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Hacked Off: When You Can’t Skip Cutscenes in Video Games

Before you accuse me of being some kind of heartless heathen who skips any and all cutscenes I come to, then I’m afraid you have misunderstood. I am a sucker for video game stories. In fact, every game I play I get scared to press any buttons during a scene in case it will actually skip it. If I need to pause it during this, I press one button and pray to God it just pauses. I only have this qualm after I die and the game makes me sit through the entire scene again.

Clearly, the part of the game I’m failing is making me frustrated and watching the same cut-scene is not helping. No matter how nice a scene is, I don’t want to have to watch it 17 times in a row just because I’m stuck. If anything, these developers are responsible for the destruction of the A/X buttons on controllers. We all just spam the button until the scene ends. Sure, we know it achieves nothing, but maybe the developers put in codes that skip the scene if the button is pushed 30 times in a row.

The first Kingdom Hearts game has this scheme and is one of the worst. This game is not easy for me now, let alone when I was a small child. Battles would take several attempts, often resulting in tears as I had to watch Riku question my friendship as he proceeded to attack his supposed friend. The scenes aren’t even short, everything seems needlessly prolonged, as if it’s punishment for our failure. Maybe the rationale was to force players to keep watching it in the hopes they would have a better chance understanding the storyline.

I suppose not having a skip option makes people play the game better, as they are in fear of having to sit back through scenes. It’s especially the case when there are good 5 minutes of consecutive un-skippable goodness. Who is going to keep playing the game half-heartedly and by taking risks if watching the cutscenes again is the consequence? Well, it works in theory, but in reality most people give it a few goes and then throw the game in the ‘leave a couple of months’ pile.

It’s not just full cutscenes that are annoying. Games like The Legend of Zelda where there are small animation scenes become tedious to sit through after a while. I have seen this mini-boss fall from the sky umpteen times, I understand he has rock solid calves, just let me get on with saving Hyrule. If anything, Link should spend this time taking a few pot shots as opposed to admiring the landing. The standard animation scenes like the door unlocking or the chest appearing should have the option to skip too. Over the years I’ve probably spent a month of my time just watching these scenes. Sure, they look nice and are iconic but come on.

Why must we sit through the same stuff we have already seen? It’s as if they’re slamming it in our faces, saying “Look we have a story, isn’t it swell? That took us 7 weeks to make, so you can spend the same amount of time admiring our handy work.” Do developers think after suffering the traumatic experience of a game over screen, gamers erase all short term memory of the event – thus forgetting a scene ever took place?

Destiny was a more recent culprit, well until The Taken King expansion back in September. This game sees you replaying missions again and again and then some more times after that just for good measure. It seems odd that they decided to make cutscenes un-skippable. Maybe it was to hide the lack of story by making people think there were a load of scenes. None of them were even interesting, they were pointless, with most resulting in a guardian looking at an object or at someone else. At least they saw the errors of their ways.

When re-watching cutscenes, I can’t even use the time productively by getting a drink since I won’t make it back in time and die again. Well, unless I’m playing Metal Gear Solid, as it’ll probably be six hours until the scene ends.

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