I’m sure this won’t come as a surprise to most of you, but I read quite a bit of what Ian writes over on Adventure Rules. He’s a fantastic guy who regularly dives deep into the games he’s been playing. I mention this as today I’ll be pillaging an idea from him. Ian recently published a post about games he didn’t manage to finish, and I liked the concept enough that I’ll be taking it for myself. Thank you, Ian!

That said, I won’t be covering every game I didn’t finish. The reason for this is simple: Gamepass. Whenever I purchase another month of it, I invariably end up downloading 10 different titles to try out. I only finish the ones that I actually enjoy, while the rest quickly fall to the wayside. It’d be really challenging to speak about a dozen different titles that I never gave the time of day, so I’m not even going to try. Instead, I’ll be zeroing in on the titles that I got a little invested in before they shot me out of a cannon into an erupting volcano.

That’s enough stalling – here’s the games I just couldn’t get into in 2022.

Teardown

Let’s start with one of the more highly reviewed indies of 2022. A number of accredited outlets recommended Teardown, and it also holds a top spot in the 150 best reviewed games on Steam for 2022. This is nothing to sneeze at – it speaks of a game that is well made, and fun to play. That’s a perfect storm when you’re a bit of an indie snob like I am, so you know I had to check it out.

Unfortunately, Teardown is a physics game, and I don’t like physics games. Now I know what you’re thinking: why on Earth did you buy it then? My hope going into Teardown was that it would illuminate the genre for me. There has been no short supply of fantastic indie games released over the past decade that have allowed people to enjoy genres they otherwise wouldn’t. Think of your Stardew Valleys, or Hollow Knights. I was hopeful that Teardown would finally tear down the wall of hatred that I have for titles built around simulated physics, but that was not the case. I just can’t hack it when these games inevitably devolve into chaos. I like predictable cause and effect too much.

Inbento & Railbound

I’m lumping these 2 together because I bought them as part of a bundle alongside Golf Peaks. All 3 games are logic puzzlers: Inbento is about assembling bento boxes, Railbound is about assembling trains, and Golf Peaks is…golf. I only managed to finish the latter though, so what happened with Inbento, and Railbound? Simple: I got stuck.

I don’t know if it’s common for others, but when I get stuck on a puzzle for too long I just can’t be assed anymore. Within Inbento in particular, there was usually 1 puzzle per world that would really stump me. I’d never dwell on it – there were other puzzles to solve, so I’d work on them instead. Unfortunately, I usually worked through the other puzzles quickly, and found myself back at the puzzle that I couldn’t solve. I usually solved these buggers after I’d starred at them long enough, but decided I’d had enough after the third or fourth time it happened.

Wherein Inbento it was a single puzzle that stopped me dead, it was a single mechanic that did the same in Railbound. Throughout each of its worlds, Railbound introduces new mechanics to complicate the process of assembling your train correctly. This was fine until world 9, when the game added a third car to every single puzzle. Up until that point almost all the puzzles featured 2 cars that had to be assembled sequentially. Adding a third car into the mix made things extremely complicated.

After just barely scrapping my way through world 9, I made it to final world. Huzzah! Nothing could stop me no-oh. Every puzzle in the tenth world is built around four train cars. Yeah I…uh…no. No we’re not – no. Just no.

Dusk

Of the different boomer shooters on Steam, Dusk seems to be one of the most acclaimed. I decided to pick it up because I really enjoyed both of the recent Doom games, and wanted some more white knuckle FPS action. Unfortunately, I didn’t much care for Dusk because I kept getting lost in its levels. How much intense shooting a game throws at you really doesn’t matter when you’re a dumbass who keeps getting lost every other shootout. I always felt as though I had no idea where I was supposed to go next once I finished mowing enemies down, and that led to me repeatedly running around in circles. While I normally enjoy exploration, that’s not really why I play shooty boom-boom games, and I eventually stopped playing out of frustration.

God of War

I mean, you already knew this was coming. I mentioned how I stopped playing God of War earlier this year because of the camera. It has the unique distinction of being the only title to give me a migraine with a third person camera. Typically I only have that issue with first person games, but at least those titles have the curtesy to provide a field of view option to help mitigate the problem. Not God of War though. Here at Santa Monica Studio we’re married to our rigid adherence to cinematography even if we’re not making a movie.

Even if the camera hadn’t given me issues, I’m not entirely sure I’d have actually enjoyed God of War. The game features all of the same shit as every other cookie cutter, Western developed AAA game. There’s a boatload of copy-pasted fluff littered around the map that you need to engage with to level Kratos up, so you can unlock basic gameplay mechanics from a skill tree. You also need to constantly collect crafting materials, so you can make and upgrade equipment because God of War is an RPG now apparently.

Look – it’s ok if you enjoy this stuff. I don’t, and I’m tired of how almost all the biggest names in the industry are either live service grind-a-thons, or whatever the fuck we’re calling games like God of War.

Nobody Saves the World

Similar to Teardown, Nobody Saves the World is one that I picked up because it reviewed well. It was one of the first indies to hit this year, so it was easy putter away at between some of the heavy hitters from this past January. The basic premise of Nobody Saves the World is simple: you play a nameless dude that can transform into a variety of different forms. Each of these forms acts like a unique class with a suite of distinct abilities. As you level each class, new passive benefits unlock for all your other classes making them more powerful. So the basic gameplay loop is to keep swapping, and leveling classes so your collective strength improves across all of them.

I’m sure what I just described sounds like a lot of fun to some people, but holy shit was it one of the most boring things I played all year. Nobody Saves the World is grinding the video game. The combat mechanics were so simplistic that I couldn’t get into them, and Drinkbox’s groanworthy writing didn’t help either. If you really like watching numbers get bigger then I’m sure you’ll love this, but Nobody Saves the World wasn’t made for people like me.

The Gunk

The final entry on this list hurts. The Gunk was made by Image & Form: one of my favourite indie developers. Their whole schtick has been to make games where they remove some of the complexity of specific genres, while retaining what makes games in said genre fun. It takes a special sort of development team to consistently pull that off. They’re not a household name, but I’ve always felt like they should be.

Obviously I had to pick up the next game from one of my favourite developers. How could I not? Unfortunately, it wasn’t very good. The Gunk is very pretty, but that’s about all it has going for it. Mechanically, almost nothing is going on here as you spend most of your time hoovering up black goo from the environment to clear the path forward. I think the team was trying to focus more on the narrative, but that never managed to get its hooks in me either. You hate to see it, but I’m hopeful the team at Image & Form will iterate on some of the ideas in The Gunk to deliver a more well realized version of their vision in the future.


Well, I don’t know about anyone reading this, but I had fun looking back at the games I bounced off this past year. I’d also like to thank Ian again for providing me with the idea that spawned this post.

Before I sign off, I’d like to remind anyone reading this post that my dislike of a particular game shouldn’t take away from their existing enjoyment of it. I know some of my picks here were contentious, but some random asshole (in this instance, I am the asshole) not enjoying a game you loved shouldn’t retroactively degrade your experience with it. Different strokes for different folks, and all that.

This will be my last published post of the year. I’ll have my best games of the year post out sometime in January. Until then, happy ho ho, and I’ll see you all in the next one.