What’s That Smell?
You remember the bell curve, right? It’s that chart that reminds us that in life, most everything is pretty average. Not exceptionally good or horribly bad, but somewhere in the middle. It certainly applies to video games. A few are on the ascending or descending slopes but most are right there on the hump. Every now and then, though, you get a game that pushes the extreme of quality — like Elden Ring, for example — or a game that lands with a bone-crunching thud at the other end of the curve. I love reviewing games but sometimes the luck of the draw just doesn’t work in my favour. Here are 5 terrible games that made me want to demand those hours of my life be returned. They’re not “so bad they’re good.” They’re Just. Plain. Bad. Games.
But, a buzzkill caveat. Bad games are, after all, still presumably made by human beings, most of whom probably love their partners or kids or dogs. With few exceptions, no developer sets out to make a bad game. Even unsuccessful games take a very long time to make, and often bad games could be made better with more time, money or testing. Well, maybe not all games.
So, here are five pretty awful games from the past year. It’s not my job to tell you not to play them. But if someone tells you there’s a turd on the sidewalk and you step in it anyway, well, that’s on you, my friend.
5) Retired Men’s Nude Beach Volleyball League
If you got super high and bullshitted with your other stoned friends about dumbass titles for video games, you’d probably find this hilarious. The difference is, you’d never actually make the game. Because it would probably be stupid. Unfortunately, Retired Men’s Nude Beach Volleyball League is a real game that I had to play. It’s “about” an old, retired dude who takes up a new hobby, playing nude beach volleyball (you might have guessed it from the title). Everything about this game is terrible. The graphics, writing, sound and gameplay mechanics are awful. There’s no humor or irony in the game’s lack of quality. The weird word soup of a title is about as good as this game gets, which isn’t saying much at all. This might be the first of our 5 Terrible Games, but it doesn’t get any worse than this.
Unlike many of the games on our list, Blackwind is a functional product. It’s just not a very good one. A hack-and-slash, twin-stick shooter action game obviously inspired by Nier: Automata, Blackwind just makes you wish you were playing Nier instead. Or, for that matter, just about anything else. Awkward platforming, a dysfunctional camera and boring level design make this five hour game seem to last forever. Blackwind has a list of mechanical missteps longer than the game itself. No lock on. No map for exterior areas. Bosses that beg to be cheesed. Yes, it runs. But so should you. Away from Blackwind.
3) The Waylanders
Looking at The Waylanders, you might be excused for wondering why this game is on the list. It’s a colorful and cartoony action RPG rooted in Celtic culture. Unfortunately, that’s where the good impression ends. The game’s weird, profanity-filled dialogue makes the characters sound like they wandered in from a poorly written, raunchy sitcom. The game’s combat is absolutely terrible and mechanically, the developers seem to have re-invented the wheel…as a square. Just like you as a kid, The Waylanders had potential. What happened? I really wanted to like this one.
Some people are afraid of spiders, or public speaking. Or public speaking about spiders. If you’re afraid of small spaces, definitely don’t check out Caveman Hikes on YouTube. Speaking of being confined, I have a new fear of my own: having to play Claustrophobia again. It’s the second-worst game I played this year. It’s about a guy trapped in some sort of lab, who is attempting to escape. The lab is filled with brain-dead AI monsters, primitive graphics, horrible movement and combat, and the lousiest sound design I’ve ever heard. Claustrophobia is a true gamer’s nightmare. It’s hilariously bad…for about 5 minutes.
1) Postal 4 No Regerts
Postal 4: No Regerts still leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and I finished reviewing the game a few weeks ago. The fact that the Postal franchise still exists is definitive proof that pacts between the devil and developers are real. I’m not put off by offensive content. Anything goes. I draw the line at bad writing, half-assed design, painfully unfunny jokes and games so broken and buggy that they don’t really run. That is Postal 4 in a rancid nutshell. Satan, if you’re listening, break whatever contract you have with Running With Scissors and get your dignity back.
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