Game Dealbreakers

In my last post, Corinna left a comment suggesting that I try out The Longest Journey and its sequels if I’m looking for a game with a great female protagonist. I’ve actually played TLJ, and at one point owned Dreamfall on XBox, but never played through it because I couldn’t stand the controls. That gave me the idea for this post. Game dealbreakers – the things that can absolutely ruin a game for me, often to the point of never playing it again.

Bad Controls

Bad control schemes are probably the most unforgivable thing for me in games. I hate when a game makes me want to play it, then makes the act of playing it incredibly frustrating. At this point I don’t even remember what it was about the controls for Dreamfall that made me so mad, but it was bad enough to me that I never played past the intro despite its predecessor being one of my favourite games ever. Now you might ask me “Pam, why didn’t you just pick it up on PC if you hated the Xbox controls?” And that would be a totally fair question. I have no idea, it was 8 years ago. I think a replay of The Longest Journey and getting Dreamfall for PC is in order soon though.

In terms of controls, the Resident Evil series is one of the worst offenders. I hate tank controls where you have to rotate your character with one analog stick, while the other makes them go straight forward or straight back. It’s so clunky and slow, especially in an action game. RE4 is the only game in the series I actually played through because the controls turned me right off.

It looks much cooler than it felt to play.

It looks much cooler than it felt to play.

At the top of this list though is a certain scene in The Force Unleashed where you needed to take down a star destroyer. I don’t think a video game has ever induced so much rage in me. This tiny little portion of the game ruined the whole thing for me. It introduced a completely new type of controls and implemented them very poorly. The game did a bad job of letting you know what you were supposed to do, did a bad job of giving you feedback about if you were doing it right (other than the game over screen) and the controls were just unresponsive and gross. In the middle of it, I actually went tearing through my house, searching for a hammer so that I could smash the game disc into a thousand pieces. In the end I did not give into my anger and I finished the game but even thinking about it, 6 years later, makes me mad.

Also on this list – games that doesn’t let me invert the Y axis controls.

Point of No Return

A lot of games have a point of no return, a point you hit where you’re driven to the end game without the option of going back to explore or finish sidequests. Most games handle this well, and make it explicitly clear that this will happen. However, some games don’t.

The first game I remember being problematic in this way was Legend of Dragoon. I was right near the end of the game, still had a few optional bosses to fight (which apparently dropped really good stuff) but I ended up travelling to the end location, which I couldn’t get back from. It wasn’t made very clear that you couldn’t come back. So, even though I was standing basically right in front of the final boss, I quit. I think I finally went back about a year later so I could say that I had finished the game.

All this gold... for nothing.

All this gold… for nothing.

The worst offender of taking you to the point of no return without telling you was Fable 3. I spent a lot of hours in that game. I did every quest, tried to get every achievement. In the last portion of the game you’re preparing for a big attack on Albion and how much of your kingdom survives is based on how much gold you have in the treasury. I had a zillion gold in my personal treasury, but was waiting until the last-minute before transferring it over to Albion’s treasury. Little did I know that the “last-minute” was (according to the in-game time) 121 days before the attack. At 121 days before the attack I woke up, held court, then all of a sudden (without notice or a chance to do anything else) it was the day of the attack, Albion had no gold in the treasury, all the people were about to die. And of course Fable 3 uses autosaves and a single save file. I was livid. I deleted that save file and have never finished the game.

It’s so cute!

I’ve always loved JRPGs, but a number of them are so damn cute it makes me sick. I never played Windwaker because I couldn’t get over the art style. I tried Eternal Sonata and Radiata stories, but all the characters were so fracking precious that I had to stop.

Na no Kuni

Kill it with fire.

I went out and bought a PS3 specifically so I could play Na no Kuni, but after playing adorable characters and collecting 100 adorable pokeman familiars and having to feed them adorable cupcakes I just couldn’t take it anymore.


I am a giant wimp when it comes to scary games.

Ughhh, make it stop.

