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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.



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    Action Adventure 
  • Batman: Arkham Origins has "I Am The Night" mode, which also functions as a New Game+ 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 or when fighting the True Final Boss. 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 an It's a Wonderful Failure message.
    "Your fight has ended.
    Memories of you will fade.
    Silence, all is lost."

    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 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 when 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".
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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 takes this Up to Eleven by only giving 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, one) 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 difficulty in The Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures: One life, One HP, no checkpoints, and no continues. Take just a single hit from anything, and you start the game over from the beginning.
  • 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 shoooter/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, he/she 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".

  • Losing with any character but the main one in Panel de Pon, and by extension its Western release Tetris Attack (Lip/Yoshi respectively), has that character become completely unusable for the remainder of the game, and they won't appear in the ending.

  • 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+ in Thumper reduces the beetle's 2 hit points to One-Hit-Point Wonder and removes checkpoints.

    Role Playing Game 
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    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...
  • 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 has hardcore mode. Unlike the normal adventures where Death Is a Slap on the Wrist, dying in hardcore mode ends the story for good.
  • 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. Downplayed in 1.9, as it allow player to spectate their world after they killed. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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.