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Final Death Mode
You died!
You cannot respawn in hardcore mode!
(Delete world)
Minecraft, after dying in Hardcore mode

Harder Than Hard isn't hard enough for some people when Death Is a Slap on the Wrist. Choose Final Death Mode as a difficulty level and that's no longer a problem. When activated, Game Over means just that—your game is over for good. No lives, no continues, nada.

If you want to play again, you have to start from the very beginning. Be grateful it's optional.

Final Death Mode usually (but not always) comes with protection against Save Scumming. If nothing else, there's the fact that it defeats the purpose of the option in the first place.

Sometimes, players play a Self-Imposed Challenge if they only have one life; that's a No Death Run.

This may also be known under the terms "Hardcore Mode" or "Ironman".

Often considered a trait of Nintendo Hard. Sub-Trope of Check Point Starvation. If the game actually deletes your save data to ensure your character's death is final, see Deletion As Punishment. Related to Final Death, which is when non-Player Characters only have one life.


Examples

Action Adventure

Driving Game
  • In GRID there is the Pro Mode which turns off the flashback (A Mental Time Travel feature) and the ability of being able to restart single races, essentially requiring you to win every tournament (3 to 5 races) in one shot. Considering that you will often have to start from the back in higher difficulties and the AI will crash you out every now and then makes this nearly Unwinnable.
  • The "Deaths" option in the San Francisco Rush games applies this to both the player and the AI drivers. Subverted in the Circuit modes, where dying will end the current round, but still allow you to move onto the next.

MMORPG
  • RuneScape is currently beta-testing two new variants of it standard game as complete modes: Ironman, and Hardcore Ironman. The former prevents you from trading with other players, picking up any of their loot or dropped items, and essentially means that the player is on their own. Certain minigames that require teamwork are disabled, and several abilities have their group benefits removed. HC Ironman takes this Up to Eleven by only giving you one life; if you die, you cannot respawn.
    • The version of rules was originally used in a challenge for Old School (OSRS) players who wanted to give themselves a handicap, and would frequently post progress on blogs or in videos.

Platform Game

Roguelike
  • This is the default setting of most roguelikes in general. If your character dies, starting over with a new character is your only option if you're not Save Scumming.
  • Tales of Maj'Eyal gives out lots of extra lives during level ups at lower difficulty levels, but at its two highest levels (Roguelike and Insane) death is final.
  • Hardcore Mode in the Diablo series allows only one life to your character — if you die, your character needs to be deleted.
  • Similarly to Diablo, Path of Exile has the Hardcore leagues, where dying once bars that character from entering that league ever again. They can still continue playing in the Standard league, though.

Role-Playing Game
  • Pokémon has the near-universally-recognized Nuzlocke Challenge, which forces the player to release any pokémon who faints.
  • The Witcher 2 has this through its Insane Difficulty. In this difficulty, Geralt only has one life; if he gets killed, all of your save files are rendered inaccesible and you have to start the entire game over again.

Simulation
  • Steel Battalion has this happen if you forget to eject when your mech blows up.

Survival Horror
  • Like other installments in the Dead Space franchise, clearing Dead Space 3 will unlock Hardcore Mode. Unlike the previous renditions of Hardcore mode, which limited you to 3 saves but allowed you to load them as much as you like, if Issac Clarke gets brutally butchered by a Necromorph or a Unitologist, your entire file will be reset, forcing you to restart all over again. The only consolation is that the save limit has been lifted, allowing you to save as often as you like.
  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent has a Final Death DLC called Justine. Not only is the player character limited to one life, saves are not allowed at anytime and, if the player character gets killed, the game will quit and you will be sent back to your desktop. Talk about a good reason not to die...

Turn-Based Strategy
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown has this as an option called "Ironman". The developers realized that some people may want to combine the no-save-scumming rules with lower difficulty settings, though, so you can turn Ironman mode on with any of the game's 4 difficulty levels (Easy, Normal, Classic, and Impossible).
  • Inverted by Fire Emblem Awakening: as with the rest of the series, Final Death is considered the standard, Casual Mode (allies whose HP goes to 0 come back after a chapter is over) is something you specifically turn on.

Third-Person Shooter
  • Max Payne 3's "Old School" Mode, which disables Last Man Standing, which allows the player to live if they deliver a fatal shot several seconds after running out of health.
  • It didn't happen in the actual release, but Hideo Kojima reportedly wanted this to be the case if you died in Metal Gear Solid. In fact, he went one further—his original idea was that if you died in the game the disc would no longer work.

Wide Open Sandbox
  • Minecraft has a Hardcore Mode which freezes the difficulty level of a world to Hard and put evil expressions onto the Life Meter. Once the player dies, the world has to be deleted, or in multiplayer they're banned from the server.
  • Terraria has a difficulty system that increases the penalty for death the higher up you go. In softcore, you drop half your money. In mediumcore, you drop items. In hardcore, you die permanently, meaning if you had any items on you at the time, they're gone for good unless you're playing multiplayer or you had some stuff stashed in a chest.
  • X3: Terran Conflict has a hardcore mode so hardcore, you have to play the single-player game while connected to the internet via your Steam account in order to make sure you don't try to cheat by doing something like "loading a save". There's a reason it's called "Dead-Is-Dead" mode.
  • Escape Velocity Nova has a "Strict Play" option:
    If you check this box, when you're dead, you're dead. No reincarnation allowed.

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