The Sweet Confusion Of Going Back To A Game Later On

Here’s a thing I love: going back to an involved game after weeks, months or even years away, after life got in the way or you hit a brick wall, and abruptly abandoned that world. Starting a brand new game from scratch can never offer the same delightful confusion, even though you begin it from a place of even greater ignorance.

Without fail, I go back in to an abandoned game convinced I know how to play it, that it’s a simple matter of resumption and I’ll be romping through it as if I’d never been away. Then, crushing reality. It’s not simply that it takes some time to remember the controls, or the flow of combat, or which device is needed for which action. It’s re-establishing the motivation. What was it that drove me onwards?

When I first drop back in, I see the game underneath the fantasy oh-so-clearly for a few minutes: the character who moves in a slightly robotic way, the slew of visual information telling me my status and objectives. It is, for a few minutes, devoid of my own involvement in that world, whatever quests I was doing or exit I was seeking, whatever I sought to craft or kill or find. It is purely, game, and maybe that’s what someone who doesn’t care about games sees if they pass my screen: all these ridiculous creatures, all these numbers, all these buttons to press, all that seemingly repetitive shooting or stabbing. For a moment, it’s almost laughable.

And then, as muscle memory of the controls fades back in, as some progress bar creeps up, as I spy an item which improves my abilities, as I talk to character whose fate I was concerned with, as I do well in a challenge, meaning fades back in. I start to care. I start to have ambitions. I start to feel a connection between myself and the entity or viewpoint on my screen. And those weeks or months or years disappear; I’ve always been doing this, on this quest or mission or challenge or exploration, and my journey is ongoing.

The ‘game’ fades, it becomes familiar, it becomes my reality. I don’t get this with a brand new game, because by and large it feeds you in slowly, doesn’t overwhelm with too much information or too many concepts, you don’t get that hard disruption, the unforgiving requirement to understand a whole new universe all at once, that going back after a long time away involves.

This week, I experienced this in the Witcher 3, which I’ve been away from for a couple of months. That was long enough for such a complicated game to become deeply unfamiliar. I didn’t remember where I was or what I was doing, and I certainly couldn’t remember how to fight or how all those spells and potions worked. My most recent save was in a field, a hair’s breadth from a pack of bandits, and my ineptitude was glorious. : I was killed three times simply trying to make my way to the nearest town so I could take stock, reset my priorities and fix a broken sword. Movement felt all wrong (in fairness, a patch had added a new movement style during my away time), fights were confusing, and there were so very many quests I apparently had to do. It all seemed so ridiculous.

And then. Something eased into place. All those numbers and arrows and icons began to mean something again. Without my even noticing, they stopped being numbers and arrows and icons and became meaning, became something that was simply, naturally part of my vision. The ridiculous became the personal. I was back. Over a decade ago, I did that with Deus Ex, but the gap was something like two years. Oh, my pitiful bewilderment at trying to work it all out, some twenty hours in, with only the faintest memory of who anyone was or what I was fighting for, what these augmentations did or how to go unseen. I really thought I’d have to restart, that there was no way it would make sense or I could be adept enough to beat its escalating challenges. But I stuck with it, and it came back to. I had never been away, these things had always been important, this had always been my world. That reclamation felt so good.

Try it. Abandon whatever game you’re playing right now, play some other things in the meantime, and come back in a month or two’s time. Suffer a few minutes of clunk and conclusion and the growing conviction that you just can’t do this without starting over, then push through it. Feel that glorious, unspoken moment when it becomes yours again.


Top comments

  1. maninahat says:

    Isn't high time a game is designed in such a way that, on booting it up after being away from it for a month or so, it pops up with a prompt asking if you'd like to quickly be shown how to play it again? Games like the original Half Life had a separate tutorial, meaning I could just visit that if I needed a reminder - most games nowadays insert the tutorial into the game itself, forcing you to have to either remember everything, or replay the first few hours just to get back into the swing of it.
  1. Sarfrin says:

    Try it? I do it all the time. Sunless Sea has been waiting for me to go back to it for months now.

    • yhancik says:

      This makes me feel less alone. Thank you RPS! :p

    • shinygerbil says:

      Yep, this is my modus operandum with all games.

