Completing games

An interesting point of discussion is whether games need to be completable and whether completing a game should be the focus of playing it.

The more games I play, the less that I am sure that the main fulfilment comes from completing a game.

For a story driven game, leaving the story uncompleted doesn’t sit well with me. I like to know the ending of a story that I start, and good stories generally have a well structured beginning, middle, and an end. But if the goal of playing is only to complete the story, sometimes I may end up forcing myself through boring sections of gameplay to get to the end. In those cases, was it really best to play a game, or would watching a more focused series have been a better way to experience a story?

Other games that don’t have an ending to work towards have still appealed for other reasons, such as flow, exploration, and self improvement. Examples are games such as Tetris, SimCity 2000, and various rouge likes.

There’s also a problem of endless games that are deliberately drawn out to make more money. I’m generally not of a fan of these, but I can see the appeal, especially if they are online and players can build a community around experiencing a lot of gameplay together over time.

I also like to try a lot of different games, and that means that I can’t finish all of them. So I tend to abandon a lot of games. Playing can feel a bit directionless if that happens too often.

How do you all feel about the topic of completing games? Do games that you play always need to have an ending and do you always strive to reach that ending? Or do you mainly play for other reasons, with “completion” being a secondary concern?


There has never been a game of which I really liked that I never saw it through until the end. It just feels…wrong. It just feels wrong to not complete the journey.

I can say this: The only time I actually never beat a game is when I played World of Warcraft for 2 years with a friend. After two years of on and off playing, we never even beat the regular, base game; never mind the expansions! I think MMORPGs are a genre that fall victim to this. The ending is soooo far off, it could seem never-ending, too drawn out. I think in some cases, eventually, you have to take a step back and realize that ultimately, you might be wasting your time and life…

The only other time I won’t beat a game is if it is down right awful (but I’m pretty good with judging a game based on multiple reviews or my own judgement for that matter).

And I have to confess something: I bought Demon Souls years back and just…gave up on it… It just wasn’t for me. Too hard, to stressful, and just…not fun to me. I need to be able to asses an environment, take a bit of time to gather myself and my surroundings, to pause, plan, and then proceed. I need to have some kind of safety net in place when I play a game. Demon Souls took that away from me, which just frustrated the hell out of me! Not to mention the game would autosave over all my deaths and item usage! Hell, It wouldn’t even let me pause the F*****g game. I quickly sold it back on Ebay!

For the most part, if I know a game is going to be exceptional; if a game is truly unique, engaging, creative and fun, I will complete it. Imagine never beating PDS and just leaving it at a certain point. To me, well…in RPG’s at least…it’s like leaving the characters in limbo.

I find that I’m more and more drawn to story-driven games that have meaningful character interactions. That’s what matters to me and if a game has those, I’ll likely end up finishing it. But if it doesn’t, the gameplay has to be really good for me to endure finishing it. I rarely enjoy open-world games for that reason. It just feels like I’m wasting my time. And once I drop a game, I very rarely get back to complete it later on.

I do try to avoid buying games that I won’t finish, although that hasn’t always worked. Admittedly, I’d probably be better of just playing more games and dropping them if they don’t interest me. But then that seems like a waste of money.

To answer I would need to confess something as well, it’s fair to call myself pathological I think. Considering my gaming habit began with an already near obsolete 8-bit computer and collecting pirated games by the dozens, that set a pattern of dabbling with a lot of games without investing much effort most of the time. Even when I started buying my console games and such, I have always tended to have a “pile of shame” which dwarfs the number of games I have actually ‘completed’ in any sense.

But I think that has also made the games I do invest in really stand out. And it obviously helped make me the super critical bastard you have all seen…

To the topic, and I may have said this before or maybe not here, it is interesting how mobile games have effectively recapitulated the “pick up and play” priority of the old arcade games. Even as the media-sophist disdain narrative for those old ‘shallow’ games endured for the last couple decades, mobile games have been simultaneously celebrated and defended as some kind of new frontier and innevitable future. And they are mostly even more shallow and cynical than those silly old Arcade games.

Not to over generalize either, as with every distinct market it has brought interesting and fresh inventions. But this whole AAA vs Indie divide narrative is itself very shallow and I think dissembling of the real dynamics. Of course I pretty much hate the commercial gaming culture as a package anymore, which includes the press, so the way they’ll have it both ways is perhaps too grating to me.

Sorry still got tangential with that I know. But I agree with Solo, most games seem trapped in a mode of conflicting priorities, and it is extremely rare that any great balance of “fun factor” and storytelling is achieved. So you end up with mostly game after game of thin throwaway stories, combined with gameplay equally thinned out by obligatory filler / repetition and redundancy.

