Without a doubt, 2015 was a standout year for video games. With the PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and even the Wii U seeing a ton of exceptional releases, it finally feels like the current generation of gaming has finally begun in earnest, delivering stunning new interactive experiences to the masses. Yes, 2015 was an explosive year for the industry, but not every game set the world on fire. It seems that for every Rise of the Tomb Raider, Splatoon and Yakuza 5 we experienced, there were more than a handful of titles that stumbled to release, packing all of the punch of a wet firecracker.
Without further ado, here are five of the most disappointing games we had the misfortune of slogging through in 2015.
Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star
While Mediatonic’s debut bird-dating simulator, Hatoful Boyfriend, set our very own avian aficionado Jay Petrequin’s heart aflutter last year, Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star made his stomach sink like a clay pigeon. The original game’s veritable flock of romantic options have flown the coop for this sequel, making the game feel like a largely wasted opportunity when compared to its predecessor. With little of the series’ signature humor and ridiculous shenanigans to peck at his funny bone and an abundance of decidedly less interesting binary choices crammed into the bite-sized experience, Holiday Star‘s fowl love potion gave Jay a case of the Bird Flu.
Chibi Robo! Zip Lash
It’s hard not to get excited when Nintendo announces a new platformer. Having essentially created the genre as we know it with titles such as the iconic Super Mario Bros and Donkey Kong Country, there are few developers with as much experience in crafting insanely addicting hop-and-bopping adventures. That said, when the long lost Gamecube sensation, Chibi Robo!, was confirmed to be getting his own platformer on the 3DS, we hurled our wallets all the way to Nintendo of America’s Redwood City, California offices happily. We have strong arms.
Unfortunately, what finally ended up crammed into our shiny dual-screened handhelds was an uncharacteristically bland and derivative platformer from a studio who has been known for making incredibly innovative and engaging side-scrolling experiences. From the game’s lifeless aesthetics that would look more at home on an early Sega Saturn release to the rampant item collecting, the game reintroduced Nintendo’s zippy little robot to a new generation of gamers with zero aplomb. But hey, at least we got a pretty spiffy Amiibo out of the deal! Here’s hoping the Chibi Robo!‘s next outing gets a little more time to charge before it clanks its way to retail.
The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes
Let me preface this by saying that to be fair, The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes is NOT a bad game, per se. However, for a series so filled with shining examples of addicting innovation, this spiritual successor to The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures marks a relatively forgettable foray into the storied realm of Hyrule; a trait precious few Zelda games possess. Even though questing with friends through the game’s various deadly dungeons has its charm, unexciting stage designs and some dubious communications options woven into the game’s multiplayer gameplay left plenty to be desired.
The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes may not be an awful experience, but it certainly marks a low point for the series as a whole, and that’s a shame. Hopefully with a little more polish the next multiplayer-centric adventure through the hostile Hylian wilds will shine like a prized red rupee.
Chivalry: Medieval Warfare
One should never be bored while wildly swinging around a claymore on a raging battlefield. This is a lesson I’ve always lived by, instilled in my supple cerebral cortex at a young age: the city of Wilmington, Delaware IS dangerous, after all. Unfortunately, the minds behind Chivalry: Medieval Warfare seem to have never received this valuable life lesson. Released recently on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One after razing and laying siege to PC gamers for years, the console version of this middle-age multiplayer melee sets its trebuchet’s sights on Braveheart-caliber brawls, only to deliver a spectacle worthy of an evening at Medieval Times. From the game’s low-poly visuals to the horrid hit detection, just about the only thing Torn Banner Studios’ competitive siege simulator gets right is the game’s crumbling aesthetics, which would be right at home on King Henry the Eighth’s platform of choice.
In an era filled to the brim with competent competitive mutiplayer battlefields, Chivalry: Medieval Warfare feels hopelessly stuck in the past.
The Order: 1886
The Order: 1886 blew us away when it was first showcased at Sony’s E3 2013 conference. Developer Ready At Dawn is no slouch when it comes to crafting gorgeous and compelling action titles, and The Order looked to showcase the type of stunning visuals and stylish gameplay that simply screams “killer app”. After finally releasing from it’s half-decade development cycle in February, we were chomping at the bit to dive into the supernaturally-tinged shooter, only to find the title had little to offer apart from its breathtaking pseudo-steampunk veneer.
The Order: 1886’s campaign was a molasses-slathered slog through five hours of uninspired gunplay, tired quick time events and scowling protagonists. Sure, the game looked great, but the good will garnered by the game’s visual prowess quickly fades when you realize the first hour of unremarkable gunplay and tired button mashing sequences feels indescribable from the game’s abrupt finale. This lack of variety is only underscored by the utter lack of additional modes, meaning you can (and very likely will) see every last thing the game has to offer in a single lazy afternoon.
While I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing Ready At Dawn return to the drawing board with a sequel — after all, the game’s lore IS interesting — the series would need to make some major concessions in terms of trading the cinematic flair for actual engaging gameplay in order to pull us back into the werewolf-ravaged alleyways and crumbling ruins of 19th centruy London.