This week's community question is a morbid one - but it should be easy enough to answer. And that is - what was the last game to kill you? We asked the same question to the USgamer team, and here are their responses:
You can watch a multitude of my most recent game deaths on the Super Mario 64 stream I hosted the other day (see the video below).
(Well, actually, I played Double Dragon for NES after that stream and got double-slapped by some Abobos, so that would be the most recent.)
But maybe this is actually meant to be about current games, so if we want to play by those rules, the answer would be my current review project: SEGA's 7th Dragon III for 3DS. Which is pretty cool, me playing a 7th Dragon game through a legitimate U.S. release. It's about dang time.
For those unfamiliar — and why would you be familiar with this series, since 7th Dragon has remained doggedly import-only for the past seven or eight years? — the 7th Dragon games are RPGs overseen by original Phantasy Star director Reiko Kodama, and the initial game concept was crafted by original Etrian Odyssey director Kazuya Niinou. Helluva pedigree, there. The Niinou influence has faded in this latest entry in the series (actually the fourth game, despite the title), but it's still a rock-solid RPG. And, as in Etrian Odyssey, it puts players in control of a guild of generic warriors drawn from multiple classes with ample customization options. And therein lay my folly.
Throughout 7th Dragon III, you unlock new character classes to add to your guild. But, you can only have three active party members at any given time. The first time that happened, my team was at about level 16 or so — and the new characters I created on the spot were all level 1. No problem, I thought. I figured I could put the newcomers in the active party for a little while to drum up some experience for them with no ill effects, because despite their low levels I was still able to fit them with current-tier weapons and armor. But, yeah… it didn't really go that way. The first encounter I stumbled across just absolutely savaged my novice party, whose base stats were far, far too low to be dealing with that dungeon. The game lets you retry a losing battle all you like before accepting a game over, but my sad little baby fighters were trapped in an infinite loop of getting totally spanked. I should have known better, but 7th Dragon is so streamlined and player-friendly (and I'd been steamrolling the bad guys to that point) I figured I could pull it off. But nope.
That's OK, though, because it turns out part of 7th Dragon's player-friendliness involves experience distribution. Inactive party members sit in a reserve team and gain experience at the same rate as active heroes, so by the end of that dungeon my greenhorns were all pretty much on par with the main party. Now I just have to figure out how best to use the new folks; I have a pretty phenomenal build with my core team, and it's hard to change the balance of something that works so well. Anyway, the point is, 7th Dragon III is a cool and good RPG, and I'm glad it's being localized, and I hope people check it out. The end.
My most recent death - and there have been many of them in this game - was in Overwatch. I'm playing Blizzard's superb team-based shooter pretty much every night at the moment, and have slowly, but surely worked my way up to my mid-40s in level. I absolutely love the game, although it didn't start out that way. Initially I was frustrated by its gameplay: I'm a big fan of competing in a support role, but found Overwatch's healing characters difficult to play, and quite fragile - getting picked off with ease by cheesy snipers and turrets. However, over time I started to get my head around the objectives, the lay of the land across the different maps, and where threats were most likely to come from. That helped me stay out of the line of enemy sight more often, which resulted in more uptime, and more uptime means more healing players - which in turn strengthens the team and creates more chances for success.
Now I'm pretty handy at the game, flitting around as Mercy or Lucio topping up my teammates' health bars and getting in a few offensive shots whenever I can. I still die a lot - but that's the downside of playing a healer. Particularly Mercy, who is usually the target of any player worth his or her salt, so I've gotten used to making the run from the respawn point to get back into the action.
I also now know when to call it quits with a support character, which further helps cut down on the frustration and irritation. Sometimes you just get matched with a team filled with individuals who don't know how to play together. Characters standing off just PvP-ing and not taking objectives, or rushing at the other team with all guns blazing and not understanding why they're being mowed down repeatedly. When that happens I usually switch to Reinhardt and try to corral the other players behind his big shield and push forward together. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't - but it's a lot less frustrating than trying to heal people who are just randomly running around getting themselves killed!
I can't talk about my most recent death in specifics due to E3 embargo stuff, outside of saying I died a ton and the developer walking me through my demo we very kind and understanding. It's weird, because a number of developer demos don't have time to teach the player the specifics of the game; for preview purposes it behooves them to jump straight to the most exciting part of the game, which is usually far after the developer teaches the player how to play. So this poor guy had to watch me die again and again. Eventually I got it, but I felt bad for him.
