What Games Have You Massively Bounced Off?

What Games Have You Massively Bounced Off?
Image: Virtuaverse

When I fired up VirtuaVerse, I thought: this will totally be my jam. Great pixel art adventure, cyberpunk vibes, 8-bit music, point-and-click adventure trappings. Sounds like a ton of things I enjoy, I figured.

About two hours later, I’m not sure if it was possible for me to dislike the game any harder.

It’s not like VirtuaVerse is the first game I’ve bounced off, and certainly not the first game I’ve bounced off hard. It’s a shame, because there’s a lot of great little elements that I really enjoy — and two that have basically ruined the entire experience.

The first part is that VirtuaVerse is very much an old old-school point-and-click adventure. Classically designed is probably the best way to describe it. You know those games like Riven and other puzzlers from the early ’90s that would often suffer from a brutal case of game developer logic?

Well, VirtuaVerse has that in spades. An early puzzle has you trying to reach a nearby merchant so you can get parts to repair your VR/AR goggles. A bouncer won’t let you in, so how do you get rid of him? There’s no way of contacting the owner inside. Talking to the bouncer, apart from nearly getting you killed, reveals that he’s hungry.

So the solution? Find a nearby terminal, and order a pizza. But don’t send the pizza to the bouncer. You’ve gotta send the pizza to yourself first, drive all the way home, pick it up, drive back to the merchant, order a second pizza, and send that pizza to the bouncer. The bouncer figures, hey I didn’t order anything, maybe the boss did, so he just leaves his post and wanders in with the drone.

There’s a lot of puzzles that are strangely finnicky like that. If you grew up with a lot of those adventures, you’re accustomed to inevitably finding yourself in a frame of mind where you’re just repeatedly rubbing every item in your inventory up against any interactable object just to progress.

Image: Neo Cab

As frustrating as that design is, what made a lot of those old classic games click was the charm of their characters and story. You had protagonists you wanted to root for, or enemies who desperately needed justice. VirtuaVerse puts you in charge of a titanic asshole. His solution to just about every problem puts his friends, loves ones and complete strangers in harm’s way, if not outright death.

It reminded me of what I liked about Neo Cab, the visual novel adventure from Chance Agency back in 2019. Neo Cab didn’t offer as much agency as I would have wanted, but I wanted resolution for some of the passengers I encountered. Most games are like that. They’re rarely perfect, but their best elements carry you through the sourer parts.

Ultimately, what I think I probably need to do is just bite the bullet on VA-11 Hall-A, which I’ve wanted to play for ages but never really gotten around to. I loved The Red Strings Club, which hits a lot of the same vibes. And since I never got around to Shadowrun Hong Kong, I should probably be looking there if I’m after that gritty, cyberpunk itch with more layered characters.

Don’t get me wrong: there are plenty of should and will enjoy VirtuaVerse. But my degree of patience for obtuse point-and-click logic just isn’t what it used to be. I’ll happily smash my head against a wall for a tough puzzle — I’m looking at you, The Witness — but not if it’s pared with a complete asshole of a main character.

What games have you picked up, only to find it absolutely wasn’t your cup of tea?

Comments

    • That’s what happened for me too. I’ve only tried Borderlands 3 but found it a boring slog through the same enemies in different patterns

  • That’s a shame. Still, I guess some folks are looking for that classic ‘mega monkey’ adventure game dev-logic head-scratching.

    If it helps, re: Shadowrun Returns, it’s not quite as RPG’ish as I expected it to be. The illusion of choices is pretty thin. It’s really getting by on its atmosphere and writing.

    VA-11 Hall-A is similar in that mechanically, you don’t really have a huge amount of input. It’s very much a read-a-thon first, drink-mixer second. They’re more like little engagement/skill-gates you participate in to read more story. And very, very occasionally influence outcomes. That, and buying stuff for your apartment. The best part of it really is the music, art, and overall theme.

    Probably the most popular thing I’ve unexpectedly bounced off recently is Hades.

    Don’t get me wrong: there’s a lot I like about it. The drip-fed story, the fact that failure is actually a great way to move the sub-stories forward (if not necessarily the main story). It’s smart, it’s funny, it’s relatively easy-going, unlocking things is always radical… but the drip-feed was too slow for my tastes, the unlocks too grindy to obtain, the stories that unlock other stories were too random to unlock, leaving me with a handful of utterly exhausted dialogues that were entirely depending on me getting to even SEE Than or Hypnos, let alone get the right dialogue to progress their lines before I can get into others. I saw others complaining about much the same as me, on this, how randomness can prevent you from progressing your remaining storylines and how the only thing you can do is, “Just do more runs!”

    And that’s where I realized I was bouncing off. I don’t actually much enjoy the combat. The process of slogging through maps wasn’t appealing to me. For everyone who LOVES the game, story is dessert and the meat and potatoes are the moment-to-moment gameplay, but I wasn’t loving the moment-to-moment, I was motivated only by the increasingly-sparse rewards. When those dried up, so did my enthusiasm. Fortunately, youtube is full of obsessives and I have no doubt I can see full storyline completion videos for the threads I’m missing.

    • (Does it count as ‘bouncing off’ if you’ve still sunk 50hrs into it, and just realized after the credits and attempting to get the ‘real’ ending that it’s going to take another 150 more?)

