I have a problem.
A restarting and completionist-to-a-fault problem.
Glancing at just my Steam games, I am sitting on one hundred games. Many of them were bought during Steam sales, of course, cheap little things I thought ‘oh, I might want to play that one day’. A few were extra games from Humble Bundles in the past. But however they ended up in my list, they’re there. Then you have my much smaller game collection outside of Steam, including all the stuff I own on random consoles (Playstation and my 3DS having the most space on my shelves). I look at this collection I have amassed and realize something.
I have beaten so few of these games.
It’s not that they’re hard or that I haven’t picked them up at all, mind you. My tastes usually run the lines of RPG, point and click, adventure, platform, puzzle, sim, and the like, and many I at least started to play. We’re not talking about games like Dark Souls where getting thumped around a lot might cause someone to throw a controller away in anger and give up. These games are entirely beatable by me, I have the ability to finish it if I sat my butt down and picked up whatever is the farthest file and finish it.
But I don’t.
Taking a break from a 80+ hour game is normal. People do it all the time for multiple reasons, coming back to it when they feel like it and have the time to devote again. I realized in the last year that isn’t how I apparently roll, though. No, when I pick up a game again a few months later, I suddenly want to restart from the beginning, because I feel like it’s been long enough that I somehow forgot everything that came before. Or I’ll come back to a game and decide it’s not a perfect enough game. Or I’ll start it up and realize I missed one thing (this is usually the RPGs) and no, I cannot continue, I must restart this game and make sure I get everything or there’s no point. Nevermind the missed thing is just a conversation I can look up online, since literally every game in the history of ever at this point is or is going to be at some point uploaded to Youtube, no, my file is Officially Ruined.
I jokingly call it video game OCD to friends. I shrug it off as something funny, but in truth, I do sometimes wonder if it is my own issues slipping into my playing. Of course I see the differences – I certainly don’t get anxious like I do when I end up in a ‘pure O’ cycle, which is one thing I’m diagnosed with having to deal with. Still, it’s this strange pattern I constantly feel beholden to, and when something is wrong with my file, I decide it’s easier to literally restart and lose so many hours than to just keep going and forget what little thing I missed.
Sim games seem to bring this odd tendency out in full force. I bought Stardew Valley recently because I absolutely love farming sims – if you’re an anxious person, seriously, try to get into one of them, be it SV, Harvest Moon, Story of Seasons, whatever, it’s so relaxing – and the most appealing thing was the promise that no really, you can go at your own pace, don’t fret about missing things. Yet I’ve played quite a bit of it and have yet to get to Summer, Year 1. It isn’t because I haven’t got the hours in to be able to be at that point in the game, it’s because I keep deciding I haven’t made the best of the first few days and I just can’t have that. As relaxing as these games are, my own need for perfection seems to get in the way of enjoying it for what it is. It’s only a few hours, I’d tell myself, except they start to add up when it’s multiple save files. Still, still, at the very least I haven’t gotten to the point I have a ton of things to lose, my one saving grace here.
That isn’t the case with the current game I’m considering going back to.
Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky was a title that slipped under my radar until nearly the time the second game came out. I happened to come across this article (tw: suicidal stuff, yeah, you read that right) about how much work it was to translate, and a part of me felt almost obligated, as a JRPG fan, to give it a shot. People were raving about it, anyway. The problem is, it is notoriously hard to 100% it. There is a ton of hidden quests that practically dictate you either accept you’ll miss something or follow a walk through.
I followed a walk through.
Thirty or so hours into the game a few months ago, I screwed up and missed something and that was that. After a month break because I was so frustrated for not saving, I picked it up again, restarted. Then Fallout 4 came out, I put the game down for that. Then life happened, other games happened, and now we are here. I realized I’d like to keep playing the other day and eventually play the second one as well, which I own.
My file, for the record, was perfect at that point. There was no reason to reset but I wanted to anyway, even though I knew that was just asking for me to burn out replaying and never finish. I was well into Chapter Three, I would be losing a ton of work for nothing. And it was tempting, I won’t lie. Fighting the urge for once, I found where I left off in the guide – I’m on my way to seeing everything, no sense stopping that now – and picked up where I left off. I double checked and made sure I did certain things just to be extra careful I didn’t screw up my file, but that was about it.
I don’t remember the last time I had that span of time between playing and didn’t restart automatically. As of writing this, I’m nearly done with this chapter’s side stuff and I can soon concentrate on the main story. The urge to replay is mostly gone now, replaced with enjoying the new content I’ve never seen before. I know, novel idea, right? As for Stardew Valley, that first file, the one that’s just begun in the picture above, is the one I have decided I am sticking with, come hell or high water. No more restarts. I don’t even have the excuse about marriage that most of these farm sims have – I literally can marry off my little character to anyone available, no matter what gender.
I am slowly retraining my thinking, much like I am retraining my thinking with everything involving my mental illness. It’s just a little strange when you realize just how much it seeps into everything, even your favorite hobby.