In my ongoing quest to complete, or reacquaint myself with, some older games, I've realized that there are a few games in my collection that I've beaten several times. There are some that I've completed enough times that I find myself skipping over dialogue, ignoring plot points, and generally just trying to get to the game play portions, without allowing the rest of the game to interfere. It's a bit disheartening.
Some of these games are stories that I've spent enough hours of time with that I don't need to hear all the dialogue to know what's happening. I ignore side quests if they are not crucial to the plot. Having already played certain pieces of downloadable content and unlocked the correlating achievements, I don't bother replaying those segments of the game.
I started to wonder: how many times will I play a game until I finally just put it aside and say either 'not now, maybe later this year' or 'never again.'
So what is it that makes a game worth having repeated play throughs?
It's a question that I've had for some time now. How many times will you, as a gamer, play through a game that you like? Now there are a few games that I've played at least a dozen times; these are games that I find near and dear to my gamer heart, so I'll keep them around, even if they are likely to never see the inside of my console system again.
In the case of Mass Effect, I took several characters through the first game, with enough custom characters to launch a brutal counter military effort several times over. Mass Effect, though, is one of those games that has ended up in the 'never again' pile. I know the story inside and out. I don't feel that I need to play it again. I had a great run with this series, and it has a pretty high place on my list of The Best Games, were I the type to keep such a list, but as of now, it's been piled with its fellow games such as Fable 2 and God of War.
Then, there are games that I also find fantastic, but feel are worthy of only one play through. As much as I loved the Gears of War games, I was not a multiplayer fan at the time, and so only did the single player campaigns. While I found them compelling games, I did not find myself wanting to play through the single player portions again. Those games ended up being traded in for other games over the years.
So games fall into two camps for me: the 'never agains' and the 'maybe laters'. Then, there's another camp, the 'I really want to, but I just can't do it again' stash.
There is one game, Eternal Sonata, that I really do love as a game. I've completed it once, and attempted to play it a second time on numerous occasions. It's a beautiful game, designed with bright colors, beautiful music, a creative use of light and darkness in the combat system, and a deep, complicated story. So why haven't I been able to get past that second run?
I don't know. It's not the first time that a game that I loved didn't grab my attention as strongly the second go around. I had the same thing happen with Dragon Age: Awakening, even though Dragon Age: Origins made me immediately want to start a new character. Awakening did not make me want to play it a second time. I eventually did complete a second run, but it was a considerable amount of time later.
So what about you, readers and fellow gamers?
What makes you want to keep playing some games and walk away from others? What do you, personally, find compels you to keep playing? Narrative and characters are great motivators, but they don't always make you want to engage in a second campaign. A great combat system is great, but it can't always promise to hold your attention as strongly during the second round.
I imagine some people complete a game once, trade it in, and never give it a second thought. I know when I pay for a game, I want to believe that I'll get my money's worth out of it, so I hope for at least two or three play-throughs.
So what do you think? What makes you stick with some games and discard others? What do you look for in a game to make it worth replaying? Does replay have a value in this age of video games? Is it something that gamers even want?
It might seem odd to be asking the questions, but I want to know what people think. With all the discussion lately about the used game market, and, quite frankly, its importance to us gamers on a financial and economic level, I want to know why some games are worth keeping, and others are worth passing on. Tell me your thoughts.
Serious Infotainment runs on Mondays.