    • Archangel says:

      I have an entire Steam category for this: “Stalled”.

      • ashjxx says:

        Ah, mine is called, boringly, “Games I’ve Started”. I’m stealing yours. My Stalled list is Bioshock, Desktop Dungeons, La-Mulana, Grimrock, Walking Dead, and Lone Survivor. All of those over a year since I’ve played. Whoops.

        • Canadave says:

          I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve gotten partway through Bioshock and then bounced off. I want to finish it, I really do, I just never seem to have the motivation for it.

      • Mr Coot says:

        I am slightly more optimistic and call mine: ‘In Progress’.

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          Sihoiba says:

          Mine is Incomplete, containing a mixture of puzzle games, and the odd open world RPG where I hit that argh too many quests moment.

    • Harlequin says:

      I’ve inadvertently done this with The Talos Principle and Bioshock: Infinite. With the latter I don’t expect many complications, but boy will I feel dumb when I go back to Talos after several months away.

    • SamLR says:

      This is why I suspect I’ll never finish Dark Souls (and also why I’ve happily watched play-throughs of it). I’ve been away for a few months now having hit the Capra demon. There’s no way I’m going to walk back into that with much of a hope…

      • Jerr says:

        I really hope you manage to get back into dark souls, it’s such a different experience to play through it yourself and the sense of accomplishment after beating a boss like the capra demon is so so great!

  2. Llewyn says:

    …feel that glorious, unspoken moment when it becomes yours again

    Nope, never had that.

    • Harlander says:

      Much worse is the agony when you realise that moment is never going to arrive.

      Like when you finally manage to struggle through a terrible, maze-like section of boring, easy-to-get-lost-in, insect-filled tunnels crammed with far too much of the game’s god-awful combat, only to get back to the actual entertaining bits of the game to find you’ve irrecoverably forgotten everything about everything.

      • 2old4gamez says:

        You’ve just described my recent Darksiders 2 experience.

        Restarted after a long absence to find my only save point spawning me in the middle of a puzzle filled dungeon sequence, surrounded by enemies I had forgotten how to fight.
        Three and half hours of fumbling around later and I successfully managed to navigate myself out of the dungeon. Via the entrance..

    • G-Lord says:

      Same here, I prefer to just start over.

    • bill says:

      Yeah. Almost never had that. And I’ll rarely want to start over… so most games that I come back to after a long break tend to get abandoned soon after that.

      Which is sad…

      • BooleanBob says:

        Yeah. Little blots of shame on your gaming record. I’d rather I hadn’t started Bit.Trip Runner or Super Hexagon, because then I’d at least have the potential to have completed them instead of the sad realisation that I never will.

  3. spacedyemeerkat says:

    Ah, so it’s not just me who forgets how to play games.

  4. DelrueOfDetroit says:

    Deus Ex ProTip!

    To avoid the situation pictured above, place a mine on the wall in the hallway. Goodbye Agent Navarre!

  5. Sin Vega says:

    I always find that when I do this, I can’t get back into the groove and end up starting from the beginning again. I must have conquered the northern half of Arulco a dozen times now, and I’m starting to accept that I’ll probably never see the capital.

    • ashjxx says:

      I’ve done the same with Bioshock. I will probably just never see anything past the second Big Daddy.

    • BooleanBob says:

      Ever do this with books? I must have read the first quarter of the Brothers Karamazov at least four times.

  6. Premium User Badge

    It's not me it's you says:

    I’m here with the Witcher right now. The worst thing to do is to hop into it briefly – it just leaves you confused and much less enthused about the game than before. This means I’m now waiting for this ‘free afternoon’ to go and get back into it, which will never happen.

    I really do want to play the Witcher though! It seemed like such a cool game! I’m only just out of the first area, on a quest that’s supposed to be pretty awesome. I wish you could save-state your brain.

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    particlese says:

    I think I’m permanently too familiar with Deus Ex to do that with that game (even after a several-years hiatus), but it just occurred to me that Sword & Sworcery has been sitting patiently on my hard drive for over a year now, only about one-third finished, by naïve reckoning. Hmmm…

    Then there is Xenoblade, which I let sit for a year after moving house in the middle of a late-game lul. It even fit with what was going on in the story. Definitely didn’t want to replay that from the start, at any rate, having put many tens of hours into it already. The exploration is excellent and easy, and I didn’t forget the characters, but the fighting, which I also enjoyed, is pretty involved and was completely baffling once again, after all that time. But as you said, the muscle memory comes back, the ambiguous icons and numbers become intuitive status indicators, and it’s suddenly my world again.

