Gamers are a fickle lot. If a game's too short, there's a furious outcry about how we didn't get our $60 worth. But if it's too long, most of us never get around to finishing it.
Raptr, which tracks more than 23 million gaming sessions, last year estimated that only 10 percent of players finish the final mission of a game. We get it. Life's busy. There's always something new on the horizon to distract your attention. And, frankly, the stories often aren't strong enough to keep you glued to the screen, no matter how good the gameplay is.
Some games, though, demand to be completed. No matter how busy you are, here are eight games that you owe it to yourself to finish.
The Walking Dead: The Game
There has been so much critical praise heaped on Telltale Games' adventure game set in Robert Kirkman's undead-infested universe that there's bound to be a backlash. Don't listen to it.
With the relationship between Lee and Clem as its foundation, the story woven into this bleak setting is genuinely moving. And to not watch their story play out (as well as the stories of plenty of other characters you grow to know and love) would be a tremendous disservice. Plenty of games promise an emotional wallop only to offer up predictable, bland moments in return. The Walking Dead delivers – and will consume your thoughts for days after you've finished playing.
The hero of Halo may be Master Chief, but the soul of the franchise has always been Cortana. The Chief's AI companion humanizes the game and is part of the reason you actually care about the well being of John 117.
Her story is at the heart of 343's first run at the franchise, and while there's plenty of action to satiate shooter fans, there's also an emotional story element this time around. If you've been with the dynamic duo for their first three adventures, you can't miss the exclamation point of an ending that comes with this installment.
Papo & Yo
Child abuse isn't the sort of topic that would seem to make for a fun video game. But Vander Caballero's unique take on the subject that defined his own early life is a unique venture.
The game's not difficult -- and that's by design. Caballero has said he wants people to get to the end, so that the message of the game is clear. It's not preachy, but it's definitely unexpected. And it's an ending you'll want to have your Kleenex handy for.
Both installments of Valve's Portal make this list for different reasons. In either case, playing to the end means more time with GLaDOS, which is a reward in itself, given the brilliant writing and amazing performance by voice actress Ellen Mclain.
Players who complete the original game are rewarded with Jonathan Coulton's incredibly catchy "Still Alive." The surprise is long gone now and it's simple enough to watch the song on YouTube, but it's still better in the original form.
With Portal 2, you once again get a catchy ditty, but you also get some resolution to the dysfunctional relationship between the AI and series star Chell. While that certainly raises some questions about where the next installment of the game will go, it's a soothing finality that is appropriate to the game.
There are so many great moments in BioShock that it's hard to put the controller down in the first place. But the longer you stay with the game, the more you're rewarded.
How many of your in-game actions are decided by your free will? What sort of repercussions are there for your actions towards the Little Sisters? With multiple endings and an absolutely jaw dropping twist in the final hour of the game, Bioshock is a much lesser experience if you don't complete it. And with BioShock Infinite on track for release early next year, now’s a good time to wrap up the original if you left it unfinished.
Half-Life 2: Episode Two
Halo 2 got a lot of grief for gamers because of its cliffhanger ending, but it has nothing on the masterful Half-Life 2: Episode Two.
Yes, you'll be left facing a lot of unanswered questions with the now five year-old expansion. Yes, you'll be furious that Valve has yet to deliver on the promised Episode Three. But you'll also be so busy picking your jaw up from the floor at how the episode ends that it won't matter. Valve may enjoy torturing its fans, but it sure knows how to tell an engrossing, captivating story.
Shadow of the Colossus
Team Ico's cult hit is epic in scale and aided by its minimalist themes and haunting soundtrack. What you don't realize as you play, though, is how engrossed you become in the story.
The ending -- well, we can't really discuss it without major spoilers -- but suffice it to say that it delivers one of the great twists in gaming history. It may outrage you. It might shock you. It might even confuse you for a little while. But once you've had a chance to analyze it in your head, you'll want to play through the whole thing again.