Achievement Spotlight: The Unconventional, Part 1

Published by Maghook on

Preamble: This blog post was meant for a website I contributed to back in 2016 and earlier. The website/community dissolved. I found this pre-written post while exploring through old hard drives. Some links/images might be broken but I guess I shouldn’t let it go to waste, I put a lot of effort into it.

Unconventional Achievements

What makes for a fun achievement? In a bygone era of video games, terms like “gamerscore” and “completion rate” didn’t really exist. What would soon become widely known as “achievements” were often homegrown challenges used as a measure of skill to establish who was the best of the best among a group of friends and rivals.

All you needed was the ambition to set your own goals and the determination to reach them. Sometimes you’d come across a real in-game challenge set by the developer that, upon completion, would reward you with additional content and bonus features to further enhance and extend the game.

These days you’d be hard pressed to find a game with achievements which comprise of little more than a glorified list of chores shoved into the faces of its players. Find, collect, follow, protect, defeat, succeed. Congratulations, you did the thing. The thing you only had to do a thousand times, you did it. Now, because you’re so good at doing the thing we’ve decided to reward you handsomely… here, take this, a pop-up notification!

More often than not these type of achievements walk a very distinct line between genius and insanity, choosing to keep far away from anything even remotely creative. You’ll often find yourself resigned to performing the same task over and over again in order to unleash the beast living inside your brain. Some have such little thought put into them that it’s possible to achieve 100% in a matter of minutes.

Today we take a look at some of the more innovative Steam achievements that walk closer to the edge of genius. Achievements that ask the player to engage on a completely different level to what we’ve come to expect. Meeting the requirements of these achievements can challenge how you play the game, cause you to fail, or have you scratching your head and asking if the developer is intentionally trying to make a fool out of all of us.

⚠SPOILER ALERT⚠


Game Changers

Sometimes games put forth a challenge that ends up breaking even the most strong-willed of gamers. Sometimes they completely change the context of the game or force you to play in ways that are generally unintended. These are some of the achievements that keep things interesting.

Pacifist | Complete Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Director's Cut without anyone dying by your hand. (Boss fights don't count).
Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Director’s Cut | Pacifist | Complete Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Director’s Cut without anyone dying by your hand. (Boss fights don’t count).

Requiring a non-lethal playthrough of Deus Ex: Human Revolution locks you out of a lot of great augmentations but it’s an incredibly fun and exhilarating way to play the game, especially for those who enjoy stealth-based games where avoiding conflict and finding alternative methods of victory is often encouraged.

Using weapons won’t prevent you from unlocking this achievement providing that the enemy survives. This allows you to briefly stun and move past unavoidable enemies. Boss kills are absolutely okay but with the release of the Director’s Cut it’s now generally possible to take them out in stealth too.

Droggeljug | Droggeljug
Deponia | Droggeljug | Droggeljug

Droggeljug droggeljug droggeljug, droggeljug droggeljug droggeljug droggeljug droggel? Droggeljug!

Upon completing Deponia a new mode called Droggeljug is unlocked. It replaces all dialogue and text with the word “Droggeljug”, a reference to one of Daedalic Entertainment’s previous games, Edna & Harvey: The Breakout. There’s such dedication to the joke that even the lyrics to all the songs become Droggeljug’d.

Since the Droggeljug mode replaces all text in Deponia with gibberish it’s recommended that players complete this achievement as soon as they are finished with their first playthrough, so that the methods to solving each puzzle are still fresh in mind.

Ghost | Complete all missions after the prologue, alerting no one or killing no one but key targets
Dishonored | Ghost | Complete all missions after the prologue, alerting no one or killing no one but key targets

Yet another pacifist-based achievement. You’ll need to deploy some lateral thinking to make your way through each level undetected. Fortunately you have some fancy powers at your disposal to aide in your mission, like being able to possess animals or people.

While it’s not necessary to remain hidden from your assassination targets it’s wise to avoid taking the risk as they can alert other enemies.

