The Hero Dies and Then –

In Cosmo Police Galivan, you have two experience bars.  One is for levels, which governs HP amounts and CP amounts (basically magic.)  The other is for your weapon.  If you die, you lose level experience but not blade experience.  This means that new areas are incredibly fustrating since you often need CP to open doors and do special attacks.  However, death removes your CP, and it removes your level experience (which governs the limit of how much CP you can have.) A friend of mine played the game using cheats for the blade experience and refilling HP.  He got stuck at one point because he needed to grind up his levels to have enough CP for an event.  While death in the game didn’t throw you that far back, it is an inconvienence, since it hurts you in ways that actually does matter.

Death in a rogue-like such as Dragon Crystal is usually a learning experience. You die so you can learn how to survive.

In Dragon Quest, there’s a similar system.  When you die, you’re thrown back to your last save, or to a king and you can start again.  You lose half your money when you die.  Since money is critical for new equipment, it’s a major setback, especially in the earlier games.  On the other hand, you keep your equipment and levels, so in the early game it may not be as bad of a set back.

Dying in STED is a basic "restart at save point with half your money."

Some games have permanent death.  This may be a game over in Persona 4 when the hero dies, or Fire Emblem’s permanent death of soldiers.  These games tend to encourage the player to try very hard to never have a death occur, or assume some deaths will happen, and the game is accordingly balanced.

One problem with majorly punitive deaths or long death scenes is that the player becomes immune to the punch of the punishment.  If the player just hits reset when things look bad, or when someone dies, or when something sub-optimal happens, then the punishment is merely a waste of time.  This may encourage overly cautious gameplay, or gameplay that involves endless puttering to get perfect results.  If someone is a “reset” type of player, then battles you can’t win are terribly annoying.  If, on the other hand, someone is a “push through to the end” type of player, those same battles can still be terribly annoying, due to the loss of consumable items.

I think it’s interesting to look at how a game handles death.  In Madara, for example, ressurection is a very rare skill and you can have the ability to ressurect suddenly removed from you in the early game.  Level imbalances means that anyone who is behind in levels will die easily, which will set off the entire “can’t ressurect people easily” problem all over again.  The game is interesting and has some nice elements, but the way it handles death makes it very hard to play.

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