Otherwise, I think I died in Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE a few times. Usually, you die in #FE for two reasons: either you run into a Savage Encounter without having some Special Performances, or you get an enemy pull that counters your party perfectly. The former is an easy one to avoid, but the latter tends to happen at the beginning of any dungeon, since you don't know exactly what you're going to go up against. Honestly, this is true of any Shin Megami Tensei title, as I ran into the same thing in Devil Survivor.
Then, like Jaz, I also have to say I die in Overwatch all the time. You have to be really, really good not to die at all in that game, though occasionally you will run into an opponent who is simply crushing your whole team. Last night, it was a Widowmaker, who became my sworn enemy over the course of a single match. Damn you, Widowmaker player with your pinpoint aim.
Well, I've been playing a lot of Grand Kingdom, so I suppose that's the answer. Except that when your party "dies," it's returned to the battlefield with fully restored health. The only penalty for falling in battle is losing nine turns. In that light, I suppose I haven't actually died in that game yet.
As a sidenote, I find the way that games handle death really interesting. At one point there was a design movement toward making death moot, arguing that it was overly punitive and unnecessary. But then Dark Souls became popular, and suddenly death was not only popular, it was downright painful.
In Grand Kingdom's case, you're often racing against the clock, so losing nine turns hurts quite a bit. By the same token, though, you don't have to actually restart the mission, which reduces the frustration level quite a bit.
However a game chooses to approach expiration, it's evident that death is still very much an important feature of game design. True, it's possible to make a game that doesn't feature at all; but as a great starship captain once said, how you deal with death is at least as important as how you deal with life. Games understand that better than perhaps any other genre.
I already blew angry froth all over Mighty No. 9 in my review, so as you can imagine, it’s also the game I’ve died in most recently. Several times, actually. Let’s just say your precious frames of invincibility won’t save you if an enemy knocks you back onto spikes. Instead, you’re gone instantly. Just like in the original Mega Man game.
I haven’t run an official poll on how many people loved the first Mega Man’s no-mercy spikes, but I bet if I went door-to-door with a clipboard my results would be “zero” in addition to “What’s a Mega Man?” and “Get off my porch before I call the cops.”
Technically, my last two video game deaths came at the hands of Rhythm Heaven Megamix and Zero Time Dilemma. But since you really can't get killed by music--unless it's Aerosmith music, as proven by Revolution X--and describing deaths in ZTD would make for some major spoilers, I'll have to go back to a more notable fake death from earlier this week.
So, I'm kind of a casual Final Fantasy XIV player; it took me about two years to hit the post-game content if you're wondering just how casual. And while I'm normally not a fan of recycled content, my best moments of this post-ending/pre-expansion state I'm currently in have been the "remixes" of old dungeons, bosses, and raids. It's always nice to have more opportunities to grind, of course, but revisiting this old content allows FFXIV's devs to really ramp up the difficulty. (And throw some incredibly goofy stuff into the mix, as well.)
And the most difficult of these challenges by far have to be the "Extreme" versions of boss fights, which add plenty of new twists to your typical, drawn-out battle against a massive foe. With Ifrit being the last of these I had to finish, I looked for a group that would help me, and after about two hours, we were ready. The battle itself is so complicated, I'd need about 2000 words to describe it, but fighting this version of Ifrit involves knowing your role 1000 percent, and knowing exactly where to be during certain phases of the battle. There's an extremely small margin of error when it comes to dodging attacks, and even though your healer can revive you, you're asking them to draw their attention away from everyone else for the sake of casting a lengthy spell.
While you can make as many attempts as you want, these boss fights end after a certain amount of time expires, so every time our party wiped, we'd chat, make sure we were all doing the right thing, and jump back into the fray again. Each time we'd get just a little bit closer, but in the end, we couldn't do it. Despite having essentially wasted an hour, none of us were angry, pointing the finger, or saying how much a certain player sucked; instead, we took the practice we got as its own reward, and vowed to try again soon. The FFXIV community has its jerks, but in general I've found it to be a pretty supportive group--with some other online games, I'm sure I'd see some massive meltdowns after brutal beatdown. And that makes me much more motivated to try again, even if that involves another two hours of waiting. (I'll bring a book or something.)