How much time does it take for your initial impression of a game to form? A few minutes? A few hours? How much time does it take to overturn that first impression, if indeed it can be overturned at all? First impressions are very powerful things. No matter the subject be it a game, a movie, a book, or even a person, your first impression of them is going to heavily influence your interactions. Usually we have plenty of opportunity to reinforce or overturn it, but what happens when your first impression becomes your only impression?
It’s been about a month since I sunk my first few hours into Final Fantasy XV, and unfortunately that handful of hours still represents the entirety of my time with the game. I blame this on my decision to pick up Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE for Wii U shortly after starting Final Fantasy XV. I thought that Tokyo Mirage was just going to be an interesting little side-game to change things up every so often as I played through FFXV, but it instead wound up nearly monopolizing my game time ever since I started it. Now though, after three weeks, I’m finally poised to finish Tokyo Mirage but I’m not feeling the excitement I ought to be. I see FFXV looming just over the horizon. I know I need to go back. I know that it’s a well-made game. I also know that I’ve already decided that I’m probably not going to like it.
You see, my first few hours with Final Fantasy XV did not do very much to convince me that it was a game that I wanted to play. I’ll just say right off the bat that it ‘s an absolutely beautiful game, I don’t think anybody could deny that. If visuals alone were enough to get me into a game, I don’t think anybody could pull me away from this one. If my friends are to be believed though, those visuals are mere icing on the cake when compared to the actual gameplay its sporting. However that wasn’t my impression of the game. My impression was one of creeping boredom and frequent questions.
I found myself asking questions from the word go. I wondered if I could just proceed through the story like I wanted or if I had to mess around in this open environment for awhile first in order to level up in preparation. I questioned why I had to be chauffeured from location to location rather than doing the driving myself. I mused as to why I had to do a fishing mini-game, why level ups only happened when I camped for the night, and how I could better keep track of Noctis during combat encounters. Perhaps all these are all things I’ll grow accustomed to once I return and sink more time into it, but right now they’re all sitting in front of me as very good reasons to just forget about the game and move on to something else.
My experience with Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE hasn’t made this any better either. Without getting too much into it, it’s very clear what’s going on in that game. I have a clear path to follow, but not to the point of being led by the nose. The progression system makes sense, there are no unnecessary mini-games to deal with, and the combat makes a point off ensuring that you’re always aware of who’s doing what. Suffice it to say, having this comparison has only made my initial reservations all the more compelling.
Despite all of this though, I do want to return to Final Fantasy XV. Right now I’m only grudgingly returning to it because I promised a friend I’d do so, but I want it to give me a reason to stay. I would absolutely love it if the game managed to overturn these first impressions of mine, but right now I think its unlikely. First impressions are powerful things after all.
Have you ever gone back to a game that left you with an unfavorable first impression? Did it overcome that impression? What did it have to do to win you over?