Cheats in video games have been around for a while. One of the most notable examples being in the Grand Theft Auto, or GTA series. In GTA IV, players can enter phone numbers into their in-game phone to change the weather, spawn vehicles and restore their health. Some other single-player games unlock cheats as a reward for obtaining all the collectibles such as in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered.
Unofficial user-created modifications, or mods, can also serve the same purpose as cheats. They can allow players to become invincible, have unlimited money or kill enemies with one hit. For the past few weeks, I’ve been using a program called WeMod to enable these kinds of cheats with the press of a button. Sometimes I just wanted to play through a game to experience the story and not be bothered with collecting a bunch of money to buy new weapons and armor like in Assassin’s Creed II. Other times, I wanted to experience the world more and see the different enemies and equipment designs such as in Dark Souls III. Here are some of my experiences and thoughts after using cheats to squeeze the last few ounces of fun out of games that I wouldn’t have returned to otherwise.
Assassin’s Creed II
Assassin’s Creed II is primarily about a young, wealthy, Italian noble named Ezio Auditore. During the Renaissance, he becomes involved in a conspiracy after his father and brother are hanged. Ezio eventually joins the Assassins, an ancient order dedicated to fighting against the Templars who want to take over the world, and seeks revenge for his family.
I started playing Assassin’s Creed II after losing interest in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and read that Ezio was one of the best protagonists of the series. I wanted to experience the story without any of the repetitive side missions or worrying about affording new weapons and armor, so the only cheat I used was to have infinite money.
Because combat wasn’t the main draw of the game, although it’s certainly a core pillar, I didn’t feel like I lost much of the normal experience if I had played without the cheat. I still enjoyed the parkour and characters’ story beats.
Dark Souls III
The Dark Souls series is known for one thing, tough-as-nails boss fights. However, one of the things I find annoying about Dark Souls is that when you die, you have to play through the entire area again and fight the same enemies. The idea is that if you died, you could just keep defeating the same enemies to level up more and become more powerful or you would simply become more adept at recognizing enemy attacks and be able to dodge out of the way or parry better.
I’m a pretty impatient gamer, so this style of gameplay doesn’t entirely agree with me. However, I still wanted to admire Dark Souls III’s awe-inspiring gothic architecture and cool, creepy enemy designs. So, I used infinite health and money cheats to breeze through the fights.
What made this experience different from Assassin’s Creed II is that I was skipping the core conceit of the game instead of embracing it. The story of Dark Souls is not told explicitly, rather the player has to seek it out themselves through item descriptions and speaking with non-player characters. So the primary focus becomes the combat, which I’ve opted to essentially ignore. There’s also a semi-involuntary competitive multiplayer system where another player could invade your game and try to kill you. So when another player did just that, it made me feel a little bad that I was ruining his experience, but on the other hand, I just wanted to play the game how I wanted to play it. It’s not like I was choosing to invade his game after all.
After a few hours of no challenge, though, I began to wonder why I was playing at all. The core conceit of the game was completely ruined and I eventually grew bored of the world and its fascination with gothic cathedrals.
Using cheats is like walking a tightrope
Using cheats in these games really highlighted how great having more difficulty options in games could be to people who just want to be able to choose how they play the game. An easy mode could also appeal to more people who wouldn’t normally play video games and allow them to just watch the cutscenes like a movie, or admire the scenery.
The allure of having everything handed to you without any work or having to potentially play dozens of hours of a game is appealing, but I constantly had to ask myself if I would actually play more of the game without cheats. Once you have everything, you don’t want anything, and there’s not much incentive to keep playing unless you’re really invested in the story. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle.