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Against all odds, 2021 has been an incredible year for video games. Fan-favourite franchises have returned, indie developers continue to innovate and amaze, and the new-gen consoles are just starting to scratch the surface of what’s possible. It’s an exciting time. But it hasn’t all been quite so high quality.
As with any year, 2021 has seen its share of stinkers. There are many reasons a video game might fall short and not get the reception it was hoping for. And it’s worth noting some of these games will absolutely have their fans! But by and large, these are the 10 2021 games that you’ll want to stay away from.
PixelJunk Raiders (QGames - 49)
I’m not entirely sure PixelJunk Raiders deserves its place as one of the ten worst games of 2021, but here we are. It’s not so much that the action roguelite is a horrible game, it’s just an entirely forgettable one that suffers from sluggish gameplay and a lack of interesting ideas. Congratulations to it for being the best of this bad bunch, at least.
Demon Skin (Ludas Future - 48)
A brutal indie hack-n-slash adventure with RPG elements and clear Dark Souls inspirations would ordinarily be entirely My Shit. Unfortunately the vast majority of the game’s difficulty comes not from well-designed bosses or challenges, but from a rubbish control scheme and sloppy performance issues.
Arkham Horror: Mother’s Embrace (Asmodee - 48)
As a Batman fan, the title of this game put me in mind of a survival horror title set in the bowels of Gotham’s notorious asylum, which would obviously be awesome. Arkham Horror: Mother’s Embrace is… not that.
Based on a popular board game of the same name, Arkham Horror makes the bold choice of ignoring most of what people liked about the source material in favour of a clunky and overly simplistic fusion of turn-based combat and detective sim.
I Saw Black Clouds (Ghost Dog Films - 48)
I Saw Black Clouds attempts to do something a little different. Unfortunately, it’s far from the first video game to tell an interactive story using live-action footage. It’s been done many times before - and much better than this. A game such as this obviously lives or dies on the strength of its story and performances, and I Saw Black Clouds just isn’t up to snuff.
Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy - The Definitive Edition (Grove Street Games - 47)
At last! A game you’ve probably actually heard of. It’s just a shame it had to be this one. Never did I think we’d actually see the day a Grand Theft Auto game fall so low, but Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy - The Definitive Edition fully deserves this spot. It’s an appallingly half baked mess that should have never seen the light of day, and I hope Rockstar Games has learned its lesson. Here’s hoping the inevitable Red Dead Redemption remaster fares better.
Of Bird And Cage (Capricia Productions - 44)
Of Bird and Cage is described as “a unique metal album presented through a short story-driven game”. That’s a heck of an idea, and we’ve certainly seen that albums disguised as video games can work brilliantly. Sadly, unlike other concept album-style games like The Artful Escape and Ape Out, Of Bird And Cage is a shallow experience that just barely qualifies as interactive. There’s more fun to be had watching old blink-182 music videos and taking a shot every time Tom Delonge mispronounces a simple word.
Taxi Chaos (Team6 Game Studios - 42)
When your mum says you have Crazy Taxi at home, this is the game she’s referring to. Some will call this arcade racer an homage to the SEGA classic. But let’s be real: it’s a blatant ripoff, and a bad one at that.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood (Cyanide - 42)
Werewolf: The Apocalypse could have been so much better. Based on the massively popular World Of Darkness tabletop RPG series, the stealth/action RPG has players take on the role of a socially conscious werewolf called Cahal. Like many of us, Cahal is pretty sick of pollution and has decided to wage war against a major oil company. It’s a wonderfully ludicrous premise, but it falls apart thanks to incredibly dull gameplay that would have felt dated even if it had been released as an Xbox 360 title.
Balan Wonderworld (Arzest/Balan Company - 36)
I really don’t want to have to dedicate anymore time and energy to thinking about this game. Balan Wonderworld is a thoroughly rotten experience that’s so painful to play I’m half convinced it’s an elaborate piece of performance art. I’d rather scrape off my own skin with a rusty scalpel than ever go near this abomination ever again.
eFootball 2022 (Konami - 25)
Congratulations are in order. Not only is eFootball the worst-rated Steam game in history, it’s also the worst-rated Metacritic game of 2021 by a huge distance. It’s one of those rare moments when critics and gamers can come together and agree, in unison, that something is massively shit. And I think we should thank Konami for that brief unity. Lord knows we’ve nothing else to thank it for.
eFootball is a hot, garbled mess of a game that somehow manages to transform football from an exciting and fast-paced sport into a fever dream where barely human characters kick a concrete sphere up and down a sickly green pitch. It is bad.
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