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My love/hate relationship with hard master-y games(Souls-like games, hard Metroidvanias, etc) has been shifting from more love to more hate lately

DragoonKain

Neighbours from Hell
I don't know how anyone else feels about these types of games. Not sure how to categorize them in one word, but those games whether it be Souls-like games, something like Returnal. Games that you have to play either certain entire sections over and over or boss fights over and over to master them. I'm not talking about games that are mildly difficult. I'm talking about the really hard games that you truly need to fully master to have a good chance to get through them. I've always had a love/hate relationship with these games. But I always mostly loved them because I thought the feeling of progression when you learn an area or the patterns of a boss is super satisfying. But lately, my opinion is starting to shift to to more of the "hate" part of the spectrum. With time more limited these days playing games, I find it incredibly frustrating having to fight the same boss 10 times or do the same section of a game 10 times over just to master it. It feels like such a waste of time. And sometimes it feels like something developers do to make up for lack of content. "Hey, if you're doing the same thing over and over again, we don't need to make the game bigger or more expansive, since you'll be spending all your time on that."

And yes, it is satisfying when you finally finish these games. But I started to realize over time, that one moment of satisfaction when you finish it IMO is far outweighed by the many many moments of frustration trying to get through it. Is it truly a good gaming experience if you're frustrated 80% of the time and satisfied for 20%? For example, the DLC Farewell from a few years back of Celeste was really hard. And eventually I got through it, but when I did I felt like it wasn't worth all the frustration when I beat it and I honestly regretted spending all that time to get through it.

I'll still play these games, because individually obviously they vary. Some games have other aspects to them that make them fun, like figuring out puzzles, collecting stuff, like you find in Metroidvanias. But I think going forward I'm going to be much less patient with games that demand you completely master them perfectly to be able to get through them. In the past where I'd stick with them and grind it out, I'm going to be more likely to just drop them and move on going forward.

How do you feel about these types of games? What is your patience level for them? Are you someone who always sticks them out no matter what or are you someone who's willing to drop them and move on if you find them too frustrating?
 
The word frustration appears many times in your post, and I think that's the problem. Game's should be difficult, but not frustrating. With this I mean that if you die, it should be your fault, not because of some cheaply designed shit to make the game feel harder.

That aside, you might just not be in the mood for those kind of game right now. I dropped the Bloodborne DLC some years ago and started thinking those games were no longer for me. Years later I beat Sekiro and, more recently, Alien Soldier, a game based on mastering it's mechanics and boss fights through repetition.

I think you should stick to other kinds of games for the time beign. Do that and I'm sure you'll start missing them and maybe even be on the mood again for some hard games again.
 

SlimeGooGoo

Party Gooper
I only invest a lot of time on a game system if it's really fun and has a lot of content available to use that system for (e.g. Dragon's Dogma, Yakuza)

Otherwise I don't even bother trying to learn all the details and mostly rush through everything. Don't have patience or time for boring and badly-designed games.
 
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Rentahamster

Rodent Whores
How do you feel about these types of games?
I still like them because challenge is fun. However, I prefer games where the challenge comes from another human instead of AI or gameplay. It's one thing to crush the AI, but pwning noobs into dust is on another level entirely.

But I started to realize over time, that one moment of satisfaction when you finish it IMO is far outweighed by the many many moments of frustration trying to get through it.
Sometimes hard games have bad design which leads to unproductive frustration. It happens, and if that's the case I move on to something else. No biggie. You can't please everyone.
 
A great game manages to strike the perfect balance between challenging parts and that feeling of mastery only videogames can provide. Problem is, just the right amount of difficulty/pressure is different for every individual. And then we're not always in the mood for games like this or had a bad day.
 

DragoonKain

Neighbours from Hell
The word frustration appears many times in your post, and I think that's the problem. Game's should be difficult, but not frustrating. With this I mean that if you die, it should be your fault, not because of some cheaply designed shit to make the game feel harder.

That aside, you might just not be in the mood for those kind of game right now. I dropped the Bloodborne DLC some years ago and started thinking those games were no longer for me. Years later I beat Sekiro and, more recently, Alien Soldier, a game based on mastering it's mechanics and boss fights through repetition.

