Being a gamer for a while has made me realize that video games will often be separated into a few categories: games we enjoyed but are okay with playing once, games we didn’t enjoy and will never play again, and games we loved so much you want to replay it again to relive the story and characters all over again. There are maybe a handful of games I played that fall into the latter category. Games where I was mesmerized by everything from start to finish and was actually sad when it was over.
I could tick off every game I would gladly replay, and always intended to do, but most of the time I don’t get to revisit. Year after year new games come out to inevitably entice you to move forward with those and never backward with the ones you’ve already played. But somewhere along the way one game comes along where the urge to replay finally takes hold and you answer the call without hesitation.
Out of all the games in my mental list of ones I would love to dive back into again—Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Life is Strange 1 & 2, and Final Fantasy XV—Life is Strange: True Colors was the one game I actually went back to as soon as I finished my first run with it.
As a simple, interactive, choice-based narrative video game it probably wouldn’t be the most obvious pick of games someone might go back and play again. I’ve played the prior Life is Strange games, enjoying them well enough and very curious to see how different choices would change scenes in subtle ways, but the urge to replay them after I got the ending I wound up with wasn’t strong enough to dive back in again. In my mind, despite knowing I’d happily replay those games again, I was satisfied with the one time experience. I got the ending I wanted and it was “finished” for me.
Yet with Deck Nine’s Life is Strange: True Colors, a game I wasn’t expecting to love as much as I did, became the game I wanted to replay over and over again, even if I already knew the story and the endings weren’t as varied or distinctive as the previous games in the series. Maybe it’s because the characters were older and more mature that the writing reflected that and made the entire game better for it. Or maybe the fictional small town of Haven Springs, Colorado was so inviting the first time a player lays their eyes on it that you want to live in the space a little longer. But maybe if I’m being really honest with myself, probably the big appeal to replay the game so soon after finishing it is the Asian American character at the center of the story. I haven’t seen a ton of games with Asian American women as the lead, and to see one be the heroine of such a well-thought out video game resonated with me as someone who is an Asian American myself.
Another reason why committing to another playthrough of True Colors was easier than the other games I loved in equal measure was how relatively short the game was to finish. While I wish the game was a bit longer, and I would have liked to have seen more development of the close knit friendships Alex forges with Steph and Ryan, beating the game a second and third time (all of which I have done in the last month) didn’t feel like a heavy lift.
Games like Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and Final Fantasy XV are much longer to get through, even if you skip all the side quests and focus on the main story. I often felt that if I were to go back to any of those games I would probably want to dedicate all my time to them, which unfortunately, is in short supply for me these days. Not to mention I have so many other games in my backlog waiting to be played, and I want very much to give those other ones a chance to shine.
I did once attempt to replay the first Mass Effect as a male Shepard, having only ever played all three games as a female Shepard, but never picked it up again. That save file is still sitting on my Xbox 360 waiting to be resumed at another point in time, but when I’ll actually get back to it is anyone’s guess.
After having played True Colors it has become sort of my comfort game, one I can pick up and replay anytime the mood strikes without feeling like I won’t have time to play any other games I’m currently focused on. Despite finishing a third time with the game, there’s still an insatiable thirst to go in for a fourth but I’m holding off until I can at least get through the other Xbox One game I’m currently playing.
We might never know what it is about a game that pushes you to replay it above many others you know you wouldn’t mind going back to, but if the call is strong enough, sometimes all you can do is heed it for as long as it lasts.
Is there a game you replayed immediately after finishing your first time with it? What was the game and what drove you to return to it?