How many times have you died in games? Blown up, stabbed, “fainted”, drowned, torn apart and so on. Maybe you get your a-hole kicked by the big bad boss and you have to drag yourself all the way from the checkpoint after re-loading to have another crack at that muffin f*cker.
Too many times to count would be my guess.
But why? Why do we always fall back on this? Games have jumped leaps and bounds since the days when Sonic was in his prime. But we still heavily rely on this. And I think it's a missed opportunity in games today.
Ok first, lets take a look at a game that nearly got the right idea compared to a game that completely botched it up. PoP and Fable 2 (and 3 I suppose).
PoP from 2008 seems to be hit and miss with different gamers. I for one loved the art style and found it great fun but not without its flaws. Of which a sequel would have been nice to expand and improve (like AC1 to AC2).
One complaint you hear regularly is how you “couldn't die” which I find odd. Look at the previous PoP games. When you eventually ran out of sand and messed up, you died, restarted and loaded up at the nearest checkpoint you passed. Of which there was usually a large amount of. In Sand of Time when you die the Prince says something like "no, no, no, that didn't happen! Do you want me to begin again?" and then you reset to the last checkpoint.
With this PoP, you essentially "died" but instead of going through a loading screen or anything like that, you got a brief animation and then you where back at the last auto checkpoint.
Only large difference I saw was one broke up the smooth gameplay of PoP and the other attempted to remove or reduce that break up. And that is far from a bad thing as far as I can see.
Not to say it was perfect either. I felt including this in fights felt too much like a get out jail free card.
But basically, that's what I'd like to see, keeping you in the game and having it makes sense within the games own logic.
But then we've got Fable 2. I could spend hours tearing this game a new poop dispenser but I'll keep to the main point. Fable 2 had the idea that we didn't need a death scene plus loading screen after if the player messed up. So far so good. But then Lionhead decided to have no real punishment either.
When you had your health dropped to zero, you just got up. Apparently you gained scars if you didn't have a resurrection potion but I never saw any really clear scars on the face at least. Which annoyed me because I wanted bloody scars! To me, that was a reward, not any form of punishment or anything like that.
Hell, even then the DLC added in potions to remove scars anyway! It was pointless and added nothing.
With PoP, you weren't just brought back and placed where you left off, you went back to the nearest checkpoint and made to try again. With Fable 2, there was nothing there to stop you.
The other option that comes to mind is to keep the game flowing even after “death”. Take Aliens: Colonial Marines. Imagine if instead of it always being a death plus loading screen, the Alien would grab you while you're semi-concious and dragged you back to their nest for some good old fashioned face rape?
The idea being you would have to break free, kill that damn facehugger, find a weapon and get back. Maybe in co-op your partners would have the option to go help you or just leave you to your fate. Stuff like would be great to see implemented in some way.
Or maybe with Skyrim you bump into some raiders in the wild who beat you, but instead of dying you wake up in the same spot with all you stuff gone, even clothes. With maybe a trail that leads back to their camp. Now you've got to sneak round to where they kept your stuff and then jump them. Or run away. Maybe there's other loot there too from previous victims.
Or some monster beats you and you wake up in a cave for its babies to eat you. Now you've got to find a way back up to the surface while defending yourself.
Obviously there's games that I can't think of any way other than a death sequence. In some cases I like them. Dead Space 2 had some really cool deaths. But then again, I'm sure the Dtoid community can think of a million and one ways to replace death scenes for different games or even genres.
Go nuts and see what you can come up with.
All I know is that it feels like a missed opportunity for devs to try out.