Difficulty: Who Does it Right?

Difficulty: Who Does it Right?

I discuss the concept of hard video games, and why I find myself returning to certain titles for a challenge.

I’m not a masochist, I swear!



  1. Jack Dandy says:

    Fuck yeah, Ys Felghana, La Mulana and DMC3. Pure fucking diamonds of games right there.
    Felghana is the only game in my life I replayed on higher difficulties just because of how much fun it was. I knew you’d enjoy it!

    Origin is not as good as Felghana imo, but still lots of fun. The Claw Nightmare run was definitely a great challenge. And just wait until the final boss..

    Anyway, I don’t get people who say “Hard games are for masochists!”. Wanting to defeat challenges that are in front of you is one of the most natural, base human emotions.

    • Jack Ragasa says:

      I’m still pretty frustrated about Claw Nightmare. The Demon’s Corridor where you have to devil-trigger to avoid DoT and spam lightning claw wrecks me since the laser spinners just tear through my health.

      • Jack Dandy says:

        Yeah I know, that part and the one with the 4 trap statues were especially annoying in his mode. More annoying than challenging, really.. But these are the only cheap parts in his run as far as I remember

    • Gnalvl says:

      Napishtim turned me off from Ys games permanently. It was the exact opposite of how Felghana was described – higher difficulties only bloated enemy HP and there wasn’t much skill to it at all – just mash X until everything is dead. Here’s hoping Felghana is drastically different…

      • Jack Ragasa says:

        Napthism is weird because it was the prototype build for their new system. OiF perfected it and Origin added new playstyles and more polish.

        Shame those are the only 3 games that use that engine. I hear 7 and the other games have a engine similar to the Tales games.

  2. Mix Master Mao says:

    Whenever I play hard games now (Ys: OiF most of all) the feeling of triumph I get after beating a boss I am stuck is what really keeps me going. Even if it might take me hours and dozens of deaths, the game never fails to deliver in satisfaction. I’ve played DMC 3 before but I dropped it for some reason, I might take another look at it now that I have watched this video.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Whilst Oath in Felghana is great, Ys 1′s final boss takes the cake for a demanding boss fight. Dark Fact is just ridiculous, flying all over the place, make the screen explode in bullets, and whenever you hit him you break the floor, which you can fall down and instantly die in, and the more you hit him the less space you get to manuevere to dodge the bullet hell aaaaaah.

    On La Mulana though, I generally far prefer the original to the remake. The remake’s arrangements are mostly a step down from the original (this is a big selling point for me in particular), and they spent a lot more time focusing on aspects of the game that were never it’s strong points to begin with (the combat, the bosses, changes to xp and health gains) and toning down on what made it special (the fucking puzzles and the music), whilst making more traps into instant kills and borderline trial and error BS.

    • Jack Ragasa says:

      On the note of traps and puzzles in the remake, I think the only thing that’s really trial and error is the teleporter after Asura in Chamber of Birth, and the Mantra puzzles. The mantra puzzles is really esoteric too because nothing indicates that the clue is in the “instruction manual” yet the crux of the puzzle design is there, and even then the way to solve it is ambiguous.

      I never fell for a insta-kill trap though. They made them way too obvious.

  4. Johanz says:

    It is good that there still are some games that provide challenges. Many AAA modern games look at how the player is playing and if the player like, in Uncharted, dies several times on an encounter, they will buff the players invisible health, make the enemies miss more or make your guns do more damage.

    Halo, I think, shuffles enemy placement or reduce their numbers, slightly increase your weapon power, shield absorption and stuff like that.

    Stuff like that really infuriates me since it is very very invisible if you havent a firm grip on the game systems in place and it just feels like they are treating me less of a player since I couldn’t do it on my first try or that I died by my own will since I wanted to restart the encounter just because it was too much fun or wanted to try out a different tactic.

    I don’t know if this applies to the harder difficulty in those games but I wouldn’t surprise me.

    If I choose hard it is because I want a challenge and if I never finish the game because of it, that is my problem and I know what I’m getting into. I just wish many of the AAA-games would stop being so afraid of players hitting a few snags. If the game is good enough, people will continue to play. Dark Souls isn’t super hard but it sold well and it does provide a challenge and I think that is an indicator that many people, not just the hardcore fans, are looking for a challenge or a game that challenges the player from the start. I hope we see more of this in AAA-games since indie games with a challenge are in abundance (and that is a good thing).

    • Gnalvl says:

      Yes, on-the-fly difficulty scaling is definitely a problem, as you’ll never know if you legitimately beat that level, or if the game just scaled down till you could beat it. If the game isn’t coming after you that hard, then you won’t put that much effort in, so then the game scales down in response, and it’s a vicious cycle of mediocrity.

      On the other hand, on-the-fly scaling is also a bit of a moot point, since Bungie said themselves in presentations that they deliberately designed every aspect of the game to provide an illusion of difficulty without actually being hard. The elite’s plasma rifles are designed to take your shields down to make you nervous you’ll die, and force you to take cover, without actually killing you. Since the bolts are weak and slow, you have time to dodge. The AI is designed to do dumb things, like continuing to focus where you took cover 30 seconds ago, so that you can flank around them and feel “smart”. It spends more time spouting sound bytes to make you think it’s doing smart things, than actually taking any smart actions.

      So really, games designed with that philosophy are a lost cause. They’re only ever going to patronize you and if you’re lucky, add a half-ass hardmode that bloats the enemy health without actually making them any more challenging.

  5. Lukas says:

    Adding to above on games that annoy me when they tone down the game gradually; some fighting games ( believe third strike and KoF 11 did this) will tone down the AI difficulty in Arcade mode the more you lose. This in particular annoys me. Yes I’m aware that the Ai has built in cheats already in fighting games (such as Input reading to state 1) but it is used to help deal with my natural superiority of a human player and not just exploit one cheesy move. I’m glad to see later fighting games (at least the ones I played such as SfIV and KoF 13) seemed to have toned this down quite a bit.

  6. Flying Wendigo says:

    This is the very idea of why I have a hard time playing games being made nowadays. One side of the coin we have the souls games. (I am 30 years old now and have been gaming since my Atari) Now with my experience Iwouldnt say they feel as hard as people make them out to be, but they DO present a very real and satisfying challenge that pushes me to become better and use everything I’ve learned to the best of my abilities to progress, thus fostering that sense of achievement I crave that hasnt been done all that well since the days I faced off against Mother Brain in OG super metroid!

    Conversely this disturbing trend to make gaming easier is EXACTLY why I HATED skyward sword. My first run through of the game I never died once, never was stuck solutionless to any puzzle encounter, and I’m not even trying to say my skill in that game was anything better than average. The result? What could have been an epic entry for the Zelda series becomes an anti-climactic snooze fest that I’m ashamed to say I only finished BECAUSE it was ZELDA!

    In conclusion I firmly believe that a fair challenge in games is absolutely integral to the gaming experience because taking that away, I’m just simply bored!

You can use basic HTML in your post. Gather Your Party will never share your email address with anyone, ever.