Concept: metroidvania where upgrades are gained by dying. Every time something kills you, you reincarnate at your most recent save point with an adaptation that grants a. a new movement or interaction ability, and b. immunity to whatever got you this time. The trick is that all of the obvious ways to die will quickly be exhausted (granting you your bread-and-butter toolkit in the process), so in order to stay on the upgrade treadmill you have to search out increasingly esoteric ways to get yourself killed off.
I assume that dying to novel enemies won’t cut it?
The premise would make it tricky for the game to be combat-focused in the first place. If present, enemies would probably function more as obstacles than threats; any that do have the ability to kill you only get to do so once each, and then you’re immune to that attack form – like, maybe there’s a robot that kills you with a giant laser, and when you come back you can turn invisible (and will in fact do so reflexively when shot by giant lasers in the future, regardless of source, allowing them to pass harmlessly through you).
Death to impact definitely makes you bounce. You could potentially make that two different version for fall damage vs. someone hitting you very hard with a baseball bat, but that’s logic vs. what feels right, so I’ll leave it undecided. Maybe some kind of subdual procedure, and you need to find the one bot that’s overclocked by a few hundred newtons.
If they were different, it’d make sense on the grounds of them being subtly different forms of mobility (i.e. how you use them)
You could potentially do it as, like… a containment breach game? Sort of an Aperture Science dubious science institution? Or maybe a bit more SCP.
Either way, you’d definitely be up against people with a vested interest in keeping you contained and alive. (probably because they know what you’re capable of.)
So… Knockout gas, and if you want to pass it, you have to be able to just, not breathe, which you probably get by finding a way to drown yourself.
The invisibility you get from diving into their Science Laser also lets you sneak past their security grid, letting you avoid more guards.
The problem I’m noticing here is that there’s a lot of passive stuff, and it feels like it’s hard to justify a lot of active abilities because you the player or you the character could choose to just… not use them.
The trick to avoiding having the player character simply accumulate a laundry list of passive invulnerabilities is to have whatever mechanism is responsible for their repeated resurrection come up with extremely weird adaptations to whatever killed them. The “killed by a laser, become invisible” example should not be an outlier!
Other examples could include:
- Death by fire seems to grant the expected basic heat immunity, except you’ll quickly discover that if you heat up too much, you’ll explosively vent the accumulated thermal energy shortly after leaving the hot environment. This could be used to destroy obstacles, but it could also be an obstacle in itself, if whatever’s on the other side of the hot environment would react poorly to being blown up.
- Death by falling might make you bounce; alternatively, it might make you shrink, thereby reducing your terminal velocity and rendering the impact with the ground harmless (i.e., by the same principle that insects and small rodents can fall long distances without harm). If you want to be a real bastard about it, this one can’t be triggered voluntarily, so if you need to fit into a small space you need to figure out how to fall near its entrance.
- Death by acid? Secrete a neutralising base! The effect of the two substances cancelling each other out is purely cosmetic if you’re just, say, walking through acid rain, but if you manage to fully immerse yourself in the stuff, the resulting vigorous chemical reaction can be used as a makeshift form of propulsion.
- Being killed by the claws of an animal-like monster grants the ability to emit a very loud, annoying noise, scaring them off. This would figure into sound-based puzzles later on, of course, but it also triggers automatically on proximity to threats similar to the one that granted it, which might be exploited to create stealth challenges.
How would you design a final boss in this system, though?
Assuming that the game has bosses (which is by no means a given), there are lots of games where the final boss fight’s primary failure state isn’t “the boss kills you” – designing a final boss around an unkillable player character probably requires less outside-the-box thinking than designing regular enemies around the same.
#story ideas I will never write #death tw?