Dork Shelf’s Most Disappointing Games of 2013

Which games promised the world but fell far short of expectations? Which games earned high critical praise but failed to meet our smell test? Which game most disappointed two of our writers? Dork Shelf looks back at the video games that left us wanting in 2013.

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BioShock Infinite

Filled with excitement, I waited for my pre-ordered Ultimate Songbird Edition at the midnight release of BioShock: Infinite. As a huge fan of the first two BioShock games, I knew in my gut the third installment wouldn’t let me down. I happily scarfed down chips and energy drinks while adoring the artwork and soundtrack.

However, by the time the credits rolled, I felt bewildered and pretty pissed off. Infinite has potential with its environmental, enemy, and sound designs, but ultimately the mechanics were uninspired and the narrative fumbled by its conclusion. The overall result was a crushing disappointment that leaves me once bitten, twice shy when approaching their upcoming DLC. – Soha Kareem

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The Cave

With apologies to God of War: Ascension, my most disappointing game of the year is Ron Gilbert’s The Cave. What should have been a throwback adventure comedy –something on par with Double Fine’s recent Costume Quest or Stacking – turned out to be a mess that made you play through the same levels three times just to get the full story once.

The Cave certainly had its moments, but there wasn’t enough funny stuff to justify the pointless repetition. A decomposing narrative structure hamstrings an otherwise humorous game, and it’s tough not to feel let down considering what might have been had the developers chosen a more adequate vehicle for their comedy. – Eric Weiss

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Gone Home

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Yes, really! There was so much hype around this game all year, and I was so excited to play it, but ultimately I found Gone Home clichéd and derivative. There were no surprises for me, no tension, and I didn’t like how everything resolved itself so neatly. Now don’t get me wrong, I am super, super happy that a game about a queer woman made such an impact this year, I just wish the game took more chances with its narrative, and didn’t tell the same coming-of-age story I’ve read 100 times before. – Megan Patterson

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BioShock Infinite

Don’t get me wrong, I liked this game a lot. But hour by hour, as Columbia crumbled from white-washed decadence to a pile of dust and unrealized potential, so did my impression of the game.

The city’s streets and its weirdly puppet-like citizens made up some of the most beautiful scenery in gaming this year. But it’s a shooter set in a world that begs for a more expansive exploration than can be achieved from behind a rifle stock.

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The enchanting landscape is discarded in favour of nonsensical alternate universe shenanigans. Elizabeth was reduced to a health and ammo dispenser in battle. And the racism and class commentary we see early on shatters halfway through to something reductive and grotesque. – Jonathan Ore

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A Three-Way Tie:  Tomb Raider, Beyond: Two Souls, Batman: Arkham Origins

Sadly, my list of disappointing games of 2013 is much longer. Tomb Raider let me down with its weak and fragile Lara, including the use of sexual assault as necessary to her character development and backstory; Beyond: Two Souls was as boring as it was messy; Batman: Arkham Origins paled in comparison to its predecessors. I guess what I’m really trying to say is: the big, shiny games of 2014 better step it up if they want to live up to the awesomeness of my little, 15-year-old nostalgia RPG. – Sam Maggs

Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs

Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs

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A new Amnesia game from the creators of the sublime Dear Esther? “Shut up and take my money!” I could be heard exclaiming to no one in particular. As a huge fan of both the Chinese Room and Frictional Games (the previous Amnesia title, The Dark Descent, and their criminally underappreciated yet equally terrifying Penumbra games are some of the best survival horror titles of the past decade) A Machine for Pigs was high on my list of most anticipated games of 2013. Sadly, I’d set myself up for disappointment.

Unsurprisingly, A Machine for Pigs is a very well told tale – you’d expect nothing less from the team behind Dear Esther – and while I certainly enjoyed the game as an exercise storytelling, as a survival horror experience it left something to be desired. It’s heavy on atmosphere and strong in the world-building department, but it’s never downright frightening like the first game. Where The Dark Descent left me gripping my increasingly sweaty mouse and “fear quitting” when things became too intense, A Machine for Pigs could barely squeeze a jump scare out of me… and it tried, god, how it tried! What’s worse is that the few truly scary moments that do exist in the game are nothing more than fan service-y call backs to the original Amnesia. – Will Perkins

Which games disappointed you the most in 2013? Let us know in the comments.

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