Cheating in singleplayer games


The only times I have issues with mods or cheats is when some people try to push it on someone who asked for something entirely different (and no cheating in multiplayer obviously).

Stuff like ‘Really enjoying game, but struggling with X. Any tips to help?’ Followed up by: ‘Just download this mod. Base game is dumb anyway.’ It’ll inevitably be something that completely trivializes half the game play mechanics or changes it beyond recognition. Sometimes followed by mental gymnastics about how it’s not changing the difficulty but just catering to certain preferences.

Other than that, I’m glad a lot of games can let people people enjoy games the way they want through mods.


I think we we’re chatting about how to play in the Dead Cells thread. This just makes me think “Wut???”. I think I can see the intention (normal play-through is “authored” by the devs and they want you to experience that before getting the option to change), but it seems so pointless especially in a game that is difficult enough that a significant number of people won’t ever get that first clear, and is compounded by the fact that random loot will sometimes trivialise fights, so what even is an authored experience at that point.

I was getting to HotK pretty regularly, but then got a Blood Sword that had the perk “Bleeding spreads to nearby enemies” which made the final castle a joke - and with the waves of enemies that spawn in the HotK fight ensured that he had max bleed stacks each time he came out of invulnerability phases, and basically just melted.


The fact that this is so pervasive is one reason why I was (as I noted at the time), underwhelmed by Getting Over It (With Bennett Foddy). There’s whole genres of game which exist, basically, to push frustration on you / “make you work to git gud”, so I sort of feel that anyone who needed to be taught that lesson by Bennett probably wasn’t paying attention over the last several decades.

I admit, I did buy Dead Cells (in the end, mostly because people on Waypoint were raving about them being an AnarchoSyndicalist Collective), but like you, I feel profoundly conflicted by that choice, given that the developers’ choices have led to a game which I really can’t enjoy, so high its difficulty level seems to be climbing. (I’ve previously had this issue with Shovel Knight, for example, although at least that has some built in “cheat codes”, even if none of them resolve the key design problems with its difficulty for me.)


This is pretty much my stance, as well.

While I usually try to have my first playthrough be a “dry” one, there have been occasions where I’ve peeked into a guide or followed a YouTube video here and there. It really depends on the task in question and whether or not I feel it’s worth the effort to solve on my own. In the end, I just want to get the most FUN out of playing a game as possible, and if cheats help achieve that end, I’m not against it.

I don’t really play multiplayer games so I don’t face the issue of cheating on leaderboards and such, but I’d like to believe that I wouldn’t do so in those cases just out of morality.

Although, I would cheat if it’d help me level to 55 in Assassin’s Creed 4’s multiplayer. What a long-suffering ordeal that was.


I think that there are probably some games out there where you are diminishing your experience by cheating, but those games are few and far between. Pure puzzle games for example, will probably not be anywhere near as rewarding if you just have FAQ with every single solution available.

Outside of that though, go nuts. If something is causing you to have fun and it’s not ruining the experience for others, who cares what you do with it?


I feel that if you are designing something that your vision is the only correct way to progress, it’s not a disrespect to use it differently. I imagine nobody calls a GIF a JIF because that’s the designers view.


I think there’s this important barrier between turning using cheats to make the game more enjoyable for you, whether modifying difficulty or quality of life, and this kind of playful cheating.

If you need to give your character extra hit points or a faster run speed so you can enjoy the game, I think that’s fair. Celeste’s Assist Mode also does a similar thing by, not really majorly modifying the overall experience of the game, but still increasing accessibility. (A good GMTK video on it.)

On this other end of the spectrum, there’s this kind of “cheating” where you just want to mess around in the toybox. You’re disrupting the fundamental confines of the game and its systems for this distinct kind of play. You’re effectively no longer playing the game. I don’t want to dismiss this kind of thing, because I view it as a valid form of play. But you are effectively restructuring the rules of the game, and creating a sandbox scenario for you to toy around with. I think you can see a lot of interesting forms of play emerge from this kind of thing. But I will say: I frequently find myself getting bored of these modes after a handful of minutes.


This is, literally, the difference between a “toy” and a “game” in some of the formal classifications of these things (and why Maxis used to call all their SimX games, like SimAnt and SimEarth, “software toys” - they’re not games, because games, in this sense, enforce a more limiting set of “rules” about “how” you play, whilst toys give you “tools” to play whatever rules/ set whatever goals you want).


Are you referring to Keith Burgun’s definition laid out in this video, or something else?

