captain With horror, horror adjacent and games with a hostile attitude towards the player in general there is, I think, a degree of control and apropiation over the experience that factors into the equation. It’s not only comfort through familiarity but also satisfaction derived from the fact that, once you already have learned the rules of those games, they become inhabitable, you have carved a measure of space in them and that brings a sense of fulfilment and gratification that combines with the familiarity aspect.
Sequels are something interesting to talk about in this regard and I think that conflict between the old and the new is something almost every developer must have experienced. In the case of FF there are two of the “conditions” being satisfied, they all belong to the same genre and therefore share a lot of mechanical conceits and trappings, but they are also part of a franchise with a focused vision, art direction, style, etc. that makes it easy to be recongnized both aesthetically but also mechanically, making those games feel cozy and comfortable. Speaking of insert credit, since we are here, I believe Tim feels this way too, specially with FFIV which I think he has said is his favourite Final Fantasy and maybe his favourite game ever?
yeso It is absolutely NOT a good thing when we abandon the territory of subjectivity and what feels good to each of us, and I totally agree that when this sense of predictability turns into a prerogative or a requirement, when games start making those choices to appeal to “target audiences” and “markets” what you get is basically, and as you suggested, Call of Duties and Ubisoft sandboxes. It’s media conservatism and conservatism is never good. Those games try to commercially exploit this feeling and willingly avoid taking risks in order to do that. So, to answer your question, I think the coziness is only valuable when it appears spontaniously, and is worth discussing precisely in that context.
Something I didn’t share up to this point and now I realize is relevant to the whole conversation is that I really didn’t enjoy The Last Guardian on my first playthrough. The awkward controls, weird camera and Trico’s unpredictability made for a miserable time the first time I completed that game. But just as I finished it something didn’t sit well with how I was feeling and immediately started a second playthrough which was, as far as I am concerned, “the true experience”. Just by virtue of already knowing the controls and being familiarized with all its weird quirks and conceits I had a much better time because I adapted myself and my playstyle to fit within the margins the game established for me. While on my first playthrough I didn’t manage to find my footing with the game, on the second one everything clicked and the memories and feelings I have towards The Last Guardian are all positive, but the interesting thing is that I was only able to feel that way AFTER developing that relationship with it, that is, after building that familiarity that allowed the coziness to happen.