Hacked Off: Battles in Video Games That You Can’t Win

This feature isn’t just me moaning about how I suck at video games and can’t get past certain boss fights. Why would I write about that since it’s a given? Instead, this is about those wonderful moments in games where no matter how good you are, the scene completely disregards what you achieve, be it beating the enemy or more annoyingly trying to survive a fight where you have to die. Now, seeing as this has a lot of potential at spoiling many games, I’ll leave specific examples out. Would rather not warn people about these events in games. I’m not some kind of vigilante looking out for people so they don’t get annoyed at games.

The most annoying of these situations is easily the latter. The battles in video games your character is condemned to lose. This means you are only prolonging the inevitable. Things often look gloomy, but you’re playing so there is hope. After 100 waves or taking down the boss’s health halfway, you finally fall. Part of you still thinks maybe you can beat it, but no. There is no way you’re getting past this, for once you’re useless in a video game. Sure, killing off main characters is a great idea, and more games should take the risk by killing off leads. But is there a need to have you face off against an unkillable entity? It’s like playing against a cheater and the phrase about cheaters never prosper is a lie, as you will not beat them.

‘That’s not so bad, I like the idea that you play battles where you can’t always win. It’s fun to see how long you last.’ Alright, I can see why some people might enjoy games doing this. I would rather just have a scene as it’ll look better and won’t waste 20 minutes. But there are times when the character’s death is harder to foresee. This means you go into a battle against an endless horde mode or a boss that is super strong while you remain unaware you can’t win. It’s not completely unimaginable for a game to have a sudden difficultly increase, in fact a previous Hacked Off was about that. It’s like these features are planned and aren’t completely made up on the spot. Unaware of the plot twist, you just play along assuming this is just a really hard section.

Not knowing you are meant to die in order to continue, you treat it like an actual fight. This means you rinse through most of your items to try and stay alive and kill whatever is harassing you. It’s fine since I didn’t want them anyway, they would hardly have been of use anywhere else in the game. So, you can either suck it up or pray to the heavens you saved somewhere near the beginning of the battle and just replay the fight, dying straight away. All of this hassle for no reason. Sure, it made the story a little less predictable, but it did so at the cost of time and items. Would rather the game just didn’t let you use the items.

Then there are the other battles you can’t win. The fights in games where you have to beat the person, and yet the scene ends with them knocking you down. Sure, I just beat the living sense out of this guy, but sure, I’m the one who looks worse for wear, makes complete sense. You have to physically win the fight, just for them to tell you you’re awful and can’t win. Now, I’m pretty sure hacking them to shreds with swords is me being good enough to beat them. It’s not like you can even just sit there and lose as you have to actually beat them. It makes no sense. If you’re really struggling with the fight and can’t win, you have to get good enough to beat them in order to lose the fight, which you are already losing. Confusing, I know.

Why not just have it lead to different scenes? If you win they are actually defeated. Clearly they couldn’t be killed as it would change the plot too much, which would be too much effort to implement. Or the game could just cut it short and make it look like they decided to retreat early, rather than them looking like they should be dead but not have a mark on them. Maybe I’m doing it wrong, I could just be hitting myself. Or the enemy must have telekinesis and is hurting me without looking like he’s doing anything. If it’s a fight you’re going to lose, just make it a scene, it’d look a lot fancier. They often escape, only for them to come back later and ruin your day, and this time around you normally get to beat them. If only we had been good enough the first time.

Sure, they can shake up the story of the game and make it a little less predictable, but there are better ways to do it. No doubt many people actually enjoy it when games do this. It’s just that I don’t, and I’m sure there are many like me who share my opinion.

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