Missing the mark

With huge game releases like Horizon: Zero Dawn, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, 2017 was a remarkable year for games. As we approach the end of December, we’re rolling out a number of features that focus on both the best of the best and GameSpot’s editors’ personal favorites, but not every game garnered quite the same level of acclaim.

In this feature, we take a look back at the many games released this year that weren’t as favorably reviewed. While these games may still have some noteworthy positives–such as unique art-styles or interesting stories–they also suffered from something that brought the score down for the reviewer. When compared to previous years, the games of 2017 were largely more well received–resulting in a lack of releases that scored a 3 or below. This is the complete list of every game released in 2017 that scored a 5 or lower on GameSpot.

Double Dragon 4 (PC, PS4, Switch) – 5/10

Double Dragon IV isn’t a good game in a modern sense, but it certainly is an honest trip back in time that will, if nothing else, offer a heavy dose of nostalgia for anyone with a fondness for the Lee Brothers’ 8-bit adventures. Frankly, it mimics its source material perfectly. It’s a worthwhile historical artifact if nothing else, but absolutely cannot match the vast improvements in gaming since those early days.” [Read the full review]

Jason D’Aprile

Divide (PS4) – 5/10

Divide stretches on for a bit longer than it probably should, but the strengths of the story are heightened by decent writing and voice performances throughout. Conversations feel organic and real, line deliveries have a satisfying amount of emotion, and each character comes across as genuine. But the strength of the story is undermined by a game that poorly communicates necessary information and is built on repetition to the point that it loses the personality contained within the characters. If there’s a second meaning to the title, it describes the division between a strong narrative and mediocre gameplay that would’ve been better served with more variety and direction throughout.” [Read the full review]

— Cassidee Moser

Diluvion (PC) – 5/10

Diluvion is in that most tragic class of disappointing game: the kind with great ideas. There’s so much to love and appreciate on the surface that the game’s profound awkwardness and convoluted mechanics just hurt to experience.” [Read the full review]

— Justin Clark

Berserk And The Band Of The Hawk (PC and PS4) – 5/10

“Given how well Guts’ bloodlust and battle experience are well-suited to the crowd fighting and mass slaughter of Warriors games, it’s disappointing that this tie-in lacks the engagement and nuance of Omega Force’s more imaginative efforts with other franchises. Its saving feature is the expansiveness of the campaign narratives, which serve as a hearty sampling of the Berserk franchise’s multiple story arcs. If not for these insightful cutscenes, the developer’s penchant for adequate but unengaging hack and slash combat would perpetuate the image of Guts as a one-note protagonist. And even if you’re a Warriors fan who knows not to expect a Dark Souls level of gratifying melee combat, Band of the Hawk still deprives you of the juicy sights and sounds that one associates with Guts’ savagery; the splashes of red that result from every kill hardly counts as “gore”.” [Read the full review]

Miguel Concepcion, Editor

Ride 2 (PC, PS4, Xbox One) – 4/10

“On paper, then, Ride 2 is an exciting proposition that bundles the promises of aspirational game design with the raw power and fun associated with motorbikes. Unfortunately, those promises are broken and the resulting game falls flat. Unless you’re so enamoured with two-wheeled machines that you simply can’t help but pick yourself up a copy, you should wait for a new contender to try its hand at delivering a biking game of this scope.” [Read the full review]

— John Robertson

Malicious Fallen (PS4) – 5/10

“The fact remains that you have to perform a lot of legwork to understand how each boss works in respect to your abilities. There’s a fine line to be crossed in a boss rush game, where hard fought battles lead to either sighs of relief or aggravated groans. Too often, Malicious Fallen earns the latter. Malicious Fallen isn’t a game that feels triumphant so much as tiring.” [Read the full review]

— Justin Clark

Flatout 4: Total Insanity (PS4) – 5/10

Flatout 4 doesn’t bring anything noteworthy to the series, and while the Flatout and party modes are good for some low stakes enjoyment, the grind of single-player progression is too much to bare. The challenge is borderline unfair at times, and that wrecks the partytime nature that the series used to do so well.” [Read the full review]

— James Swimbanks

Rain World (PC and PS4) – 5/10

“In Rain World, the spectre of failure, often caused by events you can’t control, lingers heavily. It quickly drives home the point that you’re a foreigner in a ruined land where anyone larger than you wants to eat you. Its stunningly detailed backgrounds and few rewarding gameplay opportunities are vastly outweighed by its platforming imperfections and hibernation mechanic, which makes little sense in its connection to accessing new areas. Oftentimes, the frustrations resulting from failure devolve into apathy, which is a wholly unfortunate outcome for a game that gives off a deceptively promising first impression.” [Read the full review]

— Miguel Concepcion, Editor

Has Been Heroes (Switch) – 5/10

Has Been Heroes is, at least, a great fit for the Switch. It’s the sort of game you can play while half-watching a sitcom in the background, rather than one to which you’ll want to give your full attention. By the same token, playing the game with intense focus starts to feel like a waste of time after the first few hours. It’s a demanding game that gives very little back for the time and effort it eats up. The game’s name does not lie–it’s best to let these has-beens be.” [Read the full review]

