An Easy Mode Has Never Ruined A Game

In video games, easy is a dirty word, even when it shouldn’t be.  There’s something about the word “easy” that rubs some players as condescending, something that we should maybe leave behind—except where we shouldn’t.

Like in FromSoftware games and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, a game that finds itself plagued by a debate that is, by now, familiar: Should it have an easy mode?

Despite Sekiro’s departure from many of the gameplay elements that made FromSoft series Dark Souls and Bloodborne infamously difficult, many players have the same takeaway about the game: it’s hard. Some say it’s too hard, and that it should have an easy mode. Since FromSoftware has spent the last decade crafting games that notably exclude easy modes, the notion that they might suddenly be introduced feels borderline heretical.

Like pledging a fraternity, a From game becomes a little bit more than a game when everyone who’s finished it has had to endure the same litany of absurd, theatrical challenges. Finish a From game, and you belong to an exclusive club full of other people who get it. Furthermore, Sekiro removes one of the biggest options that previous From games provided to players stymied by difficulty: the ability to summon other players for help.

As a result, talking about Sekiro can easily shift to talking about you, all the things you did to beat its many challenges, and your personal case for why you earned your spot in Club Sekiro.

To some, difficulty is fundamental to the FromSoftware experience. It informs every aspect of the company’s design philosophy. From’s spare style of storytelling, largely conveyed through cryptic item descriptions and subtle environmental clues, works better when you are forced to go through levels again and again. The stories these games tell often carry themes that revolve around decay or the loss of humanity. Failure allows you to both grasp the story and directly engage with it, completing the circuit.

In Sekiro, these ideas are brought into focus in an unusually clear manner for FromSoftware; dying and resurrection are an explicit mechanic with which you interact, and the game’s story plainly contemplates what that might cost. This all makes for a compelling case that Sekiro must be difficult, because difficulty is the point.

Part of the trouble is that “difficulty” can mean so many different things.

There are myriad ways video games can turn the dials on various systems to change our assessment of how “hard” they seem, and many developers have done as much without compromising the quality or integrity of their games. Consider Halo in the Bungie era. One of the understandings between the developers and the players was that Heroic difficulty was Halo as the studio intended it to be played, with entirely different enemy behaviours and placement.

Easy and Normal were there to welcome anyone who needed it, and even if it required less from you, you might’ve still found yourself engaged by the game’s story.

Devil May Cry 5 clearly wants you to play stylishly, and the combination of the recommended “Devil Hunter” difficulty and the way the game scores every combat encounter reminds you of that. But bumping down the difficulty and cheesing demons with clumsy combos doesn’t ruin the game, either. Adding an easy mode has never ruined a game.

Some of the people arguing for an easy mode in Sekiro aren’t just doing it because they refuse to unlearn or adjust their normal play habits. As frequent Kotaku contributor GB “Doc” Burford has written, players who suffer from chronic pain or significant physical disability can find the skill threshold in From games wholly insurmountable.

“With my chronic pain and fatigue issues,” Burford writes, “rapidly mashing buttons in games like Bayonetta or God of War can be physically draining,” and the die-and-repeat rhythm that FromSoft bosses like Bloodborne’s Father Gasciogne demand causes tremendous pain to accrue in his hand.

I myself deal with occasional chronic pain that’s only alleviated by a brace. When I put it on, I am ten per cent clumsier with a controller, making Sekiro ten per cent harder.

Can I rise to meet that extra ten per cent? Maybe. Should I be expected to? That’s a different question. Some people with disabilities may not need adjustments, but that’s exactly the point: “Hard” means different things to different people.

An easy mode can also offer an entirely different but equally desirable experience. To some, it could be the secret to making a game like Wolfenstein: The New Colossus go from “hardcore old-school shooter” that turns them off to “ridiculously apt Terror-Billy simulator” that brings them along for the ride. A concession on difficulty can lead to you discovering all sorts of things you might not otherwise appreciate in a game.

Sekiro and other From Software games aren’t necessarily about being “hard” in the first place—not specifically, at least. They are, as FromSoftware director Hidetaka Miyazaki said, about letting “players experience a sense of accomplishment through overcoming difficulties.”

