Permadeath: Good or Bad in Gaming?
Hellblade

In today's news, permadeath is back in the spotlight thanks to Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice. The Heavenly Sword/DmC: Devil May Cry creators have added the deathly mechanic to this, their newest game. It's caused quite a stir on the Internet thus far. Things are a bit divided at the moment. Some have called out the developers, saying it's a bluff, while others are citing that deleted save files are indeed a thing. There are also those pragmatic folks who have already discovered the game's location for save files, so they can create back ups as they go along.

Considering the game has only been out for a mere day at the time of this writing, it's too soon to say exactly how the permadeath mechanic works. It seems it may be based on how many times you die past certain checkpoints. It may also be dependent on what difficulty setting you have on your version of the game. No matter the details, the topic of permadeath is indeed back in the spotlight.

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It's an incredibly divisive mechanic no matter how you slice it. Some people will flat out refuse to play a game at the mere mention of permadeath. Others relish in the challenge that it provides. Then still others (like me) are willing to look a little deeper rather than make a knee-jerk decision on a title. Is the permadeath relegated to certain difficulty levels? Does the game include the option to turn the permadeath off if you so choose? If it's required in the game no matter what, how many times do you have to die before you are permanently dead? Is it really easy or fairly difficult to reach the point where you have to start over completely?

When all of those questions are voiced and investigated, it makes the decision-making process much easier. Would I be willing to play a game where a single battle ended in permadeath? Probably not if the game had an intense learning curve or high level of difficulty on the standard setting. That would get incredibly frustrating very quickly for me. If the game had permadeath, but only after say 10 deaths and the combat was fairly intuitive, then I'd give it the old college try. These are just a few examples to illustrate my point, and they're only my personal view. But essentially, everyone should have some metrics by which they can gauge their interest in a game with permadeath.

Permadeath is a mechanic like any other in a video game, and arguably it's one of the most immersive ones. If you're battling hellspawn in some weird alternate reality, you wouldn't get up and continue on with your journey after suffering fatal wounds. So why should that always be the case in video games? Plenty of developers have already been brave and included permadeath in their games, and they've all been met with the same level of controversy. Why can't we all agree that there is nothing wrong with hyper realism in some games? Sure, I wouldn't want to deal with permadeath in a game like Mass Effect 3, but it doesn't exist in that title for a reason.

Hellblade

Just like anything else in life, if you don't like it, ignore it. I don't like generally like Brussels sprouts, so I don't eat them. Furthermore, I don't go around the Internet writing rants and raves about the fact that I don't eat them. This same tactic could and probably should be used with things like permadeath. If you don't like it, don't buy the game. But don't ruin the enjoyment for everyone else by saying that no one should play a certain game because it has permadeath.

Video games are almost entirely dependent nowadays (like it or not) on how reviewers react to them, as well as the initial fan reactions. A game can be built up or broken down within the same day or few days after its release. If permadeath is a mechanic that people are particularly vocal about not liking, it could ruin a title's commercial success. This would then affect whether or not a game could be updated, or see future success/sequels. For those who actually enjoy permadeath, or enjoy the specific permadeath in said game, they'll be left with a dead title thanks to the hatred of the masses.

So no matter where you fall on the permadeath argument battlefield, at least try to give things a chance. Don't splatter negativity all over the Internet without waiting to see how others react to the game. See how the mechanic actually works in that specific title before you pass down judgement.

On that note, I'd love to hear how all of you feel about permadeath. Do you enjoy it, do you hate it, or does it depend on the game? Let me know your thoughts!

April Marie
April Marie
@Legiodith

Contributing Writer
Date: 08/14/2017

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