The lights are on
It happens every year: an avalanche of games appears during the last three months of the calendar, and all you can do to get a taste of everything is jump from game to game. Unfinished games from earlier in the year get dropped for the title you have been most excited for, and then that game gets dropped for something else, and then you remember that you should probably get some sleep.
I picked up Darksiders II the day it came out, excited to begin exploring dungeons and take on the role of Death in a strange fantastic world. I played up to the last few dungeons, but then every huge game of 2012 came out. I started a Borderlands 2 game, but put it down in favor of Dishonored, and then put that down in favor of Assassin’s Creed III, never fully completing anything until later. By the time I got back to Darksiders II, I had a time-traveling portal gun in my hand, and I was in the middle of a dungeon with absolutely no idea of what to do or where to go. All the combos I had learned had disappeared from memory, and the only thing I could do to complete my objective was restart my mental map of the dungeon from the middle.
It’s a strange phenomenon restarting a game that you are already halfway through playing. From the perspective of your in-game enemies, it’s as though you are suddenly and inexplicably struck with amnesia. Where Death was once a deadly force of violence and clear motivation, he suddenly becomes a lost and confused child who barely knows how to swing a scythe.
This is a problem I also run into with DLC. Batman: Arkham City released its Harley Quinn’s Revenge DLC nearly seven months after the games’ release. Any excuse to jump back into Arkham City was one I was ready to pounce on, but when I re-entered, I could barely pull off a combo.
In the case of dropping games and picking them back up later, that’s my own fault, but with DLC, I don’t think it would be out of line to request a quick refresher course. I don’t want to play the opening tutorials of a game over, but I don’t think on an on-screen text prompt shouting, “Hey idiot! How about you try hitting the Y button when you see those little electric bolts appear over an enemy’s head?” would be too much to ask for.
Alternatively, I often wish there was the exact opposite of a refresher course for games I am obsessively familiar with. During the opening hours of games like The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Pokémon Black and White 2, I want the option to tell the game that I have done this before. I know Link will jump automatically when I walk off the edge of a platform. You don’t need to tell me, and you certainly don’t need to force me try it out. Also, while we’re on the topic, I am fully aware that the left analog stick moves the character. The input on the left side of the controller has always moved the character, and I don’t think I am going out on a limb to assume that it always will.
In rare occasions, putting a game down and returning to it later has actually been a huge advantage. I am a big fan of Mercury Steam’s Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, but if you had asked for my feedback during the introductory hours of the game you would have gotten a negative response. The game’s opening levels are the weakest part, and when it came out in 2010, I was more than happy to put it down after literally slogging my way through a swamp in the second chapter. After a break, I came back to the game with a fresh start, and had trouble putting it down. Even when Dead Space 2 released shortly after I restarted my Castlevania journey, I found myself continuing with Gabriel’s task. I don’t know if I had been so enamored with the game if I hadn’t given myself a chance move away from it for a few weeks.
When I return to these games after a few weeks of not playing and find myself completely lost, I consider the idea of necessary redirection. It’s a difficult line to walk. Too much direction, and playing the game feels more like you’re filling in the blanks with predetermined answers rather than participating in an interactive experience. Too little direction, and you find yourself shooting Death’s Voidwalker at random portal points hoping for an epiphany of understanding. Maybe the real answer is to just release fewer games during the last three months of the year and let me finish what I start with flashing something new and shiny in my face that I can’t say no to.
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This happens to me a lot, considering the games are in my boyfriend's house. Borderlands 2 is also one of the games I'm scared to go back at.
This happens to me sometimes too. I remember playing FF8 quite a few years ago then I put it down after being completely destroyed by the last boss. Then when I sent my PS3 off to get fixed I decided to dust off the old PS2 to finish it up. I had completely forgotten the plot, the characters, the battle system, the draw system, and pretty much everything else. It took quite a while for me to figure out what to do to get back on track.
I feel you! I have a ridiculously extensive backlog of games that I'm about halfway thru on each game. Sleeping dogs, darksiders 2, silent hill downpour, ac 3 far cry 3, too many to list really. I hate that I buy the games then cannot afford the time to put into them. At least I always get good deals on the games I do buy, but I need to learn to just wait and try to finish a few of these games I have before moving on to the new stuff.
Its not like those newer games are going anywhere.
A had a 100% exact same experience with Lords of Shadow. Went "meh" after 3 hours, came back over a year later and couldn't put it down. Amazing stuff.
Wonderful feature Kyle. I truly enjoyed your take on picking up a game after taking weeks to months off from it!
This happened to me when I purchased Far Cry 3,, Silent Hill and Syphon Flter:The Omega Strain, all at the same time. This is one of my favorite problems though, which great game to play first?
Me too! I'm nearly done w/ Uncharted 3 (been over a year now), Dead Space 2(even worse than UC3 time wise), Far Cry 3 (near the end stage), 1/4 of the way through AC3, on the final stage of MW3 (since release window), meandering through Borderlands 2 very rarely, Darksiders II about 50%, and don't even get me started on Skyrim.
Did this with The Witcher 2. Had it for almost a year now.
lmao batman arkham city.......i could not for the life of me play after i took a break from it
I feel ya. I try to play and beat one game at a time just for this reason but its hard when theres so many. I definitely find myself hesitant to go back to a game after a long hiatus but at the same time it kills me to not finish a game. My big one right now is Castlevania Lord of Shadows. Its probably been about 6 months since I've gone back to it and I'm about halfway through it. Someday..someday.
This is the reason I stick to one game at a time. It is hard to drop it and immediately start playing the newest game, but sticking to this tactic allows me to fully enjoy the game I'm playing and not forget where I left off at.
The last sentence. I've been hoping for this for years. I have the exact same problem, so bad I haven't even finished most of my favorite games of all time. Sorry Final Fantasy X and Ratchet & Clank :( I still don't really understand why publishers find it necessary to all release their games within a month of another big release. There is sooooooo much time during the year when I have nothing to do! But instead they release all of this amazing stuff right as I start school every year. Its cruel T_T
This is why I play games one at a time, to enjoy the experience of all of them at once. When I had Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Halo CE Anniversary and Arkham City, I just played them one at a time and enjoyed them all. And that's why I hate Steam Sales, they screw around with me until I have 15 great games for less then $10, and instead of playing them all individually, I hop around. D*** you Steam, d*** you. xD
Mostly i finish games that i start i'll play it everyday till im done with it,but every once in awhile this happens to me as well.
This is exactly what happens to me all the time. In RPGs, it's not too bad - just grind a few battles until it comes back to you (and read some Wikipedia plot synopsis up till where you left off) and you're good to go.
But for games with in-depth controls and design, this is killer. I stopped playing Darksiders after awhile too, in THAT game's dungeon with the portal gun, and when I tried to return to it, I forgot what I was doing. I NEVER leave off a "Zelda-like" in the middle of a dungeon now. And games like Ninja Gaiden and DmC, I try to finish in one shot because their combat systems are so intricate, if I walk away, I'll forget all the skills. I got Valkyria Chronicles and XCOM for Christmas, and I KNEW I should only start one because I'd confuse their controls if I tried to do both at the same time. So I played one mission in each to see what was going down, and decided on VC now, XC later. I think I made a good choice.
This was a fun read though, 'cuz it HAS to be a typical problem.
I just picked up Bioshock 2 and Dead Space 2 again and it took me a little bit but I got back into the groove easily.
I love this!!! It took me forever to get back into some games! Thank you! I am glad I am not the only one!
Alan Wake. That is all.