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How game developers found a creative approach to ‘easy modes’ in difficult games

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In September 2020, Hades smashed its way onto the video game scene. The game is available on Microsoft Windows, macOS, and the Nintendo Switch and is a rogue like action role-playing game developed and publish by Supergiant Games. The game has been likened to FromSoft’s Dark Souls series in its difficulty and intensity. This posed a problem, as many video game players quit Dark Souls or avoid it entirely due to its reputation for being one of the most difficult games to complete.

Greg Kasavin, the creative director for Hades, wanted to give players invested in the story, but who struggled, a chance to finish the game. The game developers came up with a creative solution to this problem, the game will lower in difficulty the more players struggled to complete objectives. Hades isn’t the only game that uses these mechanics; Celeste introduced an assist mode which allows players to change granular settings like stamina to give them a boost and Darkest Dungeon released their Radiant Mode which streamlines progression and allows players to level up their characters faster.

Game developers are trying to make their titles more appealing to casual gamers and to people intimidated to pick up games that are known to be extremely difficult. “Just making a game ease is not the right answer for every game with an element of challenge,” Kasavin said, “Certainly this was our experience with Hades, where a traditional easy mode was not compatible with our game’s design or the experience we wanted to create.”