Brute-force skills are a pitfall in game design that appear to be an easy means to extreme competitive depth, but aren't satisfying to play because they misunderstand they point of depth.

If your combat system consists of "react fast enough to avoid damage and counterattack; tougher enemies just require faster reactions and have higher health/damage", then your game won't be able to get very hard because reaction speed is somewhat of a brute-force skill. Players can't become reaction gods just by practicing.

In fact this is the primary pitfall that kills my own game Counterplay Infinity. It has a few different moves but there's mostly still an obviously best one in every situation and the game is really just about reacting in time. I set out to create a game where you never take damage without making a mistake and I achieved that and only that. On the bright side, designing that game taught me to understand brute force skills and why they're not legitimate depth.

To make satisfying depth, you have to offer meaningful decisions, not just demand superhuman reactions. Another skill like this is button mashing speed: screw games that make you tap a button six times a second to escape a grab or something. That's not skill. You can either do it or you can't and it's mostly a physical limitation.

That exact one is actually why I was forced to abandon my hardest-difficulty playthrough of The Force Unleashed 2. On the final mission, I needed to rapid-tap a button to force open a door and because the designers are morons the required frequency scales with the combat difficulty (which, also because the designers are morons, is of course unadjustable inside of a playthrough... idiots), I just couldn't tap it fast enough.

Sekiro, for all its BS trial and error and other flaws, is a great example of a combat system that's extremely deep but still easy to understand.


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