I recently gave up on Resident Evil 2 after the seventh or eighth time the Tyrant cornered me and smashed Claire to bits, with my dog Cordy looking at me in forlorn concern as she does when I’m playing a frustrating game. It’s probably no surprise that I’m something of a “Type A” personality, so the way I approach even relaxing with video games reflects my personality type.
When playing an RPG, my OCD propels me to being over-leveled early on so that I cruise through the story without any issue or real challenge (an ounce of preparation prevents a pound of pain, as they say, and I put in a pound of it). One of the first games I wrote about here, Bloodborne, is a study in the line between challenging and stressful gaming. I talked about this with a friend earlier this week when I mentioned my excitement for Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice which releases next week by the same folks who gave us Bloodborne.
Unlike RE2, I love Bloodborne, because there’s a difference between challenge and terror. RE2‘s Tyrant is literally unbeatable. You can slow him down, you can stall him, you can run away- but you cannot stop him. No matter how much you throw at him, try to elude or trap him, he will continue his deliberate, terrifying march through the police station to find you.
Full disclosure: part of this is on me because I’m missing a goober* of some sort to open a door and I’ve searched everywhere twice and can’t find anything to open any new paths. Me finding the goober? That’s the challenge. The Tyrant? It’s a colossal stress monster.
Bloodborne is filled with monsters as horrible as the Tyrant, but difficult as they all may be, they can be beaten. They may, like the Tyrant, tear me apart because I don’t know their attacks, or if I’m too slow, but they can all be beaten if I’m skilled enough. There are plenty of times where I can’t turn on Bloodborne because the game demands so much in terms of focus and agility of play, but when I’m slaying nightmare after nightmare? It yields an uncommon feeling of accomplishment. When I’m the one being slain? I know I can dust off and try again to come out the victor.
That’s challenge not stress, and I’m excited for that challenge in Sekiro next week. Expect a review.