It’s a miracle that many titles delivered on their promises this year, given all the expectations and hype. Elden Ring, God of War Ragnarok, Horizon Forbidden West, Tunic, and more had all surpassed expectations. Unfortunately, like last year, there were disappointments. Some were minor and somewhat expected, while others felt shocking. Here are 15 of the most disappointing games to release this year.
The Callisto Protocol
Arguably one of the more anticipated games of the year, The Callisto Protocol was talked up a fair amount by Striking Distance Studios. With talent like Dead Space co-creator Glen Schofield involved, it seemed like a slam-dunk…until we played the game. And endured its awkward combat, lacklustre enemy variety, and lame final boss, all in a span of a few hours instead of the promised 12 to 14. Worst of all, performance was atrocious on PC with severe stuttering issues and crashes. The Callisto Protocol isn’t the worst game ever, but it ranked above average, which felt even worse.
Martha is Dead
LKA’s psychological horror looked special, and the setting of a German-occupied Italy during World War 2 could have presented something unique. Sadly, things fall apart after the opening, with the middle act suffering in pacing due to lots of meandering and wandering. Some controls don’t feel great, and the camera system also feels too complex for the amount used. Also, despite the handful of gruesome scenes, the real horror is reserved for the beginning and the end. Again, great ideas and an interesting setting with disturbing material, but the mishmash of other ideas and story elements dull the experience.
Salt and Sacrifice
Look, I’m not saying I expected another Souls-like Metroidvania that built on the first game and also had a large, interconnected world. Salt and Sacrifice kind of does that, but also inserts Monster Hunter-like elements when it comes to hunting Mages. The art style is polished, and the premise is intriguing. Yet, it doesn’t come together as well as its predecessor, either due to the progression, annoying combat aspects (like getting juggled in the air) or the controls.
When you hear the story behind developer Jumpship, founded by former Playdead co-founder Dino Patti, you want to root for Somerville. Patti’s experience includes Inside and Limbo, and despite this not being a full side-scrolling platformer, the premise and aesthetics look great. However, the plot leaves much to be desired (especially with the “ending”), and the controls are not good. Having to deal with numerous issues and bugs doesn’t help either.
Trek to Yomi
Like Ghost of Tsushima, Trek to Yomi takes heavy inspiration from Akira Kurosawa’s work, both in presentation and aesthetics. The monochrome art looks incredible, and the camera work is impeccable. The problem is the rest of the game, specifically the combat, which feels annoying and clunky. Add boring enemy variety and level design, and you have a beautiful-looking side-scroller without any heart or soul.
Rainbow Six Extraction
One didn’t expect much from Rainbow Six Extraction. After all, it had been delayed multiple times, and the prospect of taking a limited-time event and turning it into a paid game still felt scummy. However, as it turns out, Ubisoft went even lower than my lowest expectations. Terrible AI, damage-sponge bosses, awful objectives, a complete lack of tactical gameplay, bugs – the list goes on. Extraction’s biggest achievement is how it manages to be so disappointing and yet so forgettable, with many still expressing surprise that it even launched this year.
When Roller Champions was first announced, it seemed stylish, even if the concept of a 3v3 Roller Derby-style multiplayer game didn’t sound so intriguing. Then it got delayed again and again. When it finally landed this year, Roller Champions was a complete dud. It wasn’t downright awful, but nothing was captivating about it. The lack of polish, mode variety, and features like stats or quick chat at launch ensured a plummet into irrelevance.
Resident Evil Village – The Winters’ Expansion
We all had hopes for The Winters’ Expansion, particularly Shadows of Rose, which took place several years after the base game. Alas, not only did it recycle environments and fail to advance the overarching story, but it was only a handful of hours long. That would be fine if the expansion were cheaper. But the Third-Person Mode for the base game felt too clunky and awkward, and the additional Mercenaries content was simply good without being worthwhile alone.
Announced in 2014, Scorn has been in development for a long time, but the disgusting art style, inspired by H. R. Giger and Zdzisław Beksiński, made it stand out in the sea of graphically beautiful titles. Unfortunately, its annoying combat and checkpoints, not to mention the frustrating puzzles, hamper it tremendously. It feels like a conflict between the art design and gameplay, resulting in an underwhelming – and short – experience.
Marvel’s Midnight Suns
Weird as it sounds, I always felt there was something off about Marvel’s Midnight Suns. This is even after all the gameplay streams showcased the myriad of tactics available. On release, it revealed some pretty terrible writing, not to mention an excessive amount of padding and grinding for something as simple as card rerolls. The combat was still decent, but performance issues and shabby visual quality held it back.
Pokemon Scarlet and Violet
The first-ever seamless open-world title for Pokemon. Three paths to follow with the freedom to choose. The start of the ninth generation. All these promises and more were made for Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, and the results were…iffy. While the stories and gameplay felt good, the sheer range of technical and performance issues, shoddy presentation, and illusion of free choice made it feel like a severe downgrade from Pokemon Legends: Arceus and even Sword and Shield.
Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin
When rumors of a Final Fantasy Souls-like action RPG from Team Ninja, including the minds behind Nioh, first circulated, I was stoked. There’s no way Square Enix could mess this up, right? Unfortunately, they did, with a weird combat system, horribly optimized visuals, and some of the worst writing either company has put out (which is saying something). Subsequent updates and DLC improved it, but this is still a major disappointment considering what could have been.
Since it’s the last title as part of EA Sports’ collaboration with FIFA, you would think FIFA 23 would be a worthwhile end to a long-running, mostly-controversial series. It’s not. New mechanics like the PowerShot, Active Touch and World Cup modes were nice additions. But it’s still microtransaction-heavy, as evidenced by the changes to chemistry in Squad-Building Challenges. The PC version still has several issues, and the Nintendo Switch version continues to be a joke. For those who enjoyed FIFA, it’s more FIFA and still sells millions, but it’s still lacklustre.
Rune Factory 5
Ever since the delay to its Western release, I had some decent hopes for Rune Factory 5. It’s fully 3D with a more impressive presentation and combat. Unfortunately, it also feels overtly grindy, while the premise and overall gameplay aren’t a big enough step up over its predecessor. The performance of Nintendo Switch left much to be desired (with the PC version faring better). Long story short, it’s not a terrible game but could have done much more. Those looking to discover what makes the series great are better off sticking to Rune Factory 4 Special.
Believe it or not, there were some expectations on Gotham Knights. Even for those who knew it was more of an action RPG than a brand-new Batman: Arkham, there was that promise of exploring Gotham City and beating up bad guys. Gotham Knights bungled this with bad dialogue, annoying combat mechanics (counters? What are those?), clunky stealth, and grinding for things that should be available by default. Worst of all? It completely wastes the Court of Owls as antagonists.
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