I’m not a huge fan of these classifications tbh tho


I think cheating in single player games is more or less generally accepted. In the 90s and early 2000s a lot of games had built in cheat codes after all, which the developers expect at least some players to use. When I was a kid, I wouldn’t have played age of empires nearly as much as I did if I wasn’t able to cheat for more resources, though now as an adult who understands the mechanics better, I don’t need to use them. I wouldn’t be where I am now if I quit playing because I kept getting demolished by the computer, though!

“Cheating” is also a big part of speedrunning, although folks go out of bounds by exploiting glitches rather than by simply typing in “-noclip” into a console. I “cheated” in universal paperclips a few times by entering the dev console in the browser to skip to a particular part of the game so that I could practise playing that part specifically without having to play from the start.


The most important points have already been mentioned, I just want to add:

  • Some games offer VERY easy difficulties:
    Personally I like playing with cheats, but I basically never resort to something like “god mode”. Playing a game a difficulty that just makes the player character a complete bullet sponge is not fun design. Period. Even for people that are new or with disabilities, it’s not fun from my limited experience. Offering some very custom difficulty options like “unlimited ammo - no reload” or “snappy auto aim” or 3x “out of jail”-cards for when you would have died… or “start with any loadout”, “have 30 level-up points from the start”. Those are usually way more fun ways to adjust the difficulty than the “I’m there for the story”-easy-modes.
    “You can’t have fun the normal way, that’s fine, here is some tweaking options, maybe you find something fun there” is still much better design than “Well, we can make the game so unchallenging-boring that you can at least experience the story” or “I guess this game is not for you then”.

  • The difficulty of some games is broken and not intentional:
    Mostly I’m thinking about 90s games that were fairly long and didn’t have a lot of resources during development, but there are examples even today. I played ReCore this year; because I didn’t want to do all the pretty monotonous side-stuff I found the game to be getting hard about 2/3 through. Accidentally I found a farming spot where an enemy wouldn’t die no matter how much I shot it, every hit gave me 2XP though. 20 Minutes later I found that I overlevelled and while the dungeons got easy, the open world scaled with my own level, just that my gear/robot-cores had not, which made the game almost impossible to finish.
    Games that know about the possibilites of these problems should have cheat-codes or a console build in.

  • Advantage: If a game offers cheats, the developers can deactivate leaderboards and trophy-systems.
    If they know that their game is one that people would like to cheat for fun in or where the progression curve might not plan out for everyone, making players resort to trainers or cheat-engine is a bad design decision in my opinion that can undermine the efforts of people that have fun beating their head against the toughest challenges.

  • My last point is a weird one:
    Over the years I played games that made using cheat-engine not very straightforward. Figuring them out was in some cases more fun than actually playing the game or using the cheats.


I think my favorite of all time was Halo on PC.

There was a tool that could freeze time, and you could shoot, and throw grenades, and whatnot, and all the projectiles would hang in the air, and you could just… RUIN the game in extremely fun ways.

I think the issue comes from when you’re ruining an experience. (Hang with me there, I’m all for a super easy mode in Dark Souls.) In multiplayer, this is often everybody’s experience. It’s not actually interesting or fun to win by cheating? If you’re in the right mindset, it can feed the ‘I’m winning!’ rush, but the second you reflect on it, it’s so empty. It also, obviously, ruins the experience of the people you’re playing against. (Usually. A couple other people I’ve met do enjoy playing against cheaters in some situations as an absurd sort of training? (So I know I’m not completely alone.))

In single player games, I think it can add a lot to an experience. It can morph them into something different/new.

I’d played Halo hundreds if not thousands of hours when I finally played it on PC. A time controlling Master Chief, with infinite grenades, sending vehicles into orbit with 100 rockets and grenades, was new. Freezing time to save a marine wasn’t something I could do before. It added a TON to an experience I’d already had.

In Celeste, I was struggling with some of the early levels. I went into the options and enabled, what was functionally cheats. Slowed the game to 50%, gave myself infinite jumps, and absolutely crushed the next level with absolutely no problems. Which felt bad. It wasn’t interesting. I could play through for the story, sure, but I could immediately tell that I’d enjoy it more with maybe one extra jump, or 90% speed, or normally. Luckily, it’s a single player game. It wasn’t a round I can’t repeat. So, I turned off my super powers, and played through the level again. I struggled, but improved. The whole message of the game felt more intimate as someone new to platforming. Try. Get better. You can do it. Don’t give up.

It kinda comes back to harm, in my mind. If you can’t finish a game without cheating, that’s harmful, and it’s better to cheat. If you ruin your experience by cheating, that’s also harmful, but not to anybody else. If you ruin someone else’s experience by cheating, it’s probably not a single player game.

