Deus Ex is the classic example of course, rendered in a meme so old it comes from a time before we even called them memes. But plenty of other games live on in our subconscious after we stop playing, and a simple mention of their names is enough to get the music going in our heads. Maybe it’s that one MMO you always go back to, maybe it’s the RPG where you can always try a different build. Maybe it’s actually just Deus Ex.
What game are you tempted to replay whenever it’s mentioned?
Here are our answers, plus some from our forum.
Robin Valentine: It’s Darkest Dungeon for me. Despite loving the game, I’ve never actually completed it, or really even seen its later stages. I’ve never even been in the eponymous final dungeon. For as much as I can’t get enough of the atmosphere, it’s just so long and grindy, and every time I return to it I feel irrationally compelled to start a fresh save. Eventually I burn out, until a few months later when I see some great fanart or someone quotes a line from the narrator, and I think ‘I should go back and finish it this time!’ A Sisyphean limbo of my own creation. At least that sounds like something the narrator would say.
Jacob Ridley: BioShock. I must’ve replayed the game through tens of times in as many years, but I’ll still get that itch to go back whenever it’s mentioned.
Phil Savage: I always found Deus Ex a weird choice for this trope, because honestly who has the time to embark on long, multi-hour singleplayer games at the whim of the internet. For me, it only really happens with more quickfire experiences—multiplayer shooters, or roguelikes I haven’t yet finished. Dead Cells, Into The Breach, Team Fortress 2: games I can experience in shortfire bursts, that I’ll get something new out of each time I play.
That said, I will reliably go back to the Deus Ex soundtrack when I see it being discussed. That Hong Kong background music slaps.
Wes Fenlon: This goes for pretty much any Total War game, but especially Shogun 2, which was my introduction to the series and still has some of my favorite units to take into battle. Spend five minutes talking to me about any Total War, though, and I’ll immediately start asking myself if I should spin up a new campaign. Maybe tackle one of the bazillion expansions I never put enough time into? Fall of the Samurai sure is cool… then again, I never did finish conquering China in Three Kingdoms. I could pick that campaign back up—orrrrr I could start fresh as a whole new faction. How long until Warhammer 3’s out, again? Maybe I should just wait for that one.
I think the reason I don’t actually fall back into playing Total War every single time the temptation arises is that there are so many of them, the choice paralysis slows me down long enough for the urge to pass. That, and knowing that I’d dump entire weeks into a new campaign. Fall of the Samurai sure is cool, though…
Richard Stanton: I play Counter-Strike and it’s definitely one where my enthusiasm is reignited every month or so by seeing it in the news, whether that’s for esports or a new operation or whatever. As soon as I start reading or writing about Counter-Strike I just get the urge, and that night I’ll somehow squeeze in a game by hook or crook.
It sometimes happens with others, not every time they’re mentioned but when you’ve had enough reminders, or it’s just a complete surprise. Zombies Ate My Neighbours, a real lost LucasArts gem for many years, recently appeared on Steam and I just had to go back (still ace!) Whenever Quake pops up I feel an urge to play that but honestly haven’t in years. Oh, and Starcraft 2. I was obsessed with Wings of Liberty for about two years of my life. I don’t play it much at all these days but every so often something Starcraft 2-related will remind me it exists, and that night I’ll go on and give some lucky soul a very easy win.
Christopher Livingston: Weirdly it’s grim, bleak, punishing games like DayZ, Stalker, and Frostpunk. I think I associate such strong feelings with those games: the tension, the stress, the dread. Why are those bad feelings so compelling? I’m not sure. I think maybe it’s because most games don’t really generate a lot of strong feelings in me. Having fun isn’t as memorable as feeling freaked out, horrified, or so tense that my heart starts pounding. That’s what I remember and it’s what always draws me back in.
Morgan Park: That’s definitely Hitman for me. As soon as anybody talks about an interesting kill method on a level I haven’t tried yet, I feel compelled to reinstall and finally 100 percent that game. That usually means I put in another 10 or 20 hours, have fun learning new things about old maps, and then get hung up on an overly ambitious idea until I give up. Eventually I have to clear it off my SSD, because the whole trilogy of levels is a bazillion gigs.
