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Final Death Mode

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Game Over!
(Spectate world)
(Title screen)
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, your game will be permanently over if you die. You only get one life, and continuing is impossible, so be extremely careful.

If you want to play again, you have to restart 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 as if they only had 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 Checkpoint Starvation. Related to Permadeath, which is when non-Player Characters only have one life, or when this is the regular game state instead of just a mode. For specific conditions that can cause permadeath, even if you didn't sign up for it, see Deletion as Punishment.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Action Adventure 
  • Batman: Arkham Origins has "I Am The Night" mode, which also functions as a New Game Plus mode.
  • Darksiders II has Nightmare mode that you can unlock by beating the game at hard. It's basically this trope.
  • Hollow Knight: "Steel Soul" mode, unlocked after beating the game once, forces you to start over completely if your character dies outside the Dream World. This means Rancid Eggs, normally used for retrieving your Shade from a remote or dangerous location so you don't have to risk your neck trying to get back to it, are only useful as Shop Fodder, but the Fragile charms you can buy from Leg Eater are a bit more useful.
  • Loonyland: Halloween Hill has the Hardcore merit badge. When you start a new game with this badge on, you will be unable to save normally, but you instead save your game everytime you quit the game instead of at save crystals. The twist is, if you die, your save file is deleted. It even states "No kidding." in the description.
  • The Messenger (2018): After assembling the Tiki Mask found in the Picnic Panic DLC, the mask comes alive and offers the Ninja great power, but only if you sacrifice Quarble (the little guy who's been rewinding time when you lose a life so you don't die for real) to him. Accept his offer and you gain double health and damage, but you have no extra lives. The Tiki Mask was just joking about sacrificing anyone, but Quarble is so hurt by the fact you were willing to kill him that he leaves anyway. When you do die, Quarble briefly appears to tease you before you Game Over.
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of War has the Desolation of Mordor DLC, where you play as Baranor. As he doesn't have the Resurrective Immortality of Talion or Eltariel, death will cause you to lose all your loot and reset the gameworld. It's more generous than other versions since you will still retain your story progress as well as any skill upgrades you obtained.

    Action RPG 
  • Hardcore Mode in the Diablo series allows only one life to your character — if you die, your character needs to be deleted. Blizzard even gives you a warning before choosing this mode that they will not revive a dead character for any reason. Should you die, the game says "You have died. Your deeds of valor will be remembered."
    "You have but one life, eager hero. If you should die, though your deeds will be remembered, you shall not return again."
    "Customer Service will not revive a fallen Hardcore hero for any reason."
  • 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.
  • Torchlight and Torchlight II, being from the developers of the first two Diablo games, has a similar hardcore mode, along with keeping an unplayable "ghost" file displaying their level and location of death, and a particularly bleak message in the form of a Haiku poem.
    "Your fight has ended.
    Memories of you will fade.
    Silence, all is lost."
  • Grim Dawn also has a Hardcore mode where a character's death is final. Hardcore characters have their own shared stash, which is separated from non-hardcore characters to prevent tweaking.

    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; crashing, which nomrally causes the car to respawn, instead results in an immediate Game Over. Subverted in the Circuit modes, where dying will end the current round, but still allow you to move onto the next.

    Fighting Game 
  • In Teleroboxer, there is a Title Defense mode where you must fight the eight robot opponents at random (This mode can only be played if you defeat all eight opponents without losing). If you lose a single match in this mode, that's it; you're retired, and you can't play that save file again.
  • In Punch-Out!! for the Wii, there is a mode called "Mac's Last Stand", where Little Mac will keep fighting opponents until he takes three losses, at which point he retires and the Career Mode closes. It's downplayed in that you can still fight in Exhibition Mode, but if you retire before obtaining the extra perks (Champion's Mode, Donkey Kong as a hidden opponent, etc.), they'll be lost forever on that save file.

