Tonight I had fully intended to write the second part to my excessively emotional piece on The Beginner’s Guide, but I ran into a small problem. See, I sat down to play some Hollow Knight while my dinner was in the microwave (don’t judge), thinking I could handle just a bit of play time before settling in to work. I started the game up, played for a bit, checked the time, and holy shit it’s 9 o’clock. So I’m postponing my long and emotionally involved article, and instead present you with one about the way I choose to play challenging games like Hollow Knight (and why it’s a bad idea).
One thing I absolutely despise in games is a long boss fight. I won’t flinch at a boss that kills you in one hit with every attack, floods the stage with projectiles, or moves so fast that reacting to its attacks requires near superhuman reflexes, but the second I have to deal with a boss that takes more than a few minutes to beat I start to get extremely frustrated. The way I attempt to mitigate this impatience is by doing as much damage to difficult bosses as quickly as I can.
Take my charm loadout for Hollow Knight. My three charms of choice are Mark of Pride, which extends your weapon’s reach, Quick Slash, which increases your attack speed, and Steady Body, which prevents you from being knocked back by your own attacks. These three abilities are a recipe for getting as many attacks in as often as possible, but they come at a significant opportunity cost. There is a plethora of fantastic defensive charms that would make enemy attacks much easier to deal with, and several charms that substantially improve your healing capabilities. These charms would make fights much more survivable, and likely lead to a higher success rate against the harder bosses. My problem is that I can’t bring myself to use them, since I’d be sacrificing my damage output.
This problem isn’t limited to my loadout. I have little patience for carefully avoiding enemy attacks, instead doing my best to stay near enough to attack at all times. This leads to a long series of very short boss fights that end in an individually quick battle, but overall take much longer than a more cautious strategy would have. Additionally, this behavior nullifies a lot of the careful design decisions that make up the fight, since some of the subtler telegraphs are often lost in the particle effects from my constant barrage of attacks. Overall my strategy worsens the boss fight experience, but I can’t seem to help myself.
Hollow Knight isn’t the only example of my aggressive issue. Take any game where mindlessly attacking a boss is even remotely possible, and I will proceed with that course of action. Dark Souls, Monster Hunter, Freedom Planet, Risk of Rain… the list goes on. I can’t live with myself if I spend even a moment dodging an attack when I could be dealing damage. Perhaps I’m focusing too much on the impending satisfaction of beating the boss instead of appreciating the thrill of the fight itself. If I could slow myself down and enjoy these fights in the moment, I might also improve my success rate. Then again, there’s something to be said about choosing whichever play style feels best, regardless of effectiveness or logic. Either way, odds are good that the next time I’m up against a challenging boss I won’t let up on the gas.
How do you guys feel about my strategy? Do you like to rush in guns blazing, or would you rather sit back and observe your enemy’s attack patterns before carefully approaching? I’m sure if I asked a hundred gamers this question I’d get a hundred different opinions, so be sure to let me know in the comments!