Playing permadeath games can seem masochistic. Why would anyone want their playable character dead after one tiny mistake?

Permadeath is a game mechanic vanishing a character’s health points to start the title over. Sometimes, the hero loses all his equipment, and the player can select another character to play the game. This strange rule originates in good old arcade titles like Pac-Man or Space Invaders.

But why even play a title where you can lose everything?

The answer is simple – the delicious thrill of high stakes. Players upgrade their skills to challenge the developers and prove they can finish the chosen title without making any mistakes. That requires a deep trust in developers capable of designing a game worthy enough for players to want to play it again. Fancy a challenge? Here, you will find the ready-made list of games with permadeath!

Diablo 2 (hardcore mode)

Release date:2021-09-23
Developer:Blizzard Entertainment

The goal of this classic hack-and-slash game is simple – explore a procedurally generated land to exterminate all enemies, get rich, and defeat the ultimate evil. But it gets problematic with permadeath involved.

Enabling hardcore mode doesn’t change anything except your character becoming mortal. Each encounter with enemies can result in the unexpected loss of all items, progress, and lives – pretty painful as obtaining all these things takes time.

Key features
  • Choose from five character classes
  • Explore procedurally generated lands to confront an ancient evil
  • Turn on hardcore mode to enjoy permadeath
  • Play solo or in multiplayer with up to eight players

State of Decay 2

Release date:2018-05-22
Genre:Action & Shooter
Developer:Undead Labs

Living in a post-apocalyptic reality is never easy. Especially with the ultimate death of all your party members!

State of Decay 2 is a classic zombie post-apocalyptic game where a team of playable heroes tries to survive. Your job is to collect equipment, find food, and develop skills. You can also switch between characters to use different skills. But this game can be spooky, the nights scary, and the omnipresent zombies extremely aggressive. So permadeath after surviving many days in this reality means a truly memorable experience!

Key features
  • Lead a group of desperate survivors
  • Collect equipment and fight zombies
  • Develop skills and lose them through permadeath
  • Play solo or in multiplayer for up to four players

Sunless Sea

Release date:2015-02-06
Developer:Failbetter Games

It is an excellent recommendation for enthusiasts of Victorian vibes and nautical themes. Become the ship captain and explore the mysterious underground ocean!

Get ready for a thrilling and dark adventure on the surface of the most mysterious sea. Wage battles, discover new lands, and forge alliances. But beware, these waters are full of bloodthirsty enemies and Lovecraftian-inspired monsters! The fate of your crew depends entirely on your decisions, and even a tiny amount of light can attract the most ferocious beasts.

Key features
  • Embark on a Victorian sea adventure
  • Explore the underground sea and discover its secrets
  • Make decisions and forge alliances with leading factions
  • Watch out for mighty monsters and multiplying enemies

Darkest Dungeon

Release date:2016-01-19
Developer:Red Hook Studios

Darkest Dungeon is all about omnipresent danger and the fragile human psyche. And in this dark world, you must do everything to keep the team alive.

Explore the mysterious dungeons to discover the past of a forgotten Gothic mansion. Something evil lives in this place, and any terrifying encounter can worsen your party’s mental state! Save them by visiting a local town, or let them die permanently to hire new heroes.

Key features
  • Play an exceptionally dark roguelike game
  • Lead the team through the dark dungeons
  • Take care of your people’s mental health
  • After permadeath, hire someone in your local town

Dwarf Fortress

Release date:2022-12-06
Developer:Bay 12 Games

Become a master strategist leading a settlement of heroic dwarves! This game is challenging but guarantees a lot of satisfaction.

Dwarf Fortress is a randomly generated world where you lead a group of seven dwarves or embark on an epic journey solo. Anything can happen in this game, so keep your dwarves happy by developing their village and ensuring a regular supply of beer. When your heroes die, the game is over, but you can start again in another world!

Key features
  • Play an incredibly massive procedurally generated game about dwarves
  • Lead a team of five heroes or explore this world solo
  • Build, fight, discover, and explore
  • Try all three game modes

Risk of Rain

Release date:2019-03-28
Developer:Hopoo Games, LLC

Choose one of the ten available characters to survive on a faraway planet. As you probably already guessed, this is an adventure with permadeath included!

Risk of Rain is a platform title set on an alien planet plagued with dangers. Prepare for an action-fueled journey through challenging locations full of enemies and surprising traps. The game features only a high difficulty level, and death happens often, but it’s an oddly satisfying 90’s style gaming experience.

Key features
  • Try to survive on an alien planet
  • Explore dangerous locations and use a hundred types of weapons
  • Choose from ten unique characters
  • Play solo or in multiplayer

Project Zomboid

Release date:2013-11-08
Developer:The Indie Stone

It is another zombie recommendation focusing on survival in an extremely hostile world. And it becomes increasingly problematic!

In Project Zomboid, unavoidable death always happens at some point. Create a character, choose a game mode, and start your survival adventure! Craft weapons, look for food, tend the hero’s mental state, and decide what to do with multiplying zombies. The danger is everywhere, but you can try to live another day.

Key features
  • Play a highly challenging zombie apocalypse game
  • Explore the ruined town and find yourself a shelter
  • Craft weapons, take care of your sanity, and try not to die
  • Play solo or in multiplayer

Most video games offer gameplay for hours, where every decision matters. We can infinitely develop our character, discover new secrets, and invest in increasingly better equipment. But sometimes, it just gets boring. Games with permadeath don’t require that share of time and focus. All you have to do is try to survive and enjoy the endless frustration! For many players, this is the definition of fun and a relaxing escape from more challenging matters.