Hard Games? I think I'll pass

There have been a fair amount of hard games recently. I’m not sure I’m liking that trend, it almost becomes a bullet point like that’s something to market the game on.

In a certain way I kinda blame the Souls games for this, but so many of the recent hard games don’t understand that Souls games aren’t hard. They just punish you for making mistakes.

I’m playing through The New Colossus right now, and while it’s clear they’ve decided to make the game harder, and some parts of this game are legitimately brilliant, the court room fight feels like it’s just wave after wave after wave of enemies. I thought my second time through this game would be more enjoyable, but the more I play it, the more I’m just picking apart its flaws. I want to love this game, but after the second time through I feel like it’s just a bunch of great cutscenes stitched together with difficulty spikes.

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what difficulty are you playing Wolfenstein on? i haven’t tried it myself but it sounds like they made it tougher than the first, though there’s still options to make it easier on yourself if you want to.

i can’t say i’ve really noticed it as a trend marketing-wise. i know Cuphead is supposed to be pretty tough but i don’t know if it was ever marketed like that? mostly just games press people saying “oh wow that game is hard” but nothing in like, the actual game’s messaging. i dunno.

part of it i think is that as games within a single series progress, developers probably want to give new challenges to fans of old games, or even design new systems around assumed proficiency. you can kinda see this in the evolution of CoD as people got better with stick aiming and the games kept getting more and more mobile to keep challenging long-time players’ accuracy. kind of the same thing happens on a shorter time scale in something like FFXIV where each expansion has progressively harder content.

there’s definitely a trend towards harder games especially in indie spaces. a lot of people grew up with old games and admire them to a point where games being hard are considered an essential part of it. plus there’s been that whole movement of masocore platformers.

I think it’s fine, but also sometimes it feels like it’s considered the only legit way to make games by some people. I wish more people would follow nintendo’s lead and build in options to adjust difficulty or just bypass challenges.

I have gone back on forth on this recently since I got my Switch. Before that I had avoided rogue-likes and Souls games because for the past few years my gaming time has become super limited. Plus as I get older my reactions are slowing. This year I found other games to be too much for me as well though:

That last one is on me I guess. I cannot get my head around those controls.

However I also stopped Shantae halfway through as I just died repeatedly.

That being said. I have gone back to Neurovoider time and again and got a little bit further each time. And I have felt a huge sense of accomplishment. But all the other games I have shelved. I want to try Isaac, I want to get that Mummy game that @patrick.klepek likes as I have heard real good things in several places now. But I know they are hard, I know my time is limited, and they might not get a sale out of me due to their difficulty. But then, they are not aiming the game at me, are they? And I will pick up Wolf at some point for my PS4 and from the latest Bombcast, your post, and some Tweets I have seen, I already know I will be sticking it on an easy setting. But then I will still be buying it (in a sale) as there is an Easy mode on offer. I guess if they were to offer one in rogue-likes then that would defeat the point of them, maybe.

I am not sure what my point is here. Apart from the fact I am finding games harder these days generally and I did try and start a club:

I gladly welcome a return to challenging gameplay. I started to get really bored of AAA games during the last generation because they were all such cakewalks. This would be less of an issue if developers had the time and resources to create multiple uniquely designed difficulty settings, but in reality they seem to usually design for one setting and then adjust the damage values accordingly for the other ones, resulting in hard-modes for games that aren’t designed around their difficulty.

I’m glad teams are taking accessibility seriously (see Uncharted 4 for at least some options beyond health / damage tweaks, options that enable more people to enjoy games how they want to) in how they design games, making them possible for more people on more different hardware to enjoy and even find mastery in (however they engage with the systems of the game). Any move “back to hard games” would be a significant step back for the industry (and towards games that more openly discriminate against people living with disabilities).

Hopefully we’ll quickly see the end of people claiming that only via lacking difficulty options can their desire for challenge be satiated as all that really means is their biology and hardware combine to provide them with games on a permanent easy mode. Basic example: if your TV has a 10ms latency (often only seen in high end systems) then you’re seeing the frames and able to react to them significantly before someone with a more typical or even sub-par model. You’re getting the game on easy mode where the timing windows for reacting are giving you masses of extra time to respond (for a game which only has one difficulty with fixed timing windows). So simply to make games possible to run “with one difficulty” on a variety of output hardware then we must consider the need to offer different difficulty options (to balance the playing field) and so, as we already need to do this, we should also make sure to include options so that different bodies with different reaction speeds can respond in the best times they can provide. Each person has a different idea of what a responsive system is and what’s possible in terms of reaction times; what a consistent best reaction they can strive for to get into “the zone” when a game feels best.

To not allow this be user configurable is to slice away at the potential audience for a game, only making it “feel good” for people who have similar reaction times to the developers and run it on similar output hardware. It’s bad game design which breeds entitled players who don’t realise they’re playing everything on easy mode due to hardware or a quirk of their biology. We must strive to be better than that.

Edit: One of the interesting things about interactive experiences and difficulty design is that we can make games that react to how you play them. A game can attach telemetry that knows exactly how quickly you can react to challenges, can track improving reactions (and get an idea of the distribution of those reactions) to various different conditions. A game can personalise the challenge to exactly what you’re capable of (combined with some options like telling it how strictly you want to be pushed to improve or how much of a lapse is enough for it to mark it down as failure).

Of course, this also applies to encounter design (how “aggressive” AI is, health and damage scaling, etc) and still needs some user input (one would be how quickly you wish to be able to progress through encounters). These things operate on multiple levels, it’s just easiest to discuss it with something very quantifiable like reaction times (especially as we have lots of data about how bodies react to sound + light reaction challenges).

