The credits end. You set down the controller, the moments of the final cutscene and boss still lingering in your mind. Wiping your hands of sweat, you think back to the adventure, the journey you've just undertaken, either fondly or groaning in relief.

This is a familiar scene to you(hopefully, at least), the ending of a video game, either good or bad. However, sometimes, you don't immediately turn off the console; you might start a New Game +, or the game on a harder difficulty. Or you launch into a post-game world, where there are more quests/areas to discover. In any case, I think there are two questions when you buy a video game(usually-this applies to most games I buy);

  1. Will I enjoy playing through this game?
  2. Will I play this game again?

This second question is one I'm addressing today-replayability in games. Once the credits roll, are you done with the game, or are you ready to dive back into the world you've just experienced?  I've had this feeling with several games I've played, and I'm going to look at why I did so, in order to show you what games I do do this with, as well as looking at a topic that many people see as important in a game(it is in the side bar of the GameInformer reviews).

First, here's a list of games that I have spent much time in, and/or have replayed often:

  • Dead Space: 4-5 playthroughs, ~60 hours
  • Dead Space 2: 6-7 playthroughs, ~45 hours
  • The Ace Attorney Series: 3-10 playthroughs of various games, ~70 hours overall
  • Pokemon Ranger: Shadows of Almia: 3-4 playthroughs, ~40 hours
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: 3-4 playthroughs, ~200 hours
  • Alan Wake: 3-4 playthroughs, ~25 hours
  • Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days: 3 playthroughs, ~50 hours
  • The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass: 2-3 playthroughs, ~50 hours
  • Pokemon Diamond: Pokedex near completed, ~400 hours
  • Left 4 Dead 2: ~870 hours

Looking at this list, I think I can group these games into several categories, which show the certain ways that games can entice you to keep playing after the credits.

Story(The Ace Attorney series, Alan Wake)

The Ace Attorney series is a great example of a series that is easy to go back into to experience the story. Each game can be beaten in about 10 hours, but I don't think they're one time playthrough games. I've gone back and beaten the very first game multiple times, to watch the game unfold and the downfall of Manfred von Karma.

As for Alan Wake, the game's amazing set pieces and storytelling pulled me back more than once, enough even to buy it again when it came out on PC. If a game's story is so solid and unique, and is able to be experienced in a short amount of time(if you know how to beat the game quickly), I think it greatly adds to the replay value of the game.

Collect-a-thons(The Pokemon Series)

Pokemon is a series that most people do not put down after the Elite Four have been taken down-they continue on to level up their Pokemon, and explore post-game areas. After my long hiatus between Pokemon games(my first was FireRed, and I didn't play again till Diamond), and discovering how many new Pokemon there were in Diamond inspired me to do what most people achieve to: "catch-'em-all". I nearly did so, too-my Diamond save file has I believe 473/493, with all of those caught, and only 20 left to get. Unfortunately, I've never been inspired to do so in the newer games, as I really didn't like SoulSilver or Black. However, the fact that I sunk almost 400 hours into Diamond does demonstrate that, when you fall in love with a game with this many things to collect, it can get you sucked in.

I also did this with Pokemon Ranger: Shadows of Almia. I collected every single Pokemon in the game more than once, as the game became so easy and quick after the first playthrough that I felt like going back and experiencing it again. 

Gameplay(Dead Space 1+2, 358/2)

Dead Space 1 and 2 have some of the most satisfying gameplay I have ever seen. The games are very well paced, with a unique, easy to grasp concept for how to kill enemies. The large number of weapons is especially awesome-do you want to dismember them, burn them, or pin them to walls? Anyways, I loved them both a lot, and by replaying multiple times, I was able to get tons of power nodes and upgrade all of my favorite weapons enough to kill the final boss in about 30 seconds on normal difficulty. I will probably replay Dead Space 3 a lot too, if it's gameplay holds up as well as the first two.

Also, the first Kingdom Hearts for DS had an amazing panel system: you would acquire panels for completing missions, as well as buying them, and they granted you magic, certain abilities, and Keyblades during missions. I loved the system a lot, enough to 100% the game twice, because I loved to build this awesome arrangement of panels that made Roxas a boss.

The Sheer Amount of Content, and World(L4D2, Twilight Princess, Phantom Hourglass)

Left 4 Dead 2 itself is an amazing game, my most played of all time. It has so many different modes of playing, from Scavenge to Survival, which are enough to make someone come back for hours. Also, what adds even more are the mods the Steam community has offered to the game: if you own this game, and haven't looked at them, you're really missing out. There's everything, from campaigns based on Zelda and Mario, to a recreation of the entirety of Silent Hill, to a map where you build a rocket. If that's not enough to keep you for 800 hours like me...well, there's this.

And as for the Zelda series....there's a lot of content in them, with so much world to explore, that I couldn't help but go back. Also, Hyrule is so enticing, with an amazing world, and great cast of characters, that I just love to go back and experience the content in that world again. Though, some people would say Skyrim fits this bill well-it didn't for me. I felt there WAS content..but..I had no incentive to go do all of it-why would I? It wasn't very fun any way, so why would I continue?

So really, I feel like the replay value of a game can come from a lot of places-how you receive the story, the content, or gameplay. It all depends on the person, and the game.

I'll leave you with this today;