August Game Challenge: Week Three (Uncomfortable)

inside cornfield

On one hand, I’m making progress with playing new games: I played a bit of both Abzu as well as No Man’s Sky this past week. The downside? I left both experiences feeling uncomfortable, albeit for different reasons.

I sometimes do not take to new experiences well. This would be one of those times.

I started Abzu and was terribly excited. The game is beautiful.

However.

I struggled like no one’s business with the controls. I haven’t struggled with the controls of a game in a very long time (I believe since I played the original Resident Evil many years ago, as it was the first game with tank controls I ever played to completion). I felt like no matter how I tried to adjust both my style of play and the three control options, I couldn’t get the hang of it. I was so frustrated. Most of the time I would end up doing flips when I didn’t want to, and it felt like a constant struggle to get anywhere. I looked online and I’m far from the only person who had issues, but some folks out there had no issues at all, which just makes me feel like I’m bad at games, somehow. I finally had to put it down because I was so frustrated with both the control scheme as well as myself.

I know I will go back to it, likely today, but I feel daunted and that’s not a feeling I normally have. I’m just not sure why they didn’t go with a more traditional control scheme instead of trying to get all squirrely. Or maybe it’s not squirrely and I’m just awful.

I also finally started in on No Man’s Sky.

I pause to reflect here for a moment.

I was excited for this game but I wasn’t on the hype train (which helped with curbing my expectations). If I had known ahead of time that it was an ambiguous resource collection simulator, I likely may have passed on it. I felt so lost for the first two hours I played. I don’t need a game to hold my hand or proffer a lengthy tutorial, but I felt like I was dropped into a situation where I had no idea what to do or why I couldn’t do certain things (where, oh where do I get/find/create an Atlas pass?!). I eventually found my way, but I’m just not sure the game is for me. The novelty of scanning and uploading my finds quickly wore off. And on my starting planet, there were these crab-like things that would sneak up behind me and attack me (rude). I found that most of my time was spent finding resources so I could continually refill my health/mining tool, and that just didn’t excite me. I was also not a fan of how slow you move through the environment. In a game that’s all about traversal, I want to be able to move relatively quickly to get to the next far off thing. I’m also not a fan of a teeny tiny stamina bar that renders you gasping for breath far too often. I also wasn’t terribly impressed with my jet pack. It felt janky as heck.

So, after my first foray with No Man’s Sky, I felt uncomfortable. I felt like I didn’t “get” the hook of the game, and I had to take a moment to realize that it likely just isn’t a game that I click with. I know a lot of people who are having a great time with the game, and I’m genuinely glad for that. I’m just not sure if I will be among them in the search for the mystery at center of the universe.

And just saying that makes me feel like I might be left out of something. But I also need to learn when to say when on games I’m just not into.

I will give it another several hours to see if I find a better sync with the game, but after playing two games I didn’t immediately click with, I felt like something must be wrong with me.

To be fair, I know there are plenty of things wrong with me, but I meant that I very much felt like all of a sudden I sucked at games. I hope that isn’t the case, but all weekend I’ve felt like I was in a great big digital funk.

I at least feel good that I got my feet wet with these two games that I’d been wanting to try. I may have had a less than stellar experience on both fronts, but at least I tried, and will continue to try.

Have you ever felt that you were terrible at a game? If so, which game? How did you proceed? Did you get better at it, or stop playing it entirely? I’d love to empathize with you. Or for you to empathize with me. Either way, empathy.

Here’s to a solid week of gaming ahead. Cheers, friends.

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14 replies »

      • I’m sorry. I wish I was better at them. I have hung on to Bloodborne for years in hopes that I can figure out how to play it to completion. The atmosphere is fascinating. It just bums me out that it is so punishing. That may be fun for some, but it’s not my bag.

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      • I agree with Colton! Not every game that comes out is for everyone. Sometimes, you have certain niche games ie. Mass Effect, most Telltale Games, and other series. Some games no matter how hard you try you can’t seem to get a grasp on said game ie. No Man’s Sky. Thoughts?

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  1. I ended up with a copy of Dark Souls 3 purely because of the hype train. I can’t emphasize enough how terrible I am with that game and I was having zero fun. Ultimately, I just stopped and traded it in for Overwatch. Finding that sweet spot between mastering a game and being endlessly frustrated isn’t easy. I just got back into Rise of the Tomb Raider trying to complete it before Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. While I adore the rebooted franchise, the controls just aren’t clicking with me and result in frustrated moments, especially combat, but I enjoy the game enough to finish it.

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    • I did, too! And I am not good at From Software games. I think it was very smart of you to gauge how much fun you were having and to trade it towards something you would potentially like more. I wish I was better at that!

      I think you nailed the crux: finding the spot between mastering a game and being frustrated is sometimes so difficult to do. It’s like, if I just play for another X amount of hours, I might get better! Or, if I do that, I might just be even more deeply frustrated than I am now.

      I actually felt very similarly about Rise of the Tomb Raider. I thought the controls were a bit wonky and it was frequently difficult to get Lara to do what I was trying to get her to do. I hope you finish it quickly and with minimal frustration!

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      • Rebekah, are the controls for ROTR similar to the previous entry? I have that game on preorder. Can you tweak the controls?

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      • Yes, but (to me) they felt a little rubbery. I felt like Lara snapped to certain things in a more profound way than she did in the first reboot.

        I’m actually not sure if the controls can be altered, but I imagine they can. I can boot up my One and check if you like?

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  2. I’m sorry to hear that the new games you got to didn’t work out better than you’d hoped but at least you gave them a shot. I can relate to what you’re feeling but you shouldn’t think that it’s your fault that you didn’t click with certain games. I’m probably one of the few people who didn’t click with Overwatch this year. I gave it a shot multiple times but I couldn’t find anything that got me wanting to come back to it. The good thing is that there’s plenty of other games of all genres that every gamer can find something to enjoy.

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    • Hey, that’s okay. I’m always glad to try out new games and have new experiences.

      Overwatch is a unique beast. I loved the game, but the toxic online community ruined it (at least temporarily) for me.

      And you are absolutely right; there are so many games out there, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Man, I love games.

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