Still solid on a 2nd pass.
I do not have nearly as much time to game as I did when I was younger. Hell, even a year ago. It is an extremely rare occurrence for me to replay any game, in particular long-form games. A combination of lack of time, and most games having a very long tail of grind at the end. Few exceptions here. For some reason FF games get replayed every 3-4 years, XCOM too. That and the fact that there’s a plethora of new games that are just sitting in my library, screaming for playtime (Frostpunk, I hear you!)
With God of War winning game of the year, and an outstanding itch for decent combat mechanics after RDR2, it’s back in the chains again for me. I opted for New Game+, which let’s you keep levels, skills, and all non-story based equipment. For some reason, that let me keep the chains, which is a massive advantage. I love the axe, but those chains are an AE cloud of damage that makes you nearly immune to damage for nearly every enemy but bosses. So while I certainly upped the difficulty of enemies, it’s still easier than the first pass through.
But that’s less to do with the actual difficulty and more to do with me.
No Training Wheels
I played a fair chunk of GoW when it came out. Killed some Valkyries. Did all the side quests. I was good at the game. Time off has let some rust settle in, but it’s mostly shaken off now. As with most games, there’s a gradual difficulty curve of enemies as you progress. There are more of them, with more complex and damaging attacks at the tail. Well… as a character/player, I’m already at the tail. There are no skill upgrades left, and any armor boosts are simply numbers, not abilities. I was trained to avoid damage, so more HP/Armor doesn’t really serve much right now.
There’s a spot on my trip to the family cottage up north that still gives me goosebumps, after over 30 years of travel. The effect is lesser today, but it’s still there. It’s similar to re-watching a movie for the 30th time (Fifth Element is over that, I’m sure) and you still find parts to appreciate.
GoW is similar, in that I’ve danced this dance, but I still find joys in doing so again. I look at different details. I appreciate the background now since I’ve got a pretty solid idea of the foreground. Facial twitches. Sounds. The rhythms of combat. I’ve seen it all, but I didn’t really appreciate it. Nice to have that opportunity again.
There are a couple within the game, though nothing terribly complex. Most everything has to do with ringing bells within a specific timeframe. The challenge the first time was both finding said bells, and then finding the right order to ring them in. At most 5 minutes of work for some spoils.
Redoing that part, maybe 30 seconds tops. It’s lost the mystery, since there’s only one solution and once you know it, it never really feels the same again. A bit like learning the workings of a magic trick. Or visiting the backroom of a butcher’s shop. Ignorance really is bliss.
There’s another reason I avoid replaying games. Often times my memories are a much more positive experience than the actual game presents. This is certainly easier with standalone games from the 90s/00s. Goldeneye still plays amazing, but it doesn’t look like I remember. My memory is selective, and usually focuses on the emotional highs/lows. Many gamers will recall the fights against Sephiroth, but few remember the motorcycle or snowboarding games from FF7, unless just reminded.
Remind me, I have some Quest for Glory games that need a reload…