The Worst Reviewed Games of 2023
21 mins read

The Worst Reviewed Games of 2023


2023 has been full of big name games making big splashes, from The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom to Baldur’s Gate 3 to… Redfall. That’s right, while this year might have had some huge hits, it was also one full of truly eye-popping misses – in fact, IGN published more game reviews with a 4 out of 10 score or below in 2023 than any year since we switched to the 10-point scale by more than double, including our first 1 in about a decade. High highs were coupled with low lows, and all those nostalgic remakes and sequels came alongside a different sort of blast from the past thanks to a slew of underwhelming licensed games, be that The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, Skull Island: Rise of Kong, or The Walking Dead: Destinies.

So with the paradox that was 2023 in mind, here is every game that scored a four or below on IGN this year.

Wanted: Dead

As someone who considers themself an action game buff, Wanted: Dead let me down on just about every front. Its combat may be fun for a few hours, but eventually I realized that it was just a pool of shallow water to splash around in. The fights never evolved in any interesting or meaningful way, the minimal enemy variety never challenged me to change up my tactics, and worst of all I always felt weak, even when I fully maxed out the skill tree. Add on bland visuals, a distinct lack of personality and charm, and frequent crashes, and it all amounts to one of the first big disappointments of 2023. – Mitchell Saltzman, February 14

Crime Boss: Rockay City

Crime Boss: Rockay City is an overly ambitious air ball on all fronts, from its sloppy moment-to-moment gameplay to its largely abysmal voice acting – the worst of which sound like single takes spliced in with mistakes intact. There’s an earnestness with which Crime Boss has been put together that I do admire – as a kind of direct-to-VHS knockoff of Payday on a promising ’90s backdrop – and there is an inescapable novelty in seeing these de-aged Hollywood stars steering the story here. Unfortunately, the hokey charm on display is nowhere near strong enough to offset the repetitive and regularly frustrating mission design, its roguelike single-player rapidly becomes a total chore, and its co-op juice just isn’t worth the squeeze. Sadly, Crime Boss: Rockay City’s coked-up ego has been writing cheques its budget-priced body couldn’t cash. – Luke Reilly, April 6

Redfall

Redfall is just like a vampire in all the wrong ways – it really wasn’t ready for daylight, and it sucks.
Redfall is just like a vampire in all the wrong ways – it really wasn’t ready for daylight, and it sucks.

Redfall is a bafflingly bad time across the board, whether playing solo or with a friend or three suffering alongside you. That it comes in the wake of Arkane’s excellent Deathloop, the enduringly beloved Prey, and the acclaimed Dishonored series honestly beggars belief. Its performance on Xbox Series X is regularly dire, plagued with pop-in, stutters, and a long list of display bugs. It’s beleaguered with bodgy AI enemies that struggle to mount a basic defence, choose appropriate cover, or even effectively navigate the world. The one-note mission design recycles and repurposes itself all the way until the anticlimactic final encounter. Button commands break, characters vanish, and the cheap and static story scenes seem woefully unfinished by typical standards. There may be occasional glimpses of a competent co-op shooter on display but otherwise, Redfall is just like a vampire in all the wrong ways. That is, it really wasn’t ready for daylight in this state, and it sucks. – Luke Reilly, May 1

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum fails to provide a satisfying answer to the big Why’s. Why, of all the interesting characters in The Lord of the Rings lore, would anyone want to play an entire game as Gollum? Why would one trade the solid action of prior games in this universe for busywork, uninspired and frustrating platforming, and bad stealth? It’s not clear who this is for, or what it was intended to achieve. What is clear is that it’s not fun to play, and not something to recommend to any but the most curious and dedicated Lord of the Rings fan. – Justin Koreis, May 25

Everybody 1-2-Switch

Everybody 1-2-Switch is a tedious and surprisingly small catalog of unoriginal and mostly poorly designed minigames that’s guaranteed to bring any party grinding to a halt. Even with a few interesting ideas, like Joy-Con hide and seek or the color scavenger-hunting modes, there are simply too few options to keep a group’s attention for one game, much less for multiple matches. Throw in the fact that many ideas are mind-numbingly boring, and others are rehashes of stuff found in the original, and you’ve got yourself a great way to rid yourself of unwanted friendships but not much more than that. – Travis Northup, July 5

