I enjoy the difficulty of Nethack, mainly because I like exploring the ASCII dungeon with my pet, and I am not overly upset when I die from something, because I usually cause it myself. There have been times that I have been stuck without food and a good escape plan, but I figure I overlooked something and my leveled up (not very high) character was destined to fall through the cracks, so to speak. I have yet to ascend, or for that matter find the amulet, but I will still try off and on. It’s just a fun game. This game is an example of difficulty that doesn’t punish for not being “as good” as the developer or whatnot (Dark Souls comes to mind. It punishes for not being an elite player that spends 24 hours a day practicing only to be pummeled by something they couldn’t see in the shadows in front of them.) The concept of difficulty is not nuanced, and it simply puts itself down to practice and mastery of the game rules. Difficulty isn’t about memorizing patterns and getting muscle memory to help get past things that are deliberately there to annoy.

I guess I’m just an old-school difficulty guy. Some people will disagree with my assessment of the Dark Souls franchise. It’s a good game wrapped in mechanics that reward players who don’t have lives. That’s fine if you like that sort of thing, but I’ll take my Nethack difficulty (or “roguelike” difficulty) over that any day.