Weekend Hot Topic: The easiest video games ever made

Readers discuss the easiest video games they’ve ever played and whether they resented the lack of challenge or welcomed it.

The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader Gonch and was inspired by the ongoing debate over how hard video games should be. We wanted to know what the easiest game you’ve ever played is and whether you think it would’ve been better or worse if it was harder.

A lot of readers mentioned narrative based games, with little in the way of traditional gameplay, but also very mainstream games like Fallout and Uncharted, that want as many people as possible to play them all the way to the end.

Sleeping on the job
I think Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart may be the easiest game I’ve ever played. I’ve played a few other games in the series (don’t ask me which ones) and I didn’t remember them as being especially easy, but with this one it was like I was just going through it on autopilot, which given how good the graphics were shouldn’t have been happening.

I definitely think it led me to losing interest in the game quite quickly and by the end I really didn’t care and was just eager to sell it on and play something else.

To me an easy game is pointless. If it’s a story game, with no real gameplay, then fair enough but if it’s supposed to be an action game then there’s just no point if you’re going to fly through everything without even trying. Ratchet & Clank makes things worse because it’s pretty repetitive too, so combine that with the lack of challenge and you’ve got a pretty snooze-inducing game.

Finding the balance
Too many video games nowadays are purposefully easy, especially Sony games I find. Days Gone, Uncharted, Ghost Of Tsushima… the reason I went off them is not the formula so much but the lack of challenge. You just waltz through these games without even putting in an effort and they’re all desperate for you to beat them because the developer was more interested in their story than the gameplay.

Uncharted is particularly bad in this instance, to the point where at times I wasn’t even sure if I was still controlling Drake or of it had switched to cut scenes, so little effort was I putting in. These games were still enjoyable at the time but it’s a hollow feeling when you finish them, when you realise you put in all those hours and weren’t really doing anything.

You can turn up the difficulty in most of them but this tends to just go to the other extreme and suddenly everything is frustratingly hard. Find the right balance is a difficult thing and I don’t think enough developers put the right amount of effort into it.

From DMG to PS5
One of the easiest games I have ever played, but still enjoy to this day, is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall Of The Foot Clan on the original Game Boy.
It was the first game I bought for my Game Boy (or DMG as one of the GC readers recently called it) and for an early title it sounded and looked great, even on that small green dot matrix screen.

I believe most of the reviews criticised it for being too easy at the time, but I still enjoyed playing it and still go back to it for some simple straightforward gaming on the go.

I’m looking forward to the release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection to be able to play it on my PlayStation 5, along with the other included titles. All of which will really benefit from 120Hz, VRR, ray-tracing – and that SSD will come in handy for loading times too… not!

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Left to right
I think walking sims are easy games to play, that doesn’t make them bad but just a matter of fact. However, some of them can have some tricky puzzles which could take some time to think of the solution. With that in mind my pick for this topic is last year’s The Artful Escape. It is very much a narrative experience to be enjoyed as players just move their character left and right across the 2.5D environment, appreciating the visual and audio delights of the game.

That’s all there is to it really, unlike other similar games there aren’t any puzzles to work out either. The most gameplay involved at any point are the ‘boss’ battles which is like a Simon says mini-game of simply remembering the order that buttons on the pad are pressed in order to copy the guitar notes the boss is playing. I get why the game is this way but for me personally I would have preferred more challenge for these parts of the game, as they are supposed to make for you feel like a rock ‘n’ roll god.

I did to a certain extent, through the audio and visual spectacle, but had I been challenged more in these sections than I think I would finish those sections punching the air with the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end. So, a game I enjoyed but was too easy for me and that was to its detriment for my own tastes.
Angry_Kurt (Twitter)
Now playing: Kirby And The Forgotten Land

Easy progress
As they had a lot of exposure this week, I’d be inclined to say that Bethesda’s Skyrim and Fallout 3 and 4 easily qualify. V.A.T.S. in Fallout 3 and 4, with ranged weapons, makes it even easier.

Due to the nature of their open world exploring, skill trees, and easy combat mechanics, I’ve found myself spending endless hours diving into the vision and thoroughly enjoying myself, as I can go at my own pace and sneak about everywhere.

At 50-years-old, the idea of fast paced shooters or lightning reaction fighting games has lost its lustre, simply by virtue of my fading reaction times. Mind you, I’m still pretty good at SNES Street Fighter 2 Turbo and can give most people a run for their money, but that’s just a perfect game on a perfect controller.

The Bethesda games are never overly challenging, but still satisfying, and getting good and being like a god compared to the non-player characters makes the endgames very simplistic. If only I didn’t enjoy exploring every location so much, I think I’d polish them off much faster.

Short and sweet
For some reason ICO was the first game to come to mind for this, perhaps because it’s now part of PS Plus Premium. It is a very easy game, which I probably only died a couple of times in.

Normally that would bore me but it’s such a perfectly crafted little game it works, because it’s obviously meant to be that way. It also helps that it’s quite short, so unlike some patronisingly easy games it’s in and out before you have a chance to resent it.

Standard difficulty
I do now and again like walking simulators like What Remains Of Edith Finch and Firewatch. I would consider these games as easy due to following a story with not too much risk. I assume the topic is more for supposed challenging games that actually end up being easier.

In this case I played games like Crash Bandicoot in the past and Harry Potter games for the PS1 and PlayStation 2 back in the day and found them pretty easy. To the Moon on the PC is a rather beautiful and sweet story-led adventure, where the challenges are limited and focused on unlocking the next part of the journey, by triggering and finding key items.

Easy mode for most games, I find too easy; so like GameCentral I choose the medium or standard player skill setting. Too be honest, I always go for games with a challenge and the fun comes from getting good at them. But definitely games like Crash Bandicoot, which are pretty much a straight forward platformer, are my vote for a really simple title and makes for ultimately pretty boring gameplay and I never really became a fan of them.

No jumping skills needed as they all have very standard level design and very linear courses, with random item collections. They’re nowhere near my preferred platformer games like Mario, Metroid, and Castlevania. But I also find the opposite occurs with easy gameplay when your characters has become so overpowered with skills and level upgrades. Then the game is back to being easy and maybe only a random boss is difficult.

Deus Ex is easy even in hard mode if stealth is the way to go, but that is only because I am pretty good at stealth, like in the Elder Scroll games. Easy is relative but I am a guy who’d rather have a challenge and I naturally gravitate towards the harder end of the gaming spectrum.

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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time via email or our Submit Stuff page, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

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