In life, we would all like a reset button to be able to load our lives from a previous point when things go a bit awry. Most videogames let us do this, but is it always a good option?
Often the most magical parts of our lives – and indeed games – come out of the blue. Our achievements and successes would not seem so high without the lows. When it comes to videogames, though, we can often avoid the low moments by continuously restarting until we have that perfect playthrough. And as ideal as that is in some situations, the search for an error-free game takes away from the amazing stories we can tell when we’ve lived through a series of mistakes and wrong turns.
Enter “Ironman mode”. A mode that continually saves your progress over the same file so can’t go back, games with Ironman modes make you live through your mistakes. And while it sounds pretty tough, games can actually be all the better for this! Here are five games that would benefit from having an Ironman mode.
1Football Manager Series
Okay, this may be the third time I have mentioned Football Manager in as many articles, but what can I say? I’m obsessed. In fact, I was playing this game as my beloved Charlton when I thought of this list. I had just lost to Crystal Palace.. I am normally quite laissez-faire when it comes to losing — I like the realism of grinding out a season after promotion and enjoy the thankless task of keeping your team’s head above water.
This attitude went out the window when I lost to Palace, though. I reverted to a backup save. While this felt good in the short-term, the rest of my playthrough felt tainted. I should have waited for the next derby to rectify this grudge match. What I needed was an Ironman mode to stop my horrific desires.
2Life is Strange
I could have put down any number of choice-based story games, but I’ve gone with Life is Strange as it offers up some of the most difficult choices in the genre. The moral dilemmas in these games are set there to plague our minds. Do I save Doug or Carly in The Walking Dead? And what would happen if I didn’t graffiti on Warren’s door, would he still fancy me? After making these hard choices and seeing the reaction caused by them, our weak-willed nature can make us desperate to tab-out and restart that chapter to see which reaction we prefer.
Ultimately we should be making decisions based on what we think is best at the time and not on the reactions they cause. It will make the pacing of the game go as intended and will add emotional weight to every decision that you make. Replaying the game after – perhaps without Ironman mode – will be far more enjoyable too, as you can thoroughly explore the worlds and branching narratives without worrying about it spoiling the plot.
Essentially, it would be better if Warren fancied us for the choices we make and not the ones he wants us to make. Ironman mode will make that happen.
Having lived around London my whole life, I know that the best cities in the world don’t just spring up out of nowhere. They squeeze in new infrastructure where they can, and work to the people’s need of the time. Each street has its history, and the way the city develops is a story to be told.
In Cities: Skyline this just isn’t a thing. That industrial estate that you built at the founding of your city can be demolished with a simple click of a button. If Cities had an Ironman mode, that wouldn’t be as easy as it once was. Demolishing roads would take some time, with the bigger roads taking longer. This would make you much more inclined to redevelop an estate in a way that feels natural. While this may not be the mode for the perfectionists, it certainly would be a fun challenge for people to be more realistic in their development plans, cementing the idea that every street has a story.
4Final Fantasy X
Final Fantasy X is one of the best in the series. It manages to make a linear story feel expansive, before opening up. It controversially took away the world map system, without making anyone miss it and it had a really cool levelling system.
The sphere grid was your way of increasing your characters’ stats and abilities. Instead of levelling up in the traditional sense, you followed a series of connected nodes and activated different types to improve your characters. There were some really cool choices that you could make later on in the game by destroying borders in the sphere grid to make different paths, and therefore making different stats and abilities available to different characters. Rikku, for example, could go from a typical thief archetype to a red mage.
The only thing that spoiled this was at the end of the game, you could unlock everything for everyone, making all characters the same apart from their overdrives. I believe this took away from their individuality. You were always going to pick Wakka for his overdrives — not, as it was intended, for his awesome ginger hair.
It would be interesting if you only had a few unlock spheres and they only worked for certain characters. By doing this it would make the end-game much more engaging instead of a grind. The decisions on what character paths you could blend is an intriguing proposition, especially with an Ironman mode.
5Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
As much as I love Skyrim, there is one thing that stops me replaying the old bastard: you become too powerful. Once you have been the head of the College of Winterhold, the Dark Brotherhood and the Thieves Guild while parading around with dragon armour, restarting the campaign feels underwhelming. On the other hand, the game becomes meaningless once you have mastered everything, and only DLC is worth going back for.
When Skyrim inevitably re-releases next generation, it should include an Ironman mode that stops from you from becoming the master of all trades. It should force you to actually roleplay a class when you pick your skills in this role-playing game, and guild memberships should be exclusive, meaning you can not run them all, and have requirements for membership as well as a quest. By taking away the things you are able to do when choosing your skills, abilities and memberships, deciding them is much more important. This would surely breathe a FUS RO DAH of life into this old game.