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1. Papers Please
Before you go running for the comments: I understand that the point of Papers Please is not the graphics. But man, these graphics are really hard to look at.
At times, you’ll swear you’re looking at a lost game from the NES. In fact, this title goes right past nostalgic retro design and into “I can’t believe it looks this bad” territory. Fortunately, as countless streamers soon discovered, the game is very fun to play.
2. Hotline Miami
It’s easy to see why people love Hotline Miami. The game has a definite sense of style as well as the vibe of a really violent sandbox.
However, the top-down gameplay looks uglier every time you go to play. And it’s tough to get excited about navigating an ugly character as he fights more ugly characters in the most bland-looking levels you will ever see.
3. Friday the 13th: The Game
If you’re a fan of horror movies in general or Friday the 13th in particular, then Friday the 13th: The Game is a must-play title. But you need to go into this with lowered expectations for the graphics.
Character models often look very plastic, especially in cutscenes at the beginning of a match before everything has
4. Dwarf Fortress
Dwarf Fortress has more depth in its design than most gamers could discover in a lifetime. It also happens to be one of the worst-looking games you will ever see.
In fact, much of the game is just staring at text. And when you’re not doing that, you’re looking at maps that look like your cat just scattered Lego pieces all over the house. This game is so ugly that players have spent plenty of time creating graphics packs to try to make it look better!
Nidhogg is almost captivating in its ugliness. The character designs look like something from the Atari 2600 era of gaming, and the backgrounds look some sort of deep-fried vaporwave design.
However, Nidhogg’s unique combination of platform and dueling is equally captivating. There is pretty much no other game experience quite like it!
6. Cyberpunk 2077 (on Last-Gen Consoles)
When is a pretty game actually an ugly game? With the case of Cyberpunk 2077, when you are playing on the wrong console!
The overall game has interesting gameplay and killer characters. And on the right PC or console, it looks amazing. But on last-gen consoles, this is the only game so glitchy and ugly-looking that it got removed from the PlayStation store due to the many players seeking refunds.
7. Fallout 3
While not as memorable as Fallout 2 or Fallout: New Vegas, Fallout 3 was a very solid game. It created a nice atmosphere and populated that atmosphere with cool concepts and characters.
But even for its time, Fallout 3 was pretty ugly. This included weird character designs for almost everyone. Plus, post-apocalypse or not, the drab color palette meant that wandering the wasteland meant looking at the same muted colors wherever you went.
8. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Okay, hot take time. The Nintendo Switch remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is pretty ugly.
It’s certainly many steps above the Game Boy title. In comparison to something like Breath of the Wild, these cartoony graphics make it seem like you are wandering through somebody’s LittleBigPlanet custom game instead of a major Nintendo title.
Fortunately, the gameplay makes up for these weird graphics.
9. Kerbal Space Program
Kerbal Space Program is a great way to kill hours as you alternate between feeling very creative and very frustrated. But you won’t have much to look at during that time.
Much of the game is just smashing together designs until you have something to shoot into space. But that means you are mostly just staring at basic parts and designs for much of the game, all while the worst-designed aliens you have ever seen are watching.
At least the Earth looks pretty good...assuming your spacecraft makes it far enough to give you a good view.
For a list like this, Minecraft is definitely some lower-hanging fruit. That’s because these blocky graphics are very deliberate and tie into the block-building nature of the game.
We can’t deny that Minecraft has been influential, and it quickly became one of the most popular games in the world. But that doesn’t change the fact that if you made someone play it who had somehow never heard of the game, they’d wonder why the environments and characters are so ugly.
Undertale has some of the most memorable characters, music, and gameplay you will ever encounter. But man, those graphics.
For a game with a throwback “retro” style, the developers did the best they could. But many graphical elements, including the design of your main character, alternate being between plain-looking and being downright ugly.
12. Path of Exile
Path of Exile won over many players for being the kind of game they wanted Diablo 3 to be. But if you haven’t played PoE lately, sometimes it looks more like Diablo 2 and Diablo 3.
The graphics look dated, and in recent years, the screen is often cluttered with way too many things going on. But until we get Diablo 2 Resurrected, this will remain the best modern isometric RPG.
Battleborn certainly isn’t the ugliest game I’ve ever seen. But it shot itself in the foot by copying too many sets of homework. It’s basically like someone copied Borderlands and Overwatch but forgot to include memorable character designs.
The result is a fun game that is nearly held back by bad design and an insane color palette. From the weapons to the backgrounds and characters, everything is just really rough to look at.
14. Dark Souls
Dark Souls quickly became more than a popular and influential game. To its fans, this tough title became the benchmark for whether you were a “real gamer” or not.
But that doesn’t change the fact that the real torture of this game is having to look at it. Every environment is dark (of course), and some of these character designs look like rejects from Daikatana. The 2018 remaster makes the graphics crisper, but it’s pretty much the difference between looking at a turd in 1080p versus the original low resolution.
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