Cold Coffee: Ridiculous Difficulty in Games

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bill-swift - September 20, 2012

One day there was a boy named Travis. He was in a local EB Games and decided to browse through the $20 bin as he was feeling overly stingy. There he found a game that stood out among the rest: Demon's Souls. He had heard good things about the game and decided purchase it...and it was the worst mistake he's ever made.

I can totally understand the need various levels of difficulty in any video game. No one wants to just effortlessly run through the game. The ending becomes less satisfying that way and there's really no sense of accomplishment whatsoever but when developers take the difficulty meter and crank it to 11, that just pisses me right off. Demon's Souls was my first example as it's still one of, if not THE, hardest games I've ever played. I gave it a handful of tries before finally throwing in the towel. Hell, I even looked up strategies and made sure to start with the most advantageous class and made sure to purchase that special shield at the start but it was just relentless. I can take dying, I can even take dying a lot. What I simply can't take is doing nothing BUT dying.

Demon's Souls is one of those games that's just made strictly with the hardcore gamer in mind and I can appreciate and respect that but it also means that I'll be staying the hell away from it. When developers decide to take a perfectly average game and suddenly include a massive increase in difficulty halfway through...well that's when the goddamn gloves come off! There is absolutely nothing I hate more than hitting a wall of impossible difficulty partway through a game. Games like Final Fantasy or God of War always have points where you're really being challenged to put all your skills to the test and that's perfectly acceptable but when something like the final boss from Heavenly Sword comes around and just kicks you to the curb without breaking a sweat, I get pissed. I still haven't beaten Heavenly Sword of Demon's Souls because I'm just not the kind of gamer that can keep going back and getting my ass kicked time after time. After a while, it gets overly frustrating and you lose focus on how it's just a game.

I don't like to talk about that killing spree I went on back in '05...

Why do developers do this? My theory is that they're simply created poorly and fail to be smoothed out one last time before they're released...or that game developers are evil and secretly gather around a round table under the cover of darkness to discuss how to further frustrate the gaming community. That second one is still plausible, right?

On a very serious note however, these massive potholes in games are a real issue. So many good games are completely overlooked and forgotten because of an issue with difficulty. Sure the games of past generations were pretty unforgiving but they usually have multiple difficulty levels to choose from. You'd have options on what level of difficulty you'd like to tackle. While this system is still around in modern gaming, it seems to be fading away as time goes on. Another thing that would be great to see more of is the mid-game difficulty adjustment system where the game will offer you the option to instantly switch to a lower difficulty if you are obviously having difficulties getting through certain areas. Again, it seems to be fading away with the evolution of gaming and it's just a shame. With the gaming community now growing and expanding beyond male teens, it would be nice to make games more approachable to newbies and veterans alike.

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