Unholy

With the exception of the rich environmental detail to be found in its sinister underworld setting, Unholy otherwise offers precious little to praise. It’s not scary enough to succeed as a horror story, its controls are too clumsy to provide a satisfying stealth experience, and its enemy and puzzle variety are too limited to make any part of the journey feel truly distinct. What begins as an intriguing incursion into a cult-ruled realm soon unravels into a repetitive slog stuck in the shoes of an unlikeable lead character. Unholy is never quite unplayable, but it’s certainly uninspired, unwieldy, and unlikely to hold your interest all the way to its completion. – Tristan Ogilvie, July 20

Gord

Any way you look at it, whether it’s an RPG, a real-time strategy game, or a colony sim, Gord is as miserable as its downtrodden villagers. Other games are bad because they aim too high, attempt too much, and fall down on their own merits. They are at the very least hoisted on their own petard, doing us the favor of digging their own grave or being entertaining in their failures. Gord does not; it simply falls flat and rots where it lies, surrounded by monotonous micromanagement, a poor interface, and by-the-numbers combat. I am content to leave it there, but you may bury it if you like. – Jon Bolding, August 15

Avatar: The Last Airbender – Quest for Balance

We haven’t quite been waiting 100 years for an Avatar game that lives up to the potential of the show, but it’s certainly beginning to feel that way after playing Avatar: The Last Airbender – Quest for Balance. This half-baked and wildly inconsistent retelling of the excellent TV series shows the promise of what an Avatar game could maybe be, but a baffling choice of which scenes to highlight, a clunky camera and combat, hilarious balance problems, and an overreliance on middling block puzzles and boring fetch quests leaves our search for the real Avatar still desperately out of luck. With more Avatar shows and movies on the way, it’s just downright odd how Quest for Balance has managed to arrive at this point in time as both an unsatisfying entry point for newcomers and a poor way to revisit it for dedicated fans. – Tom Marks, September 28

EA Sports FC 24 (Switch Version)

Even though it manages to do the bare minimum of not simply copy and pasting its work from previous years, EA Sports FC 24 is sub-par on the Nintendo Switch. The Frostbite engine is still a Sunday League compared to HyperMotion technology, as its slow gameplay and poor framerate make new features like PlayStyles pretty much useless. And while Ultimate Team has seen a considerable leap forward now that it’s no longer just FIFA 17’s version of FUT, other modes like VOLTA and Clubs are almost unplayable because of the lack of community interest and consistent connection issues. If you’re dying to play soccer on the go, you could likely do worse than EA Sports FC 24 on the Nintendo Switch, but if you have the option then you’ll find a much more enjoyable and modern version on any other platform. – Andrew McMahon, October 4

Other [EA Sports FC 24] modes like VOLTA and Clubs are almost unplayable [on Switch] because of the lack of community interest and consistent connection issues.

Stray Souls

Despite a genuinely unsettling introductory chapter, Stray Souls is an ambitious but unsatisfying horror game that never quite gets going. Its characters are shallow and uninteresting, and while the sights and sounds of its world can be impressive, the mystery that unravels within it is told mostly through boring exposition dumps and left unsatisfyingly dangling. With poor optimization, zero polish, and some of the dullest bosses I’ve ever had the displeasure of fighting, Stray Souls is its own worst enemy, destroying its own subtlety with inelegant scares and tedious combat. – Vikki Blake, October 25

The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria

As a big fan of both The Lord of the Rings and survival games, I was enticed by the idea that I can dive into a genre I already know and love with the rich lore of Middle-earth to keep me company (as well as a party of friends), but it’s disappointing to see such a promising concept do little more than a barely passable impression of better games. Combat is dull and repetitive, owing to overused enemy types and braindead AI, and limited mining opportunities or freedom with settlement building throws a wet blanket over the creativity that’s typically a selling point for the genre. Throw in rough technical performance and it becomes difficult to recommend Return to Moria to even my fellow Tolkien stans. There’s a decent game in here somewhere, as the compelling progression loop and chaotic multiplayer capabilities can make for a really good time – I just can’t give you many reasons to pick this survival game over the plethora of better options when it’s only ever by-the-numbers at best. – Travis Northup, October 26

