I wanna hold your hand (making a difficult game without twitch-reflex gameplay scenarios)
You may or may not know that Enola alpha 0.5 is out. Version 0.4 was released a few days before but it turns out it had many bugs that needed fixing.
Story-wise, it still doesn’t make much sense, and to tell the truth it won’t make sense until you play the last level (or maybe even at the very end). Right now you know the protagonist is a girl (but you don’t know who she is, although I do ), and that there’s some sort of love story going on.
Now moving on to the subject of this post… Game-wise, Enola is a very adventure-like influenced game, in which you find clues and face different kinds of puzzles. I’m talking about the adventure games of old, where you need to figure out everything by yourself, with very little instructions. If you’ve played games like Myst, or The Longest Journey, then you know what I talk about.
In other words, Enola is not a game that will hold your hand. The system will never display a message that reads “ok, you found the star-shaped key, now look for the door that had a star on the lock,” or “I guess I should go check that place” and then mark a spot on a map (the game doesn’t have a map either, btw). This can make the game harder, but IMO it also feels more rewarding because it’s you, as the player, figuring out everything by yourself, and not a system telling you what to think/do.
So, Enola is a game that can be hard sometimes (specially in times when you need to solve a combination puzzle before the some shotguns blast your head off). However, making it a challenging game doesn’t require a 10-foot enemy with a gazillion HP points, or turning it into a platformer where every well-timed jump counts.
This can be very tricky, as I don’t want Enola to be a game with cheap puzzles that are difficult because it takes forever to figure out what the hell to do, and then you can’t help to wonder how the hell that even makes sense (I’m looking at you, Anna and your ‘set your knife on fire and then use it to cut a heart, set it on fire and spill the ashes while you dance the macarena’ puzzles… just to clarify, I liked everything about Anna, except the puzzles).
I’m more into Myst and Silent Hill-style puzzles, because they actually make sense.
So yeah, I think there are many ways that we can use to make a game difficult, like not holding hands. Enola will not hold your hand… unless you’re a girl…