Have you ever finished with a game before you’ve actually finished a game? Just naturally reached a point where you’ve been thoroughly engaged for many pleasurable hours but are now adequately satisfied with the progression you’ve made? Sometimes the effect is gradual, so barely perceptible that you probably don’t even realise that you’ve had enough. And then, just like that, your done. It could be 10 hours in, 20. You may even be close to the intended conclusion of the game and just exhale sharply and ask yourself what else you could be playing. It’s not necessarily a result of apathy or sudden loathing of the experience, but the opposite. As if forcing yourself to complete an arbitrary set of objectives would diminish your otherwise gratifying experience. This premature contentment I seem to have seems to be largely associated with RPGs, particularly open world one’s.
Whereas the linearity of some games keeps you focused purely on the tasks at hand, an open world game yields an expansive freedom where objectives can be approached at your leisure. You can indulge in extraneous activities, perform errands for some destitute farmer, viciously beat a random civilian or simply ramble through dense thickets and saunter through crystal clear streams, all to discover whether that huge mountain in the distance can actually be scaled. But when you eventually return to your capricious duties as saviour and anointed role as “chosen one”, maintaining that same immersion after such unrestricted freedom becomes a laborious exertion. Suspension of disbelief is harder to maintain when your characters dies repeatedly! Respawning back as if your embarrassing mauling by an oversized rat never occurred is jarring, as is the general repetition of any game.
I have taken deliberate respite from many wonderfully enjoyable games to assuage my own weary senses. “The Witcher 3” features one of the most enchanting open world environments that I’ve ever had the fortune to be consumed by. Adrift in flourishing meadows and dense woodlands, replete with various malformed beasts that impede your leisurely stroll. By the time that I’d returned from my extended recreational excursion I was throughly exhausted! Same thing happened to me with “Horizon Zero Dawn”. I’d wander off to survey some unfamiliar terrain for potential rewards, encounter some large robotic dinosaur that I could vanquish and loot their remains for valuable resources. Or discovered a camp full of incarcerated prisons that I felt compelled to liberate, completely neglecting my duties as a heroine for the people of this hostile world. Super Mario Odyssey, Breath Of The Wild, Red Dead Redemption 2, Tales Of Vesperia have all been brushed aside because I experienced enough of it. I felt fulfilled, and admittedly regularly distracted by curiosity, side quests and shiny things.
I don’t think this is bad. They’re still great games that I played the way I wanted. I’ve experienced them in way that has satisfied my needs and left without remorse for my failings. Rather that than resenting being forced to complete a game I don’t feel inclined to complete.
What about you guys? Have you ever stopped playing a game because you’d enjoyed it enough? Let me know in the comments below. Cheers.