When It’s Just Not Right

8894269067_143340a73d_b

We all know what it feels like when a game really clicks with us. That wonderful feeling of mental investment and excitement that reminds us why we play games in the first place. But what about when that just doesn’t happen? When, despite all the chance you give the game and your desire to like it, you just can’t. I’ll say right here that I didn’t think it was possible. I thought that if a game was decent and had aspects to it that appealed to you, you’d be able to like and enjoy it. That was before I played The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings.

Before I go further, let me just say that I don’t think The Witcher 2 is a bad game, because well…it isn’t. The combat has a layer of complexity to it, the characters and world are well developed, and it’s well constructed visually. So what’s the problem? It’s obviously a good game; Fan and critical reception can attest to that. It’s a solid WRPG, which is more or less my favorite genre. It’s got rich lore and good writing, which again I’m usually a sucker for when it comes to RPGs. By all counts, this game should be on my top RPG list, but instead I just can’t bring myself to play it. The most frustrating thing about this situation is that I simply cannot put my finger on what the problem is. All I have is a vague feeling.

It feels like a combination of how a lot of little things about the game feel. Combat for example, doesn’t flow in the way I think it should. It somehow feels inconsistent in how enemies are targeted while simultaneously overly-complex in how moves and magic powers are executed. It works well enough, but the problem is that it feels…off somehow, making it unappealing. Another example is how time is passed and potions are made, both of which are essential systems in the game. They both function well, but once again something about the process for each feels wrong. Do I know how I would have them change? No. Do I know what’s wrong with them? No. Something about them just rubs me the wrong way and keeps me from playing.

It wasn’t even like this at first. I didn’t actually have many noticeable problems with it during the first few hours of the game. Rather, these were feelings that grew as time in the game went on. The more I experienced these gameplay mechanics, the more I realized that there was something about them I didn’t like, and the more they discouraged me from continuing in the game until I reached the point I’m at now. That point being that I don’t want to touch the game again.

That was my experience with The Witcher 2. The first game I’ve played that defied my attempts and desire to like it. I haven’t encountered another game before or since that defied all attempts to enjoy it and it boggles the mind.

What about you? Have you ever played a game that you feel you should like, but find that you just can’t?

21 Comments Add yours

  1. Silvachief says:

    I had much the same experience with Red Dead Redemption. There wasn’t really anything wrong with the game, but it didn’t feel right and I just kind of stopped playing and never picked it up again.
    I couldn’t tell you what was wrong with it, though.

    Like

    1. Hatm0nster says:

      It just didn’t have the necessary spark to keep you playing right? How far did you get?

      Like

      1. Silvachief says:

        If I remember correctly there was a bit where you cross over a river to the south and begin exploring an entirely new area. There wasn’t anything that made me want to go back to playing it and I just moved on to other games.

        Like

  2. Interesting post. I remember when I played the Witcher II, there was this side quest where you spoke to this naked green woman in the forest and she directed you to an objective, and upon reaching its location – it simply wasn’t there! The fact that the game’s loading times seemed to take an epic amount of time to run through, not to mention the fact that the game appeared to slow down occasionally during some crucial gameplay moments additionally gave me moments of pause.
    In answer to your question, I really wanted to like Army of Two, the 40th Day, but to me, it seemed so outlandishly dumb with its overall lack of storyline and continuous, unrelenting action scenes, which alone should have been enough to captivate my attention.
    Additionally, Duke Nukem Forever; really liked the originals and should have enjoyed the sequel, but, no such luck – despite the fact it was Duke and some of my old favorite weapons made a return, I couldn’t get past the graphical issues – or the rather antiquated locations Duke seemed to fight in.
    Again, interesting post! 😀

    Like

    1. Hatm0nster says:

      Thanks! Did you finish Army of Two and DNF or did they cause you just stop playing eventually?

      Like

      1. Army of Two I returned post haste and reacquired my money back. Duke Nukem I managed to stick with, but, I tell you, there were times when I was considering ditching it!

        Like

  3. Vitosal says:

    RDR as well. I must give that game another chance but it was boring to me. Funnily enough Max Payne 3 also left me feeling rather empty. I did finish it though but ended up trading it. Just thinking about it, still gives me an unsettling feeling…weird

    Like

    1. Hatm0nster says:

      You know, I’ve heard a lot of similar comments when it comes to Max Payne 3. When it comes to that game, it seems like you either loved it or didn’t quite know what to make of it.

      Like

  4. simpleek says:

    I would say Skyrim. So many people love it, but when I watched my friend play, I wasn’t interested in giving it a go. It’s strange because it has things I love, such as being an RPG, a vast world to explore, and a fantasy driven story. I may be one of the few who isn’t in love with Skyrim.

    Like

    1. Hatm0nster says:

      I’ve found that Skyrim is one of those games that’s fun to play, but also incredibly boring to watch, and that’s coming from someone who really likes the game. It’s a pretty enjoyable game and worth a try if you can borrow or pick it up cheap, but if you don’t you’re not missing anything ground-breaking.

      Like

  5. angryscholar says:

    I had the same experience with Witcher 2. Skyrim, too, like a poster above. I also can’t explain exactly why. I’m a massive survival horror fan, but I’ve only played the first Silent Hill and a little of the third. I pretty much skipped over the Dead Space franchise, again for reasons I can’t quite explain.