The One Free Bullet | Finish the game firing exactly one bullet. Grenade, crowbar, rocket, and Gravity Gun kills are okay!
Half-Life 2: Episode One | The One Free Bullet | Finish the game firing exactly one bullet. Grenade, crowbar, rocket, and Gravity Gun kills are okay!

You’ll know when the time comes to fire that single valuable bullet but until then you’ll be relying on Alyx Vance to provide cover as Gordon Freeman creatively resolves each conflict by thinking with portals physics.

This achievement is actually very fun due to the emphasis Valve places on the physics of the game and that the expansion is short enough not to overstay its welcome.

Keepin It Jenny | Complete the game without harming any Frog, Fox, Berry or Deer Jennys
Ittle Dew | Keepin It Jenny | Complete the game without harming any Frog, Fox, Berry or Deer Jennys

As with Deus Ex and Dishonored, this Ittle Dew achievement not only requires you to follow the ways of the pacifist but to also refrain from harming one of the bosses.

Some of the solutions for each level are now made a tiny bit more elaborate, requiring the use of alternate paths, but keep in mind that freezing a Jenny doesn’t count as damage.


More Than Meets The Eye

These achievements require more than engaging with the screen. They require skill, knowledge, wisdom, and a little bit of patience. Some have such drastic requirements that most of us could never hope to unlock them. Determination is the name of the game here.

Cooking by the Book | Take an actual honest-to-god IRL photograph of the cake you're sharing with *Hyun-ae, and e-mail it to the developer! cake@hateplus.com
Hate Plus | Cooking by the Book | Take an actual honest-to-god IRL photograph of the cake you’re sharing with *Hyun-ae, and e-mail it to the developer! cake@hateplus.com

It sounds like a joke but it’s completely serious. Part of Hate Plus has a character asking to physically bake a cake to share with them. If you take a photo of this romantic gesture and send it to the developer they will then send you a special code to unlock this achievement.

Explore Outside | Find the unknown your own back yard
Incredipede | Explore Outside | Find the unknown your own back yard

There’s no metaphor behind Incredipede’s achievements. What they’re asking is for you to literally stop playing the game, venture outside, and flail about as you accidentally walk through a spider’s web. Thanks, nature!

Done Deal | Master all 420 words in the game!
Influent | Done Deal | Master all 420 words in the game!

If you’ve always wanted to learn another language but never had the motivation to start then perhaps a little bit of gamification can help pique your interest.

Being able to learn and retain more than 400 words in another language is quite impressive but it requires more than a good memory. Taking this knowledge and using it in everyday situations is the only way you can hope to successfully unlock this achievement but being able to speak another language with confidence is its own reward.

…and It Wasn't a Fluke | Clear 15 songs on Score Attack Master
Rocksmith 2014 | …and It Wasn’t a Fluke | Clear 15 songs on Score Attack Master

One of the most difficult achievements in Rocksmith 2014 is due to both the barrier of entry and the level of skill that players must maintain in order to face this challenge.

Anyone aiming for this achievement needs to be quite proficient at playing guitar or bass, as clearing any song on Score Attack Master requires a certain level of technical skill, precision, and discipline. There are no notes to guide you, so you’ve got nothing to rely on other than muscle memory.

If 10 year old guitar prodigy, Audrey, can shred to Slayer then so can all of us. Start practicing!

Go outside | Don't play The Stanley Parable for five years.
The Stanley Parable | Go outside | Don’t play The Stanley Parable for five years.

Just do what it says. Simple. As with Incredipede, who wouldn’t approve of an achievement that motivates people to stop playing games and to go outside at least once every five years?

It’s entirely possible that the developer, Galactic Cafe, will reset this achievement once the official five year anniversary has been reached, punishing those who have already unlocked it through other illegitimate methods.


Self-Saboteur

Long hours and stressful deadlines can push game developers far over their limits. What better way to help de-stress than by taking their frustrations out on their fans with some deliberately malicious and game-ending achievements?

