The Worst RPGS of 2023

2023 has already been hailed as one of the greatest gaming years ever. Games of all genres witnessed absolute genius, but in particular, the RPG truly took over. With standout titles like Remnant 2, Baldur’s Gate 3, Final Fantasy 16, and Starfield taking the forefront, gamers worldwide were absorbed into hours and hours of RPG greatness. In fact, RPGs have been the industry standard for massive hit games for a few years now, and it will only get better as we move into 2024.

However, for all the greatness we witnessed, there was also a handful of terrible RPGs, whether it was because of rushed development, weak game mechanics, or otherwise. It pains us in a time where the RPG is in its apex that titles like this continue to exist, but there will always be a balance. Here are the worst RPGs of 2023.

Selection Criteria

Figuring out which games are deserving is a careful process. We consider multiple factors when deeming the worst of the bunch, so here’s what we require.

  • Games must have weak combat and overall game mechanics, and lack of fun factor
  • Games must be poorly made, feel rushed, and overall poor quality
  • Games must have a 65 or below Metacritic Rating

Without further ado, let’s check out what games to stay away from in 2023.

#10 Forspoken

  • Developer: Luminous Productions
  • Metacritic: 64

Whenever a game produced by Square Enix comes out, I get hyped. I don’t care if it looked as dumb as Forspoken did; I trust that company blindly. This time, I was burned and burned badly. There is a lot to unpack here. Forspoken has you play as Frey, a girl from New York who is homeless, finds a golden cuff, and somehow gets teleported to another world.

Her back and forth with her Cuff, who talks, by the way, is cringe-worthy most of the time; she is rude to everyone she meets, curses like she just discovered the F-bomb, and refuses the call to adventure every time. News flash, Frey, you’re supposed to accept that call at some point! It’s Storytelling 101!

Combat is a much better time here, with a cool magic system that offers a lot of flexibility. If only there were enemies that were fun to fight with it. Both normal enemies and bosses are incredibly dull, making the fun magic system all but wasted. It all culminates in stale twists you see coming from a mile away, and while it’s not the worst game to spend your time with, it’s certainly one of the worst in 2023.

#9 Atlas Fallen

  • Developer: Deck13
  • Metacritic: 64

I had such high hopes for Atlas Fallen. Deck 13 had been a strong contender for breakout company of the year, coming off the very good The Surge 2. The early gameplay of Atlas Fallen looked incredible, with over-the-top action combat and co-op at its back to boot. It seemed like a sure thing, and yet, that gameplay demo was most of the game.

The problem with Atlas Fallen is that it assumes you’ll be mesmerized by its beautiful desert world and not worry about much else. While the beasts that roam this world are a joy to fight, the variety is so limited that you’ll be fighting the same enemies over and over again with little change throughout. 

It’s kind of like God of War meets Monster Hunter, and when it’s firing on all cylinders, it feels like this should be a great game. Co-op works well, too, allowing a friend to jump in with you to join the action.

The biggest issue is the story, which, bafflingly, also involves you having a talking gauntlet, and it’s just as boring as the back-and-forth in Forspoken. Whatever this new trend is, it should end immediately, as it’s a terrible way to tell a story. 

This was surprising because The Surge 2 was pretty interesting and felt very different, while Atlas Fallen is your standard fantasy fare. It should have been so much more, a game-of-the-year contender even. Unfortunately, Atlas Fallen fell in the wake of giants and is one of the poorest offerings of 2023.

#8 Loop 8: Summer of the

  • Developer: Marvelous
  • Metacritic: 49

With a score that low, you know we’re in trouble. Loop 8: Summer of the Gods had an intriguing title and a cool premise. You play as Nini, who crashes into Ashinara in 1983 after his space station is blown up by demons. It’s very weird but definitely cool, and you will have the chance to reset the timeline every time you fail to stop the enemy.

Where Loop 8: Summer of the Gods fails is that it fails to expand on any of that. It plays out like a visual novel game with gameplay segments in between, and you’ll go to school, form relationships, and do all of the stuff you do in Persona games except have fun.