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Single-Player Campaign

Modern Warfare 3’s campaign commits the biggest sin possible for a globe-trotting action thriller: it’s boring. What had the promise to be an intriguingly spun web of mystery instead ends up being a dusty cobweb you’d find at the back of your shed, clinging onto 15-year-old garden toys you once had fun with. It’s a pale imitation of the past, made up of underbaked story moments that clash with attempts to introduce new open combat missions designed to encourage player freedom that instead fall flat on their face. Yes, the gunplay is still great and the graphics and sound design are top-tier, but I couldn’t help but feel I was playing a shinier, less subtle version of something I’ve played too many times before. If this is the quality we’ve come to expect from Call of Duty campaigns, maybe it’s for the best if a year or two is taken to reset and raise this low bar back to the heights of old. – Simon Cardy, November 3

Bluey: The Videogame

Wedged somewhere between Wi-Fi and The Wiggles as one of Australia’s greatest exports, Bluey has been a staggeringly successful animated series. Tens of billions of minutes of the show have been streamed into households in more than 60 countries, and the Heelers have subsequently been transformed into over 1,000 bits of merchandising tat. In an unfortunate turn of events, Bluey: The Videogame feels a lot like another forgettable piece of the latter, hovering somewhere between the countless toys and the tubes of licensed toothpaste. Low on innovation and high on what feels like contractual obligation, Bluey: The Videogame is really a low-effort mobile game masquerading as a mid-price console and PC product. It may absolutely look the part compared to the show itself, but with its assortment of shallow minigames rife with annoying bugs, frustrating controls, and a bafflingly brief runtime of a little over an hour, everywhere else it’s a dog’s breakfast. – Luke Reilly, November 22

The Anacrusis

The Anacrusis borrows so much from Left 4 Dead that it forgets to do its own thing and refuses to benefit from 15 years of co-op shooter evolution. The cool disco aesthetic and alien armies definitely offer a much-needed break from zombie hordes, but that can only get you so far when poor enemy variety, dreadfully boring gunplay, and lifeless levels make shooting your way to the next safe zone an uneventful affair. The 4v4 mode at least offers some good opportunities for an over-the-top alien-slaying competition with friends, but that well runs dry pretty quickly too, and the five short campaign episodes and tacked on horde mode become dull even faster. – Travis Northup, December 7

Fortnite Festival

Fortnite Festival forgets the bulk of what really made Rock Band the peak rhythm series of its era and injects the husk that’s leftover full of insidious money-extracting service game tricks and baffling design decisions. With no local shared-screen co-op, it falls at the first hurdle as a worthy peer of Harmonix’s party-game powerhouse. You can’t even see the note highways for the other players you’re online with, leaving the Main Stage mode barely feeling like multiplayer at all – and the Fuser-ish Jam Stage mode feels like a waste of effort entirely, demanding a king’s ransom to collect enough of the disgracefully expensive songs to be able to meaningfully engage with it. Binning karaoke support and charting the singing as button taps on the note highway is bewildering. Does Fortnite Festival have small glimmers of that musical magic Harmonix has been humming for over two decades? Yes. Is it a temporarily compulsive throwback to cult-favourite, controller-only Harmonix curios like Frequency, Amplitude, and Rock Band Blitz? Sure. Can I see myself continuing to play it in its initial state? Not a chance. If Fortnite really is the future of rhythm games, they can beat it. – Luke Reilly, December 15

"If Fortnite really is the future of rhythm games, they can beat it."
“If Fortnite really is the future of rhythm games, they can beat it.”

