Story Difficulty Setting

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Games typically offer multiple difficulty modes to accommodate players of different skill levels, the canonical examples being Easy, Medium/Normal and Hard. However, some developers making games which place a strong emphasis on storytelling may realize that some players may be interested in the story but may not be particularly interested in the gameplay, or may find the gameplay too challenging to bother withnote . Hence, the developers may offer an additional difficulty level - "Story", specifically designed to accommodate players who just want to see the story.

This can come in several different forms. Sometimes it's an Easier Than Easy mode, sometimes it strips out some of the more complex and unintuitive features from the game to offer a more streamlined experience, and sometimes it removes entire sections or game mechanics from the game altogether. On other occasions this difficulty mode is just the regular Easy mode, but specifically framed as being designed for story focus.

An occasional variant is when a game offers the ability to remove all gameplay from the game altogether, allowing the "player" to experience the story completely non-interactively; this can be done by splicing all the cutscenes from the game together to produce a feature-length film, for example. This is rarely offered as a gameplay mode in its own right and more typically as a bonus feature.

Naturally, this trope is most likely to be found in genres of game which typically place a heavy emphasis on storytelling, such as adventure or role-playing games. Could also be seen as an aversion of Easy-Mode Mockery: while some games will mock the player for opting to play the game on an easier setting, this trope appeals to the idea that different people play games for different reasons and get different experiences out of them, and for this reason an easy gameplay setting is no less valid than a harder one.

See also Easier Than Easy; Harder Than Hard; Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels; Enjoy the Story, Skip the Game; Visual Novel; and the various Video Game Difficulty Tropes and Interactive Storytelling Tropes. Related to Story-to-Gameplay Ratio. Contrast with Excuse Plot and Play the Game, Skip the Story.

Note: Although easy and Easier Than Easy modes almost by their very nature will make the game easier to play and consequently easier to experience the game's story (if it has one), not every Easier Than Easy mode is an example of this trope. There has to be clear evidence (whether via in-game content to that effect, descriptions in the game's manual or other supplementary content, or Word of God) that the difficulty mode in question is being offered specifically to allow players to experience the story more easily, not simply to make the gameplay less challenging.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Action Adventure 
  • After beating Metroid: Other M, the option is unlocked to play all the cutscenes in the game (along with some pre-recorded gameplay footage to connect them) as a two-hour movie.
  • Dust: An Elysian Tail's easiest difficulty level is marked as one for players only playing it to enjoy the tale.

    Adventure 

    Beat Em Up 
  • Ninja Gaiden 3 allows the player to play in "Hero Mode", where blocking and evading becomes automatic if your health is low, which means the player basically cannot die. Word of God was that this mode was made for those who just wanted to enjoy the story... now few people actually did enjoy the story, but that's another issue. The Updated Re-release Razor's Edge keeps Hero Mode but also has a New Game+-ish mode that, conversely, removes the cutscenes and Quick Time Events to keep only the gameplay.

    Driving Games 
  • Gran Turismo's B-Spec modes play with this trope in that the players is assigned as a director instead of a driver, and the driver of player's car become an AI directed by the player. Depending on the player's car, the races can be Harder Than Hard if the player uses low-powered cars, or Easier Than Easy if the player opts for Le Mans Prototypes. This is pretty useful in endurance races because most players don't want to play in A-Spec mode for a very long time.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • Call of Duty: The subtext for the "Recruit" difficulty setting on the more recent games includes mention of "...content tourists".