The combat is as barebones as it gets, and while you can take party members with you, they are uncontrollable. This leads to relying on them to do the thing you need them to do, and they rarely respond appropriately. The story with such promise quickly falls to the wayside for what feels more like a dating sim at times than a proper JRPG. It’s so frustrating that Marvelous refused to capitalize on this amazing premise, and it feels like a much better game should be connected to it.

#7 Redemption Reapers

  • Developer: Adglobe
  • Metacritic: 61

Redemption Reapers looks like a game that doesn’t exist much these days. A bloody, mature JRPG. It’s got brutal-looking turn-based combat and an interesting grid-based system that resembles Fire Emblem. That makes sense, as some of Fire Emblem’s development team members are on board. Unfortunately, it feels like it never had enough time in the oven.

The game itself doesn’t look like a modern game should, and in terms of playability, it’s ridiculously tough to play. You don’t have nearly enough resources, your weapons break, you can’t grind for levels, and you never have enough healing items to deal with the challenges. 

The characters are dull, and the story, which could have saved the experience, is barely there. It’s just a dull game, which could have been a great one with a little more time and care for the player experience. After all, we are the ones you’re trying to impress, right?

#6 Final Fantasy 7: Ever Crisis

  • Developer: Square Enix Creative Business Unit 1
  • Metacritic: 65

It’s a good thing the hype train for Final Fantasy 7: Rebirth is running full speed ahead as it’s allowed us to ignore Final Fantasy 7: Ever Crisis. The idea here is to cram every piece of Final Fantasy 7 lore into one game and stick it on a mobile platform. It’s certainly an interesting idea, but the execution is anything but.

In fact, it’s a bit of a lie. Every bit of Final Fantasy 7 story that’s in here is abbreviated. As in, the Final Fantasy 7 storyline ends right after Midgar, much like Final Fantasy 7: Remake did, and the Crisis Core storyline barely gets into the interesting parts of that story. It’s an evolving game that will release more content as the months pass, but as it is now? It’s not even close to a complete Final Fantasy 7 experience. You get some tight, fun turn-based combat here with all your favorites from the series, so there is that.

The problem is it’s all supported by Gacha systems. This gross practice will involve you hoping for good weapons every time you use the Gacha pull here, and if it doesn’t work out, well, you can always spend real money to get what you want. It’s a horrendous style of game that I will never support, and it’s sad to see a Final Fantasy game share this fate. 

#5 Redfall

  • Developer: Arkane Austin
  • Metacritic: 56

It’s rare that a studio that usually makes consistently great titles manages to disappoint, but that surely was the case with Arkane Austin. Known for great games like the Dishonored series and Prey, Arkane Austin felt like it was held against its will to make Redfall.

It lacks everything that made its previous games great and has all the hallmarks of a game that was half-cooked and forced out to meet a release date. 

The premise is cool enough: let Arkane Austin do vampires, and off we go. Unfortunately, Redfall isn’t remotely scary; instead, the game’s tone and style are “Fortnite presents vampires.” The RPG mechanics are also pretty weak, barely allowing you to customize each of the various playable characters to your liking.

Also gone is the signature Arkane Austin storytelling, with cutscenes instead being replaced by still images with voiceover, and it’s a weird choice that does nothing to elevate the already mundane story. Exploration is pointless, so the majority of the time, you’ll find yourself fighting the vampires and cultists of this fictional Massachusets town.

The combat starts decent enough, but you quickly realize the limited number of vampires you’ll be fighting with and how few abilities your characters have to play with. You can do all of this in co-op if you hate a friend enough to make them experience the game with you, but I don’t think Redfall is worth ruining a friendship over. 

#4 The Walking Dead: Destinies

  • Developer: Flux Games
  • Metacritic: 29

On the surface, The Walking Dead: Destinies looked pretty good. Having the likeness of just about every character on the show was intriguing, and getting to change the way the show played out depending on the choices you made was a fun premise. The execution of said premise is anything but.

You do get to play through almost every meaningful moment in the show, from Rick waking up in the hospital to the showdown with Shane, but it certainly looked and sounded better on TV. 

You have the chance to change who the main character of the show is, which is cool and all, but playing through this game makes one wish they were a zombie. The mechanics here are incredibly janky, with simple animations looking like they take a character’s entire being to pull off, and there is an auto lock-on system that feels like it was pulled from a game in 2002. Weapons feel weightless, and shooting a zombie with a pistol feels the same as shooting one with a machine gun.

