Steam has some damn good games. It also has some extremely bad ones. Which ones, though, have the lowest ratings on the whole service?
A Steam game's overall rating is calculated based on what per cent of its reviews are positive. Now, Steam reviews are user-based, and they come from very particular users on a very particular platform, despite how large said platform might be. This means that Steam reviews -- especially when converted into an aggregate number -- are by no means an objective or definitive measure of a game's quality. They're far more indicative, I would argue, of particular times and circumstances, of the cultures surrounding individual games and the broader Steam culture that informs them.
Scraping the bottom of the barrel, then, is revealing. These are probably not the worst games on Steam. They're just the ones that earned the most ire.
Rating: 19 per cent positive.
What it's about: "You take control of a lone astronaut that lands on the surface of a planet, miles away from the other members. And it's your job to meet up with the other astronauts."
So basically: It's a first-person game where you try not to get hit by asteroids.
Example review: "Absolutely awful. I spent almost an hour walking in slow motion towards signals in a straight line, never feeling threatened by the slowly hurdling occasional boulder, until i found what looked like an ipod (that didn't do anything) and then towards an invisible wall blocking me from any other signals. DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME HERE."
Why so many people dislike it: You walk around at an achingly slow pace and get pelted by rocks every few seconds. Getting hit in the face even once is the most irritating thing on earth, so imagine experiencing that hundreds of times over the course of 12 minutes or so, and you can probably understand why people don't love this one. There's also a story component, but it's mostly just a tease for another game. GASP is also apparently glitchy as hell. Amazingly, the game is free, and it still managed to become one of the lowest rated games on Steam.
Rating: 19 per cent positive.
What it's about: "Sacred 3 is an arcade Hack 'n' Slash game for up to 4 players. Choose a hero and fight cooperatively against the rise of evil. Victory is Ours. Glory is Mine."
So basically: They took the beloved Sacred action-RPG series and turned it into Gauntlet.
Example review: "OK guys i try not to write bad reviews but this game is just missing everything sacred has been over the years. The quest, freedom and diversity we know and love is gone and replaced by an arcade game with bad cut scenes and disgraceful gameplay."
Why so many people dislike it: Sacred isn't the best-known RPG series ever, but it's revered among those who played the originals. The first two, say diehard fans, out-Diablo Blizzard's Diablo series. Sacred 3, on the other hand, lacks openness, complex RPG elements, and even loot. So basically, this one's quivering pile of disembodied thumbs forever pointing down to the underworld can be chalked up to the ol' switcheroo. People expected one thing and got something very, very different. Interestingly, though, a handful of recent reviews are more understanding, pegging it as an alright Gauntlet-style game. Nobody's saying it's the best game ever, but they're not calling it the worst, either.
Rating: 18 per cent positive.
What it's about: "[The] Tiberium saga is coming to a powerful conclusion with Command & Conquer 4, which will introduce a multitude of innovations to the classic fast and fluid Command & Conquer gameplay, while retaining the core compulsions that fans have come to love over the series' history."
So basically: It's a Command & Conquer real-time strategy game, except they tried to do some weird shit with it.
Example review: "Playing skirmish mode over and over again to grind levels to even be able to use all of the units in a faction? no base building? little to no resource collection? terrible campaign? requires login and constant internet to play? I can confidently say i have downloaded malware more enjoyable than this."
Why so many people dislike it: That review pretty much sums it up, honestly. The game is a reinvention of the Command & Conquer series that doesn't really feel like it fits. More specifically, people dinged it for sub-par mission variety, simplistic mechanics, and irritating constant connection requirements. Positive reviews, however, pointed out that, much like Sacred 3, it's not irredeemably bad when taken on its own terms. A few people even claimed to love it. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose.
Rating: 18 per cent positive.
What it's about: "Explore a vast hostile environment while crafting new tools to help you survive. Discover intriguing puzzles and the mystery behind the strange remains of artifacts left in the Amazon Jungle"
So basically: It's a first-person survival/crafting game, and the main character is an alcoholic.
Example review: "You know how some games are so bad that they're good? well this is not one of those games."
Why so many people dislike it: It's an unpredictably buggy and wonky game that strings people along with a handful of decent ideas, only to crash and burn at every other turn. It's laggy, controls are bad, the animation is poor, and the story doesn't make much sense. Not amusingly bad. Just bad. Many reviewers admit they checked it out because they'd heard about how bad it was, so it's suffered from something of a pile-on effect.
Rating: 11 per cent positive.
What it's about: "Feel the adrenaline pulse through your veins as you barrel through insane race tracks against monster trucks, race cars, off road vehicles and much more."
So basically: It's a racing game about crashing and ragdoll physics.
Example review: "This game is absolutely horrible, I do not recommend it for anyone. The physics are one of the worst I have ever seen in racing game. Crashing does not feel good when it should in this type of game. The graphics look just ugly. Even the first Flatout from 2004 looks better than this in my opinion."
Why so many people dislike it: If you've read through the rest of this piece, you can probably guess where this one's going: Flatout was a cult hit racing series developed by a studio called Bugbear, but Flatout 3 was made by somebody else. It turned out different, and in this case, "different" mostly meant bad. Car physics were the biggest culprit, followed by crummy AI and eyesore graphics. An ugly, un-fun racing game bearing the name of a cult hit? It's a recipe for disaster if I've ever heard one -- and not the fun kind of disaster where a ragdoll rodeo clown goes flying through a car windshield, either.