Even in the days before check-points and save-files, the idea of perma-death was considered ‘harsh’. The new wave of roguelike, games, though, are taking the idea of ‘when you’re dead, you’re dead’ to new extremes… and that means a sharp increase in stress whenever you’re playing them. FTL (and I went for FTL over Spelunky, which pulls a similar trick) is one of the best examples of a classic roguelike, in that it randomly generates worlds every time you play, and it only gives you a single life each time.
The aim of FTL is to deliver a message in your spaceship to a friendly fleet, which is a significant distance away. All the while, you’re being pursued by a rebel fleet, and each time you move into a new sector, there’s no way of knowing what is waiting for you. Lose a battle with your enemies (who are often way more powerful than you) and it’s game over. No saves, no checkpoints. Game over, yeah?