I think you should stick to other kinds of games for the time beign. Do that and I'm sure you'll start missing them and maybe even be on the mood again for some hard games again.
That's why I've come to adore puzzle games over the years. Like The Talos Principle or The Witness. They're hard, but not frustrating. You aren't going to die because your thumb stick didn't angle quite right causing you to not reach the ledge and fall to your death and have to do an entire section over. You can just relax and at your leisure figure them out. I love difficult games that don't cause you to pull your hair out.
 

cireza

Member
Maybe try Shiren 5+. This is a difficult game, but it is very satisfying. It is not "skill" oriented as it is turn-based. Difficult to get into though.

I am fed up with Souls games. I feel like I have seen all of it after Demons Souls on PS3. Everything has been the same thing over and over again, and it became less interesting with every new entry.

I could probably play something new in the genre because it would have a sense of novelty. Sequels however are super boring super fast to me. Code Vein was awesome and much less frustrating, easier.
 
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Dr_Salt

Member
The souls games aren't that hard and their difficulty is overblown. These games are just not for you and there is nothing wrong with that.
 
That's why I've come to adore puzzle games over the years. Like The Talos Principle or The Witness. They're hard, but not frustrating. You aren't going to die because your thumb stick didn't angle quite right causing you to not reach the ledge and fall to your death and have to do an entire section over. You can just relax and at your leisure figure them out. I love difficult games that don't cause you to pull your hair out.
Very good example! And I guess the same goes for any kind of turn based game, be it strategy, CRPG, JRPG, etc.

Btw! You should try Baba is You, great and veeery challenging puzzle game. Made me feel like a brainlet.:messenger_grinning_sweat:
 

Woggleman

Member
I love hard games but the Souls are just not fast paced enough for me. I like combat to be fast paced and chaotic and I find them too methodical and plodding.
 

DragoonKain

Neighbours from Hell
Very good example! And I guess the same goes for any kind of turn based game, be it strategy, CRPG, JRPG, etc.

Btw! You should try Baba is You, great and veeery challenging puzzle game. Made me feel like a brainlet.:messenger_grinning_sweat:
What I can tell you is I'm staying far away from Sifu after seeing a lot of reviews on it. I don't think I'd have the patience to tolerate that game.
 

Pejo

Member
It's funny that this is how you view those games. I look at them more as a "be prepared and observant, notice the patterns and stay adaptable" type challenge instead of a "slam your head against it 200 times until you beat it" thing.
 

Danjin44

The nicest person on this forum
To me what I like about FROM games is there is not much of learning curve compare to most fighting games that you had to put lot of time to master, Souls games are actually pretty easy to pick up and play, its core “difficulty” of those type of game comes from that they punish your mistakes hard by you losing good chunk of your health.
 
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Belthazar

Member
It's funny that this is how you view those games. I look at them more as a "be prepared and observant, notice the patterns and stay adaptable" type challenge instead of a "slam your head against it 200 times until you beat it" thing.

That basically sums it up for me
 

p_xavier

Authorized Fister
I have absolutely no fun with a hard game. I play games for story and ambience. If I want a challenge, I would need to get paid, not the other way around. Games like Ys have an Ys-y mode and a nightmare mode for the greatest challenge. I don't get why there are not difficulty choices, I won't git gud in any scenario because I don't care to.
 

Saber

Member
The word frustration appears many times in your post, and I think that's the problem. Game's should be difficult, but not frustrating. With this I mean that if you die, it should be your fault, not because of some cheaply designed shit to make the game feel harder.

Thats true and pretty much the missing point in some alleged Souls games.

Take Deaths Gambit for instance. The game claims to be a Souls game, but fails miserably because it create fights where it has other factors rather than depening on the player skill to beat the boss.
 

ckaneo

Member
The problem with Souls game isnt the difficulty, it's the fact that they make it tedious to play and actually get gud. Whether it's running to the boss, loading times, or making you fight waves of enemies to get back.

What's funny to me is that games copied this nonsense and From Software has started to move away from that. HDD to SSD also helps with loading times.

Hollow Knight might be one of the most unfun games I've ever played because it makes dying a chore. And for what? Cause the souls games did it ?
 

01011001

Member
"these type of games" used to be basically any game... the fact that this isn't normal anymore is also the reason so many people struggle with them because they aren't used to dying in games anymore.

