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I'm the least enthusiastic about gaming that I've been in many years and I'm not sure why. I miss being enthralled.

For most of last year I was having a really good time with video games. I'd overcome my tendency to play a lot of bad games and was focusing more on games I actually enjoyed. I started the year with God of War: Ragnarok and Horizon: Forbidden West and thoroughly enjoyed them both, albeit Ragnarok more than Forbidden West, which seems to be the general consensus. I had a really great time playing older games like Yakuza 0 and Kiwami, Nier: Replicant, and Wild Arms later in the year and I was absolutely blown away by Tears of the Kingdom. I finally got around to Pyre and blasted through it, grabbing the platinum. I even had a great time with Ni No Kuni, a game that continues to be divisive over a decade after its release. While I didn't love the games released in 2023 as much as many people, the games I played in 2023 were mostly fantastic.

Then October hit and I decided to play some spooky games, as I tend to. I'm not the biggest horror fan, but I can certainly enjoy horror themed media under the right circumstances, and I was hoping to replicate 2021, when I had an amazing time with games like Bioshock, Alice: Madness Returns, and Shadow of the Damned. 2023 was not as enjoyable for me, and I have a bunch of half-finished blogs explaining why the original Bloodrayne is a much worse game than I remembered it being (frustrating level design and a lack of checkpointing being the main culprits) and why Shadowman is also pretty bad (even worse level design and an absolute ton of backtracking.) I tried to get through Redfall and did make it a chunk in only to discover that my opinion on it is similar to everyone else's. So that month wasn't great, but I thought that setting aside the horror stuff that wasn't hitting would improve things. Moving into November I decided to focus on games released in 2023, both to gear up for Game of the Year and because a lot of the games that hadn't gelled with me in October were older titles with frustrating older design choices. I'd also had a great time in 2022 towards the end of the year playing a bunch of newer stuff like Norco and Midnight Suns, so I thought I could replicate that.

I couldn't. I did play games in November and December, but not that many and most of them were sort of busts. Super Mario Wonder was a great time, but very fleeting. I couldn't bring myself to finish Super Mario RPG, even though I liked it and it's extremely short for an RPG. I had intentions on completing Like a Dragon Ishin!, Starfield, and more but instead I limped through a few indie titles and finished a couple bigger ones before more or less giving up and focusing on other things. At least In Stars and Time was great...until it wasn't (I still liked it overall.) I also had big intentions of finishing a bunch of PSVR2 games, and I barely touched the thing for the last two months, though planning on getting into VR and not actually doing so is a recurrent theme for me.

Now we're into 2024 and I figured again that things would change since I was no longer focusing on any specific year and could play literally whatever I wanted. Two weeks in that has mostly been insubstantial arcadey experiences. Evil West has been on my "to play" list for awhile and was a monthly PS+ game so I gave it a try and more or less hated it. I'll give it a bit more time but I'm not optimistic. I've played some more Like A Dragon Ishin! and that game is...fine. I'll probably finish it. It's not bad but I'd put Yakuza 0 and Kiwami in my top 20 games of recent years and Ishin definitely isn't. I played a few more levels of El Paso, Elsewhere the other day and enjoyed it. That game's pretty good.

But that's the problem. Even games that I can acknowledge are good aren't clicking with me. The upcoming Prince of Persia is getting great reviews but I can't justify buying it right now when I'm just not enjoying myself much with basically anything. There are a couple upcoming Game Pass games I'll check out because at least those aren't going to cost me money.

I don't really know what the point of writing this is except to admit it to myself. I'm not going to take a break from games because I'm still moderately enjoying them, and I haven't been pushing myself to play anything. A lot of my game time recently has been while on the treadmill, and that's productive. I also can identify issues in my life that have sapped my interest in games, including a lot of stress, poor sleep, and other stuff. I'm also pretty confident that eventually something will come along to recapture me. Maybe the Persona 3 remake or Final Fantasy VII Rebirth. Maybe after I finish Ishin! and move on to Kiwami 2. Maybe Microsoft will shadow drop something this week and I'll get caught up in the excitement like I was with Hi-Fi Rush.

I've been gaming long enough to know that these moods pass. But for now I miss the feeling of really being enthralled by a gaming. Of playing something that you think about even when you're not actively playing about it, that you want to research and read about and talk to people about. I miss being excited about waking up early and finding myself with a couple extra hours to play something before starting my day. It's something that I've had for most of my life about some game or another, maybe not constantly but on a regular basis, and right now I don't and I miss it. It's not that I don't have other interests or things to do with my time, or that I can't step away from games because I can (and have for the most part), but I just want that ability to zone out when doing something boring (like waiting for a train) and think about some game you're playing and what you want to do next or relive some sequence or whatever. There's nothing quite like it. I want it back.