On Survival Modes (Day 27)

Survival Modes are a great metaphor for life – you’re given endless challenges to overcome, but doing so grants rewards (that are ultimately meaningless and then you die). Alright, it’s not a great metaphor, I guess, but you get my point.

For clarity, I’m talking about traditional “survival modes” where you fight an endless wave of enemies, rather than the modern “survival modes” where you have to drink your own pee in Minecraft or whatever.

Survival Modes tend to exist in action-heavy games, especially in fighting games. This makes a lot of sense, especially as a kind of training tool; there’s no better way to improve your “not getting stabbed” skills than fighting infinite enemies in a row while trying to not get stabbed.

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I’m not necessarily a huge fan, if only because I find these modes tend to be too stressful. Knowing I’m eventually doomed to die regardless of my actions is a bit of a crappy feeling (like in the real world!), so I like to avoid it in games where I can.

Having said that, it’s a great way to learn, especially in games with complex fighting systems. If you can only improve via practice, what better practice than as many fights as you can possibly handle?

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My favourite survival mode by far comes in the form of Devil May Cry 3’s “Bloody Palace”. It throws players into arena after arena, and once every enemy is defeated, 3 separate portals to the next floor will appear. There are a total of 9999 floors, and players can take any of these 3 portals at any time – one takes you up 1 floor, the other 10 floors and the final one 100 floors.

This feels like a real “best of both worlds” approach. Want a survival mode you can beat? Take it 100 floors at a time and try to reach the ending (it’s an insane challenge even with the 100 floor boost). Otherwise, take it 10 or even 1 floor at a time to get as much combat as you could want.

How about you? Do you have a preferred survival mode? Do you feel the same way I do (or are you passionately opposed)? Let me know in the comments!

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