Oh snap, it's our weekend feature, the PCG Q&A. We ask a question to our PC Gamer writers, then you can answer the same question in the comments. This week, a nice, negative one: when was the exact moment you fell out of love with a game?
Austin Wood: The Talos Principle
I can't remember exactly which level of The Talos Principle it was—though if I booted it up now I'm sure I'd still be on it—but it got me to drop the game in no seconds flat. It was shortly after you unlock the time clone ability which seems mandatory for puzzle games nowadays. And it wasn't that I was stumped. Quite the opposite: I solved the levers and boxes and clones, but when I made it to the exit and looked back on the level, I realized I hadn't thought about a single thing. I didn't need to. All I had to do was pull levers and place boxes in a very clearly indicated order to access new levers and boxes. At any point in the level, I could only do one thing. There was no room or reason to consider alternate solutions. Looking back, I realized it wasn't the first level that played out this way, and I don't play puzzle games to follow directions.
Phil Savage: Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
After around 11 hours, I quit not just Assassin's Creed IV, but the entire Assassin's Creed series. Up until that point I had been an Assassin's Creed fan. I'd played every game, even Assassin's Creed III, and enjoyed them all (except Assassin's Creed III). And I was having a good time with Black Flag—the characters were likeable, the stealth was acceptable, even the ship combat was OK. It was fun.
What changed? I don't really remember. There was a place I couldn't go without doing a bit of story, or a bit of story I couldn't do without completing some trivial events. Whatever the specifics, I was being hindered by the sheer, impossible weight of Black Flag's map, and the tens of hours of meaningless distraction contained within. It felt oppressive, and I couldn't stand the thought of playing any more. So I didn't. At least for a while. Now I'm back, slowly poking and prodding my way through Origins, and remembering why I liked the series in the first place.
Andy Kelly: Alan Wake
Overall, I really like Alan Wake. But god, some of that game is a slog. One moment in particular sees the moody horror writer being attacked by a giant swarm of ghost crows, and it tested my patience to breaking point. Hundreds of the buggers swarm you, and you have to cut through them with your flashlight. But a combination of each battery lasting for about five seconds, and the maddeningly imprecise beam, makes it deeply infuriating. I can't help but think Alan Wake would've been better if it was just a psychological horror game about a man walking through the woods, rather than having all that quite tedious combat. It just ruins the atmosphere, especially when you're on your tenth attempt to kill those damn shadow birds.
Joe Donnelly: Dark Souls
Those of you familiar with my work here at PCG will likely know how fond I am of the first Dark Souls. But this wasn't always the case. During my very first playthrough, after some breathtaking boss battles in Quelaag's Domain, Darkroot Garden and Sen's Fortress, I finally made it to the sun-kissed city of Anor Londo. Despite near-countless deaths to that point, I loved how the game's difficulty never felt unfair—that dying was always on me and my own inadequacy. I was smitten.
That is until I came up against Anor Londo's Silver Knight Archers. Suddenly, I felt punished beyond my control, whereby these ledge-posing pricks with their ridiculously detectable aggro range and almost impossible sword reach were toying with me. I died and died and died and died. Ornstein and Smough? I couldn't get near them! And after a gajillion tries that spanned weeks I finally admitted defeat and Dark Souls went straight into the bin. Git gud? Piss off. The love affair was over.
Needless to say, I did return down the line—this time equipped with the Ring of Fog and I sauntered past my once-impenetrable nemeses first time. Today, I love Dark Souls as a whole, but still hate this part of Anor Londo with a passion. In some ways, this reflects my real life. Like, I know my girlfriend loves me, but I also know she cannot stand the fact I'm always "letting the dirty dishes soak" in the sink, as opposed to cleaning them there and then. Dark Souls' Silver Knight Archers broke my heart and almost drove me away forever.
Meanwhile, cleaning the dishes is the Dark Souls of domestic chores.
Andy Chalk: Final Doom
I played the original Doom and its various spinoffs and sequels like a fiend: I loved it, and I was really good at it. But map 11: Hunted of The Plutonia Experiment, one half of Final Doom, did me in. It's a hellacious grind through a tight maze filled with nothing but Arch-viles, one of Doom's toughest and deadliest demons, and while there's a certain masochistic challenge to wading through a horde of immolation-invoking bullet-sponge dickheads, it sure ain't much fun. And in the midst of that mess, it hit me, out of nowhere, that the magic was gone.
That moment has stuck with me over the years because of its unprecedented suddenness. Most games either finish while they're fresh or slowly fade away, but Doom, after literally years of trotting along smoothly and easily, tripped over its own feet and crashed face-first into a brick wall. I don't think I've ever had a more pure "this is bullshit" moment—certainly not with a videogame, anyway—and that was it. Done, finito, goodbye. Doom will always have a special place in my heart, but after that day, I knew: It was over.
Tim Clark: All the football games
I actually gave up on an entire genre. I've always had a football game, right back to the days of Subbutteo and (more weirdly) a wooden box my mate had with players on springs which we once pulled an all-nighter on. Through Kick Off, Sensi, Actua Soccer, Pro Evo, and somewhat begrudgingly, FIFA, football in its various forms has been my forever game. Or at least it was. Now I don't play any of them, but unlike my colleagues' entries, it's through no fault of the software itself, which has only got better and more realistic over time, to the point that the array of modes and depth is absolutely dizzying. The reason I fell out of love with football is Arsenal, and more specifically the numbing second act of Arsene Wenger's reign. I'll spare you the specifics, and the A4 'Wenger Out' placard, and try to explain how real football destroyed my love for pretend football. For me, grinding away for season after season as the Gunners' faux gaffer in manager mode has always been about wish fulfillment. When the actual team was doing well, I couldn't wait to hop into a game and start making my own signings to improve the team even further. But as the club has steadily slipped into the same pattern of one hope-crushing premier league fuck up, so I've gradually got less and interested in trying to 'fix' matters in the form of a carefully curated save file. I don't know if I can pick a single moment—though it'd probably be the 8-2 at Old Trafford or the 4-0 to 4-4 collapse at St. James Park—but somewhere on along the line I just stopped wanting to play digital football at all. They say it's the hope that kills you. But's it's also what keeps you going.
Samuel Roberts: GTA San Andreas
Kids today have no idea how difficult the old GTA games were. In GTA San Andreas, several missions led me to the brink of madness: racing from one side of San Fierro in a sports car to the other without taking any damage. Racing Claude from GTA III up some mountains. But the one that really pushed me over the edge was a mission from Zero (David Cross), 'Air Raid', where you're forced to shoot down some toy airplanes with a turret. It's so ludicrously hard, and I never finished it or the game, instead leaving a 60-hour playthrough abandoned, much to my shame. I was just too mad to return.