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Do You Use a Walkthrough or Is It Considered Cheating?

Most gamers have opposing views on using a walkthrough (strategy guides), if they’re considered cheating and when it’s acceptable to use them..

For some genres using guides can almost be fundamental for completion. (eg. action-adventure or role-playing games), such as The Legend of Zelda or Dark Souls. Both being notorious for deviously cryptic answers and lack of informative hints within the game.

And then there’s other genres such as Platformers (eg. Super Mario), where it would be wrong even have a single look!

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - Great Plateau, use a walkthrough

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

When might you use a walkthrough?

Deciding to use a walkthrough may also depend on what you use them for and the challenges you wish to bypass. If you’re using them to figure out the games main challenges, such as looking up and executing a turn-by-turn strategy for defeating a boss, then yes this would be considered as cheating to most people – as you have not managed to get past a major obstacle on your own. Another example would be finding out the next step in the game without already solving and searching for clues in the area you’re in.

Referring back to the walkthrough too often can easily spoil the creation that’s gone into the game, and takes away from the freedom of exploring the land. It also destroys some of the self-satisfaction of working through the challenges yourself (as really, you’re only cheating yourself out of a sense of accomplishment).

This can sometimes leave the gamer feeling like they’re just following a list of steps to try and complete the game as quickly as possible, which can in-turn create a very bland experience.. Kind of defeating the point of investing your time/ money into the game in the first place.

In contrast if the game has become frustrating and slowed you down to the point where you’re thinking about throwing your console across the room, then using a walkthrough can be great for breaking through a difficult spot.

There are many other reasons why gamers would decide to use a walkthrough, here are some more examples:

Why do people use a walkthrough?

  • To fully explore the game and not miss out on anything if you only plan on playing it once.
  • To help make informed decisions before levelling up a certain skillset.
  • learning what content there is for you to find.
  • To help you remember things you may have already seen; how to make potions, which way to go on a map.
  • Stop yourself from getting to frustrated and giving up on the game completely after searching in the same area for too long.
  • Bad game design that has made it unclear where to go.
  • Having no idea what you’re supposed to do on puzzles.
  • Trophy/ achievement hunting when the game is almost finished and complete.
  • To save time to be able to do other equally important things in your life.
Divinity: Original Sin II - Level up help to use a walkthrough

Divinity: Original Sin II –
Strategy guides help to make sense of the most complex games

Now and then

Being able to view detailed walkthroughs online for free makes the tendency to cheat more tempting than it was while I was growing up in the SNES/ N64 era. In the past, I would spend hours scouring-everything over and over again to try and find a solution to the puzzles on my own. Either that, or just leave the game sitting there for months before finally having another go and hoping something would click in your head.

If you did need a walkthrough guide, you would have to go to the shop and pay for a magazine out of your own money or call the 900 numbers at 25 cents/minute, knowing when you parents saw the bill they were going to flip out. But all this patience and persistence lead to a huge sense of accomplishment when you’re finally able to boast to your neighbours next door.

While looking at guides can help to set yourself up for the win, this may not be enough for some arcade (or action games) that will depend on your ability to complete the task, and not just the knowledge of how to do it. Even if you have read a guide on how to get through a level, you would still have to build the skill to finish the level anyway.

Arcade games like Ghouls ‘n Ghosts or Super Meat Boy requires hours of practice and sheer determination to complete all the levels, so using a guide for these kinds of games would make less of a difference in the grand scheme of things.

Ghouls 'n Ghosts, arcade game
Ghouls ‘n Ghosts –
No walkthrough is going to help you with this


Some gamers will still refuse to use walkthroughs and shun guides completely on games they have not finished 100%, claiming they would rather not play the game again if they’re stuck or even being insulted when retailers in the gaming store try to convince them they need to buy a guide. I even heard one rare case where a guy claimed using the manual was cheating. Lol.

There will always be stuff that the player can’t possibly figure out by themselves such as the Zodiac spear in FFXII which is nearly impossible to find without a guide (a chest that randomly appears and has a chance of 1 in 1000 to drop the Spear). Graphics that can prevent you from being able to see the next exit. Glitches in the game. Or even cartoonish in-gamelogic on what to do next that doesn’t always sit well with reality. It’s as if developers almost expect you to use guides for some games.

One of the most important things to remember is that we play games to have FUN and want to be able to get as much enjoyment out of it as we can.

Cheating is perfectly okay in a single-player game, if it allows you to tailor your experience and play the game the way you want to play it. If you don’t know where to go, what to do next and you’re ready to move on to learn the rest of the story, stop getting frustrated and just have a quick look already!

Games we suggest where you might need to use a walkthrough:

  1. Final Fantasy
  2. The legend of Zelda
  3. Dark Souls
  4. Divinity
  5. Xenoblade
  6. Chrono Trigger
  7. Terranigma
  8. Silent Hill
  9. Castlevania 2
  10. WoW

Please comment to add any more games you can think of.

1 Comment

  1. I know you mentioned that using them for Super Mario is wrong but I think the old Super Mario games would count for your list as they are more about timing and reflex and not jumping into projectiles.
    The newer 3D ones, maybe not so much as they rely more on finding collectibles which exploring is part of the experience.

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