Exact Words / Video Games

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops II: In Suffer With Me, after a few minutes of escorting Hudson orders Mason over the radio to give Noriega a weapon. Mason complies by pulling out his sidearm... but dropping the magazine and emptying the chamber before actually handing it over, pointing out that while he was ordered to give him a weapon, nobody specified that it had to be loaded.
  • Text Adventures often rely on exact words, and if they're particularly sadistic, will give good and bad results depending on which word you use, even if said word is equally valid. Many of them will allow you to use multiple words for the same meaning but will not recognise some words, or they will recognise archaic words but not modern ones, if they are going for a certain feel.
  • In Scribblenauts, when making an Invisibility Cloak, be sure to specify that it is an invisible invisibility cloak, otherwise you'll just look silly.
  • Eikichi, alias Captain Death, in Persona 2, is pitted against an enemy who has spread rumors saying he's stronger than Captain Death. Given Sumaru City's special properties, this becomes true. So Eikichi rescinded his title, meaning the idiot no longer had to deal with Captain Death, but Eikichi Mishina. Asskicking ensued, with Eikichi proving why he was his school's premier badass.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), Mephiles told Silver that the Iblis Trigger (Sonic) was going to destroy the world. He never said exactly how it was going to destroy the world... by getting killed by Mephiles, the real Big Bad, so he can make Elise cry, thus releasing Solaris for him to fuse with and cause a Time Crash.
  • In Sonic Colors, one of Eggman's public announcements touts that "no animals were harmed in the creation of this park." Which we can believe... because within the same announcement, Eggman then states that the animals were harmed after it was created.
  • Super Paper Mario had something similar. The Dark Prognosticus stated that the man in green, Luigi, would use the Chaos Heart's power to destroy the world. That turned out to be completely true. What it didn't state, however, was whether Luigi would do so willingly, or rather, whether he would do it if he wasn't brainwashed by Dimentio by planting a floro sprout in his brain beforehand.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • This is extremely common when dealing with any of the series' various divine beings, especially the more malevolent ones, often crossing over with Deal with the Devil. To note:
      • Clavicus Vile, the Daedric Prince of Bargains and Wishes, combines this with being a Literal Genie (or Jerkass Genie if his "external conscience", Barbas, isn't present). For example, when a group of vampires prayed to him for a cure to their affliction, he had a hero come along and Mercy Kill them all. Vampirism cured.
      • The Ideal Masters, a group of immortal beings who were once powerful mortal sorcerers during the Merethic Era. After finding their mortal forms to be too weak and limiting, they entered Oblivion as beings of pure energy and settled an area of "chaotic creatia", forming the Soul Cairn. They traffic in souls, especially "Black" sapient souls, and have a Horror Hunger that drives them to collect more. They accomplish this by making deals, often with mortal necromancers, exchanging great power for more souls. In one case, they struck a deal with the draconic necromancer Durnehviir. They granted him great power in exchange for him guarding Valerica "until she died". However, they failed to mention that Valerica, a vampire, was The Ageless and would effectively never die, trapping him in their service for eternity.
      • Song of Hrormir tells the story of Hrormir, an honorable warrior who swears the following oath to Nocturnal, the Daedric Prince of Darkness: "Shadowy Hag, to thee I pledge, To only honor thy black Words, To turn my back on Truth, To aid thy Dark Kings' Ambition, To divide their Inheritance fairly, To love thee, To think thee beautiful." When he later betrays her, Nocturnal realizes that the part of the oath "turn my back on truth" allows him to escape honoring the rest of his agreement. Annoyed but impressed by his cunning, she releases him from her service.
    • Morrowind has a minor example in the Boots of Blinding Speed. The boots increase your speed significantly, but also render you completely blind. However, a bit of Magicka resistance reduces or eliminates the Blinding effect while leaving the speed increase, allowing you to move around very, very quickly.
    • Skyrim:
      • During your initiation into the Dark Brotherhood you are required to choose one of three bound prisoners to kill. You are told by Astrid, the leader of the Brotherhood that "No one is leaving until someone dies". You can leave by killing a prisoner or Astrid herself. She even lampshades it with her last words, "Well... Done..."