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I’ve replayed and beat more old games than I have new games. PDS, Skies of Arcadia, Chrono Trigger, Mana series, Nights, Sonic 1-Adventure 2, FF series up to 10, ICO, SOTC, Zelda series just to name a few and many more PlayStation RPGs, and older games from N64, SNES, Saturn ect…

I don’t know… I have sensed that creativity has been lacking over the years. Well, except for Nintendo…There are many games I won’t even give a second look, let alone try to play them. Maybe it’s the long development times, unexpected changes and loss of creative control, maybe it’s a change in mainstream taste or corporate control, putting restraints on creative freedom? The Last Guardian was in development for a decade and sadly, ICO is still the better game (The puzzles in ICO were so much better; TLG just consists of pulling switches to open doors!)!

Continuing on. Final Fantasy 15 comes to mind. In my opinion, this game was utter trash, a deception if you will. It looked nice, but underneath was a complete waste of any kind of structured, interesting, or meaningful narrative. Oh, It’s okay, you just had to get any kind of meaningful and connected, character exposition from outside sources (the movie and anime) or paid dlc! None of which was found in the game itself! And Square thinks they can fix this with a giant update/patch to the already F’d up story?! It’s too late, it’s almost unsalvageable at this point​…A waste of my time and the story was horrendous anyway! But, I beat the game lol, only… to give it the benefit of the doubt and because it’s…Final Fantasy…

I guess one point I could make is: even if a game is potentially bad, series loyalty might drive you to see it through until the end. Even against your better judgement!

Some recent games I’ve played that stood out to me are: World of Final Fantasy, Gravity Rush 1 and 2, and Zelda Breath of the Wild. I also recently played Kirby: Planet Robobot on 3Ds, there hadn’t been a Kirby game that good in a long time; ever since Kirby Superstar or Kirby Mass Attack!

The only games I’m currently looking forward to playing and beating now, are: Sonic Mania, Ys 8, Ever Oasis for 3DS (from the director of the Secret of Mana series!), and Mario Odyssey.

I find that without narrative, I slowly lose interest. I guess it is the same reason why I really enjoy novels. A game that really captures me with story is one I will replay again, just like I will go back to read a book that I love multiple times. Games that have no story, or a weak one don’t draw me in. Playing for stats only just isn’t my preferred play style. I guess that would come down to each individual preference, but times when I don’t necessarily like a game, I will complete it just to finish the story. Exceptions being something like the Walking Dead games. The writers were so quick to discard characters I liked and torture that little girl that I stopped after 3 chapters of the first game. That isn’t to say that loss and death can’t be a part of the narrative, but a game that is just about death doesn’t do it for me. I want meaningful interactions with characters I enjoy. Once I make those connections, such as in PDS, I am more likely to be drawn back in to play the game again. Games that sacrifice narrative for gameplay, such as Mass Affect Andromeda, aren’t compelling for me. I would say I am more forgiving of a story lite game if the gameplay is just phenomenal.

Lots of interesting and diverse views here. I’m glad I’m not the only one with a “pile of shame”. :anjou_embarrassed:

I’m going to try focusing on ten games across a variety of genres, in attempt to finish more of them without getting bored of playing just one game and not spreading myself too thin by having dozens on the go at once. Steam and GOG have a tagging system to help with this, so I’ve tagged five games on each service with ‘Next to Play’. This is my current list for those interested:


  • Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons
  • Inside
  • Lifeless Planet
  • The Stanley Parable
  • Zup! 2


  • Quake III: Arena
  • Oblivion
  • The Longest Journey
  • Ori and the Blind Forest
  • Orwell

Xbox Play Anywhere:

  • Phantom Dust

Okay, so that’s eleven games. This is not going so well already haha…

I used to have very very few games as kid. So I treasured them and even learned to love their lesser aspects. When I started becoming more a consumerl…and even renting games for cheap…my pile of uncompleted games started increasing…I started to get jaded and bored with games…My attention span became smaller and I began only get into games that give me that instant gratification (usually shooters or hack n slash) and stopped exploration games like Mass Effect and others because they were slower…

So I stopped renting games and nowadays I don’t even really play much. Ended up going the other way, where I’m like a gamer who doesnt even game really. But I like to value games more. Give them the attention they deserve. So only one game at a time for me…and I want to be more selective.

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Like Gehn (hi by the way :anjou_love:) I never used to have a lot of games… then when I could afford to buy them myself I kinda went overboard (Steam sales didn’t help with this).

In the last year or so I’ve been determined to get my ‘pile of shame’ under control, and I started played through all the games in my collection that I had never completed. I had over 20 games, and after last weekend I’m now down to just two Dreamcast games in the list.

Going forward I aim to finish one game before purchasing another… I think focusing on one at a time should increase my enjoyment of them.

That’s really impressive. Well done. I no longer have my Dreamcast collection and most other physical games (except the Panzer games and Shining Force III, which I still have in storage), and that’s probably just as well… my digital collection alone is massive. I did finish around half of my Dreamcast games back in the day, so I agree with @GehnTheBerserker that having the money for more games/cheaper games doesn’t mean that you’ll appreciate individual games more. When you pay full price for a game, and there’s months between each purchase, you tend to make the most of it.

