At this stage – after decades of design experiments, risky ideas and timely mechanics – difficulty in video games is very much a conscious decision. Granted, in the translation from arcade coin-suckers to home entertainment, many developers still wanted their games to retain a sense of longevity through arduous repetition, but today – when the industry is one of the biggest sources of entertainment on the planet – that’s a whole other story.
Now, the hardest games are so rare, they end up being used as yardsticks to measure every subsequent release. Just how many “It’s the Dark Souls of [insert genre]!” have you heard, for example?
You can count on one hand the amount of titles that have a reputation for difficulty: the aforementioned Dark Souls, Super Meat Boy, Cuphead, for example – and that’s because once you’ve factored in the size of how many people could play your product, it’s a risk/almost definite negative to add an annoying challenge or two.
The following games and developers though? They didn’t care one bit, creating levels and sequences that make GTA: San Andreas’ Supply Lines look like a tutorial.