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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I've been so flustered trying to get back into shelved games that I've said, "screw it, I'll start over." Sometimes there's just no other way. I like how most games include manuals in the menus now, so you can just skim through and hopefully get back in the right mindset. Looking through paper manuals is still for noobs, though.
Even when the collector in me goes on sprees and my backlog gets atrocious, I try to limit myself to switching between two games at a time, preferably in different genres, and I usually have one goto multiplayer game. I've learned the hard way it's not a good idea to let a game sit for too long when you're in the middle of it, and if you absolutely have too make sure you're at a point where it's easy to pick back up. Stopping in the middle of a dungeon... never a good idea.
Luckily I dont usually have to deal with that problem.Cause no matter how much i want to start a new game, I will stick with it until im done..I will always have one main story driven game and ill juggle a fps or racing game since both of those usually always play the same.But just cause i wont start a new game doesnt mean i wont buy them at launch to help the developer.Sadly i have Far Cry 3 and ACIII ..Just sitting there with plastic still on them waiting to get into rotation.DAMN YOU BATTLEFIELD!!!U TAKE UP TOO MUCH OF MY IME LOL..Hey and before anybody talks ***..I didnt pay $50 for premium to not do all my objectives regardless if i dont use camos or change my mayan dog tag..Plus i work all week so i only get to play once or twice a week on the weekends..so hopefully i get to start a new game soon..cuz more ARE COMING!
For me, when ever I return to an old game my issue is that I forget how to do some of the special attacks or use the controls and it takes me time to adjust. A lot of the time I simply start over so that I can get a refresher.
I can't play like that man... i need to finish the game before i start the other... but i have the same issue with Darksiders II...
I do this all the time! That's why I only have a few finished games in my collection!
I hate it when that happens. It seems like this has happened to me a lot lately. I still have yet to finish AC III, Black Ops II, Skyrim DLC, Borderlands 2, Pokemon Black 2 and I still want to go back and beat Red Dead Redemption at some point, but it seems like I'm always distracted with a new game or just don't have time to finish one. The next big game I'm looking forward to is Bioshock Infinite so hopefully I will have time to finish all of these great games by then.
And it all seems so contradictory - after all, we know that the games won't 'spoil' and will only get cheaper with time. We could buy one game at $60 in September, buy another (from September) for $40 in October, another in November (from October) for $30-$40, etc. Too much "id" for our own good.
I usually try to finish a game before I start another but sometimes I get so excited about a new game and I can't wait to play. Right now I can't stop playing NBA 2K13's my player mode so that I can finish Mass Effect 3 plus the DLC and Resident Evil 6. Then after that I want to get the first Mass Effect and play that before all the big releases of this year.
very valid point. Which is why it seems every game I have played has never been finished, I just have thousands of characters listed.
I will say it seems shorter games are the most likely to be completed compared to say Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim which seems to never end. I suppose my point is that the shorter the game is the more likely you are to finish it, and since I play mostly RPG's I never finish what I started except Dishonored, there I am at the very last mission.
This article is so true. I have a slew of 2012 games like Borderlands 2, Dishonored, AC3 and Halo 4 that are soon to be left behind for the 2013 crop. However, the great thing about games is there stories wait to be discovered.
This happens to me quite a bit. I have yet to finish Arkham City and it's killing me. I have Dishonored staring me down and I just finish Darksiders 2. I hate when it gets to he point where I haven't played in so long that I forget the controls.
Sorry, did the article stop talking about Lords of Shadow ? :D
I remember having a similar problem with Arkham City when the Harley Quinn's Revenge DLC came out. I loved Arkham City back when it was first released but when I tried to jump back in nearly seven months later to play through Harley Quinn's Revenge, I was so ashamed at myself for how badly enemies were clobbering me.
I picked up Darksiders II back in November when it was on sale on Steam but sadly there's been so many other games demanding my attention (Assassin's Creed III, Halo 4, and Guild Wars 2 to name a few) I think I'm *maybe* one third of the way through it, if that.
I also feel really bad because my brother got me Dishonored for Xbox 360 for Christmas and I've barely touched it despite pouring hours and hours into my 360 copies of Halo 4, Assassin's Creed III, and DmC: Devil May Cry.
The same thing happened to me with Darksiders II! I can barely remember the controls at all! That said, I was fine with Arkham City, because the controls are simple and fluid, so I was fine.
I was just talking about this with a friend. My backlog is deep and I'm going to have this problem quite a few times in the upcoming weeks
Great article. I find myself in this exact predicament right now. Funny too as it is with Castlevania: LOS too! Wanted to get past AC revelations and 3 and now that that debacle is over moving on to LOS. Heard the ending is great so looking forward to it.
Trying to catch up on past games is a chore itslef sometimes. I don't know if I'll ever get back Mirror's Edge.
I generally avoid putting games down in the middle (unless it sucks) and if I do I have the preconceived notion that if I ever pick it back up, I'll start over (not because I won't know how to play, but I'll have forgotten everything about the story and why I am doing the things I'm doing). This generally leads to me either never stopping half-way through a game, or never playing it again (sorry Dark Souls).