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Late to the party – games I never finished in 2020

Hi all,

Hope you are well. As a total non-completionist (and someone who had covid over Christmas so couldn't do this kind of post at their popularity peak), I wanted to share my thoughts on some games I played in 2020, but with a different slant. I drop more games than I play in a year because I have a pretty high standard. Here are my reviews of those I never finished.

Persona 5
Played: 60 Hours
Next steps: Never play again
Reason: I loved P5 going in and was having a really good time. Music was great, visuals were awesome, concept was cool, plot seemed pretty tight, characters were interesting enough. However, when I got 60 hours in and realised the plot was still about 20 hours away from concluding, something just snapped. I'd started to find the dungeons a chore, I was tapping through endless IM chat over and over, and I was sick to death of the convoluted over-engineered fusion menu, which I felt like I was spending a lifetime in with a million guides open to try and get what I wanted. This game was so sharp and slick that it was confusing that everything was such a faff to do. Unfortunately, at the 7th palace my vibe just died and I have no desire to ever return, although I'll listen to any of those songs again any time they come on.

God of War (2018)
Played: 6 Hours
Next steps: Consider playing again and cranking down to Easy difficulty.
Reason: GoW was beautiful and I found the initial concept though provoking. However, I found the over the shoulder combat awkward, could never remember new moves after I unlocked them, thought the bosses were same-y and found the upgrade system very convoluted. I don't mind hyper violence, but I did mind Kratos aggressively opening every crate with such excessive yelling. I found the central story had the capacity to be charming, but I wasn't sure that I needed another 'gruff father that actually just wants what's best for his son' in my life. That said, I think I might be tempted to play through it by removing a lot of the difficulties of combat, as I found the setting and general idea very cool.

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Death Stranding
Played: 4-5 hours
Next steps: Not sure.
Reason: Death Stranding has a fascinating opening few hours. I loved how committed it was to not being a game – until it started being a game. For a man that struggles to walk in a straight line, his propensity to enter into combat against armed shoulders with just a … cable, and fight … demons with grenades of his own blood seemed ill advised. I enjoyed the tense, nervy nature of evading the monsters, so being forced to fight them ruined the illusion and killed my drive to keep playing. Felt like this was tacked on, and I just didn't enjoy it. I might yet play again, maybe like GoW on easy difficulty, and experience it for what I think it should be.

Played: 12 hours
Next steps: Never return, despite my niggling desire to.
Reason: I love FF games. FF12 was the one that got away and one I never played, so after the hype of the re-release on Switch I gave it a go on the PS4. I found it intriguing to begin with, thought the setting and combat was cool, but was confused by the fact in a world full of weird and wonderful creatures, they decided to name every character a generic blonde person with some variant of 'Vabalsh' as a name. I'd heard that Balthier was the ACTUAL protagonist and to focus on him, but I didn't find him charming, and found his jibes at Vaan to figure out what he was doing rang very hollow. I would comment on the story, but I had no idea what was happening most of the time, as all the story and characterisation came in massive information dumps. My enduring memory (minor spoiler I guess) of this game is running around a lot of giant circles in the desert, to pick up an item I can't remember why we needed, to be betrayed by a character that I'd mostly forgotten existed, for something to do with some lost kingdom. FF9 managed to figure out that you can have your characters interact (!) frequently to make them feel more alive. How come FF12 couldn't manage that? I love FF and everytime I see a review on this subreddit it makes me tempted to return because everyone sings its praises, until I remember I remember nothing about this game – and that's a terrible sign for me.

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Astral Chain
Played: 10 hours
Next steps: Return to this after Covid.
Reason: Astral Chain seems awesome. Looks amazing, seems like an excellent story, gameplay is fun and fluid, seems well-paced. Unfortunately, covid has made me try and avoid things that stress me the heck out, and the combination of relentless boss battles with non-stop screeching guitar music made me a nervous wreck every time I put the controller down, despite the fact I think this game is awesome. When I can chill a bit, I'll return to this, because it had all the makings of excellence.

Octopath Traveler
Played: 15 hours
Next steps: Keep playing every now and again and see.
Reason: For the most part I'm enjoying this game. It's an eclectic band of characters, looks amazing, and has truly excellent combat (Persona games could learn something here). However, it feels quite grindy, I don't like that characters are difficult to swap in and out, and I'm annoyed that I picked my starting character as a Merchant, when I clearly should have gone thief, which is immensely more useful. I don't mind the disconnect of the storylines too much, but none of the individual tales have blown me away, which I think is a shame. Untapped potential here, but good to just pick up and play a bit of.


A game I wish I hadn't finished:

Played: All main story missions.
Next steps: Begrudge giving up my time some more.
Reason: I'm a big fan of open world games, and for the first ten hours of Spider-Man, I was having a great time because it seemed an exemplar of the genre. Travel was fast, there was a lot to do, NY felt pretty alive. However, I felt the game was at odds with itself. Webslinging made all these city streets and buildings that have been immaculately crafted completely missable as I swung by them on one of the endless, endless activities that came up. Spidey's police radio never stopped, he was constantly being shot at and it all just felt a bit much. The plot, ultimately, was the same Spider-Man plot I've seen played out in every variation of Spider-Man I've seen for the last 25 years – with the exception of Into the Spiderverse, which does it well. I was so close to the end I raced through it anyway, but wish I hadn't bothered.

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So there you have it! I was bad with patience this year because with everything going on new releases were the only things I could get hyped about, which I won't discuss here. I'm looking at playing Control next


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