There’s been a lot of discussion online lately about how polarizing Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice’s difficulty is.
Certified game journalists and industry experts have taken up one side of the topic, arguing that From Software should include an easier difficulty option so that they, average consumers, and disabled gamers can enjoy Sekiro to its fullest.
On the other side of the fence is From Software’s diehard fanbase, who feels that by offering an easy mode, From would be allowing players to experience an inferior version of the game that is plagued by ludonarrative dissonance, as it would no longer convey the game’s thematic emphasis on hardship and defeat.
Obviously, the industry experts are right on this matter, given that there’s nothing wrong with adding options as long as nothing’s taken away. It’s not like America’s children got fatter the second McDonald’s started offering fries as an alternative to apples in its kids meals, after all. But why do all these From Software fans get so tilted by the idea of “lesser” gamers being allowed to succeed in their games? The answer is simple, really: toxic masculinity. And the key to stopping it is by asking From to eliminate difficulty in its games altogether.
Toxic masculinity can be defined as, for lack of a more universally agreed upon definition, any display of masculinity that is “traditional” (pre-2000’s masculinity, if you will). For example, enjoying the competitive and aggressive nature of sports is toxic, as it emphasizes hurting others’ feelings by dividing people into “winners” and “losers.” By this logic, are not all pro-difficulty gamers calling the disabled and media “losers” for failing at Sekiro and wanting an easier difficulty option? And is that sort of bullying and shaming not inherently toxic?
We’re talking about a group of people who seek validation based on how well they can press buttons. Should we really pander to them? Sure, one can argue that From Software’s artistic intent is inextricably linked to its games’ difficulty, but let’s not get carried away. From, and other game devs, aren’t artists. They’re product makers. That’s why you pay them for a game. Because it’s a product. And if the developers need to lower the difficulty to cast a wider net and win over more marginalized consumers and media figureheads, then that’s what they should do. The only reasonable solution to this debacle is for From to eliminate difficulty altogether, in order to economically capitalize on the lowest common denominator and eliminate toxic masculinity from its fanbase.
Look at the Guardian Ape fight. Why does the ape have to come back to life after you first defeat it? That’s not a badass twist that uses the player’s greatest tool against them; it’s nothing more than a cruel prank. There’s no need for that in something labeled as an “entertainment” product. Similarly, why does the giant white snake have to be so hard? I don’t want to feel like I’m combating an actual giant snake and its immense power. I just want it to look cool and feel like some pixels that I can carve up. And given the snake’s phallic appearance, it’s clear this is From Software pandering to the exact kinds of toxic, power-tripping male gamers who thrive on ludicrous difficulty.
There’s nothing to be gained by making games this hard, as the developer should’ve learned over the course of its niche Dark Souls trilogy. Whatever weird, sexual satisfaction hardcore™ gamers (incels) derive from Sekiro’s immense difficulty should not be pandered to, it should be shunned. Seriously, From, you need to join the rest of us in 2019 and make nice, bland products that everyone can enjoy. Make accessibility options so that those disabled gamers who are allergic to Japanese people can play through the game as a bald, roided-out white guy. After all, it’s just an option. Just an addition. Please, From, do something. Anything. I’m begging you. I can’t take it anymore. I just want to beat the final boss. It’s really fucking hard and I’m tired of it. My wife said I can’t even sleep in her bed tonight if I don’t beat it. My kids called me a “fucking cuck” when I looked up easy difficulty mods for the PC version. Don’t make me “git gud,” From, please sink to my level so I can sleep comfortably at night as the small spoon in your warm, C++ embrace.
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