UNBELIEVABLE | Reach 2000MHz or higher GPU clock
EVGA PrecisionX 16 | UNBELIEVABLE | Reach 2000MHz or higher GPU clock

It might be free but, honestly, unless you know exactly what you’re doing this is one of those titles whose achievements should forever remain locked. It’s really not worth potentially setting your house on fire just for a few measly achievements.

This might be the most nefarious one on this list but there are several other achievements in this piece of software that also require you to spend loads of money before you can unlock them.

Madness.

Five Minutes Later... | Allow Guybrush to die.
Monkey Island 2: Special Edition | Five Minutes Later… | Allow Guybrush to die.

It’s unbecoming of a mighty pirate to embrace defeat but in the case of the cowardly Guybrush Threepwood, and in the name of achievements, it’s not only acceptable but expected.

Number 100 Dad | Die more than 100 times in a playthrough.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch | Number 100 Dad | Die more than 100 times in a playthrough.

You know, the only problem I have with an achievement like this is the amount of takoyaki that could have been made, all gone to waste. Before attempting this achievement please spare a moment to think of all the people like me who will be deprived of such deliciousness.

You Chose... Poorly | Surrender when given the chance.
Saints Row IV | You Chose… Poorly | Surrender when given the chance.

One of those dreaded “missable” achievements that plagues many games. This one asks you to make the ultimate choice, choose the blue door to your left or choose the red door to your right. Stanley’s Narrator would be proud.

Pulling Mud | In three separate battles, you've taken a shit in your pants.
South Park: The Stick of Truth | Pulling Mud | In three separate battles, you’ve taken a shit in your pants.

There’s nothing much more humiliating than soiling yourself so when you’re asked to willingly “pull mud” in the face of your enemies and are happy to comply, no less than three times, then perhaps you should reconsider where you want to be in life.


Masochistic

For the deviant in all of us who finds joy in suffering and misery comes a form of mental flagellation. If you’re able to keep your cool attempting these achievements have you ever thought about being a surgeon or an astronaut or even a hostage negotiator?

Blue Ribbon Champ | In CitC, completed all Blue Ribbon Challenges.
BioShock Infinite | Blue Ribbon Champ | In CitC, completed all Blue Ribbon Challenges.

Clash in the Clouds is an arena-based challenge mode where players face off against waves of various enemies. Each wave has a special activity that needs to be completed before unlocking its respective Blue Ribbon.

Unlike the ice cream of the same name, these Blue Ribbon challenges can leave a foul taste in players’ mouths as the requirements and enemies faced in each wave can be quite difficult and time consuming.

Most have requirements that have you acquiring kills with specific weapons, completing a wave within a time limit, or defeating enemies with various Vigors; the superpowers of the game. Sometimes upgrades to these Vigors will interfere with how each activity is meant to be accomplished, causing the player to rely on trial and error more than skill.

Materia Overlord | Master all Materias
FINAL FANTASY VII | Materia Overlord | Master all Materias

Requiring you to own and master more than 80 Materia is a daunting task but what do you expect from a developer whose games demand more grinding than a skateboard in a handrail factory? If you want to tackle this achievement head on you’re going to need a lot of time and an extremely detailed guide.

The Shadows Rushed Me | Unlock And Complete New York Minute Hardcore
Max Payne 3 | The Shadows Rushed Me | Unlock And Complete New York Minute Hardcore

I’m convinced that the only reason this achievement exists is to make people angry. Not only is it a major “Payne” in the butt but you’re required to beat the entire game in a single sitting.

You have to play fast and precise as each level has a time limit and dying or failing a mission will reset you right back to the beginning of the game. Bullet time will be your crutch here so don’t hold back.

NOTHING SPECIAL | Survive a campaign with no Survivors taking damage from Special Infected.
Left 4 Dead | NOTHING SPECIAL | Survive a campaign with no Survivors taking damage from Special Infected.

Not only do you need a team of incredibly tenacious players but you also need to play from the lobby to the finale, restarting a chapter will not reset this achievement.

