For many years I believed it was a waste of time replaying games more than once. There’s so many different games out there, I thought, why would I use up my spare time on an experience I’ve already had when I could be seeing something new? This attitude persisted for a long time and only strengthened the more limited my free time got.
Recently, when I found myself unenthused by new games, I did an experiment. I decided I was going to try replaying Dungon Keeper 2, a very old game that I’d enjoyed when I was growing up. And honestly, I had such a great time that it opened my eyes up to the possibilities of more frequently replaying games I love.
Of course, it’s not worth replaying every game, regardless of how good it is, but it should be something you can consider. To help, below is a list of reasons why replaying games makes sense, and the types of games that may be most worth playing more than once.
Guarantee yourself a good time
I don’t now if you’ve noticed, but there’s an absolute tonne of games available nowadays (Steam sells over 50k of them by itself). This makes it very tempting to move on to the next game after finishing one, as that next one could be incredible. The counterpoint; there are a lot of bad games available, and if you find one that you are genuinely reconsidering playing then it must be very special.
It’s rare that your second playthrough of a game will have the same emotional impact as the first time round – repeat experiences rarely do. But what you’re doing by replaying games you love is guaranteeing yourself a good experience with no risk. And ultimately isn’t it a good use of your free time to play something you know you’re going to connect with?
Prove your skills
Many games come with new game+ (NG+) modes, which typically introduce new features or a level of challenge that wasn’t available the first time round. This is preferable to facing this right off the bat, as the first time you play a game you’re getting to grips with the controls and the systems.
Replaying games a second time allows you to increase the difficulty without fear that you’re not going to succeed. And playing at higher difficulty is often a more fulfilling and complete experience that forces you to engage with a wider range of systems than you would have otherwise had to do.
Some people are obsessed with 100%ing a game – finding every secret and completing every achievement within it.
Doing this can be really fulfilling, but it’s rare that you’ll be able to do this in just one playthrough. Most likely you wouldn’t even want to as it would ruin the flow of the gameplay and the narrative, making a second or third play essential if this is your thing.
Experience other branches of narrative
So many games nowadays have branching narrative systems which force you to make a choice, or respond to a character in a certain way. How you act then changes the story or, in some cases, even the game world or gameplay itself.
Typically, after you’ve made a choice the consequences are fixed and you can never go back. From a narrative point of view, this makes sense, but it does mean that there’s a whole alternative game world you could be playing in had you chosen something else. Here, replaying games is your only choice – you’ll never see that other content unless you go again and pick a different route. Doing so can be fascinating and allows you to compare and contrast the story and game world based on the choice you made.
Expand your understanding
Think about a book or movie you really love, and I bet you’ve experienced it more than once. We are happy to repeat these experiences with the understanding that doing so will allow us to better interpret or comprehend that particular piece of media.
Games are no exception. Once you’ve completed one for the first time you may have initial ideas about what it was trying to say or what it meant. Going back knowing how it ends allows you to see hints and moments of foreshadowing that were left along that you didn’t pick up on the first time round. You might also see or hear things that you hadn’t considered on your first play, or that take on greater significance on your second or third. All of this ultimately leads to a greater understanding, and appreciation, of that particular game.
Get your money’s worth
This one’s easy – the more you play a game, the better value you get from your purchase. This isn’t going to be important for everyone, but for those on tighter budgets it can be a great way to ensure you get your full bang for your buck.
Again, replaying games you know you love reduces risk. Why risk paying money for a game you may not like, when there’s still mileage to get out of one you know you do?
Try a different play style
Certain games ask you to make a choice about how you’re going to play by limiting the number of skills or upgrades you can take, or otherwise incentivising you to follow one particular playstyle. Dishonored is the classic example here, giving you the choice between chaos and stealth. The first allows you to murder everything in sight, with increasingly violent powers of destruction being bestowed upon you. The second keeps you in the shadows and rewards you for creeping around the map slowly, only engaging enemies where it’s unavoidable. RPGs are known for this too, asking you to pick a class and race for your character which have a big impact on the actions they are capable of performing.
These decisions dramatically alter how it feels to play the game – in Dishonored’s case it effectively gives you one of two very different games. This is great for the player as replaying games such as these gives you access to a whole different game, with different content and gameplay.
Relax into the comfortable
Let’s face it; revisiting something you have already experienced feels familiar and comfortable. It’s relaxing to watch a movie you’ve already seen as you don’t have to commit your whole attention or brainpower in order to enjoy it.
Games benefit from this too. Not every play experience needs to make you feel excited, skillful, competitive or like you’re seeing new things. Sometimes it’s absolutely fine to unwind and relax with the familiar.
…so which games are best to replay?
You’ve already been getting clues throughout the article, but in summary here’s a few types of games that are most worth playing through a second time.
- Games with branching dialogue or where your choices have a tangible impact on the game or game world.
- Games with multiple gameplay systems or playstyles.
- Games that you didn’t fully understand or would like to further unravel.
- Games with rewarding secrets and achievements.
- Games that can offer increasing difficulty or challenge.
Hopefully this inspired you to replay a game a second (or more) time. If it has, please tell us which one you choice in a comment below or get in touch with us on Twitter.