As accessibility expert Ian Hamilton noted on Twitter, there are many ways this could be accomplished.

Would this mean that some players might miss whatever point the game is trying to make? Sure. Movies with closed captioning for the hearing impaired are making a concession, tacitly acknowledging that a fundamental part of the experience will not be appreciated. It’s also possible, as an able-bodied, neurotypical human being, to completely miss the point of a film and believe yourself to be right.

Games, like just about every other art form, don’t always explain their creator’s intent. Not all of it. That’s for us to sort out. And there’s nothing wrong with letting more of us try.


Comments

    It doesn’t help that higher difficulties usually just amount to bullet sponge enemies or simply a higher volume of enemies. It just prolongs the game more often than not, and not in a fun way.

    I fall on the side that would love easy modes in more games. My view is that I just don't have the time to grind games these days just to "git gud", but I really want to experience their stories. Take Hollow Knight, I love it and I've played a lot of it but I got stuck and I just don't have the time or patience to sit down for hours trying to beat one particular boss.

    I'm a stay at home Dad of a boy with special needs, my wife works leaves for work at 7:45 and doesn't get home until 6:00 and by the time my son is in bed at the end of the day we've got enough time and energy for a few quick matches of a game together in something like Overwatch or Apex Legends and a bit of TV before we retire to bed. If I get spare time I'm usually working on making games or just vegging out. If I do find time to actually play a game, I don't want my precious hour or so taken up by repeatedly trying the same boss time and time again. These days I always go for the "easy" or "story" mode in games and appreciate that it exists.

      I play games to be entertained, not necessarily challenged. Something like Division 2 has been both so far, and a good balance of the two, but Souls type games go too far in the challenge direction.

      I don't want to play 80% of a game, only to be stuck on that last 20% because I need to "git gud" to finish it. Or in the case of Souls games, play 20% of the game and be stuck on the last 80%...

      So most games, I enjoy an easy mode. It lets me work through the game, see the story and experience the high points, without getting stuck and frustrated because the game throws something at me I cant be arsed working past.

      Like you, I don't want my time wasted. I just want to get in, have fun, and get out. A game stops that from happening, its far too easy to just walk away and find something else to play. Which I inevitably do, as I find something else to entertain me.

      That doesn't mean I don't play harder difficulties, but it needs to be granular enough I can set the challenge to my personal preference. The Torment difficulties of Diablo 3 are a good example of that. Can set them to a point where I don't have to think about things too much, and when I want the challenge, pump it up a level or two, or push my highest rift level to a new PB.

    I think the most important part is we base our enjoyment on just that, our enjoyment.
    The appeal isn't that others can't handle what I can, it's that I can handle what I can.

    An easy mode won't ruin my enjoyment and I don't feel the need to look down on those who would be excited to finish something in that easy mode.
    But I did come from a time when games were hard just to have content. Set lives and continues, no spawn points, boss patterns as a must etc

    On the subject of Sekiro I'm really bloody keen to get it but at the same time I know I prob can't enjoy it right now due to time contstraints and the knowledge that my only time to play will be at my most tired. (And grumpy and frustrated)

    They may never have outright "Ruined" a game but easy mode isn't just something you tack on either. You need to design your whole game around the escalating challenge aspect of difficulty modes and consider the ramifications of what modifying one mode has on other modes. As the simplest example, if difficulty is a multiplier then changing your easy mode to be a little more difficult will make your harder modes even more difficult.

    In games like Sekiro though you have a whole new set of factors that you need to think about. Do I change timing windows? Do I lock off boss abilities? Do I reduce the number of phases? Do I reduce enemy health and posture? Every answer potentially changes the design and balance of the game, requiring an entirely new round of testing.

    There's also the impact on the player to think about too. Does easy mode still provide the challenge we wanted? Can the player now beat things that were meant to be skill checks too easily? If the player plays on easy do they learn bad habits that means they will have problems with other difficulties?

    So yes, they may not "ruin" a game but like multiplayer mode, it's not something you just ham-fist into a game just because people want it.

      Think about something like Diablo 3. Its difficulties were pretty spot on when the game first released, with Torment being worth the name. At launch, it wasn't expected that players would ever get through that difficulty.

