The Interactive FictionShade, after causing almost everything in the PC's apartment to turn to sand and strongly implying that the PC is actually dying in the desert, reveals that all this horror was just a nightmare and everything is actually fine and normal. Then the apartment room itself vanishes, and it's made clear that it was a near-death hallucination all along.
The ending of Mass Effect 2 could be considered this: The collectors have been exterminated, the Human-Reaper destroyed, the Collectors' advanced technology has been captured for humanity (if Renegade), and Shepard looks out of the window with an expression of quiet determination...and then the camera shows us dark space, where hundreds of Reapers are approaching...
Mass Effect 3 has a few, but the biggest is the mission on Thessia, the asari home-world. Even as the Reapers and their forces tear the place apart, Shepard and the team close in on a temple that apparently holds the key to finishing their super-weapon. The good news: it does. The bad news: Cerberus is already there, waiting for them to uncover it. Kai Leng gets away with the info and Shepard has to abandon the planet, well and truly defeated for maybe the only time in the entire trilogy.
And again in the final section of London. Shepard and co. have survived a grueling ground battle and destroyed the Reaper guarding the Conduit beam. Hammer Task Force masses ahead of the dead reaper. And then Harbinger lands beyond the Conduit...
The best Hope Spot ever was actually done by the game mechanics themselves in Mass Effect 3 at the end of the Rannoch plot arc if you sided with the Geth and could neither persuade nor intimidate the quarians into a ceasefire. After the quarians are wiped out by the Geth, a crying Tali takes off her mask and turns to Shepard to say "I'm sorry..." before falling backwards over a cliff, in slow motion, while Shepard runs toward her with a Paragon Interrupt flashing in your face. If you trigger it, Shepard dives for her... but even then Shepard can't catch her.
Ace Attorney, all the time. When you think you've bested the prosecutor, he/she will smile smugly and pull a new witness out. Also subverted, though, in that eventually you strike a successful blow.
Probably the ultimate Hope Spot is one that goes so far as to completely turn the premise of whole series on it's head, in Dual Destinies case 4, and have the episode not resolve anything apart from that your client is innocent and the witness lied. You've just proven that your client couldn't possibly, under any circumstances, be the killer. But wait, the real murderer, and his actual actions haven't been found out. But that doesn't matter right now. The Judge hands down a not-guilty verdict...then suddenly Simon objects just before adjournment and demands that the fingerprint results on the lighter be read out. ...This creates one of the biggest wham lines in the ENTIRE SERIES. And the episode ends at that exact point, causing, for the first time in the franchise, the events of the case to be carried over to episode 5, where they're not completely resolved until near of the end.
Blackquill: *Reading from report* "After a thorough analysis, the fingerprints..."
Blackquill: "...Were found to belong to Athena Cykes".
In EarthBound, after praying six times in the final fight against Giygas, praying again just gives you "Paula's prayer was absorbed by the darkness." Subverted in that you just have to pray one more time.
Eternal Darkness. You defeat Pious just as the Ancient you summoned finishes ripping the Big Bad apart, when you suddenly see into the mind of the winner and see that it's just as evil as the one that you spent all game trying to defeat, and that now that you've summoned it it plans to enslave/slaughter every living thing it can. Partially subverted as Edward's spirit manages to reverse the summoning spell and banish it, but leaving Alex with the knowledge that these horrors are out there, just waiting for a chance to break through and destroy everything.Then beat the game for the third time; turns out each play-through was in an alternate, simultaneously occurring timeline, plotted by Mantorok to reign in the three other chaotic gods. All is well and the balance is restored, leaving only Mantorok itself... trapped, rotting but never dying, scheming, plotting...
