I’m a serial video game cheater and it’s finally caught up to me

Cheat codes were once my go-to solution to beat hard video games, but I’ve found myself at an impasse having taken up a few rogue likes in recent months.

The genre revolves around having only one life and once you die the game resets. Games like The Binding of Issac and Enter the Gungeon give players some advantages as you unlock better items over time, but at their core is the development of your brain muscles to get better at playing.

I’ve gotten a lot better over the last few weeks, but those credits remain elusive. I used to die against the 2nd floor bosses, but now it’s usually the 4th floor ones that get the best of me. I am slowly getting better, but part of me wishes there was an invincibility code.

Here’s some of my favourite games where that was possible.

Heroes of Might and Magic III

The pop culture references in Heroes of Might and Magic III’s cheats are a lot of fun. The first version of the game used phrases from The Matrix, and the expansions used words from the Star Wars prequels and Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

There are cheats for things like infinite movement (Nebuchadnezzar was hard for me to spell), filling your army with black knights (Darth Maul), and instant winning (Trojan Rabbit), but I used the cheats a little differently.

I’d activate the cheat for infinite movement and then see how far I could get into a map without moving onto the next turn. That meant building an army using refugee camps and creature hovels. That also meant that Christian, a hero who specializes in ballistas, became my go-to guy as his upgraded skill could make the war machine do big damage. Oh, also, the diplomacy skill was pretty important.

My main reason for cheating in the game largely has to do with patience. I just don’t have any… so when faced with having to take upwards of 100 or more turns in the game with the distinct possibility of losing I’ll always take the easy way out. I don’t think cheating made me enjoy the game any less, but it certainly makes me respect people like my brother who do have the patience to experience the games properly.

Also a side note: Refugee Camps in the game work by grabbing units from pre-existing hovels, so if a high-level player on the map happens to have an Azure dragon hive there’s a chance you could hire one yourself.

Elderscrolls III: Morrowind

Does using the TES Editor count as cheating? Maybe.

The Elderscrolls Construction Set is a bit of free software that came with Morrowind. It allows you to build your own environments from houses to castles, and edit objects like chests/containers so they can be endowed with infinite capacity. The game had a nasty habit of making items disappear, so this was really the only way to ensure that your countless artifacts stuck around.

Is that cheating? Well, yes, but I also put a lot of effort into making those houses in various cities. Creating homes involved creating my own layouts and then adding touches to it like a Scrib with a unique name, notes with funny anecdotes, and my own armour sets. I got pretty deep into armour customization. I found a way to remove the foot texture from certain pairs of boots to allow Argonians to wear them. I have never been able to figure out how I did that.

But there are ways to “cheat” Morrowind’s existing mechanics.

In Caldera, you can buy the Ring of Aversion. With that ring you can basically steal anything in the game, so long as you sneak. I steal from a few traders then sell them off to Scamp or the Mudcrab Merchant whose reserves of money replenish every day. The goal, of course, is to find a grand soul gem, a Golden Saint, and then enchant an amulet to give me constant healing, which pretty much breaks the game.

If you save up enough money and you’re a little nuts, you could also make a 100 per cent Chameleon suit, which will make you invisible to everyone in the game. It’s different from regular invisibility that deactivates when you take an action. Chameleon stays active allowing you to steal anything without being caught.

One could argue that that’s cheating, but I say it’s fair game if the exploit exists within the game’s architecture.

FTL

FTL is definitely one of my favourite video games of all time, but it is so hard. One little slip up can make or break your experience with the game, but there is a way around that.

Save scumming is largely a PC gaming thing where you use saves to beat a game. Imagine there’s a quest where the reward you get is entirely random, so you keep saving and reloading until you get a good item.

The problem with doing this in FTL is that it’s pretty much the antithesis of the game experience. You’re supposed to die in rogue likes. You’re not supposed to be able to save and do over plus the method for doing this is a little complicated.

If you go into the game’s directory folder, you can copy your current state in the game say the turn before you go up against the big boss. If you win then you move onto the next game. If you lose, you paste that save back into the folder then try again.

I used to play the game religiously and there were times where a few bad decisions have ruined minutes of progress.

***

Cheat codes in video games are equalizers that allow anyone to reach the end of a video game. Not every person has the time and dedication to get good at a video game. Sometimes you just want to reach the end and cheats will help you get there.

Games like Enter the Gungeon are unforgiving in this way, but I think that’s made me a better player. I remember the patterns in which enemies attack, I remember item descriptions, and I remember strategies.

Cheat codes are great, but they do limit your ability to get better.

One thought on “I’m a serial video game cheater and it’s finally caught up to me

  1. I always had a hard time watching my stuff get destroyed or knocked over in games like Age of Empires. Savescumming is the way to go if you want to avoid disaster. At the same time, it does take away from the experience. Some games used to feature limited save options, but I feel like most players would protest if that kind of system were implemented now outside of some kind of hard/lunatic mode.

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