Perma-death – Why We Enjoy Hard Core Gameplay

For most video games, there is almost always the option to up the ante. In the case of Dark Souls, the ante is up from the start. But, other games like to at least give you the choice. Hard mode is often a way for gamers to challenge themselves; its a test of their overall gaming skills. Then you get some games that like to make our lives just that little bit harder. Some even have perma-death included, like the latest Hellblade. So, if you die, you’re game is deleted and you have to start again from the very beginning. Games should be an enjoyable experience, not a rage inducing, ulcer-causing one. So, the question is, why do we subject ourselves to this torture?

perma-death-dark souls 3 boss
The first boss in Dark Souls 3.

It’s A Challenge

The point of having difficulty settings in a game is so the player can choose how they want to play. Do they want an easier experience with less challenges or do they want to feel ever present fear of death? Most gamers want a challenge. They want to feel like they have accomplished something great. A sense of satisfaction if you will. It’s the reason the difficulty of a game will steadily increase the further through you get. Once you reach the final boss and defeated them, you feel that you have conquered all the game has to offer. But, for some people, this isn’t enough.

These same people think that playing a game on Normal mode is for babies. But some games like to throw even more challenges at you. Like the Ultra Nightmare mode in the new DOOM game that introduces perma-death and forces you to start again if you die even once. Then you have your Dead Space 2 Hard Core mode which lets you save a total of 3 times, for the whole game. But, we love it. We thrive on the challenge of defeating games that mean you have to keep your consoles turned on indefinitely until you have finished the play through.

The confirmation screen when choosing Ultra Nightmare mode in DOOM

Bragging Rights

Let’s be honest. The main reason anyone would want to play a game on Ultra Hard Core Perma-death mode is to brag about it later. If you are denying that right now, then you are one of those people. Not that there is anything wrong with that. If I could complete a game without dying once I’d put that on my resume as a top skill. Completing difficult games is something that a lot of gamers aspire to. I am one of them, especially since my greatest achievement is not dying in the first dungeon in Skyrim (on the easiest difficulty). But, these games and game modes are meant to be hard for a reason. Only the best of us can claim to have accomplished such feats. So, if you have managed to complete a game in perma-death mode, then you go ahead and shout about it.

Have you ever completed a game on its highest difficulty or survived a perma-death run? Let us know in the comments below.



I've always had a passion for games and, since I found my passion for writing, I wanted to write about them. I'll play just about anything if I can get my hands on it. I have an unhealthy obsession with all things Star Wars and my motto is "Never apologise for being a nerd."

So what do you think?

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