10 Video Games With Incredible Stories But Terrible Gameplay

It's worth suffering through The Last Guardian's infuriating gameplay for its beautiful story.

Uncharted Drake's Fortune
Naughty Dog

Though video games are the result of numerous artistic disciplines working in glorious tandem, it's fair to say that most players put a premium on two things above most others: story and gameplay.

Given that games are still a relatively "immature" medium compared to books, movies, and TV, it's little surprise that players are used to forgiving games for having less-than-stellar stories if the core gameplay is a blast.

But less-common is the opposite, where a game's story is so wonderfully engaging even while the gameplay itself isn't really fun at all.

Yet it certainly happens, typically where a developer has a keen eye for atmosphere and narrative yet lacks the follow-through to wrap a satisfying gameplay loop around it.

Sometimes the story is fantastic enough to carry the game to success regardless, while in other cases the gameplay is such a damn trainwreck that the title hasn't ever risen above cult classic status.

While these games all featured unappealing gameplay defined by glitches, repetition, and jank, their stories were so damn thrilling, emotional, and overall entertaining that it was (mostly) worth going along for the ride...

10. To The Moon

Uncharted Drake's Fortune
Freebird Games

2011's adventure-drama To the Moon is often held up as boasting one of the most creative and emotionally impactful stories in the history of video games.

And while the particulars are best left unspoiled, the spine of the story involves two doctors who administer "wish fulfilment" to dying people by creating artificial memories in their minds.

Across just four hours, To the Moon tells a devastating, one-of-a-kind tale of love, mortality, memory, and regret with a level of maturity and psychological plausibility rarely seen in games.

It's just a shame that, as a traditional game, To the Moon isn't really up to much at all. In fact, at times it feels less like a video game than a visual novel, albeit without any major sense of choice.

Gameplay is largely limited to walking around and interacting with people, and even the few puzzles are so hilariously easy as to be completely trivial.

But what qualifies To the Moon's gameplay as terrible is the frustrating abundance of glitches throughout: it's possible to get stuck in the game's geometry at various points, enough that you may not even be able to continue playing.

As such, it's a relief that the game's play-time is so short. If To the Moon were, say, 10 or 20 hours long, players might be decidedly less forgiving of its leaden, clunky gameplay.


Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.