  8. Phrumptious Bandersnatch says:

    I never manage to find that moment. I also find that my compulsive nature to do everything from the beginning and properly means that if I even slightly forget *anything* about the game, I have to start over. Due to lack of time to play games in the last couple of years as well as lost enthusiasm for games that require many hours, I now have a tonne of games sitting on my hard-drive unfinished, but with the first half or so played multiple times… I think I need help.

  9. maninahat says:

    Isn’t high time a game is designed in such a way that, on booting it up after being away from it for a month or so, it pops up with a prompt asking if you’d like to quickly be shown how to play it again? Games like the original Half Life had a separate tutorial, meaning I could just visit that if I needed a reminder – most games nowadays insert the tutorial into the game itself, forcing you to have to either remember everything, or replay the first few hours just to get back into the swing of it.

    • Urthman says:

      Yes, but I’d also like some higher-level bookmarks, an option for the game to remind you of “the story so far,” maybe a description of your mosr recently completed objectives, stats on the weapon or spells or other mechanics you’ve used the most and the most recently, the ability to easily replay cutscenes, transcripts of both sides of conversations you’ve had with NPCs. There’s a bunch of information games could give you that would be useful for catching up and also even when you’re playing the game without a break.

      • benkc says:

        Tales of Symphonia (console) actually did that really well. One of the main menu tabs was “synopsis”, which had short descriptions of all the major events so far. They had real-world timestamp of when you did that, and some of them would update as more information became available later on. (Along the lines of: “We were attacked by a mysterious cloaked figure” becomes “We were attacked by a mysterious cloaked figure; only later did we learn this was so-and-so.”)

        Dunno if that’s common to the whole Tales series, but I definitely appreciated it the couple of times I picked that game back up after a break.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Saints Row 2, of all things, had a really good newspaper clippings wall/TV for rewatching cutscenes and even replaying previous missions.

      • Sandepande says:

        Many a sandbox game and an RPG do keep a list of completed quests. This helps with the plot, although not with any very involved gameplay mechanics…

      • phlebas says:

        Has any game equalled the journal in Morrowind? Granted, it was impossible to follow any specific thread without the mod that added cross-referencing, but as a full diary of your adventures so far it really added to the epic experience.

    • ffordesoon says:

      Word. Why all games don’t have a practice room where you can test out the various mechanics in a consequence-free environment anytime you want, I’ll never understand. Japanese developers are generally pretty good about it, but it seems to utterly elude Western devs. Also, everything Urthman said is right on. In particular, I have no idea why more games don’t provide you with at least a high-level summary of the story so far. Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Pillars Of Eternity, and Dragon Age: Origins all did it really well, and a lore codex that reminds you of who’s who and why you care is always delightful. Also, not enough devs do easily accessible in-game manuals. As much shit as I give Ubisoft, they’re great about that, and it’s helpful. Finally, more games should let me unlock cutscenes to watch again later. And pause them. And skip them.

      I know all that stuff may feel to many devs like a lot of effort for a meager reward, but it’s worth it to players.

      • newstarsi says:

        The Lara’s Home and Croft Manor levels from the Tomb Raider games are my favourite examples of your first point. Consequence-free if you just want to get a feel for the controls again, along with some nice obstacle-course challenges if you want to test yourself. Most importantly, every action you can perform has a place or puzzle upon which you can test it. I always liked mucking around in there.

    • jon_hill987 says:

      Agreed, I have never got very far through Dragon Age because every time I go back I have to start again.

    • bill says:

      This. It’s ridiculous that most tv shows give you a quick 1 minute “Previously on…” at the start of each show, in case you’ve forgotten it from one week ago… but come back to a complex game 2 months later and you get nothing.

      I’ve abandoned so many big games, mainly RPGs, due to coming back after a long break and having no memory of what I was trying to focus on, and what the story was or how the game works.
      It might be tricky in very open games for the game to know what you were trying to focus on, but at least you could get a reminder of basic plot points and things you did recently.

