Readers reveal the non-multiplayer games they’ve completed the most, from Into The Breach to Final Fantasy 7.
The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader Chevy Malibu (PSN ID), and while technically you could nominate a multiplayer game, we were more interested in games you come back to every few years to play through again.
To our surprise (and approval) XCOM 2 was by far the most popular pick, in fact we’ve seldom known a Hot Topic to be so dominated by a single game. Especially as many of the other choices were also turn-based strategies.
There’s never been an easier question to answer: it’s XCOM 2. I’ve played XCOM: Enemy Unknown a lot as well, and did a few run throughs of Enemy Within, but it’s XCOM 2 by a mile.
I have the platinum for XCOM 2 on PlayStation 4. Just getting that achievement took a ridiculous amount of playing time. That’s beside the fact I also own it on Xbox and Switch and have put in Sisyphean numbers on both those systems.
PlayStation a few years ago did a year end wrap where you could see your most played game, etc. I had 140 hours in that year and that wasn’t the platinum run year, I only started that in lockdown.
I’m way past addicted.
Deceitfularcher (gamertag/PSN ID)
My most replayed game would have to be Into The Breach. It’s roguelike nature lends itself to repeated runs, as you keep playing to finish a run and then try further runs to unlock new squads and unlock the in-game achievements. It’s weird to think that at first, I didn’t click with the game but then returned to it a couple of years later and now it is firmly my favourite indie game of all time.
I have put 60 hours into it on Switch which I know isn’t a lot for some people but for me to spend that much time with one game is unusual and I still have a few achievements to get. This is all without touching the new free DLC expansion either. I want to try and get all the in-game achievements before starting the DLC and I’m nearly there, just beating the game on Hard difficulty is the one to allude me so far.
It is quite a simple game to get your head around on easy but there is lots of strategy to consider on medium and hard difficulties, however it is easy to pick up and play if you have been away from the game for a while, so it’s one I like to return to every now and then for a few runs.
Now playing: God Of War (PS5) and Tinykin (Steamdeck)
Turn-based strategies have practically ruined gaming for me. The holy trinity of Advance Wars, Into The Breach, and XCOM (especially 2) are so utterly compelling, with no two playthroughs the same, that many other games I could be investing time into get side-lined. Astral Chain, Metroid Dread, and countless PlayStation 4 games, including Elden Ring, have suffered this fate.
While mentally taxing, Into The Breach is perfect after a hard day’s work, when you just want to wind down. I’ve played it so much that it’s left an almost ruinous ghostly image on my 65” OLED television.
I’ve played the Super Mario Galaxy games multiple times over. Their sheer inventiveness, staggering amount of variety, perfect gameplay mechanics, and utter joyousness make them masterclasses of form. Games so immersive that the barrier between reality and virtuality dissolves: you flow into and with them. In that space, of that time and physics, you really are Mario, you really are in another world.
However, second to the above trio, is the Splatoon series. A game that keeps on giving; it’s a real blast, as they say.
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My game is XCOM 2, both the base game and the War Of The Chosen DLC. I first bought it on the PlayStation 4 and then the Switch. I must have played it six or seven times, frankly I’ve lost count.
It’s one of those few games that get close to perfection. The research and design of alien tech, an atmosphere of tension that’s up there with the Souls games, varied missions and you can just tell the thought and imagination put into it.
Chevy Malibu (PSN ID)
There’s a few games I revisit fairly frequently, but the one I’ve overall probably spent the most time with is UFO: Enemy Unknown (the original XCOM game).
The main factor for replayability is the research tree, allowing you to go different ways with the weapons and therefore tactics in the squad turn-based combat (the meat of the game). The time unit system is also a big factor – unlike most games of the genre, you can do multiple varied actions (or just the same one many times) with one character in a turn.
Each action costs time units, which are replenished at the beginning of the next turn. At the beginning of the game with rookies you don’t feel the benefit of this system so much, but with each mission, as long as the squad members play at least a small part in the mission and stay alive, their TU maximum will often increase – along with your action possibilities.
The excellent pixel art graphics and MIDI music do evoke nostalgia in me, but it’s the core gaming mechanics, which in some ways haven’t been bettered almost 30 years later, that are the big draw for me to keep coming back to it. The excellent open source OpenXcom fan project, which squashes original bugs and adds new quality of life features, also makes it very accessible today, blunting some of the flaws that could otherwise cause me to play it less often.
What makes a game replayable is a difficult question. The other games I replay all have different reasons. Zelda 2, I still adore the fast paced combat of. Prince Of Persia is a mix of nostalgia (my first ever game) and the strict momentum-based platforming, which remains very fresh. Breath Of Fire 3 has a unique ‘master’ system where you can push your character’s stats in the direction you prefer, allowing for varied team compositions.
Chrono Trigger has an excellent New Game+ system that allows you to totally break the game. I don’t think there’s a single answer to what makes a game replayable, there’s lots of possibilities that can keep you engaged with the game.
I don’t specifically consider it an important feature; replayability is cool, but sometimes I just want to play a point ‘n’ click game, like the recent Return To Monkey Island – I very much enjoyed it, will likely not play it for a long time, but consider my money well spent for the experience.
In the same way there are many games I wouldn’t want to replay because completing them was really hard and time consuming the first time round, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the journey – for every horrific Bart Vs. The Space Mutants there’s a sublime Contra 3, which I completed on Hard mode many years ago and have no intention of ever doing again!
Game of Throne
Nuclear Throne. It’s simply the combination of weapons coupled with how well the weapons are executed that makes another playthrough easy to begin. Additionally, the game doesn’t end. There’s a loop that takes you to a more difficult run, so, it’s about how far you can reach. Perfect ingredients for replayability!
Nuclear throne, you’re the king.
Many years ago replaying games was my thing, as I had enough time to do this, but alas playing a game once and probably just the once is all I can afford.
I did replay an updated remastered edition of the Mass Effect Trilogy with FemShep and tried different choices, and with Deus Ex: Human Revolution also. So maybe if there was a different outcome experience, I may put the time needed to really enjoy them again. But for now, though, I doubt I’ll be doing them again for the foreseeable future.
Smaller indie games on the iOS or PC could be replayed. I mean, Monkey Island has been continuously replayed within different periods of my life even now. Though Japanese role-players have mainly now just been a one-time play through and nothing like when I replayed the PS1 era of the Final Fantasy series.
Going further back to the SNES era, it was rinse and repeating the same set of games all the time until a new one could be afforded or a nice birthday or Christmas present was presented to me. I also feel nostalgia keeps the memories alive.
My mind is full of real world past memories and gaming memories. When I am watching a TV series or a film, many a time I would say, ‘Oh I did that once – brings back memories!’ The merging or virtual and real life is pretty cool I reckon.
Most played and completed include Super Mario World, Zelda: A Link To The Past, Earthworm Jim, The Lion King, Mario Kart, Final Fantasy 7, Monkey Island, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, and Donkey Kong Country.
Maybe when I retire in the far away future I‘ll replay my gaming collection favourites and re-experience the more recent gaming gems again. It definitely sounds like an attractive adventure indeed.
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