Yes, 2023 was one of the best years for video games— arguably of all time. So it may sound a tinge ungrateful to reminisce on the games that felt like total letdowns. But that’s never stopped us before.
Hype is a dangerous drug and one that gamers often fall victim to. A flashy CG trailer, some romanticized description from developers, or even a long wait time can make gamers foam at the mouth. Far too often, anticipation is met with disappointment when a game fails to deliver on all it’s promised.
That happened a few times in 2023, and here are the biggest video game letdowns, according to our staff.
Mineko’s Night Market – Not All Features Were In-Stock
Submitted by Laura Gray, Managing Editor
Mineko’s Night Market gut punches me here. My disappointment at loading that game and finding it in a rough space was difficult after following its development for years. The original concept was so unique, and the final product suffered as it failed to deliver many promised gameplay mechanics and elements. I really hope the game sees more polish in the coming years or that the studio is able to approach a similar cozy title that is a bit more whole upon release. Even so, the art for the game is wonderful, and the setting and ideas behind it were very unique.
Atomic Heart – Not As Much Heart As Advertised
Submitted by Zackerie Fairfax, Associate Editor
When Atomic Heart was first revealed, I marveled at the trailer. It was so exciting and unique and stayed with me for years. I needed this game. So, of course, I picked up the game as soon as it came out. The world was immediately captivating; its aesthetic was everything I hoped for, and the world going to hell was a great transition into the actual meat of the game.
My fascination wore off pretty quickly. Fighting the same enemy types on repeat for a few hours burned me out fast. I grew tired of interacting with the sexualized upgrade machines, and I set the game down for good after a solid six or so hours.
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum – All dead… all rotten
Submitted by Jamie Moorcraft-Sharp, Staff Writer
I love The Lord of the Rings. While I didn’t read the books growing up, I did get to experience the magic of the movies hitting theatres, heading to each one in turn as it came out. One of the most surreal movie trips I’ve ever had to this day was watching The Two Towers in a tiny cinema in Scotland that had never shown something so long, so it had an interval break for ice creams.
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum had been in the works for so long, focusing on a character that could be portrayed so well that I was desperate for it to be good. Unfortunately, the game is a total pile of garbage with floaty jumping mechanics, an abuse of a morality system that doesn’t lean into Gollum’s personas nearly as much as it should, and glitches that could break bones.
I am sure there are good reasons the game ended up in the state it was released in, but I’d just rather it was left in the dark as lost media on a hard drive somewhere. That way, we could have it discovered in a decade and appreciate it as something we were saved from instead of surviving the fact that we and the franchise were exposed to it.
Pokemon Scarlet & Violet DLC – This Sold How Many Copies?!
Submitted by Scott Baird, Contributing Writer
By far, the biggest letdown was the Pokemon Scarlet & Violet DLC. This was Game Freak’s opportunity to redeem the shaky Gen 9 launch, and what did we get?
- The Teal Mask was a few hours of running around a mini-biome while you lie to a school kid like some kind of monster.
- The Indigo Disk is a handful of new Legendary Pokemon in another mini-biome, with a brief and forgettable story that it may as well not have had one.
When is Gen 10 coming out again? The Pokemon Company seriously needs to get its act together. Otherwise, it might not sell as many tens of millions of copies of its next shoddy game.
Fire Emblem Engage – What Were They Thinking With That Hair?
Submitted by Cande Maldonado, Contributing Writer
I bet most people forgot Fire Emblem Engage was even released in 2023. And I don’t blame them; it’s a pretty forgettable game. What made it all the more disappointing to me was that Fire Emblem: Three Houses, released in 2019, was a benchmark in the series. I was way too hyped up to see pretty characters and a genuinely engaging and conflicting storyline, only to find a game that put all of that in the backseat to favor meaningless minigames and rehashed gameplay mechanics instead. I love a yoga minigame as much as the next girl, but how about we finish cooking the main dish before we move on to the dessert?
Lord of the Rings: Gollum – Sméagol Hates Nasty Video Games
Submitted by Alec Mullins, Contributing Writer
More qualified critics than I have already torn this game to shreds, but I just don’t think it can be overstated how big of a misfire it truly was. I’ve played nearly every Lord of the Rings-based video game there is and found something to love in all of them. Not this time. It’s bland, boring, and completely fails to live up to the standard set by titles like Return of the King, Battle for Middle-Earth II, and The Third Age before it.