I’m not a quitter, I promise. I’m not a completionist either, though. It’s very rare for me to finish a game and then go back to find all the hidden collectibles (although there are a few exceptions if I’ve really enjoyed a game, such as Inside). But pretty much any game I start, I will play through to the bitter end. In story driven games I like to see the conclusion, no matter how silly the plot it. In arcade games I like to have completed every level so I’ve seen all there was to see. But sometimes it’s just not worth it. Maybe the story is just that bad, or the mechanics too awkward, or perhaps even it’s too difficult (the shame!) for me to finish. This list is dedicated to those games.
I’m not including games that are impossible to beat due to terrible programming, like this nonsense!
I can’t remember every game I’ve ever given up on, but these are some that spring to mind. Who knows, maybe I’ll go back to them someday. Perhaps you, dear reader, might even convince me that going back is worth it! See what you think.
I think this was my first PC game I actually owned. I’d played a lot of games on our BBC over the years, but we eventually got a ‘proper’ computer. A 486 with 4MB of RAM, which seemed like a lot at the time. For Christmas, my sister and I were given a game each. She received X-Wing, which was utterly brilliant. I was given Flashback, which I enjoyed a great deal…well the first level at least.
Pretty ugly by today’s standards, but the animation was really something for the time.
Being as this was the early 90s, gamepads for the PC were not all that common, or cheap for that matter, and playing this on a keyboard was hard. I eventually got through the first level, which I enjoyed, but I simply couldn’t get through the second. There was a jump near the start that needed good timing to make, but playing on a keyboard made it near impossible. Of course, playing it at the time, I assumed the jump was impossible, and went around looking for another route. Remember, this was before YouTube and online guides so I had nothing to tell me otherwise. So I gave up on finishing it, or ever getting past the second stage. I played the first one quite a lot as it was good fun. The animation looked really good after coming from a BBC, the shooting was satisfying and the environments were detailed for the time. I think there’s an iPhone version of this, but I can’t imagine playing on a touch screen is any better. This is one forever consigned to the pile of shame.
Our Darker Purpose
So The Binding of Isaac is pretty great. A tough rogue-lite game with tons of variety and a really dark sense of humour and story. I enjoyed the original, and I enjoyed the Rebirth re-release a great deal. Before the re-release though, I was looking around the Steam store for anything that took my fancy and came across Our Darker Purpose. It seemed similar but with a distinct enough art-style and setting to set it apart. Being sensible, I waited for a Steam sale and picked it up. I put 2 hours into it before giving up.
Different colours to denote more powerful versions of an enemy?! How novel!
It’s almost the exact same game. The controls are the same (bar a roll button), the map is laid out in a similar way, enemies are the same but with a different look. Your “tears” even curve in the same way! This might as well be a reskin. Some minor difference include selecting a power up at the start of the game, as well as unlocking selectable “perks”. You can also choose a modifier for the next floor (stronger enemies, higher speed etc.) which was a nice feature. But that’s it, everything else is pretty much a carbon copy. This is one I don’t think I’ll ever go back to finish. Why bother when Isaac is so much better?
Final Fantasy X-2
This is not a hugely popular opinion, but I quite liked Final Fantasy X (I recently listened to Simon Miller of VideoGamer.com deride it with the sentence “Your dad is a fish” which made me laugh). I remember having to wait until after my exams before going out to buy it as I knew I wouldn’t have a hope in them if I let myself play it. I even enjoyed its bonkers story, silly characters, and to an extent the weird “Sphere Grid” levelling system. What I did not enjoy was the follow up.
Final Fantasy meets Charlie’s Angels.
The whole thing was a huge shift from FFX. The battles, the levelling, even the characters seemed to be completely different people. Yuna had gone from priestess to pop-star for some reason, Payne was a new character who appeared from nowhere (she may have been explained later, but I never found out), and the outfits seemed even skimpier and sillier than before. Rather than having a party to work with, you would change the characters outfits mid battle to suit the situation. This seemed like an interesting idea but I felt as though I was missing out on party and character development. The thing is, I reckon this was probably a rather good game, but because I was looking for a follow up to FFX I just couldn’t get into it. I consider this a lesson in not going too far with changes when you create a sequel. Change is fine, but going too far risks alienating the people who enjoyed your previous creation. Anyway, this was returned to the store the next day. With the recent HD re-release of FFX and FFX-2 though, I might consider going back to this one one day.
State of Decay
Zombie games are ten-a-penny these days. Whatever type of gamer you are, there’s almost certainly a zombie game in your genre of choice. Zombie survival games are probably the most common type of these. Most aren’t great though, really just aping the Minecraft mold of punch a tree to get the wood to build the house to make a crafting station…etc. State of Decay seemed different. In fact it is different. An open world zombie survival game based on helping survivors to build a base and survive through raiding the local area for supplies and equipment. The idea is great, but I didn’t enjoy it.
I spent a lot of time running away from zombies. I’m sure there must be more to the game than this.
I played this on PC, using a controller (I tend to prefer a controller for third person games), but I found the controls to be sluggish and unresponsive. Aiming was awkward and driving felt more difficult than it really should have been. I love the idea of running a survivor outpost and scavenging for supplies, but a lot of the games mechanics felt hidden, or poorly explained. I should say, that when I went back into this to take some screenshots, I did find myself enjoying it and played it for a bit longer than I expected, so it’s possible I might go back to this sometime, even though I’m not sure if there’s an actual ending or not.
Don’t hate me for this one! I know the law states that if you’re a gamer then you must like Braid and sing its praises. I tried to like it, I really did. I picked this up many years ago, not long after the craze surrounding it died down. I’d heard all these wonderful things about how great the game was, how there’s so much depth and that the story is brilliant. So I put aside my dislike of puzzle platformers and bought the game.
It’s a gorgeous game, it really is.
How foolish I was. I still didn’t like puzzle platformers enough to enjoy this one. It looks beautiful, it controls really well, the story is well told (at least, it was for the first couple of worlds), and the time powers were interesting. But it wasn’t enough for me to want to faff about with puzzling through the levels. I’ve since read up on the story and I think I enjoyed reading about it more than playing it. I don’t like puzzle platformers. I DON’T! Except for Limbo and Inside…
A few others of note: Knight of the Old Republic which i played a very very long time after release and found very clunky by today’s standards. Pineview Drive for just using the same mechanic over and over again. Dust was utterly beautiful, but I stopped playing for little while and forgot what I was meant to be doing and never went back. There are a lot of others too!
What games have you given up on? Any that you regret? Do you think I should go back to any of these in the future? Let me know!