My recent first playthrough of Final Fantasy III’s 3D Remake began with a little bit of preliminary homework. Before I started my new save file, I took a closer look at the list of Steam Achievements to form a clearer idea about what exactly would be expected of me to accomplish full completion. Spoilers were not a particular concern of mine as I had heard plenty about this entry in the series over the years; so I was primarily curious to see if any of the items on the list might suggest an especially high workload. One immediately stood out: Reaching the maximum level for the twenty-three available jobs with all four party members.
Without going into detail here regarding how exactly this can be achieved, the first few hours of my playthrough confirmed that this task would indeed require a significant amount of time and effort. Yet, the prospect of eventually focusing my attention on this one Achievement and unlocking it alongside the others quickly filled me with anticipation. I was looking forward to fully completing this version of Final Fantasy III — and this was to no small extent because this very Achievement was looming on the horizon!
Over the years I have grown to understand that there are several reasons why I so often feel inclined to finish videogames as thoroughly as possible. But while I was playing through Final Fantasy III with the requirements for its most demanding Achievement on my mind, I contemplated one of these reasons in particular: The rewarding feeling that comes with managing to conclude a clearly defined project in its entirety, the closure that allows me to let go and move on. This promise, the knowledge that I will eventually reach my destination, brings a reassuring sense of forward momentum that is often absent from other parts of my life — at times threateningly so. Even the most seemingly intimidating task in a videogame brings the guarantee that there will be a definitive finish line. There is no risk of getting trapped in a state of ceaseless uncertainty or overwhelmed by the perfectionist urge to undertake constant corrections.
Perhaps this feeling is especially strong with Achievements that are not difficult per se, merely time-consuming. It is by no means a challenge to gain every possible job level in Final Fantasy III. It simply takes many hours to do so. But my dedication is eventually rewarded without fail. This may explain why I sometimes struggle to immerse myself in videogames that keep being updated, thus pushing the goal of completion farther and farther away from me. I can certainly understand the creative appeal this can have for developers; but when I am on the receiving side, this tendency can feel much more daunting than even the longest Achievement grind. At times, this can make an older videogame that has been catching dust on the shelf for a while more appealing than the latest releases…
Because having an unequivocal end in sight after an engaging experience and being allowed to move my attention in a new direction without regrets are traits that I greatly appreciate when I play videogames. They are some of the reasons why I continue to feel drawn to them — and why I happily spend tens of hours levelling up jobs in an old Final Fantasy game after I have already finished everything else.