text and hardly any new features. It may have been a technical marvel for its time period, but I simply couldn’t get into it.
3. Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- The Prophecy of the Throne
It’s honestly impressive that they managed to take one of my favorite anime and turn it into one of the worst games of the year. Here we have an entire game that lazily rehashes an arc from the anime (and not even one of the better arcs), slaps some new characters onto it, tacks-on some shallow mobile-game level gameplay, and somehow believes it is worth full AAA pricing. What could have been a really cool take on the Re:ZERO universe ends up coming across as a cheap cash grab and as someone that gave that anime a 10/10, I was beyond disappointed.
2. Gal*Gun Returns
Gal*Gun 2 was awful, but this one is somehow even worse – “A flawed remaster of a bad game” as I put it in my review. It’s a rail shooter where all you do is point at girls and left click – that’s it, that’s the gameplay. No moving the camera, no extra abilities, just the same basic repetitive rail shooting gameplay with a different skin slapped over it each level. It’s monotonous, lacks any sense of depth or even difficulty, and isn’t even a good remaster, still including several 30 fps segments, noticeably upscaled assets, and no graphical settings of any kind outside of resolution and display mode. It’s just bad, plain and simple.
1. Lust from Beyond
It’s not often that we get an “erotic horror” video game, but with how Succubus and this one went – perhaps there’s a reason why. Lust from Beyond was painful for me. Tedious gameplay, numerous performance issues, confusing pacing, and all wrapped up in an incredibly poorly written story with some of the worst dialogue I have ever seen in a horror game, maybe even games in general. I’ve seen many try to defend it by saying “well, I want to support the genre or the devs” but guys, it’s not worth it. Money is one thing, but I will never get back the time it took to play through this one.
And that will conclude my list. I expect many to disagree with it, but again, it’s a personal list and that’s just kinda how they work. Anyways, let me know what your personal worst games were or maybe why you think a game on my list doesn’t belong there. I’ll be back later this week with my top 10 BEST games of the year, so do be on the lookout for that. Thanks for watching, see you guys in the next one.