What Do I Do When I Get Stuck in a Video Game?

For the past few days I’ve been playing Shadow of the Colossus on the PlayStation 2 for review purposes. The problem was that almost at the end of the game I got really stuck on a boss fight and I couldn’t find the solution even after an hour and a half of roaming around aimlessly. As I was playing the game to review it, of course I wasn’t going to run to my laptop and check out a walkthrough as not only would this ruin the experience of finding out what I have to do by myself, but would also be utterly unprofessional. Still, I started thinking about my approach to playing games and the way I deal with them whenever I get stuck.

Of course getting stuck in games is nothing new and some titles are definitely harder than others, but what do I do when this happens? I’ll list some of my rituals, but if you have a different approach to this, please feel free to write them in the comments section of the site:

1) Pause the game, walk a little bit, drink something, go to the backyard, stretch your muscles, play with you cat or little brother for a little while. Then get back, read the manual (in case you have one) or simply review your objectives. Most of the times after you do something like this and you get back to the game, the solution may present itself to you in seconds.

2) Know that it is not necessarily your fault. This may seem really silly, but sometimes you start blaming yourself for not clearly see what you are supposed to do. Most of the times games are designed like this, some titles are simply hard and they are not for everybody. Tenacity is a good quality so keep trying.

3) Save, turn off the console, go to sleep and get back to the game tomorrow morning. This is one of the best options when dealing with frustrations and not only does this approach applies to video games, but also to other problems in general. Chances are that when you wake up the next morning and you play the same section of game, you’ll effortlessly solve that difficult puzzle that was bothering you so much.

4) Get an official guide, an FAQ or walkthrough and see what you are supposed to do. This becomes really addictive once you start doing it and whenever you get stuck you’ll immediately think about turning to that laptop over there and reading a walkthrough. “Come on, I’ll do it for a little while, no one will get hurt,” you think. Then you realize that you’re finishing 12-hour games in just 6 hours, you’re not getting anything from them and the whole experience is not as rewarding as it should be. I used to do this, but now I try to stay as far away from FAQs as possible and I turn off my laptop whenever I’m playing RPGs or puzzle games. Using guides just feels wrong.

5) Don’t let the high difficulty pollute or influence your opinion about the game. This is extremely hard sometimes and when you get stuck or find a bug or glitch it’s easy to start swearing at the developers and then talk about your experience in some random forum or blog. It’s just a game, some games are more difficult than others and some games are not for everybody.

6) Use forums or ask friends. Yeah right, like this ever helped anyone. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes this can be an easy solution, but most of the times people will start telling you things that you didn’t know about the game. “What, Aeris dies at the end? Oh crap…

7) Rage quit. For many this is an option, of course personally I won’t stop playing a game just because I can’t seem to find the solution to a certain puzzle (especially if I’m reviewing that game in particular,) but for those who have dozens of games and are way too frustrated with one in particular they can always leave it aside and never, ever get back to it again.

Now I ask you, what do you do when you come stuck in a video game?

  • Fosforic

    I look up a walkthrough…. I have a very weak character when it comes to things like these. HOWEVER, this depends ENTIRELY to how I’m experiencing the game.. If i really like this game and i’ve been loving every minute of it so far, I will tend to look and fail longer before I resort to any such methods. Not to mention, sometimes accidently finding the solution. However for games I only mediocrely like , i don’t waste time and just look up the method. Trying things over and over, is without a doubt, usually, annoying. It can’t be helped. And you’ll just put up with more stressful situations from games you love as opposed to something you’re playing just for ” the heck of it”.


  • eric_s07

    I agree with you in the sense that if I really like the game, I tend to look for a solution instead of reading a walkthrough. Of course, there may be some exceptions. One that immediately comes to mind is the RPG genre. For me personally, sometimes it’s not very obvious that I’m supposed to use a specific spell or ability against certain boss. I love the genre, but I wouldn’t have finished Dragon Quest VIII or Final Fantasy X if it wasn’t for walkthroughs and guides. Thanks for sharing your point of view Fosforic!

    • fosforic

      I think it’s still quite doable for an RPG. I guess it depends on which kind. RPG’s like fable…. Are just about the easiest you can find :p. I think I know what you’re hinting at with final fantasy X, probably the TRIALS right ? To recruite the eidolons? Goodness me, those things were torture. Actually, I think they were called Aeons in FFX. Anyway yeah, those trials were dreadful. I think I never really finished it either. I was stuck at the very last puzzle you had to do before facing sin and I never bothered to finish it. All my characters were already hitting 9999 damage anyway. I would’ve owned sin regardless :p.