      • Within the Dark Brotherhood quest line, you need to find an unknown target's identity by asking a known friend of the target. When you demand the person's identity, the friend replies "I'll take that person's identity to my grave!" Your response is "For the Dark Brotherhood, that can be arranged." And, in fact, killing that person's friend is a requirement for that quest.
      • In Ravenscar Hollow, a bandit was kidnapped by the Hagravens. He begs you to let him out of the cage. If you kill the Hagravens and release him, he immediately makes an attempt to mug you. Alternately, you can do exactly what he asks: release him... and let him deal with the Hagravens on his own.
  • In Odin Sphere, the demon lord Odin asks the shadow knight Oswald to slay the dragon Wagner in exchange for a castle, a magic spear and the hand of Odin's daughter Gwendolyn. After Oswald slays Wagner, Odin demands Oswald give him the magic ring found in the dragon's belly, but Oswald, already planning to give the ring to his new wife as a wedding gift, refuses and points out that Odin only asked him to kill the dragon. When Odin insists, Oswald threatens to kill him and demands his reward, forcing Odin to back down.
  • Calypso from Twisted Metal takes this and Literal Genie to the extreme.
    • In one example he does this without being outright evil. Hammerhead's ending in TM2 has the two drivers wish to fly; Calypso says "Wish granted", and the pair immediately runs off the nearest cliff... while a dumbfounded Calypso looks on, plane tickets in hand.
  • Kingdom Hearts
    • Axel in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. Marluxia tells him to "eliminate the traitor" (referring to Vexen). "Can't take that back later."
    • After the Ursula's Revenge minigame in Kingdom Hearts II, Ursula demands that Prince Eric give her the trident. He does.
    • In II, Mickey stops Sora and co. before they can go help everybody else fight off an army of Heartless in Hollow Bastion. He tells Sora to leave immediately to search for Riku and Kairi despite his protests, and then orders Donald and Goofy that they need to stick together with him no matter what. They both agree and tell Sora that he's coming with them whether he likes it or not. So he's forced to follow them as they run off. Towards the war. Mickey being Mickey, he's amused by this loophole and rolls with it.
  • The Splatterhouse remake has the Terror Mask say to Rick, "Until Jen's back safe in your arms... You're mine.". As the game ends, he doesn't come off, because it's not Jen in Rick's arms.
  • Scias in Breath of Fire IV is a mercenary who's been hired by a minor antagonist to keep an eye on your party, but because he likes finding loopholes in the orders he's been given, he actually ends up assisting the party.
    Scias: (On breaking Cray out of prison) He said, if you do anything, I should let him know immediately. He never said I should stop you.
  • An unintentional example occurs in Dead Rising 2, when Chuck makes a promise that one of the antagonists 'won't leave this city in one piece.' The antagonist in question later ends up as Half the Man He Used to Be.
  • In Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories, Adell has his mother summon Overlord Zenon, so that Adell can kill him and break Zenon's curse. Instead, they end up with his teenage daughter, Princess Rozalin. They assume Adell's mother botched the ritual in some way. She didn't. The ritual did exactly what it was supposed to do. The problem was that the terms of the ritual were "summon Zenon". The person they were actually trying to summon was an impostor.
  • In Tomb Raider Chronicles, Lara winds up slipping on a slope and nearly falls into a deep pit, but manages to grab onto a ledge and hang on. Her rival, Pierre, arrives and uses this moment to make an exchange; if he pulls Lara up, she will not lay a finger on him. Lara agrees and is helped up, but when Pierre demands the MacGuffin, Lara just gets in Pierre's face and screams "BOO!", startling Pierre and making him slip off the ledge and hangs on for dear life. When he asks Lara to pull him up, Lara replies in a snark manner that they agreed she wouldn't touch him. Lara cheerfully walks away and Pierre falls.
  • In Final Fantasy XII, Vayne, after transforming into Vayne Novus, orders Gabranth to defend his brother (Lord Larsa) as he'll have much need in "the Hell to follow." Gabranth agrees that he should defend Larsa. Unfortunately for Vayne, he didn't specify who Gabranth was supposed to defend Larsa from, resulting in Gabranth's Heel–Face Turn and eventual Redemption Equals Death.
