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- 15 Extremely Difficult RPGS To Play In 2023 - October 27, 2023
If you have been a lover of video games for a reasonable stretch of time, you will have been subjected to at least one of the obligatory award shows that take place to cap off the year. Whether it’s Geoff Keighley’s annual gathering where Christopher Judge talks for hours, and Bill Clinton inexplicably gets a mention, or it’s something a little more highbrow like the BAFTA’s, one thing remains true. Everyone loves to debate which game was the best that calendar year.
The gaming fanboys come out of their dimly lit rooms to state their case. Maybe you want to tell everyone why God of War Ragnarok stole the show. Maybe you want to showcase the many ways in which becoming Elden Lord has changed your life. Or, if you are an Xbox ultra, you may be fending off questions about why a Microsoft-owned IP hasn’t been nominated for almost a decade.
However, for every game cast in the spotlight, hundreds of games will have to endure the darkness that goes hand in hand with abysmal concurrent player bases. I am, of course, referring to the flops of the year. The games that we expected a lot from, only to be let down, It’s an all too regular occurrence for the modern gamer, and it happens in every gaming genre out there. However, it’s particularly common when it comes to RPGs.
These games are so detailed, multi-faceted, and often expansive, that there are just so many profound and laughable ways that developers can go wrong. Now, before we continue, I want to acknowledge one thing. Game design is hard, and even the worst thing out there is better than what I could do personally. However, if you are going to run with the bulls, you might just get the horns.
With that in mind, I thought I would put together a precautionary list of the most disappointing RPG titles released in 2022, allowing all you RPG fanatics out there to steer clear of all the lackluster efforts that hit the shelves this year, and use your time more wisely. They can’t all be Elden Ring, but as you’ll see, some of these games aren’t even on par with Mass Effect: Andromeda. That was a cheap shot; I love you, Bioware!
Ok, enough talk; let’s get the ball rolling!
- Selection Criteria
- Babylon's Fall
- The Last Oricru
- Diablo: Immortal
- Stranger in Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin
- Saint's Row
- The Waylanders
- Edge of Eternity
- Vampire: The Masquerade - Swansong
- Valkyrie Elysium
- Dishonorable Mentions
- Don't Always Trust the Critics
- RPG: Really Pathetic Games
- FAQ Section
This is a weird feeling. Usually, I create hoops for games to jump through to be considered good enough to grace our list. However, we need to lay down some ground rules which will allow us to identify if a game truly deserves to be in the running for 2022’s RPG wooden spoon. So here are the criteria that will land a game on our flop list:
- The games listed must have a Metacritic score that falls below 70%
- The games in question must have generated some level of hype before letting gamers down
- The games listed must be indisputably bad, not just a few bad qualities in an otherwise average game
- All games must have been released in 2022
Admin sorted. Now it’s time to induct some games to the hall of shame!
- Developer: Platinum Games
- Metacritic Score: 41%
There is no other way I could start this list. It would be unfair to all those who follow, because no game this year flopped harder (and faster) than Babylon’s fall. This Square Enix & Platinum Games product caught more than a few eyes ahead of launch.
The visuals looked stellar, the concept looked interesting, and with the makers of Bayonetta behind the wheel, many must have thought, what could go wrong? Oh, poor naive gamers, anything and everything can and will go wrong when it comes to modern AAA’s.
Babylon’s Fall had a litany of problems, such as monotonous and boring gameplay not too far removed from PS5 launch title, Godfall. It had graphics that failed to match the renaissance painting aesthetic promoted in the concept art for the title, and the story fails to expand on the strong core premise, leaving players with the obligation to complete a series of tedious quests just to see which terrible plotline would take over from the last.
In the end, this would lead to the announcement that Platinum Games would be closing servers in early 2023, rendering the game completely unplayable mere months after release. This is easily the fastest fall from grace I’ve seen a live service game take, and considering the game at one stage this year had just one concurrent player, it’s hard to argue that the game was hard done by. Another swing and a miss by Square Enix, it’s becoming a trend.
