Anyone with a serious interest in gaming has played their share of bad games, and though they may have angered us at first, generally we can usually look back on the experience and get some ironic amusement from the incompetence on display. Hell, I'm something of a bad games connoisseur by this point; I've honestly gotten more amusement out of something like Hoshi wo Miru Hito than out of many of the good games I've played over the years. A disappointing game, on the other hand, can be worse in most cases; when you're promised something incredible and what you get delivers well below expectations, and it's not even fun to make fun of... well, you're just left without any satisfaction at all and your wallet is $60 lighter for it. So, that in mind, let's take a look at ten RPGs that I felt were under-performers.
10. Suikoden Tierkreis
9. Grandia Xtreme
I'm a huge fan of Grandia; so much so that I've listed all three mainline games in the series on my Top 100 games list. The sense of fun, the great characters, and most of all, a kickass combat system that operates on the same principle as Final Fantasy's ATB, but lets you delay or cancel enemy turns with well-timed attacks (though they can do the same to you as well) and, in 3's case, juggle them into the air for massive damage. Xtreme was the franchise's attempt to reinvent itself as something of a dungeon crawler, which failed to impress for a few reasons. First, you get exactly one save point back at town, so if you make a mistake at any point and get taken out by enemies, too bad - you're redoing a few hours of work. There's a huge leap in difficulty about halfway through the game that can easily screw you over if you're underpowered for it too, and of course the game doesn't bother to warn you of it beforehand so you can gain some levels first. But the biggest offender is the voice acting. The box proudly proclaims that it features the talents of Mark Hamill, Lisa Loeb and Dean "16 Christmas movies" Cain, and they are easily the best thing about it, even if Mr. Cain sounds drunk during some lines (though if he actually is, I can't blame him given the crappy dialog they have him reading). But the rest - all uncredited - are utterly putrid, with some of the most god-awful, cringe-inducing line reads I've heard in any medium, let alone gaming. And no, you can't skip any of the cutscenes they're in. I love Grandia, but I couldn't even bring myself to finish this one out of pity. Life's too short; play one of the good Grandias instead.
8. The Witcher and Mass Effect franchises
dump codex rather than let you directly experience any of it and judge for yourself. Heaven forbid you get pulled away from tedious follow-the-dot "quests" and repetitious combat for even five seconds so you can become invested in the underlying narrative and choose a path based on your investment in its world and characters, right? Not that it matters much because your choices make virtually no impact in the long run other than changing a throwaway line here and there; the script for the whole series is already in the can and you're not derailing our hack writer's vision, damn it!
7. Lunar: Dragon Song
Lunar is another series I'm a huge fan of, especially the two Playstation 1 remakes. They're still very much in the old-school camp of design (unsurprising as they're based on games which came out for the Sega CD in the early '90s), but they have a wonderful and sincere charm to them, as well as some great characters, voiceover and high-quality music that really showed off what the CD medium could do for an RPG. Dragon Song was announced as a long-awaited third entry in the series... and what we got was certainly not worth the wait. While it does look the part at a glance, the gameplay is changed up for the worse, as combat completely removes the tactical element and, indeed, any real strategy at all. You can no longer actively target enemies in a battle - a character just picks one at random and goes for it. Party size is cut in half as well, as you can now only control three active characters. Add in a ton of grinding (you can get either experience or items from battle - never both at once) and a plot that's just a retread of the first game's with worse writing, much less interesting characters and no good twists, and you have one of the biggest letdowns of all time.
6. Quest 64
5. Final Fantasy VIII/X
And before someone asks: No, I have never played X-2. I have no intention of doing so either. I took one look at that opening FMV where they turn Yuna and Rikku into the Spice Girls and immediately said "Nope, I'm not even going to waste my time on this garbage."
4. The 3rd Birthday
3. The Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy games
2. Fallout 4
1. Persona 5
bad Saturday morning cartoon at best and a Sonichu comic at worst. I couldn't even bring myself to finish the game because after weeks of being immersed in this juvenile crap with no end in sight, I simply didn't care anymore. And given how many assholes I've seen online fancying themselves "Phantom Thieves" and forming their own rings dedicated to stalking, harassing and doxxing people under cover of anonymity, I'm sure it's just a matter of time until this game inspires some real life violence too. So if you're wondering why I haven't bought one of Atlus's games in over four years and may never do so again, there's your answer. Persona 5 definitely won't be the last in the series, especially not with Sega calling the shots now, but to me, it's the end of a once-great franchise.