      As time went on and the game changed, Torment became just another difficulty level. Today, I would start on something like Torment 5 or 6. I think its up to Torment 14 or 15 now, and even THAT isn't hard enough for most.

      But it added a granularity where, even though it was broadly just adding hitpoints and increasing NPC damage, it was never game breaking. If one difficulty is too easy, jump to the next, or the one after, or after that. Too hard, wind it back a level.

      The design worked well because they thought it through, and even though its pretty much just a multiplier, doesn't ruin the harder levels as a result. Your power increases as well, making those hardest levels viable, and even doable.

      Likewise with rifts, which have grown from level 40 being tough, to 150 being the peak, the changes that made old tough content easy haven't ruined the game at the newer tough level. If that makes sense :)

        The problem with this train of thought is that you are comparing two games that are absolutely nothing alike. The difficulty in Sekiro doesn't come from a value based standpoint, it comes from the actual flow of the game. The difficulty of most easy modes just changes values, this will not work in a game like Sekiro that doesn't give a damn about values. To make an easy mode in this game you would have to completely revamp enemy/boss move sets and fundamental mechanics of the game. The second you change essential mechanics is the second the game no longer has its distinct flavor and identity. FROM pours everything they have into these games to design combat systems and balance so that they fit perfectly in with the tone of the world and lore of their games. The development on these games is meticulous and thorough and everything is the way it is for a specific reason. The goal is never to exclude people...the goal is to tell the story that they want to tell, using the mechanics and balance that they developed specifically for the world that they exist in. The games are difficult by proxy of that vision. If you ever complete a souls game and follow the story and read about the world and lore you would understand that. People who have not played or at least watched the game by definition don't know what they are talking about when it comes to the company's design choices when writing and building the game.

          With respect, I disagree. These games ARE based on a value based standpoint, which is the whole point of this.

          Right now, its basically 1 mistake = death. You simply have to make it 2 mistakes = death and you have an easier game mode. That's a simple case of either increasing the relative value of your hitpoints, or reducing the damage potential of the enemy. That's not making these games easy either, only easier.

          You don't NEED to change the gameplay mechanics, just make it easier to survive an encounter. That doesn't reduce the value and benefit of lore, or the quality of the story either. It might even enhance them. So by not being able to tell the story, it becomes an exclusion.

          With the mechanics of these games the way they are, they exclude people by default. Kids for example, who wont have developed the dexterity needed to play them, and people that are older and have lost that dexterity. Someone with eyesight issues may not pick up on tells from the mob.

          I could play souls games if I wanted. I choose not to because I want to be entertained, not challenged. I play games at the end of the day, when I'm winding down and just want to have fun. Bashing my head against a mob trying to figure out the trick to beating it isn't my idea of fun. So the gameplay excludes me from wanting to play it.

          If I did pick one up, I'd never finish it. It would get to a point where the difficulty would just frustrate me to the poin I uninstall and let the game gather dust. So how is that telling me a story?

          If the story is art, as others have said, you need to be able to experience the full story, or its wasted. If its entertainment, same thing. By designing it so not everyone can see the full story, you're excluding people.

          I hope that shows enough ways people are being excluded with games like this to show that maybe, just maybe, an easier option isn't the worst idea in the world.

    Back when I was a kid and I had the time to play games for long periods, (and games were short) I loved the difficult games. The 8 and 16-bit generations where full of them. Now, I prefer something I can play here and there, chill out, enjoy the story, be challenged to some degree and then move on. That's what I loved about God of War. I could spend an hour playing and make good progress. I played on a medium difficulty, which still provided a hell of a challenge in some parts, and played it at my leisure until I finished it. The beauty is, if I do decide to go for the platinum trophy I have the ability to adjust the difficulty level just incase those bloody Valkyries get too much, or I just want to find all the Ravens without worrying about getting hammered by enemies.

    I'm highly sceptical of the enjoyment or 'satisfaction' some gamers say they get form hard games. From the outside, it looks very much like what a smoker or caffeine addict experiences - they have created a dependency (commitment of many hours) and the release of stress that comes with the 'hit' (success) relieves the tension. But many outsiders would be observing saying 'why bother?' -

    Of course 'hardcore gamers' will say they 'enjoyed game x' if you ask them at the end - the level of satisfaction must be enormous... but only because it has released them from a self imposed stressor.

