We love a good challenge, don’t we?
I was about to start this article with: we all love a good challenge. But then I remembered that there is literally an entire industry dedicated to selling guides for games and even making sure printed copies get out on the release date of the game. Not to mention hundreds if not thousands of websites for the impatient.
So let’s just say that some of us love a good challenge if challenge means figuring out how to beat a video game by yourself.
But playing through Hollow Knight recently, reading tweets about the game and on how people progress through it, I had the thought: when is it ok to give up momentarily? To seek help, to look up the strategy for a boss or the solution to a puzzle.
The curse of the reviewer
After being on deadlines while reviewing games for many years, I’ve long since abandoned any pride in figuring out everything on my own. I’ve always felt that it was more important to be able to report on as much of any game as possible than to say “I solved every mystery myself”. Of course, you’re often playing a game that is not even out yet, so the ways you can spoil yourself are often limited.
But I had heard about Hollow Knight, that it was a bit Souls-like, and that basically told me that it’d be ok to look up strategies on bosses if I was stuck. And I did. There was even one boss I straight up cheesed. But not before struggling for several hours and getting nowhere.
Am I not hardcore?
Some of you are probably thinking that I’m not hardcore enough or whatever. I don’t really care. I play games to have fun. Not to throw controllers - or my Switch - against the wall in frustration.
I gotta say, I’m more inclined to look up stuff that still requires execution, like a boss fight in Hollow Knight. Looking up solutions to riddles or puzzles, that just need to be followed in-game afterward, feels more like a defeat.
But then I got to think about Dark Souls, how there are parts of that game that are surely meant to be figured out by the community. Not by a single player. Minecraft started out as a complete mystery, recipes were found on community websites, not in-game. Destiny famously had both real and imagined challenges that required the community to work together, and in the case of Outbreak Prime, quite a bit of math.
Hell, Fez has a mystery that still hasn’t been solved by logic, the solution was brute-forced, but we don’t know why it is correct.
And clearly, in those cases, you’re meant to give up. To ask for help. To help others find the solution.
How do you know when you’ve reached that point?
Credit: screenshots from https://www.mobygames.com/