Games I Love in Genres I Don’t or Why I Keep Trying to Try Out Everything

You would think by this point in my life, I would have a pretty good idea of what I like and what I don’t when it comes to gaming. You would be wrong, just as I am often wrong when I think that I don’t like certain genres or specific mechanics, and that having them in a game would be a deal breaker. But for every rule there is an exception, and I feel like the next step in my journey is looking at the exceptions rather than the rules to help me to figure out why these specific games work for me when many similar titles just don’t.

3D Platformers – Psychonauts and Psychonauts 2

All game images in this post link to their respective Steam store pages.

Okay, maybe this one is cheating every so slightly. It’s not like I am opposed to the concept of 3D platformers – or platformers in general actually – it’s just that I’m so very very bad at them that a game really needs to speak to me in order for me to push through that frustration. Psychonauts is a game that took me nearly two decades (and at least one major patch which dialed down the difficulty of the final area) to finish. Thankfully, I had a much easier time with Psychonauts 2.

I might have still loved them just for the concept – I love the idea of going inside people’s heads and sorting out their problems. But it’s the humor of the game that really sold me, that kept me coming back even though I was struggling, and has made me buy untold copies of the first game to inflict on everyone I know who plays games.

Games Where the Main Character is an Unrepentant Bad Guy – Saint’s Row: The Third and Saint’s Row IV

Look, I’m not going to apologize that – generally speaking – my video game fantasy life is being able to fix everyone’s problems. I do everything I can not to choose mean or hurtful dialogue choices. I just want to be the good guy, ok?

Except when I’m playing Saint’s Row. Then I gleefully run over pedestrians, blow up buildings, and shoot anyone who looks at me funny, as well as most of the people who don’t look at me funny. I crash so many cars, so very many cars, and almost every single one of them is stolen. I don’t care. I am embracing my inner gang leader, for whom actions almost never have any kind of permanent consequences.

I generally find myself bouncing off games that want me to play as the bad guy, but when I really want to get my destruction on, these are the games I generally return to.

Games With Extremely Tight Time Limits – Dead Rising series & Cook, Serve, Delicious! series

I’ll admit it – in the past, when people have asked me the number one thing that turns me off from a game, I have answered that it’s unforgiving time limits. Except, apparently, when it’s not. In fact, I am pretty sure the only thing that the Dead Rising series and the Cook, Serve, Delicious! games have in common is time limits, and I don’t think either set of games would work at all without them.

Dead Rising and its sequels actually consistently set you up to fail. It’s built into the way the game works. Sure, you have to start over, but you retain your level and your upgrades, and more importantly, your knowledge of the game world. You need to learn how to best optimize your route to not miss critical game deadlines, and coming back both more powerful and meaningfully smarter about the game makes replaying the early bits sheer joy.

Now, I can’t explain why the Cook, Serve, Delicious! are almost meditative for me. In fact, I regularly make these games harder than they are by default by not allowing even a single less-than-perfect order to leave my kitchen. As you get further into the game, the recipes get more involved, and your customers get less patient, and there is no button that let’s you toss an order in the trash and redo it. These games are fast paced, and they require a lot of twitch reactions and a huge amount of memorization to play effectively. They’re everything I should hate, but in this one very specific instance, I absolutely love.

Are there any games that have really worked for you, despite being fairly far outside of your gaming comfort zone?

5 thoughts on “Games I Love in Genres I Don’t or Why I Keep Trying to Try Out Everything

  1. This exact sentiment is a large part of why I continue to play role-playing games. I’ve bounced off so many for having stories I couldn’t connect with, or combat that I found overly tedious. However, if I never took a chance on anything then I wouldn’t have found a ton of games that I’ve adored. Plus I always find it more enjoyable to be pleasantly surprised than to simply have my expectations met.

    Few examples I can think of off the top of my head: Disco Elysium, Wildermyth, and Citizen Sleeper. All 3 worked quite well for me, despite appearing like titles I’d bounce off at a surface level.

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    1. “Plus I always find it more enjoyable to be pleasantly surprised than to simply have my expectations met.”

      This is said perfectly! I’d say probably 10% of the games I play I’m actually really excited for. The rest I think “Huh, this is a neat idea and could be fun; let’s give it a spin”. Which is also maybe why I’m generally so resistant to paying full price for things – the more bargains I snap up, the more chances I have to find my next unexpectedly favorite thing.

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  2. At this stage of my life I am the type to be less likely to give a random game a try, specially in a genre I dislike. However I do make exceptions if the concept seems interesting and the sources I trust are saying good things about it.

    Saints Row 3 and 4 were that for me too. Not so much because I am opposed to play the “bad guy” (they are usually my second playthrough in computers RPGs) so much as the whole “gangsta” feel from the Grand Theft Auto games never clicked with me.

    But since those two Saint Rows games are stupidly silly I found myself enjoying them. I am hoping the recent remake ends up being for my tastes too.

    Another genre I usually dislike are FPSes but I enjoyed Bioshock for it’s setting and story.

    Multiplayer shooters is another genre I usually don’t like but back in the Wii U days, I gave the Splatoon demo a try and loved it. Since then it became my favorite franchise. I guess it is because it is mostly about territory control than shooting others.

    I gave Overwatch a try later on too because I also heard it was good for newbies and the gameplay was easy to grasp and varied with its different characters but found myself not enjoying it, unfortunately.

    Oh, and there is Dark Souls. Usually super-hard games are not for me. But on a whim I decided to watch a “Let’s Play” from a guy that also disliked that kind of game and another game designer where they were playing and discussing the game (It was from Extra Credits in case anyone is curious). That got me curious about the game and when it was on sale I bought it. No regrets. Although I still have to finish the first one so my claim over liking it might be a bit shaky. XD

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  3. We live in a time when we are lucky to have access to tons and tons of games – and many can be really inexpensive! I find myself buying a cheap game on sale more out of curiosity than prior knowledge or hype. Or I’ll go back to old games via NES or SNES online and try something I’ve never played before. Every once in awhile I come across a gem or learn to appreciate a game I used to hate. In any case, it means the potential to try out a lot of genres that I might not normally attempt.

    Thanks for sharing your list!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love when I get an experience of enjoying a game in a genre I’m not normally fond of. 🙂 My go-to examples for this are Ori and the Blind Forest / Ori and the Will of the Wisps.

    I am *not* good at platformers as a general rule, but sometimes my appetite extends my reach. e.g., I *wanted* to like Dustforce and Super Meat Boy way back in the day… But neither my natural reflexes nor my inclination to spend the time practising were up to the task. hah.

    Sometimes it goes the other way around too though — bouncing off games that on paper sound exactly up my alley, but end up not sticking for whatever reason. The Total War series was a good example of that for me. Still to this day couldn’t tell you why. They should’ve been perfect, but… *shrug*

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