    First Person Shooter 
  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided has a difficulty known as "I Never Asked For This" — you can save, but if you die, you have to restart the game from the beginning. You only have a single manual save slot, enemies are more alert, and you make more noise when moving around, rendering it even harder than the regular hard difficulty, "Give me Deus Ex". This unlocks after completing the game once, on any difficulty.
  • Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare's "YOLO Mode" disables all checkpoints. Die, and the game mentions "You only live once..." before forcing you to restart the campaign from the very beginning.
  • Doom (2016) and Doom Eternal have "Ultra-Nightmare" mode — an upgrade of the standard hardest difficulty mode "Nightmare" — which forces you to restart from the beginning of the campaign if you die. If you manage to make it back to where you died, a tombstone memorializing your previous death will be waiting for you.
  • Entry Point (Roblox) has Ironman Mode, which has the Freelancer and potentially a group of them take on all the non-gamepass missions in chronological order, and if they die, their run is over.
    "You call yourself a professional. Sure maybe you've run a few jobs, hit a few banks. Maybe some people back home even know your name. But you're about to enter the big leagues. Mistakes out here get people killed — We expect flawless execution, every day of the week. Welcome to the fight. You either live up to the challenge or you get gunned down; There's no turning back now."
    Ironman Mode description
  • Halo campaigns from Halo 3 onward allow players to activate the "Iron" skull, which has this effect in solo campaigns.
  • Team Fortress 2 has this in the form of Arena Mode, in which the two teams — in a much smaller map with few-to-no health packs available — compete to either wipe out all members of the enemy team, or to capture a neutral control point that only becomes available after a minute of fighting. Since Respawn is disabled in this mode, die even once and you're out of the game.
    "No Respawning In Arena Mode."
  • Time Warpers: You can turn on a Permadeath mode which increases Time Cube and Weapon Cube gain by 0.75x (it also requires you to disable the Hoverbike for another 1.0x). It makes you Time Warp immediately after running out of hearts.
  • In Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, the Mein Leiben difficulty serves as this. Autosaves and difficulty changes are disabled, and you only have one chance to beat the campaign. If you die (or quit) at any time, you'll have to start all over again.
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order features Ironman mode, unlockable by retrieving Enigma code fragments from within the game and entering them in the correct sequence. As with The New Colossus, both auto and manual saving are disabled, forcing the player to beat the game in one sitting in addition to death meaning starting over.
  • Ghost Recon Wildlands has Ghost Mode, in which your character is deleted if they are killed in action, and your NPC teammates also die permanently if KO'ed and not revived in time.

    MMORPG 
  • In 2014, RuneScape released two new variants of its 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 - pretty much turning the game into a single player game. Certain minigames that require teamwork are disabled, and several abilities have their group benefits removed. HC Ironman only gives you one life; if you die, you cannot respawn; except with certain consumable items, of which you can only get two of. (In 2020, Hardcore Ironman was changed to revert to standard Ironman status upon death. This had always been the case in Old School RuneScape.)
    • These rules were originally used in a challenge for Old School players who wanted to give themselves a handicap, and would frequently post progress on blogs or in videos.
  • Dofus has two servers dedicated to this. On the Epic Server, Shadow, if a player dies against a monster, the player is kicked back to the character select screen, while their character is reset to level 1 and everything in their inventory goes into the monsters' drop table for another player to acquire. On the Heroic Server, Oto Mustam, the same penalty applies upon dying to monsters, but in addition, losing in PvP has the same penalty (though the winning character only gets about 50% of the loser's inventory; the rest is simply destroyed). To compensate, the Epic Server gives you double experience if you die, until you catch up with your highest-attained level; the Heroic server gives you triple experience all the time, and gives you six times normal experience if you die, until you catch up to your highest-attained level. Both servers are still Harder Than Hard for an already challenging game.