    Caffeine addicts for example do not realise that their brain has fully adapted to the drug, and that they don't enjoy coffee because of a 'high' or 'alertness', they enjoy coffee because drinking it removes the agony of the withdrawal symptoms.

    In an episode of Good Game - when Bajo reviewed Dark Souls 3, Hex showed footage of Bajo as he played the game, his face in pain and agony and frustration. She commented how he didn't look like he was enjoying himself at all...!

      Conversely, I tend to play most games on hard. I do that, because usually games on normal are rarely all that satisfying. Breezing through things with barely any resistance doesn't feel that good to me. To that I'd have to say, "why bother"? Maybe it's my tastes and the idea that I'm not that into a power fantasy for its own sake. There's got to be something else. As for story, most video game stories really aren't all that good enough to warrant me pushing some buttons occasionally. I have to be engaged on another level.

      See, the other reason I prefer hard is that it forces me to learn how to play the game as intended, and that tends to be more satisfying than just falling into the complacency of old habits. The really good games have something new to show you, and you might never realise it until you're challenged into realising it. You could, for example, play something like Dishonored from beginning to end on Easy as a plain as shooter, without really bothering with powers. Play it on Hard, though, and you're forced to realise how to use the both the world and your powers to your advantage because you need to. And play with no powers on hard, and you're playing a different game again. You have to learn to engage with the mechanics of the game in various different scenarios.

      Soulsborne games are cathartic, yes. But I think another reason people love Soulsborne because you literally have to understand how the game is played before you play the game. That doesn't hold true for a lot of action games. There's epiphanies to be had that are purely related to mechanics here, sir. That alone is why for me it blows so many AAA titles away. And to take that away, is to make it into another disposable commodity.

      There are also things you can do within Soulsborne games to make it easier on yourself. Going in a different direction and exploring usually gives you either new options to bang your head against or new tools that you can use to help you. Sekiro is no different.

      The bossfights are really bloody hard, though, I admit.

      I honestly wouldn't be up in arms over an easy mode, but I didn't see any arguments for a hard mode that I really agreed with.

    If video games are art, the creators deserve to be give the same level of control over their final creation as any artist is.

    Accessibility (in regards to disability) is important and the responsibility for accessibility in video games is hard to place. A writer isn't expected to create a version for someone who is blind nor is a film maker. A musician or spoken word poet isn't expected to create a version for the deaf. I understand video games are an active medium and honestly I am not sure if that is justification enough to expect the creators to alter their intended creation.

    Regard the "I don't have enough time to play", so many games require an enormous amount of time investment so I think the problem is the fear of wasted time or "I won't get good enough to beat it". Just like grinding experience in a Final Fantasy game to beat a boss, Sekiro requires you to grind your own ability. It might feel like a brick wall yet every time you die to the same enemy you likely learn something about the game like, jump instead of block or deflect instead of dodge.

      I agree. I think a more apt example of what you’re trying to say is that no one expects Shakespeare to be dumbed down to be easily readable and understandable by primary school children, and no one expects an experienced sports team to go easy on a less experienced team in a tournament; they must practice to become experienced enough to be able to compete and even more so to win.

      Is it such a bad thing for people to find enjoyment in a piece of art in a way other than the artist intended?

      Take the Eliza sculpture installed in the river in Perth. The artist intended for people to view the statue while walking along the foreshore. Instead, people started using boats to get to the statue in the middle of the night and dress it up. Initially the artist hated this, but eventually came around after realising that people were enjoying his work.

      Given that there is no multiplayer in this game, I wouldn't be surprised if someone ends up modding an easy mode into the PC edition of the game at some point. If people then use that mod, they're still enjoying the art created by the original developers.

      I always enjoy walking into a poet's creative space and seeing the mechanism of publisher-driven commodification whittling their vocabulary and cadence and expression for profitability.

      But then, when the concept of art has been installed within our lives as a predominantly transaction-driven series of standardised experiences, is it any surprise how poor a distinction we draw?

