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Permadeath Scares Me
Batman: Arkham Origins was recently revealed to have a new permadeath mode, ominously called ‘I Am the Night.’ You can only unlock it after finishing the main game and the New Game+ mode and it aims to offer a new level of challenge to those who think they’re the best in-game Batman around.
I’m all for more modes on the single-player side of things, and an extra level of difficulty does appeal to me on occasion, but when it comes to permadeath modes, I find that they’re not my forte. If I had to be hyperbolic, I’d go as far as saying they terrify me.
I suppose my main reason for staying away from permadeath modes or games where permadeath is a large factor is because they stress me out. I’m always so worried about screwing up and dying in a normal game, so when the safety net that is the ability to continue is taken away, it only makes things feel more dire; like I’ll be letting someone down because I wasn’t careful enough to not die. Take XCOM: Enemy Unknown, a game where you can get really attached to your squad and the soldiers you’ve been nurturing for several hours. If you lose any of them, they’re gone for good. Nothing short of reloading a save can bring them back, but more times than not, you’ll be so far into a mission that you’d lose a bunch of time upon doing so. I stopped playing Enemy Unknown for that exact reason: I got too attached to my squad leader and then got him killed. It was pretty bad; I got a little emotional.
The amount of time you could lose is another factor too, come to think of it. Let’s go back to Batman: Arkham Origins and its I Am the Night mode. Sure, you can save as many times as you want, but if you die, you *have* to start over; no negotiations or exceptions. Dead Space 2’s Hardcore mode is similar, but only allows for three saves (no checkpoints). Imagine getting all the way to the end of the game only to die because you got too hasty. You’d throw a fit (and probably a controller).
My feelings on permadeath also transfer to Achievements/Trophies that require you to finish a game without dying/using a continue. To me, that’s almost the same thing as permadeath, with the only difference being that I can keep playing from where I left off.
I recently experienced this in Kingdom Hearts Final Mix HD and Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories HD. Both games have Trophies (both appropriately called ‘Undefeated’) that only unlock if you manage to finish a full playthrough without using a continue. It’s not a full-on permadeath mode, but it does add a bigger incentive to stay alive for people, like myself, who like Achievements, but don’t want to play on the hardest setting that’ll punish you severely if you die.
But despite this –despite everything I’ve said up to this point—the fact that I’ve played XCOM and still plan on playing Fire Emblem: Awakening at some point means that the idea of permadeath doesn’t completely terrify me to the point of tears. Like I said at the start, I like a challenge now and then, especially when it’s in a game I really like playing and one I think I’m good at (which is rare). If anything, I would have to say that permadeath is something I curiously walk into once in a while, otherwise I don’t mess with it. Trying to finish a game you know will kick you back to the start if you die adds a new level of stress that I usually don’t want to put up with.
And when I play games in my free time, I like to do it stress free, because it’s better that way. Unless it’s Left 4 Dead 2, in which case I’ll go through a lot of hardship and retries to finish a campaign on Expert Realism.