The good and the bad of the decade’s worst video games

A+screenshot+from+Vroom+in+the+Night+Sky+depicting+a+magical+girl+on+a+motorcycle+flying+over+city+streets.+A+dialogue+between+her+and+her+magical+girl+rival+in+the+left+bottom+corner.+Main+character+says+I+want+to+live+in+such+a+high-rise.+Rival+character+says+Thats+simply+impossible.

Screenshot by Alex Fuller

From stealth-killing zombies with a wrench to collecting stardusts on a magical flying motorcycle, playing the worst games from the last decade wasn’t all bad.

Alex Fuller, Editor-in-Chief

Whether it’s an inspired character model or clever sound design, even the worst video games have something to offer. Right?

After using review aggregator Metacritic to find the worst games of the last 10 years, I spent an hour and a half on each game, taking note of gameplay, vibes and any glitches to test my theory. Metacritic converts multiple critics’ reviews into a percentage, weighted based on each critic’s renown and number of total reviews, and then averages the scores to create a “Metascore.”

Some of the games that follow aren’t the worst rated game of their year; some games are so bad publishers have taken them off digital platforms, leaving $60 eBay copies as the only way to play them. In those cases, I opted for that year’s worst game that’s available on Steam or the Nintendo Switch, which in some cases meant I played a slightly better game — poor me.

I also used my own rating system, 0 to -5, from decent to waste of time.

Realms of Ancient War (2012)

Metascore: 39/100 | My score: -3/-5

“Realms of Ancient War” is a top-down fantasy hack-and-slash action RPG (role-playing game).

The good:

The three classes to choose from cover the three basic playstyles: ranged, melee and a combo of both. The armor you equip shows up on your character, and full sets are fun to collect and mix and match. If I didn’t own “Diablo III,” a far superior action RPG, I would pick up this game for around $5 and it would be similar enough to scratch that itch. 

The bad:

I chose rogue, the hybrid class, and the mouse and keyboard controls were less than ideal. Left-click on the mouse both moved my character and discharged my weapon, so I walked forward into enemy attacks whenever I misclicked. Yikes.

Takedown: Red Sabre (2013)

Metascore: 34/100 | My score: -5/-5

“Takedown: Red Sabre” is a first-person tactical shooter inspired by Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six series.

The good:

While I didn’t like the gameplay, the map designs were great. I liked sneaking around and exploring the Biolab, the cargo ship and the tall glass office building maps. 

The bad:

I usually have a decent time playing Rainbow Six-style games, but I cannot say the same about this one. Because the AI would spawn in different places each round, I wasn’t able to learn and adapt to the enemies’ behaviors, which is debatably more realistic, but also more frustrating. It wouldn’t have been as bad if the AI didn’t also have ridiculous super-human reaction times, often killing me in one shot. The game also crashed a few times while loading into single player mode. I could only stand playing for an hour and 10 minutes.

Escape Dead Island (2014)

Metascore: 32/100 | My score: 0/-5

The second spin-off in the Dead Island series, “Escape Dead Island” is a third-person adventure/survival/horror/zombie game about an aspiring journalist with a camera on an abandoned tropical island.

The good:

The gameplay is much slower than other zombie shooters, focusing more on stealth kills, but I really liked the change of pace. Plus, the comic-style art and gruesome animation makes slowly sneaking up on zombies an entertaining experience. I enjoyed playing this more than almost every other game on the list and will be adding it to my regular game rotation.

The bad:

The only glitch I experienced was when I opened a door I was supposed to go through but saw absolutely nothing. I figured passing through would put me in a loading screen, but instead I fell into a void and my character died. It wasn’t that consequential as I only had to go a couple minutes back.

Alone in the Dark: Illumination (2015)

Metascore: 19/100 | My score: -2/-5

“Alone in the Dark: Illumination” is a survival/horror/zombie game and the most recent installment in the widely loved “Alone in the Dark” series. It features a Lovecraftian aesthetic that echoes the original game.

The good:

Each of the four classes has a specific character with a unique story, and you can switch characters between each level. All the classes — like the hunter, and the witch — have fun and interesting abilities, which made the levels replayable and kept me interested.

