Like many “gamers of a certain age”, I find that juggling work life with family life results in very few finished games. Worse, when I try to remedy the situation by returning to some half-completed saved game several months old, I find myself out of my depth due to completely forgetting how to play.
Some games lend themselves more readily to being picked up after a long break. First person shooters are generally fine once you’ve dropped a few grenades at your feet and figured out how to not melee-attack friendly NPCs. Venerated Nintendo franchises (Mario, Zelda) forever hard-wired in our minds and muscle-memory are of course also fine. Some other games though (such as Assassins Creed Revelations) really require a complete restart. I’d forgotten it all – how to move about the world, how to climb, the nuances of combat, and everything else. I just needed a quick recap on how it all worked, and although I COULD get that from the manual I just find it a really dull way to learn anything.
Just once, I’d love a game to recognise an extended absence (as Animal Crossing does) and gently offer some assistance. Also I wonder if there is a simpler lesson to be learned here – perhaps that the hallmark of a well-considered physical interface is something that can always be intuitively learned and re-learned with ease? Such truisms don’t tell the whole story of course – after all, I wouldn’t fancy firing up up an old saved-game of Civilization or Advance Wars only to flounder for several turns, and that’s hardly a reflection of the quality of the games themselves. One thing’s for certain though – the manual stays in the box!