      No one is advocating for forcing devs to include easy mode, just raising awareness that there are people who can't/don't enjoy their art without it. It's still the artists decision to cater for them.

    The story and art is in the game to be enjoyed... but for the select few they see the story is in the art of torture.

    Playing WoW you see it all the players are on different levels they get a different satisfaction from the game... but there will be the elite few who will see the casual player as ruining there Mythic dungeon and raiding experience cause LFR exists... even though they will never party or play with those people.

    But at the end of the day the more players they cater for... the more games they sell, the more staff and resources they have to deliver the next game.

      But at the end of the day the more players they cater for... the more games they sell, the more staff and resources they have to deliver the next game.

      But a big game that caters to the masses, and in doing so sells its soul, in search of mass appeal is not a good. Bigger is not better, just ask vanilla Destiny 2. In the search to cater to everyone, it ended up catering to no one. (thankfully it managed to save itself), ask the makers of any sequel to a great movie based on lower budget but with great ideas (insert Matrix sequels here).

      Success is not always defined through money.

    I am someone who routinely plays and enjoys From games, as well as much harder experiences (torture platformers if you'll pardon the crassness) I am also a game developer full time. The reasoning for hard games, with no options comes in many flavours but I'll try to explain what I think is the most compelling.

    Games like Sekiro and Dark Souls are as much player driven experiences as they are stories told to you. Part of that is your interaction with other gamers, and part is the core fantasy. Splitting the difficulties compromises the consistency of experience and makes conversation harder. I think now is time for an example. I loved nier: automata. I found the combat rewarding and deep to learn. It was only in conversation with colleagues that I realised if you pick easier difficulties, it trivialises the combat down to "lock on, strafe in a circle and hold R1". When explaining to others how the combat is deep and rewarding I'd have to basically invalidate their entire gameplay experience, because you can't even lock on in hard mode.

    This applies to experiences like Sekiro. How can people have conversations about the fundamental act of playing the game has brought about such different experiences. When one player just trivialises a boss and the other takes time to learn, delve into the depths of gameplay and emerge sweaty and victorious, are those two players playing anything but a facsimile of the same game?

    Fundamentally speaking, if you don't enjoy challenge that I'd absolutely fine. There are plenty of great experiences and opportunities out there for you given an hour or so every week. Sekiro is not an experience for you. The core fantasy is of a ninja, built for perception and skill in a hostile world. If you're not willing to engage with that idea, you probably won't enjoy it anyway, as much of the storytelling and development relies upon that core conceit.

    I don't mean to try to tell anyone how they should experience a game, and I understand what I enjoy is different from what others do, but this conversation is more subtle that is often given credit. And in the end I think on keeping their vision uncompromised From are delivering a unique experience that we can't get elsewhere. If you want storytelling and world building there are almost limitless experiences out there, and of you don't want difficulty added to that mix, just give sekiro a pass and move on. If you're willing to put in the effort it will reward you with a deeper experience though.

    Still cut they patched out easy mode from hyper light drifter. I got kids, full time job and part-time study. I don't have time to git gud!

      Dang yeah that is BRUTAL. I understand, study on top of having a full time job is legit the blurst of times.

    I like the game as is and am fundamentally against the adding of difficulty tiers. You learn by failing. That’s the point.

      But who's exactly saying you would have to enjoy the game any other way by adding difficulty tiers?
      I'm just curious, I can understand you clearly wouldn't play easy mode and if the option was there when I started playing I wouldn't either, just wondering what it is about the concept of an easier mode that would actually effect your personal enjoyment of the game?

        Hi I commented this on another thread. Not sure if it answers your question (I think having the option would cause me to wonder how the game is ‘meant’ to be played):

        “The point of these games is to learn through failure. If someone like myself with a family and limited free time can pick up the game and get past Genichiro (disclaimer: I’m not that great at games), then I don’t see why it should change.
        I gave up on previous Souls games for things that annoyed me like distant save points and lack of progression. I couldn’t even get to the first boss in Demon’s Soul. Now that’s not the game’s fault. That’s mine and my lack of willingness to give the game the time required. Sekiro has so many quality of life improvements over previous titles that an easy mode almost wouldn’t make sense. It’s quick, it’s got save points right next to bosses and it has an awesome fast travel feature. Compared to their other games, this feels like easy mode. I second the notion that if you’re not having fun while dying, then perhaps the game isn’t for you.

