What's your favorite janky game?

(Image credit: Troika Games)

Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord is currently in Early Access and getting bug fixes and updates regularly. But even when it's complete, we sort of expect—as with the earlier games in the series—it'll probably still be a bit janky.

But a game being a bit janky isn't always all that bad. When you love a game, some amount of jank can make it even more endearing. Maybe things don't always work they way they should, maybe the controls are a bit clunky, or the wonky physics make you laugh. Bugs and glitches can be frustrating, but sometimes they're funny, too.

What's your favorite janky game? We've got our answers below, along with some from the PC Gamer Forums. Let us know your picks in the comments.

Vampire: The Masquerade—Bloodlines

(Image credit: Activision)

Jody Macgregor: Vampire: The Masquerade—Bloodlines is so rough around the edges it should have been sold in a sandpaper box. I love it anyway, but you gotta download the plus version of the unofficial patch. (If you get Bloodlines from GOG it comes with the basic version of that patch, but I'd argue the plus version is better since it restores cut content as well as fixing bugs.) I don't know if I'd say I love it because of the jankiness, though. Ideally Troika would have been given enough time to fix it themselves rather than being unceremoniously shut down and having to rush out a partial patch instead.

If we're talking games I love specifically because of their jankiness than I have to go with Goat Simulator, which made me laugh because I am a simple man with simple pleasures—one of which is kludging my way outside the boundaries of a game world and then being rubberbanded back into it with force, which Goat Simulator does with impeccable comic timing.

Arma 2

Evan Lahti: "I apologize in advance for any silly mistakes the AI makes. It's still not perfect in Arma 2, yet, but I'm sure it'll get perfected eventually," YouTuber Thomas Ryan says optimistically in this 2010 "How to Command AI Squads" tutorial video. Arma 2's AI did not, in fact, get perfected.

As a dedicated Jank Warrior, I earned many medals in Arma 2 (and to a lesser extent 3), which in '09-'12 was the foremost military simulator in the world, an unparalleled high-fi depiction of land war and a game that featured notoriously stupid, erratic AI that you ordered around through a terrifying, scroll-wheel-based menu interface. Managing a squad in Arma's singleplayer was like herding armed goats with a pool noodle: the call-and-response radio chatter built into the system was meant to mirror realistic radio behavior but in practice it just revealed how robotic and goofy these NPC soldiers were because voice lines were composed from a tiny database of disjointed VO jargon ("CONTACT. ENEMY. MAN. 300 METERS.") that was stitched together into sentences like an automated phone system. Just asking a gunner to jump into your Humvee might've taken three inputs, plus an additional 10 seconds of waiting for the pathfinding to circumnavigate deadly obstacles like bushes or fences, assuming your AI driver hasn't run over his squadmates by that point. I logged 1200 hours in a two-year span.

Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl

(Image credit: GSC Game World)

Andy Chalk: The first Stalker is the best, and I like it best unmodded because it's such a brilliant monument to ambition untethered from common sense. A bunch of guys decided that they were going to do this whole big thing, and there was nobody around to tell them it was an unreasonable idea so they just went for it. 

And they damn near pulled it off! NPC behaviour is sometimes bizarre, the UI is a mess, it's brutal and unforgiving, and none of it makes any sense, yet somehow it all pulls together into a deliciously weird and completely unforgettable shooter sandbox. And the jankiness gives it a sense of authenticity: This isn't a hyper-refined Valve game, this is a full-on Eastern European post-apocalypse where shit gets weird, things don't always work exactly like they're supposed to, and 30 fps is good enough because hey, at least it hasn't crashed yet today. That's legit.

DayZ Mod and Early Access Standalone

Andy Kelly: In the early days of zombie survival sandbox DayZ, it was hilariously janky. Ladders were lethal and would frequently kill you for merely touching them, which wasn't ideal in a permadeath game. Zombies just straight up didn't work, flailing hopelessly at you, getting stuck in walls, and mysteriously disappearing. And the survival stuff (thirst, hunger, etc.) barely functioned. But, somehow, it was brilliant. The strengths of it as a social experience, as an entirely player-led multiplayer experience, were enough to forgive its many technical shortcomings. And when the zombies didn't work, it forced players to find increasingly creative, cruel ways to amuse themselves. It's a lot better now, albeit still blighted by some lingering jank. But it wouldn't really be DayZ without it.

Dave James: The early days of the original DayZ mod were incredible. Nothing I've played since has generated such deep and affecting loss from an in-game death. Especially not the cleaner, just-slightly-slicker DayZ standalone. The mod days were always janky, even before the hacking turned some maps into an Eastern European hellscape where some careless god was intent on smiting anything living. 

