- “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice” is a very hard video game; for many, it will be the hardest game they have ever played.
- The steep difficulty curve has some players demanding an easy mode to make the game more accessible for less skilled players, and for gamers with disabilities.
- Hardcore fans of FromSoftware, the company that made “Sekiro” and “Dark Souls,” believe that overcoming the difficulty is an essential part of the experience.
“Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice” is a very difficult video game.
For players with no prior experience with games made by developer FromSoftware, “Sekiro” could very well be the hardest game they have ever played in their life.
Released on March 22nd, the critically acclaimed “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice” continues FromSoftware’s penchant for insanely tough games – but some players feel the experience alienates players who might be less skilled or physically disabled.
Veterans of FromSoftware titles like “Dark Souls” and “Bloodborne” have come to embrace the unforgiving difficulty as a core part of From’s games; the remastered release of “Dark Souls” was aptly named the “Prepare to Die Edition.”
Every enemy in “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice” is a lethal threat.
“Sekiro” follows a one-armed ninja, the Wolf, who must duel and overcome dozens of deadly opponents, some of whom are human, and others who are…not.
While Wolf can dispose of his enemies with a single well-aimed strike, every opponent players face in “Sekiro” has the potential to be deadly. Powerful bosses can kill the Wolf with one or two blows, which sends players back to their last checkpoint and takes away some of their levelling progress as a penalty.
— FizzyG (@YaBoiFizzyG) March 28, 2019
Dying in one or two hits to a computer controlled enemy is frustrating enough for most players – but whenever the Wolf revives at a checkpoint, “Sekiro” also revives every enemy the player has beaten thus far. For example, if a player kills five enemies before dying against a boss, they will need to mow down the same five enemies after reviving to earn their rematch.
Part of playing “Sekiro” is breaking through the difficulty curve.
To make things even tougher, the bosses in “Sekiro” don’t appear in a specific order. Instead, they wait in specific areas of the game until the player encounters them. That means players can accidentally stumble across enemies that are far too strong for them to beat, and some bosses can show up as a complete surprise.
Sekiro is just full of… surprises pic.twitter.com/GiQtnpw975
— ????LazyP???? (@LazyP_765) March 25, 2019
In a lot of ways, playing “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice” is a war of attrition. The game expects you to die a ton of times before you understand how to fight properly, and you’ll probably die dozens more times trying to figure out the right strategy to beat your very first boss. Success in “Sekiro” feels like the video game equivalent of digging your way through concrete with a spoon.
Beating “Sekiro” takes some serious skills, but should it be an exclusive club?
But there are players who feel that the steep difficulty curve is a barrier to enjoyment. For players who struggle to master the flow of combat or can’t execute “Sekiro’s” advanced moves on command, the game is frustrating, rather than rewarding. Even basic enemies at the start of the game can kill Wolf in just a few hits, and if the player can’t beat them in a fight, they simply can’t progress.
Game critics and accessibility advocates alike have criticised “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice” for its lack of an easy mode, or any other kind of accomodation, for players who want to experience the game without the demanding combat requirement. Hardcore fans of FromSoftware games have argued that this would compromise the game’s vision, since it’s clearly designed to be hard to beat.
Should games like Sekiro have an 'Easy' mode? Yes. Don't like it? Don't use it. All games should have user-friendly options. All games should be accessible to all users – be it an 'Easy' mode, custom button-mapping, or other accessibility options. Everyone should be able to play.
— Direct-Feed Games (@DirectFeedGames) March 30, 2019
Hardcore fans feel like overcoming the difficulty is an achievement.
As debate over “Sekiro’s” difficulty continues, easy mode advocates claim that players who oppose an easier difficulty are gatekeeping others. Most believe that adding an easy mode to the game would allow more players to experience “Sekiro,” even if that experience is slightly different and not defined by how hard it was to beat the game.
When gamers argue about easy mode in games, it's not about defending the developer's "vision", it's about isolating anybody who isn't them from getting involved in their precious hobby.
— MS Certified Scrubquotes (@ScrubQuotesX) March 31, 2019
On the other hand, fans of FromSoftware have celebrated the experience that “Sekiro” currently provides, and say that overcoming the difficult learning curve is what makes the developer’s community of fans passionate and unique.
While I personally wouldn't care if FROM's games had an easy mode, I feel it could deprive a new player from that experience, which has shaped so much of my tolerance. Literally life changing. FROM games create so much more that is beautiful to explore: music, art, story.. 4/9
— Lobosjr (@Lobosjrgaming) March 31, 2019
Gamers with disabilities have a different view of the challenge of “Sekiro.”
Understandably, disabled gamers have also had varying takes on adding an easy mode to Sekiro. Some, liked YouTuber Limitlessquad, felt motivated to show off that their skills in the current version of the game in an effort to prove that “Sekiro” doesn’t need to be easier.
Blind YouTuber and video game accessibility consultant Steve Saylor published a video sharing his view that an “easy mode” would not remove the challenge for disabled gamers who might need it.
“A lot of games we play that may seem easy for you when it comes to your skill level, are extremely difficult,” Saylor said .And when we do get to that point where we do beat the game, or beat a certain challenge. It’s not because it was easier for us, it was still a challenge and… and we want to be able to feel the same way in all of the games that we play.”
Watch the clip and make sure to watch the full video here: https://t.co/VaC3sWD6Ip
I'd really appreciate it. pic.twitter.com/ZbZhJmxX0C
— Steve Saylor (@stevesaylor) April 3, 2019
Opinions have also varied on what an easy mode would entail for “Sekiro,” whether that would mean features that make the game easier to control, or changes that scale down the difficulty for players who struggle – or some mix of approaches.
“Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice” is out now, if you’re up for the challenge.
Considering that none of FromSoftware’s previous games have adopted an easy mode, it seems unlikely that they will make one for “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.”
For now it seems like players who can’t beat the game themselves will have to settle for watching others give it a shot on YouTube or Twitch. If you’re up for a challenge, “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice” is available now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
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