Hey, someone else gets it. Shamus over at Twenty Sided wrote up a couple of articles that cover pretty much the same terrain I did a while ago.
As with Super Meat Boy or 2008’s Prince of Persia, success in the challenges (the act of overcoming obstacles) has nothing to do with how painful punishments are (what happens if you fail). You still have to pass the reflex tests or execute the strategies. You’re just not kicked in the head if you fail in those games. This is a Good Thing in game design.
(Though better, perhaps, would be if it were one option among several, with increasing levels of punishment and/or challenge for those who want them. Y’know, player-controlled Variable Difficulty.)
Also, as a bonus, in the Escapist comment thread, Doctor Professor over at Pixel Poppers offered some links to articles he wrote on the subject. Great reading, those, and a blog I’ll be perusing a fair bit, I think.
***Back to Balance next article, I think… this was just something I couldn’t let pass.***
Edited to add:
Bonus great article on the differences between Mirror’s Edge and Prince of Persia.