Why ‘From Software’ and ‘CD Projekt Red’ ruined gaming for me

I can’t be one of those people who commits 100% to the world of gaming. For one, it’s an expensive pastime, and I’ve a chronic need to spend all available change on food. Really though, it’s because I’ve got critical (or fussy) about the games I play.

Nowadays I consult dozens of reviews before making a purchase just to make sure there’s no surprises – nasty or otherwise.

The issue is, I’ve found a couple of games which just blow all competition out of the water – regardless of how critically acclaimed they are. It means I’m constantly comparing any new game I buy to the prestige of these benchmark greats. And when they inevitably don’t live up to my unrealistically high standards I stop playing.

The games I’m talking about are The Witcher 3 and Dark Souls. The Witcher for its immersive world, believable narrative and attention to detail. Dark Souls for its tight, engaging gameplay, grotesque enemy design and unrivaled ability to inspire actual fear.

It means any game within the same genre as either two is just NOT worth playing anymore.

What inspired this post?

I picked up Final Fantasy 15 the other day.

It’s one of (if not THE) biggest RPG franchises ever and I instantly identified a dozen or so flaws. The premise seemed daft, the world patchy and without purpose, the dialogue was clumsy – without subtlety or intrigue, and the gameplay was just plain boring.

But that’s in comparison to what I’ve already experienced on the market.

You play as Prince Noctis, the moody teenage royal, off on a delightful road trip with your leather clad boy band (sorry, bodyguards) to marry your betrothed. When your enemies (imaginatively named) the Empire roll in and kill the king – taking control of the kingdom – you must ‘seek revenge’ and rid the land of the Empire’s mechanical dictatorship.

If you think you’ve heard it before that’s because you have, in every single fantasy/sci-fi novel/film.

And that wouldn’t matter so much if the characters were likable, but they just weren’t, and I found myself face palming ever more frequently as the experience dragged on.

It’s a shame, because I can tell a tonne of work has gone in here, but the whole ‘trying to be witty’ thing fell flat (probably due to poor Japanese to English translations). You’ve got Gladiolus, the hulking fighter with a six-pack always on show through his studded leather jacket. There’s Prompto who just won’t stop taking selfies and cracking abysmal jokes. Noctis (as mentioned before) is a blank slate who (try as he might) can’t show any emotion other than obnoxious teen. Then there’s Ignis… And my God could I write essays on Ignis.

Ignis just makes me laugh. He’s the stereotypical Brit from a Japanese perspective. The intelligent (and insufferably posh) one who’s like the Mom of the party. Ignis is the epitome of cringe. When he’s not suddenly exclaiming revelations of new recipes he’s pulling thoughtful poses for Prompto’s unchecked camera antics.

Mixing them all together makes for some interesting, yet very awkward conversation. And the crossover between banter and serious chat is jarring, often ruining the immersion for me.

The point of an RPG is to make you feel a part of the world and the interlocking story arcs. But at no point did I stop thinking I was playing a game. One thing I found personally annoying was the timer in the bottom corner telling me how much bang I was getting for my buck.

11 hours in and I’m determined to get my £23 worth, even though I’m not strictly enjoying myself…

I’m being overly harsh though. There are actually some interesting features to the game which DO add immersion, such as a meaningful day-night cycle, stat boosting meals, fantastic graphics and interesting monster designs. And I can see why some people would enjoy it, especially the younger generation who can maybe relate to Noctis more. Also there’s a lot of attention to detail and it’s a gigantic game, which is a big selling point in some circles.

The real problem

I’ve finished both the Witcher 3 and Dark Souls, a couple of times in the case of the latter, but I daren’t go back. There’s something special about playing a truly good game for the first time, and I wouldn’t want to sully their memory by replaying them.

Especially with the Witcher 3 where I already know the story; plot twists lose their magic when you’re in the know. It the same reason I never replayed Bioshock. I no I would NOT kindly replay it!

And this is the big issue.

Because I refuse to replay the really great games and all others are ruined for me, I just give up. I rest, I wait, praying another life changing release is on the way.

But just a couple of weeks ago I realised I’m probably being short sighted. I purchased Ori and the Blind forest and had an absolute blast playing it. Even got my Dad interested (and he’s even fussier than me!).

It made me realise there ARE other great games out there. If there weren’t then the gaming industry wouldn’t be growing at such an exponential rate. It just takes a leap of faith (from my bank account’s perspective) to find an experience worthy of interrupting real life for.

…or I could just ask you guys…

Drop me a message.

What are your untouchable favourites which ruin every other game for you?

 

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