AAA games nowadays are the most braindead mainstream fodder imaginable when playing on what they call "normal" difficulty or equivalent modes.

my favourite recent example of this is Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart. I honestly think playing that game on anything but the highest difficulty is not only too easy but also ruins part of the game's design.
it's not always the case that higher difficulties are good/fun because bad developers will just increase annoying stats and make the game just more grindy or enemies tanky. but Rift Apart actually feels like a completely different game.

playing it on normal (which I watched a friend play) is legit like playing a game for kindergarden kids. completely devoid of challenge. that also results in half the game mechanics being mere window decoration and nothing more.

on the hardest mode the game becomes like a Pixar version of Doom Eternal, it makes you constantly switch between weapons, conserve ammo and doge around the battlefield.
enemies lead their shots so you actually have to have good movement and you can never lose focus.

on normal it's quite literally possible to win 90% of the fights by simply mindlessly spamming your melee attack at enemy goups. dodging is not needed, different weapons are just there so you don't die of boredom spamming melee and ammo boxes are just decoration.

so IMO people not being used to actual challenge anymore isnpart of the reason they find bir often frustrating to play harder games. and in some instances playing lower difficulties can almost rob you of a better game.
on Normal I would give Ratched at least a 20% lower score than on the hardest mode.
 
Maybe its just because I used to be a fighting game player, fighting games in general require a lots of "honing", honing a game section just became natural for me.
 
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Arthimura

Member
I enjoy challenges in my video-games, and as someone who started playing video-games very early and kept playing through the years, the average experience and difficulty of mainstream games can be a bit boring.

Returnal is not even that hard, once you get some game knowledge and starts to recognize what weapons works for you, you can finish basicallly any cycle.
 

Danjin44

The nicest person on this forum
I have absolutely no fun with a hard game. I play games for story and ambience. If I want a challenge, I would need to get paid, not the other way around. Games like Ys have an Ys-y mode and a nightmare mode for the greatest challenge. I don't get why there are not difficulty choices, I won't git gud in any scenario because I don't care to.
Then there are 1000 upon 1000 games out there who made for people like you who dont enjoy challenge, this might offend some people but not all games made for everyone thats just hard truth fact.

But these days there are games for just about any type of player.
 

JokerMM

Gay porn is where it's at.
the older i get, the more i'm into these games
people told me it's gonna be the opposite, but i just can't give my time to something that doesn't actually challenge me
this is why Nintendo shit just doesn't do it for me anymore
 
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I generally like having "resistance" in my gaming time. I can appreciate games where there is none, but I prefer having a "fight" on my hands, whether mechanically, strategically or otherwise. It's nice to have a challenge, assuming the core experience is engaging imho.
 
Hollow Knight might be one of the most unfun games I've ever played because it makes dying a chore. And for what? Cause the souls games did it ?

That's too bad, HK is a great game... but as many have already said in here, not all games are for everyone and a lot of times this just comes down to personal preference.

My overall take on this is these games are about the challenge, yes, but also about other key elements which may be appealing to some and not others; exploration for one (and backtracking), and character progress for 2 (which some find tedious/daunting). There's a reason souls gameplay elements are bleeding so heavily into Metroidvanias lately, and it's because of everything else that they have in common. It makes sense there would be this natural progression of punishing harder for deaths.

Sometimes, the challenge is too heavily weighted, and as someone that put down Dark Souls at the 2nd boss once upon a time I totally understand that. Elden Ring is going to be my first From game that I actually purchase, so more and more I've warmed to the challenges that these kinds of games represent... but that's just me. Either you want to undertake the challenge and play the game for what it is, or you do not. No big deal, it's just what you prefer to spend free time on.

But me personally... I'm all in on any good-looking Metroidvania, even when the Souls mechanic is present like HK and Blasphemous, and depending on my experience with ER might be going back to play the greatest hits of the 3D From games as well.
 
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Spacefish

Member
When shit gets tough I just put on a podcast and grind through it. I don't always want to be 100% engaged by a game so the souls stuff has a nice balance, I pay attention while exploring then treat it like a monster hunter game when I'm re-running a boss. I thought about it being a waste of time but when I compare it to an uncharted style rollercoaster where I'm always making progress I feel nothing yet it always demands my full attention. I can't imagine enjoying any souls game while caring about how much progress I make.
 

