Pacing can be tricky in any art form, but especially in video games. Most developers want to make their games as accessible as possible, which means helping newcomers who might need more assistance than others. Meanwhile, more hardcore gamers may fall asleep during a long tutorial. It’s a delicate balance, so it’s no wonder some games don’t quite find the sweet spot.
And not all games that suffer this problem are bad. The games below are all worth playing, but it might take a while for you to see exactly why.
1. Kingdom Hearts 2
If you like extended cut scenes, lengthy conversations, and a tutorial thinly disguised as a linear set of distractions, you’ll love the beginning of Kingdom Hearts 2. It takes about four hours of drudgery before the game really opens up and lets players run free to experience the iconic worlds and characters of Disney and Square Enix. Once it does, Kingdom Hearts 2 becomes the fantastic game worthy of its enormous following. It’s getting there that’s the problem.
2. Final Fantasy XIII
Some might call Final Fantasy XIII streamlined. Others call it a corridor simulator, because you spend most of the game walking down a single path, with nothing to do but follow the events of the story.
This might not be a problem in a shooter, but it sure is in a role-playing game. While other RPGs offer enormous open worlds you can explore at will, Final Fantasy XIII doesn’t give players anything resembling that until about the 20-hour mark. That has proved to be too long to wait for many fans of the series.
If you can accept the game for what it is, though, there’s a good chance you’ll fall in love with Final Fantasy XIII. Its reputation has been tarnished in recent years, but let’s not forget that it received mostly positive review scores when it launched.
3. Persona 4
Persona 4 is a high school social simulator mixed with a tuned-to-perfection dungeon crawler. What’s not to love? Well, before you’re free to run amok in the charming small town of the game’s setting, you’re looking at four to five hours of preamble.
This is one of the deeper role-playing games on the market, so the time isn’t totally wasted, but it would be nice to gain that sweet freedom before your hair starts turning gray. But don’t let a lengthy intro stop you from experiencing this all-time classic. If you don’t happen to have a PlayStation 2 set up, you can get the game for PS Vita or PlayStation TV in the form of Persona 4: Golden. Set aside a few hours for the tutorial, and then dive into a meaty, memorable RPG that’s filled with characters you’ll come to love.
4. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
I think it’s safe to assume that a sizable chunk of the players who buy a new Zelda game have played a Zelda game before. If that’s true, then it’s probably not necessary to introduce the game mechanics at a positively glacial pace. But that’s exactly what Twilight Princess does. This game takes forever to get going, with several hours of setup and tutorial that become ever more painful the longer it goes on.
But once you’re up and running in the vast, gorgeous world of Hyrule, you’re in for one of the greatest action adventure games of all time. If only Nintendo had trimmed and condensed that painfully slow opening…
5. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
All Metal Gear Solid games do a bit of housekeeping to set the scene before kicking into gear. But the fifth installment has a prolonged hospital scene that has virtually nothing to do with what’s to come — plus, it takes forever to trudge through. It’s slow, it’s frustrating, and it’s deeply weird. All told, it takes about an hour to get into the main action of the game, but it feels like a bad acid trip that might never end.