Games you had to just put down, and take a break from

So I was recently thinking about when I started RE7 on its release I found myself pretty scared and getting pretty anxious because of what’s around the next corner. So worked up to the point I had to put down the controller and leave the game for close to 8 months before picking it up and finishing it in two sittings.

Similarly I found myself having to take a break from Valient Hearts at a specific point that was just downright sad. It was one of the first games I bought for my Xbox but I only finished it early this year because its story hit an emotional chord.

So have any games made you put down the controller (not because it’s bad) because it’s just gotten too much for one reason or another?

The Division. The shooting and the progression mechanics seemed pretty cool. And even the community was surprisingly friendly. But the setting was just too bleak and depressing. I just remember moments in the Dark Zone where I’d look down at a small snowy pile my character was standing on, and realize that it was the outline of a frozen corpse under a black tarp. Then looking around and realizing that there were tens of these bodybags neatly lined up along the sidewalk and dusted with snow.

I think the reason that this game struck me is because it wasn’t just showing a terrible apocalyptic disaster like a zombie plague or nuclear war. It showed people trying honestly and earnestly to recover from a disaster and utterly failing. There was an organization and infrastructure set up to recover those bodies. There were people trying their best to recover, grieve, and clean up the city. And there’s nothing you can do to fix it or even improve it. No matter how many missions you complete, how much loot you gather, how many hoodie dudes you gun down, nobody will ever pick up those bodies in the snow.

Especially for an MMO-style game that’s designed to be played daily/weekly over a long period of time, the world was just too depressing for me to want to spend time in. I’ve thought about returning to it, and some of the DLC stuff seems pretty interesting mechanically. But right now, there’s plenty of other games to play, even if I wanted to play an FPS MMO.


I played the game Lifeline, on iOS back around the time it came out. If you haven’t played it, is a kind of chat style adventure game where somehow your phone has been connected with an astronaut that wound up stranded on a strange planet. This person describes their situation and asks for advice on how they should proceed. Give bad advice, and they can wind up dead, or injured.

The goal is to get the person rescued and designed for you to take multiple attempts at it, having to go back to earlier decisions once a past decision had failed. The chats also happen in a simulated real time, so if the person says, should i walk two hours north or two hours south, you won’t find out how your choice plays out until they are done walking and can update you. This means a first time play though can take place over multiple days, sometimes waiting hours to find out if you made the right choice.

Somehow, through pure luck, I got through almost the whole game on my first try without any deaths. I had spent so much time with this one person on one playthrough, feeling their stress. Agonizing with them about where to go, what order to do things in. Finally after what felt like weeks of effort, a rescue ship landed to take my friend away to safety. They just had to run to it. And they fell. 10 feet away from the rescue ship. And watched it leave without them as they died in their spacesuit. I couldn’t bring myself to boot the game up again and figure it out. That to me was just the one, canonical play through of the game. There was no way to go back.


Jesus, that sounds really interesting, I’m Gunna have to look for that in the morning . I don’t blame you for not playing again, that seems like a definitive end for that game.

@blushine I completely get what you mean about The Division. Whilst I didn’t have the same feelings about the bleak setting, because for me the story completely took me out of the enviroment, I can 100% see where you’re coming from. From the broken down infrastructure to the shuffling civilians begging for a chocolate bar it envokes a solid atmosphere.

Dishonored is my big example here. I love the game but the bleakness of the world made me stop playing pretty frequently, sometimes for a few weeks, so it took me a while to beat it. That’s the downside to having such a brilliantly realized dark world.

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Literally every multiplayer game I’ve played, I just can’t deal with the stress of competitive gaming for more than a half-hour at a time.


Ahh that’s a good one, I loved the first game but it was the grim universe that stopped me picking up the second. I’d spent enough time in that world.

@gametehead multiplayer induced anxiety is a whole other ball game. I don’t suffer from any form of anxiety so I can’t comment too much but to me it’s seemingly less to do with story or mechanics and the competitive/social aspect is that the case with yourself?

I put down The Witcher III when I found myself rushing through missions rather than enjoying them. I’m not sure when I will return to explore the last third of the game plus DLC. The desire to see everything got in the way of paying attention to what was already in front of me.

The Last of Us is a game I put down and will never return to. In films and books I can deal with that level of despair but having to inhabit that world for hours at a time made me feel worse so I stopped playing.

The Witcher 3 was one I have completely abondoned for better or for worse. Looking for Dandelion just sucked the air out of the story for me.

