We have nearly unlimited entertainment at our fingertips. Between Twitch, streaming services, video games, the INTERNET, and countless other experiences, enjoyment is only a tap, click, or beep away.
I grew up on Nintendo consoles. I can vividly recall long family road trips playing Super Mario Land by the infrequent glow of the passing streetlights. After playing through games on Super Nintendo, N64, and GameCube, I eventually upgraded to an Xbox 360 with the sole intention of playing as much Oblivion as possible.
As a gamer, RPGs have always been my go-to genre. I still maintain that Earthbound and Golden Sun are some of the best games ever made, and despite having sunk an embarrassing amount of time into Skyrim, I know there’s at least one more 100-hour character in my future.
However, as I’ve gotten older, priorities tend to change a bit. I’ve found myself gravitating away from longer, pseudo-endless RPG games in favor for more social experiences with friends. Even though I love delving into dungeons, gaming alone just doesn’t have that same appeal as it once was. Games like Borderlands still allow me to scratch the RPG itch, so long as I have friends who are interested.
But that’s the thing, isn’t it? If friends lose interest before you do, it won’t take long for you to move onto something else. And the idea of picking up new solo games is daunting to me. If I play an hour a day, games like The Witcher 3 are going to take me a year to complete! It’s an investment and a commitment that I can’t make when I don’t play quite as much as I used to.
[Click here for more on growing older as a gamer.]
One of the March Playstation Plus games was Maquette, a very quick story-centric puzzle game that tells a cliche-laden tale of a budding romance. All I’ve done so far in this article is sing the praises of RPGs, but I’d consider myself to be a gamer that can be persuaded to try most genres. In fact, one of my favorite series ever – Portal – is my benchmark for puzzle-based fun.
Now, when I say that Maquette is quick, I mean that in the most literal sense possible. From start to finish, I completed the game in just over three hours. The concept behind the game is really interesting, because you can manipulate objects within a smaller ‘model world’ that will impact the objects in the larger ‘real world’. You have to get creative to solve some of the more challenging puzzles to progress the story forward. It’s a game bubbling with symbolism and a colorful abstractness that was a nice respite from the fast-paced gunplay in my latest gaming obsession, Apex Legends.
But why was it such an enjoyable experience? The story itself isn’t really anything I’d consider to be special. It is filled with your typical romantic tropes that telegraph where the story is going right from the start. Taking that a step further, the basic mechanic of the puzzles was innovative, but there were only a few that really served as minor stumbling blocks. To top it all off, manipulating objects was sometimes clumsy and clunky.
At the end of the day, however, I really enjoyed Maquette because it allowed me to share a complete experience in a matter of a few hours. It was like being transported into another world that I could sit back and enjoy the story, exercise the brain a little bit, and tap my foot along with the catchy soundtrack.
And then it was done. It’s not likely that I’ll be picking it back up ever again. And that’s perfectly fine with me.
So many people inflate their expectations of games these days that they have to be perfect, endless investments of our time. For the amount of hype that Cyberpunk 2077 received, many of those high expectations were dashed when the game actually released; it was riddled with bugs and many promised features had been stripped away. You would have thought the sky was falling with the vitriol that ensued.
Take a look at some other games like Fortnite or Call of Duty. Everything is about the grind these days, and getting into a gaming ecosystem for just long enough for you to feel like playing is an obligation due to your sunk-cost fallacy. Heck, even one of our favorite games here at Nerds on Earth – Marvel Strike Force – is a perpetual casino machine.
So for once, it was a nice breath of fresh air to just play a game that has a tangible end. No super long time investment like God of War; no daily log-ins to stay current with the meta. There are so many games out there that I know I would LOVE to play, but the simple thought of committing myself to a hundred hours of gameplay is something that I just can’t do anymore.
It’s okay for your gaming tastes to evolve and change over time. I’ve accepted the fact that I may only play one or two AAA smash hits every year at a maximum. I’d much rather play games with friends, staying connected over the airwaves of our crackly microphones.
And that’s one of the primary lessons of Maquette: Nothing lasts forever. Just because something ends doesn’t diminish the value that you found in it to begin with. A moment can be perfect even if it isn’t eternal.
This article isn’t perfect, but it definitely has an end. And here it is.