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Death in Adventure Games... Good? Bad? Inevitable?

posted by Ashton on - last edited - Viewed by 333 users

Very simple question. Should death be a part of adventure games? Should it be the punishment for doing soemthign stupid (like "use Fork with electrical outlet") or would you prefer to just get a simple canned "I wouldnt do that...." responce?

If you like death in games, should there be a "rewind" option, or should it require you to Restore/Restart/Quit?

26 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • While it really depends on the execution and the type of adventure, just in general I would say "No".

  • I generally don't like the idea of dead ends in adventure games, but I don't mind deaths if there's a "let me try that again" bit that follows, like in Full Throttle. So yeah, it's okay if there's a rewind option I think.

    In some game genres (like platformers for example) usually the possibility of a game over is what makes it challenging, whereas adventure games have challenges in the form of puzzles, so I don't think a game over in an adventure game really adds anything to it.

  • I prefer adventure games where you can't die.

    See, adventure games are about thinking and reasoning, not reflexes, so I find it less logical to have the possibility of dying. The thing is, some games you win by surviving, so death has its place. But in adventure games, merely surviving means losing, you need to actually solve puzzles and stuff.

    If some actions caused you to die, people would be less adventurous. We wouldn't try "fork with electrical outlet" in fear of dying. Or, we'd be less likely to try it. I guess we could just save before, but still, we'd have to reload and everything... And saving before every risky action would get annoying, especially in a game like Sam & Max where you're constantly doing stupid stuff.

    It would also be extremely frustrating to lose if you haven't saved recently. In most games, it's easy enough to re-do everything (although it's still a bother), but in adventure games, it's so not-linear that it's easy to forget who you talked to or not, what items you have picked up or not, etc.

    Now, there are some good adventure games where you can die, but in my opinion it's best if it doesn't happen often, if it auto-saves before the part where you can die and if you can start again without having to re-load.
    Or, even better, the fork in the outlet electrocutes you and then you get up and say "well, that was stupid".

    In short, I prefer my adventure games without death (unless it's part of the story of course). I can deal with it if it's rare (like in Broken Sword) but I prefer without, I don't think it adds anything, and I feel it takes away from the enjoyment.

  • Looking at the majority of replies, this is the kind of response I would expect from modern gamers and from primarily LucasArts fans.

    The possibility of failure ups the challenge of a puzzle. Death in an adventure puts the player on edge. Even if the player just reloads a save from moments earlier, the character is in real danger.

    There's also the idea that adventure games are, in fact, games. Some people get this idea that they are interactive storybooks, probably buying into this Hollywood envy that the industry is plagued by. I see people saying that story trumps gameplay, which...is idiotic.

    Games are meant to challenge us. I know that if I can lose, and if the game is trying to kill me, my mind sharpens to meet the challenge. I'm more alert and pay more attention to detail. When you can't die, it's just more of a flow. Do what you can to shuffle through the thing.

    Now, there is such a thing as a broken design. Miss a tiny thing at the start and dying at the very end is one example. Sierra gets a lot of flak for this sort of thing, some of it deserved and some of it undeserved, but you can get to the point where you're overcompensating for dumb people with little to no attention span and a trying lack of patience.

  • @Harald B said: A while back you could play the first Larry game online somewhere. I tried it and for just a little while I forgot why I hated Sierra games so much. Then I died after typing FLUSH TOILET.


    Ohhh wow I remember that.

    Also, if you have wine and get into the Taxi. BLAMMO! End game, among other things.

    When I was 8, I was strangely undaunted by this. I think I played just to play... Nowadays I think I'd have a fist-sized hole in my monitor.

  • The thing that developers nowadays try to avoid is trial and error. Death in adventure games relies more on trial and error than skills. That's why "death" or defeat in fighting games works, that's why death works in RTS games. That's why it doesn't really work on typical adventure games.

  • Death in adventure games, when done well, is a good thing. When it's done badly (I'm talking random deaths here, based on some inconsequential thing done or item missed) it's just damned annoying. Though, of course, do death badly enough then it becomes a tradition, or a parody and even missed when absent (though to my knowledge, only the Space Quest series has successfully pulled this off).

    Personally I think adventure games should have at least some acknowledgement towards adverse consequences of certain actions but also the player shouldn't be punished too hard for trying all possibilities.

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    Shauntron Telltale Staff

    There's only one time a death in an adventure game didn't feel arbitrary and annoying to me:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUX8O6LMv9A

  • @Shauntron said: There's only one time a death in an adventure game didn't feel arbitrary and annoying to me:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUX8O6LMv9A

    I hold that pit as one of the most brilliant moments in game design. It warns you quite clearly that the pit will kill you. And yet, I have a feeling that every single person who has played that game has jumped into it. Likely expecting an outcome other than death, no less.

  • Jaz drives were the coolest.

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