Ughhh, make it stop.

I tried to play Silent Hill 1 a long time ago, and I lasted for maybe 30 minutes. I got through the intro but as soon as I picked up that radio, I was toast. It would emit static, I would turn the television off. I tried a few times but the result was always the same. I’ve never played through a single Silent Hill game.

The only really scary game I’ve ever finished was Fatal Frame 2. However, I played it with a friend, which made it much easier (even though she would literally throw the controller at me if something scary happened while she was playing).

Do you have any dealbreakers in games? What drives you crazy?

7 responses to “Game Dealbreakers

  1. I’m very particular with my games, and I realise I probably lose out on a lot of good games because of it. Like, entire genres/types. For example.. I don’t do FPS games. I just don’t enjoy the play style. I want to see my character. I don’t know if it’s related, but I don’t enjoy books written in the first person perspective either *lol*

    I agree that clunky controls are a no go.

    Games that expect you to know how to play them with little or no information about objectives and how to achieve them can be annoying. Not everyone has played a predecessor or game from the same genre and know what to expect. I remember trying a game at one point, and it was giving me no indication on what I needed to do to actually.. well.. play. Needless to say, it got all of 15 minutes of my time.
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    • I agree about games that don’t give you enough information. I don’t need my hand held too much, but complete lack of direction is not a good thing.

  2. The only real deal breaker for me, to the point where I won’t even give them a try, is a multiplayer game that requires competitive play. Mostly, I mean MOBAs. I love the huge selection of characters, and while I enjoy a game with a story more, I can appreciate a mission-based multiplayer experience. But having to play with other people? And having to try and win against them? That is definitely not for me.

    • For me, having to play with random people can be a dealbreaker. I think MOBAs would be fun with a group of friends and voice chat, but just queueing into a random match where all people do is ping the map or talk in text? No thanks. Games like Hearthstone though, make me not want to play against other people.

  3. Looking at the games I’ve consigned to the “will not finish” bin in Steam, the most common theme seems to be difficulty. Sometimes that difficulty is presented by a bad control scheme (And Yet It Moves), sometimes it’s just overtuned (Bunch of Heroes) and sometimes it’s a combination (Hammerfight). The other main reason I’d abandon a game is if luck plays an overly big role in success (some roguelikes), or the “best” strategy is to just spam something and hope (Bad Hotel).

    A decade (or more) ago when I played System Shock 2, I discovered the existence of unbalanced paths. I initially rolled a psyker (OSI) and managed to get a fair way through the game but eventually I got to a point where I could not continue due to lack of resources. I gave up in frustration and a year or two later came back to try again from the start, this time I went with the Marines and my gods it was so much easier. Not having to worry about that extra resource did wonders for frustration levels. While I still love the game to bits, that whole “brute force is the best approach” aspect still taints my experience a bit.

    (Thanks for the mention, Jasyla, but I was not the one who suggested TLJ, though I did agree with it!)
    Dahakha recently posted..What I Played: Steam Challenge – Bad Hotel

    • Oops, I should read my comments more thoroughly.

      Related to your System Shock 2 point, I found that the paths in Deus Ex Human Revolution were unbalanced. Not in a difficulty way, but originally I wanted to take a stealthy approach, but quickly found out that everything took 10x longer that way and it was much more rewarding (both in time and experience) to just go in guns blazing.

      Another deal breaker I should have added was high barrier to entry, which is sort of related to difficulty. With WoW everything is second nature, but when I tried out Wildstar I was just overwhelmed with information that I needed to learn – abilities, talents, stats, professions, paths, the UI was different, the visuals were different… I realized that I no longer have the patience or inclination to put that much time and effort into learning how to play a game. I found the same thing with League of Legends. It seems like there are 700 heroes to learn about (and items, and the different maps) in order to excel at the game.

  4. A specific subclass of the control – I’m playing Lego Batman 2, and being able to fly with Superman is really fun in the levels, but in the open world, having to press up for up and down for down is really doing my head in.