Great readers of Lcom, I am back from a prolonged absence. I would make the joke about no one noticing this but I did so last time I stepped away from the site and it would be awfully gauche of me to make the same joke twice. At any rate, I have returned to discuss something of continued importance to me regarding my gaming pastime. I come to grips with this issue whenever I finish a game and begin to look for my next selection. Do I dive into a new experience or do I relive an old one? Across the wide internet I have heard many harsh words of late about spending time on old games when so many new ones await unplayed. And though I understand this sentiment as well as give in to it often enough, I do not wholly subscribe to it.
Of late I have come to call replaying my favorite games as “letting the game flourish”. This overly flowery term owes its existence to an odd connection I made with a Youtube video featuring a man writing the word “Flourishing” in an ornate copperplate script. It takes him seven minutes to write this one word. In the end it does not say anything more than that singular word, but saying more was not the point. Playing an old game and enjoying all the aspects of it that I am familiar with or to gain a deeper appreciation of it by experiencing the details I may have missed does not strike me as wasted time better spent on completely new experiences. Take, for example, our latest playthrough of the Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster. I am willing to bet most of the readership and staff have already played at least one of these games. I have only played FFX and will get a chance to play X-2 with this purchase and so it will have the unique quality of being both a replay and a new experience for me. In that way I find it a pretty hard purchase to argue against, despite what certain founders of this site may say about one of those games in particular.
The sentiment I voiced earlier about wasting time on old games is not an unpopular one, if anything the notion is growing in popularity. In a gaming world where people beat a game then immediately sell it back to Gamestop or some equivalent, the idea and the importance of replay value would seem to be diminishing. Admittedly I have fallen prey to the idea that I do not have the time to experience some games more than once. This has unfortunately kept me from seeing the most of the games I own, with one in particular always nagging me when I look at my towering Steam games collection. Eidos’s 2011 Deus Ex: Human Revolution was a game I spent many hours on in my first playthrough. It offered a plethora of solutions for completing a mission, many optional quests, many divergent upgrade paths and gameplay styles were present in this RPG accentuated stealth-action game. But I only played it once, as the obligatory stealthy assassin, stuck to the dialogue choices I made, for good or ill, and finished the game. But Human Revolution has much more to offer. And these three years later I still have not revisited the game. But it sits there, recently reinstalled on my PC, a white-lettered titled amongst a mass of greyed out names of games I either wish I never bought or wish I were not so burnt out on.
So what has kept me from giving these older experiences their due? Well, Dark Souls 2, of course! Any frequent readers of my column here might notice a few games get repeated mention, and among those games are those in From Software’s Souls series. Well, recently the latest entry hit store shelves and I had to make it a day one purchase. A Souls game is one that offers a very nerve wracking challenge on the first time around, and from there the challenge shifts to be less about finding the threats and more about being efficient and error-free when cutting through them in subsequent playthroughs. I have some criticisms about the newest title in the series, but having completed it I can confidently say that it stands ably beside its brethren in the franchise. Maybe it is not the best in terms of design or challenge, but a solid entry nonetheless. And, like the other games, it offers the best of both worlds of gaming. Within awaits both a great new experience on the first time around, fraught with dangerous exploration and clever traps, as well as a strong incentive to keep refining and improving on the many runs through the same areas over and over. A game so rewarding in its initial experience and in its replayability is rare, especially today, and it is why in relatively short order I was able to sink well over one hundred hours into this beast. It proves to me, in a singular experience, the importance of both the new and the old. That charting new territory in games as well as letting the old ones flourish are of equal importance to appreciating the games I own. Now if only coming to this conclusion would help me pick what game I want to play next.
I know, I know, I have kept my adoring fans waiting much too long in my absence. Send your fan mail to– wait no. Send your COMMENTS to the comment section and let me know if you have ever contended with playing a new game versus replaying an old one. Ever felt replaying a game was a “waste of time” when new ones sit unplayed? Harken unto me in the comments!