In preparation of the impending arrival of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, over the last week I’ve rounded up this generation’s best horror games, covering everything from AAA blockbusters to smaller, indie efforts. Those games deserve to be played, celebrated and remembered. The following? Not so much.
Unfortunately, while I wish every game could be worthy of our time, sometimes, for a variety of reasons, a game comes along that really, really isn’t. Every so often we’re given a game that’s uninspired, poorly designed, boring or some combination of the three.
If you’ve been burned, head on for this generation’s 10 most disappointing horror games to see if the game made the list!
Before we get into this, I want you to be aware of two things. The first is this isn’t a list of this generation’s worst horror games, it’s a list of the most disappointing ones. The qualifications for classification of the latter are a little more involved. If you want a list of the worst, you can get a pretty solid idea of this generation’s worst offenders by visiting a review aggregator like Metacritic and sorting the reviewed games by score. There’s a decent chance the titles at the bottom of that list are abysmal and best experienced in the same way as one would a plague victim — observed from a distance before burning it with fire.
A list of the “worst” games would be too easy and frankly, I haven’t played games like Vampire Rain or Shellshock 2: Blood Trails. I skipped them because I knew they wouldn’t be good. The ten we’re about to discuss were disappointing, because they were either an entry in a proven franchise, had a promising premise and/or had a talented team behind it.
The second thing I want you to know is this list isn’t in any particular order — though if it was, the following three would be the worst.
Infestation: Survival Stories (formerly known as The War Z) caused quite a stir last year when its developer, Hammerpoint Interactive, decided to release their horribly unfinished game on Steam before finding clever ways to monetize it (i.e. swindle those who purchased it for more of their money) after it claimed the top spot. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the developer marketed it using screenshots that were most definitely not captured in-game and claimed it had features it didn’t really have on its store page. That’s not all of it, but those are some of the more egregious problems.
I should also mention that all of the above it’s was enough for the game to claim the title of biggest disappointment in last year’s FEAR Awards. Awesome!
If The War Z/Infestation: Survival Stories was last year’s biggest debacle, Aliens: Colonial Marines is quite possibly the worst of 2013. It’s far from being a good game — many would argue its redeeming qualities are few and far between — but I actually enjoyed it enough to play it all the way through. Not a ringing endorsement, but that’s just about the kindest thing I can say about it.
Colonial Marines’ legacy is a long and painful one. After being in development for many years, Gearbox decided to pick it up, because it would seem their hobby is rescuing games from development limbo so they can shit on them before shitting them out for a few unsuspecting fans to pick up. Remember Duke Nukem Forever? So do I, though I really wish I didn’t. The game was plagued with some critical bugs, but the controversy didn’t really take off until after the game crawled onto retail shelves when the public quickly realized it looked worse than it did in the trailers and demos shown before its release. Sega also lied about outsourcing development of the game to multiple studios — a staggering four studios worked on different parts of it, including Gearbox, Timegate, Demiurge Studios and Nerve Software.
It’s also partially responsible for the closure of Timegate, which endured significant layoffs before filing for bankruptcy after Colonial Marines’ release.
While not nearly as controversial as the last two games, The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct is by far one of the worst games to get shat out over the last decade.
After Telltale set the bar astronomically high with their episodic series, Survival Instinct had a high bar to live up to. There was hope for it because of the fantastic source material, the ties to the TV series (don’t listen to Brad, the show is excellent) — with both Norman Reedus and Michael Rooker reprising their roles as Daryl and Merle Dixon, respectively — and the fact that it was a first person shooter published by Activision, the faceless entity that won that market this generation with Call of Duty.
Then Survival Instinct fell victim to an issue that has taken down so many other licensed games: time constraints. Activision knew the brand would sell copies, so not much of a shit was given about rushing it out way early so as to capitalize on the impending third season finale of the television series. It’s an obvious cash-grab from a developer that didn’t have enough time to introduce even the smallest amount of creativity into from a publisher that cares more about making money than it does the quality of their games.
It’s doubly disappointing because a Walking Dead game helmed by Norman Reedus and Michael Rooker could’ve been outstanding.