Much Ado About Game Difficulty

A few weeks ago, a lot of gaming sites praised Cuphead for its fun old-school gameplay. However, underneath all the praises they received, a few articles came out criticizing the game’s combat design. Some even suggested a “skip boss battles button” so they could finish the game without working for the win. That got some fans thinking, do people today really enjoy games because it’s difficult is it or is it because it feels like playing a movie? Here are three common arguments that surround this predicament.


Difficulty VS. Simulation

Game difficulty has been around since the old days. Games like Contra, Gunstar Heroes, even Battletoads were praised because of its difficulty. The rush that players felt when they fight a difficult boss and the satisfied looks in their faces for defeating it fills them with joy. A few years later, technology advances and games become more cinematic. Now players wanted something easy to play, focusing on story rather than mechanics.


Good vs. Bad Difficulty

There are two categories when it comes to difficulty; the good and the bad. Good difficulty translates on the design elements while bad difficulty design feels artificial and forced. Games like Dark Souls are the perfect example of good difficulty because the mechanics are designed around it. Games like Dead Space 2 increase the difficulty based on lowering player health, ammo, and equipment while increasing enemy health and damage.


Difficulty Based On Generation

The argument about how the game is played might also be caused by a shift in generation.  Players from Gen X seem to prefer challenge over immersion, while millennials prefer games that are easy to handle and have amazing graphics. That is not always the case though as recent years’ players are looking for a challenge. Games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne created that niche to satisfy their appetite for Difficult games.


There is no clear answer to this, as different people have different tastes. Opinions can change again with games, may it be a trend or a specific thing we may never know.


Juan Paulo Pereña

Writer and game reviewer. Likes movies, a bit of comedy and a good show to binge on. A fan of video games and video game culture in general.