      Right now , i’m just too overloaded with things. I’m trying to play soul calibur V, final fantasy XIII- 2 (this one i really like, the antagonist is one of the best ones i’ve seen in their games), Kingdom of Amalur which is also pretty damn good and Tera’s CBT3 this weekend.

      I think I read somewhere between your articles you don’t really like SCV. But truthfully, it’s quite alright. The story mode is actually quite extensive, has interesting clips and fun battles. I really enjoyed playing through it. Even though its the only offline feature the game has. Well , it also has ” legends of souls” … But seriously, it’s crazy hard and has no adaptable difficulty. If you’re not an expert at inputting combo’s and blocking, you’ll never win a round. However the combat has some serious improvements. It’s crazy fluent, fun and those special moves you can implement whenever you like are just too good for words.

      • eric_s07

        Yes, I remember the Trials and the Aeons from Final Fantasy X as those were quite hard to figure out. It got to a point where I just couldn’t take it anymore and read a walkthrough. I also remember getting most of the legendary weapons. Those were insane, but each one required you to do something different (like hunting blue butterflies while avoiding red ones, winning a Blitzball championship, capturing Cactuars and so on.)

        It’s great that you have the opportunity to play so many new titles. Personally I would like to get some PSOne Classics on the PlayStation Network or at least some PS Minis just to try something different.

        Finally, I haven’t played SoulCalibur V yet, but I like the franchise. I played SoulCalibur II and III extensively but those had some issues, particularly regarding unbalanced characters. Still, it’s really nice to see that developers are changing a few things as the series was kind of stagnating after a while.

        • fosforic

          It was funny reading back my comment on this. Of the four games I mentioned I am now playing NONE lol. I can’t be bothered putting in soul calibur 5 nor for FFXIII-2 and neither for kingdom of amalur XD. Well and Tera is in beta so i’m not exactly playing that either whenever it would suit me. Although they open up again this weekend… Yay! I’m not sure what’s stirring up this attitude but I think i’ve started loving Tera a little bit too much which is pulling away my taste from any other game that I currently own. Which kind of sucks when I have to wait around for 2 weeks to play the next beta. I actually picked up another ratchet&clank game too last weekend but I haven’t touched it so far, another one for the pile eh ;p. I’m still going to though, I actually am quite the decent ratchet&clank fan , they are good games and enjoyable.

          furthermore, every game has issues I suppose. The question is if you actually like it enough to overlook those issues. If not, you just end up critizing its flaws. also , soul calibur 3 was a good one for me. It first introduced my favourite character, Tira and it had the most awesome minigame in single player. That gizmo where you could move characters or own made characters to towers and trying to overtake the map and stuff like that. I really REALLY loved that. And i hate HATE it that they haven’t included it in any newer games. Also, I was stupid enough to give my SC3 copy away to some kid of the family because he wanted it. I should’ve told him to sod off. Now I c an never play it again :p. I couldn’t have in the first place though.. My ps2 has passed away and developpers obviously don’t want you to play older games on a newer system. I hate the japanese.

          Secretly, I’ve been craving for FFXIII-versus though. Well, I have since 2000-and-fucking-9 when they released their first trailer about it. But oh well. Maybe it will be released this year, I have no idea.

          • eric_s07

            Yes, I know what you mean. I still have some catching up to do too. Glad you like the Ratchet & Clank series. I’ve always preferred Jak & Daxter, but I think at one point I’ll have the chance to pick up some of the old Ratchet & Clank titles and see what the fuzz was all about.

            Regarding Soulcalibur III, I played it yesterday! I played multiplayer with some people and it’s impressive to see how well it holds up after so many years. I guess at one point I’ll start playing it again for review purposes because I really enjoyed my time with that fighting game.

            Honestly, I think you should somehow get a PlayStation 2 or start playing PS2 titles on one of those PS3s that have backwards compatibility (if you have one.) I have been playing some PS2 games lately and it still amazes me how awesome that system was.

            Finally, there haven’t been any new announcements about Final Fantasy Versus XIII, but many are speculating that it’ll be a next generation title. Still, I’m pretty sure we’ll have more news about the title at the upcoming E3, so as soon as I hear something about the game I’ll post it on the site.

  • Sam Base

    First I burn the disc. Then I bury it. Then I dig it up 5 days later and spit on it. Then I go buy a different game.