It turns out there is a very good reason why the Souls games are as difficult and dark as they are. It's all because Dark Souls director Hidetaka Miyazaki is a huge masochist.
This all comes from an interview between the Japanese podcast Game no Shokutaku and Miyazaki that took place a few years ago. The interview is making the rounds again thanks to albi's tweet which cuts out the best part and explains "why the Soulsborne games are the way they are." Which, if you’ve never played a Soulsborne game, is tough-as-nails to the point of being infuriating, but also beloved by a certain segment of the gaming population for the exact same reason.
Those people are probably just as masochistic as Miyazaki.
The interview starts innocently enough, with voice actress Tomomi Isomura and editor-in-chief Murohashi asking Miyazaki about Demon's Souls and how that eventually led to Dark Souls. And then Isomura makes an off-hand remark about the game's difficulty and asks if players would often "die with a smile." Miyazaki's answer is quite enlightening.
"I sometimes get this question from foreign media, and I answered with a no," Miyazaki replied. "I was [asked] 'why are you so sadistic?' I don't know about the other staff members, but I'm actually a masochist."
To be clear, a sadist is someone who likes to inflict pain, while a masochist likes to receive it. Miyazaki could have stopped his response there and we would have all understood what he meant, but he instead made sure his preferences were abundantly apparent.
"I'm a huge masochist, so when I make games like these… this is how I want to be treated," he added. "It's just that sometimes other people don't understand it; it's for my pleasure."
Perhaps the best exchange was when both Murohashi and Isomura asked him about some of the darker moments in Dark Souls.
Murohashi: Really? You want to be killed deep in the forest, getting punched by a huge mushroom?Miyazaki: Yes, yes. And the curse area… When I get cursed…Isomura: You want to die from a barrage of arrows?!Miyazaki: It's gratifying. I like that, I just wanted to emphasize it! I don't know about the other staff members' fantasies, but I'm not making it from a sadistic stance, but from a masochistic one. I want this done to me!
Yeesh. But at the same time, now it all makes sense. It takes a certain type of person to enjoy the Dark Souls series, and that type of person is usually the sort that’ll play through Dark Souls again but deliberately handicap themselves to make the game even harder.
I’m not that kind of person, but I do like to watch.
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