Even though you put it down I think it’s a testament to how great that world design really is

I do this out of necessity for most puzzle/adventure games, or anything where I find myself getting stuck and not wanting to use a walkthrough. I generally don’t have a ton of free time for games, so having an entire play session spent staring at a brick wall is pretty draining to me. Dropping a game for a week or so and coming back with fresh eyes usually does the trick. (This got me through all the Myst games and a fair chunk of the LucasArts catalog, jury’s still out on Stephen’s Sausage Roll)

Honestly now that I think about it, I play a lot of stuff “long-term.” I’ve got around 120 hours put into Skyrim over 4 years; every 3 months or so I get an itch that only Bethesda open worlds can scratch, spend an inordinate amount of time on Skyrim until it starts to wear a bit thin, and put it away until next time. It helps with ultra-difficult stuff, too - I have a sort of contract with myself that I can only play Rain World once a day at most, ending the session when I either reach a new shelter or die three times. Playing that game like it’s Dark Souls leads to a lot of frustrating death spirals for me, and forcing myself to cut my losses ensures that it’ll always feel tense and exciting, even in the most absurdly punishing areas. (right now I’m at 12 straight deaths on the first section of the Wall alone. Damn invisible lizards)

Mine is Celeste, it is one of the best games I have played this year, the platforming it tight…it also stresses me out and causes me anxiety (appropriate!). I have played it three times in hour long sessions, just after the wind level. Having anxiety myself, I appreciate the story and the gameplay looking into anxiety…it does take the wind out of me though haha.

Splatoon 2 Octo Expansion. If I didn’t put that DLC down periodically and just take a break from it, I’d lose my damn mind.

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Most of the Soulsborne games fit into this category for me. I really enjoy the gameplay and feel fulfilled when I succeed, but the high anxiety atmosphere doesn’t really make me want to start playing it to unwind.

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Super Mario Odyssey was like that for me. I played the hell out of it for four days, then after a while, it started to feel like I’d consumed too much sugar all at once and needed to step away. I still enjoyed it, but I should’ve spaced it out more because I can’t remember much of anything I did in that game outside of New Donk City. Maybe one day I’ll go back and try a more reserved playthrough, it’s certainly good enough to deserve it


I mentioned this in a different thread on phobias, but I had to take a break from Subnautica after my first leviathan encounter. Every time I heard that roar afterwards, I started panicking.

On a different angle, I stopped playing the Division after a particularly bad run in the Dark Zone. It’s not worth it for me to waste my time with griefers in a game that provides only minimal reward/satisfaction. I maintain that this “experiment” with lumping regular players in with PvPers is stupid at best and disgusting at worst.

I want to end on a happier note, so I will mention that there are a few games that I finished and have no need to reply or do new game+ for. Even if I made mistakes or suboptimal choices, if the game is particularly satisfying, I consider that first run “canon”, warts and all. I think Witcher 3 is the best example of this. Yes, I’d like to know what it would be like to romance the person and keep this other person alive, but I am happy with the story that I got.

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Whenever a new Disgaea game comes out, I tend to binge them pretty heavily for a week or two then drop them once I hit the post-game. I love grinding levels when going through the story, but I often feel overwhelmed thinking about all of the things I need to do to defeat Overlord Baal (level everyone to 9999, reincarnate 20ish times, obtain and level the best items, etc.). The furthest I ever got was in D2, but all of my motivation just dropped when I discovered Rasetsu Mode, an entirely new layer of grinding to deal with. It was just too much for me, and I dropped it. I still love the series, but I will probably never defeat Baal in any of them.

I haven’t played Disgaea 5 though (cause I don’t have a PS4). Just waiting for that eventual PC release (Nippon Ichi pls).

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Most of the mobile games lol! I used to play asphalt 8 on the go until I realized that the game is just stretching a lot.

i’m getting this a lot with Mario + Rabbids. It’s a very good game, but oh my good god in heaven it is so long. I feel like this game will never end! Setting it down for a week or two is both helping and hurting it haha.

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I’ve had this experience a lot lately with Vampyr. I love the aesthetic and the combat, but talking to so many new people every time a new area unlocks can be very mentally draining. Jumping from person to person after I get new clues is the most fun part of it all, but sometimes it feels like I’m trudging through flavor text. I’m still coming back after a day or two, though.

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I had anxiety when playing Monster Hunter Tried on the Wii.

The first boss is a sea monster and it’s the first time you fight underwater and I would start to panick and feel paralyzed and get legitimately scared of the water and the monster and and and … All compacted into a 10 second fight before I’d get killed by the monster.

After about 5 tries, I knew that it was too much. And I never went back to the game.

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