Video 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 with.note 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.
- 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.
- God of War (PS4) names its easiest difficulty "Give Me A Story", in a possible Shout-Out to Deus Ex: Mankind Divided below.
- Subverted in Gunstar Super Heroes, in a light form of Easy-Mode Mockery. Easy mode changes the storyline to an Excuse Plot and Hard mode reveals additional character motives and sequel hooks.
- Vampyr has a "Story Mode" that makes combat easy for those who want to focus on the story and characters.
- The easiest difficulty mode in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is simply called "Story Mode", which greatly reduces the enemies' damage done and aggressiveness, as well as making parrying much easier. It's described as a mode for people who want to focus on the story without having to worry about gameplay challenges.
- 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.
- The Wonderful 101 has Very Easy mode, described in the menu as those that just want to view the story. The accompanying image shows Wonder Red in his civilian clothes, lying on a couch and surrounded by snacks. This mode has the auto-combo powerup permanently enabled, so a player could literally mash buttons to win.
- 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.
- System Shock's multi-axis difficulty setting lets you set combat, puzzle and cyberspace difficulty to 0, letting you focus on story elements. Or you can instead strip out all story elements altogether, limiting all the information in the game to only what is relevant to the gameplay.
- 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. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided renames the easiest difficulty "Give me a story".
- The mobile version of Skullgirls has a "Brain Drain Mode," which can be toggled on or off at any time during a fight. When it's turned on, the AI will take over for the player. It can still succumb to Artificial Stupidity though and requires the player to sometimes turn it off and assume direct control, which was a deliberate decision. Canonically, Brain Drain himself is mind-controlling the player characters, but official word is that Brain Drain Mode exists so people who aren't used to the high speed, twitch-based style fighting games have can still enjoy the story.
- Call of Duty: The subtext for the "Recruit" difficulty setting on the more recent games includes mention of "...content tourists".
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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. The Alexander raids were very well-received, and full party raids in future expansions followed the same template.
- 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.
- 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." Divinity: Original Sin II has it too, but there is also an actual Story Mode, which buffs player characters and debuffs enemies even further.
- 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.
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has its easy mode literally called "Story".
- The easiest mode in Dragon Age: Inquisition is called Casual: "For players new to role-playing games or those interested in a purely narrative focus."
- Horizon Zero Dawn added a "Story" difficulty in a patch a few months after the game was released. For perspective, this mode more than tripled damage dealt by the player relative to the easy mode.
- While not outright named as such, Persona 4 Golden's Very Easy difficulty is explained as the difficulty setting for people to enjoy the story. Similar explanations for the easier difficulty levels are given for Persona 3 Portable as well.
- Rodina features a game mode which cuts out combat in favour of following the story without all those pesky xenos looking out for you.
- 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.
- 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.
- Alone in the Dark (2008) 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.
- After a modder released a "safe mode" mod for SOMA that made the monsters non-hostile, thus making it impossible to die, the developers made this an official option in a patch.
- Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls has an Easier Than Easy mode designed for players that just want to see the story, due to worries about the spin-off being a genre departure from the franchise's usual Visual Novel/Adventure Game style.
- The Division 2 literally calls its easiest difficulty setting "Story", which features more fragile and less numerous enemies. In fact, until a mission is completed at least once, the difficulty can't be changed at all, unlike the first game.
- Sunrider's lowest difficulty setting, "Visual Novel Mode," is explicitly described as being for people who only want to enjoy the story without having to worry about the challenge / hassle of combat.
- Seven Kingdoms: The Princess Problem has two difficulties: Challenge Mode and Story Mode. The latter is specifically pitched to players who want to see the game through to the end without having to painstakingly optimize their character builds.
- Playthroughs of a game online could be seen as a retroactive version of this. In addition to Lets Plays like the Game Grumps where the player's commentary is the focus, there are no-commentary "longplays" of games where there is nothing but you the viewer and the game being played for you. Some Youtubers even take this to its logical conclusion and make "The Movie" versions of games that chop the gameplay out completely and only show you the cutscenes stitched together to create a "movie", with some like this one reaching over two million views.