Top 5 Lowest Rated Games According to Metacritic Scores in 2023

Last year was an exciting time for gamers all over the world, with the release of many highly-anticipated video games. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Hogwarts Legacy, and Diablo IV were some of the best-selling games of 2023. However, a number of releases failed to live up to expectations for various reasons. Websites like Metacritic dive deep into how and why some video game titles performed poorly during the year.  

What Is Metacritic?  

Established in 1999 and launched in 2001, Metacritic is an aggregation website that compiles reviews of not only video games, but also TV shows, movies, and music albums. Over the years, Metacritic served as a reference for consumers, publishers, and journalists on topics that include how well products are received by the public, sales forecasts, and product development/improvement.  

How Is the Metacritic Score Calculated?  

Metacritic aggregates and assigns scores to reviews written by reputable critics and by end users. The weighted average of these scores is then calculated, leading to the Metascore, which is a single digit and color. To qualify for a Metacritic Must-Play Badge, a video game needs a Metascore of at least 90. Must-See and Must-Watch badges require a minimum Metascore of 81. High Metascores are all framed in a green square.  

5 Worst Video Games of 2023 on Metacritic

5. Testament: The Order of High-Human  

Metascore: 40 

Developed and published by Fairyship Games, Testament: The Order of High-Human focuses on the journey of an immortal king in the ancient, fantastical world of Tessara. This role-playing game features Metroidvania elements, and is heavy on fighting—in fact, it accounts for more than 80% of the gameplay. Visually, it’s a beautiful game that’s a joy to see on the Acer Nitro 16 or the Predator Helios 16, sleek 16-inch displays with powerful components, plus a high resolution and refresh rate.  

On the downside, reviewers criticize it for being overly ambitious and describe it as underdeveloped and poorly optimized. The protagonist, a one-dimensional character, is prone to spouting long-winded monologues about his past exploits. The plot is predictable, your typical revenge quest where the hero develops his strength and powers by fighting monsters. Characters' dialogues are peppered with cliches and are oddly disjointed. 

The combat system is no less problematic. There's a frustrating lack of variety, with battles that are practically identical and repetitive attack combos in melee encounters. Whether you use a bow, sword, or magic, you won't need to develop any sophisticated strategies when fighting—just hit as many enemies as you can. Technical issues like inconsistent framerates add to the overall dissatisfaction with this game. 

4. Quantum Error  

Metascore: 40  

A horror first-person shooter from TeamKill Media, Quantum Error starts with a team of firefighters attempting to rescue people trapped in a burning complex then expands to intergalactic travel, with battles featuring enemies that include terrorists and zombies. Some gamers praise the game's moody vibe, firefighting scenarios, and atmospheric music. On the other hand, others found many things to complain about. 

For one thing, stealth mechanics are frustrating since the bad guys can see and hear you even behind multiple layers of doors and walls. For another thing, enemies act erratically. Sometimes they'll cross considerable distances to attack you, while other times you can almost glide past them. There's a variety of monsters but they lack depth and don't pose real challenges. They mostly just rush at you, while you awkwardly try to shoot or switch weapons. Most frustrating of all, there are only a few save points. You stand to lose a lot of progress if your character dies before you reach one to save your game. In addition, you'll find yourself fighting enemies you've already defeated since dying in the game resets them. 

A bland, cookie-cutter hero, nonsensical cutscenes, and defective maps add to the list of factors that make this game a no-go for many reviewers. 

3. Greyhill Incident  

Metascore: 38 

Set in a small American neighborhood in the early 1990s, Refugium Games' Greyhill Incident is a survival horror game where the protagonist goes up against invading aliens that abducted his son. Reviewers like Greyhill's creepy vibe and the satirical dialogue, and little else.  

Playing as Ryan Baker, you explore the neighborhood's empty houses, moonlit cornfields, and foggy roads, fulfilling fetch quests where the relevant items are ineffectively highlighted. The lack of context or background information makes most of the other characters in the game uninspiring, including the aliens. Appearing as your generic extraterrestrial beings with skinny arms and blank faces, these creatures hardly evoke feelings of horror. Combat doesn't break any new barriers, and can be frustrating with only a baseball bat and a gun with limited ammo. The gameplay feels slow and the stealth mechanics are buggy. Speaking of bugs, sometimes aliens spawn randomly, getting in the way of a good jumpscare. 

Unremarkable voice acting, cringeworthy dialogue, and tedious gameplay round out this title's list of negatives. It's a short game, but its flaws turn off gamers from playing it a second time. 

2. Flashback 2  

Metascore: 35  

The original Flashback was released in 1992 and was a resounding success. Sadly, Flashback 2 didn't receive as warm a welcome. Developed by Microids Studio Lyons, this sci-fi action-adventure title is plagued with numerous bugs that slow down the player's progress. A few examples: guns malfunctioning in the middle of fights, getting stuck in walls, and autosaves that don't work. Plus, like several other games on this list, attempts to escape detection by enemies by trying to be stealthy are futile.  

As far as weird designs go, one of the things that stands out is your ability to resume the game at the point where your character dies, and with a nearly full health bar. So, whenever your character gets killed, you can just choose to resume however many times it takes before you defeat the enemy. 

Reviewers were also left unimpressed by the half-baked storyline and poorly rehashed elements of the original Amiga classic. Originally on the quiet side, returning hero Conrad Hart is now a chatterbox who delivers cringe-worthy lines. The colorful graphics are decent, but many fans of the first Flashback say they wouldn't be playing this game again even for nostalgic reasons. 

1. The Lord of the Rings: Gollum  

Metascore: 33 

Like many of the other games on this list, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum has a promising premise, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. In this title from Daedalic Entertainment, Gollum/Sméagol climbs, swims, and sneaks his way through places in Middle-Earth that LOTR fans will find familiar. Many critics agree, however, that there is hardly anything enjoyable about the game. From dated graphics and glitchy animation to an uninspired narrative and tedious gameplay, this 3D stealth platformer is far from being "precious."  

The game suffers from a plethora of bugs, and we don't mean the insects that the former hobbit eats to restore his health. From the character inexplicably dying after cutscenes to broken puzzles, various glitches interrupt the game's potential immersiveness. Gollum himself is an agile creature, but constant frame drops and extreme frame rate fluctuations are disorienting. Moreover, the graphics don't give justice to Tolkien's fictional world; in the game, Mirkwood, Barad-dûr, and other places are flat and lifeless. 

Wayne Forester does an admirable job as the voice of Gollum/Sméagol. However, the dialogue is mostly uninteresting, and the different choices that Gollum or Sméagol need to make ultimately lead to the same outcomes. The enemy AI is anything but intelligent, with orcs and other foes having easily exploitable blind spots. Plus, instead of tons of action and adventure, there are mostly trivial quests to gather stuff for unremarkable characters. 

Expectations were high for The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, which it failed to meet. It's an underwhelming game with a frustrating user interface and little replay value. Daedalic has apologized for the game's shortcomings and promises to work on the many issues plaguing Metacritic's worst game of 2023. 

Having characters voiced by top-notch talent or being part of a well-known movie or book franchise simply aren't enough to guarantee a video game's success. A gripping storyline, challenging combats, glitch-free gameplay, and interesting, fleshed-out characters are must-haves for an enjoyable experience. Will the anticipated titles of 2024 fare better than the games above? Time will tell.  

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About Lalaine Melizza Capucion: Lizza has been working as a freelance writer and editor for more than 12 years, focusing on lifestyle, travel, and wellness. When she isn’t writing, she's most likely curled up with a good book or trying out a new recipe in the kitchen. She lives in Metro Manila, Philippines.  

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