    Unlike some of the folks above, though, I loved Red Dead Redemption–which is also weird, because I generally haven’t been a huge fan of sandbox games. But Saints Row has recently become another exception to this rule. For whatever reason, RDR and SR do something that appeals to me, where previous games in the genre haven’t.

    Now that I stop to think about it, it seems to me that part of this, at least, has to do with genre conventions. I can only speak for myself, of course, but I’m a child of the 80s and really came into my own as a gamer on the SNES. On that system, due to technical limitations, games tended to fall more squarely into rigidly-defined genres (though there were some exceptions). It continued through PlayStation and its contemporaries, and only really started to change with the PS2/GameCube/Xbox era (again, in my opinion). This is the generation that started to see more cross-genre games, the rise of FPS games, and the beginning of the hardcore/casual distinction (on consoles, anyway–I can’t speak as much to PC gaming).

    Anyway, a result of all this is that I still have a sort of ingrained sense of how a game like Witcher or Skyrim (which at first blush are both fantasy RPGs) should be. But both of these games combine elements from a lot of genres that older generations of games didn’t mix, or couldn’t, and for some reason the combination doesn’t work for me. At least, not in all cases. (Another element is that these types of games seem to me to have been heavily influenced by PC gaming, including MMOs, and I’ve never been heavily invested in that world, so I’ve had trouble adapting to some of its conventions when they appear on consoles.)

    Like

    1. Hatm0nster says:

      You make an interesting point. It makes sense that games which mix genre elements that have traditionally been kept separate would be unappealing to those of us who grew up with those rigidly defined genres.

      Thanks for sharing your thought, it really helps explain this phenomenon (well, for me anyway).

      Like

      1. angryscholar says:

        Thanks to you for the interesting post. And I don’t mean to imply that I consciously dislike mixing genres; on the contrary, I like the idea a lot. For me, at least, it’s more about gameplay elements getting confused (perhaps more my own fault than the games’). Games like Skyrim and Witcher have SO. MUCH. STUFF. TO DO. I get mired in the choices and end up doing nothing.

        But that doesn’t mean developers should stop blurring genre lines. I’d just like to find a way to make things more manageable on my end–which again may be my problem and nobody else’s.

        Like

  6. cary says:

    Really great post! This is where I’m at with Dragon Age II. It’s not a bad game, and there are parts of it that are better than Dragon Age: Origins, but I’m just not into the story or characters. I’m trying hard to at least make it through the main story, but it’s a painful process when “meh” is all I feel upon playing it.

    Like

    1. Hatm0nster says:

      I’ve been on the fence with this one since it came out. I’ve been told the combat is improved over Origins but everything else is rather dull and forgettable. Would you say that’s the case?

      Like

      1. cary says:

        Yep. The levels designs are among the laziest I’ve ever seen in a game, and the characters are…okay. Hawke’s (your character) backstory is kind of interesting, but the story is so long-winded, it’s easy to forget where you are with it between plays.

        The combat is so much better than it was in Dragon Age: Origins, but like with that game, the enemies are rather boring. It’s a lot of hack/cast spells, slash, move, repeat.

        Like

  7. fminuzzi says:

    In an attempt to find some different RPGs I tried Recettear and Adventure Bar Story. In theory I should really enjoy them – they have some combat/dungeon exploration, but the game is really about managing a shop. Recettear’s humor seemed appealing, and Adventure Bar Story is about cooking and selling food (an aspect which in many games is just thrown in, but all I need is the idea of food to get me excited). However, in both cases, I got bored within the hour. The two parts of the game didn’t seem to add to each other much; in fact, the shift in focus detracted, since I couldn’t (or shouldn’t?) always do what I was in the mood to do.

    Like

    1. Hatm0nster says:

      It sounds like it’s two different games in one? Do these two stories intermix at all or are they entirely separate?

      Like

      1. fminuzzi says:

        It did feel like separate games to me, which was my biggest problem. Your days go something like this: 1. Go through a dungeon to collect ingredients/things to sell. 2. Get back to town, choose what to cook/put on display. 3. See how your sales went, repeat.
        Recettear had more going on (such as bartering), but I think I would have enjoyed them more if there were no dungeons. Or if you didn’t have to go into the dungeons yourself. Or maybe it could be more of a stealth harvest game?
        Either way, they were probably not bad games, I just wasn’t enjoying them as much as I thought I should.

        Like

  8. duckofindeed says:

    I do certainly have games that I just can’t get into. Some games are just bad, but others are not so much bad as the fact that, like you said, something is just off about them. Lately, I’ve been going through my games and finding ones to sell. One of the things I am basing this decision off of is the feeling such games give me. Some games I adore, and they make me happy not only to play, but to think about. Other games, I don’t have a lot of fun with, plus I just have no attachment to them whatsoever. “Sonic Colors”, “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed”, “The Legend of Spyro” trilogy. They just don’t do it for me like “Kingdom Hearts” or “The Legend of Zelda”. So I may as well sell them and make room for more games I’ll actually have that bond with. As I get older, I no longer have the desire to play these games that feel, well, soulless for me. They may be good ones or they may be bad, but I no longer want to keep the games that aren’t right for me.

    Like

    1. Hatm0nster says:

      I does get harder to enjoy the games that lack substance. For me, flashy graphics and cool abilities used to be enough to justify a purchase. No longer (not for several years now actually).

      Like

Add to the Discussion!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s