There are a few games that people tend to talk about when it comes to the upcoming Xbox One, most of which are the pretty cool looking exclusives that the console will feature, including Ryse: Son of Rome. It takes place during a fictional age of Rome and follows a young warrior who works his way up the ranks through a lot of hacking and a lot of slashing, with the main gameplay mechanic being Quick Time Events (QTEs). This has brought about quite a few comparisons to similar games, like the PlayStation’s God of War series. The thing is, Ryse is a little bit different. Different as in if you miss a button prompt, you aren’t punished for it, but your warrior just takes matters into his own hands.
The game basically plays itself sometimes, which makes the whole concept of dying and being punished in a game null and void. I feel like the topic of games and difficulty has come up quite a bit within the last few years, with games like Dark Souls a sharp focus on games that are difficult and for a good reason. Ryse was developed to take full advantage of the Xbox One’s features of the Kinect and enhanced graphics, while being almost like a tech demo, with a focus on making the game easy to play. So easy, in fact, that you can’t die.
Sure, you don’t need to die in a game to make it a worthy endeavour, but at the same time, in an action game like Ryse, it seems like there should be repercussions for messing up and not hitting the button at the right time. Most gamers actually find QTE-based games to be easier than most anyway, never mind if any actual danger is removed. The way that Crytek’s James Goddard explains it is that Titus is a Roman bad ass, while you are not, which means that the character compensates for the player’s faults.
That means that in theory, you could go through the whole game with just letting the computer do the fighting for you. So, you might ask, where is the challenge? According to Crytek, the challenge comes in mastering the game and getting rewarded for hitting those buttons at the right moment. Even so, not getting punished in a game like this seems counter-intuitive, to say the least.
While it is refreshing to sometimes see new ideas pop up in games, I’m not quite sure that making a big budget title like this and making it this easy is the right thing to do. Part of what makes a game rewarding is having to overcome challenges and to play the game right, where you are rewarded and can continue. It’s like playing on “God Mode,” which I can understand being fun once in a while, but always just seems like a waste.
Why not have death be impossible on Easy and allow for the other difficulties to experience what is a fully-fledged game that includes being punished for messing up or not being able to overcome the challenge? Seriously, what is the point in a game like this without punishment and reward? Might as well call it an interactive film that allows you to hit buttons once in a while to spice things up.