One reader is annoyed that whereas increasingly more video games are including simpler problem choices, they do not provide a tough mode various.
Earlier than the discharge of Psychonauts 2 a few years ago had an awful lot of talk about how it made itself much more accessible to a wider range of people, not just in terms of things like color blindness and on-screen text, but also difficult. It proudly announced that you could play the entire game with an invincibility mode that meant you never died and was critically acclaimed for the fact.
This is all very good, and I think any sane person would support it, but playing the game on Game Pass I noticed one thing: even without any of the extra options, it’s an incredibly easy game, for any reasonably experienced gamer, and yet there is no hard mode. The developer was obsessed with making the game easier, to appeal to a certain group of people, but apparently had no interest in making it harder so it would appeal to others.
I thought you’d at least get an unlockable hard mode at the end, but unless it requires an unlock process which wasn’t obvious to me, it doesn’t. So you’ve got a game that’s already below average difficulty, which had some rather irritating marketing about it being a game for everyone… except, apparently, people who want a challenge.
I was reminded of this when I read GC’s review of Bayonetta Origins: Cereza And The Lost Demon where it was also described as a really easy game that’s strangely in your face enough to make itself even easier. Apparently this has an unlockable hard mode, but why? Why not from the beginning? I wouldn’t want to play Psychonauts 2 twice just to get my desired difficulty, and it sounds like you’re even less likely to want to do that with Bayonetta Origins.
These issues are becoming more and more prevalent in games, with developers thinking they are on some righteous crusade to make games easier under the pretense of opening them up to everyone. Pro Tip: You won’t make games for everyone if you only start with a medium difficulty and work your way down from there.
How is that better than just making games for those with above average skill? And yet it’s only the developers of those kinds of games that seem to get some criticism for not thinking of everyone. I find the hypocrisy annoying.
Of course you can’t discuss the difficulty of video games without bringing up Dark Souls and the other Soulslike games and again I see a lot of unfair commentary here.
The recent Elden Ring was a huge success, much bigger than anyone expected (and definitely bigger than Psychonauts or anything like that) and yet you had people insisting it should have an easy mode and it was unfair. Even if you had millions of happy customers telling you otherwise.
So it’s okay to have a game that’s unusually easy, but not one that’s unusually hard?
I remember there was a fuss about how it was possible to miss the Elden Ring tutorial at the beginning (i.e. read the note to the left for a giant, super suspicious hole). This was later changed in an update, but what exactly was that?
People missed the note not because they were colorblind or had trouble holding a controller, but because they weren’t paying attention. And if you don’t pay attention in Elden Ring, you often die. So it’s a really good idea to learn that as soon as possible.
Do I want an easy mode in future FromSoftware games? No, not personally. If it exists, it will be a constant temptation and the need to persevere will be greatly reduced. But if every game had both an easy and a hard mode, okay, I’d accept it.
But that is not the case. The number of games without an easily accessible hard mode is increasing, not decreasing. Until that stops, we should stick with the few games that dare to be hard and celebrate them, and not find ways to tear them down.
By reader Sylar
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