Jody Macgregor: I’ve finished Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines with three different clans, and started but never made it to the end with three more. There’s still no other game like it. It’s such a specific flavor—a gothy, urban RPG that gives you so many options it’s right on the edge of being an immersive sim—and any mention brings the taste right back.
Andy Chalk: I mean, it is Deus Ex. That meme exists for a reason, you know. But if we want to go with a “No DX” rule, then a close second is System Shock 2. Every time I hear this, or I read “look at you, hacker,” or I just start thinking about it for no particular reason, bam, the itch is there. It is such a good game. I resist the urge because I know that nostalgia can only carry me so far, and there aren’t any surprises there for me anyway. (System Shock 2 is one of the very few games I’ve played through more than once.) But I never stop thinking about going back. Maybe someday I will.
Zloth: Final Fantasy 7. In fact, you don’t even have to mention it. Just the first 7 notes will do it.
Brian Boru: Oh Civilization 4 without a doubt. I struggle manfully to resist, because I know if I succumb, there go the next 3 months! Civ4 is like an old comfy shoe, or that always happy person you haven’t seen in a while.
Pifanjr: The first games that come to mind are Black & White and Skyrim. Fallout: New Vegas too, especially when I happen to hear Big Iron somewhere. Other notable mentions are Dark Messiah of Might and Magic and Lord of the Rings: Shadow of Mordor because the combat is just so satisfying.
Dwarf Fortress is another one I keep coming back to every so often when something reminds me of it (often times it’s some music that either reminds me of the theme or of some music I listened to while playing the game).
ZedClampet: For me it’s got to be a strategy, management or building sandbox type game. Games this tends to happen with for me right now are TWW2, Satisfactory, Scrap Mechanic, Roller Coaster Tycoon (any of the first 3) and Satisfactory. The only shooter I ever felt that way with was RE4, but my last playthrough on that was a couple of years ago. There are other games that I’ve replayed, but they don’t meet the requirements of the question.
Colif: Looks at Avatar… I can’t even listen to its music without wanting to play it. So I don’t listen to its music… Journey. Sacred 2. I was tempted to play WoW again a few years ago but I have reasons I should avoid MMO. It used to be Diablo 2 but well, no need now.
mainer: Great. Thanks, now I want to go and install and play Deus Ex. When I do play it, I play Deus Ex: Revision, which is a community made mod/project that updates Deus Ex GOTY edition with better graphics, textures, higher resolutions, and many other features that make it look and run better on newer PCs. It still looks a bit dated, but still much better, you just have to own & install Deus Ex GOTY, then install Revision (which is free) and has its own Steam page.
OsaX Nymloth: Huh, did someone mention Baldur’s Gate/Icewind Dale or Fallout 1/2? I felt a sudden urge to replay them. Again for the n-th time. And yes, I did replay them last year or so, how did you know? In recent months I had a small but growing urge to revisit Alan Wake. And guess I will, with the remaster revealed not so long ago.
Also brb, reinstalling Deus Ex.
Frindis: Definitely Morrowind. It is that one game I always go back to whenever I need to find a place of calm.
Sarafan: There’s a lot of games that I can replay forever. Most notable are Bladur’s Gate 2, Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark and… Quake 1! The first title is legendary and basically everything was already said about it. I prefer the Enhanced Edition for the UI improvements and zoom feature that it introduces.
NWN: HotU is an interesting example though. Single player NWN experience in overall isn’t as good as in BG2, but the HotU epic level campaign is of highest quality and we can surely say that there’s a glimpse of old BioWare’s genius there.
The first Quake is also a legend. Its strongest point is the dark and gloomy atmosphere, but there’s balance in it. You don’t feel overwhelmed. You just push through the marvelously designed levels and shoot everything that comes in your way. It’s a different experience than the modern Doom games however. Considering that a remaster was released recently, it’s a good occasion to jump into the game!