There are ways to easily complete this achievement without cheating but you should know that doing so forfeits all bragging rights. The extreme guilt of being a stinking cheeser will follow, slowly devouring your soul until you become a shell of your former self with the stench of cheese following you everywhere you go.

Ask yourself, is it really worth it?

OVERKILL Salutes You! | Complete all contracts including pro jobs on the Death Wish difficulty.
PAYDAY 2 | OVERKILL Salutes You! | Complete all contracts including pro jobs on the Death Wish difficulty.

This one is not an exceedingly difficult achievement. However, the reason why it has made the list is because the difficulty in obtaining this achievement increases the longer you wait to complete it.

The developer, OVERKILL Software, releases new content quite often and each of these subsequent heists and their contracts are then added to the requirements for completing the achievement. Those who started playing PAYDAY 2 at release would have had a much easier time unlocking this achievement than those who have only just recently begun their criminal career.


How Bizarre

Sometimes you’ve gotta stop and wonder just where the developer’s head was at when they thought of achievements like these…

Turd Burglar | Find and steal a piece of poo
Duke Nukem Forever | Turd Burglar | Find and steal a piece of poo

When the weekend is over and partygoers are recovering from an all-night bender it’s not uncommon to find the remnants of a few brown nuggets sprayed across the streets around town.

Still, why take the easy route? It’s much more fun inspecting the local lavatory in search of a prize that even leaves Mr. Nukem asking himself why anyone would ever want to do such a thing in the first place.

Verbal Morality Statute | Dial various four letter words into the Nippon Telnet phone terminal
Jazzpunk | Verbal Morality Statute | Dial various four letter words into the Nippon Telnet phone terminal

Jazzpunk is one of the most bizarre games I’ve ever played and I loved every second of it, if only due to the style of humour that appears to be influenced by Nickelodeon’s golden age of ’90s cartoons.

As a reference to the sci-fi, action film, Demolition Man, this achievement elicits the anarchist in all of us. If you ever find yourself stuck without the trusty three seashells you can always dial 3-8-2-5 several times for some emergency wipes.

NSA | Intelligence gathered
Nidhogg | NSA | Intelligence gathered

Chat spam is generally unwelcome in the world of online gaming but the developer of Nidhogg, Messhof, greatly encourages it here. The only way to unlock this achievement is to spam the chat as hard and as fast as possible until it pops.

Pervert | Inspect a pair of withered binoceros testicles with genuine enthusiasm.
Precipice of Darkness, Episode Two | Pervert | Inspect a pair of withered binoceros testicles with genuine enthusiasm.

Know what a binocerous looks like? Ever wanted to know what its testicles look like? Well, now you’ve got your chance. Have at them!

R. Kelly's Protege | Pissed in someone's face until they puked from it.
POSTAL 2 | R. Kelly’s Protege | Pissed in someone’s face until they puked from it.

Both R. Kelly and the POSTAL franchise have quite a notorious history, to say the least. What better way is there to create a first impression by having players commit such a lewd act?

It’s the most common achievement unlocked in POSTAL 2 yet it’s one of the least offensive, so it surely does set the tone for what to expect next.


Elaborate Ruse

From Mew hiding near the S.S. Anne to the cryptic Polybius, allegedly a government funded game that attempted to brainwash its players. Conspiracy theorists exist in all forms of life, not even video games can escape them, but even the strongest of cynics can find amusement in some of the more elaborate theories.

For every hundred unsubstantiated rumours perpetrated in video games there are at least one or two urban legends that turn out to be true, keeping the fun and excitement of crackpot theories alive and filling us with the desire to know if the truth is out there for the rest of them.

Generosity | ...
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth | Generosity | …

This achievement isn’t here because of what it is but for what it caused, taking players down a deep and elaborate rabbit hole.

The Generosity achievement is unlocked by donating 999 coins to the machine at the end of Greed Mode but that’s not important. What this achievement helped kickstart is one of the most elaborate Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) in recent years.