— James O’Connor

Drawn To Death (PS4) – 4/10

“The best thing Drawn to Death has going for it is the aesthetic, which thoroughly lives up to its promise of vast, wild worlds crafted from the classroom notebook scribblings of a teenage delinquent. It’s a world of kittens controlling giant robots, unicorn/teddy bear/cyclops abominations, and hideous caricatures of classmates and bullies. The stars, of course, are the playable characters, ranging from comparatively milquetoast designs like a murderous punk rocker named Johnny, to less conventional fare like a curvy female ninja with a shark’s head. It’s a strong foundation and a perfect fit for the kind of Quake-alike third-person shooter revival the game seems to be aiming for, but it’s a combo that only seems to work–pun thoroughly intended–on paper.” [Read the full review]

— Justin Clark

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 (PS4) – 5/10

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 feels like a B-tier, budget-priced game. Even the predictable, profanity-laden story is reminiscent of the type of gritty B-movies Steven Seagal is known for. There’s certainly merit to its accomplished sniping mechanics, especially when missions hone in on the planning and precise execution that makes playing as a sharpshooter so thrilling. Yet it falters whenever it veers away from its strengths, and the plethora of nagging glitches and technical problems are a persistent nuisance that make Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 difficult to recommend.” [Read the full review]

— Richard Wakeling

Syberia 3 (PC) – 4/10

“The great music coincides with a cold and grim, yet captivating atmosphere, creating a world that should be lived in. And that’s the overall feeling with Syberia 3. Slivers of enjoyment and potential are found within a disconnected and underwhelming journey. The characters, their interactions, the way they speak, and the reason they even exist all mash into a puzzle-adventure game devoid of significance or impact. The Syberia series deserved a better return, otherwise, it should’ve been left in the past.” [Read the full review]

— Michael Higham, Tech Editor

Pinstipe (PC) – 5/10

“Regrettably, Pinstripe‘s rich atmosphere is overpowered by these types of issues. Enemies need only a few shots to defeat, puzzles need only a couple of tries to solve, and the final boss can be exploited to oblivion. And because the story lacks emotional weight or resonance, once the credits roll, you’ll quickly forget Ted and Bo’s struggle, the puzzles you solved, the conclusion to what could have been a memorably haunting trip through Hell.” [Read the full review]

— Jeremy Winslow

Birthdays The Beginning – 5/10

“It feels like there’s a fantastic game somewhere in the heart of Birthdays the Beginning, ready to claw its way out of the primordial ooze of ideas to evolve into a wonderful god-game experience. But the conditions for it to thrive just aren’t right: The interface is ill-conceived and cumbersome, the campaign’s frustrations bring progress to screeching halts, and the frequent lack of information turns what should be a fun micromanagement experience into an exhausting guessing game.” [Read the full review]

— Heidi Kemps

Friday The 13th: The Game (PC, PS4, Xbox One) – 4/10

“These shortcomings and ongoing server issues aren’t easily overlooked, and work against what promise Friday the 13th shows. As of now, a week after launch, it’s short on content and performs poorly all around, especially on consoles. The story goes that the developers weren’t prepared for amount of people who wanted to jump on day one, but that does little to assuage players who were convinced that they were paying for a finished product. Despite showing potential that may one day be realized, Friday the 13th comes across as an unfinished game that shouldn’t have been released in its current state.” [Read the full review]

— Peter Brown, Reviews Editor

The Town of Light (Xbox One) – 4/10

“It’s disappointing to see The Town of Light struggle so often, because the story it presents is both harrowing and captivating at times. While there’s an interesting narrative to be found in its world, the moment-to-moment gameplay and repetitive environments impose an unavoidable malaise. Given the fact that the game is based on actual accounts of psychiatric treatment in the early 1900s, you might be better off looking up the real stories that inspired The Town of Light rather than forcing your way through a version of them here.” [Read the full review]

— Blade Hester

Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days (PC) – 4/10

“Aside from the Reservoir Dogs name in the title and the colorfully named characters, Bloody Days shares almost nothing in common with its namesake. With its rewind mechanic, you can see the potential for an exhilarating top-down, twin-stick shooter, but this never comes to pass. The game is easily exploitable and produces frustration far too often to become even the slightest bit interesting. Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days devolves to a banal experience that’s all bark and no bite.” [Read the full review]

— Jeremy Winslow

The Mage’s Tale (PC) – 4/10

“Neither a groundbreaking VR experience nor a strong dungeon crawler, The Mage’s Tale ultimately squanders its potential. It offers a couple of high points–some jokes do hit their marks from time to time–but there are so many problems, and there’s so little of substance to drive the experience forward, that The Mage’s Tale feels more like a shallow experiment than a reason to get excited about VR.” [Read the full review]

