It’s perhaps a bit later than I thought, but I recently decided to play through the Yakuza games. Now I could go on and on about how great, emotional, over the top and fun they are, but that’s not what today’s post is about. Rather, I should be telling you one of the first things I did when I loaded up the game…
I set the difficulty to easy.
Now I know that will incur audible gasps, shocked, patronising and possibly disgusted reactions from some individuals in the gaming community. However, that’s precisely why I’ve decided to dedicate this post to the very topic, explaining my and likely many other’s reasonings. Gaming is a hobby that covers so many genres and types, in that sense, how we play games and what we look for in them is similarly varied.
I love so many different genres of video games. I also adore varying degrees of challenge as well. I’ve beaten every Souls game, Bloodborne and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Their purposefully difficult gameplay is incredibly addictive, and the sense of achievement when finally overcoming that tough boss fight or section you’ve been agonising over, is unmatched. Personally, I wouldn’t want that to change, or at least, don’t think it should be made necessary for every game to feature difficulty settings. If the developers intend their game to be difficult for certain reasons, which FromSoftware have made known, then it’s 100% their prerogative to do so.
At the end of the day, these choices are down to the developers to make, and should not be pressured into making changes. There’re a ridiculous amount of games available on the market to play, so I think people will be fine if they decide that a couple just aren’t for them. That’s like asking an author of a book that’s filled with difficult language and is generally a hard read, to make a more simple version. Target audience is a thing and I think a lot of people forget this. Having said that, while I adamantly defend games that don’t have difficulty options, I likewise applaud those that do and encourage people to make use of them. It ultimately comes down to letting developers have the freedom to make their games however difficult, easy, or customisable they want in that regard.
I may love diving into some demanding games when I get the chance, but I also relish the the opportunity to play games at an easier difficulty fairly regularly. Just as I get a huge amount of excitement out of games like Dark Souls, I often want a more relaxing and less stressful time in others when playing on easy. There are plenty of times when I just want to sit there and enjoy a game, without having to put too much effort into progressing. Perhaps I want to simply play through the motions of the game and soak up the narrative, without any hinderance. At times when I’m not in the mood for a difficult experience, I’m glad that there’re countless games that have the option to have a less strenuous playthrough.
For the majority of games, where difficulty isn’t so intrinsically tied to every facet of the experience, difficulty options offer you the chance to tailor the challenge to how you like it. Most have so much else to offer the player and have been designed as such. The developers purposeful adding different difficulty settings is them making clear that not being ‘good’ at the game shouldn’t bar you from enjoying the rest. Playing on easy, whether due to finding the default setting too daunting, or just wanting a more casual or smooth time, is a legitimate way to go through the adventure, as put forth by the developers. Some people just might not have the time to repeat sections and want to breeze through unhampered.
A truly, brilliant thing about video games, is that there’s so much out there for everyone and anyone. If you want to play games as smoothly as possible, then there are those that are made to be easy, as well as the majority that have the versatility to be switched to settings that give you that. If you desire challenge, then there’re also those that let you make it difficult, or those like the Souls games, that are created with the clear intention to be so. For someone like me, who appreciates both effortless escapades and unrelenting adversity in my video games, then the choices are endless.
It’s worth mentioning that while the aspect of difficulty is something that should be totally up to the developers to decide upon, greater accessibility options should be made the norm. When The Last of Us Part 2 released in 2020, it was immediately apparent that Naughty Dog had gone above and beyond to ensure their game was as accessible as possible to many. Including more than 60 different settings to change in the menu, ranging from alternative controls, to visual and audio configurations to aid those with correlating issues. So many of can and should be implemented into video games going forward, where they won’t impact the difficulty of the experience, but will for sure make it more accessible.
Video games are an amazing thing. They can sweep you away to faraway lands, set you on a grand adventure, leave you with mind-boggling puzzles, let you race through countries in fast cars and so much more. When so many offer you the possibility to alter the difficulty, you should never feel embarrassed to make it easier, and people shouldn’t shame others for it. Games have so much to them, and if you want to make your time with them easier for whatever reason, go for it. If the developer has designed their game with multiple settings, why should you feel bad for making use of them to experience it in the way you want? We all play games for different reasons. Some want challenge, some want ease, while others like to change it up depending on their mood.
I went from beating the relentless PS5 exclusive, Returnal, in 14 hours with only 14 deaths, to playing Yakuza Kiwmai on easy. Do what feels right for you, regardless of what others say, as that’s what really matters in the end.
Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed and resonated with the topic. Let me know your thoughts.