Recently, I’ve been thinking about games I just don’t have the energy to finish. Coincidentally, Mark Brown posted a pretty neat video about how games structure themselves to keep players engaged. And sure, there are plenty of games that have structural problems that make them less engaging. And sometimes with competitive games, like DotA (my case), you just had your time with it and aren’t really going to ever sink your teeth in the same way again. But I’ve also found that, sometimes, I just run out of momentum in a game and never really come back.
For me, three games I recently tried come to mind as standouts, and kind of symbolize the major reasons I feel I will drop a game.
Pillars of Eternity. I got all the way to Act III of this game (of three total acts!), but so far I haven’t gone back to finish it up. The truth is, I realized far too late that it’s just not my kind of game. I’m not a big fan of traditional fantasy, and the gameplay and story just weren’t unique enough to pull me in. Maybe I’ll go back one day. But this was a game that just wasn’t for me in the end.
Thief. A classic, a brilliant game, with an emphasis on pure stealth and emergent play that is absolutely my style. Yes, it’s clunky as all hell, and yes, it looks awful even by standards of the time, but it still clicked with me. The problem? I got lost. I got to the level “Thieves’ Guild”, and I got lost. I got so lost I started getting motion sick from the circles I was running in. I got so lost that even a walkthrough couldn’t get me out. It’s a shame, because I really was having a lot of fun, but I just simply couldn’t get out.
Hollow Knight. It’s a fantastic game, with gorgeous visuals and smart design. The world is original and fascinating. It’s also a Metroidvania, which is one of my pet favorites. So what stopped me? I honestly can’t say. I was having a blast, but I could never bring myself to open the game back up again after I had left it for about a week. I loved the experience, but I eventually uninstalled it to save up space. I can’t really explain why; maybe it was just because I lost momentum, but… I just haven’t gone back.
What about you? What games do you find that you just never finished or stopped playing? Was it a narrative problem? Did you get stuck? Did it drop in quality at a certain point? Are there other reasons for you? Or have you similarly stopped playing for no clear reason at all? Why do you find that you just stop playing a given game?