          Whoop Whoop. Noice, Grats on Genichiro he is a really good skill check point in the game.

            Cheers! I just did the ape last night which was more a matter of patience than skill. Genichiro definitely required a lot more instant reaction manoeuvres.

              100%, also guardian ape lol what a fight. I have really enjoyed the variety of the bosses in the game.

        Also- not intending to sound like a dick but hope I articulated my point somewhat

          No not at all, I was genuinely curious and as I said in another thread myself, I get we are talking about the identity of the games themselves.
          Hell, I've even found myself on the opposite end of the argument when everyone complained that enemies in the Nioh demo never gave up chasing you unlike Souls games, I loved that and found it weird that people who supposedly loved the difficulty of the genre were basically asking for it to be easier.
          Admittedly in the end it didn't really make all that much difference to the difficulty at all.

          All in all, I understand not wanting to lose what makes these games great and also get that it doesn't really need to by maybe giving more people an entry to the games.
          To me an easy mode might not give folks access to the whole game, just allow for building some fundamental skills.

      Yes, and someone playing at a lower difficulty setting would have the same learning experience as you at your higher setting. Nothing for you is lost and the experience you advocate for is extended to others who would otherwise not have it.

      No-one loses, every wins; there is no down side.

        The problem is that after a certain amount of deaths and retries the player is most likely going to switch to the easier mode. Not having that option forces you to try again.

        These are great games to take your time with. It took me a year to finish dark souls 1, I would come back to it every few months between games, but when I did I cheered so loudly. Like I get when people say they have limited time for games but at the same point there's no rush

          Yeahhhh, if someone wants to switch to an easier mode because they're gaining nothing from the vanilla experience, what's the beef? They would potentially have the same experience you happily describe... and you want to deny them that because. of. what?

            The beef is being able to switch to an easy mode breaks the intent of the experience. I feel you would halve the amount of people finishing it on the intended setting. Taking away that option means there is only one way through and that requires try and try again. As corny as the line is, it's about the journey/experience not the ending. The game I don't think would hold up without the challenge.

            From are not totally heartless though there's a lot of hints scattered around, plus help pop-ups and character to train against. Plus you have multiple paths, so you can take a break from your brickwall and go exploring for another. I feel if they didn't have these things it would just be too mean spirited to even be a game

            Also the online community is good as well, for every "git gud" there's usually 4 or 5 comments where someone will suggest how they did it. I had people here in the kotaku comments helping me with one of the challenge dungeons from bloodborne that took me through to the Platnium trophy. I could easily see that community/comradery disappearing

          And I'm going to double post on this because I forgot to mention that I love the sentiment that there's no rush.

    I didn't play any Dark Souls games but when I played Bloodborne I honestly didn't find it THAT challenging. I mean sure it was hard, but once I was used to the mechanics most of my deaths came from cheap environmental kills or an enemy one-hit KOing me that I'd never seen before. Some of the bosses I even beat on my first attempt. I was pretty surprised when journalists were writing that they found the game too hard, and this was coming from people who had played the souls series, to boot. I didn't play NG+ and never intend to as one playthrough is enough for me for most games I play, but I do understand that is significantly harder.

    Some games have difficulty settings, some don't. If you have physical pain in your hands, it sounds a bit callous maybe but perhaps those intentionally very difficult games are not for you. There's already games out there, many strategy games for example, that would be awful if you had hand problems, but there's also plenty of games out there that are totally fine, by either being much easier by design or offering difficulty settings. Not every game is for everyone. There's a specific point in Ocarina of Time for example that deaf people just would not be able to pass at all, and that's considered one of the greatest games of all time.

    You don't *have* to play every game that comes out although if you're a journalist that might be a slightly different situation.

      Well said mate, realistically it comes down to what the Producers envision for the game.

        Still no reason for us not to have the conversation though.

        Players talking about things they would like to see isnt in anyway cancelled out by artistic vision or vice versa.

