Maybe Give That Game Another Chance – Gaming Thoughts

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As I’ve grown older, I find it harder and harder to get into brand new games. This is certainly accurate when compared to my youth, but in fairness a lot has changed since then. This is true both of myself and video games as a whole. Old arcade cabinets and early Atari titles had a very low barrier of entry. You move around your spaceship and avoid getting hit while trying to shoot the enemies. Throw a quarter into Double Dragon, and you know that you’re supposed to move from left to right, punching the bad guys that are trying to punch you. NES titles could be beaten in under an hour once you took the time to memorize levels or enemy patterns.

These are all blanket statements that of course aren’t 100% true, but in general gaming has gotten harder. Gone are one or two button controllers. Instead, most games have no less than seven inputs to master. With this comes deep and often satisfying gameplay elements, but they take a different kind of mastery than jumping into the fire and just learning the bullet patterns of opposing ships.

As I mentioned though, it’s not just the games that have changed. My reflexes are not as good as they were twenty years ago. I have a full-time job and a lot more responsibilities than I did as a kid on summer break. I simply have less physical energy than I once did. I also have more money, which means I have more games to choose from. I used to go to video rental stores (remember those?) to grab a game for two nights, and I had to make the most of those two nights to try and beat it. Or to at least figure out if I liked it enough to buy later and add to my collection of maybe fifteen or so games. Now? My steam account passed 1,000 titles years ago, and I have consoles on top of that.

All of these things have led to an interesting observation I’ve made about myself: if a game doesn’t hook me right away? I may just try a different one instead of really giving it a chance. Far too often, it seems me slipping back to games I already know or are comfortable with. While that’s not a bad thing necessarily, it can lead to missed opportunities.

I got on this topic the other day with my daughter. She saw me playing Mass Effect somewhat recently, and she mentioned how she liked the game, but never played any of them beyond the first. That’s when I told her about how she at least got through Mass Effect on her first try. When I first played it? I gave up on it. In retrospect, that seems crazy, right? Anyone who has read my articles over the years likely knows I consider the Mass Effect trilogy among my favorite series of games ever. I recently scored the Legendary Edition of the trilogy a 9 out of 10.

And I nearly never played those next two games. 

Why? It’s hard to say, to be honest. It’s been more than fifteen years since it happened now. It was not a hard game. I don’t recall disliking it in any notable way at the time. But conversely? I just… didn’t like it either. I had a lot going on with life at the time. I had started a new job, in a new city. My kids were small, I was trying to make ends meet and I was just tired most of the time when I came home from work. I had small children, a wife and plenty of other commitments. Video game time was hard to come by back then, and when I did play, it seemed I wanted something easy and familiar. I would go back to World of Warcraft or maybe the latest fighting game. Mass Effect was a bit different, and I picked it up based on the glowing reviews at the time. I was a fan of previous BioWare PC games (especially Dungeons & Dragons ones).

So, I sat down to play it one afternoon. I progressed to the first world. It did not impress me all that much, something or other came up, so I saved it and quit – and just didn’t come back to it. Not until several months later, maybe even close to a year later. I’m not entirely sure what changed. Maybe because I was more comfortable with the no-longer-new job, or the kids were a bit older and better settled in, or maybe I just happened upon a very slow weekend where I had more time than usual to do what I wanted.

Either which way, I fired up Mass Effect again, from scratch. I wanted to give it another shot – and well, boy am I glad that I did. I loved the game, and the further I got into it, the harder it was for me to put down the controller. In fact, after beating it as a paragon the first time, I immediately restarted it to do another go with the renegade path, just to see how things would differ along the way.

After I explained this to my daughter, we began to talk about other games that had failed to initially click for us. She called out Slime Rancher in particular. Here was a game she said she just thought was stupid the first time she played it. I had it on the Xbox 360 as a freebie gold title, and she was bored one day and thumbing through games looking for something she would like. She then later said a friend recommended she play it, and when my daughter said she had and didn’t like it, her friend insisted she give it another shot. For whatever reason, it stuck that time. She sunk dozens of hours and first day of release purchased Slime Rancher 2 and has over a hundred hours into that one as well now.

I then began to think back over the years about some of the games I had initially been annoyed with. Demon’s Souls due to its difficulty. Suikoden games that sometimes take an hour or so to get into any of the gameplay elements. Sometimes a game like No Man’s Sky simply got better after release due to the development team giving it more updates. Darkest Dungeon was weirdly confusing to me the first time I played it as a Game Pass title on Xbox, and I gave up on it almost right away. I recently picked it up on PlayStation stupidly cheap and for some reason I can’t explain, it just clicked for me this time and I have well over fifty hours into it now.

So, my proposal here? Find a game or two you gave up on that you really thought you would like. Maybe it still won’t click. Maybe you’ll find that your situation has improved, or maybe the game itself has improved and you may just very well discover a new favorite instead of a previous disappointment. This doesn’t work for every game, obviously. I’ve certainly stuck with a game longer than it deserved (I’m looking at you Mass Effect Andromeda and Dead Space 3), and some games you play and simply realize they are not for you. I had that experience not so long ago with Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance. I was so excited for that one… until I played it.

That being said, maybe there’s a Mass Effect in your catalog that deserves a second chance?

Article by Nick


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