Challenge Runs

Sorry for the hiatus. I’m back now 🙂

Most people who play games have heard of challenge runs but, just in case you haven’t, a challenge run is where you play the game from start to finish with some parameters to shape your playstyle which are usually intended to add a certain degree of difficulty on top of the games challenge but can also be for fun. I don’t want to go into the mentality behind them at this point but I wanted to list a few common ones that apply to a lot of games just in case people wanted an extra little bit of difficulty or replay value from their games.


The classic challenge run, if you will. Ironman is where you play a game, from start to finish, without dying. If you do die you’re not allowed to reload a checkpoint, you have to go back to the beginning of the game and start all over again. Whenever I’ve tried to do this it’s usually in a Bethesda game and, since Bethesda have an annoyingly loose idea of what a difficulty curve is, I don’t tend to get very far. When I’m doing this sort of thing I don’t like to skip out on the stuff I’d normally do but when I do something wrong, like I fall off a cliff and am put down to half health before I’ve even fought anyone, I have to run with it and use health potions where I normally would have just loaded a save. This one works especially well with games like XCOM where the challenge is to not “save-scum” and, of course, for XCOM it is worked into the game for you already.


Less of a “challenge” in my opinion and more of a test of how well you know a game. This challenge’s description is contained entirely in its title: you complete the game, to whatever completion percentage you want, in as little time as possible. You can chose whether you use glitches to make your time quicker or not but I prefer not to. It’s a fun little idea and works best with short games but many people like to do it with Bethesda games again, the record for Skyrim being completed (glitched) being in about 44 minutes.


Simple task; don’t kill anyone. Of course there are a number of games with which this can’t apply for but if it’s something like Deus Ex where you have the choice of stealth or combat, the challenge really gets to you when you set off an alarm but aren’t allowed to fight. I like it but when I tried to do this on the aforementioned Deus Ex I got so frustrated with how difficult things got that I had to completely give up and start the game again.

Level 1, No Armour (a.k.a. “Pantsman”)

I’m trying this in Dark Souls at the moment. You don’t level up for the entire game and wear no armour. You can use any weapon you want but that’s not much of a consolation. I think, in these scenarios, you need to play to your strengths: high mobility and quick attacks will hopefully keep you alive for more than a heartbeat of a hummingbird.


I personally do challenge runs only when I have completed the game once and still really love the game. I think people who have their first run of a game limited by parameters like only using stealth in Deus Ex are limiting their own enjoyment of a game. I haven’t completed Dishonoured yet because I started a run in order to get the achievements for killing no one, raising no alarms and using only one spell. Everyone says Dishonoured is good, and I’m sure it is, but I’ve ruined it for myself already.


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