10 Video Games That Only Work ONCE

A surprise is only surprising the first time around.

Death stranding directors cut
Kojima Productions

Video games have the power to amaze and surprise us, much like any high-budget movie or captivating book. Seeing Captain Walker realise his madness is akin to Darth Vader revealing his paternal side, with as much impact that people will still talk about it ten and forty two years later, respectively.

That being said, reveals like that only have the power to shock once.

Playing through a game again knowing the twist will most definitely not have the same effect, unless you've got short term memory loss and had forgotten it. But it's not just an unexpected twist that only works once.

A sightseeing experience, be it solo or with an AI pet-monster thing, can and will be beautiful the first time a player witnesses it. Going over the same beats immediately loses the gravitas when you start again.

But it's not just the divisive "walking simulators" that fall victim to one-and-done, there are other genres too. Horror games, naturally, lose the impact when the scare is already known. As do inventive puzzle games that rely on visual spectacle and object manipulation. Once the trick is revealed, it's not a surprise anymore.

Unless the lure of trophies/achievements and full completion spurs you on, how many of these games get relegated to the pile of memory? Quite a few, we'd wager.

So, with that in mind, here are ten games that only work once, and be warned: there will be some endgame spoilers in here.

10. The Last Guardian

Death stranding directors cut
Team ICO

The rule of diminishing returns is normally applicable to big budget films and games, in which series fatigue and repetition set in. Unfortunately, it can happen to auteur studios and their cult darlings too.

Following Shadow of the Colossus, The Last Guardian's prolonged development and release had gamers hoping it would strike with that whimsical, Team ICO brand of magic we'd come to love.

And, to an extent, it did.

Whilst retaining its clunky, on-brand controls, leading the nameless lad and his pet dog-bird-gryphon-thing is fun to play. Scaling towers, fleeing an unknown sense of evil, whilst reaching the literal heights of escape is great.

However, once it's done, there's no real incentive to go back to it. Knowing how to solve the puzzles and/or Trico-leading sections removes the... magic, if you will. There's no other story paths to take, nor are there any divergent sightseeing paths to show off how well Team ICO do pretty landscapes.

There are speedrun and collectible-based trophies, but that's about it. No recycled whimsy, just the frustration of trying to fast-track your pet's behavioral skills.


Player of games, watcher of films. Has a bad habit of buying remastered titles. Reviews games and delivers sub-par content in his spare time. Found at @GregatonBomb on Twitter/Instagram.