For me, it would be impossible to complete my digital collection now. Especially with Humble Bundle, I went overboard. I have every one of main Humble Indie Bundles (except the first one, but the second bundle included all the games from the first). They are now up to Humble Indie Bundle 18. I don’t regret that, as these bundles consist of unique, creative games, cheap, partially a donation to charity, and usually consist of at least one game I want to play properly.

The problem is this lead to purchasing numerous other bundles of more mainstream games and games on sale that I didn’t want to play that much, but that I “intend to play one day”. Across Steam and GOG I have over 800 games, many of them never installed. So for me it is a matter of prioritising the games that I actually want to play now, cutting back on purchasing bundles, and probably not buying any more consoles (PC is more than enough). Some of them don’t need to be completed to be good experiences either, e.g. games that don’t focus on narrative like The Elder Scrolls and Fallout games. But playing the games has to be enjoyable, otherwise what’s the point?

That’s a good idea, so long as you’re enjoying the game. I don’t think I could be that disciplined personally, but I admire the dedication to seeing every game through to the end.

Over time, the types of games that really kept me compelled to finish have really changed. I do enjoy games with a great narrative that draws me in, but lately, I’d be willing to sacrifice such an element for the sake of gameplay. I’ve become much more drawn to games with a much bigger focus on gameplay with an understated narrative that doesn’t get in the way. There are exceptions, but it’s really hard for me to keep focus if I’m not constantly active in the gameplay.

RPGs are a big weakness for me, because I really get into it for a week or so, then drop it when it hits me that I can spend the entire day on one video game and have to spend a good portion of it being interrupted by large bouts of narrative or downtime between battles. The Demon’s/Dark Souls/Bloodborne series of games are much more appealing to me than traditional narrative-heavy RPGs because the constant visceral action is massively more satisfying than spending hours reading exposition about the world or characters, or having to spend time in towns where you’re not constantly surrounded by antagonists.

It’s interesting seeing viewpoints so different from my own among Panzer Dragoon fans. I was drawn to the series because of its action-heavy arcade like gameplay more than anything. Controversial opinion, but Panzer Dragoon Saga might be my least favorite of the series, and I’m not itching to replay it the same way I can constantly play 1, Zwei, and Orta on a regular basis. :anjou_embarrassed:

I can completely relate to that Shakespeare … but also not.

I hope I don’t sound insufferable but it may be long beyond hope for that - I have sounded this sound before - but my adoration for the Panzer Dragoon series was firmly fixed with the second game and the action arcade gameplay. Azel was by the same token a personal revelation though, really the first game to draw me into a story to the same degree as other passive escapist fiction.

Azel / PDS is more outstanding for that reason. But also I would say that its success is rooted in a connection to the primal gameplay tradition of the specific shooters it was derived from, and the consumate craftsmanship and professionalism of the greater SEGA arcade lineage and discipline.

I have honestly never said things like this to sound like a sophist, I am as befuddled by it myself. Panzer Dragoon is all the (four) games for me, it would become so much less without any one of them.

The previous games just supported and contributed to the lore and mystique, Panzer Dragoon Saga presented in abundance. The atmosphere and subtle connections really intrigued me.

The thing is, to me, PDS was the perfect length and perfect difficulty. I could play through the game in a reasonable amount of time, the battles were fun, balanced and not too frequently occuring; like most RPGs where every second you move you’re forced into one, over and over again. And if you just fought the bare minimum you had enough exp/levels to beat the game.

The great thing is: with most other RPGs I revisit I use gameshark for the sake of time and headache. Panzer Dragoon Saga is just no hastle at all to replay, doesn’t agrivate me with over complexity and is actually fun and not a chore to replay and beat to completion. I think around 20 hours is short and sweet and the game presented and accomplished exactly what it needed to. No forced filler for the sake of extending the game needlessly, and that’s what I appreciate about it. Just the right balance!

Regarding games being too narrative heavy, I think it depends on how interesting and focused the story is. If it’s unnecessarily drawn out (as many of RPGs are) or the narrative is uncompelling, I’m likely to lose interest and the story will become a barrier to the gameplay. A good story driven game will have good gameplay, but if it doesn’t, the gameplay can become a barrier to experiencing the story. Many of the best games have balanced these two parts of the game well, or fused them together.

For me, Panzer Dragoon Saga represents the fusion of many elements - story, gameplay, music, visual style, world building, and more - that as a whole makes it stand out in a positive way. Take away one of these elements and the game becomes lesser. What Panzer Dragoon Saga didn’t do (much) was tell the story during the gameplay, which is something Orta rectified to an extent, but I think the quality of Saga’s narrative made up for that.

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