      A few games have kinda tried it. Some episodic games do it. Walking Dead does, right? Some other games like one of the recent crappy Alone in the Dark games split their game into “episodes” and allowed you to jump to different sections like a dvd. I think that also gave you a tv style previously on…
      Some games allow you to replay cutscenes from a kind of gallery… which can be handy if they aren’t all very very long.

      But I’m sure something much better could be achieved.

      I have to try to go back to The Witcher 1 after a 3 month break… I really hope I can manage it.

      • Thants says:

        Battlefield Hardline was structured like a TV show as well, and gave you a Previously On video when you loaded your game.

  10. drewski says:

    One of the reasons I’ve started (trying) to force myself to finish games, or at least finish as much as I want to play, is that I never seem to quite get back to fluency if I’m dropped back into it midstream.

    Then again, I fired up Civ II the other day after a good decade away from it, and within about 30 seconds every memory of more recent Civ games was washed away and it was 1996 again. What a game.

  11. FedericoV says:

    It happened the same to me with Dragon Age Inquistion and I had the same feeling… but… but there was something strange and peculiar about this game.

    The combat felt so easy. In an hour or so I could kill Dragons on hard without even controlling the other party members (sorry, but DAI was made to be played in real time with a controller: the tactical mode is junk… just a waste of time).

    While I could not get the story at all. It felt so distant, contrived and complicated. And the lore and the charachters and the quests: they were just overwhelming. It was so hard to get things right again and put everything in place. But that part drove me onwards till the end.

    I agree, it’s beautifull to return to a game months after you left it sleeping in your hard drive.

  12. hollowroom says:

    I just did this with Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Went back, started my save game, had no idea where I was, what I was doing, or what the keys were, and started again.

    Well worth it!

  13. Tycow says:

    Final Fantasy VII was the king of this, for me.

    Come back to a save game a few weeks later and… Nope, no idea what I was doing!

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      I’ve beat FFVII… twice? Pretty sure it was twice. And both times I beat it in the space of a couple weeks. So I’ve never really had that happen.

      Now, the older Final Fantasies? They’re probably the games that have done this to me most. V and VI in particular. I honestly could not tell you the number of times I’ve made it at least halfway through those two only to get distracted. The big problem for me, though, is just remembering what the hell is HAPPENING in a game I’ve abandoned for a while. Not just where to go, but for what purpose. Who am I even at odds with? Who the hell is this person?

      I’ve never managed to get over that if it happens, I end up having to restart.

      And writing this response I just realized I have a save about a third of the way through Paper Sorcerer that I haven’t touched in months. And that was my second attempt because I abandoned the first and restarted… Damn it all.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        And one more thing!

        Know what I like? Games that remind you what the hell you were doing during the loading screen. Shadowrun does that, off the top of my head. Arcanum did it, as I recall. I’m sure there are others.

        Just a short passage with some god-damned context on where you left off. It makes a surprising amount of difference. Games: please do that more.

        • JFS says:

          Pillars of Eternity did that very well, in my opinion. Better than the old Infinity Engine games, where you basically had to watch the intro and read the whole ingame journal (which nonetheless omitted at least half of what had happened), PoE gives you a spot-on summary of what happened and what you did, in addition to being able to look up quests (if you need to).

        • florus says:

          The Batman Arkham games do this very well. In fact after abandoning my first try on Asylum I was immediately pulled in after months by the exciting loading screens which showed the story thus far. Triggered lots of good memories; Played it right through after that.

  14. Pazguato says:

    Two words: Planescape Torment. And yes it’s a torment indeed. :’C

  15. Werthead says:

    I had this with The Witcher 1. Bought it on release, when the load times were stil measured in interglacial epochs, and gave up after a few hours. Started again two years later with the Enhanced Edition, got maybe halfway through the game and it ran out of steam again. Four years after that I finally finished the thing by going back and resuming the previous game save. I didn’t really have a clue what was going on but just rolled with it. The games start in media res and don’t clue you in very well anyway, so it works better with those games.

