Some games are so great, they should only be played once. They can still be good on subsequent playthroughs, but these five games are prime examples of experiences that exist to shock or inspire the first time around. This shouldn’t put these games in diminished standing amongst their peers, though. These games are at their fullest when they aren’t over-prodded by the ever curious gamer.
1. Bioshock: Infinite
Bioshock is a great series of narrative-heavy first person shooters that bring a particularly unique set of mechanics to the genre. It's always fun to shoot lightning bolts out of your hands, and the game's focus almost always tends to be how twisted and dramatic the story is - especially in Infinite.
Once you play through the last half hour of it, you can never look at Bioshock: Infinite the same way again. One of the biggest plot twists in games is when the ending is obvious, but so well executed that it remains impactful. You can never have that "first time" back, though, and romping through Columbia again will not bring you back from behind the veil.
The evocative and almost ethereal adventure that Journey takes players on is really only great once. When you find random travelers (other players) and investigate the incredibly elegant spaces you’re lead through, everything comes together organically. Words are replaced with visual and audio cues, and the effort to get to the end is one that will never feel powerful a second time around. Every new environment relies on some form of “WOW” factor that you can’t unsee and get re-surprised by.
Note: This could probably apply to any Jenova Chen-lead thatgamecompany release (such as flOw and Flower).
3. Any Telltale Game
Telltale has their particular brand of adventure game down to a science, and almost all of their games have followed a similar format. Unfortunately, that means there’s really only room for one genuine playthrough, where you set aside the fact that you know how these narrative paths work and can almost predict what happens next because of it.
Regardless of how you feel about the game’s stories, playing it a second time shows you not only the micro effects of the actions you didn’t take, but the fact that they really don’t change the overall course of the story much at all. It can be a real bummer to pull the veil back like that.
4. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Skyrim is an incredibly long, detailed game that compels you the turn every stone and skin every yeti for 100+ hours. It’s not uncommon that your Dragonborn could end the game leader of all of the continent's guilds, Thane of all of their settlements, and a well-known real estate tycoon. There is little reason to do everything in that game a second time.
Outlast, like Bioshock: Infinite, relies on the unknown to keep its plot compelling. Jump scares and near misses with crazy killer creatures are abundant and keep you on your toes most of the game. But after you know what’s around every corner, the game becomes less of an experience and more of an exercise - which would be fine for a game with many difficulty levels or leaderboards, but Outlast’s replayability options are pretty small.
What games can you only play once? Put them in the comments or tweet @CurseGamepedia.
Jarrett shares his love of video games and geek culture through feature articles on Gamepedia. He prides himself on his deep attraction to Japanese beat-em ups and his god-like Bushido Blade talents.