- Developer: Goldknights
- Metacritic Score: 57%
Here’s one that we reviewed a little while ago, but I’m sure that Murillo wished he hadn’t. The Last Oricru is a game that, despite its poor reception, showed a lot of promise ahead of release. It had an interesting setting, promised a more narrative-driven souls-like adventure, and also promised a branching narrative with that usual tagline ‘every choice matters!’ On the plus side, your choices do hold weight in this game, and the narrative is arguably the star of the show. It’s just a shame that it is the best of a bad bunch.
The combat within this game is pedestrian at best, and mind-numbingly boring at worst. The visuals are a generation behind the AA competitors out there, the UI and RPG elements of this game aren’t intuitive or cohesive, making building your character more of a chore than it needs to be.
Plus, even though the narrative is the highlight of The Last Oricru, even it begins to become farcical and disjointed as you power through the second half of this game. Overall, The Last Oricru feels like a playable checklist of RPG tropes done poorly, and the sooner we can all forget about this one, the better.
- Developer: Massive Work Studio
- Metacritic Score: 54%
I’ve seen a lot of games in my time that market their title as ‘a love letter to H.P Lovecraft’. However, aside from perhaps Call of Chthulu, and that’s being generous, no game has ever been able to live up to their Lovecraftian promises. That remains the case despite Dolmen’s efforts, or lack of effort, depending on who you ask.
This game aims to be a sci-fi horror adventure with a handful of RPG elements, which culminates in offering another Souls-like adventure, much like the ill-fated The Last Oricru, listed above. This game shot for the stars, aiming to be a serviceable Souls clone like Mortal Shell, or Remnant: From The Ashes. However, it’s more in line with games like The Surge, or Lords of the Fallen.
The game doesn’t offer an interesting enough environment capable of replacing traditional storytelling, the nuanced build-in difficulty setting of Souls games is poorly replicated with huge HP Bars, and overpowered enemies who don’t provide a fair challenge, but rather an artificial difficulty spike to overcome by tediously grinding XP.
Plus, the game looks unpolished, and, even at the time of writing, has a litany of performance issues, and if they still persist now, chances are they are here to stay. In short, Dolmen is the gaming equivalent of having someone draw on your back when playing Pictionary. The general outline is there, but all the key details are nowhere to be found.
- Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
- Metacritic Score: 59%
While this game is largely seen as a mobile game, because it also runs on PC, I’m making a case for this one to take its rightful place on this list. It’s quite shocking to see a series as prestigious as Diablo on a flop list such as this, but considering the downward trajectory of Blizzard over the years, it was probably inevitable if you think about it.
Diablo Immortal takes everything that made Diablo a beloved and revered series within the RPG genre, and then tosses it aside. Presumably, to make room for more microtransactions. I guess they need to pay the lawyers somehow, eh, Bobby Kotick?
Diablo Immortal takes the usual Diablo formula, strips out all the nuance, offers nothing new to the series, and then puts the cherry on the top of this dog-turd cake by making the entire game a pay-to-win experience. As a Diablo game, the title is mediocre at best, but with the addition of this nefarious, money-grabbing system, this game only serves to tarnish the Diablo series’ reputation. If you want to pour your money into this one, be my guest, but I’ll be abstaining; thanks very much.
- Developer: Square Enix
- Metacritic Score: 60%
Well, well, well, if it isn’t Square Enix stumbling their way back into view, only this time, they are sullying the good name of their flagship franchise, Final Fantasy. Now, to be fair to them, it isn’t a mainline title, but even a Final Fantasy spinoff is something that fans will happily break out the knives and pitchforks over if things go awry.
So when Stranger In Paradise tumbled onto the digital storefront and was met with a lukewarm reception by fans and critics alike, I couldn’t help but giggle. I mean, how many games is Square Enix going to send to the slaughter before they make a good game? Then I remembered, Kingdom Hearts IV is in their hands, and that’s when the dread kicked in.
Would you believe that this game is another poorly made Souls-like? Who would have thought that replicating the groundbreaking titles of FromSoftware would be this hard? Everyone but AAA developers, it would seem.
This game makes different mistakes from those previously listed, though, offering a patronizingly easy Souls clone, with endless tutorials, routine combat, bugs aplenty, and a storyline that almost feels like a parody of everything that the series has done in the past two decades.
