Digital Disasters: Worst Video Games of the Year 2023

edited December 2023 in Gaming

For every Elden Ring or Baldur’s Gate 3 pushing boundaries, a parade of less than ideal games foul up your PC, fueling controller-snapping rage. The blockbuster-heavy gaming industry may glitter, but it's not all gold. Lazy adaptations, technical dysfunction, and wayward franchises dashed devices and drained wallets. Here are the worst video games of 2023.

1. Redfall

  • Metacritic score: 56 
  • Developer(s): Arkane Austin 
  • Release Date: 2nd May 2023 
  • Platform(s): Xbox Series X and Series S, Xbox Cloud Gaming, Microsoft Windows

In 2023, Redfall was meant to be Arkane Austin's next big hit. 20 years crafting acclaimed immersive shooters like Dishonored and Prey. Sky-high hype, but crashed harder than an anemic vampire.

In this open-world co-op shooter, vampires rule Redfall Island and make it their new hunting ground. You have 4 quirky characters to choose from to fight back in single-player or co-op FPS action.

Promising co-op fails to save tired tropes and repetitive combat. Enemy AI constantly stutters against mundane obstacles. Assets are endlessly reused, while textures take eons to load. For every neat touch, five frustrations grind your enjoyment into dust. 

Saddled to 30fps and last-gen visuals, Redfall rarely impresses as a next-gen experience. Arkane built its reputation by pioneering gameplay innovations and meticulous worlds. Redfall retreats to the familiar FPS template, undeserving of the studio's pedigree. But past successes suggest Arkane will resurrect itself. 

2. Quantum Error

  • Metacritic score: 41 
  • Developer(s): Teamkill Media 
  • Release Date: 05th November 2023 
  • Platform(s): PlayStation 5

Quantum Error is one of 2023's most baffling games. An indie game developed by four brothers, yet absurdly priced as an AAA title. This first-person sci-fi horror shooter buries flashes of promise under layers of frustration and shoddy acting.

You play Jacob Thomas, a firefighter-turned-mercenary in 2109 AD. When a rescue mission goes awry, he battles monsters across twisted dimensions. An alluring premise, but unfortunately, messy gameplay mechanics drain any thrills.

The stealth mechanics don't work as advertised, and while you have plenty of weapons, it's easy to run out of ammo for the guns. The fighting becomes repetitive, as most enemies just run straight at you, seemingly waiting to be shot. Checkpoint repetition after frequent deaths grinds enjoyment rather than terror.

With clunky visuals and zero scares, Quantum Error fails as a horror experience. Impressive scale for a tiny team can't outweigh shoddy execution on nearly every front. Save your hard drive for the 80GB install.

3. Testament: The Order of High Human

  • Metacritic score: 41 
  • Developer(s): Fairyship Games 
  • Release Date: 13th July 2023 
  • Platform(s): Windows PC

Fantasy flop Testament wastes a decent premise with a disjointed 40-hour slog of monotony. As immortal king Aran, you seek to reclaim a stolen throne from your traitorous brother. So far, so good. Yet this indie RPG drowns any potential in an abyss of repetitive combat, nonsensical dialogue, and game-breaking technical issues.

Prepare for Elder Ring lengths of frustration minus its open world's freedom. Over 80 percent of the game involves mindlessly mashing the same few attacks against identically boring enemies in copy-pasted arenas. Reviewers exhausted their vocabulary for words like "tedious," "frustrating," "buggy," and "bland" to describe the unrelenting monotony.

Characters spout pretentious drivel in stilted line reads. Bugs constantly threaten progress, from crashes and performance woes to glitched objectives. This fantasy fiasco should've remained banished from our gaming realm.

4. Greyhill Incident

  • Metacritic score: 38 
  • Developer(s): Refugium Games 
  • Release Date: 09th June 2023 
  • Platform(s): PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox Series X and Series S

Scoring a measly 38% on Metacritic, Greyhill Incident ranks among 2023's lowest-rated titles. As conspiracy theorist Ryan Baker, you seek to rescue your abducted son from the alien Grays now terrorizing your remote 1990s community. The premise evokes X-Files-era sci-fi, but Greyhill mangles almost everything from narrative to gameplay.

Instead of tension, rote stealth mechanics invite repetition. Fetch quests pad a 3 to 5 hour campaign empty of substance. Non-threatening aliens stand motionless when catching you, eliciting more giggles than shrieks.

The atmosphere impresses with moody lighting yet lacks story context to bring Greyhill to life. The game begs for side stories and mystery amid the emptiness. Characters amount to little more than lifeless quest dispensers.

For a first effort, Refugium sketches the contours of an intriguing world. But those outlines remain frustratingly incomplete, lacking the details to bring it to life. This paint-by-numbers invasion amounts to little more than a brief shell devoid of substance. There's little incentive to enlist in saving Greyhill from its wasted potential or yawning emptiness. 