DragoonKain

Neighbours from Hell
What do you think about Hollow Knight? People have been telling me its the best Metroidvania. I've gotten past Dung Defender but I just don't get the greatness of it.
I love it, didn't find it all that difficult. Same with Metroid Dread, though for some reason a lot of people did. I found Ender Lilies MUCH more difficult than both of those games.
It's funny that this is how you view those games. I look at them more as a "be prepared and observant, notice the patterns and stay adaptable" type challenge instead of a "slam your head against it 200 times until you beat it" thing.
I think it's the repetition that negates the former for me. To me, the fun of doing the same thing over and over to master it makes learning patterns and adapting less fun. Especially if it's not forgiving with the saving. Like if you die and have to trek aaaaaall the way back to a certain area to try it again, it becomes intolerable.
 

Alebrije

Member
Think problem is people these days want all fast , do not want to spend days to advance on a game like the NES days.

My advice avoid Souls games since they force you to repeat several times an area to improve similar to NES RPG games .

Videogame companies knows its users behavior and use microtransactions to let.them save time ...by example on AC Odyssey you need tons of time to farm wood in order to improve ships , but you can save all this time just buying a material package

Just imagine Froms implementing microtransactions to make easier its games...hope never happens
 

Holammer

Member
I don't dislike difficulty, I wouldn't have actual souls games any other way. But I'll have to dock points for Hollow Knight, Blasphemous & Batbarian for trying too hard to be the unironic Dark Souls of Metroidvania.
The fun suffers when the game starts to actively trying to trip you over. Batbarian starts GREAT, then it starts doing bullshit stuff, random elements in boss fights and pinpoint precision platforming.

They never get the *flow* Symphony of the Night had. If you died, you usually figured out the relatively simple pattern or explored elsewhere to level up a little. They had proper playtesting in the olden days.
 

Punished Miku

Gold Member
It just depends on the game for me. I think in general, this trend towards roguelikes and procedural generation is cheap and lazy game design designed to hamster wheel people for longer than they need to. But it can be tolerable if the moment-to-moment gameplay is just that good.

Latest games I've played:
  • Nioh 2 - GOTY
  • Sekiro - Only could make it half way. Awesome game, but seemed too difficult ultimately.
  • Demon Souls Remake - Loved it.
  • Returnal - hated it. Bailed very quickly.
  • Sifu - Got the platinum trophy.
🤷‍♂️

I do think that in general, a lot of people tend to overrate the FROM Software games in particular, or forgive roguelikes purely on the premise that any complaint or criticism means you suck. It's just a dumb way to look at game design conversations. I think Nioh and Sifu have far better combat systems than most FROM games I've played. Returnal is also not that great, considering all you can do is run around, dodge, dash, or use a very basic melee hit. It's just not that amazing for how repetitive it is. One thing I didn't expect is that Sifu's polished, individually crafted levels infinitely trump a procedural level any day of the week, even with the repetition. I found that surprising.
 

dcx4610

Member
It depends for me if the challenge is fair or if it's hard and frustrating for frustrating sake. I think Celeste was a fair challenge. The idea was you keep playing a section until you master it. You just have to play it perfectly but once you do, it's a great feeling.

What I don't have patience for is playing a long section or a long boss fight, dying and having to do the entire thing over again or worse, have this long trek back. Repeating sections I've just done makes zero sense to me in a modern game. Even games like Ori with their chase sequences, it takes the excitement out of it if you die and then have to start the chase from the beginning. I JUST did that, I don't want to see this scripted sequence play out again. Just let me start where I died.

I still praise Last of the Us for it's absolutely perfect save system. It's basically saving every minute or so. If you clear out a camp and then end up dying, what is the purpose or fun of having to clear out that camp again? You did it. You shouldn't have to do it again and is just a chore.
 
the older i get, the more i'm into these games
people told me it's gonna be the opposite, but i just can't give my time to something that doesn't actually challenge me
this is why Nintendo shit just doesn't do it for me anymore
I get people llike to dunk on how mindless Pokemon has become but Mario, Donkey Kong, Metroid, and Zelda, among others, have plenty of entries that some would say are "harder than Dark Souls" from the NES era or on the Switch itself. There's a reason Metroidvanias are mentioned in the topic's title, and it's definitely not the "Castlevania" part since Symphony of the Night is arguably one of the easiest CV entries for newbies to play.
 