(So give Dark Souls an easy mode, where enemies do less damage, health regenerates out of combat, and estus refills are in more places. Those games are super cool for so many reasons beyond “it’s hard and my ego!”)


Celeste is an interesting one (and I’m aware that I’m on the verge of going on about it too much in posts here right now, but that’s because I played it very recently - within the last few days - partly because it was introduced as being supportive of people who aren’t good a platformers (there’s even a few Steam reviews commenting on how “it probably helps people really cope with depression”, which is hyperbole, but…).

I don’t actually think Assist mode helps as much as reviewers thought it does. As someone who struggled a lot with the first level of Celeste, to the point that it was genuinely interactively negatively with my usual seasonal depression… it might have seemed nice to have an Assist mode which makes things “easier”. Except: the things I was having problems with down on the first level weren’t really “reaction speed” things (which the game speed slider helps with), and weren’t even really “limited jumps/boosts” problems, they were functional control issues. Additionally, as you note, utterly breaking the game by turning on infinite jumps and invincibility… utterly breaks the message of Celeste.
Now, admittedly, in the end, Celeste taught me the lesson that I shouldn’t try, because I’m not going to get better, and I can’t do it - I feel a lot better from giving up. And Assist mode didn’t help with that one bit.
(There’s also some ongoing controversy, apparently, on the Steam community forums, as you can still get Achievements when Assists are on, and a lot of the more “git gud” mentality posters seem to be salty that their entirely-bragging-rights Achievement tokens can be gotten by someone running the game at 50% speed.)


Pretty much agree with everyone else here; nothing wrong with cheating in sp, do whatever makes the game more enjoyable for you :slight_smile:

I never used them much, but there was something undeniably charming about the 1990s and discovering cheats through the grape vine or having this one friend with internet access in the early days of the www, who was supplying the whole school with ‘codes’.


Was thinking of making a thread about this but thankfully this one already exists! Anyway, I just played through Anodyne, which is a little 16-bit Zelda-like RPG that, having just finished it, I really, really like, but almost didn’t finish. To access the last area of the game, you need to collect all of the “cards” that are scattered around the game’s overworld and dungeons… and I had one left to collect, behind a locked door that I did not have a key for. This was an old dungeon, one of the first ones I’d beaten, and I slowly realized that I’d probably taken a key out of it and used it in a different dungeon (because you can do that in Zelda-likes). I did not know where to find the remaining key, and it’s not something that’s easy to intuit from what little the game tells you about your progress.

Long story short, after a lot of searching, I considered starting the game over again, but then I found some cheat codes on the wiki. Was able to noclip past the locked door, get that final code, stop noclipping, and finish the rest of the game properly. Which was nice, because it’s a great game! And it ended up being a much, much, much better experience than spending another two hours (in a six hour game) searching for that last key.


I am incapable of beating the first real boss in Nioh. To the point where i’ve just given up and written off the entire rest of this many hours-long game because i’m never going to see it. If I could just press a button to skip that fight and get on with the actually fun part of exploring the world and fighting smaller enemies and collecting items I would in a second.

Unfortunately i’m on the PS4 so can’t cheat engine my way out of it.


It took me probably 30 tries to beat the first boss in Nioh (I assume we’re talking about the Oni in the hull of the ship?) Then I played for awhile until I got to another boss - a sort of lightning chimera thing that wiped the floor with me. After maybe 3 or 4 tries I decided that as much as I like the rest of the game, I was not about to go through 30+ tries again and quit.

Long story short: I don’t want an easy mode in Souls-likes, I want a no-boss mode.


I feel that there needs to be a balance between ease and options. Something like the aforementioned easy mode would probably work by just raising health. I suppose it is what you define as difficult.


When I was a child and watched my brothers playing GTA, I remembered the one thing most of all - list of cheats, hidden somewhere under the keyboard. Cheats gave players fantastic opportunities, made the game easier and helped to go through hard missions. They were used both for fun and moving through the plot.
I try not to cheat because that makes a game boring. On the other hand, there are situations when cheating is the only way to keep you interested in game.
The game, where cheats are my must-have is Sims. I like building there, not having virtual life, and I need a lot of money to build.
If you don’t play with other people, cheating is not a sin, just a way to simplify the game .


A video game without bosses is what i’ve come to realize is my ideal gaming experience.

But no one makes them because it’s just how video games are. If you’ve got combat you need a boss to fight at some point.