Lots in Final Fantasy II, given the sheer militaristic and magical might of the Palamecian Empire as compared to...well, everything else, especially La Résistance. The most striking example, though, is probably the whole affair with the Cyclone. As You Know, the game's story starts with the core of the party fleeing their hometown of Fynn as it is taken and occupied by the Empire. Near the end, though, La Résistance, headed by the Fynn princess Hilda, marches on Fynn and actually succeeds in ousting the garrison and freeing the city, managing to subvert Doomed Hometown Syndrome with a vengeance. This is, of course, the Emperor's cue to unveil his latest weapon of war, the Cyclone, and use it to pulverize the rest of the civilized world. And there is nothing the player can do about it.
There was a false ending where General Leo defeats Kefka and peace between humans and ESPERS is restored. But it turns out that Kefka was Not Quite Dead. He kills Leo, then the emperor, and destroys the world.
The whole first part of the game could be considered something of a slowly progressing hope spot that, with the small interlude for the Darkest Hour, is exchanged for a slowly progressing recovery from the Despair Event Horizon.
Played straight in a truly brutal manner in Crisis Core: Zack is within sight of the city in which Aerith is waiting for hm. However, in between the two is the massive army of Shinra Corp. Zack puts up a good fight, but in the end is overwhelmed no matter what you do.
The Shivan Juggernaut Sathanas is destroyed but it turns out it was just one of many. Also, the final Escort Mission where the player scraps an impressive number of Shivan ships while defending the refugee convoy. Unfortunately, the entire mission turns out to be a Red Herring because the Shivans were preparing to blow up the sun.
The fanmade campaign Blue Planet is one long, continuous stream of Hope Spots, each one crushed more brutally than the last as you and your allies hurtle headlong towards the Despair Event Horizon.
God of War 2 has one early on when Zeus betrays you. As Zeus comes in for the finishing blow, you get a Press X to Not Die. Surprise, you die no matter what you press.
Guild Wars Nightfall has one towards the end of the campaign. The player characters have spent most of the game trying to chase down Varesh, and prevent her from corrupting the world. They finally succeed in killing her during a ritual, but the ritual has been completed enough to unleash the corruption anyway, and pulls players into the Realm of Torment. The next goal becomes defeating the real Big Bad
Happens relatively early in Half Life 1, not long after Gordon learns that a distress signal has been sent out. The exact interval is between the arrival of the military and discovering that they're on a coverup mission, fully intending to kill everyone at Black Mesa. Including you..
This trope occurs so frequently throughout Half-Life 2 and its Episodes that it borders on Paranoia Fuel. You are never safe, ever, and the more one thinks so the more one will be proved dead wrong. Well, except during cutscenes, or the Half-Life equivalent thereof. But even then, something incredibly bad will happen at the end of each of them. Without exception.
In Half-Life 2: Episode 2, it seems like everything is finally OK - you as Gordon Freeman have saved the day, Alyx survived, and you've stopped the Combine from completely overwhelming Earth. Then as you're about to board a helicopter to head onto a new mission, Advisors crash through the ceiling, immobilize you and Alyx, grab her father Eli (who you've known since Black Mesa and the original game) and kill him via brain probe. Alyx is sobbing over her dead father's body and the game fades to black.
Since everyone in Halo: Reach is Doomed by Canon, there's not much hope at all. But still things seem to lighten up when the super-carrier transporting the Covenant strike force is destroyed. But moments later, while the fireball is still dissipating, the actual invasion fleet jumps from hyperspace with hundreds of ships and millions of soldiers.
There are several of these in the game, including the destruction of a Covenant tower by a UNSC frigate, only for the frigate to be blasted two seconds later from orbit. The ending involves a race to get to the Pillar of Autumn before it takes off. You get there, and it seems as if you may make it off the planet alive, and then you have to stay behind to cover the ship's escape, due to Emile (who was previously manning the Mass Driver) being ambushed and killed by Zealots. Of course, this is pre-determined, as Halo: CE only has one active Spartan.