          Oh I 100% agree, I guess what I was trying to say was what they released is what the company had visioned and the difficulty levels were not a thought. But like you said, seeing all this talk may or may not persuade them into altering the game.

            I was actually thinking those folks who do the no hit runs of the games will make From Software retaliate with harder games lol

            But honestly, I do get that we are talking about something that makes up the very identity of their games and created a genre in itself.
            Then we have the fact that their growing popularity means their games are being picked up by more people who aren't used to the punishing difficulty.

              Yeah that is a really good point actually. Will be interesting to see what direction From will take with all this publicity. I am a little biased though and not sure that From will fold and add the difficulty tiers, as that is why they have new game plus which subsequently makes these games harder. But there might be hope for player made mods to help newcomers to the series get through their first play through.

    I have a similar problem with purposefully difficult games. From Software titles give me anxiety at the best of times, so I was very wary of Sekiro reviews and decided to give it a miss.

    However, upon picking up Hollow Knight I had the same problem - a beautiful, well thought out world with interesting lore locked behind incremental dexterity checks that led to repeated failure and hours of backtracking.

    I can appreciate why people love this kind of digital masochism, but it’s just not for me.

    Easy mode doesn’t have to break the game’s intricate systems. Hell, removing the geo/souls and campfire/benches altogether and simply allowing players to restart from the beginning of the fight would make for a rewarding experience easy mode with little change to the core systems.

    I just... can’t deal with brutal gameplay anymore. Sinking time into something only to repeat certain sections for hours on end just to git gud FEELS like a waste to me, as opposed to an accomplishment.

    I would also like to shout out GOW for it’s accessibility. I platinumed it on Hard and never felt I was in over my head. It was a pleasure rising to the challenge, not a chore.

    I’m unsure exactly why that was the case.

    Last edited 03/04/19 4:40 pm

    Dark Souls isnt a hard game. At its core it is fundamentally simple. Once you know the system. So much so from there, every single time you die in that game... is YOUR fault. No excuses. Thats what is difficult about it, your own doubt, your own faults, your own laziness. Playing Dark Souls taught me to be a better gamer, and taught me to not play the game as if I was an inexperienced casual. So when I bet it. The game meant something.

    If there was an easy mode not of that would have happened. Some games are like art, in this case you are playing someone else's idea of fun. Someone else's 'theme park ride'. The challenge is playing it with their ruleset. Not yours.

    If you can only play games in which you have/want freedom to play as you want, there is a universe of options available to you. Every game shouldnt have to cater to gamers personally.

    So no I dont want an easy mode to thse type of games. I either play them as intended or not at all... whats next asking to watch a horror movie that has had the jumps scares removed and its rating put to G?! No thanks. If I am not brave enough to play as intended. The artists shouldnt have to lessen their work to cater to me.

      If there was an easy mode, you could/would still have "bet" it on the normal difficulty because you're not, as you say, an inexperienced casual. Nothing would've stopped you enjoying it in the exact same way as "intended" with an easy mode in the game, it just would've allowed others to enjoy it too in their own way.

        Nothing would've stopped you enjoying it in the exact same way
        it just would've allowed others to enjoy it too in their own way.

        But that's my point, I didnt defeat the game on my terms, I beat it on exactly the same terms as everyone else, the beat it on the game developers terms.

        My point was that it was their 'ride', their ruleset. It is designed to be a unifying experience. Personally I cant bring myself to play the new game, just where I am in life, I really dont want that stress, but in absolutely no way do I want their artistic vision compromised but my own person issues. One day I will feel like playing it and until such time I dont even remotely want it to have an easy mode.

          I also don't want an artistic vision based on the compromise of thousands upon thousands of internal and external decisions and changes and tweaks to maintain financial viability to be compromised by another of many hundreds of influencing factors.

          You just can't go and fuck with an auteur like that.

          My issue is that games are entertainment before they're art. If I'm not being entertained, why am I playing it? Not everyone has the same skill level, so if someone hits their skill limit and cant progress, the ruleset of that game fails. Thats not my fault, its the games for failing to accept that everyone is different.

