Preamble: These are the games that I played this year that I found to be the worst or disappointing. The only requirement to be on this list is that I played it in 2016, nothing else. If you’re looking for the worst games of 2016, you’re going to have to look elsewhere.
It’s getting harder and harder to make this list. I played fewer games this year and I have a lower tolerance for bad games now than ever before. Plus, there was that whole move in the middle of the year that really upset my schedule, so, that didn’t help. Then my ability to filter out bad games has gotten better this year. Which means less money spent on bad games. Even so, there’s still some games that made the list so let’s take a look at them.
Disappointed: Pokemon Go.
This has been yet another rough year for mobile gaming and I have played far more terrible games than good ones. This year hasn’t done much to improve my outlook of the platform and these are some of the notable titles that earned my ire. I wish this platform would grow up and quit leaning so heavily on its business models for success over interesting games. The overly manipulative freemium models remain a toxic component of its games and has made it difficult to get invested in any of them. But, I’ve still plunged my head in once in a while to find what I can. These were the games that most annoyed me.
Pokemon Go is by far one of the most disappointing games I’ve played on Android. This was the kind of Pokemon game I wanted to play since I started playing Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow on my Gameboy. Catching Pokemon, exploring the wilds, meeting up with people and potentially battling/trading with them. Pokemon Go got part way there, but ultimately failed to achieve the rest of that dream. What we got instead was a bare-boned catch-em-all game with terrible combat mechanics and Pokemon catching that heavily favored city players over rural players. Which, to me, doesn’t make a ton of sense. The game was a battery destroyer for an experience that was socially compelling but ultimately shallow. After release, the game suffered from constant bugs, performance problems and server connection issues for nearly a month. Once they finally resolved that, I had high hopes they would grab onto the tremendous amount of success they achieved and get worthwhile updates out. It’s now December and there have been a pittance of updates. Pokemon Go is still popular but I quit playing months ago and have been increasingly disappointed by how badly Niantic mangled this game by their own inaction. So much potential for a good game was absolutely not capitalized on.
Not Into It: Fallout New Vegas.
Fallout New Vegas was my introduction to the Fallout series. I’ve heard that it’s the best mechanically-built game and has a good storyline to go along with it. I figured I’d give it a shot for a few hours and see if the franchise as a whole was worth getting into. I suppose if nothing else, I could at least speak with some authority on the series after I played it for a while. Or at least I’d understand how the game plays. The short of it? The game wasn’t grabbing me. I will grant the commentators that playing a massive RPG like Fallout for a few hours and making a decision right then and there is insanity. Hence why I’m not reviewing this title or making a video about it.
My play at the game for those few hours confirmed my initial impressions I had about the game going in. The gunplay simply feels off, the RPG elements a little too arbitrary to me and I’m not a fan of the skill tree system. And a lot of the game is too slowly paced with plenty of obvious scripting that rubs me the wrong way. It’s bemusing to me how much my experience in Oblivion translates over to Bethesda’s other RPGs. I know, Oblivion is one of the least favorite entries in Bethesda’s library of games. But, it still shows how much Bethesda has a certain style of game that they like to make and it simply doesn’t work for me. The Fallout series just didn’t grab me this time and while I won’t write off their games forever, it has paused me from trying out any of their other titles for the foreseeable future.
The Banner Saga. My Review of this Title.
Seeing the trailers and the animation style TBS was going for reminded me of Disney classics of old. Maybe that should have been my first warning that this game may not be worth getting interested in. I just didn’t think the game would be this….terrible. While they clearly put a ton of effort into world building, the story isn’t exactly interesting or memorable with characters coming in and out at the almost literal drop of the hat. It dumps a ton of exposition on you without giving much of a reason to be invested. This odd mix of Oregon Trail survival and turn-based strategy fighting is a neat idea on the surface, but start delving into it and the combat shows its cracks. The turn-based combat is simply not well done. A lot of it is just slugging it out with your opponents and hoping you’re left standing by the end of it. Abilities are hard to come by, there’s little to no cover and each battle played out basically the same. It was a slog and I just gave up on this series as a result.
Syndrome. Check out my first impressions video.
I’ll admit that getting interested in FPS horror games on Steam right now is like shooting yourself in the foot and expecting it to not hurt. Syndrome is the only FPS horror game I can recall giving a chance and boy did it disappoint. It appears to take inspirations from System Shock with a modern mindset but wow did it miss the mark if that was the case. What you get instead is a horribly paced horror game far more content on wasting your time than giving you any type of thrill. The first couple of hours had me going back and forth between one or two levels, seeing the same content over and over again to grab a single item. Whether it be a key, log or otherwise didn’t matter, it simply wasn’t done well and made for a dull first impression.
Boid. Or: “all light-RTS games like Eufloria that were released this year”.
Boid just happens to be the unlucky target. I think I’ve decided I just don’t like this genre. And I’ve tried a number of games both on PC and mobile devices. These swarm unit RTSes largely play the same. Build up a giant army, take what resources you can, wait for your AI enemy to move out of position and then take it over. Some try to mix up the formula like BOID with specialized units but it still comes off as a little more clunky or uninteresting than it should. Plus, there’s always the sit-and-wait till you have an overwhelming force and wipe the level clean of all troubles. Boid is just another entry in the genre that doesn’t do a lot to change things up. Which is too bad.
Not Into It: Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker.
I first discovered Kitty Powers when it was in pre-release. It has quite the eccentric marketing of any indie game I’ve seen this year. Unfortunately, past all that color and silliness is a fairly by-the-numbers dating simulator that I just didn’t get invested into. You couple people together, take them on a date, spy on the date and try to make it work. The game gets progressively harder with it giving you less and less hints about potential matches. I feel like I’ve played this game before and outside of a few odd mini-games, it didn’t do much to hook me in. Especially with how many mini-games there were during the course of play. Still, as far as dating sim/management games go, this is certainly one of the most unique presentations and overall styles I’ve ever seen.
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. Awarded: Played It Far Too Much This Year. My last post on the subject.
I finally got fed up with Hearthstone this year and quit the game for good. I’ve tried several times to get into Hearthstone but the Old Gods expansion finally broke me. I can’t handle how much this game lives and dies on RNG. That cards can basically be overruled by the latest and greatest cards makes HS far more of a pay-to-win title than any of its competition. Worse, the balance currently in the game is horrendous with some classes being completely useless on the ladder. It’s an infuriating game to talk about from a balance perspective. High quality production values simply don’t disguise how very unfun this game ultimately is. Where games can be decided in a single turn because the RNG decided to favor/hate you.
Cradle. Awarded: Worst Game of the Year. Read The Review Here.
Why is this the worst game of the year? Because I despise this game, I loathe how poorly executed this title was. Where to even begin with this game. My utter disdain for this title and its experience after the all of its development is endless. The story is reprehensible and ends in one of the most frustrating ways I’ve ever dealt with a narrative this year. That’s to say nothing of the game itself which is a mechanical mess. It feels like they wanted to be an open world survival game but then shifted gears hard to a point/clickish puzzle game. It’s poorly paced and you’ll spend a ton of time walking between a couple of locations looking for items in obtuse places. This is a game that I thought had potential but largely squandered it.
I hope you enjoyed this post! Feel free to share or look around at my other posts. Stay tuned for my most favorite games of 2016 coming soon!