For years, I have heard about the game Half-Life 2. Despite owning The Orange Box since 2008, I have never really tackled that particular title. This isn't a review, or a sermon about gaming nostalgia. I'm writing to come clean: I played this game on "easy".
I am habitual about playing games on the hardest difficulty I can muster. I like the challenge of a difficult game almost as much as I like the bragging rights. But with Half-Life 2, I didn't even attempt the medium setting, let alone the hardest. There is always this underlying talk in the gaming community about how much people are waiting for Half-Life 3. It was obvious, that the second game in the series left players on quite the cliffhanger. I had to experience this for myself.
There have been many games that I played with the difficulty cranked to eleven, but in doing so, I was usually so busy blasting through enemies to pick up all the story details. With such casual game play, I discovered that Half-Life 2 is the source for a lot of Easter eggs in newer games. While I didn't go so far as to play the first Half-Life, I was able to absorb the entire story by simply playing the game on easy and taking my sweet time.
With this revelation, I decided to replay Bioshock Infinite. It helped that I needed to knock out a few achievements for collectibles. Instead of combing through the game on 1999 mode (which is also an achievement), I set it down to the easiest setting. It was the best decision I made in that game. I noticed tiny details in the environment, the excellent music that surrounded me, and I truly understood all the twists and turns in the story.
So I have no shame when I say "I played that game on easy". While it's fun to brag and give yourself a challenge, you should try dialing it back once in awhile. Think of it as the difference between finishing a marathon, and going for a walk with your best friend. Both are winning situations.