There are a few games that I really enjoy and have put over a hundred hours into, but I’ve never actually beaten. These hours have been accumulated over multiple playthroughs and while I may know how some of these games end, I’ve haven’t made my own way to those endings. This is different than losing interest in a game and not finishing it as a result. It may be tangentially related, I’ve lost interest in my current playthrough, but then why would I want to start again. Wouldn’t I just get back to a similar point of progress and just lose interest again? That would seem to be the case, so what possesses me to keep starting over? I’m hoping a more introspective blog post will help me find out.
There is Something Compelling About the Early Game
Oxygen Not Included is a sandbox colony management simulation game where the player gives orders to these human clones or “duplicants” in an effort to keep them alive. This goal may seem simple and straightforward, but it ends up being dynamic with the frequent addition of smaller connected short term goals such as, the colony needs a food source or our oxygen production has stopped because we’ve run out of algae.
One thing I really like about the game is that worlds are randomly generated upon startup, so that every game is different. A fog of war style mechanic prevents players from seeing parts of the map their duplicants have not been to and as a result there is a lot to discover when playing a new game. Each world has a number of geysers or vents buried beneath various types of rock and it can be exciting to figure out what each one is and how you can use its output to your colony’s advantage.
Another reason I enjoy the early game is that I have played enough to learn and execute a strategic plan or “build order” for it. I know a fairly optimal way to play the early game and running through such a procedure is satisfying to me. It’s almost like it’s a way to demonstrate competence or mastery over skills that I lacked when I first started playing the game. Having proof that one has learned from their mistakes is powerful.
Familiarity Brings Comfort
If I’ve gotten so good at the earlier parts of a game, it could be said that it no longer challenges me. Shouldn’t something that no longer challenges me leave me bored or less interested? Perhaps I don’t replay these games for a challenge, but to do something less mentally taxing, to relax. Darkest Dungeon is a turn-based Role Playing Game about the psychological stresses of adventuring. It is a difficult game that is likely supposed to be the opposite of relaxing.
However, I have played enough of the game to have a good understanding of how the enemies work so that I can plan ahead, and build good party compositions to counter the types of enemies and hazards each dungeon location has to offer. I can play through the early game without feeling the tension that comes from having one or more of your heroes coming close to death, and I’m able to keep the stress levels of both my heroes and myself low.
Will I Ever Finish These Games?
Based on the historical evidence I have, probably not. The later parts of these games get rather challenging and while it is not impossible that I find myself wanting to brave and conquer those challenges, lately the being challenged isn’t really why I play these games. I think that as long as I’m still having fun there is no harm in playing these games in such a way.
There are other games that I’ve played significantly less of that I wonder if I’ll ever come back to and finish those games. Pyre is one such game. I do want to know how the story ends and I’ve yet to spoil it for myself. It’s been so long since I’ve last played it however, that if I do ever come back to it, I know that part of me will consider starting over from the beginning.