Binding of Isaac is a roguelike-lite game. Roguelikes are like mini life-sims that are just as anal retentive as a flight sim, or any actual simulator. You have to constantly eat food, sleep, have like 3 dozen stats, etc, etc. It's super niche.
Okay, so you mentioned Super Meat Boy, which is basically a game that demands you to perfect a routine. And then you have Faster Than Light, which is a game with RNG elements. Which brings me to another question: is the format of a game what determines its challenge? Like are games more challenging when they have strict formats or loose formats with a solid underlying system?
I guess the best example would be comparing the classic Ninja Gaiden to the current Ninja Gaiden. Classic Gaiden had you memorizing levels with very few options otherwise. Everyone runs levels in classic Gaiden almost exactly the same, because the game demands that. The format is very strict, and that's what made it "difficult".
Current Gaiden gives you tons of resources and options, but still manages to be difficult by throwing lots of intelligent, sometimes unpredictable enemies at you. It has a solid combat system underneath but, to an inexperienced player, is difficult because they either use their resources poorly or don't know which resources to use. There are like dozens of ways to clear any one MOB, and it comes down to knowing which variables to manipulate. It's just that the game doesn't give you strict guidelines to follow, so it requires a deeper understanding of the combat system, which makes it "difficult".
So which is, in your experience, more difficult: having too few options or facing too many variables?
I have yet to beat Binding of Isaac for the first time, but I'm ridiculously bad at gaming anyway.
I maintain that vintage gaiden is properly shit but I have to say there are more ways to play than to memorize levels. Why memorization is obviously important, the game has enemies with random patterns and random spawns so you do have to develop certain disciplines.
Originally Posted by CypressDahlia
Also the game changes considerably once you learn that it's really about damage boosting. Once you can wrap your head around it, the game becomes surprisingly similar to mario in that you'll spend most of your time bouncing on enemies to reach higher platforms. With this method you can actually beat the game without using your sword outside of boss fights.
Idk what current gaiden you're talking about but they're hard almost specifically because you can't (or it's really difficulty) to hitstun enemies. It's actually a really simple thing, which castlevania: lords of shit tried to steal but couldn't do because that game was shit from a butt.
I mean even if you speedrun the classic Gaidens I'd risk it to say 95% of the run is purely ingrained into your muscle memory, with a few RNG variables for one or two enemies per stage. There are more options, sure (de-spawning, dmg boosting, wall clipping) but it's still heavily an exercise in retention.
What I meant about the current Gaiden is that even if you know where every enemy is, the manner and timing of the spawn points, etc. unless you know the combat system reasonably well, you will most definitely fail. Of course this is largely due to the lack of insta-death being a predominant factor in the game. But there is definitely a broader set of options to be considered, some of which make the game much easier (noobstaff and the chain&sickle) if you know which to exploit. And there's just enough AI intelligence to keep you on your toes versus the "living bullet" enemy designs of classic Gaiden.