You know how there’s a stigma — both internal and external — about lowering difficulty settings in games below “normal?” Well I’ve always sensed that there’s another stigma floating out there, perhaps less now than it used to be, that using walkthroughs for RPGs made you less of a gamer.
Honestly, I’ve done both, and generally I’ve found that I end up really enjoying a good CRPG more if I have a walkthrough at my side — either for hand-holding directions or general reference. Since I’m only playing these for me, I figure I can play them as I like. A walkthrough doesn’t remove all challenge, but it does help to play efficiently and thoroughly.
There are few things that bug me more than the thought that I’ve missed something really cool in an RPG as I go through it. Some secret, or side quest, or useful item, or what have you. It really bugs me when I get to the end of some of these games and lack the power and gear to make it through the final boss fights. Sure, I could always play a game once without a walkthrough and subsequently with them (and I have done it that way), but RPGs are huge time sinks. I don’t often have time to play one more than once with so many others sitting on the backburner.
And this is kind of weird, but having a walkthrough makes me feel like I’m gaming with someone else — the author of that document. They don’t know me, but I get to know them through the way they write it and how they talk to me in the guide. It feels personal and social… again, in a weird way.
That all said, I’ve found that with more modern CPRGs, I don’t need or desire a walkthrough too much. I went through, for example, Pillars of Eternity, The Outer Worlds, and Disco Elysium never once consulting any guides. I might if I go back to do them again, mind you, because walkthroughs can be a great way to squeeze out some unexplored freshness, but more recent titles are better about keeping you on track and making quest pickups and objectives more apparent.
How do you feel about walkthroughs? Do you use them? Do you judge others — and me — for using them?