To Replay, or Not to Replay

To replay, or not to replay? This is a question that every gamer is faced with sometime during their gaming lives.

Replayability is a buzzword you hear thrown around all the time in reviews, but what does it really mean? Everyone has their own personal stance on what makes a game worth replaying; some people only do it for the achievements/trophies, while there are others who want to experience the other endings that choice-driven games offer, and some do it just because they love the gameplay. Then there are others who have started traditions of their own, where they replay a certain game every year around the same time, basking in the nostalgia of years past. Of course, there are also others who never replay games, whom are content with moving on and not looking back; ready and eager to move onto newer games instead of dwelling in the past.

Personally, I love replaying games. It doesn’t matter what kind of game it is, I’ll replay them all. Even narrative heavy games with seemingly diminutive replay value; the same way I enjoy rereading books, it doesn’t matter that I already know what’s going to happen, I still enjoy reliving the experience and maybe picking up on something that I didn’t notice the first time, like a character’s motivation or some ironic foreshadowing.

Maybe my love of replaying games has something to with the way I gamed growing up. Like many people, when I was kid new games were a rarity. Usually the only way my siblings and I would acquire games was through Christmas and birthdays, which meant most of the time we had to make do with what we had.

I’ll be the first to admit that my siblings and I weren’t the best at playing video games. Case in point, we played Super Mario 64 for years and somehow continually failed to finish it, even though when some of my younger siblings were at the same ages that I was when I originally played the game they managed to finish the DS version multiple times. For the most part, though, my siblings and I gravitated to the games we could beat. We’d play the game by working together and passing the controller around, and when we’d finish, we’d restart and do it all again. I don’t know why we did this – we just did. And whenever we got stuck on a new game, we’d give up and go back to our old favorites and play through them again for yet another time. Frogger: The Great Quest and Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets were two of our personnel favorites, games which to this day I still know like the back of my hand .

There’s also something to be said about familiarity. Playing a new game is great and all, but I’m not always in the mood or have the energy to invest the time required to wrap my head around an unfamiliar game’s gameplay mechanics and story without a clear understanding whether I’m going to end up enjoying the experience or not. And it’s times like that when pulling out a comfort game (a game that I’m already familiar with and know I will enjoy) is just the more enticing option.

Another reason I replay games is because I’m sort of a collector (hoarder, pack-rat, sentimentalist, whichever you prefer) who keeps every single game I play, and can’t stand to rid myself of a single one; even the terrible games I don’t plan on ever replaying. Maybe this has something to do with the heartache I felt during my childhood when my dad threw all my Nintendo 64 games away after the console broke? But, then again, I also still have every video magazine issue I have ever received, so maybe there’s more to this. Regardless, you could say that replaying games is just an excuse I use to justify to myself why I am keeping all these games. Thankfully, I also do have about a dozen younger siblings whom I lend my games too from time to time, so the games I don’t have time to replay still can and do get played.

Now, as much I do enjoy replaying games, I have noticed that over the past few years I’m not doing it as much. This isn’t a conscious decision on my part. Every time I’m finished with a game I enjoy and are about to stash it away into my game library, I still find myself thinking, “That was good, I will really need to play it again someday.” But this “someday” is occurring less and less. For example, last year I started keeping tracking which games I played, and checking back I realized that during 2016 I only replayed four games (Stella Glow, Fallout 4, Goosebump Horrorland, and Lost Dimension) only two of which I stuck with to completion. For 2017, I’ve done a better job – I’ve replayed eight games (Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright, SSX Tricky, Dishonored 2, Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts II, Frogger: The Great Quest, Crash Bandicoot: The Wraith of Cortex, and Persona 4) and finished four of them. However, the reason for this slight increase is, in part, due to my Throwback Thursday assignments, but more so because my brother and I have started getting together for play sessions where we go through some of our old favorites passing the controller back-and-forth; if we hadn’t the number would’ve dropped extensively. I don’t have any earlier data to crosscheck these numbers against, but I’m almost certain the number of games I have replayed these past two years is much lower than it was just three years ago.

I must say the biggest reason I’m not replaying games as much anymore is probably the same reason why a lot of people don’t do things they want to do – time. Ignoring the boring adult responsibilities that take away from all the time I could be spending gaming, there are just so many new games coming out every month that there isn’t as much time to squander reliving the past. Not to mention in this day and age it is much easier to acquire older games that I haven’t played before and indie titles through services like PlayStation Plus, Nintendo eShop, EA Origins, Steam, and Twitch Prime for practically nothing, so I’m never without something different to play. On top of that, there is also my extensive backlog of games that I’ve given up on in the past that needs my attention.

It really is becoming increasingly more difficult choosing which games to replay, because I’m never certain when the next opportunity I’ll have to replay a game will come again and I want to be careful with my decisions. I mean, I want to replay Bloodborne, but then I’m reminded I still haven’t touched Lords of the Fallen and that I still need to give Nioh a second look to see if I can actually finish it. Also when I was displaced temporarily by Hurricane Harvey I started up yet another playthrough of Persona 4 to take my mind off things. But once my life settled back down I moved onto different, newer games with the intent of returning to Persona at a later point. That was back in September, and I still haven’t gotten back to it. Although I hate the idea of leaving my playthrough unfinished any longer, I am currently playing catch up on the all games I missed in 2017, and I just know by time I’m done with those it will already be 2018 and the year’s hottest releases will probably already be here.

These are my thoughts on replaying games, but what about yours? Do you replay games? If so, how do you decide when do to so and when to prioritize newer experiences? Thanks for reading.

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Joseph Gedgaudas

Joseph has been playing video game his entire life and writing almost just as long, so it was only about time for him to start to writing about video games. When it comes to his choice of games, he is a lover of all things Japanese, though he tries his best to balance his gaming diet with Western titles, too.

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