  • In Final Fantasy Tactics A2, the party is disgusted when they find the man who's hired them to destroy a monster stalking him is Luc Sardac and the "monster" is Frimelda, his lover who'd he'd turned into a zombie because he couldn't exceed her skill with the sword. Adelle then points out that since the bill hired them to ensure that he would "never look on this creature again", they can fulfill it by killing him.
  • The ending of Ghost Recon: Future Soldier has this. The main villain of the game is wounded and ready to be killed by the Ghosts, but sudden orders from command reveal that the American government wants to keep him alive and that he is "not to be touched." The Ghosts are understandably furious, considering the same person was responsible for the deaths of several of their comrades in the opening cutscene and is now taunting them about not being able to take revenge. Moments later a train happens to be coming his way and he pleads to the Ghosts to take him into American custody as per their orders. Their response? "Our orders were not to touch you." He gets splattered by the train and then the credits start immediately after he dies. Poor choice of words.
  • Saturos uses this trope to his advantage in the end of Golden Sun. When Isaac's party confronts Saturos' party, Isaac's crew demands that Saturos hand Sheba over. Saturos says that if Isaac hands over the Shaman's Rod, Sheba won't be harmed. The rod is given over and Isaac's party complains that Saturos altered the deal. Menardi quips in by saying that they never actually said they would let Sheba go, but that they would not hurt her.
  • In a specific prompt in Asura's Wrath, you are required to "Extend your hand" in response to the villain's offer. It doesn't say anything about the hand being balled up in a fist.
  • In Dark Souls, Kingseeker Frampt tells the chosen undead that by linking the fire, he or she will succeed Gwyn, the lord of Anor Londo. What he does not tell the player is that Gwyn has been burning alive for centuries. By succeeding him, the undead will face the same fate.
  • A heroic variation happens in Persona 4: Arena, at the end of the story. With the situation dealt with for the moment but the mastermind at large, Mitsuru insists that the civilians stay out of it, and let the Shadow Operatives deal with the rest. Yu tells her Investigation Team that they'll let the Shadow Operatives do their jobs of hunting Labrys' kidnapper. He didn't say anything about not doing their own work, however. Mitsuru still sees through it but decides not to stop them anymore.
  • Many a Professor Layton puzzle is predicated on the wording of its riddle.
    • In a puzzle from Diabolical Box, a man has two stinky cloves of garlic lodged in a series of tubes connected to three holes. Unfortunately, he only has two corks, so you need to work out which two holes you should plug to stop him from having to smell the stink. It's his two nostrils; all three of the holes are producing a stink, so there's no way to stop the smell plugging only two of them.
    • In a puzzle from Miracle Mask, a student is trying to help a small ant cross a bridge of colored pencils. The ant can only climb down pencils; it is too small to climb up again. The challenge is to move only one pencil to make it possible for the ant to cross. You move the pencil the ant is already sitting on, of course.
    • Also from Miracle Mask, one puzzle in a series involves swinging a hammer at totem pole heads so that they end up in a specific arrangement, but the catch is that you have only a limited number of hammer swings to solve the puzzle. While most of the puzzles are possible to do with the right moves, in one of them, you have too few moves to accomplish your task, so instead of hitting any of the heads, you have to swing it at the stone at the base of the totem poles, causing them to slide into position.
  • In Fire Emblem Awakening, the sugar obsessed thief named Gaius says he'll join the player's army if you "sweeten the deal". At first it's believed he wants gold, but he literally meant "sweeten", because he's recruited over a bag of candy.
  • Assassin's Creed I: Altaïr is told "The answers you seek will be there when you no longer need to ask for them." Altaïr isn't asking for them. He's DEMANDING them.