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      john_silence says:

      This. I started the first Witcher game in 2008 I think. Somehow the demo saves were compatible with the rental version, and the rental version saves were compatible with the enhanced edition saves, and with the director’s cut saves… I started it in 1680×1050 and finished it 7 years later in 2560×1440. Good thing the combat wasn’t much more involved than a QTE, as the complication of potions and signs was just about what I could handle after so many restarts.
      Now I’ve started The Witcher 2, and dropped off at the end of Act I… I’m not too keen on re-learning that one’s combat though! Perhaps I’ll get started on the Wild Hunt before 2020.
      This is why The Phantom Pain is so refreshing: I can jump right in although I’ve missed the first 4 games! Don’t get me started on Mass Effect – that’s more like 2030 territory for me.

  16. neoncat says:

    I’ve done this with pvp games. There’s a bit of an adrenaline rush when you drop right back into high-level play, wondering how quickly muscle memory will recover, or what patches have changed while you were away.

    Of course, sometimes you come back and the game is dead… I really wanted to go back to Banner Saga Factions a couple of weeks ago, but the server was empty. :(

  17. quietone says:

    Forgetting how to play a game you set aside for some time is not just some minor situation we all went through. It’s the very heart of the gaming industry.
    If I could recall how to properly play games after a hiatus, I would probably buy fewer (MUCH fewer) games. Gaming industry needs us to forget games so we are ready to play new ones instead of going through the painful process of relearning an old one.

  18. geldonyetich says:

    Thanks to the ridiculous backlog if Steam sales positively overloading my gaming priorities, it seems my entire life is one of revisiting old games I’ve forgotten how to play.

    It leaves me seesawing between wishing they all had a single unified control structure in each genre versus being glad when they don’t because at least a different control structure gives it some novelty over the clones.

  19. JFS says:

    Haha forget ever going back to games again if they are any more complex than Tetris or if it’s been more than two to four weeks since you played.

  20. Gerbick says:

    A quick look at my ‘previously’ section on Steam, and several games are in mid-played stasis. X-Com: Enemy Unknown is probably the one that I’d struggle with most. I did recently return to Papers, Please in that state, and didn’t last the next shift.

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      Sihoiba says:

      Oh I am so afraid to try and continue my papers please game.

  21. tikey says:

    I love the feeling you get when you get back to a long strategy game. It’s not so much dealing with the game but with what past me strategy was at the moment. Trying to decipher what the hell was I thinking when I sent a lacklustre fleet to the enemy’s homeworld or why the hell am I building dozens of trade ships if I’m at war with everyone and can’t trade at all. It’s threading over my own thoughts and trying to understand my own logic, sort of fighting myself until I get to find me again.

  22. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    My problems in this vein have less to do with fitting back into the world or the game systems. It’s all about trying to remember wtf kind of weirdo pseudo-goal I was working on when I last stopped playing.

    Minecraft is the worst about this. I’ll login after 6 months and see half-built mud shacks vaguely resembling the foundations of some grandiose and abandoned scheme. Or I’ll login to Oblivion after a couple years and find half-finished collections of books and soulgems in one of my many houses.

  23. trjp says:

    I suffer from this a LOT – but just telling me the controls wouldn’t solve it – it’s a deeper issue.

    Some games have a rhythm – you need to ‘dial-in’ to play them – returning after a break can leave you with no clue where to go/how to play/what to do next and VERY few detail your progress/status well enough to work that out.

    A problem many developers have is that their finished game hasn’t been played by anyone ‘for the first time’ in quite a while – this is why many games are hard to get into

    Pretty-much NO developers consider the ‘leave the game for a while and return’ issue tho – and they should, they really should.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      That’s because of a reasonably recent attitude amongst developers that the player should always be playing your game. More a marketing than creative decision, I remember reading about this a couple of years back. Its one reason why DLC became so omnipresent – they have this notion that the player will be swallowed whole by the hype, then consumed by the excitement of playing, and will not stop playing until all DLC has been bought. This is antithetical to the idea of helping the player leave your game and come back.

      • Thants says:

        The fact that you can now buy a “Season Pass” to a single player game you own is strange and slightly worrying to me.

