Thoughts on Cheats and Walkthroughs
Posted on 5th May 2010 at 10:33 by Joe Martin with 78 comments
Outside of the review process, I honestly don’t usually see a big problem with cheating in games as a whole as long as it exists within certain parameters. In my opinion for example, you should never just sit down and cheat straight away – you should try and play the game properly first because you need a proper sense of risk to feel the reward. At the same time though, if you reach a point in a game where the fun is being bled out of it then why wouldn’t you use an exploit to get around it?
There’s always going to be a fraction of gamers that disagree with that last point and who think that games should be incredibly challenging, but I’ve had the enjoyment sucked out of far too many titles that way to possibly agree with them. Some of my absolute favourite games have been almost totally ruined by moments of excessive difficulty. I’ll confess that the last boss in Beyond Good and Evil sent me scrabbling for a cheat list after the eighth try and, when it turned out there wasn’t one, I was very put off. The game was saved from my hatred purely by the fact that I knew it was the last boss and that I wouldn’t have to repeat the experience. If the game had threatened to go on beyond that point or if the experience up to that point hadn’t been so brilliant then I’m pretty sure I would have just thrown it away. I’ve done it with other games.
The Alpha Section is constantly on the lookout for cheaters
That idea worries me more than it probably should do – I can’t stand the notion that I’ve missed out on some truly great games just because parts of them were too hard and the developers didn’t add cheats in. All games should have cheats in them and, believe it or not, cheats don’t always have to spoil a game. When Thief first came out I was deathly scared of the zombie-filled second level and couldn’t play it for more than five minutes. My enjoyment of the game was saved only by a Level Skip cheat, which meant I could skip that particular problem without having the entire game rendered pointless in the way that a God Mode cheat might have done.
Still, despite how firm I am in the opinion that all games should have cheats of some description there’s no denying that things can easily go in the other direction. I’ve had games ruined for me by cheats too and of those The Curse of Monkey Island was definitely the worst.
I’m trying to talk less about my Monkey Island obsession these days, mainly because I’m running out of things to say about it, but suffice it to say that I can remember my excitement for Monkey Island 3 with absolute clarity. I remember getting it for Christmas from my Grandma and I can perfectly recall opening it in in the Torquay hotel where my family had gathered for Christmas that year. It felt unreal to have something I had been awaiting for so long finally in my hands. That evening as we headed back oop norf I counted down the minutes until I’d be back at my PC and able to play.
"You shall never defeat me, Peepgood! Not without cheats!"
Two days later, I’d finished the game with the aid of a walkthrough. I didn’t use it all the time, not at first. At the end of my first day with the game I’d gotten stuck for an hour or so and was simply unsure what to do next, so I pulled out a guide. It turned out to be a slippery slope. The next day I was stuck again, this time for probably only twenty minutes. Out came the walkthrough. Then I got stuck for five minutes before I turned to the internet for help. By the time I left Blood Island I was alt-tabbing as often as I clicked.
I knew that what I was doing was probably a bit cheeky and I tried to ration it to myself (“OK, I’ll only use the cheats twice more…that one doesn’t count though, nor that one”) but it didn’t work. I kept coming back to the guide and the game was over before I knew it. I had forgotten that the whole point of an adventure game was to get stuck and that realisation bought an unusual amount of upset with it. I was furious at myself for days afterwards – aghast that I had ruined something I had been waiting literally years for.
Thankfully, I’d only played the game on Normal Difficulty the first time around, so I was able to go through it again on Mega-Monkey and enjoy some new puzzles without the aid of a guide. Again, it goes to show just how important getting the difficulty settings right can be – not that that was much consolation to me at the time.