The debate around Sekiro Shadows Die Twice continues to rage on, but developers have begun to weigh in on the existence of easy modes in general, with God of War director Cory Barlog becoming one of the latest to advocate for the implementation of easier features in games. Sekiro Shadows Die Twice began the debate when an increasing number of players began to vent frustration over the game’s difficulty, lamenting the absence of a mode that made things more accessible for them; this was then met with outrage from another section of fans who felt that FromSoftware games would be hurt by the inclusion of such a feature.
For those unfamiliar, FromSoftware titles are renowned for their intricacy as well as their difficulty, and famously pull no punches with the latter, refusing to offer players much in the way of assistance whether they’ve died one time or a thousand. Sekiro Shadows Die Twice is the latest from the studio, and has done little to shed that reputation for better or worse, with a torrent of guides emerging from the ashes of failed playthroughs across the world. For many, the pull to the game, as it is with the Souls series and Bloodborne before it, is that seemingly insurmountable difficulty—but recent dialogue with the community suggests that it may be unfair to have that be the only way players are allowed to experience it.
Barlog chimed in on the discussion in response to another tweet from Steve Spohn, the COO of Able Gamers. Able Gamers is an organization dedicated to making video games accessible to people with disabilities, and Spohn has been vocal about the need for Sekiro to be as accessible as possible in light of the debate surrounding an “easy” mode. Furthermore, however, Spohn suggested that developers refrain from call it an “easy mode” altogether, suggesting using different language that doesn’t condescend to those who feel the need to use a different mode of play. Barlog replied to one such tweet with his own personal philosophy on how to design games:
Accessibility has never and will never be a compromise to my vision.
— Cory Barlog ? #BAFTAGames (@corybarlog) April 7, 2019
Essentially, Barlog’s argument is that accessibility should never hurt or hinder a game’s ability to succeed because it is a design decision and not a component or selling point to be debated. It’s compelling stuff from a creative mind who completely revitalized the God of War franchise with what many believed to be the best game in a stacked 2018 offering. Barlog clearly knows what he’s talking about, then, and Rami Ismail, another notable developer, also supported the statement:
Unfortunately, it appears the debate is also wearing on Barlog, who followed up with a tweet earlier today:
Many of the arguments against the existence of “easy” modes in games like Sekiro Shadows Die Twice speculate that it would go against the developer’s wishes to include accessibility options like more subdued gameplay. Now, famous developers are saying that simply isn’t true, or, at the very least, that it doesn’t need to be. While it’s likely the internet will continue to have its opinions split on the debate, getting valuable insight from developers who have created successful, compelling games on how simply it can be to prioritize accessibility should at least convert some people over to the opinion that maybe FromSoftware should simply include more accessible modes in its games after all.