Icarus softens its stance on permadeath with mission insurance

Icarus spaceman corpse face down in snow
(Image credit: RocketWerkz)

Permadeath in Icarus continues to be something of an issue. Back in late December, developer RocketWerkz raised thousands of characters from the grave, victims of being left behind on the planet after the mission timer expired in the session-based survival game. That's the only way to experience a true character death in Icarus—if you don't catch a rocket ride back up into space before the mission timer reaches zero, you lose your character and all their skill progress forever (though items crafted in the space station will remain available to your other characters).

December's mass resurrection was due to a potential misunderstanding by players of how permadeath works in Icarus. "We may not have been clear enough to new players learning the game that unless you return to your dropship before the timer expires, then you lose your character permanently - abandoned on the planet surface," RocketWerkz said at the time. "While these issues don’t affect all players, when you lose a character unfairly it hurts."

Now RocketWerkz has taken another step toward forgiving players for not making their scheduled flights. An 'insurance' option has been added to some of Icarus' missions. If you take on an insured mission and don't get your character off the planet before the timer expires, you won't permanently lose them or their progress. They'll be returned to the space station intact.

"This adjustment is the first of many, giving us a chance for us to test out some theories and concepts we’ve been working on behind the scenes," says RocketWerks. "Expect more significant changes on this front in future updates." A quick skim of the mission selection screen shows that around 15 of the 60 or so missions in Icarus are insured.

There's no mention in RocketWerkz's post of players having a misunderstanding about permadeath this time. It just sounds like a move to make the harshest element of the game a bit less prickly and let players make a few more mistakes without paying the ultimate price. I can get on board with that. Personally, if I lost my character forever—even if it was entirely my own damn fault—I'm not sure how eager I would be to start over completely from scratch. This insurance feature sounds like a good way to make at least a few missions in Icarus risk-free, while retaining the intimidating threat of permadeath for the rest.

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.