Certainly the issue has been addressed before, but last weekend I had the time to give it some extra thought as I compared my experiences with two games: Limbo and Alice - Madness Returns.
It's safe to say they're both artistic games, meaning the scenarios, character design and maybe even sound offers more than technical prowess, they're also beautiful.
Even if they're of different styles, both games provide an aesthetic satisfaction to the gamer. Sure, it's a game, you want to beat it it, you want challenges, but you also get the extra bonus of artistic creation. It goes without saying that one's allowed not to enjoy those games and not to have any sort of satisfaction from their artistic side, but then one's money would definitely be better spent elsewhere.
I bought both games dirty cheap on a Steam sale, their price did not differ that much. So, in theory, I should expect the same sort of satisfaction. I had a good time playing Alice, the game play is not bad as in the reviews I get to read, but the puzzles and the battles tend to repeat themselves. Even after I've managed to show the game that I've mastered a given puzzle or enemy type, it kept throwing them at me, without mercy. I pressed on because I wanted to see what would happen to Alice, how would the Queen look, not to be given the same enemies to slice or the same puzzles to solve. It felt like padding, as if the game was trying to accomplish the minimum number of hours not to be considered a rip off. After all, it was a released as a $49 game.
Limbo is a three hour journey. Its puzzles rarely repeat themselves and either present a whole new mechanic or build upon a previous one. When it ended, I was sort of surprised and decided to replay it for the Easter eggs.
I do prefer games to be short and intense experiences rather than long journeys and nothing is worse, for me, than boredom while playing a game. Even if I had bought Alice for $49, I would not have desired it to last its long 14 hours and would have been satisfied with maybe half or even a third of this length, because then the game would have been a stream of new mechanics, enemy types and scenarios. I'm not buying a time card, I'm paying to have a great time.
As for Limbo, I was surprised to see it has a lot of programmers, animators etc. A lot of people involved in its simplicity. It's indie but it's by no means a two men project and even though it had the manpower, it did not try to overstay its welcome, to give me "more bang for my buck".
I liked both games but I wish Alice was shorter and presented its content without that much repetition. Sometimes I read on reviews a complaint that some game is short and I'm baffled. What's the problem in having a short ride? Does the $49 or $59 mean at least 25 hours of game play? Is it like the times when we were kids ad had to present a paper of at least 7 pages?
I am alone in my preference?