  • Noel told Ragna at the beginning of BlazBlue: Continuum Shift that the next time they meet they will be enemies. In their next meeting, Noel has transformed to Mu-12 and ready to kick Ragna's ass.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, the Exile makes a promise to Atris that they won't train the Handmaiden in "the ways of the Jedi", something that the Handmaiden's own vows prevent her from pursuing. The Exile later capitulates to the Handmaiden's request for training, pointing out that Atris never said they couldn't learn the ways of the Force, thus neither of them can be said to have broken their word. Atris is unhappy about this turn of events either way.
  • Baten Kaitos has a rather brilliant example that relies on the player being too Genre Savvy for their own good. After a rather climactic battle, Giacomo claims that Kalas' grandfather, Georg, is actually his father. The Genre Savvy will instantly assume that they know where this plot is going... and that's just what the game wants you to think. When The Reveal comes, it turns out that Giacomo was telling the truth but has no relation to Kalas at all. The boy is an Artificial Human and the game only made you think Giacomo was his father to throw off the player off the Foreshadowing surrounding the actual truth.
  • Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu. The titular villain has planted what Batman is led to believe is a large-scale bomb within a shipping crate. He takes it back to the Batcave in an attempt to disarm it safely and whilst it does explode, the explosion is fairly small, and only reveals the true contents of the crate.
    Batman: Bane?!
    Bane: He never said "bomb". He said "weapon of mass destruction". And that, is me.
  • The Witch's House: Early on, you find a sign that reads "LEND A HAND". If you talk to the invisible chef in the next room, you get the chance to "Lend a hand". Choosing to do so leads the chef to grab your wrist... move you to the chopping board and... you get the picture. To actually solve the puzzle, you have to offer the dismembered hands of a teddy bear. That you cut up earlier.
  • In week 3 of The World Ends with You, the game master challenges the players to a game of hide and seek. The game master will choose one place to hide, and challenges the players to find that spot before time runs out. Despite these terms, Neku keeps hearing the game master's laughter wherever he goes, as he searches all over Shibuya. It's eventually revealed that the "one place" the game master chose was the shadow of Neku's partner. She never said the hiding place had to itself be stationary!
  • God of War: Athena promised Kratos that his past crimes would be forgiven if he killed Ares and saved Athens. She never said that he would be rid of his nightmares.
  • Telltale seems to like using this to make things more difficult for their protagonists
    • In the Walking Dead Season One, Lee will make hints about his past. If you don't tell the group you were sent to prison, Lilly will take advantage to turn them against you
    • In Season 2, failing to be direct and vague will cause the cabin group to mistrust you more.
    • Subverted in A New Frontier, if you shoot Conrad in Episode 2, telling Tripp about it will cause him to think that Conrad was mobbed by zombies, based on his reaction, when in reality Javi shoots him, even though he makes it clear that Conrad was shot in self defence. This seems to be a case of story segregation for the point of drama.
  • In Tales of the Abyss, the Score states that "The young scion of Lorelei's power shall bring his people to the miner's city." It said miner's city, not Akzeriuth.
    • That part is actually subverted. Akzeriuth just wasn't possessed of a name two thousand years ago. The more accurate bit of Exact Words is the next part that says "There, the youth will turn power to calamity and be as a weapon of Kimlasca, destroying himself and the city." It just says "destroys" and that is exactly what not only happens to Luke, but would have happened to the original Luke since the "Light of the Sacred Flame" aka the "young scion of Lorelei's power" is mentioned on the Seventh Fonstone long after Akzeriuth's destruction. In all, the Score actually is very literal about everything it predicts, as Lorelei was attempting to be as precise as possible so humans wouldn't get confused. Unfortunately, the Score is taken as a mystical thing instead of just a long list of events in chronological order that has some Lost in Translation problems mixed in.
  • Tales of Destiny: Hugo never said he'd let Marian go, and he doesn't, even after Leon steals a dragon and the Eye of Atamoni, betrays his friends, and dies to buy him time.
  • The goal of Escape From Lavender Town is to escape from Lavender Town. And to do so, you must press the escape key.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic IV has a fairly simple one between Solymr and Gavin Magnus — after being rescued from imprisonment, Solymr swore to serve his rescuer, Magnus, for as long as he walked upon the world. This turns out to be a permanent proposition, as Magnus is immortal (it was Solymr that came up with the oath as repayment, so no fault fell on Magnus for this). In IV, Magnus has, unhinged by the destruction of the old world, gone off the deep end, and Solymr is unhappy but still feels bound by his oath to serve as long as Magnus lives... until, upon prompting, he thinks about exactly how he phrased it and realizes that since Magnus and he is now on another world and the old one is destroyed, Magnus is no longer walking upon the world in question...