The bad:

It took a second for the enemies to fully spawn-in, and I couldn’t do damage until they were. I also encountered two back-to-back game-breaking glitches in the second level, making me nervous to ever load back into the game. 

Soda Drinker Pro (2016)

Metascore: 30/100 | My score: -5/-5

The self-proclaimed “world’s most advanced soda-drinking simulator,” “Soda Drinker Pro” is a game about drinking soda in various places.

The good:

The original build of “Soda Drinker Pro” was developed in just a day, which is impressive, I guess. The real gem is the secret second game, “Vivian Clarke,” hidden behind a door in the second level. After I finished drinking soda for 102 levels — yes, that is all you do in this game — I went back through the secret door to a minigame arena with tons of fun and surreal minigames to play.

The bad:

It was hard for me to tell whether this game was supposed to be a parody or a profound, spooky and surreal experience. The gameplay felt repetitive and slow with no payoff. I found that disappointing, since this could have been an entertaining playthrough with a little more effort on the developer’s part.

Vroom in the Night Sky (2017)

Metascore: 17/100 | My score: -4/-5

“Vroom in the Night Sky” is a magical bike action game in which you  ride motorcycles and collect “stardusts” in a multitude of night skies.

The good:

I am a fan of the “magical girl” genre, so I was sold when I saw this game about riding through the night sky on a magical motorcycle collecting “stardusts” and “keystars.” The graphics are simple but cute, and there are so many cool-looking motorcycles to buy with the stardusts you earn. 

The bad:

I expected the “magical gas” resource to be utilized, but my meter hardly dropped below 90%. While I liked the level design, the gameplay was the same in every level, which got boring. Fast. 

The Quiet Man (2018)

Metascore: 28/100 | My score: -4/-5

“The Quiet Man” is an action-adventure beat ‘em up game with a heavy story about a deaf man’s journey to avenge his mother’s death. 

The good:

Although the live-action and animated cutscenes are mostly dialogue-free, the sound design attempts to convey what being deaf sounds like to the main character. The controls in the menu are explained uniquely via cute moving neon signs.

The bad:

The game inserts both live-action and animated cutscenes between short gameplay periods, which felt disconnected. Dane, the main character, knows sign language, can read lips and speaks occasionally, but I rarely saw subtitles, even though he understood what was said. After watching multiple upsetting live-action cutscenes depicting the death of Dane’s mother and flashbacks of child abuse, I was left drained with no motivation to continue playing.

Eternity: The Last Unicorn (2019)

Metascore: 36 | My score: -5/-5

“Eternity: The Last Unicorn” is a fairytale fantasy action RPG with classic game mechanics similar to FromSoftware titles like the Dark Souls series.

The good:

There is a unicorn in this game.

The bad:

If I didn’t know when this game was made, I would guess sometime in the ‘90s. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but instead of making me feel nostalgic for the older graphics and gameplay, it felt depthless. I had a horrible time moving my character through the uncontrollable, constantly changing camera angles. What’s worse is there’s no sprint button; the short dash is the only way to move faster. 

Tiny Racer (2020)

Metascore: 29 | My score: -4/-5

“Tiny Racer” is a couch co-op racing game inspired by toy cars.

The good:

I was excited to play this game, as I love arcade racing games, and I really liked the graphics and overall aesthetic. The car I chose changed colors every race, and when I bumped or hit obstacles or other cars, little comic-style graphics with “pow!” and “thump!” popped up. 

The bad:

Instead of feeling like I was driving a race car, I felt like I was driving a toy car, which isn’t as fun as it sounds. The physics are weird, and my car got sucked into terrain and the track-wall multiple times, forcing me to reset. Even though I played on the easiest difficulty, I didn’t get first place once.

eFootball 2022 (2021)

Metascore: 25 | My score: -3/-5

“eFootball: 2022” is a free-to-play soccer simulation game. 

The good:

I really liked the montages of teams and coaches before each game, and the announcer used the names of the teams I picked. The player models are really realistic and animations are well made.

The bad:

The start screen features poor Lionel Messi, who looks like he is being held hostage, standing in front of a horrible jewel-toned blue background with bright yellow lettering. It’s a strain on the eyes, and is the unfortunate aesthetic of all the game’s menus. As for gameplay, I never made it close enough to the goal to make a shot, but that might just be because sports games are not my forte.