Greyhill Incident

Greyhill Incident is a fitting name for this awful horror game, because that’s how I’ll refer to the traumatic time I spent playing it. The fact that it so wholly mangles so many of the things it tries to pull off, from its story to its stealth, certainly feels like a conspiracy – and one I wish the government would have done a better job of covering up. I still can’t decide if the idea was to be ironic or scary, but Greyhill Incident fails in either scenario, resulting in a tedious but mercifully short jaunt through cornfields and backwater abodes that’s about as fun as actually being probed by aliens. – Travis Northup, June 9

Mortal Kombat 1 (Switch version)

Mortal Kombat 1 on the Switch is nowhere close to the experience you’ll have with it on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, or PC. There’s a hint of a great fighting game still peeking through the blurry backgrounds, but its horrendous load times, inconsistent framerate, muddy visuals, and plethora of bugs make the Switch version an altogether aggravating way to play what is a great fighting game on other platforms. It quite simply shouldn’t have released in this state, and certainly not at a price that’s equal to the superior, current gen versions. – Mitchell Saltzman, September 19

No-one deserves to see something as horrific as this.
No-one deserves to see something as horrific as this.

Skull Island: Rise of Kong

Skull Island: Rise of Kong is ugly and full of bugs, but the real trouble is that, at its core, it’s just boring. It makes no meaningful attempts to do anything new or clever, with mindless combat and pointless platforming that make it feel like a worse version of every action game from the last 20 years. This isn’t the kind of bad game you can play to laugh at, or that took some cool swings but missed them, or that creates weird combinations of technical snafus that lead to unexpected but entertaining results. It doesn’t even rate enough to be called frustrating. Rise of Kong is fundamentally disinterested in itself: a giant ape game that doesn’t even care enough about what it’s doing to make the ape feel giant. – Phil Hornshaw, October 18

Testament: The Order of High Human

Testament: The Order of High Human answers the question: “What would the phrase ‘quantity over quality’ look like if it were turned into a game?” The result is a tedious, frustrating, and cringe-inducing fantasy adventure RPG that goes on so agonizingly long with its bland and confusing story and god-awful combat that it turns its bad ideas into atrocious ones by sheer volume. Throw in an all-star roster of technical issues, and you’ve got the ultimate “Elder Scrolls, but make it hurt” tour de force that will haunt me for even longer than the dozens of hours it already has. – Travis Northup, July 13

Flashback 2

While the original Flashback is an Amiga classic, Flashback 2 can only be described as a meagre sequel. Rehashed story elements, dull and clunky combat, a shockingly modest presentation, peculiar design decisions, and wholly unacceptable technical deficiencies (the bulk of which persist even after two post-release patches) make for an adventure that left me underwhelmed at best and utterly infuriated at worst. While I’ll always feel nostalgic for Conrad Hart’s original adventure, Flashback 2 is unfortunately not the blast from the past I had hoped for – instead, it’s a total misfire. – Tristan Ogilvie, November 20

The Walking Dead: Destinies

A boring, ugly mess of a game to be avoided at all costs, The Walking Dead: Destinies fails to do anything interesting with the story and characters of the popular TV show it’s based on. While the ghost of a promising concept haunts the periphery – that of making choices different from what happened i the early seasons of the show and watching them play out – its horrendous graphics, weightless combat, repetitive mission design, and as many bugs as zombies reduce Destinies to the gaming equivalent of a biological hazard. – Tauriq Moosa, November 28

Looks like they ordered Rick Grimes off of Wish.
Looks like they ordered Rick Grimes off of Wish.

The Day Before

The Day Before is easily one of the worst games I’ve ever played, to the point where I’m afraid to continue running it on my PC. Sure, you could say there are the bones of something coherent here, but even those bones feel splintered and brittle. Its map is lifeless, its enemies are idiotic, its PvP is an exploitable mess, its story is pointless, and its progression is downright infuriating. While the now-defunct developer FNTASTIC said it wasn’t done, certain baseline standards have been established in the years since Early Access became a thing, and this game met none of them. The many mysterious questions around The Day Before’s development will likely go unanswered now that the curtain has fallen a mere four days after its release, leaving the playerbase to fend for itself until the servers are inevitably shut down for good. Steam is already diligently refunding anyone who made the mistake of buying it – and if you didn’t manage to try it, you can count yourself as one of the lucky ones. – Gabriel Moss, December 11

If you’re feeling down in the dumps after all that, another reminder that plenty of good games came out this year too. In fact, you can check out every 10 we gave in 2023, as well as all of our end of the year awards.



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