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, Kloe tells the protagonists that she has wealthy relatives in Grancel. She neglects to mention that they are royalty.
  • In Grand Theft Auto V, before the start of "Hood Safari", Trevor hands Franklin's Aunt Denise some money, telling her to buy something nice; however, he only gives her a minuscule amount of money.
    Trevor Philips: (hands Denise money) Here, darling. Why don't you go get yourself something nice, okay?
    Denise Clinton: Thank you! (counting the money) This is seven dollars!!
    Trevor: I said something nice, not expensive! You wanna be a greedy fucking cow, huh?! No...now get the fuck outta here, alright?!
    Denise: You men are all the same!
  • In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Raiden tells the Big Bad that his sword is a tool of justice, not used in anger or for revenge. But he's not using his sword right now.
  • Antichamber: "A choice may be as simple as going left or going right." Facing this sign on the wall, to the left are the two stairways, and to the right is where you came from.
  • In Mortal Kombat 9, Raiden sends visions of the events of the series to his past self with the message "He must win". He meant the person he was facing at the time he sent the message, Shao Kahn: by allowing him to invade Earthrealm after losing the previous Mortal Kombat tournaments, the Elder Gods would be forced to act and destroy Shao Kahn once and for all. Raiden doesn't realize this until his attempts to prevent the original Raiden's future from coming to be causes nearly all of Earthrealm's heroes to die.
  • In Third Super Robot Wars Z: Tengoku-hen, Simon reveals that Sidereal managed to steal the Chouginga Daigurren which obviously couldn't land on Earth and had to wait around in space while Simon and the others fought down below. Barbiel used his venom to take a great number of hostages, and used them to blackmail Simon into handing over the ship. Nia's the one who convinced them to give it up, stating that "We can always take back our hope, but life cannot be recovered once lost". And Barbiel honored his end of the agreement by releasing the hostages... who, contaminated by his venom, were berserking lunatics.
  • In Nightmares from the Deep 3: Davy Jones the title villain promises not to kill the main character if her teenage daughter signs a contract with him. When she does he replies "See, I never meant to kill your mother...it's the ocean that will!" and pushes the main character off the plank.
  • The villain in Maze: Subject 360 promises at one point that if you can find the one real pigeon in a coop full of fakes she'll let it go. Unfortunately she says nothing about not killing it afterwards...
  • Undertale:
    • If you check the stats of the Final Boss of the Genocide route, it tells you "1 ATK, 1 DEF. The easiest enemy." While that latter part is a complete lie, those stats are technically true. It's just that his weak defense doesn't matter because he dodges every single attack, while his own attacks ignore Mercy Invincibility and deal one point of damage per frame for as long as you're in contact with his projectiles.
    • The same boss, for their final attack, prefaces it by saying "here goes nothing". And then it turns out his final attack literally is nothing: He refuses to take his turn, therefore denying you yours, even if he has to stand there for eternity, hoping to bore you into ragequitting.
    • The game also starts out by telling the player to "Name the fallen human." However, it never tells you which fallen human. It's eventually revealed that the player character is actually named Frisk, and that the character you were naming is the Greater-Scope Villain.
    • One of the songs in the official soundtrack is called Song That Might Play When You Fight Sans. Emphasis on Might: not only is Sans' REAL theme Megalovania, the former song doesn't play at any point in the actual game.
  • Dishonored has the option to get rid of Laydy Boyle by Delivering her to a Stalker With a Crush waiting in the cellar, who takes off with her never to be seen again. In order to trick her into going to the cellar you can tell her there's an assassin in the party who was sent to kill her. This is completely true... it just so happens YOU are said assassin.
