“Cuphead, it’s just like Dark Souls!” came the cries from both game critics and players alike, manifesting itself like an annoying chorus from the world’s most petulant musical ever. The ensuing “Cuphead’s hard!”, “No, it’s not!” quickly became the worst set of duelling chants to ever happen since “Let’s go Cena!”, “Cena sucks!” and I had to throw my phone into the bin just to get away from the high-pitched whine of it all. The moment’s peace before my wastepaper basket began to vibrate with promises of hot takes about the unrelenting nature of the game did get me thinking, though. Difficulty in games in the present day versus how it “used” to be.
I did see some sense in what the Internet was saying, and immediately after my brain scan, I considered the thought process again. I’ve always had below average skills at games. I’ve been playing since I was 3 years old, and I haven’t been consistently good enough to beat them until I was 18. I’m 21 now, go figure. Reminiscing, I thought back to my gaming history. Crash Bandicoot. Spyro the Dragon. Super Mario 64. Grand Theft Auto III. These are all games I failed miserably to beat, simply because I plainly lacked the skills to do so. Then my mind raced to newer titles which I seemed to sail through, like Uncharted, Call of Duty, and the LEGO series of games.
Why did these games seem to come a lot easier than some of the medium’s greatest successes, almost as if victory were promised and not something to be worked studiously at?