My friend Ellyndrial over at That Angry Dwarf is, to be honest, a more “serious” gamer than I am. He’s great at first person shooters (not just “enthusiastic”, like me), he plays console games and PC games, and I think if we were to sit down and work it out he’s likely played more games than I have overall. So I was really surprised to learn that not only has he never watched a Let’s Play video, but he doesn’t understand the appeal at all.
To be fair, it does seem a little counter-intuitive. I mean, watching someone else play a game?! Whatever! If you like games though, and particularly if you like talking about games (*cough* guilty as charged!), Let’s Plays can be a great resource.
Perhaps the game is on a system I don’t own, like Heavy Rain and Playstation 3, or the game itself is hard to get now. Maybe it’s one of those JRPG titles that takes a million years to do properly and that sadly so few of us adults have time for anymore. Sometimes I watch scary games as a Let’s Play because I’m too chicken to play them myself. Also, good Let’s Plays are genuinely entertaining in their own right and easily replace watching TV or Netflix some nights, particularly as something to play on the second monitor.
But you don’t have to take my word for it! If you’re unfamiliar with the Let’s Play genre or feel like giving it another chance, I’ve selected five different ones below. Some are funny, some are informative, and some are just plain good gameplay. Enjoy, and if you have a favorite LP video definitely leave a link in the comments!
1. Let’s Play Deadly Premonition, by Supergreatfriend
Let’s start with one of the undisputed classics of LPs: a long, weird, difficult-to-find RPG survival horror title, played by an incredibly informed commentator with great production values. Deadly Premonition holds the Guiness World Record of “Most Critically Polarizing Survival Horror Game” (yes, that is a record), and Supergreatfriend takes us through a 100% complete playthrough knowing exactly when to talk to keep us entertained and when to stay silent and let the game do its thing.
2. Let’s Play Terraria, by Total Biscuit and Jesse Cox
This LP should not be as entertaining as it is. It’s two dudes talking while they play (usually a recipe for disaster), getting off topic a lot, and not even playing very well. And yet.. something about the combination of staid, formal TB and wacky shouter Jesse Cox makes this hilarious. Start from the beginning if you have time, or skip ahead to one of my favorite episodes. Think of it more like a Let’s Play “sitcom” than anything.
3. Let’s Play Deus Ex: Human Revolution, by Unfair
Okay enough with the big personalities — what if you just want to see someone competently play a game? Unfair’s DE:HR playthrough is still in progress, but it already sets a really pleasant, chill tone. Unfair doesn’t talk too much, and while he’s clearly played the game before and knows what he’s doing he doesn’t play like a robot. I wanted to experience Deus Ex without having to deal with the exasperating bosses and uncomfortable sneaking playstyle (I suck at stealth), and I look forward to seeing more episodes.
4. Let’s Play Darkseed 2, by the resupurae gang
The “resupurae” channel is made up of a few established LPers from the Something Awful forum and is probably best known for doing MST3k-style commentary over other people’s poorly made LP videos. That’s entertaining enough, but the real gem is when they take on a crappy game themselves as with the painful Darkseed 2. Meet video gaming’s most useless protagonist, Mike Dawson, and prepare to laugh. (The first hour of the playthrough is probably the best, so no need to watch the rest unless you’re dying to know how it ends.)
5. Let’s Play Knights of the Old Republic II, by Scorchy
Hey wait, this isn’t a video! While I generally prefer video LPs because they just sync up better with my media consumption habits, there are a number of excellent screenshot LPs out there. (And, to be fair, many games suit a screenshot version much better than a video one.) Scorchy’s KOTOR2 LP was originally created in 2007 and is considered one of the classics of the style. Amusing while still informative, this LP lets you enjoy a great Star Wars game without having to deal directly with ancient game mechanics.