Life

Member
They're not really that repetitive. Perhaps in the early days of Souls games - I would agree. But many of us have become accustomed to the style and are actually quite good at them. It's difficult to create games for players who are already good - and give them a challenge. Unless you're awful at the game - it shouldn't feel that repetitive.
 

JokerMM

Gay porn is where it's at.
I get people llike to dunk on how mindless Pokemon has become but Mario, Donkey Kong, Metroid, and Zelda, among others, have plenty of entries that some would say are "harder than Dark Souls" from the NES era or on the Switch itself. There's a reason Metroidvanias are mentioned in the topic's title, and it's definitely not the "Castlevania" part since Symphony of the Night is arguably one of the easiest CV entries for newbies to play.
latest entries of all those were so easy tho, except for tropical freeze, they were hard as fuck in the NES days i agree, not anymore, hence the phrase "doesn't do it for me anymore
 
latest entries of all those were so easy tho, except for tropical freeze, they were hard as fuck in the NES days i agree, not anymore, hence the phrase "doesn't do it for me anymore
All of those?
Breath of the Wild arguably has difficulty balancing issues regarding mook enemies getting too ridiculously strong to be worth fighting. You could say you can just avoid them but then you'd be cutting off a lot of the game interactions. It's also kinda lame that Ganon basically gets easier and easier the more to complete game quests, but the option to go to Ganon and try not to get whupped at the start is always there.
If you're referring to Link's Awakening? Well, it'd be weird if the difficulty level deviated heavily from the original game.
Dread literally has a difficulty mode where you're basically dead if you take any hit at all, but putting that aside, it has bosses that are designed more around trial-and-error, reflex, context-sensitive-action gameplay than previous entries' "find the weak spot and blast missiles at it" faire, as well some of the most challenging sequence breaks to execute in the franchise. Calling it an "easy" Metroid seems patently absurd when the normal difficulty Zero Mission and the original Metroid II: Return of Samus exists (And the franchise staple, Super Metroid, is easier than Dread.)
I'd go as far as to say that Dread's boss designs mechanically are out of place in regard to how bosses in previous Metroid games worked, and are made to make you effectively die over and over again until you "Get it right" rather than being basic skill/ammo-collecting checks.
 

tassletine

Member
I don't know how anyone else feels about these types of games. Not sure how to categorize them in one word, but those games whether it be Souls-like games, something like Returnal. Games that you have to play either certain entire sections over and over or boss fights over and over to master them. I'm not talking about games that are mildly difficult. I'm talking about the really hard games that you truly need to fully master to have a good chance to get through them. I've always had a love/hate relationship with these games. But I always mostly loved them because I thought the feeling of progression when you learn an area or the patterns of a boss is super satisfying. But lately, my opinion is starting to shift to to more of the "hate" part of the spectrum. With time more limited these days playing games, I find it incredibly frustrating having to fight the same boss 10 times or do the same section of a game 10 times over just to master it. It feels like such a waste of time. And sometimes it feels like something developers do to make up for lack of content. "Hey, if you're doing the same thing over and over again, we don't need to make the game bigger or more expansive, since you'll be spending all your time on that."

And yes, it is satisfying when you finally finish these games. But I started to realize over time, that one moment of satisfaction when you finish it IMO is far outweighed by the many many moments of frustration trying to get through it. Is it truly a good gaming experience if you're frustrated 80% of the time and satisfied for 20%? For example, the DLC Farewell from a few years back of Celeste was really hard. And eventually I got through it, but when I did I felt like it wasn't worth all the frustration when I beat it and I honestly regretted spending all that time to get through it.

I'll still play these games, because individually obviously they vary. Some games have other aspects to them that make them fun, like figuring out puzzles, collecting stuff, like you find in Metroidvanias. But I think going forward I'm going to be much less patient with games that demand you completely master them perfectly to be able to get through them. In the past where I'd stick with them and grind it out, I'm going to be more likely to just drop them and move on going forward.

