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Biggest Letdown / “Worst” RPG
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Unfortunately, as letdowns go, Babylon’s Fall is one of the biggest ones in recent years, both for players and the teams behind the scenes. Square Enix and PlatinumGames have certainly had a successful venture together before in NieR: Automata, but Babylon’s Fall is most definitely not one. Established as an online service game, with the hope of being around for multiple years, it unfortunately only lasted six months before the confirmation that the plug will be pulled later this month, a staggeringly short lifespan.
There are many fundamental issues with the game, and being a service-based game exacerbates them further. While it has some fun elements — it openly embraces its cheesy premise — there simply isn’t enough for players to justify spending much time and money on it. Combat fails to shine, and its somewhat blurry artistic graphical style simply doesn’t go over well, especially given its release date ensured comparisons to the juggernaut that was Elden Ring. It’s one that might’ve ended up finding a cult following as a budget title were it not a fully online game, and now sadly won’t even achieve that. This one may be a bust, but PlatinumGames has shown its potential before and will hopefully have ample opportunity to do so again.
A full three and a half years after it was initially announced, Diablo Immortal finally graced iOS and Android. Rather than the wildly popular series’ arrival on mobile refreshing the free-to-play service space, it quick became a showcase of the latter’s predatory excesses. Although those who are able to ignore the opportunities flung around to spend money without doing so can have a fun time with solid gameplay, it is one of the more egregious examples of a free-to-play title doing all it can to find its whales, with players heavily pushed towards spending not insignificant amounts just for the chances of obtaining certain useful items. It’s far from the only title to do it, but the way it so gleefully participates and uses its fanbase in these exploitative gambling-style practices is, at minimum, a massive letdown for many players.
Released right at the end of 2022, Sports Story didn’t have much time to let down RPGamers, but it did. Game-breaking bugs, graphical slowdowns, and glitches galore are always strong credentials for this award, but Sports Story took its case a bit farther. While the game swings for the fences with overall ambition, it’s a complete letdown in each of its titular words “sports” and “story”, both of which seemed completely underdeveloped. Trying to create a satisfying follow-up to Golf Story was always going to be a challenge, but the ambition sadly appears to be far more than was possible. Lacking worthwhile additions, the removal of much its competitiveness, and technical hiccups make Sports Story a disappointment for multiple reasons.
As usual, the dubious title of “worst” RPG is rather a misnomer. The sheer number of releases means the RPGamer staff is often able to just skip over the truly horrible entries, meaning this award focuses on those that have somehow enticed multiple staff members and then completely failed to impress any of them. And despite appearing here, The Last Oricru has a redeeming quality peek through here and there. Most notably, the game allows for some impressive decision-making in how the narrative plays out, giving it some replayability. But is it a game that one will want to stick with long enough, let alone start up again after the credits have rolled? As discovered when a game-breaking glitch forced our reviewer to scrap hours worth of progress and begin the game anew, the short answer is a resounding no!
So what reasons do we have to place The Last Oricru on this list? The action combat is awkward and clunky. What should require twitch reflexes and be a satisfying dance of death instead becomes a drunken lurch with both sides flailing wildly until somebody is downed. Then there’s Silver, the game’s main protagonist who is less tolerable than chainsaw-facilitated dental surgery. His lack of courtesy and respect, flippant attitude, and sheer arrogance are a deadly combo that made us actively root against him. And if the bugs and glitches don’t seal the deal, the poor balancing with sudden difficulty spikes surely will. Unfortunately, The Last Oricru is not a game we’re glad to have played the first time around, so it deserves a top ranking on this list so that you won’t either.
Metal Max Xeno: Reborn is as neither truly a remake nor a remaster of 2018’s Metal Max Xeno. Instead, it is a rebuild with modified mechanics, character art, and a whole lot of content left on the cutting room floor. While it would be reasonable to expect a cleaner experience for RPGamers, that is hardly the case. Instead, players are left with fragments of a story, and a jarringly ugly, empty open world. Why was there a sense of urgency in making this game a second time, and who exactly was it for? Those questions will seemingly remain unanswered, as the sequel to this game was cancelled on the day of this game’s release. Turns out it really is a wild, wild west out there.
As sports games have taken on certain RPG elements, so too have we seen more full-on sports RPGs in recent years. While Inazuma Eleven and Golf Story are notably strong examples, Soccer Story sadly is not. The game puts in a few interesting adventure RPG puzzles and challenges, but its implementation of the actual sport is a mess. It’s a sorely simplified iteration of soccer, lacking any team selection, tactics, formations, and more. Shooting from ridiculous distances and angles proves to be more effective than from close range, while the AI is ridiculously easy to exploit. Further hindering things are a raft of technical issues, making Soccer Story incredibly tough to recommend, even to the most ardent fan of the sport.
by Alex Fuller, Matt Masem, Pascal Tekaia, and Paul Shkreli