None of it makes sense. All the fun that the concept may have introduced goes out the window when you’re shooting Rick in the face with a shotgun as Shane, and it takes approximately 30 headshots to take him down. What drama. 

#3 Testament: The Order of High Human

  • Developer: Fairyship Games
  • Metacritic: 41

Another painful one for me, Testament: The Order of High Human, looked like it was going to bring back the old-school, first-person fantasy RPG back in the style of Dark Messiah: Of Might and Magic, and I was all for it. That was clearly the goal but alas, not every game is the chosen one.

The graphics that surround the action here are nice to look at, which is about the nicest thing you can say about the game. The combat is ambitious for sure, but it manages to make every attack feel like throwing feathers at a brick wall.

You have options for magic, swords, and bows here, which is great for variety, but none of them have any sort of hit feedback that makes them satisfying to use. There is a stealth system, but it makes little sense as the second you’re spotted, the entire level comes down upon you without anything resembling communication or an alarm of sorts. 

The story here places you as the king of the High Humans, a race of immortal humans who live to fight the darkness. It’s all fed to you through some of the most uneven voice acting around, with clearly non-native English speakers attempting to pull off American accents and failing miserably in the process. It’s a game from a small studio with some big ideas, so maybe their next effort will be a more promising one. 

#2 Xuan-Yuan Sword: Mist Beyond the Mountains

  • Developer: Softstar Entertainment
  • Metacritic: 52

At first glance, it looks like the resurrection of Suikoden has appeared before our very eyes, but upon further inspection, that will have to wait until 2024. Instead, we have Xuan-Yuan Sword: Mist Beyond the Mountains. Right off the bat, the story is nearly incomprehensible.

It follows our hero, Septem, through his incredible journey throughout the world, where he plays pivotal parts in massive real-life inspired wars, political coups, and other interesting events. It gets weirder when Satan, a demon woman he’s in love with, and a love triangle with his rival.

The broken translation makes it nearly impossible to figure out what is going on most of the time, which is a shame because this is clearly an in-depth story, just not one meant for us to know, apparently.  

The graphics are very charming, at least, which is impressive, considering this game is over twenty years old. However, the battle graphics have an awkward look to them, all of a sudden looking like a Disney movie rather than a serious anime. It’s tough, as the series has little notoriety in the West, but this certainly was not the way to introduce it. 

#1 The Lord of the Rings: Gollum

  • Developer: Daedalic Entertainment
  • Metacritic: 34

We’ve reached the bottom of the barrel. When this game was announced, fans of the franchise said, “No, don’t do this.” Then, the game finally came out, and fans said, “Why did you do this?” That’s the question we’re all left wondering after playing The Lord of the Rings: Gollum. A character this iconic should have been left alone, but instead, we have a full origin story of sorts to help flesh out the ring-obsessed monster.

I wish I had a good thing to say about this game, but it’s nearly impossible. Here, you have an RPG where you play the role of Gollum, and you work in a mine. Thrilling premise, I know, and the gameplay is just as exciting. 

You’ll spend your time doing chores, sneaking around, and climbing things while looking at graphics that are far inferior to games released ten years ago, like Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. You’ll get to choose how your inner Gollum responds to certain situations, which will mold how the story plays out to an extent, but the story is so inconsequential that it’s hard to understand why this game was even made.

 Of all the characters in The Lords of the Rings that could’ve had a great game made around them, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and Boromir (give me a Boromir origin story voiced by Sean Bean please), you pick the creepy one that crawls around and doesn’t fight? Why? I’m asking the heavens for an answer on this one, as Daedalic Studios is likely not going to answer it anytime soon after their much-delayed product has been laughed off the face of the earth.  

Honorable Mention

Some games managed to stay off our list, but they deserve a mention for being pretty bad as well.

Maybe it Wasn’t the Greatest Gaming Year After All?

Putting a bow on this rancid list, I think there is still much to appreciate with bad RPGs. Even when they are nightmarishly bad, they still have some merit as they show companies what never to do and let gamers shape their tastes to ensure content this bad is never supported again. 2024 will also have its share of terrible games, but that’s how this industry goes, and we’ll be sure to cover them when they inevitably release. 

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