    Platform Game 
  • Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout added an "X-treme" mode in Season 4 that removes the ability to respawn. Once you fall off the course, you're eliminated.
  • In I Wanna Be the Guy, "Impossible" difficulty removes all Save Points — except, due to a tiny glitch, a single one near the end — from a game where the protagonist is a One-Hit-Point Wonder with Fake Difficulty and Everything Trying to Kill You.
  • The Super Mario World hack Touhou Mario has this for the whole game (as the only option). Good luck beating it without save states and rewinds!
  • The Classic remake of Prince of Persia has Survival mode, where you must play through the whole game in one sitting without dying.
  • "YOLO" difficultynote  in The Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures: One life, weaker weapons, stronger enemies, no beers, no checkpoints, no saving, no extra lives or health to find, and no continues. Take just a single hit from anything, and you start the game over from the beginning. Good luck.
  • Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition, as one of its new difficulty settings, has One Life Mode, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Your save file is deleted when Ori is killed, and cannot be copied, so no save scumming to get the achievement either.
  • In platform shooter/action movie homage Broforce, unlocking at least 20 characters allows you to play Ironbro mode. In this mode, lives you collect — every character you rescue counts as a life — carry from level to level, but if any character dies, they will not appear again in the game. Losing all characters means failure, and having to start again from the beginning.
  • VVVVVV has an unlockable No Death Mode. If Captain Viridian brushes against a spike or enemy once, that's it, game over. Interestingly, one of the game's Shiny Trinkets that normally requires Viridian to abuse the way checkpoint respawning works is handed out for free in this mode, the room it's held in even changing its title to "Imagine Spikes There, If You'd Like".
  • In Battle Kid: Fortress of Peril, "Unfair" difficulty has no continues. In this mode, if you take a single hit from an enemy or obstacle, that's it; it's an instant Game Over for you and you have to start the entire game over from the beginning.
  • Sonic SMS Remake 2 has this with its unlockable Encore Mode. You can play as any of the available teams in the gamenote  and can change between them at any time by using a certain Monitor. The catch? If you die even once as any of them, then you lose that pair for the rest of the run; and dying as Sonic or Tails in particular will also lock you out of the game's True Final Boss and Golden Ending.

    Roguelike 
  • 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.
  • The Drop has a hardcore mode that does exactly this. You also can't ever return to the surface to restock on supplies. One of the storyline characters, Fake Tezkhra, forces you to play on this mode, but fortunately he's Purposely Overpowered to compensate.

    Real Time Strategy 

    Rhythm Game 
  • Normally, in Neon FM, Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: If your Life Meter depletes, the game will empty the next few measures of the chart to give you time to catch your breath and refill your life, on top of bumping you down to the song's next hardest chart on the list if the feature for that is enabled. However, Pro Mode not only gives you the song's hardest chart, but immediately ends the song and brings you to the results screen if your meter drains out.
  • Doing a New Game Plus in Thumper reduces the beetle's 2 hit points to One-Hit-Point Wonder and removes checkpoints.

    Role Playing Game 
  • EremidiaDungeon: Skyward Temple: Ironwill Mode disables saving the game, not only forcing you to complete it in one sitting, but punting you back to the very start if you die.
  • Darkest Dungeon has "Stygian Mode" which, in addition to jacking up the difficulty, imposes a hard time and lives limit on your campaign. Failing either of these conditions immediately ends your game and deletes your save file after displaying a special Game Over screen telling you just how badly you screwed up.
  • In Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, the "I Never Asked for This" difficulty is unlocked after beating the game. While this difficulty is equivalent to "Give Me Deus Ex", the player's save file will be rendered inaccessible if Jensen dies. Moreover, auto-saving is disabled and the player can only use one save slot throughout the game.
  • Downplayed in Divinity: Original Sin and Original Sin II with Honour Mode: there's one save file, which is deleted if the entire party is killed, and the game auto-saves whenever a party member dies. However, in-game resurrection abilities still work.
  • Pillars of Eternity has the Trial of Iron, which imposes a one saved game limit and even that save is deleted permanently if the Watcher dies.
  • In Unleash the Light, Rose's Room is an optional game mode where having your whole party wiped means starting over from scratch. To add to the difficulty, your party members start at Level 1 and without items or money, they have to be recruited one by one, and they only unlock new skills and abilities after defeating enemies or by exploring the overworld. Not only are the stages, the recruitable members, and their unlockable skills and abilities randomly generated, but there are also exclusive enemy variants that are much stronger than the ones in Story Mode. However, completing any run in this mode, regardless of how many stages you clear, permanently gives you EXP to increase your party members' starting stats and unlock party-wide perks, which make the next run easier.
  • The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings 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 inaccessible and you have to start the entire game over again.

    Stealth Based Game 
  • Hitman (2016) and Hitman 2 have "elusive targets", missions that are only available for a limited time. Saving is disabled and the mission cannot be repeated, regardless of success or failure; final death rules are imposed on you and your target.
  • 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.

