We’ve all been there. “When are you going to get around to playing [X classic game]?” “Just as soon as I finish up [X current game]! It’s been on my shelf so long, I finally got around to starting it. It’s OK so far.”
Fast forward a few months and you’re still slogging through the same old bullshit. The game was longer than you anticipated, but not in a novel way. You see where the plot is going a mile away. The visuals were probably great for the time but now they actively hurt your eyes to look at. “Hey, the new God of War is supposed to be awesome! You’ve got a PS4, you’re going to get it right?” “Yeah... I don’t want to put too much on my plate, I’ll just play what I’m playing now and pick of God of War when it goes on sale in a couple months. Besides, I hear [this game I’m playing] gets amazing about 30 hours in! The back half is supposed to really pick up.”
It never does. It’s just a grind. You’re depriving yourself because of obligation to finish something that never even grabbed you in the first place. Screw that. Do something you actually enjoy instead.
I used to average seeing about one play a week. As someone who used to act, I know a lot of actors, and always knew someone in a play. Some of the plays were not great, for any number of reasons. I would sit through them, and politely applaud, and once out of the theater I would rip the play apart at some bar with other actor friends or whoever I went to the show with. I wasn’t always kind.
After a while I realized something. I could leave at intermission. I was under no obligation to stay committed to this show, especially if I wasn’t enjoying myself. There are a million other entertainments to be enjoyed, books to read, movies to see. Just because I was in the audience for this one didn’t mean that I had to stay all the way through. It’s a weight off the shoulders, to decide that you’d rather do something else with your time.
It’s similar with video games. Just because you paid for it doesn’t mean that it’s worth the time and the money to go all the way through. Maybe you were taken in by a great ad campaign, and when you started up the game you realized that it wasn’t what you thought it would be. Perhaps the game was too difficult or opaque; there’s no shame in admitting to yourself that something is hard to play, so hard that it becomes unfun. I’m all for a challenge but to an extent.
Maybe a classic was hyped up by a friend or a magazine or a progressive video game website, and when you finally picked it up a console generation had gone by and the game didn’t hit you the way it had them. Maybe the game was extremely fun, tight mechanically, and provided just the right amount of challenge, but was too damn long. You saw the hours stretching before you and realized that yes, this game was great, but it wanted to be your only game. And you weren’t ready for that.
I say leave it behind. You don’t have to finish it. The game won’t be offended.
There are dozens of games that I’ve started and never finished. Most recently, it’s Salt and Sanctuary. I’ve gotten past the first three bosses or so, but the game isn’t really doing it for me. I might start it over with a different character build but I don’t know if it’s the art direction or the controls but something isn’t clicking for me. And that’s fine! I don’t have to slog through it simply because it seemed like something I would like.
I can walk away and play something that I’m actually into. You can, too. Give yourself independence from the obligation of finishing a game that you don’t love. You’ll be happier for it.