Hey, good news! It’s been a long time, but we finally got a new King Kong video game. Bad news, Skull Island: Rise of Kong appears an ugly mess of a thing and it might be the worst game of 2023. Yes, even worse than Gollum.
Announced in July, Skull Island: Rise of Kong is the first King Kong video game in nearly 20 years. The last game featuring the loveable big ape who sometimes fights Godzilla was 2005’s *deep breath* Peter Jackson’s King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie. That game was developed by Ubisoft and while not perfect, was a really interesting mix of first-person combat and third-person action. It had players switching between Kong and a human throughout the adventure, while experimenting with no HUD. Skull Island: Rise of Kong, on the other hand, is just a bland beat-’em-up with bad cutscenes, nasty visuals, and not much else.
Skull Island: Rise of Kong, out now on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC, was flying mostly under the radar following its Summer reveal. That changed on October 16 when users on Twitter began posting clips of the game, and the internet quickly began dunking on it.
In the clip above, posted by user RickDaSquirrel, we see a cutscene that appears to include a badly cut-out static jpeg standing in for a memory from Kong’s past. After remembering that picture, Kong awkwardly leaps into action, and then beats the ground as smoothly as a broken animatronic on some long-forgotten abandoned Disney ride.
Another clip from that same user, who was playing the game on Switch, shows awful performance problems during a small fight against some crabs.
YouTuber MKIceAndFire has uploaded a video showcasing the first hours of the game, and it only makes Skull Island look worse.
Combat looks boring as you fight the same basic enemies in similar-looking environments while music endlessly loops behind the action. At one point, Kong’s mom—who is looking for baby Kong in a playable flashback—leaps to the ground and a cutscene interrupts her landing, causing the impact sound to frantically repeat over and over again during the entire scene.
After Kong’s parents die, the young ape runs away during a storm and looks down at a puddle. This scene is meant to be sad. However, because the tech behind the game isn’t great, Kong’s reflection is a blurry, pixelated mess that lingers for far too long.
So yeah, needless to say, this isn’t a great game. It’s possible that the later parts of Skull Island: Rise of Kong get better, but I’m not looking to spend $40 to find out.
Online the chatter has turned from dunking on the game to suggesting that this might be the worst game of 2023, beating Gollum. And I might be inclined to agree, especially because the actual worst game of 2023—that crappy Last of Us clone exclusive to the Switch—was removed from the eShop earlier this year.
So congratulations Skull Island: Rise of Kong, the internet now thinks you are either the worst or the second-worst game of 2023. Your trophy is in the mail.