It took until age 33, but I’ve finally reached the point in life where I’ve healthily adopted the practice of not finishing every game that’s mildly interesting to me at the expense of my actual enjoyment of it.
A lot of that is related to the sheer amount of free time actually I’m allowed to dedicate to anything now, but it’s not entirely due to that given I very rarely play games in a single sitting for more than 90 minutes now. I’m busier these days but not that busy. There are multiple factors driving this. For example, games are so aggressively marketed in some capacity as a service now, it’s hard not to feel manipulated by that at every turn. Games as a Service are just one manifestation of this, but the feedback loop caused by things like Twitch and smarter marketing initiatives by publishers feel like an outright assault on the one thing I’ve gotten incredibly defensive of with age, time.
The catalysts for this realization were recently playing Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice & Katana Zero, the former being the spiritual cousin to a series of games that have been guaranteed to occupy some mind-space with me for extended periods of time. What’s even more interesting is that Sekiro was probably specifically more aimed at me than From Software’s prior five games (being a stealth-based action-focused title more in line with Bloodborne), yet it still left me lukewarm at its conclusion.
It doesn’t seem to affect games that are still in my wheelhouse, as I was only just able to hop off the Devil May Cry 5 train about 95 hours (it also didn’t help poor Sekiro’s case by playing the two in conjunction). It was a enlightening process, as I was reminded how just how much I’ve tolerated the poor combat in From games due to the exchange of atmosphere and accomplishment which simply has diminishing returns now. Had I jumped off around the Guardian Ape¹, I might have a much higher opinion of it as a whole, but I stuck it out until the end and the whole thing just wounded up feeling like a waste of time as a result.
Compare this to Katana Zero, which is a much shorter game that I spent less time with and might not ever complete, yet look back more fondly on. Mostly played in fits before falling asleep early in the morning, Zero’s package felt much less disparate. Of course that’s unfair given the scope and scale of both games—-but you know what? I don’t have to care anymore!
In closing, I’ve had Rouge the Bat’s fucking theme stuck in my head for the entirety of the day, so you can experience it too.
The Guardian Ape might be the high point of the entire game for me? Surprising because I’ve never really held the “beast” battles in the Soulsbourne games as the high points, but that encounter goes places, both mechanically and narratively.