Video games need to notice when we haven’t loaded them up for a while

Have you ever gone back to a game that you dropped for whatever reason, and you just can’t make heads or tails of what is going on? You can’t remember the story, or why you were right on the edge of a map in some really dangerous place. The first enemy you encounter absolutely destroys you because you hit a button that you thought was the light attack, but it was light attack in the last game you played, not this one.

Some games have little load screen memory prompts, or you can open a section called The Story So Far that can help get you back up to speed on what was happening and why you were heading into the badlands. The sad thing is that feature in games is pretty rare. Some games don’t even have a quest log or any reminder of what you were doing.

But the worst is trying to remember all the controls. Sometimes it feels like the best way forward is to start the whole game over again, because at least the game will teach you the ropes in a fresh game.

There are many ways games could do this. On-screen prompts of button presses to do various things, or a little training room that helps you back on that bicycle once again. You could start a new game, but is the solution really to lose all those hours of progress? I guess it depends on how much of the story you remember.

It doesn’t help if the place you left off was in the later stages of the game. Games have a habit of training you as you play the early levels, ramping up difficulty and complexity over time as you get used to certain movements, patterns and the like. Some of my old saves are right before an uber boss. Maybe I should stop making my last save be in that situation.

I have this issue with Breath of the Wild. I played the game ages ago, promising to go back to explore more after some time away. But each time I have an open gap and a desire to go spend some time with Link, I hesitate… There was so much you could do in this game, and that you learnt by messing around or someone posted a video on Twitter. I can’t remember the controls at all and I don’t want to load up the game just to completely suck at it.

So even though I have the DLC sitting waiting for me on my Switch, I skip over it and play something else. Something familiar. Because I’m worried about how awkward everything is going to be as a readjust to the controls and remember how it all works.

It sure would be grand if games could help me through this stage of coming back to a game. But maybe I just need to rip that band-aid off and enjoy relearning things? Sounds crazy, I know.

If it has the letters RPG in it, I am there. Still battling with balancing trying to play every single game that grabs my interest, getting 100% in a JRPG, and devoting time to my second home in Azeroth.

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