Originally it wasn’t possible to donate more than 109 coins as the Greed machine would break every time but after a few secrets were discovered and some puzzles were solved the game was updated to fix the machine and add the Generosity achievement.

The black lines in the image were decoded and converted to an imgur.com address which revealed another image. This clue forced players out into the real world where they would soon discover a “missing” poster with a phone number.

Calling this number was met with a voicemail where messages could be left in the hopes of unlocking the next step. Players were then lead to a real-life location with the intention to dig for loose change.

A small Greed statue was uncovered with text that lead to a secret Twitter page for the character. After logging into the Twitter account and sending out Greed’s first message the developer, Edmund McMillen, responded by updating the game and rewarding players additional content including new achievements, items, and a character called Keeper.

I recommend reading some of the more informative write-ups out there, especially for those who are unfamiliar with the game. There are two from Reddit users, KevCar518 and Scutilla, along with PC Gamer’s recap.

Meta-Hacking | What's the game?
Invisible, Inc. | Meta-Hacking | What’s the game?

It’s quite fitting that a game about hacking also requires its players to actually hack the game in order to unlock one of its achievements.

Discussion about how to unlock this particular achievement began back in May and methods to obtaining it were soon discovered. Less than a day later the developer quickly updated the game’s files with an additional reference in the code, confirming that hacking the game is what had to be done.

if not config.DEV and KLEIAchievements then –Yes, this achievement exists… No, I’m not giving it away for free. : ) –KLEIAchievements:achieve( “META_HACKING” ) end

The method requires you to simply unpack and edit a few of the game’s files but it’s great to see a developer thinking outside of the box.

OVERDRILL | Solve the PAYDAY SECRET on any difficulty with any mask and gain access to the OVERVAULT. To complete this challenge, you will have to have played the heist from the start.
PAYDAY: The Heist | OVERDRILL | Solve the PAYDAY SECRET on any difficulty with any mask and gain access to the OVERVAULT. To complete this challenge, you will have to have played the heist from the start.

Another secret Alternate Reality Game that had players searching for clues belongs to PAYDAY: The Heist. Unlocking this achievement was no easy task, requiring players to complete the First World Bank heist on the highest difficulty while completing a number of puzzles in a specific order which would then unlock a secret safe.

Not only is that a feat in itself, as the original PAYDAY is considered by many to be much more difficult than the sequel, but the newly revealed safe took no less than 7,200 seconds to drill through. That’s 2 hours.

Players were required to record their monumental achievement and send it to the developers before they could receive their rewards, a set of secret masks. Once this was discovered a 30-day period was initiated for everyone else to complete the OVERDRILL challenge if they also wanted to be recognised for their hard work.

A patch was later released that allowed players to complete the OVERDRILL secret on any difficulty and reduced the time required to 2,000 seconds, just over 30 minutes.

OVERKILL Software later brought the heist and its secret back in an update for PAYDAY 2 but the amount of waiting time was kept at the lesser 2,000 seconds and various requirements were altered.

You can read a detailed timeline of the events of this achievement over at the PAYDAY Wiki.

Click on door 430 five times. | Click on door 430 five times.
The Stanley Parable | Click on door 430 five times. | Click on door 430 five times.

Here’s another oh so simple one. Perhaps a bit too simple. Well, we can’t just let you get away with clicking on a single door a number of times now can we? Do you think that’s really deserving of its own reward? The Narrator doesn’t seem to think so and he’s decided to spice things up just a little bit.

Best Surgeon In The Universe | Complete all 6 secret transplants.
Surgeon Simulator | Best Surgeon In The Universe | Complete all 6 secret transplants.

One of the more complex achievements to unlock, requiring players to successfully complete every surgery and solve a number of in-game puzzles before being given the chance to perform these six secret transplants.

From finding hidden numbers in various locations, learning about space, dialing phone numbers, and looking at the periodic table of elements… only then will you be deemed worthy.

