I have been gaming since I first laid my hands on a Nintendo controller. Mario Bros. was the first game I ever played, and the difficulty of that game for a six year old would be put in a rather high rating for next generation games. Its not that newer games aren’t hard, its that the directors and developers are weary of player failure.
Gamers give praise to games that have “replayability.” “Replayablity” is not a word, but it is a word used often in gaming circles. It means that a game has replay value, or a game can be played again after the main quest or storyline has been completed. This can mean a game has side missions, collecting quests or add on features.
But, if a game is so difficult that a player can barely get through the first time, then that game will crumble to bad reviews. From Software director Hidetaka Miyazaki has upped the ante and made his games so difficult that you want to keep playing through your failures.
Hidetaka Miyazaki is the director of the Souls series. I was not a fan of the series because of the difficulty. I am the type of gamer that wants to sit down, relax and play. I do not want to white knuckle my way through dungeons, fighting to get to the next save point, then doing it over again.
But I have run from Hidetaka Miyazaki long enough. I have picked up the recent releases for Playstation 4 like Destiny and Call of Duty. They were too easy. In Destiny, the difficulty arc was the enemies got more powerful but so did my character. I leveled up with the enemies and it never challenged me. I decided to get FROM Software’s new release, Bloodborne, and face my fears.
I had limited knowledge of what I was getting into. I knew I would die. And die a lot. But that was only from friends who played the Souls series. I had no idea how much I would actually die. Blood borne began with my character, a man who looks more like Sherlock Holmes than a demon hunter, walking the streets of a fictional town that resembles a 19th century London.
There are enemies, other men, walking the streets with torches and meat cleavers. The sounds of the game increased my stress level: men crying, women laughing, a maniacal dog that sounds like its stuck in a cage that I can’t see. And then, my first encounter with a man running at me with a large knife, I died. Then, I was placed back at the beginning of the town and I retraced my steps, fought the man and killed him. I then moved ahead, found two more maniacs and died quickly. But, from my experience with games, I was stunned to see the game didn’t load me into the battle with the two maniacs I just fought, but rather back to the beginning of the game again. I had to retrace all my steps.
This is what I was afraid of. Not enemy difficulty, but a psychological difficulty that would test my inner gamer. I do not want to redo all my progress. I am a frequent saver, always afraid of losing my hard earned items and gear. This game, you can’t even pause. If you die, and you do a ton, then all your progress is lost.
But there is a method here. In an interview with IGN, Hidetaka Miyazaki explains the “death system.” He says, “But the main concept behind the death system is trial and error. The difficulty is high, but always achievable. Everyone can achieve without all that much technique – all you need to do is learn, from your deaths, how to overcome the difficulties.”
As my experience with Bloodborne has increased, I have begun to embrace this “death system.” I have found myself trusting the system and the director, mostly because of his past success. I also have seen the “death system” make me better, not my character. After dying dozens of times, I retraced my steps to get back to where I died. On the way, I am able to kill each enemy I’ve killed dozens of times already faster and easier. I have gained experience, loosened my knuckles, and am learning from death.
Bloodborne is not for the typical gamer. It will test your limits. My wife watched me play for ten minutes and said, “Why do you keep dying there?” She was referring to two monster dog beasts that kept eating me each time I tried to pass them. I told her, “Because I don’t know how to beat them yet.” And I didn’t. But, through trial and error, I found a way. The thought of eventual success kept me going. It was hard, and I had to endure the same trial and error for the next stage of enemies. This game will be stressful, trying and difficult. Its like a bad relationship, but the sex is good.
Here’s a funny walkthrough to get what I am talking about. Warning: Tons of cursing.