Top 5 games where death is not the end: death mechanics as one of the foundations of gameplay (Topic)

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Top 5 games where death is not the end: death mechanics as one of the foundations of gameplay


“You have one life, take care of it” is a true truth both in real life and for numerous video games. Often, having stumbled and falling from a cliff or blown up by an inaccurately thrown grenade, the main character of the game dies, forcing us to swear to load the save and go through the episode again. Final death in this case is a logical scenario. But the beauty of games is that they do not have to all obey the rules of real life, and there are projects where the developers directly declare: “death is not the end”, and then play immortality in an extraordinary way from a plot point of view, and in exceptional cases, even from a gameplay ... In this article, we will recall 5 of these games.

Prey (2006)

The original 2006 Prey was a game that tried in every possible way to stand out from the competition. Here, the player was expected to run on the ceiling, a full-fledged implementation of portals a year before the release of Portal, and, oddly enough, an immortal protagonist. Developers from Human Head Studios managed to integrate fantasy elements into the sci-fi storyline of Prey, which tells about the next invasion of aliens.

At the beginning of the game, our protagonist, who is also an Indian of the Cherokee tribe named Tommy, after death falls into the afterlife, called the "Country of the Ancients". A parallel reality is made according to all the canons of Indian mythology - a rocky canyon drenched in the scorching sun, where deceased ancestors are located. As expected, the protagonist meets his late grandfather, learns about his own exceptionalism and important mission to save humanity, and then returns to our sinful world with the ability to separate the soul from the body.

Top 5 games where death is not the end: death mechanics as one of the basics of gameplay. Prey

The ability to go to the astral plane is especially vividly manifested in the event of the death of the protagonist - instead of having to contemplate the loading screen, the player is sent to an intermediate state between Heaven and Hell, offering to shoot spirits flying through the air from a bow. The more you shoot, the more mana and life you will get with the next revival. The solution for testing turned out to be not the most convenient, but you can definitely not blame the developers for the lack of originality.


Among the tons of Ubisoft games released over the past 10 years, ZombiU stands out. Survival set in the backdrop of London overwhelmed by the zombie apocalypse, and even released initially as an exclusive for the new Nintendo WiiU console in 2012 - this is the last thing you expect from one of the largest publishers on the market. Especially considering that compared to its competitors, ZombiU stood out due to its hardcore and adherence to the generally accepted cliche of zombie films.

Having received a bite in the neck of the protagonist, he often expected the expected and no less frightening scenario - a slow and painful death. At this point, most zombie games would send the player to the main menu, but ZombiU decided to take its own path. After the death of the character, a completely new hero is given under the control of the player - another survivor, another extra, which is expected in an apocalyptic world where human life is no more valuable than a can of stew.

Top 5 games where death is not the end: death mechanics as one of the core gameplay. ZombiU

The most interesting thing is that our former hero does not magically evaporate from the game world. He still exists, only in a slightly different state: drooling bloody from his mouth, slowly moving his legs, growling menacingly, and in the eyes of not the slightest remnants of intelligence - all the signs of turning into a zombie are on his face. Killing him and picking up the rest of his belongings is our new goal.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

The developers from Monolith Productions approached the consequences of the death of the protagonist with even greater fiction when creating Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. According to the plot of the game, the main character named Talion, together with his family, burns the orc Black Hand of Sauron in a ritual fire in an attempt to gain the power of the ancient spirit of Kelembribor. As a result, the ritual did not go quite according to plan and the spirit entered the dead body of Talion, which revived him and endowed him with immortality. Immortality at least until the moment when the Black Hand of Sauron goes to feed the worms and the curse is lifted.

Of course, although Talion received immortality, this is clearly not a reason to fight at half strength, guided by the rule "And so it will do!", because the consequences of losing are much more significant than a typical restart from the next checkpoint. Each death (or rather defeat in battle) in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor leads to a reshuffle of the political forces of Mordor. Thanks to the in-game system "Nemesis", if you die at the hands of any commander of the orcs, you can see how the situation in the nearby lands changes, how new territories pass into the hands of enemies, and the orc who defeated Talion becomes stronger and yours moves along the hierarchy of military leaders.

Top 5 games where death is not the end: death mechanics as one of the core gameplay. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

Thus, we confess, in a rather intricate way, death from a means of punishing a gamer for mistakes becomes an instrument for regulating political elites in the gaming world. If you wish, you can even, through numerous defeats, mold an average and stuttering orc almost the right hand of Sauron's Black Hand. The only pity is that instead of gratitude for the advancement in the career ladder, he will meet the player with another attempt to humiliate and kill. No education.

Death Stranding

Death takes a special place in Hideo Kojima's last year's game Death Stranding. The iconic game designer once again distinguished himself with an unconventional concept, creating a game with a pacifist message, where death is so undesirable that it can lead to devastating cataclysms. We will not go into detail in the jungle of the complex lore of Death Stranding with the "release of death", the concept of life after death, chirality, antimatter and the "splash of emptiness", we will not go into details, instead focusing on no less interesting mechanics accompanying death.

The impact of death on the game world differs depending on how the main character died. In case of death from standard causes, be it a fall from a cliff or gunshot wounds, he is sent to a place called "Seam". Inside the "Seam", which resembles the seabed, the player takes on the role of Sam's soul and must find the body of the protagonist, after which he is sent back to the American wasteland. The "Seam" acquires a special gloomy charm upon activating the multiplayer mode, transforming the seabed into a large-scale underwater cemetery. Now "Seam" besides Sam is flooded with the bodies of other players with whom you can establish contact and, upon returning to the world of the living, find the cargo they dropped.

Top 5 games where death is not the end: death mechanics as one of the foundations of gameplay. Death Stranding

Not impressive? In this case, Kojima in Death Stranding has another surprise designed to highlight the danger of human death to the game world. If Sam manages to be eaten by the Creatures (those same creatures that seem to have descended from the pages of Lovecraft), an explosion of impressive proportions will occur, leaving behind a huge crater.

We know what you might be thinking now, but, unfortunately, the whole world of Death Stranding cannot be turned into a lunar surface.

Dark Souls

The Dark Souls series is another good example of how developers manage to build a game around the concept of death. In the fantasy world of Dark Souls, the protagonist is a hollow, living corpse who is destined to fight the most dangerous creatures and go through a series of cruel tests. In such circumstances, it is not surprising that high difficulty and at the same time frequent deaths of the protagonist are integral parts of the Dark Souls series. One thing pleases - our hero is already a walking dead man, and therefore he will not be able to die completely with all the desire.

Each death returns to the nearest bonfire (checkpoint), revives all enemies defeated at the level and takes away the earned souls (experience points) from the player. If desired, the player can go in search of his corpse and pick up hard-earned souls. The standard mechanics, let's face it, but Dark Souls also has distinctive features - the humanity system. Having found the essence of humanity, the main character can regain his human form, which will help him acquire not only chubby pink cheeks, but also the opportunity to meet with other players.

Top 5 games where death is not the end: death mechanics as one of the core gameplay. Dark Souls

Blood stains that automatically remain after the death of players deserve special attention. Having set out on another dangerous path and meeting numerous blood stains from defeated players on the way, it is easy to trace the central philosophy of the game: in Dark Souls, death (or just a painful defeat, if you project an idea onto the real world) really is not the end, it is only part of the path and a necessary obstacle overcoming which we become stronger.

See also a selection of the best PC multiplayer games.

The Topic of Article: Top 5 games where death is not the end: death mechanics as one of the foundations of gameplay.
Author: Jake Pinkman