Back in the day gamers used to have a different problem, back in the day it seemed like you never had enough continues. I remember playing Super Mario, Sonic, and lots of other games where you lived and died by continues. Then things changed a little bit and developers decided that the idea of continues wasn’t really conducive to the gaming experience, in fact it was fundamentally against what they wanted and that was to keep you playing. I don’t know about you guys but lots of times if I got down to my last continue and died I would just stop playing, it was just so emotionally draining I couldn’t stand to go through it all again right after that.
As things often do, they soon changed again. This time developers decided that a regenerative energy system was the way to go, you could still die but when you took damage if you could avoid damage for a set period of time then you could recover. In recent years this system has become the health system of choice by most of our favorite games with health bars being replaced all together by some kind of on screen alert to let you know that your health is almost gone –such as vision starting to blur, hearing your breathing get heavy, or the screen changing colors. However, as we know nothing ever stays the same for long and now there seems to be another shift coming, but while gamers accepted the other ones without much fuss the gaming community seems to be split on this and that brings us to the topic of this article: Should the main character be able to die?
Around the end of last year a little game called Prince Of Persia came out and as we said then and still think now it was one of the best games of last year. While mostly everyone else thought so too, there seemed to be one common issue that everyone just wasn’t sure about and that was the health system. To be quite honest there really wasn’t one, no matter what you did you COULD NOT die, if you jumped and misjudged the distance, Elka would come in and save you. If you got into trouble with an enemy and were about to die, she would step in to protect you and heal you. Now to be fair, in the battles when she saved you and refilled your health your enemies health recovered too so that was the penalty, the battles could go on quite a long time because of that. To me that more than made up for the fact that I couldn’t really die and to be honest it made the game feel more fluid because their weren’t all these checkpoints and loading screens all the time, something that has ruined many a great game.
As you can imagine a lot of gamers weren’t happy about that at all, they said that the fact that you couldn’t die made the game too easy and that it made it feel like there were no consequences for your actions. I played all the way through POP and I didn’t feel like it was any easier than a game with a more traditional health system, it was just different. Now there are rumors that the long-awaited Batman: Arkham Asylum will in fact be the next big title to use this system though ZoKnowsGaming hasn’t been able to confirm that.
Now lots of gamers are excited about the upcoming Batman title especially since it follows the comic book mythos rather than a plot that is tied to a movie like most of the others. This Batman will be darker, smarter, and more ruthless but what he won’t apparently be able to do is die. I think that a well designed and executed game will be a great game whether the main character can die or not. While I am sure that purists will not be easily converted or converted at all, the average gamer could enjoy this style if they only gave it a chance. We want to hear from all of you, “To Die or Not To Die?”