You Cheated Not Only The Game, But Yourself, & That's Fine

TJ Denzer,

April 10, 2019 11:55 AM

The recent reaction of an angry FromSoftware fan over cheating in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice has created a wonderful wave of memes, but the new, old debate of difficulty is seemingly alive and well.

On April 5, 2019, a Twitter user launched into a tirade in reaction to a PC Gamer article about completing single-player game Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice with cheats. Now-famous words were thrown out which drew the Internet’s collective attention.

“You cheated not only the game, but yourself.

You didn't grow.

You didn't improve.

You took a shortcut and gained nothing.

You experienced a hollow victory.

Nothing was risked and nothing was gained.

It's sad that you don't know the difference.”

It’s an extreme reaction to say the least, spurred by the inflammatory debate about whether or not FromSoftware’s latest game should have easy options. There’s a loud collective of people that say no and the other end of that which say, “what’s the big deal? Why does it matter so much?” The statement about cheating on the part of that original tweet has drawn a wealth of criticism, some of which has taken on the most creative and enjoyable of forms.

FromSoftware’s Stubborn Difficulty

FromSoftware games are hard. That’s a fact. And its more rabid fans have circled the wagons around defending the precious identity of FromSoftware which seems to have been boiled down to an angry and difficult game. There is, of course, more to games like Sekiro and Dark Souls than their difficulty, but if you didn’t know, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell that from the common conversations around them: "From Software games should be unflinchingly hard and nothing else matters."

I’m enjoying Sekiro. As a huge fan of Tenchu from which this game was originally devised as a rebirth, its style and systems speak to me in ways I love. I’ve also beaten all From Software games dating back to the first Dark Souls. I’ve been through my paces with the Bed of Chaos, Ebrietas, and the Nameless King. That said, I don’t care what you do with your playthrough of your single-player game. Nobody should. And if you do, loudly and angrily, you’re not doing the game or the series any service. You’re telling “outsiders” that nothing matters to a FromSoftware game more than its difficulty, and that’s just not true. The thing you love is better than the way you’re loudly painting it and more people should get to see that. That there are people that don't get to see the content and context of creations like Nameless King and Ebrietas is sadder to me.

Easy Mode: A Matter Of Time & Resources?

Maybe one of the most common arguments against putting a difficulty slider in FromSoftware games is that it would take time and resources away from creating the rest of the game. Sure, there are values to be changed. Maybe you could just halve enemy damage and add player health in a sweep. Conversely, maybe it requires more involved playing and careful adjustment with particular enemy stats. That said, the idea that FromSoftware can’t be bothered with something like that or that something like it would pull away from the rest of the experience is frankly nonsense. And it’s an argument that FromSoftware themselves contradict.

How? Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice’s Demon Bell for one prime example.

There is no lack of secrets in FromSoftware games. It’s extremely possible that the Demon Bell has a purpose beyond its surface mechanic, but for now, that bell’s actual and only current seeming purpose is to slide enemy resistance and damage-dealing up a notch in exchange for some extra item drops. It is a fancy difficulty slider, just adjusting some enemy values, drop rates, and little more. And despite its existence, Sekiro is still seemingly a good game with no noticeable drops in quality to show for the Demon Bell's inclusion.

The Spirit of Competition, Achievement, & Also Restraint

Twin Galaxies is built upon the some of the most obsessive and skilled players out there seeking to prove themselves to the world. We know hardcore gaming and competitive spirit. For my part, when I turn on BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle or Guilty Gear Xrd and spend hours training up on my main characters, it’s to the end of trying to beat some of the best players in the world. When some people turn on Bloodborne, Dark Souls, and Sekiro, their plan is to beat the game faster or more thoroughly than anyone else has done before, with zero damage taken or only with the most simple of weapons and equipment. And those achievements are really freaking awesome.

That said, and as mentioned before, there is so much more to games like Dark Souls and Sekiro. I wish my friends that aren’t so mechanically inclined as I (nothing against them) had a better option to explore those worlds so we could talk about them more in depth. They don’t want to compete against the often stupidly steep learning curve that FromSoftware games present, and I can’t blame them. I can't recommend these games to people that aren't prepared to stubbornly get their a**es kicked and keep going despite it, and it’s more than a little frustrating that for them to further engage in our world, they have to either “git gud” or wait for a playthrough they can watch on YouTube (still not a good conduit for the feel of defeating Lady Butterfly if you ask me). 

It would be fun to share frustrations and fervor of FromSoftware games with more people, even if we played on different levels. If anything, I (and you who can do it) still get to lord over them the suffering known from playing FS games normally while they took the "soft" route. They likely wouldn’t care and we’d laugh over it. As it is right now, FromSoftware not offering a Demon Bell-esque way to tone the difficulty down has never harmed the achievement of playing their games normally. It just keeps more people from engaging in the conversations we should be having about FromSoftware games' depth and content.

It’s a single player game. I don’t care if you cheat it or yourself. If you enjoyed it, we should talk about what our favorite parts were. Leave the backbreaking achievement of conquering FromSoftware difficulty to me and others on our time and let’s have fun.

Heck, if you need a hand with any competitive games like Fortnite or Apex Legends, check out our Guides.


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