So there he was, the fabled hero, Link, fresh from yet another dungeon-related victory and feeling rather chuffed with himself. It’d been a long journey – he’d travelled the length and breadth of Hyrule, picked up many new skills along the way and met a host of strange and interesting creatures. And now he is riding towards the castle for the final few encounters in what had been a truly epic adventure.
He reins Epona to a stop. This is it. On the horizon, the castle where his journey will surely end. The inevitable conclusion. It’ll all be over. The horse digs at the dirt, impatiently. Slowly, he turns Epona and returns the way he came. Maybe he’ll sort out this whole mess tomorrow instead… maybe next week.
This happens to me sooo often. Not just in LoZ games, either. Open-world crime capers, hardcore RPGs and the occasional story driven FPS all cause this pre-conclusion dithering in me. I just can’t finish them! No, that’s not true. I can finish them. What I mean is… I don’t want to finish them. I’m enjoying the experience so much that I’m loathe to see it end. But games aren’t typically endless so before you know it, there’s a final curtain call rushing headlong towards you just itching to spoil all your fun. Not finishing is my utterly self-defeating way of delaying that eventuality.
Sure, some games continue after the final boss battle but more often than not, in those cases, where you were once saviour of the universe, you’re now relegated to nothing more than ‘caretaker’, sweeping up the debris of forgotten collectables and tick-boxing the less engaging sub-quests. NPCs who were calling on you night and day for assistance with their downright dangerous shenanigans have suddenly either turned mute or disappeared completely. This isn’t how things should end – I saved everyone!
I suppose in some ways I should be thankful for the appearance of DLC, in that they extend a game’s life beyond the death rattle of the main antagonist. It’s good but it’s never quite the same. Even ignoring all the DLC that is pure kick-that-shit-out-the-door-for-the-suckers-who’ll-buy-anything grade, the good DLC rarely recreates the same feeling you got from the original content. They’re often lightweight affairs, lacking the key characters, locations and that sense of interconnectedness that made the main game so enthralling. I guess that once the general public’s palate improves and they stop accepting mere horse-armour (seriously, I’m full-on backing that phrase as the catch-all term for ‘absolutely shit and frankly embarrassing DLC‘), and demanding more meat on their downloadable bone, things will start looking up.
The worse thing about this last-minute all-stop habit I’ve formed when it comes to completing games is that more often than not, when I finally do ‘man up’ and load my last savegame, I’ve usually forgotten what the hell I was doing, where I was going and my muscle memory for quickly dispatching groups of shadow beasts has since been replaced with one for capping gangsters rolling through my turf. On some occasions, I’m so bewildered that it’s led me to restart the entire game from scratch. Yeah, finishing a game sucks but stumbling haphazardly through the ending, filled with confusion about what is actually happening, spoiling the whole shebang, is much, much worse.
I’m not sure I know the solution to my problem but with the new Zelda title, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword currently sitting in my sweaty mitts, I’m hoping I can overcome my anxiety and finish it without leeeeeeeengthy breaks. Yeah… who am I kidding?