Streamer deals himself so much psychic damage grinding Jedi: Survivor's tutorial for hours in a no-death run that he later declares defeat without actually dying

Cal Kestis and Merrin either summon a mighty force push, or are doing their best mime impression amidst an arid desert landscape.
(Image credit: Respawn)

I like self-imposed gaming challenges. A little while ago, I wrote about how Final Fantasy 14 streamer Pint gave himself the task of beating the world record for Kugane Tower, an accolade barely anybody cared about until he decided to turn it into his holy grail. Now it's a part of speedrunning history. 

Some can take it a little far though, like streamer Goodgame_Ethan. To prepare for his short-lived journey, Ethan grinded XP until he'd unlocked every skill point in Jedi: Survivor's opening level—which is an impressive feat, if somewhat mind-numbing to think about, and should have set him up for success in a deathless run on the game's Grand Master difficulty.

This is made possible by the soulslike design of Jedi: Survivor. Enemies respawn whenever you visit a "meditation point"—which acts like a bonfire—meaning Ethan was able to grind the same mooks for hours in order to fully kit out Cal Kestis before he left Coruscant. Yet it's this same design which calls the "tragic" run-ending shield-bonk below into question.

GRAND MASTER Permadeath run ends after grinding for ALL Skill points on the first level. Right before fighting Dagan from r/StarWarsJediSurvivor

In isolation, the clip's hilarious—there's something slapstick about the heroic leap Cal Kestis makes, only to slam into a stormtrooper's shield and plunge ten feet to his "death". You might notice, though, that Ethan doesn't go back to a meditation point. The game doesn't actually think he's dead, and while he curls up on the floor, the Stormtroopers across the way blast a stoic Cal Kestis to a senseless demise.

This is by design. Unlike most soulslike games, Jedi: Survivor has a ton of triple-A brand platforming in it. Cal swings from ropes, runs from walls, slides down slopes, and even unlocks an air-dash. It feels nice and nippy, but it's also prone to occasionally hurling you straight into the void. 

Knowing that a full death—returning to your last meditation point, redeploying every enemy—would be unforgivably annoying under these circumstances, the developers at Respawn wisely decided that falling just costs Cal a little health, dropping him onto the nearest ledge. Goodgame_Ethan scrapped the run anyway.

This is brought up in the thread under the video by several commenters: "Wait, dude? … You don't die from falling off cliffs, you just take fall damage," a baffled user wilkinsk wrote, to which Ethan replied: "No it's a true permadeath run. That definitely counts. I wouldn't say respawning with less health isn't a death". 

Which—I mean, everything's relative, though I'm not sure I'm team Ethan here. Respawning with no health would count as a death, unless we're talking philosophy. After all, there's a never-ending debate in the Star Trek community as to whether sci-fi teleporters kill you. Maybe there's a similar situation going on here. Can we truly say that the Cal Kestis who goes into the pit is the same man who teleports out of it?

In all seriousness, while I disagree with this streamer's definition, it's a free internet—gamers can define challenge runs however they'd like. Just this year, an Elden Ring player replaced every boss with Malenia, so the sky is really the limit. Beating the game without dying in combat or falling off a ledge would be impressive, even if Jedi: Survivor's platforming is unreliable enough that the devs themselves had to show mercy. But if Goodgame_Ethan wants to make himself suffer, who am I to stop him? 

Harvey Randall
Staff Writer

Harvey's history with games started when he first begged his parents for a World of Warcraft subscription aged 12, though he's since been cursed with Final Fantasy 14-brain and a huge crush on G'raha Tia. He made his start as a freelancer, writing for websites like Techradar, The Escapist, Dicebreaker, The Gamer, Into the Spine—and of course, PC Gamer. He'll sink his teeth into anything that looks interesting, though he has a soft spot for RPGs, soulslikes, roguelikes, deckbuilders, MMOs, and weird indie titles. He also plays a shelf load of TTRPGs in his offline time. Don't ask him what his favourite system is, he has too many.