    Puzzle 
  • Story Mode of Portal Stories: Mel completely overhauls the campaign, making the puzzles less challenging. It was created as a response of feedback claiming that the game was too hard, making it hard to follow along with the story.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • Mass Effect 3 includes the "Narrative" difficulty setting that specifically facilitates this kind of play (drastically reducing the core combat gameplay difficulty to let players focus on the story).
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution, as above, frames its Easy-Normal-Hard difficulty settings this way, explaining them as "Tell me a story", "Give me a challenge", and "Give me Deus Ex", respectively.
  • The Steam release of Final Fantasy VII has the option to permanently max out all one's characters in order to skip any and all grinding, ostensibly so the player can more easily enjoy the story, unlock every nook and cranny of the game and see the results of every conceivable side-quest. This was repeated for the Steam version of Final Fantasy VIII while Final Fantasy IX, Final Fantasy X and '"Final Fantasy X-2'' take it a step further by allowing players to have their Limit Break gauge always full, learn every single skill in the game, and double or quadruple the overall game speed to reduce time spent grinding and traveling.
  • System Shock features an inversion, a gameplay mode which strips out all story elements altogether, limiting all the information in the game to only what is relevant to the gameplay.
  • For a few plot-heavy quests in AdventureQuest, there is an option to play the quest by only seeing the cutscenes instead of battling through legions of monsters, but this has the drawback of not being able to claim rewards at the end. "The Restoration" and several Mastercraft set quests fall under this category.
  • World of Warcraft has "raid finder" difficulty level for end game content. It is advertised as tourist mode for those that want to see the story and bosses without putting a lot of effort into defeating it. While easy, it is not sit back and relax difficulty. There is a good chance if you go away from keyboard for most of a fight you will be kicked out. However, you generally won't as long as you try, mostly due to the fact that it gets easier every time you fail.
  • Everlong allows the player to change between normal and story mode outside of dungeons. If the player enters a dungeon in story mode, they can avoid all random encounters, can use healing points to reach the level cap of the area, or choose to skip the boss. However, this doesn't work for bonus dungeons, which are normal mode only until the boss is beaten.
  • Final Fantasy XIV has the Alexander raid in the Heavensward expansion pack, which comes in story mode flavor and savage mode flavor. The story mode version of Alexander was specifically designed to allow players to team up with other random players and conquer the raid with a decent challenge and be able to see the story whereas the savage version of the raid is designed for preformed groups looking for a hardcore challenge. While both versions of the raid does allow players to earn better gear, the savage version of the raid will always give much stronger gear and can be dyed in different colors whereas the story mode version has inferior gear by comparison and cannot be dyed. The Alexander raids were made with two separate modes in mind due to the feedback given by the players over how the Binding Coil of Bahamut raid in the original game was too difficult for most players and driven them off, which prevented them from seeing the story and lore behind the raid.
  • With the release of The White Marches: Part II DLC, Pillars of Eternity put out a "Story Time" difficulty setting. This doesn't make any changes to the encounter composition used in its regular lower difficulties, but the RNG is deliberately made to be more in the players favor.
  • Divinity: Original Sin has Explorer Mode. "If you prefer story and exploration over being challenged in combat, this is the difficulty for you."
  • Cthulhu Saves the World features an "overpowered" mode, which is advertised as for reliving the story and messing around in general. You need to beat the game normally first, though, which can be done on an easy mode which is available by default.

    Stealth-Based Game 
  • The Updated Re-release of Metal Gear Solid 3, Subsistence, came packaged with two bonus discs which included (among other things) an option to watch a "film" version of the game, consisting of the numerous Cut Scenes in the game spliced together, with additional footage to bridge the gaps between them. Hideo Kojima explained in the game's manual that this feature was offered for the benefit of players who might not have the free time to play through the entire game, but nevertheless wanted to experience its story.

    Survival Horror 
  • Silent Hill 2 features an option to essentially disable its combat, allowing players to, according to the manual, "enjoy the storyline, drama and puzzles of Silent Hill 2 without fighting". It doesn't do away with monsters altogether, but instead cuts their offense and defense so low as to make them a negligible threat; a single bash with the plank is enough to drop one.
  • The 2008 Alone in the Dark game had a feature which allowed players to skip chapters if they became stuck. According to the box art, this feature was included to allow everyone to reach the game's climax regardless of their skill level.

    Visual Novel 

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