The graphical fidelity is well off the mark; the main characters are to the story what the color beige is to the Dulux wall chart, and overall, it’s another swing and a miss by Square Enix. Surely, that’s the last time I will say that on this list. Do I smell, foreshadowing?
- Developer: Volition Inc
- Metacritic Score: 61%
Another game that was dead on arrival this year was Saints Row, a game that disappointed long-time fans, and equally managed to guarantee that very few newcomers would be keen to invest in a Saints Row game ever again. Now, a lot of the criticism leveled at this game was down to it not being GTA, and that’s not fair. I’m not going to compare this to GTA.
However, I am going to compare it to any competent game that runs without issue in 2022, and based on that comparison; this game flops hard. Saints Row found its niche as a series by leaning into satire, and becoming a zany, over-the-top title we could call a gaming ‘guilty pleasure. However, it’s jumped the shark, and now we are laughing at it, not with it.
The game has a short, underwhelming story; the game has more bugs than under that mossy rock in your garden, and worst of all, the ‘humor’ produces some of the most cringe-inducing moments I’ve ever had the displeasure of enduring within my gaming career.
I can sort of see this game being an enjoyable co-op experience, in spite of its flaws, where players can laugh at its shortcomings as a way to make it through. That’s what Farcry 6 was for me. However, if you are a long-time Saint’s Row fan, this will be a hard pill to swallow.
- Developer: Gato Salvaje Studios
- Metacritic Score: 51%
There are some games that pay homage to titles of old, while creating something modern that drives the genre forward. Disco Elysium pays respects to 90’s isometric RPGs, Stardew Valley enhances the Harvest Moon formula, and Overwatch galvanised a stale FPS genre.
Well, The Waylanders takes just about every cliche RPG trope in the book, and instead of enhancing or tweaking them in their own image, ultimately decide to regurgitate or dilute the borrowed assets, biting off the corners of these puzzle pieces to form an RPG adventure that provides nothing new to the genre, and underwhelms in just about every way.
Is there anything worth praising here? I suppose the attempt to create an RPG world that centers around Celtic history and lore is something a little out of left field. However, if the game doesn’t do this rich tapestry of history justice, then the praise is frankly unwarranted. To sum up, a weak narrative, a pedestrian combat system, characters as poorly written as a doctor’s note, and a final product that is littered with bugs and performance issues. This is a classic bargain bin game, minus the bargain.
- Developer: Midgar Studio
- Metacritic Score: 60%
I almost feel a little apprehensive about putting this game on the list, because of all those listed, this one is by far the least offensive. It’s a game that suffers from a classic case of developers biting off more than they could chew. An ambitious game, that suffers purely down to that overeagerness to please.
However, in the end, no matter how we arrive at the conclusion, this is a bad game regardless. Edge of Eternity is a game that is chocked full of inconsistencies. Sometimes the game looks staggeringly beautiful, whereas, in others, it looks like a game that would be just about passable a decade ago.
Equally, some aspects of the gameplay feel great. Combat feels smooth, intuitive, and rewarding, whereas aspects like crafting, upgrades, party compositions (or lack-there-of), and bland quests nullify the enjoyment that comes from fighting. However, there are some aspects of the game that are just plain awful.
The story is about as generic as they come, the world feels hollow for the most part, and as a whole, the game just feels like it’s trying to juggle too many mechanics, leading to a hodgepodge of ideas, none of which ever achieving their potential. Edge of Eternity to all first-time developers out there. Sometimes less is more.
- Developer: Big Bad Wolf
- Metacritic Score: 62%
Vampire: The Masquerade fans are a pretty patient bunch. After all, they had to wait the best part of two decades to get this much-sought sequel. So it must hurt all the more that it turned out to be a rigid, unrefined, and clunky mess. What has to be said about Swansong is that it’s clear that the writers had the best of intentions for this game; you can’t place the blame on the creatives in the writer’s room, because the interwoven lore, attention to detail, and overall storytelling are pretty good.
However, you can wrap bacon around a turd, but it won’t make it taste good. Swansong is a game that offers inconsistent visuals, provides players with rigid detective-based missions that lack any form of emergent gameplay, and sees a lot of interesting ideas fall through the cracks.