  • A meta example; after the release of Leisure Suit Larry 3, Al Lowe, the creator of the games, stated that there was not going to be a fourth game. Some time later, he changed his mind and decided to make a new entry after all...which is when he skipped the fourth game altogether and released Leisure Suit Larry 5. The nonexistent "fourth entry" is jokingly referred to as a "lost episode", which actually becomes a major plot point in the fifth game.
  • In Fairy Fencer F, Tiara claims that the inn she's staying at has "a chef from a four-star restaurant", causing Fang to be overjoyed. Turns out the chef is just a regular cook whose name happens to be "Four Star".
  • In Archimedean Dynasty, a NPC early in the game asks Flint to find out what happened to a crime boss named Zorn. If the player finds out Zorn was killed by his rivals, the questgiver will refuse to give the agreed-to reward, saying she asked to get the information from Zorn, not about him. Duh.
  • Tyranny: You play as a fatebinder, one of The Empire's commissars who has the grim task of casting magical orders that will force unnatural disasters to plague the land until the empress' orders are followed to the exact letter. The EXACT letter. Over the course of the campaign, your character notices A Glitch in the Matrix in the form of Loophole Abuse on what should be absolute control over the archmage-dominating orders. You can effectively compromise on certain Evil Virtues by finding a technicality that allows you to resolve matters in ways that go against the intent of your orders; examples include waiting until the deadline to cast an edict so that the NEW deadline for the warhead-on-your-own-incompetent-army is scheduled for NEXT year, having the legal representatives of a princess forcefully revoke her claim to the throne so that The Purge spares her, confiscating illegal texts instead of burning them so that they are not in possession of the library that is about to be melted by lava, etc. Of course, this angers your boss and if you do enough of these things you'll be put on trial for insubordination - but if you make an impressive speech about how you have followed every (known) order to the letter and resolved matters in ways that do not hypocritically contradict the intent of preservation of life, law, and the empire, then your boss will freak out in realization that as a Lawful Stupid who is bound to serve the law but has just found you not guilty of the greatest accusation the Empress has ever given in a century, he must logically defect to you as you represent the law moreso than her. Even if you decided to work for the rebels or throw the entire region into a state of anarchy.
  • In the Mass Effect series, the Turians maintain their military might due to the Treaty of Farixen, which specifies that for every dreadnaught that non-Council races get, the Asari and Salarians get 3, and the Turians get 5. Where this trope comes in is that the treaty was written with the assumption that dreadnaughts were the ultimate in space military units. Humanity built carriers with equivilent military strength, which the treaty does nothing to stop. In fact, when humanity becomes a Council race in Mass Effect 2, they haven't really bothered building new dreadnaughts even though they are legally allowed to triple their number, as carriers are so effective.
  • This is the basis of the ending of The Mystery of the Druids. The protagonist, Halligan, has failed to prevent the evil druid Sersten from obtaining the artefact he needs to complete his ritual; but he has secured a vow from him that "nothing will happen to Halligan or Melanie after this". At the follow-up ritual in the present, Halligan stabs Melanie to death himself with a pair of gardening shears. Because Sersten vowed that nothing would happen to Halligan or Melanie - with nothing about why it happened, or it happening as the result of Sersten's actions - this causes Sersten to break a sacred vow, and the ritual fails.
  • In Hewitt, Kathy promises to go to the dance with Hewitt if he does a favor for her. When he does it, she just gives him the lace from her hair. She never said exactly which part of her would go with him.
  • Don't Shit Your Pants has this as an alternate ending. Most people who play the game for the first time assume it's about having your character use the toilet properly given the restrictions of an adventure game parser and a time limit, and that does give a positive ending. But a second positive ending is given by just shitting on the floor - because the game never said you had to use the toilet, only that you had to not shit your pants.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV, the Anata broodmother's child is kidnapped by the Garleans and is then killed. The broodmother's anguish causes her to cry out to her god to bring her child back to her, Lakshmi, who then appears and grants the broodmother her desire to bring her child back to life. She got her wish granted, but her child is now a Soulless Shell since only their body was restored. When the broodmother asks why her child was brought back this way, Lakshmi says that she gave them exactly what they wanted and the child's soul was already long gone.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/ExactWords/VideoGames