  24. Premium User Badge

    john_silence says:

    One thing that’s great in some cases: as you re-learn the game you sometimes happen upon a mechanic you’d hitherto neglected, or a skill you hadn’t bothered with, or plot points you hadn’t paid proper attention to.
    Sometimes, just sometimes you actually play the game better or enjoy it more the second, third, nth time around, both because of what you’ve learnt elsewhere and thanks to a more mature approach. The very distance Alec so eloquently describes plays in your favour. All hail brain plasticity.

  25. LutherBlissett says:

    Elder Scrolls Online ruined me for Skyrim. Got as far as the Mages area up in the North West then didn’t return for about 6 months at which point my WASD / Mouse skills had atrophied and i’d completely forgotten how to use my Bow of Soul Collection.

  26. MellowKrogoth says:

    I tend to put games on hold as well when I feel that they’re starting to recycle mechanics, or if the story or exploration is so good, I don’t wanna finish the game yet. That, or I’m tired and I know that to progress I need to do something very tedious (looking at you CK2).

    It’s funny, I’ve heard from devs quite often that people don’t finish their games. Are they looking at data that’s too short term? From the reactions to this article it would seem that quite a few people finish long games in several very spaced out sessions.

  27. Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

    This is the #1 reason I keep dropping games.
    Abandoning games and coming back later just highlights how many of them aren’t actually any fun at all.
    Normally I keep on trucking with such games because I’ve already sunk some time and money, and might as well see how the story ends. But if I come back after a break and imagine how long I still have to go and it’s just …..uuuuuuuuuuugggggghh i could be doing anything else right now make it end……

  28. Jason Moyer says:

    Wish I had read this 2 weeks ago before I finally got around to playing the Skyrim DLC. Re-learning the controls wasn’t a big deal, it’s basically the same as every TES game with things moved around a bit. What was weird was trying to remember what anything on the map meant (I had started Hearthfire at some point and couldn’t remember where my house was) or what this massive list of stuff in my inventory was for. Ended up starting over; kinda glad I did, because while I remember most of the bigger campaign/guild arcs there are a lot of small details and places to explore that I had totally forgotten about.

  29. Jay Load says:

    Did this with Far Cry 3 recently. Hadn’t played it in months. entered my most recent saved game with almost an amnesia. Where was I? What was I doing? How did things work? Took a few goes to get back into the swing of it again but it still feels weird at times. My mind won’t go fully back into the same space/shape as when I started so I find I’m a bit more critical of things that I accepted earlier. FOV, being one prime example. I keep fiddling with it convinced it’s wrong.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      Mouse smoothing / acceleration is a big one for that. You get used to it again, but some games at first you think “I don’t remember it feeling so annoying”.

  30. CookPassBabtridge says:

    I left Dark Souls at Smough and Ornstein.
    I am trying to think of a second sentence, but I think that first one said it all.

  31. Tyler says:

    One game for Christmas, One game for your birthday. Choose wisely and perhaps this phenomenon of digital waste can be solved! #whenIwereaLad

  32. Thankmar says:

    I get sth. similar to this repeatedly with WoW and its sparse Inventory-spce. Soloplaying, I cling to any Ingredients and Rep-thingys, maybe I have use later for that? Or for another character? I definitely keep this outdated epic for sentimental reasons… and so on. Then a break for 9 months, or a year, till the next expansion is coming out: What was that for? Its just taking space! Out with it! and the once so precious things go fast as lightning to the next vendor.

  33. iainl says:

    I managed to get this within a week of leaving The Witcher 2 alone, after playing through just the tutorial and first section afterwards.

    It turns out that giving all the potions evocative fantasy names, instead of “fireball”, “healing”, “armour” and so on is a really, really stupid idea instead of a brilliant one.

    • Disgruntled Goat says:

      Until my dying day I will never remember the difference between Aard and Axii.

      What drove me nuts about that game is that is was very unforgiving if you pulled out the wrong sword, because apparently a sword that can slice a dragon in half just bounces off the skin of a common human thug.

  34. GhostBoy says:

    Longer RPGs tend to make me take a pause during play. The Dragon Age/Witcher/Wasterland 2 type of deals. I’m not sure why I keep doing it, save maybe having been bit by burnout one too many times and being afraid it comes back, because I’ve never had that satisfying moment of getting back into the swing of things.