— Daniel Starkey

Miitopia (3DS) – 5/10

“Ultimately, lack of player input and randomness makes Miitopia feel like a slow slog you mostly watch rather than play. It’s certainly cute, and it boasts the typically high production values you expect from Nintendo in terms of visuals, music, and dialogue. However, the fun of seeing Miis you put in various roles do goofy things wears thin after just a few hours, and while the game can reignite a bit of that initial joy when you add new Miis to the game at certain milestones, you still have to trudge through a lot of repetition to get there. If you’re looking for a deep, engrossing game filled with Miis of your making, I’m sorry to say that adventure is in another castle.” [Read the full review]

— Heidi Kemps

Agents of Mayhem (PC, PS4, Xbox One) — 4/10

“Personality can only take a broken and repetitive game so far. The attitude behind Agents of Mayhem has potential, at least if it’s executed properly. But there’s little to Agents of Mayhem beyond its foul-mouthed and bombastic attitude, which push the game into grating and obnoxious territory. Throw in the poor mission design and bugs, and you’ve got a game with loads of mayhem, but not much else.” [Read the full review]

— Brett Todd

Don’t Knock Twice (PS4) — 5/10

Don’t Knock Twice doesn’t share company with the likes of Layers of Fear so much as it does with the large number of “VR Experiences” flooding digital storefronts: quick and dirty cash-ins that feel more like tech demos than full-fledged games. Don’t Knock Twice is more solidly constructed than some, but it’s largely unambitious and forgettable. It seems content to be a ground-level thriller at a time and on a platform with plenty of hungry competition.” [Read the full review]

— Justin Clark

Star Fox 2 (SNES Classic) – 5/10

Star Fox 2 can be praised for the ambitious structure that seemed to be ahead of its time, but the enjoyable moments are hamstrung by modern standards and expectations. Framerate issues and tech that wasn’t suited for this style of game prevent Star Fox 2’s vision from being fully realized, but it’s an important piece of gaming history kept alive with an official release. This game alone isn’t the driving force to seek out an SNES Classic, and you’ll want to consider the more time-tested games in the package.” [Read the full review]

— Michael Higham, Tech Editor

FIFA 18 Nintendo Switch – 5/10

FIFA 18 on Switch delivers some enjoyable soccer when on the pitch, but without Pro Clubs and The Journey, and in restricting all access to FUT when you’re not online, it shoots itself in the foot. Being able to play FIFA on the go or with a friend is gratifying, and if you’re happy to just play through Career Mode for the next year, then this port will satisfy your needs and is the best mobile FIFA you can buy, but compared to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions, this port is inferior in every other way.” [Read the full review]

— Oscar Dayus, Associate Editor

WWE 2K18 (PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch) – 5/10

WWE 2K18‘s in-ring combat is fundamentally flawed, and will be as divisive as it often is. Yet there’s no denying the inherent joy derived from performing your favorite Superstar’s signature moves. Whether it’s cracking your opponent over the head with AJ Styles’ Phenomenal Forearm, or pounding the life out of Asuka’s latest victim, there are moments of pure pro wrestling enjoyment to be found here. It’s just compounded by too many frustrating issues, disruptive glitches, and a dearth of engaging single-player modes. This series has remained stagnant for far too long, and WWE 2K18 doesn’t change things.” [Read the full review]

— Richard Wakeling

Elex (PS4) – 4/10

Elex‘s world is no doubt enticing, but the good moments are heavily dispersed among some rough technical problems and odd designs that only serve to frustrate. The game offers an incredibly designed world and the basis of a compelling RPG that disappointingly fails to live up to its potential in almost every way. For a game that relies heavily on its combat for progression, it feels overwhelmingly geared against you, and with the added technical issues and lack of a compelling story to tell, Elex takes the wind out of its own sails at nearly every turn.” [Read the full review]

— James Swimbanks

Oure (PS4) – 5/10

“There just isn’t very much to Oure beyond aimless exploring, since the battles are unsatisfying and brief and the collectables feel arbitrary. Lazily soaring through the clouds collecting orbs and finding secrets can be momentarily relaxing, but there’s no compelling reason to keep exploring the clouds once you’ve wrapped up the Titan fights. The plot doesn’t go anywhere, and the main action sequences feel like a small batch of concept proofs. Oure is the gaming equivalent of a daydream–it’s pleasant and light, but it feels like a distraction rather than something worth latching on to.” [Read the full review]

— James O’Connor

Sonic Forces (PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch) – 5/10

“For years the Sonic series has come up short in its 3D games. It wasn’t until Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations that the series was able to grasp a semblance of quality that could change the perception of the series as a whole for the better. Sonic Forces ultimately fails to advance the mechanics of previously successful 3D Sonic games, or present them in their best light. A mediocre platformer at best, Sonic Forces manages to do nothing more than reinforce long held stereotypes against Sega’s beloved blue blur.” [Read the full review]

— Matt Espineli, Associate Editor

Need For Speed: Payback (PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch) – 5/10

Need for Speed Payback‘s banal racing is only magnified by this focus on grinding. The simple, almost retro, handling model provides occasional bouts of fun, but it’s never enough to escape Payback’s flaws, with an unwillingness to let you partake in its most hair-raising moments, and a general drabness that seeps into every layer of the game. Fast and Furious, this is not; and that’s a disappointing outcome.” [Read the full review]

— Richard Wakeling

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