2023 saw some of the best video game releases of all time, but what about the clunkers? These are the 10 worst video games of 2023, as reviewed by the Gamepur staff.
Disclaimer: This list consists of games that were reviewed by Gamepur throughout 2023. That means some notably terrible games (like Skull Island: Rise of Kong) that are absent from the list by virtue of being so bad that no one here wanted to touch them. Unfortunately, not all Gamepur reviewers were so lucky, as there were plenty of video game packages of excrement to pass around.
10 – Blood Bowl 3 – 6.5/10
Blood Bowl 3 faced several years of delays before it was ready to hit the market. Unfortunately, it still wasn’t quite up to snuff, as it entered the field with a couple of injuries in the form of bugs and performance issues.
While Blood Bowl 3 had better tutorials and single-player content than its predecessor, it was also mired in microtransactions that further ruined the experience. The deluge of passes and premium currencies just weren’t appropriate for a game that launched in such a sorry state.
9. One Piece Odyssey – 6.5/10
The One Piece franchise has had a banner year, with the live-action show being a surprise hit that faithfully adapts the series, while the manga storyline continues to reach new heights of quality, with the current arc gripping readers week by week.
Unfortunately, One Piece Odyssey let the side down, being one of the worst games of the year. While it looked and sounded great, it was just way too easy and linear to be fun, acting as a game that played itself. It also didn’t help that the story is confusing for newcomers, which is a bad idea in the year that the live-action show is bringing in a fresh fanbase.
8. EA Sports UFC 5 – 6/10
EA Sports UFC 5 feels like a hard game to screw up, but sports titles just can’t help themselves sometimes. In the case of EA Sports UFC 5, while the visuals were stellar, the single-player modes were barebones, leaving only interactions with a notoriously salty online player base for the rest of the game.
The biggest issues with EA Sports UFC 5 boil down to the gameplay. The blocking mechanic is undercooked, allowing players to spam blows through your guard. The submission system has also been reworked, turning it into a minigame that can potentially end matches quickly, which might be a godsend in a game as mediocre as this.
7. Detective Pikachu Returns – 6/10
Following repeated silence over its release date, Detective Pikachu Returns finally launched in 2023, several years after people stopped caring, as the original game was old news at this point, and the live-action film has faded from memory.
Detective Pikachu Returns is a gorgeous game bursting with charm, but those can’t help save the game from its tiny world, constant railroading, and relatively short playtime. Playing with the other Pokemon and using their powers to find clues is fun, but it should have been used a lot more than it was.
This could simply be an issue of audience, as Detective Pikachu Returns is clearly aimed at young kids. Older people will find little to love in the game, as it’s little more than going through the Pokemotions.
Some game franchises with a long history can be difficult for newcomers to get into. This was one of the big issues with Touhou: New World, which opens with a deluge of dialogue that aims to bring them up to speed with stuff that has happened in other games before dumping you into a strange world that acts as if it’s familiar.
The biggest issue with the game is its gameplay, as the boss fights are a lot of fun, but you have to wade through wave after wave of boring trash mobs, which do little more than waste time. The underwhelming story caps off the experience, as it’s made for the established fans of the franchise but does little to attract new people to the Touhou series.
5. Aliens: Dark Descent – 6/10
A real-time strategy game set in the Aliens franchise feels like a natural fit, where players control squads of marines as they gun down waves of Xenomorphs as they rush to their objective. Aliens: Dark Descent has this premise but lacks the quality needed to bring it to life, leaving an underwhelming experience for fans of the license.
The biggest problem with Aliens: Dark Descent was the technical issues at launch. This led to some extremely annoying situations for a game with permadeath, as marines die due to clipping out of bounds or getting stuck on scenery. The game also has an unusual amount of stealth for what should be an action romp, proving that it couldn’t play to its strengths.
4. Everspace 2 – 6/10
Space flight sims feel like a much more niche genre in the modern era, but some new titles are still being released. Everspace 2 is one such game, where ship-to-ship combat is the order of the day. Unfortunately, while the game’s battles and controls were sound, it was severely lacking in other areas.
Everspace 2 is let down by its stranger and poorly implemented cutscenes, which are jarring and break the player out of the action. This is coupled with a lack of character customization and interaction, removing much of the story’s investment. When you factor in the boring quest structure, all that’s left are brief dogfights surrounded by tedium.
3. Madden 24 – 5/10
Like many sports franchises, the Madden series is filled with unchecked greed, with monetization aimed to make addicts of children and grab any penny it came from the fanbase. Madden 24 continues this despicable tradition, with its Ultimate Team mode being just as reprehensible as all of the other glorified gambling sims that fill this industry.
Outside of the Ultimate Team mode, the regular gameplay is also a letdown. While it’s better than its predecessor, it’s still a slow and tedious experience, with a horrible UI and sluggish menus that grind the game to a halt. They couldn’t even get the football right.
2. Redfall – 4/10
2023 was an underwhelming year for Xbox Game Studios, with the success of Starfield anchored by the undercooked mess that was Redfall. This vampire-hunting looter shooter had the potential to be a Halloween hit, but it was rushed out the door for a summer release, where it incinerated beneath the public’s gaze.
If it weren’t for the #1 entry on this list, then Redfall would have easily been the glitchiest game we played all year, with non-existent enemy AI that let you mow down vampires with impunity. This is to say nothing of the performance issues, with a game that couldn’t even hit 60fps on Xbox Series X at launch and still somehow had major texture pop-in issues. The biggest crime of all, however, was the game just wasn’t fun, with a tedious gameplay loop and unrewarding loot system that made everything feel like a chore.
It bears mentioning that Redfall has seen some improvements in post-release patches, but it’s all a little too late, and the game is as dead as the vampires that inhabit it.
1. The Lord Of The Rings: Gollum – 2/10
The undisputed king of the bad 2023 releases. The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is a broken mess with no reason to exist except to embarrass J.R.R. Tolkien’s ghost.
It was always unclear why anyone would choose Gollum to be the protagonist of a video game, let alone a stealth platformer, but the character has such depth that developer Daedelic Entertainment could have done something interesting. Instead, we got a game that was 50% completing chores in a horrible Mordor prison, while the other 50% was spent avoiding elves in tedious stealth sections.
Bad premise aside, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum was riddled with bugs, had a terrible control scheme, and a decision-making gameplay system that was so pointless it may as well have not been included. Congratulations, Gollum! You might not have won the One Ring, but you are the star of Gamepur’s worst game of 2023!