    It’s one thing to remember the mechanics, and what keys do what. A read of the quest log, a quick skim of the keybindings and a few minutes and I’m usually back on top of that (notable exception: MMOs where things like rotation matters… takes ages to remember that and muscle memory from other games keep getting in the way).

    An entirely different kettle of fish is the plot, especially for Bioware-style companions. Am I a good guy or a bad guy this run? Who do I like? Am I romancing anyone, if that is on offer? Are there any time-sensitive triggers running that are not immediately apparent by the state of quests?

    I can remember all these things; I just cannot remember if what I recall was for this save file or for another run. Usually then end result is that I start over, to be sure I can set up the state as I wanted (again). And these are the 40+ hour games, so I’ve seen the start of those orders of magnitude times more than I have ever gotten to the endgame, let alone finished them. Which leads to burnout over trudging through the same areas again, which makes me take a break for a few months, which leads to…. see the start of this comment. I am sometimes a very silly man.

  35. MikhailG says:

    I tend to pause games a lot because I love starting a new game, exploring it systems, and then moving onto a new one.

    When I return to a game I abandoned I generally hate that feeling. I get to feel all the frustration of re-‘getting’ the game without the enjoy of enjoying the discovery. I know it, almost, just gotta remember the details, and the story bits, and that one weird thing the game keeps doing when I open that one menu… And if its a story heavy game, I just might start all over.

  36. stoner says:

    I do that with Kerbal Space Program. I’ll be away for six to ten months. Then, fire it up again.

    Do I start my Career mode again? Or, continue from the last? Quite often, another version has come out since last playing.

  37. TinyOwl says:

    No one is ever going to read this far down… Anyway, still would like to say I have only recently discovered RPS and I love the articles on here. I used to visit Kotaku, but it has been lacking in quality articles for a while now in my opinion.

    On topic: thanks the article, this is so familiar! I experienced exactly what you describe with DA: Inquisition this week. I downloaded the Trespasser DLC as it seemed relevant to the story.. but the first half hour I was kind of stuck figuring out the keybindings and failing horribly at combat. Luckily, like you said, eventually you get back into it and everything start to flow naturally again :)

  38. DuncUK says:

    LA Noire was bad for forcing you to do any investigation in one sitting. Even coming back the next day, you’d have no idea who anyone was or what they might be lying about and yet the game would let you complete a case having got everything wrong. That sounds good but it would leave you feeling like you weren’t achieving really anything.

    On top of all the other flaws this game had, I think that’s a big reason I never finished it… you had to know for sure you could dedicate the 2-3 hours it would need to get through a case, factoring in possible side quests and unknown length.

  39. Dominare says:

    Some of the unfinished games in these comments beggar belief. You never finished Dark Souls? Bioshock? You are RIGHT to feel shamed!

  40. Jiblet says:

    Ah… STALKER.
    I’ve not finished the first one. Every time I try I end up restarting. It’s an annual event now, usually in May.
    And I couldn’t *possibly* play 2 and 3 until 1 is done and dusted.
    And so there they sit in my Steam Library. Collecting bitrot.

  41. teije says:

    The list of RPG/strategy games I’ve actually finished would be a much shorter list than ones I’ve abandoned in the forlorn hope I will return some day. I’ve finished one game of EUIV in over 500 hours of playing, never finished CK2 in 350 hours, only finished a couple Civ4/5 games. Never finished JA2, WL2, BG (but did BG2), Endless Legend, Arcanum, Torment, Shadowrun, the list goes on. All of these games I love and have started multiple times.

    Why? I like to try new things I guess. Or I’m easily distracted, like a cat when something shiny and tinkly is dangled in front of me. Or given my limited time to game I’d rather start a new one than spend those hours on finishing up one.

    Or maybe I’m afraid of finishing things since once finished they are done. And once done a thing cannot be undone. That’s probably it.

  42. Disgruntled Goat says:

    I managed to finish Dark Souls (I’m as surprised as you that I actually did it) but for some reason I hit a brick wall with Dark Souls 2.

    I’ve tried starting it twice and stop at the same place (Heide’s Tower of Flame), which isn’t that far into the game and isn’t even all that difficult. I can’t really explain what’s going on, it’s not like I quit after hitting a tough boss. I just see the DS2 disc on my shelf and can think of 100 other things I’d rather do that pop it in.