The Last of Us’ Ellie and Joel, Far Cry 3’s Vaas, The Walking Dead’s Clementine — these characters evoke emotional responses because of the stellar performances behind them. On the opposite end of the spectrum is voice work so abysmal that it evokes mostly anger, and possibly a gag reflex.
Voice acting is a tough job, and what qualifies as “bad” is subjective, but there are some voice overs so dreadful they turn that qualification objective. Compelled to push my eardrums to their breaking point and share my audio misery with you, I scoured the internet in search of these aural offenders and compiled this list of games with the worst voice acting.
With memorable lines like “I hope this is not Chris’ blood,” “You were almost a Jill sandwich,” and “…the master of unlocking” (so mostly Barry’s lines), the original Resident Evil is one of the most infamous examples of poor voice acting. Capcom’s survival horror classic pretty much set the standard for the genre, and in retrospect, probably made bad voice overs acceptable considering the rest of the game’s quality.
The House of the Dead 2
Although the voice acting is hilariously bad — Goldman literally forgets how to pronounce words sometimes — it’s all part of the charm of this relatively good arcade shooter. Luckily, the high-tempo, repetitive 90s beat drowns out most of the words. If you played it at an arcade, the garbled noise of children and the competing loudness of other machines ruined your ears anyway.
Michigan: Report from Hell
Despite being a Suda51 game, Michigan: Report from Hell doesn’t have that weird charm that garners good reviews, and ended up as a joke in the west because of its voice acting. Allegedly, Suda51 himself had no idea that the game even released in Europe (there was no North American release), meaning that without his oversight, most of that Grasshopper quirkiness was likely lost in translation.
Originally released in Japan, then two years later in North America, Chaos Wars follows protagonist Hyoma climbing a mountain he once dreamed about. Then something in the mountain transports him and his friends to another world where he has to defeat creatures and find his way back home. The plot sounds a bit by-the-numbers, but it’s not nearly as offensive as the voice work (or the mind-numbing, looping music), which is speculated to be a classic case of using relatives to save a bit of cash, since the voice “talent” and publishing team share last names.
The Town with No Name
The top spot on this list belongs to a game you can beat in under 30 minutes. Yep, the video below is a complete playthrough (1000 internets to the masochist who can sit through the entire thing).
Pictured: Abraham Lincoln’s LSD-infused hellscape.
Unlike with other entries on the list, the voice acting here is just the shitty cherry on this turd of interactive entertainment. The visuals, the dialogue, the sound effects, the music, the terrible audio mixing — the only saving grace seems to be the brief length.
The protagonist sounds like South Park’s Nathan having a stroke, and every character sounds like their audio was recorded through a microphone made of cloth. Even if the voice work weren’t so horrendous, the cringe-worthy attempts at humor make the dialogue a pain in the ass to sit through.
“Why am I in this game, Mimsy?”
Maybe The Town with No Name is just a product of its time, and I’m looking at it through a 20-year-old lens. Or maybe it was, is, and will always be a terrible game with even more atrocious voice acting.
Article by contributor William Aryitey. Hit him up on Twitter for more bad voices!