We’ve all been there before when playing a video game. You know – stuck. We swear we’ve checked everywhere, but nothing seems to trigger that next cutscene and advance the game. We’re sure we’ve done all we can, but haven’t moved beyond this point in hours. Thankfully, before we remove the game from the system and throw it against a wall, we have a large number of resources to turn to: Strategy guides, FAQs, walkthroughs and forums will always point us in the right direction, but I can’t help but feel a little guilty whenever I resort to them.
This aspect of gaming has changed so much over the years. As a kid, there was very little information available to help with games. Sure, there were expensive strategy guides and the even-more-expensive Nintendo Hotline, but most of the tips and tricks I learned were acquired in the schoolyard. Back then, I’d absorb every little tidbit I could that may help me advance in a game, but these days, I only seek advice if I really need it. Of course, sometimes I need it right away….
Let’s face it – some games are just really tough. It may be the puzzles, it may be the combat, or it may just be the overly-confusing map; whatever the reason, it sucks to be well and truly stuck. This is the point when Gamefaqs pops into my head. Whether or not I choose to visit really depends on one thing: what kind of game it is.
If we’re talking about a puzzle game, such as Professor Layton or even Shadow of the Colossus, I try to resist the urge and figure out the puzzle by myself. After all, these games depend entirely on puzzle solving, so by removing that element, I’m basically ruining the whole game. If the game is a mix of action and puzzles, such as Resident Evil or Tomb Raider, I may eventually look for a walkthrough, as there are still plenty of action segments to enjoy. If the game is straight-up action, such as God of War or Devil May Cry, I don’t mind turning to guides at all. With titles such as these, you can study the techniques as much as you like, but still need the skills to pull them off, so not much is ruined by reading walkthroughs.
So what about games that rely mainly on story? Well, that’s when I find myself in a dilemma. On the one hand, I don’t want to give up altogether, simply because I can’t get past a certain section, but on the other hand, my inability to get past this point probably means there will be other points I can’t get past. Also, if I give up now and resort to a walkthrough, I’m likely to do so again, and again, and before long I’m just following the guide and figuring out nothing by myself, which isn’t very much fun.
Strategy games are a whole different beast. With so many techniques to learn and approaches to take, I feel like I’m crippling myself if I don’t turn to a guide. Sure, I like to develop my own strategies if I can, but what’s wrong with learning from the collective pool of wisdom? I’m sure that master chess players have read all the books they can on chess strategy, so why shouldn’t I do the same?
I really wish I were skilled enough to master any game without turning to FAQs, guides, and walkthroughs, but unfortunately, I’m not. Ironically, with the changes in game design philosophy over the years, many games have gotten easier, so the need for guides has been diminished. It was back in the 8-Bit days that they would have been really handy. Seriously – many of those games were tough as nails! Of course, these changes in game design may also be partly responsible for the rise in walkthroughs and guides, as people just don’t have the perseverance that was once an essential part of gaming. Games tend to hold our hands these days, making sure that we’re gently introduced to every aspect at a comfortable pace. Once that hand lets go, we start searching for another.
But maybe that’s just me. What about you? How do you feel about FAQs, guides, and walkthroughs, and at what point do you turn to them? I’m genuinely interested, as it’s a subject many gamers tend not to talk about. I was really pleased with the responses I got to last week’s question, and, as before, I’ll do a follow-up piece with your answers, assuming I get some good ones. Sound off below!
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook Page www.Facebook.com/MasonicGamers, where you can join a community of 3300+ gamers, share opinions on the latest gaming news, reviews and rumours, share Gamertags and win some great gaming prizes in our Facebook only competition.