We deserve to be having better conversations about this topic. One of the few disappointments about Waypoint Radio coverage of issues has been that when this topic comes up it’s only discussed as some sort of “personal preference” rather than looking at the discriminatory issues and how much better things could be if there was a wide enough campaign to improve things. Especially as this sort of telemetry-driven stuff wouldn’t just improve things for people living with disabilities but for almost all people who play games.


Hard games are off-putting to me. My reason for gaming is for relaxation and just having fun, being frustrated isn’t really a part of that for me.

I think this is partly why I like Mario Odyssey so much, the difficultly feels mostly very well balanced and if you die you don’t really lose any progress. So it doesn’t feel too hard even if you die a few times in a certain spot.

Having said that, I gave up on “Dark Side” - fighting the Broodals with low gravity was getting a little too hard for me..


I’ve kinda become known as a person that likes hard games but it always seems like I kinda hate them? Like I love Dark Souls, but that games more about learning than reflexes. Since I’ve started my medication my reflexes have been worse which for reflex games makes them awful and unfun for me. I have OCD and a thing it does is convince me I have to always play everything on the hardest difficulty or I deserve to die. When I can’t beat a game it takes a huge toll on my mental health and frankly I wish I had the resolve to play more simple and easy games.

Hard is a loaded word, but challenging games can exist while still being very much accessible. Even bullet hell of yore offered copious remapping controls at least as one mean of offering accessibility.

TNC does have difficulty options available at any time during the game, so even if you don’t want to feel bad about yourself lowering the difficulty, you can do it only for frustrating sections and come back to what you were.


I have a complicated relationship with hard games. I usually play stuff on easy, when I just want to get through it (eg. Nier Automata) because I hate having to redo things in games. And honestly, I’m often not coming to a game to be challenged, but just to have fun.

Ocassionally, the challenge is the fun. Dark Souls, Spelunky and Meat Boy are all games I had a lot of fun with because they were hard and could get even harder when I tried to go beyond just finishing them. I find I’m usually only interested in a game being hard if I really like playing it regardless of difficulty. And then hardness can be fun because after I get the gist of the game, I like having more challenged piled on top for me to grapple with. But there’s so few games I will invest that into, especially since a hard game is much more time consuming than a story game I play through in 20 hours on easy.

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I don’t mind difficult games being marketed on their difficulty. There is an audience for that, and it is reasonable for developers of difficult games to want to connect with their intended audience of players who enjoy difficult games, just as developers of narrative-heavy or [insert era here]-nostalgic or scary games want to connect with their intended audiences. It is fine for a game not to be everyone’s cup of tea. I will never care for DDR or SSBM or DotA or Wolfenstein or Silent Hills or an innumerable quantity of other popular games, and that’s fine. If a game advertises itself as being super difficult, my eyes glaze over and it no longer exists in my world, and that’s fine.

It’s a different issue if games are getting their difficulty cranked up for no coherent design reason just to be able to claim the adjective, of course. That kind of thing happens all the time to various kinds of adjectives and it is very silly.

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I don’t remember the exact setting, i think it was Hurt Me Plenty? That’s the same setting I played the TNO the first time through. I actually beat TNO on Ultra, but that’s a whole 'nother story. Definitely not planning on doing that with TNC.

I actually love all 3 of those games you mentioned (Dark Souls, Spelunky, SMB). The difficulty in them is justified. Another game I find to be very difficult that I can’t put down is Downwell. Probably my favorite game that I’ve never beaten before.

One of my problems with TNC is that sometimes it felt unfair, specifically that court room fight. I would be dropping tons of bullets into one enemy, just to get cut down from behind. Obviously I adjusted my strategy and was able to get past that part, but it wasn’t really satisfying in the way I usually like. It almost felt like I just had a lucky run, if that makes sense.

Is TNC more difficult than TNO? I played on the second-hardest difficulty level in the first game and there were a few really tough areas/boss battles that took me multiple attempts. Nothing too egregious as far as I remember.

For me it was, definitely. I kind of breezed through TNO (the ending was a little difficult), and The New Blood gave me problems until I committed to the fact that it was a stealth-only game. There were just some fights in TNC that gave me big problems. Court room, Stall the Nazis, a few others. Just brutal at times.

I think dual wielding is a little bit more mandatory than in TNO. Bullets are plenty but expect at least a shotgun and an assault rifle in each hand in order to manage wave of enemies

I think difficulty needs to be considered in context of the type of game it’s in. For a game like Super Meat Boy it makes sense, as the pleasure comes from conquering challenges. But for a game like Uncharted where the story is the main draw, difficult sections simply break the flow and immersion of the game.

Also, this thread needs to be titled “Hard Games? Hard Pass”. Search your feelings, you know it to be true.


I agree, and this game does shine when dual wielding. I think they have done an excellent job with heavy weapons, also. Man, they are just so fucking satisfying at times.

If I get any hint that something is challenging I immediately scratch it off my list. Too much out to mess with it for me. I have too many entertainment options available and other hobbies I want to engage in to mess with something I’m probably going to just get frustrated.

And see, I’m someone that despite a lifetime of playing games I have trouble with games most people don’t consider hard, like say Doom or Dishonored 2.

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I don’t enjoy difficulty for the sake of difficulty, but when I really enjoy what a game is offering I will almost always go back for a hard playthrough. I tore through all the difficulties in Bayonetta because I just enjoyed mastering the controls that much. When getting better stops being rewarding or the only challenge is pure slog, then I check out.