Sometimes, I wish I could dial back the difficulty settings in life. Most of us are set on HELL MODE from the day we’re born.
For me, this is an important part of why I dislike hard games.
I’ve battled through several games of late, including Infamous: Second Son, Luftrausers, Demon’s Souls, Thomas Was Alone, Lone Survivor, Thief, Guacamelee and Rayman Legends, to name a few (along with the ever-present Diablo 3).
The savvier gamers will understand which of these is hard from the outset: Luftrausers and Demon’s Souls. First however, let’s talk about Infamous: Second Son and its siblings, Infamous and Infamous 2.
The Infamous series makes me feel like a major league gamer. In the first two games, I played through the Normal difficulty with good karma and Hard with bad karma. When playing Infamous as a good conduit, you can’t kill civilians without taking a hit to your overall karma; in effect, you must be careful where you fire your powers.
Sucker Punch expanded upon this in Second Son by adding safe-zones or hot-spots on enemy bodies, depending on which power you’re using. If you peg an enemy with a headshot while using your smoke powers, you’re able to subdue them without killing them. However, if you fire a headshot at an enemy with neon powers, you’ll automatically ‘obliterate’ them, earning you bad karma. You need to pay attention to where you shoot, and I enjoy this aspect of the gameplay.
Purchase the Infamous: Second Son soundtrack here!
Good karma requires good precision. Bad karma really doesn’t. I save that for the Hard playthrough so I can fire at will. Honestly, it makes the Hard playthrough much easier, and I can earn my platinum trophy without too much sweat. Yay, I win the game.
Game Informer’s Tim Turi kept pestering me about playing Luftrausers. He knew I’d appreciate the music in the game, which is indeed phenomenal. It’s a shoot-‘em-up airplane game with old-school graphics and dozens of ways to upgrade your plane. Cool thing: as you upgrade your plane, the soundtrack changes. Each upgrade has a unique loop that mixes with the other upgrades, creating multiple different soundtracks.
Luftrausers gives you goals to reach, which unlock your upgrades. Goals like, “Kill 6 enemies without taking damage”, or “Kill a battleship” or “Kill a blimp”. My friend Paul and I played the game for a couple hours; never saw a blimp.
So I tweet Tim, and I’m like, “What’s a blimp?”
He says, “The blimp appears if you survive long enough. You uh… can’t miss it. ;D.”
Hah. “Survive long enough.” Exactly.
“Unleash ze BLIMP!!”
Luftrausers is really hard. I’d love to be able to unlock all the upgrades and hear as many combinations of the soundtrack as I can, but that will never happen. I swear to you, my highest score so far is something like 9,000 points, and it might take me eternity to make that score again. Maybe I’m too old? I dunno. It’s hard, and I feel bad for the composer that I’ll never hear all of his music. I’ll have to listen on YouTube or something, and I won’t experience it first-hand as a gamer.
I don’t need to go on and on about Demon’s Souls. Part of that game’s “draw” is its difficulty, and I knew this when I bought it, so shame on me. Let’s just say I spent a lot of time choosing my class based off of class-build forums, and I thought I had a decent chance. I learned pretty early that you cannot pause the game, and that’s just insanity, because humans need to pause from time to time, but whatever. I played on, thought I was doing well, then I died (totally because I got all cocky).
Fine, I can handle dying, no bigs. It spawned me all the way at the beginning of the area again, and I thought, whatever, I’ll just run back to where I died.
Nope. You gotta kill every a-hole again, including all the ones that you barely survived the first time through. Again, I say “nope.”
I have plenty of “brick wall” moments in real life. Sometimes, all I need to do is wake up, and I feel like I’m hitting a brick wall. Most of us have days like this. I don’t want to feel like I’m playing a game where the purpose is to repeatedly bang your head against a brick wall. They should’ve named that game Demon’s Walls or Brick’s Souls instead.
Perhaps people who don’t feel challenged in real life enjoy these games? I feel like that’s a horribly overblown statement. But I am curious why people enjoy games that are stupid hard. I like to feel the illusion of winning. I like to win! Yay, winning! Perhaps that’s part of the problem.
Tell me about the hardest game you played, the hardest game you beat, and the hardest game you hated. And come see me in Boston this Saturday!
Emily Reese is an on-air host for Classical Minnesota Public Radio. She is also the host and producer for Top Score, Classical MPR’s podcast about video game soundtracks, and created MPR’s Listening to Learn series. She earned an undergrad certificate in music education and jazz studies from the University of Colorado — Boulder, and a Master’s degree in music theory from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Emily lives in Twin Cities with her cats Atticus, June Bug and Lee, and loves gaming, with or without friends.