I'm not too fond of games that travel the well worn and tested routes, the games where you rescue the princess and live happily ever after (well... only until the sequel of course). These videogames are a dime a dozen. Regardless, you still get to spend sixty dollars every time you purchase one of these games.
No, what I am looking for is the games that take the standard formula and shove it up your ass. Games that rip out your eyeballs and make you plead for more. You don't want the game to end. Except you don't have any choice; the main character is dead!
These games aren't your average Oblivion
. You can't wander around aimlessly spending most of your time taking virtual shits; feeding your wizard with the enchanted eggplants that you wasted thirty real life hours growing in your magical twat garden. These games end when they end. This is no happy Jesus story; they sacrifice more than a long weekend in order to save the auxiliary characters ass.
What an end they have; better to go out with a boom than with a whimper.
Now don't take this at face value. Fallout 3
had a terrible ending. No noble suicide can recover all the potential fun you have punching rabid dogs to death and blasting the limbs off of some poor bastard. Who can resist killing the sheriff with the awesome hat? That hat was meant for us to wear!
It's true that most games that have you die are very lame. Games where you get the "bad" ending like True Crime: Streets of LA
or Max Payne
. Even when you get the "good" ending you can end up dying in a very unsatisfactory way; take Bioshock
Jade Empire had one of the worst suicidal endings. Luckily, two other mediocre options were available.
But what about the games done right? Games like Shadow of the Colossus
. While you may have been reincarnated into some demonic infant you were definitely stricken dead for at least a moment or two. That was a game done right, start to finish. Each colossi you kill changes you more and more into a devilish beast. Eventually your skin pales, your eyes grow dark, small horns grow on your forehead. For the grand finale you are forced to sacrifice yourself to save the mysterious women you love. Lord Emon and his troop of warriors ring you through and send the spirit Dormin from whence he came. The colossi dead, the protagonist dead, and Dormin absent leaving the young maiden you protected revived from her deathly slumber almost alone. With her is a baby, seemingly a part of you left behind. But you yourself, you are dead.
Another good example is Call of Duty 4
. While the character was never really fleshed out it was still a depressing experience to feel his heart beat in your hand. You could feel the beats slow as you controlled him through debris strewn wreckage. After a minute of crawling, of feeling death creep ever near, his heart stops beating and you know that a main character just died. Granted, he was never very important (exacerbated by the fact not one of you will know his name offhand) but it was still a unique experience. Novelty is a sweet thing.
Nathan Hale played an absolutely integral part in Resistance: Fall of Man and its sequel. As the series moved on Hale found himself overwhelmed by the very thing that had until that point saved his life. After much hardship, spending years fighting the nigh invincible Chimera Nathan drew his last breaths making the most out of the final hours of his life, fighting the Chimera nearly to the end. It finally murdered his humanity and killed the character we spent all of our time with throughout two whole games.
The hardest games to see your characters die in are the games where you spent hours upon hours of your life customizing them. Never once will someone ignore the death of a beloved party member (no doubt wearing irreplaceable equipment). These digital men and women have stayed with you through the course of the game and now they are gone. A real feeling of loss rises inside of you. This is much more pronounce in games where you tailor your little people for weeks at a time. The Sims
is a great example. Raising a polygonal person from babyhood to old age is a gratifying experience. Spending time building their house, their skills; running their careers and building their families. And then suddenly you are left with only good memories of the deceased. Thus is the tragedy of spending a large chunk of your life bonding with your Sim.
It's games like these that freshen up a tired, old experience. The injection of life in a cliche ridden genre. The death of a main character, a heroes sacrifice, can be done right. Perhaps we should be thankfully that it rarely ever is; one day this idea too will be worn out. But not yet.