Difficulty in the video game, the endless debate

With the release of Returnal resurfaces the debate on the difficulty in the video game, the same one to which we are entitled to each release of a From Software game. The comparison of Returnal avec un Souls appears moreover quite regularly, although it is a little off topic: “difficult” is not a genre of game… (just as “long” is not a genre of film).

The small difference here is that the debate arises from the attitude of certain YouTubers and other figures of social networks. Some of them have indeed railed against the game, finding it too difficult, and therefore according to them, “inaccessible”, and thus decided quite simply not to speak about it (they did not, however, deprive themselves of talk about the fact that they weren’t going to talk about it. Business is business).

This is a big mistake on their part, and it testifies both to a certain state of mind, which would like everything to be immediate, instantaneous, but also – and this is both more astonishing and more problematic – of a certain ignorance of video games.

Returnal is a Snape-lite. It is displayed as such everywhere. Its very kind involves dying, a lot, progressing step by step while learning from one’s mistakes. This is how the very genre of the game is played. So yes, you have to take your time, and ask the game to take place very quietly in front of our spectator’s eyes, it’s going against its very nature. That the universe is beautiful, intriguing, and that the developers have managed to wrap it all up in a compelling storyline, it’s almost “just” a bonus.

Blaming it for its difficulty and the need to get involved in order to move forward is like blaming a metroidvania for going back and forth on the map, or a versus fighting for being a little technical. We could also regret that a battle royale does not have a single player mode… (!)

Beyond that, the vast majority of industry players and players plead for the media to be taken seriously, even considered as an art form. But then it goes hand in hand with the notion of author. Either the video game is an entertainment industry, and must produce titles in accordance with the tastes of the majority, like an industrial bakery maker, or it is an art form, through which creators express something, and it must take their work as it is. As many, many Twitter users taking part in this discussion point out:

Returnal Tweet Difficulté

If this debate on difficulty comes up with each release of a game that requires a little skill, this time, for Returnal, it’s a little different, since the criticisms emanate among others from figures of social networks with the strong power of nuisance, as evidenced by the way in which they are designated: influencers. Their negative discourse, because they are more visible, should not push the studios to modify the games for marketing reasons. We would then move towards a very sad uniform production, even as Housemarque praised Sony for the creative freedom that was offered to the studio …


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