We all know that the last two years have been particularly good on the gaming front. With the release of the Nintendo Switch, the PS4’s excellent offerings of late, the sheer graphical prowess of the XBox One X and the consistency and variety of PC titles we have been spoiled for choice with some excellent games. Not only have the big players produced titles that have been rated highly among reviewers and players alike – Breath of the Wild, God of War and Mario Odyssey – to mention but a few, but with both Steam and Switch becoming havens for Indie developers, we have recently got some gems in that sphere too.
There is so much to try, so much to like that we just don’t seem to have the time to tackle all the games we want to. So what many of us are forced to do is zero in on the games that are supposed to be “good”; those have been reviewed and received high scores or at least are getting a lot of buzz in the media. However, what happens reasonably often is that something in these so-called “good” or even “great” games just does not work for you personally. Here are my top five picks as to why a good game loses you…
The sheer scale of some games
Many of us today have school, exams, work, families, taxes and more. Hence, the time we can devote to our favourite pastimes may be diminishing and we need to get picky. As much as many of us would love to tackle the massive AAA titles or head into a strangely wonderful world of a detailed JRPG – the sheer scale of these worlds and the time needed to complete them may mean these games just won’t work for you.
One of my favourite websites to visit is howlongtobeat.com. Here a breakdown of the average time to complete the main story of a game, complete it with extras, or 100% it is given. According to the site, many popular titles require a heavy time investment eg. Breath of the Wild (46 hours main story, 175 hours to 100%), God of War (19 hours main story, 50 hours to 100%), The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (32 hours main story, 224 hours to 100%), Persona 5 (95 hours main story, 163 hours to 100%).
This is one that doesn’t often come up in bigger, popular titles since controls are a very important part of enjoyable gameplay, but every now and again this issue still pops up. Plus, even if controls are not generally considered ‘bad’, it may be that for you, for some reason, they just don’t work. Games from the era when 3D platformers were starting out are particularly guilty of this. Super Mario Sunshine, Mass Effect and even Shadow of the Colossus have all been accused of this issue, and it may be a reason you gave up on these games.
Of course, many good games aren’t really about the story. Some games are all about the sheer fun of travelling in a new world, defeating the generic bad guys or winning the race. However, many of your blockbuster one-player titles, the ones you will probably be sinking much of your playtime into, are really only considered great if they have a good plot and a likeable, or at least believable, protagonist. A good story moves the game forward, gives meaning to your actions and goals of the game and keeps you thinking about it long after you have completed it. Some games, however, just lack this – many sequels fall into this category. Either the story is shallow, or worse, just plain non-existent. Or maybe you personally just don’t connect with the characters, their motivations or the general direction of the plot. In the worst of cases when this happens… bye bye completion.
Fits of frustration
Many of us love a challenge. As fun as games involving Kirby are, if we’ve set the time to play a game, often we want to enjoy actually feeling like we’ve accomplished something when we complete a level. It’s always a bit of a juggling act to handle the level of difficulty in a game, and when players feel that the developer got it wrong they are likely to let them know and do so loudly. Dark Souls is probably the most well-known recent example of difficulty discussion, but there are many “good” games that developers have purposefully made more difficult than average. Early NES and SNES games probably fall into this category. Once players master the difficulty (usually by playing through the infinite deaths), accomplishments feel more satisfactory, but many players just will not get past the initial difficulty barrier. In those cases, games like Super Meat Boy, F-Zero GX and Cuphead (despite their ardent fanbase) are more likely to cause thrown controls and screams of desperation than a serene sense of masterful accomplishment.
Now in a world with Apple Music, Spotify and the like, odds are that even a really terrible soundtrack may not make you give up on a great game, especially if the other elements are good. Throw on some headphones and you can rock-on to any melody your heart desires. However, good soundtracks can really help with the tone and feeling of a game. And odds are, if you love music and enjoy discovering what the sound engineers did to add to the game and find nothing but repetitive, uninspired tones, you may be more than a little disappointed. Plus, if other elements of the game are not fantastic, a bad soundtrack may just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and gets you looking for something more substantial.
So those were my five picks… did I miss any? Let us know in the comments section below what issue came up that made you give up on a “good” game.