In Dead Space 2, shooting out the viewscreens of certain rooms on the ship will cause you to be quickly sucked out into space unless you shoot the safety switch (because apparently the doors aren't built to seal automatically). Fail to do so, and you are treated to a short scene where poor Isaac attempts to lift and seal the door manually. It appears to be working, only to have the door seal with Isaac's arms still in the doorway, dismembering him.
Very well done in Modern Warfare 2: After defending a house in the wilderness against dozens of attackers for what feels like an eternity, most of your team is dead and you have to run over lots of open space to your extraction point, with a horde of Mooks in pursuit. 30 meters from the extraction point, there's still no rescue in sight and you get clipped by a mortar. You're barely conscious as your last surviving ally drags you away from the following Russians, as a gunships flies over your head and mowes them down with its miniguns. You get dragged back up on your feet and stumble towards the waiting transport helicopter where your commander is allready waiting for you. And after he takes the stolen data from you, he pulls his gun and shoots you and your comrade in the chest. You're still alive and somewhat conscious as your bodies get thrown into a ditch and another soldier empties a can of kerosene over you. You know what's going to happen as the General slowly approaches you with a cigar in his mouth. By the way, you get to watch yourself burn for awhile as well.
Happens again in the final mission twice. After taking down the Pave Low that was transporting Shepherd and falling down a waterfall, you wake up after the fall, dazed and barely conscious. You slowly walk towards the crashed and burning Pave Low and suddenly, you see Shepherd stumbling out of the helicopter, appearing to be exhausted and hurt from the crash. As he leans up against a car to catch his breath, you rush over to him and thrust your knife at him, thinking you're about to kill him and end the game. Nope. It turns out he was only pretending to be tired and hurt to lure you near him, as he grabs your arm, slams your head into the car, and stabs you with the knife
The second time in the mission is, when Shepherd and Price are duking it out, you see Shepherd's gun lying on the floor next to you. You slowly crawl over to the gun as fast as you can, hoping to reach the gun and kill Shepherd with it. Nope. Shepherd notices this and kicks the gun away, right before kicking you in the face. He then starts to beat Price to death. Fortunately, Soap is so bad-ass that he rips the knife out of his chest and throws it into Shepherd's eye.
Ditto for Shock and Awe in the first Modern Warfare. As Jackson and the others are escaping in the chopper, the nuke gets detonated early, knocking it out of the sky. In the next scene, he stumbles out of the wrecked chopper (surrounded by the dead bodies of his squad), making you think he might live; but it's just moment of Controllable Helplessness before dying.
The final mission, Game Over You stopped the nukes from reaching the U.S and you and your squad are chased by the Russians through the mountain road with a assault chopper constantly dogging you. After a lengthy on road fire fight, the chopper seems to have backed off and given up the chase and you have no more pursuers after you...then the chopper appears ahead of you and blows up a bridge , over-tipping your truck.
Done at least once in Modern Warfare 3:
When playing as FSO agent Andrei Harkov, Harkov is part of the Russian President's security team; the President is traveling to a peace conference in Berlin to end the war between USA and Russia, but the plane is hijacked by Ultranationalist terrorists, and crashes. Harkov, his CO and others barely survive the crash and fight their way to the President's location. When they get to him, an extraction helicopter arrives, but when Harkov opens the heli's door, they realize it wasn't their extraction helicopter: it brought terrorist leader Vladimir Makarov (the game's main antagonist) and henchmen, who promptly kill Harkov and his colleagues, and kidnap the President.
In Princess Waltz, the fight between Liliana and Angela is essentially a series of Hope Spots for the former, that becomes all the more painful when Angela emerges victorious in the end.
Cruelly played straight for Cliff Hanger purpose in Super Robot Wars Original Generations, bonus section. When all things looked hopeless and it seems that the heroes cannot beat some sense to the Brainwashed and Crazy Lamia Loveless, she goes on to defy her brainwasher, giving her whole minions a Super Power Meltdown, thus gives Kyosuke an opening to eventually plug her out into safety. Unfortunately, instead of hurrying to store her into safety, