Gamers often talk about a game's replayability without realizing that it refers to more than just starting over from the beginning.
Games such as Mirror's Edge or Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time allow players to try sequences over and over again until they get them right, creating moments of instant replayability. Although this allows us to satisfy our cravings to fix our mistakes - "If I knew then what I knew now!" - as Robert Buerkle explains in Issue 216 of The Escapist, it also forces us to reconsider how we think about a game's story:
In the past, dying had been something to avoid at all costs, as it inevitably entailed some punishment - going back to the beginning of a level, or worse, having to start the whole game over from scratch...But as games have become more story driven - which is to say, more movie-like - "losing" has been replaced with "rewinding." Death is now more of a hiccup, a mistake that needn't be feared as it can be easily forgotten. Whereas dying used to require a reboot of sorts - the level resets, and the player must start over from scratch - we now simply turn back the clock and try that moment again.
So does the ability to replay sequences add to a game's depth, or does it remove some? Does it, perhaps, do both? Read the rest of Digital Deja Vu and let us know what you think.