I just came across a player who presumably didn’t use hints and took 20 hours to beat casual mode. From here on, most people who will buy the game won’t have any real experience with the point-and-click realm and I believe that Casual mode is a great and apt introduction for them to the genre. The player I came across is now replaying the game on hard mode, which will surely keep him occupied for another 20 hours or more. I think most new players won’t QUITE take 20 hours, but will take long enough to have a very substantial and satisfying playthrough and should generally be compelled to then attack hard mode which will take them longer again than casual mode took them (it’s very much more difficult and Casual does not truly prepare one for Hard mode… and it builds in assumptions too which cannot be relied upon in the harder setting).
This is essentially a two-in-one game (by adventure standards) for the “new breed” who pick up this game. Casual is plenty hard enough for them and we shouldn’t be too blinded by collective experience and meta-understanding that we as a community have on the whole regarding these adventures.
I actually think this game would now be best served in having Casual mode marked with the red cross when a player chooses their path. They would be able to of course change it on that screen immediately to hard mode, but the initial selection should already be set to Casual mode IMO. Also, Casual mode should probably be renamed to Normal mode.
This requires removing yourself from our elite little PnC bubble and appreciating where the newer gamers are coming from and what they are getting themselves into IMO.