You'd step onto a ladder and break both legs, you'd put a precious gun, with ammo, into your backpack only to find it swallowed up by some unseen and unknowable portal to oblivion, zombies would simply spawn from nowhere and gnaw your face off. It was all so beautifully broken. But you lived with its foibles and they only added to the already knife-edge tension of the game. And you learned to live off the land, roaming free, scouting villages, air bases, and joy-riding in other people's discarded jeeps. Until you inevitably got sniped for carrying your empty AK slung across your back as a target.

Way of the Samurai 4

(Image credit: Ghostlight LTD)

Jorge Jimenez: WOTS4 is one of the wildest, broken open-world sandbox games I've ever played. You play a nameless samurai causing shenanigans in a small Japanese port town. There dozens of different branching story paths, a number of factions like bandits, western colonizers, and samurai cops to join. There is permadeath and every time you die unlocks goodies for your next playthrough. A full game only runs a few hours and you can choose how involved you are in the game's story. If you just want to run around like a samurai jerk that's entirely up to you. 

The combat is a mess of systems involving different sword stances and weapon types that almost never make any sense. You can even run a dojo and partake in super problematic 'romance' options that involve water torture. This game has so many fun ideas that are done so poorly it's borderline comedic. Though, it does have this undeniable charm I can't resist coming back to.  I like to imagine that one day a next-gen Way of the Samurai 5 takes the world by storm but that won't happen because we live in the worst of timelines.

Dark Souls

Wes Fenlon: Dark Souls is not an especially buggy game, and next to your average Bethesda RPG it looks like it has Nintendo levels of polish. But I think janky still applies, and is actually fundamental to the tone of mystery the first Dark Souls captures so well. The game doesn't tell you that your encumbrance level makes a profound difference on your movement, but as you put on armor and pass certain weight thresholds, your dodge roll noticeably changes. It has an unexplained poise system that affects how easily you're staggered. An entire area is hidden behind an invisible wall behind another invisible wall inside a tree in the middle of a swamp.

The original Dark Souls is rough in plenty of little ways, but its small frustrations and the information it deliberately withholds add up to effectively make you question what's possible. Everything is a question worth investigating and experimenting with, where in so many other games it's clearly telegraphed exactly what you can and can't do. And it turns out you usually can do something in Dark Souls if you think you can, like shooting a dragon's tail 70 times with a bow to break it and get a sword much earlier than you'd normally acquire it. Ironically, more polish would've ended up dulling Dark Souls' most memorable qualities. 

From our Forums

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Frindis: Has to be Morrowind. Some of the janky parts could actually be game-breaking, but thankfully most of the time the jankiness would be strange A.I/character movement, dialogue and expressions (you would think they learned with Oblivion) and the motherload of janky combat. Might sound like the worst game ever? Nope, while it made you feel like a total dimwit when you first started playing, you soon realized after some levels, the game had a lot more to offer. Let's just call it an uncut janky gem.

Oussebon: The Gothic series. Gothic 2 and 3 are both very special to me, and are unquestionable janklords. Gothic 3 was a true open-world adventure, which had it not released 1) badly broken and 2) in the same year as Oblivion (ouch) could have been memorable well beyond the fanbase. Instead, despite an expansion, it let the franchise slip into obscurity. It also needed extensive community patches beyond what the developers patches to make it fully playable - addressing larger scale issues than those tackled by even USLEEP for Skyrim.

Gothic 2, though divided into chapters like the first game, offered great freedom exploring the world within each chapter and really encouraged you to find your own path. I'll pin the jank mostly on the combat, though that may be just because I suck at it :)

I never got far into the Risen series, also by Piranha Bytes. And the release of Elex 2-3 years ago showed there is, unfortunately, still such a thing as a "Piranha Bytes game"; a label they badly need to break free from. i.e. Jankfest whose vision outstripped its execution.

Zoid: As others have said, [Insert Bethesda RPGs Here] are always bug fests, but endearing nonetheless.

I think my favorite janky game is Kerbal Space Program. Was it a little rough around the edges? Absolutely. But its flaws just added to its character. Did you not reinforce your rocket enough? Noodle-rocket time! And of course, there always loomed the threat of the Deep Space Kraken striking when you least expected it, which became so beloved (though feared) by the community that a Kraken easter egg was actually added into the game.

PC Gamer

Hey folks, beloved mascot Coconut Monkey here representing the collective PC Gamer editorial team, who worked together to write this article! PC Gamer is the global authority on PC games—starting in 1993 with the magazine, and then in 2010 with this website you're currently reading. We have writers across the US, UK and Australia, who you can read about here.