The community ended up brute forcing the solution in the end of course. If you’re super lazy like me you can always watch someone else do it for you.


Mission: Improbable

Is there anything that could bother an avid achievement hunter more than being prevented from obtaining a 100% completion rating on a game? Probably, but these type of achievements have to rate quite high up on the aggression factor. Some players even consider this a deal-breaker and will refuse to purchase a game that would commit such heinous crimes against gaming humanity.

Yes, I am the real garry! | Play on the same server as garry
Garry’s Mod | Yes, I am the real garry! | Play on the same server as garry

You’d think this would be relatively simple. Stalk Garry’s Steam profile and join him when you see that he’s online and playing. Unfortunately, Garry Newman rarely ever plays the game that he created any more and hasn’t even unlocked all of his own achievements, so what hope do the rest of us have?

Don't fill the Gauge! | This achievement is here to prevent you from filling achievement gauge to 100%... and die. You can't unlock it.
GAUGE | Don’t fill the Gauge! | This achievement is here to prevent you from filling achievement gauge to 100%… and die. You can’t unlock it.

In a sudden act of selflessness, it appears that the developer of GAUGE, Etienne Périn, is on a mission to save the lives of all those who play his game.

Trying to unlock this achievement could be considered aptly ironic as it follows the rules of GAUGE, preventing players from being able to unlock 100% of all the achievements and, in turn, losing their lives.

When confronted, Etienne’s response succinctly explains his reasoning. In typical fashion, this didn’t go over too well with the community.

Level Four Revive Materia | Finish the game with the security AI in traditional dress, *Mute!
Hate Plus | Level Four Revive Materia | Finish the game with the security AI in traditional dress, *Mute!

Hate Plus makes another appearance with its own impossible achievement, a reference to a popular Final Fantasy VII rumour.

The only person to have unlocked this achievement is the developer herself, Christine Love. Take comfort in the fact that she probably cheated to mess with her fans.

For the rest of us there’s the incredibly long and entertaining read of the discussion and epic three part journey undertaken by the community, hoping to discover the secrets of unlocking this achievement.

Unachievable | It is impossible to get this achievement.
The Stanley Parable | Unachievable | It is impossible to get this achievement.

The Stanley Parable has scored a hat-trick by making it onto this list for the third time. Rightly deserved for its satirical commentary on traditional gameplay mechanics and achievements.

This one in particular has caused quite the controversy among those in the community. The developer’s answers for how to legitimately complete the achievement have always remained vague and cryptic. Some players speculate that it’s actually impossible to unlock while others who object to this mention that they’ve managed unlocking it during regular gameplay, they just don’t know how or what they did that finally triggered the achievement.

The developer, Galactic Cafe, temporarily altered the game so that this achievement would unlock when a player used the quicksave and quickload functions. This was soon changed after being discovered, if only to provoke further conflict and to fan the flames of an already irate community.

Due to the nature of achievement hunters, who are willing to go any length in order to attain a 100% completion rate, the achievement’s code itself was soon reverse engineered and brute forcing methods were used to unlock it. The developer was saddened upon hearing the news but it was a bit hopeful of him to expect everyone to play along when he’s dangling a seemingly unobtainable carrot in front of everyone’s faces.

Blockbuster | Achieve 100,000 YouTube™ views for your movie.
Team Fortress 2 | Blockbuster | Achieve 100,000 YouTube™ views for your movie.

Compared to some of the aforementioned achievements, this one in Team Fortress 2 can realistically be accomplished in a straightforward manner. You don’t have to be famous, you just need to be popular. That shouldn’t be too hard, right?


There you have it, some of the more creative achievements that you can find on Steam. Love or hate them, there’s no denying that they’re much more fun than typical tedious achievements of winning 100 matches or racking up an entire year’s worth of play time.

Do you know of any other unique achievements that deserve a mention? Tell us in the comments below!


1 Comment

Dee · September 10, 2020 at 7:35 pm

From that period until the current, saffron has continued to be the
most costly spice iin existence.

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