This morning I returned to Ys: The Oath in Felghana after nearly a month away. It's not my favorite Ys game, but I had been enjoying it well enough and I was probably 85% through it and intended to see it to the end. What happened was that I got to a boss that it was pretty clear I was going to have to grind to be able to beat. I'm sure that someone more skilled than I was would have been able to beat her without leveling but I just wasn't able to. Grinding in Oath in Felghana isn't unpleasant, since it's a quick paced action RPG, and it generally doesn't take very long, so this wasn't a situation where I was going to have to spend 5 hours struggling through some unpleasantness in order to get further. In fact this morning it took me about 15 minutes to grind up a level, and then 3 attempts to take down the boss even with a month of rust regarding the game's systems. For a 2005 vintage action JRPG that's basically nothing. Even by modern standards "grind for 15 minutes and then take 3 attempts to beat this boss" is hardly some onerous or unreasonable requirement for advancement. That's just vidya games.
There are a couple additional relevant factors here. I like Oath in Felghana okay but it's far from my favorite Ys game, and it was done no favors by playing it in close proximity to Ys Origin, its follow up that's superior in almost every way. I probably should have taken the break before starting it rather than close to the end. I'm also playing it on PC, and I don't play a lot of PC games. I especially don't like playing PC games with a controller because at that point I'd rather be at my big TV on a console. When I'm just in the mood to play something it never occurs to me to sit down at the PC I spend much of the rest of the day using to do so.
But Ys Origin is far from the first game that I've put down for trivial reasons. Unless I'm loving a game it's super easy to lose me with just a subpar section or a small difficulty spike. When I was younger I left a trail of unfinished games behind me because of this. Being middle aged and more patient now I will usually come back and finish a game, though I still haven't gone back to Inversion despite being on the final boss in that game, and in fact I stopped playing the 360 altogether just because I didn't want to have to buckle down and spend 45 minutes or whatever learning that fight until I could beat it. In my defense there, that game is not good and I shouldn't have played as much as I did of it anyway.
Of course I don't always just put a game down when I get to a point I'm not enjoying. I used a walkthrough once to find where to go in Axiom Verge just because I'd spent hours wandering and was either going to cheat or stop playing altogether. I was able to finish the game after that and I was really just missing an obscure jump you had to make to an area that wasn't clearly marked, so I don't think it damaged my enjoyment.
So the question here is what does it take for you to set a game down and move on to something else, even if it's only temporary, or declare yourself stuck and use a cheat or walkthrough or whatever? How many hours are you willing to bang your head against a difficulty spike or a boring section before turning your attention elsewhere?
Is there anything that will make you give up on a game altogether and what are those circumstances?
For me it's a combination of things. It depends on how much I like a game, how busy I am in life and with other games, and just how unpleasant the spike is. But in general it's not that hard for a game to push me away. Even in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which I consider my favorite game of all time the Yiga Hideout was so irritating that I dropped it for like a month before forcing myself to go back and get through it. I don't enjoy being frustrated in gaming and video games should not feel like work. That's not to say I am incapable of working through difficulty spikes or that I hate any challenge. I finish most games that I start. But it's not that hard to drive me away from a game if I'm not felling it and not in the mood. I am going to try and finish Oath in Felghana but if I wasn't still committed to playing through the rest of the series there's a chance that I wouldn't. And all it took was a difficulty spike so small it might as well be a speedbump.