      • I would call that burning out, which is largely how I feel about Civ nowadays. On paper it’s totally my jam, in practice I’ve played it far too much and as a result I am also far too aware of its great many flaws to enjoy even a few minutes.

        No human being should reasonably expect to still be enjoying a typical game 50 hours in. Any game you’re still enjoying at that point (as opposed to, say, collecting the last few achievements for 100%) is genuine bottled magic.

        ‘Bouncing off’ is trying to play a game that on paper you should totally dig, and yet after two hours still can’t being yourself to finish the tutorial… and thereafter you boot the game up every few days only to get the exact same feeling and immediately close it down again.

        You might even go on to buy the DLC at full price because you swear that one day you’re totally going to love it and you want to support the devs and also to make sure that when that hypothetical day comes and you finally start enjoying it you are all ready to have the full experience.

    • I get why you bounced of Shadowrun Returns but coming from the tabletop game they perfectly nailed the feel of playing through one of the old adventure modules with it.

      The later games are much better especially Dragonfall. Incredibly written characters

  • Three games come to mind for me in recent times, the first one being darkwood, the second was Nioh and lastly was days gone.

    Both these games on the premise I absolutely enjoyed, the setting of darkwood is creepy yet fantastic as well as the music and sound design coupled with how your vision is restricted to only places your character can see.

    While my enjoyment for nioh is due to my love for any soulsbourne style game and how it had a high level of customisation, while days gone was a fun 3rd person shooter with an interesting story concept and enjoyable cast of characters.

    What made me boune off all three though was largely to do with pacing and filler. roughly 30 hours into each game and progress is pretty minimal. Each game drip feeds upgrades, items or enhancements and progression defintely felt slow and tedious, couple that with rinse and repeat enemy design made me fall out of love with each game.

    Each game was within a genre that I love but for the life of me the long slow burn of progression or lack of new challenges really took me out of each game.

    • Zelda for me as well, but I find the Mocenster Hunter games cause me to bounce off as well.

      Biggest bounce off in recent history? Genshin Impact. Bounced off that HARD after a day or two.pi

      Its funny that the grind in both MH, and the bland overworld (and gacha) in GI put me off, but I can happily spend hundreds of hours in Cyberpunk, Yakuza and Ass Creed games.

    • Havent played a zelda game since going to 3d for more than half an hour, just doesnt do anything for me. Which is a shame as some of the stories have been great. (when ive read them)

  • Control. Pretty enough, but the opening act (and premise) just didn’t land for me and quickly I felt I was retreading something I’d played many times before. Less than two hours in, it got wiped.

    • Part of the appeal of control is the world building via reading and listening to all the things you pick up. Normally I’d not be up for that kind of thing but my love for Alan Wake made me and I’m glad I did.

  • The Deponia series. The main character is a complete asshole. I forced my way through Deponia 1 and 2 then decided enough was enough. I will never finish that series.

  • The Last of Us 2. I played a few hours and just could not get into it. The knowledge that the gameplay remained the same and it would just get more miserable was not something I wanted to stick around for.

  • I dont think this counts, but after finishing the Original Darksiders, i went “i am not playing any of the sequels. im done. i hated that”
    Far cry 5 & Just Cause 4, Something about it, i just couldnt get going. I played the opening sections of both, and they just didnt go anywhere near grabbing me like the previous entries did so they sit unplayed and the desire to play them is on empty. (not counting FC: Primal as i was NEVER playing that game)

  • Breath of the Wild and God of War. BotW I’ve tried about 4 times and just can’t get into it. GoW? I guess because I hate the character so much. Plus I don’t like bald+beard. Beards in general really.

  • Dragon Age. Despite giving you a choice of professions the game clearly assumes you chose to be the “tank” and eventually I just couldn’t progress because I made the mistake of being a sorcerer. I ended up in stuck in this boss fight I couldn’t win no matter what I did because I wasn’t the right class.

    • I fucked my char build(i let it auto assign skills) so terribly in the first game that i could never beat the final boss. Neither could any of my friends. It was on the easiest level, all my party and main char was just broken.
      I ended up going back to just over half way through the game (Just after getting out of the shade) and fixed alot of my issues in the char build that when i got to the final boss again i did it on the first try without any party faints.
      So i can relate.

    • You really need to play around with combat skill assignments with DAO..
      A healer set to use a healing spell if any character is less than 70% health and every character set to use a healing potion if less than 50% health. That sort of thing really helped.

      Ironically the mage specialisation arcane warrior is basically unkillable

  • Wasteland 2. I loved the first game back in the day. love Fallout but I bounced off this really hard and I don’t know why.

    Witcher 3. Geralt is giant twat and I don’t like him haha

    • Witcher 3. Geralt is giant twat and I don’t like him haha</i?
      I can totally respect that. Geralt is a privileged, entitled white kid who doesn't realise how good he's got it while acting as if he has some kind of monopoly on cynicism. He’s basically a medieval goth.

  • Never even got through the first cutscene of Witcher 3. Can’t remember why, but I’m assuming I was bored, which is weird because I didn’t mind the first or second games.

    • I forced myself to finish those. I really don’t like Geralt or the world very much, Although I do love the map designs of Witcher 3. Great attention to detail there

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