5. The Walking Dead: Destinies

  • Metacritic score: 50 
  • Developer(s): Flux Games 
  • Release Date: 27th November 2023 
  • Platform(s): PlayStation 4/5, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PC. 

Based on the first four seasons of The Walking Dead TV series, Destinies shambles to new lows with this ill-fated spinoff.

You can play as Rick Grimes, a cop who's been in a coma for four years and wakes to fight zombies with guns and bats. The hook promises you can replay his journey, forge your own path, and rewrite the series' narrative with 150+ ending variations and 3 different final bosses. You can decide whether Rick or Shane leads the group. But neither the familiar story nor diverging choices escape repetitive tedium and technical turmoil.

The game's appeal decays faster than Walker's flesh. Consequences never truly manifest beyond superficial nods. Instead, Destinies suffers the hallmarks of a rush job, riddled with poor graphics, game-breaking crashes, and no depth.

Potentially a promising chance to reshape The Walking Dead's seminal early seasons, Destinies leaves little beyond a reminder of the franchise's diminishing returns. Like the show, the game is now a zombie aimlessly shuffling toward irrelevance.

6. The Lord of the Rings - Gollum

  • Metacritic score: 34 
  • Developer(s): Daedalic Entertainment 
  • Release Date: 25th May 2023 
  • Platform(s): PlayStation 4/5, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC, and Windows PC. (Nintendo Switch will be released soon)

Hopes ran high that playing as Lord of the Rings anti-hero Gollum would offer some dark fantasy fun. His fractured personality, torn between innocent Sméagol and wretched Gollum, seemed ripe for complex storytelling. But Daedalic Entertainment's disastrous 2023 adaptation failed to capture any such intrigue.

Since the release of The Lord of the Rings - Gollum, Steam advises that of the tiny number of reviews (368), most are negative. It's more "bored of the rings."

Gameplay? Missions amount to repetitive tedium sans excitement, testing patience, not skill. A monotonous grind through repetitive tasks makes Gollum's centuries-long cave dwelling seem thrilling. Dull prison chores fail to flesh out the backstory.

Rather than deliver on promising early alphas, the final product devolved into a hot visual mess. It's like somebody sketched Middle Earth with a crayon. For a figure as iconic as Gollum, this title only leads you to ruin, not redemption - your precious game this is not.

7. Skull Island: Rise of Kong

  • Metacritic score: 23
  • Developer(s): IguanaBee 
  • Release Date: 17th October 2023 
  • Platform(s): PlayStation 4/5, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PC. 

Scoring an abysmal 23% on Metacritic, Skull Island: Rise of Kong claims 2023's worst-rated crown and burns its iconic 90-year cinematic IP. The plot? Avenge your parents' death as young Kong and rise toward "King" status across the island.

Developed in under a year, this shallow adaptation trades thrilling, heart-pounding adventure for lukewarm boredom. Repetitive combat quickly erodes playability atop the mysterious Skull Island. Expect to witness the bizarre spectacle of Kong glitching through trees or moonwalking over cliffs.

Lackluster graphics, bizarre cutscenes, clipped environmental collisions, and game-breaking performance issues pile atop the bargain-bin gameplay. It makes you nostalgic for when Kong was just a pixelated gorilla throwing barrels at Mario.

8. The Day Before

  • Metacritic score: 0.4 (user score)
  • Developer(s): Fntastic
  • Release Date: 7th December 2023
  • Platforms: Windows PC

The Day Before has firmly established itself as potentially the worst game of 2023 due to an array of critical failures that thoroughly mar the gaming experience. Despite a prolonged five-year development phase, this early access product dramatically failed to fulfill its initial promises, lacking key features and gameplay elements that were advertised. The game is plagued with significant technical issues, such as dismal performance even on advanced hardware, an almost non-existent user interface, and an absence of basic gameplay mechanics like melee combat or a substantial open-world experience.

Compounding these issues, the game's PvP system is unbalanced and exploitable, leading to an unsatisfying gameplay experience. The narrative and character development are criticized as lackluster and poorly executed, which diminishes the game's appeal further. The absence of a compelling story, along with a static and uninspiring game environment, results in a tedious and unengaging experience.

Furthermore, exacerbating these myriad issues, the developers announced the studio's shutdown, and the game was officially removed from Steam. These events underscore the game's multitude of unresolved problems and cement The Day Before as a leading contender for the title of the worst game of 2023.

And so concludes our 2023 video game Hall of Shame. Across the spectrum of disaster, recurring themes plague these titles: broken technical foundations, repetitive filler gameplay, and wasted potential. Let their failure stand as a warning while we eagerly anticipate the top titles in 2024

Robert is a Taiwan-based writer and digital marketer at iamrobert design. He has a passion for helping people simplify their lives through tech.


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