The gameplay is uninspired, the lack of combat within the game puts a lot of pressure on the narrative, which is stifled by the clunky gameplay and UI, and to top it all off, it sounds as if they pulled in people off the street to try their hand at voice acting. The real kicker is that the fans deserved better, and as this game stumbles over the line to no acclaim whatsoever, it’s hard to see this series getting the modern entry that it truly deserves.
- Developer: Square Enix
- Metacritic Score: 65%
No, it couldn’t be. Oh, Square Enix, we have to stop meeting like this. What brings you here this time? Another underwhelming title? I should have known. We wrap up our RPG flop of the pops chart for 2022 with Valkyrie Elysium, not to be mistaken with Disco Elysium, which is, in contrast, a very good game.
It was bold of Square to release a Norse-Mythology-based title with God of War: Ragnarok looming large, but then Square Enix isn’t really in the business of smart, calculated decisions, are they? After an underwhelming outing in 2019 with Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume, Square tried in vain to capture the magic of 1999’s Valkyrie Profile, and in doing so, failed miserably.
Elysium fails to make the most of the move to more advanced hardware count, offering serviceable combat, and very little else worth praising. The game comes out the gates at a brisk walking pace, but due to the reused quest format, lackluster storyline, oversaturation of combat encounters, terrible voice acting, and unintelligible UI, the game slows down, practically to a halt.
It’s another RPG in this list that tries to sneak into 2022’s RPG line-up to make up the numbers without actually doing anything of note to warrant its place in anyone’s game library. Even the best sports stars have to play well consistently to get picked on game day, and based on Square Enix’s recent form; they could find themselves dropping down the leagues pretty rapidly. But hey, who knows, maybe Final Fantasy XVI will be good. Fingers crossed.
Now, there are some bad games out there, as showcased by car crash after car crash listed above. However, there are some games out there that aren’t necessarily bad, just worst than most. Which leaves them in this sort of bad game limbo. Well, another way to spin it is our dishonorable mentions, which are those that were just good enough to avoid the limelight. Check them out below:
- Dying Light
- Tower of Fantasy
- Steel Rising
- Ghostwire: Tokyo
Don’t Always Trust the Critics
Look at me over here, discrediting myself. That’s right; even game critics like myself get it wrong. There are games that achieved a score of 70 or less from Metacritic this year that are better than you might think, and deserve your respect. Would I recommend picking them up at full price? Probably not. However, if you catch any of these games on sale, consider giving them a bash:
- Batora: Lost Haven
- Digimon: Survive
- Soul Hackers II
- No Place for Bravery
RPG: Really Pathetic Games
So there you have it, the worst RPGs that money can buy in 2022. There was some absolute trash that came out this year, and I was personally fooled by one of these games, which still hurts deeply. However, there are lots of RPGs that you should be playing, and plenty of RPGs that are scheduled for 2023, which will aim to absolve the sins of those listed above.
Fingers crossed, it’s all killer and no filler in 2023. I hope this list does its job and helps keep these terrible games out of your respective game libraries, and as always, thank you for reading RPG Informer.
Question: When Are Babylon’s Fall Servers Closing?
Answer: Babylon’s Fall servers will be closed on the 28th of February, 2023, less than a year after its official launch. Platinum Games have stated that they are ‘Extremely Sorry,’ but in truth, gamers would probably appreciate an apology for the game existing in the first place.
Question: Which Game Reviewed Worst in 2022?
Answer: While all of these games scored pretty low, none of them hold the title of the overall gaming wooden spoon for 2022. That unwanted title belongs to Postal: No regrets, another controversial entry in the grotesque and vilified Postal series. This game garnered a resounding 34% aggregate score on Metacritic, making it the worst performer of 2022. Ouch!
Question: What is Metacritic?
Answer: Metacritic is an aggregate review site that covers all manner of media, from movies, to games, to TV shows. This site houses a selection of trusted reviews from third parties, and then offers up an average score, along with an average user score. This is the go-to aggregate review site for most gaming journalism outlets. However, there are a few others, most notably Opencritic.
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