Why I Didn’t Play The Last Guardian Early
You guys, I’ve had opportunities to play The Last Guardian, and I passed them up. Yep, you read right. This game that so many people are counting down to — this game that we’ve been anticipating for a decade — got itself turned down by this gamer right here. At the Tokyo Game Show, I did not pursue a chance to play TLG‘s demo, because it will be a special game, and I want to go in as fresh as possible. I don’t want to already know that Trico dies in a gunfight with Moon Men — whoops, sorry.
Alex submits that I didn’t do my duty, but I submit that Alex is a doodie head.
I played The Last Guardian director Fumito Ueda’s ICO in 2001 after I returned some anime DVD for not having enough panty shots. The store didn’t allow refunds, only exchanges, so I just grabbed the first game I saw, knowing nothing and caring even less. I got home and was blown away by this dark world, this tutorial-free puzzle play that treated me like I wasn’t a total idiot, and the story, which somehow intrigued me though half the dialog was gibberish. Save points were couches. This was no ordinary game.
Going in completely blind helped me, so with The Last Guardian reviews and release date coming so soon, I don’t want to know about any more about Quadco and Pentco’s revenge plot than I already do.
In fact, when I look back on some of my favorite games of all time, I notice a pattern: I began knowing almost nothing about them. Skies of Arcadia, Metal Gear Solid, Journey, most Final Fantasy games, The Last of Us, Ni no Kuni, Child of Light, Undertale, Nier, Yakuza 0… I knew nothing like that Snowy John guy. Despite being tied to games media well over a decade, I allowed myself only the smallest taste of these before playing.
Sometimes this can bite me in the ass, like the one and only time I woke up at dawn to camp outside a game store. It was for Metal Gear Solid 2. If I had known that you spend 90% of your time as the guy from Titanic, I probably would have waited for a price drop. But in general, the less I know, the more I’ve ended up enjoying the game.
On the whole, though? I find myself turning off trailers and declining to read p/reviews of games I haven’t played, but know I might. I’ve occasionally gone back and watched trailers of games or movies and found myself astounded at what they gave away beforehand.
It’s impossible to avoid everything, but in general, the less I know beforehand, the better time I have. In The Last Guardian, when the boy has to decide between keeping his pet Trico or selling him to raise money to preserve the town’s precious library of vampire smut, I want to be a part of the struggle as it unfolds, not sit looking at my watch wondering when it’s coming.
Some people will be different. And, in many cases, goofy California psychologists are finding that readers report (on average) higher enjoyment of a book when they’ve had spoiled for them. We’re all different, however, and I find my boat not often floating with that.
In professor Nicholas Christenfeld’s explanation, he cites the fact that people often enjoy movies the second time as evidence. There’s merit to this, for sure, but what about the power of finding out the first time? Let’s stick to one of his examples about The Usual Suspects. I remember my reaction being a lot like that of the police officer’s — I may well have dropped the drink right from my hand.
When the dog bird makes a decorative hairpiece of the boy’s rib cage, I want it to be a bittersweet tug on my heartstrings, not a repeat of something that happened to me in a demo.
There’s value to seeing a story play out when you know what will happen, but there’s as much value in seeing it when you have no idea. The difference is, you’ve only got one shot at the latter.
If I see a movie (or play an amazing game) and enjoy it the second time, it’s not necessarily because I know what’s going to happen, but there’s a revisiting of those pleasant memories. With older works, you might call it nostalgia. If I’m on my third or fourth time through, I’m enjoying seeing it all unfold masterfully, not just because I know the ending, but because I can recollect those feelings I had the first time. Have you never wished you could blank your memory and play your favorite game for the first time, again?
I’ll give Christenfeld this, though: when I’ve already seen and hated a movie, I definitely hate it more the second time.
While we might already know from trailers that Trico builds the lad’s body into part of a giant nest and later paints over the entire nest except for that smiling face, it’s important for me to not expect any of the twists and turns in the middle.
Many blog and news readers definitely feel the same way, and I salute them. I see various comment sections constantly filled with posts by people who did not read the article sitting above, and I think, “Good on ya, mate.”
Obviously the big dog bird Trico is, near the ending, going to die. And obviously, it’ll be after a grueling struggle against pineapple allergies. Here, the thing is, I want to see that struggle play out; as someone who can only handle a certain amount of pineapple myself, it’s only natural that each step of this battle will be an emotional moment for me. I don’t want to already know what’s coming.
What I’m trying to say is please stop reading this Plays Station Living Center website or whatever it’s called. I’ve never read the name. That’s how fresh I’m keeping it over here.