How do you feel about these types of games? What is your patience level for them? Are you someone who always sticks them out no matter what or are you someone who's willing to drop them and move on if you find them too frustrating?
 

TheShocker

Member
It’s been the opposite for me.

Hated DS3
Hated Nioh
Hated Bloodborne
Hated Sekiro (does this count?)

Fell in love with the Demon Souls remake and have Elden Ring preordered. I’ll go back through at some point and give those other games a fair shake.
 

Fbh

Member
The thing with hard games is that just like every other genre there's good and bad ones. And difficulty itself can be implemented to be great or really annoying.
Just the other day I was talking to a friend who is more casually into games and he was surprised that despite me loving games like Dark Souls, Nioh and Sekiro, I don't enjoy the "nightmare/super hard/uber challenge/etc" modes in most games. I usually find them annoying and frustrating so I tend to stick to the normal "hard" or whatever is above medium.
The game really needs to be designed for the challenge, the combat must feel nice, the progression of me as a player and my character must feel good, most deaths have to feel earned and not like bullshit, etc.

IMO some of the most important design decisions in the souls games are those that cut back on a feeling of repetition. Any items or gear you find stay with you after you die, all the shortcuts you activated remain active, whatever interaction you had with NPC's doesn't reset upon death, all challenging unique (non respawnable) enemies stay dead, etc. If I've been exploring a location for half an hour and die I usually don't feel like that half hour went to waste, because I got new items from it, I activated a shortcut which will make getting through the are easier, I know I no longer have to go down this side path because I already picked up the Sword you get at the end, etc. Being able to run past most enemies helps too
 

Danjin44

The nicest person on this forum
Hated DS3
Hated Nioh
Hated Bloodborne
Hated Sekiro (does this count?)
 

vanguardian1

poor, homeless and tasteless
Don't forget people have moods too that shift their interests somewhat at times. Sometimes it's a Dark Souls game (ARPG) , other times Empire At War (RTS), others I just wanna build something in Space Engineers, maybe explore the ocean in Subnautica. Nobody should keep themselves locked in to a certain type of game and burn themselves out on it.
 

Ezekiel_

Member
The word frustration appears many times in your post, and I think that's the problem. Game's should be difficult, but not frustrating.
I agree with you.

I recently tried Demon's Souls (2020). It was my first 'souls' game.

I made it to the Tower Knight, but just stopped playing because the 'fun' factor wasn't there, and it's a shame because that game looks and sounds incredible, and I would've liked to experience all of it.

Here's my take on 'hard games' :

They need to have at least one of the following :
  • Fair checkpoint system, so you're back where you died in a reasonable amount of time, and your progress isn't completely lost. (Example : Guacamelee, or any metroidvania that makes you respawn in the same room)
  • Great gameplay loop, so even if you have to travel back to where you died, you are still having fun and being properly engaged. (Example : Returnal)
If a hard game doesn't have at least one the the previous, then instead of feeling challenging, it just feels frustrating. And once you're frustrated, you end up being impatient and making even more mistakes, that inevitably makes you more frustrated.

Unfortunately, Demon's Souls had neither of those : if you die at a boss, you have to make it all the way back to it by defeating the same mobs the same exact way, and the gameplay loop was clunky (expected since it's basically a 2009 game at its core).

So, unless Elden ring has at least one of those two elements down, it's going to be a pass from me.

That being said, for those who love those type of games : more power to you as far as I'm concerned.
 

Hari Seldon

Gold Member
I own all of the souls games and have never completed any of them. I like the idea of these games way more than I like playing them. I will probably stupidly buy Elden Ring a few years from now for $10 on sale and proceed to not finish it like all of the others.
 

Bakkus

Member
This used to be the case for most NES games since those would all be less than an hour long if not for the inflated difficulty. The difference is that while most games back then were very cheap and unfair in their difficulty, the best difficult games now have a completely fair difficulty where only you are to blame for losing like Cuphead, for example.
 

Amiga

Member
Depends. Love NiOh more than Souls because it's more compact and you get more progression for time spent.
Hades is even better at this because not "winning" early is part of the story. You get stronger with stats and know-how until you manage to consistently beat the final boss. The amazing thing they did with Hades is that you still progress story even with almost every failure. while traditionally other games wait until you clear the mission to progress the narrative and the fails never happened once you win.
 
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