Friday, January 03, 2014

Game Difficulty

I've been playing mostly difficult games recently. I'm not actually the type of person who enjoys difficult games, although I think they have a special place in gaming. I just don't have the time or patience for difficulty, especially for games that are difficult for difficulty's sake. It turns out, though, that some of my favorite games, and many of the best games ever made, are difficult.

Dark Souls is a somewhat recent game that's very difficult and unquestionably popular. Dark Souls is also very, very difficult, but it's a game that's difficult because it's so good. Dark Souls treats every scenario with unmatched importance. Every enemy is important, and each enemy is like a unique puzzle. A group of enemies is dealt with differently than a single enemy, and each enemy has many strategies to deal with for each specific class of player. Every scenario is well thought out by the developer, which is the same reason why Castlevania on the NES was so good. Castlevania is also a very difficult game, but one that's still talked about today because of the effects it's had on gaming. If there were a modern day equivalent to Castlevania, Dark Souls would be it.

Anyone who watches my Let's Plays knows that I've played a lot of Dead Rising 2 recently. Dead Rising is one of the launch titles for the Xbox 360. It was famous because of its clear-cut difference from the previous generation of gaming consoles: seemingly hundreds of enemies could be on screen at once and the tiny open world felt massive. It's also very difficult due to the overwhelming amount of death the player faces. Dead Rising 2 is much the same, but where Dark Souls treats every scenario with importance, Dead Rising treats every moment with importance. Stopping for a moment and looking around or grabbing something can be a huge mistake, especially late game.

Indie games like Papers Please and Rouge Legacy are very difficult games that layer the difficulty with random. These games are more about very specific elements rather than tackling many features. That's an issue with many games today is that they try to please everyone, but indie games only work to please themselves. Games like Assassin's Creed tend to have just too much going on, and the experience often feels like the player is being dragged along rather than moving forward. Too often games feel clustered these days, and too often games attempt to be movies rather than games, but that's a different topic altogether.

What I mean to say is that games that make one thing good and make that one thing work doing, end up making the player feel good. The hours I've played Skyrim feel hollow in comparison to the experience I've had with games like Rouge Legacy and Dark Souls.

1 comment:

Richard Fightmaster said...

Dead Rising 2, while one of my all time favourite games, isn't really that challenging. If you want a real toughie try Castlevania or Ghosts n' Goblins.