          To offset that to being the players fault is insane. Its like saying those 737 MAX's crashed because the pilot failed, not because the ruleset made it too hard for their skill level.

            you are comparing a computer game to two airline disasters that killed almost 400 people?!!

            By your reasoning every game in the world should be designed to be played by even the most useless and stupid people in the world? Or those people could read reviews of the game and decide that they arent up to the type of challenge the game is offering and give it a hard pass.

            Now you may want your games to be entertainment first, that doesnt mean the rest of us want that. Sure I love having mindless games of Overwatch but I play games like Dark Souls for a completely different reason, they cater to a complete different form of entertainment.

          I disagree. Games like Celeste are tough as nails and that's how it's supposed to be, but you can make yourself invincible in that game if you're so inclined because they want you to be able to experience the game regardless of your skill level. Yes they recommend playing it the hard way the first time:

          "Celeste was designed to be a challenging, but accessible game. We believe that its difficulty is essential to the experience. We recommend playing without Assist Mode your first time. However, we understand that every player is different."

          But they also recognise that not everyone wants that or not everyone can do that. Does it compromise their vision? Probably, but it also means those who can't play it as intended or don't have the time to learn to "git gud" can still experience what is revered as one of the best indie platformers in years, in their own way and in their own time and being able to choose just how easy they make it for themselves.

          “From my perspective as the game's designer,” he said, “Assist Mode breaks the game. I spent many hours fine-tuning the difficulty of Celeste, so it's easy for me to feel precious about my designs. But ultimately, we want to empower the player and give them a good experience, and sometimes that means letting go.”

          “The goal is a fluid experience where players are safe to float around between loosely-defined difficulty levels as suits them,” said Thorson, “without judgement or implication that they aren't playing the game ‘as intended.’ Hopefully players feel safe enough to experiment, connect with the story, and express themselves through the game systems.”

    Seriously, stop pandering to the vocal minority. Instead of the game getting easier, maybe the player(s) should focus on getting good.

    Here is my thought; I don't enjoy watching romance movies. But I don't think I should demand film directors to reduce the romantic elements in a romance movie so I can enjoy it more.

    As a casual gamer, in the past I used to want an easy mode for Dark Soul, but my recent love affair with Sekiro changed my mind. Now I can see that difficulty is in fact a core theme in Sekiro's game design.

    In many ways Sekiro lives and dies by the boss fights, it is the game's theme. However in Sekiro every boss fight is a puzzle to solve. The first couple of times you fight a new boss it feels incredibly hard, but once you calm down and use your brain then the boss fights are definitely doable. This game would be flat if the boss fights were easy. I mean, I blasted through games like Assassin's Creed Origin and Odyssey on easy mode, and to be honest I can't remember much about those games at all.

    In contrast, after defeating 27 bosses in Sekiro (and still counting) those boss fights are the best and most memorable gaming moments I've had in years. So yep, now I understand why Sekiro has to be hard and I wouldn't want it any other way.

    I still won't play Dark Soul games though, because Sekiro made me realize that difficulty was never my issue with Dark Soul, rather it was the oppresive vibe of the Soul games which I found off putting. On the contrary Sekiro is bright and beautiful, I love the settings, the rich world, and the reinvited gameplay (i.e. the stealth mode, agggressive combat, and grapple hook). In Sekiro I feel the confidence, the desire, and the incentive to explore its game world. Man I just love Sekiro so much. I hope From will make a big expansion or a sequel set in this story.

    Oh yes and by the way, while Sekiro is hard but I think it is fair. The key to beating Sekiro's boss fights is simply patience and learning. For example, last night I killed two bosses in a row. But in the beginning of those fights the bosses felt indestructible and I kept dying. However after I got over the initial shocks I calmed down and I started observing the bosses' movements. Then I evaluated my Shinobi's abilities, and with trial and error I formulated a series of strategies to create openings for myself in those fights. Once I got it I was able to take down those bosses with relative ease. It was super fun and immensly rewarding, because like I said earlier Sekiro is like a problem/puzzle solving game.

    But at the same time Sekiro is a very demanding game, and I understand why some people wouldn't want to invest too much time and energy into beating a game, but if this is you then there are many other genres of games out there which may suit your taste better.

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