Gamer Koala

Confessions of a Monogamous Serial Gamer

I won’t defend my reasons for playing one game at a time.

Okay, maybe I will. The most obvious and potentially embarrassing: My reflexes. I simply can’t remember what buttons control what actions when switching from one game to the next. My hands get used to one set of controls, and by golly, they’re going to stick to those motions or die trying.

But my reasons go beyond my lack of coordination adaptability. I play video games to become immersed in an experience. I want one world, one epic journey, and one powerful enemy to conquer before I move on to the next adventure.

I’m also a completionist. It’s hard for me to jump from one game to the next if I haven’t found every single exploration pinpoint on the map first.

My Body Count

My most recent, fully-completed games? Counting backward: Frontiers of Pandora, Starfield, God of War: Ragnarok, God of War, Horizon: Forbidden West, and Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. The list goes on and on, all the way back to my first game ever: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. They’ve all benefited from the warm, fuzzy connection found through one-on-one commitment. 

The one exception to my monogamous lifestyle? My tumultuous love-hate affair with The Elder Scrolls Online. We’re currently seeing other people.

But the point is, I inhale and exhale games, one after the other. So what makes a game compel me into finishing it to the bitter end? Here’s a breakdown of my last five games and why each one was worth finishing.

1. Frontiers of Pandora

You can claw this game out of my cold dead hands. As I elaborated in a recent post, Frontiers of Pandora is a beautiful, heartwarming game that combines a stunning visual delight with epic, enterprising action combat moves and a feel-good story about protecting the environment.

Gameplay-wise, it’s Far Cry wrapped in a blue Na’vi skin, and I couldn’t be happier flying the Pandoran skies amongst floating mountains despite having long ago completed the main quest and cleared the map.

Any news on a DLC, anyone?

2. Starfield

As an Elder Scrolls and Fallout fan, I was more than curious about Bethesda’s newest franchise. Stepping into my new spaceboots felt like putting on a familiar pair of slippers.

The sheer amount of side quests was as engaging as always, and I adored the roleplaying aspect of choosing between factions and romancing companions. Space is huge, and Bethesda didn’t skimp on filling their many star systems with activities to complete.

Even if parts of the narrative fell a little flat, the biggest plot points and Starfield’s genius twist for entering New Game+ made Starfield a game worth playing not only from start to finish–but all over again.

3. God of War Series

These. Games.

God of War: Ragnorok and its recent predecessor, God of War, encapsulate the best overarching narrative story I have played in a long time. I never thought I would identify so much with a grizzled bodybuilder with communication problems, but as a parent, I was on Kratos’s wavelength from the get-go.

His character development blew me away throughout the two games, and the story revolving around his journey to care for his son and learn from his mistakes will stick with me for a long time.

While the map had less to explore than some other games on my list, the level design was exciting and engaging, and throwing my axe at enemies’ heads and launching chains in every direction plastered a constant smile on my face – when Kratos, Freya, and Atreus weren’t making me sob, that is.

4. Horizon: Forbidden West

Here’s another game where story and combat reigned supreme.

I was anxious to continue Aloy’s journey, which started off so engagingly in Horizon: Zero Dawn. Even if destroying metallic beasts in a post-apocalyptic Las Vegas wasn’t fun enough, then the diverse cast of characters would be more than enough to make up for it.

When taking breaks from the main quest, there were enough interesting side quests to keep me busy, puzzles to solve to tickle my brain, and creatures to hunt down for scraps.

5. Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla

I have to admit, I mainly finished this game because I’d made prior commitments. AC: Origins and AC: Odyssey remain two of my favorite games to this day, so as the third installment to this somewhat self-contained “trilogy” within the larger Assassin’s Creed franchise, I had high hopes for Valhalla.

It started off well, with the typical deep dive into historical context that I love about the AC franchise. But for once, the story didn’t do it for me. Each new chapter, taking place in a different region of England, relied on 9th-century politics that were… redundant.

Raiding monasteries was a particularly fun activity, but the combat didn’t introduce anything new that hadn’t already been done better in previous installments.

However, the primary link between Origins, Odyssey, and Valhalla – the outer story about the modern-day human characters–stayed strong. So, I stuck it through.

And that outer story is what’s driving me toward my next monogamous commitment: Assassin’s Creed: Mirage.