I Quit: Why I Stopped Playing A Bunch Of Games In 2015
When you play a lot of games, it also means that you stop playing a lot of games, too. Sometimes it’s because you finish the campaign and there’s nothing else to do. Other times, the round is over and it’s time for bed. Then there are those other times where you just have to put the controller down – out of rage, frustration, boredom, or some combination thereof. That last scenario certainly happened to me several times over the course of 2015. Here are some of the reasons I gave up.
Nearly everyone I’ve talked to about Undertale raves about the game. Well, almost everyone. I caved in and bought the game, and ended up playing for about half an hour. Then I accidentally killed an enemy instead of sparing it, thanks to an overzealous attempt to skip through some text. The game’s gimmick is that it’s apparently possible to play through it without killing anything, and that you get the best ending by taking that route. After that mistaken kill, I shut it down. Sure, I can play through it, get another ending, and then watch the best one on YouTube, but that seems completely unsatisfying. Almost as unsatisfying as playing through the first 30 minutes all over again. I’ll wait a few months and give it another shot. For the time being, I don’t want to slog through that opening again.
Soma is a disorienting experience, which is part of why it’s so great. Unfortunately for people like me, who get lost quite easily, that sense of mystery can quickly spiral into frustration. My first real Soma session ended that way, as I slowly walked in circles in the murky waters on the ocean floor. I hadn’t quite locked into the game’s navigational cues, and after staggering around for a while I eventually moved on to something else. People around the office wouldn’t stop raving about the game’s story though (notice a pattern?), and I dove in again. This time, I lucked out, and headed toward the correct bearing like a homing torpedo. I’m glad that I did go back to it; it ended up being one of my favorite games of the year, even in spite of my early undersea meanderings.
Father Gascoigne is a notorious early hurdle for the early Bloodborne experience, and he blocked me like a brick wall. I managed to get through the Cleric Beast easily enough, but Mr. Gascoigne was a different beast altogether. After getting smoked by him the first time, I ended up doing an embarrassing amount of grinding to help improve my odds. That didn’t seem to do a whole lot, and I ended up shutting down my PS4 after Father Gascoigne slammed me to the cobblestone four times in a row. I did exactly one angry lap around my living room before firing up the console again, giving it another shot, and knocking that jerk flat on his ass. That was easily the shortest period of give-up time I had last year, and it seemed that it actually helped my cause. Later, I learned that Dan Tack posted this thing. If I’d read it before, the battle probably wouldn’t have been as tough. Live and learn.
I was looking forward to Fallout 4 since it was announced, and I fired it up on launch day. It didn’t leave the best first impression, and I shifted my attention over to Rise of the Tomb Raider – which shared a release date. Lara Croft’s latest adventure did a much better job of grabbing my focus from the get-go, and I blasted through the game. I did return to the wasteland, and I had a fantastic time with it. Still, those early moments landed with a thud. I didn’t care much for Fallout 4’s setup, and found all the poorly explained additions overwhelming.
Life is Strange
Dontnod’s episodic adventure is another that ended up being a favorite, in spite of an early stumble. That came in the game’s second chapter, where Max has to track down five empty beer bottles in a junkyard. I was thoroughly engaged in the story, and this fetch quest dragged the momentum straight down. After wandering around for a while, I gave up. Once again, I’m glad I went back. The second time, I was more methodical, and I made a slow sweep through the place. It didn’t make collecting those stupid things any more fun, but it made it easier. Fortunately, the bottle section is the low point in the entire five-episode experience – so much so that it’s used as a joke near the game’s end. That doesn’t necessarily excuse it, but at least it didn’t make me feel alone in hating that part.
It seems like I spent the majority of 2015 deep in one open world or another. I stopped playing Mad Max because I was paralyzed by all the collecting, hadn't quite locked into how the layered systems worked together, and was generally overwhelmed. I had a hard time walking past all the precious scrap that I encountered, which slowed my progress to a crawl. Over the break, I did return to the wasteland, and I've been having a great time with it. The biggest thing was prioritizing things – clearing out the strongholds first seems to be generating enough scrap revenue to where I don't need to feel badly when I whiz past all those scavenging icons.
Ori and the Blind Forest
I gave up on this one twice. The first time, something screwy happened with my save game, and I lost five hours of progress. A few months later, I swallowed my rage and gave it another try. I got to the part where Ori has to race up a thorn-filled tree that’s filling up with some kind of deadly fluid/fire/lava/I forget. It took about a million tries, but I did make it safely out, and then immediately put the controller down. Supposedly that’s one of the game’s hardest parts. Maybe I’ll be able to confirm that someday.
My oldest son had a friend over a few weeks ago, and they wanted to play video games. Sweet! Our guest’s suggestion? Why, Monopoly Plus, of course. Guh? The three of us lasted about 45 minutes, when the thimble had to go home. We saved our progress, but I can guarantee that we’re not going to be doing that one again. “The TV is broken or something.”