    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 Isaac 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 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...
  • While Fear & Hunger is already quite ungenerous when it comes to saving your game, Hard Mode disables all means of doing so. Got your head pecked off by the Crow Mauler? It's back to the very beginning for you! Did we forget to mention the character-specific endings can only be gotten through Hard Mode?
  • Outlast has Insane Mode, which, in addition to sending you to the start of the game if you die, ramps up the AI difficulty and only allows you to carry two batteries. Beating the game and the Whistleblower DLC with it unlock special achievements each.
  • SCP Containment Breach has Keter difficulty, which increases the spawn rates of hostile SCPs and prevents you from saving, ever.
  • ZombiU has three difficulty settings; Easy, Normal, and Survival. On the two lower difficulties, you respawn as a new character if your current character dies. On Survival, you're limited to the character you start the game with, and have to restart from the beginning if you die. This is particularly challenging since enemies can randomly kill you in one hit with a bite attack if your health isn't at 100%, and exploding enemies will also kill you instantly if you accidentally melee them instead of shooting them from a distance. Enemies also have more health and do more damage.

    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). In interviews, the developers have said that Ironman is the way they expect the game to be played: they intended the game to have consequences for choices made, which they feel is subverted by save-scumming.
  • Templar Battle Force has both an "Ironman" and an "Ironman Hell" mode, the second being harder than the first.
  • Inverted in most mainline Fire Emblem games starting with Fire Emblem: Awakening: as with the rest of the series, permadeath 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. Neither mode prohibits saving (or even Save Scumming); however mid-chapter saves are typically possible only on Casual.
  • Massive Chalice, which is heavily influenced by the above mentioned XCOM, has an Ironman mode that saves after every turn and player action on the tactical layer. Forcing the player to accept the consequences for their actions. Particularly harsh with the random events whose outcomes are based on percentage chances and therefore out of the hands of the player. It's an optional tick box which means you can apply it to any difficulty setting.
  • Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden: Called "Iron Mutant" mode and available on all difficulty levels. The game autosaves after every combat turn, and manual saves are not available.
  • BattleTech has an Ironman mode option which limits players to one save in a campaign, no in mission saves, and no quitting without saving. The end result is that the game instantly becomes that much more dangerous, as there is nothing saving your best pilot from being killed instantly by a shot to the cockpit in the very first turn of a mission or losing millions of C-Bills' worth of equipment from unexpected enemy reinforcements—you just have to suck it up and keep going.

    Third Person Shooter 
  • Max Payne 3 has New York Minute Hardcore, where in addition to the normal New York Minute mission timer, you have just one life to play through the whole game with.
  • Remnant: From the Ashes has a Hardcore mode where not only does one death end your campaign, you can also only co-op with other Hardcore players, in case you were thinking of cheesing it by getting non-Hardcore players to do all the fighting for you. Beating the World Bosses and the two campaigns in this mode rewards you with special accessories (and a unique emote) which are unlocked across all characters you own, so even your non-Hardcore characters can benefit from a successful Hardcore run. Just watch out, because the game has heavy Souls-like RPG elements, and we all know what that means: prepare to die...

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • AI Dungeon 2 had hardcore mode. Unlike the normal adventures where Death Is a Slap on the Wrist, dying in hardcore mode used to end the story for good. This was removed in later updates.
  • Escape Velocity: Death Is a Slap on the Wrist normally: you can simply reload at the last planet you visited. In "Strict Play", however, you actually have a need for the Escape Pod item.
    If you check this box, when you're dead, you're dead. No reincarnation allowed.
  • Minecraft has a Hardcore Mode which freezes the difficulty level of a world to Hard and puts evil expressions onto the hearts of the Life Meter. Once the player dies, they are kicked into the game's spectator mode, which permanently prevents them from interacting with the world ever again. Exaggerated in versions prior to release 1.9 (when spectator mode was added) - if you died in one of those earlier releases, you would be forced to delete the entire world. Also subverted in that if you know basic computer skills, you can utilize an exploit to circumvent this by using the Open To LAN feature to activate cheats, then enter a command that properly resurrects you.
  • Necesse has Hardcore Mode, which prevents respawning.
  • Starbound has a hardcore character mode, but only the character is deleted, not the worlds: there's only one universe file for the game. If all your items are on your ship, though...
  • 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 so a friend can pick them up. However, unlike Minecraft, player and world files are separate, and only the player is deleted. Thus, you can bring another character to the world if you wish, and use any items you had in storage to give them a head start.
  • Watch Dogs: Legion has Permadeath as a switchable option for the many agents you can recruit for DedSec. Having it off when they go down just has them arrested until they're let go from jail to serve as their respawn timer.
  • X3: Terran Conflict and its Expansion Pack have an optional 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.

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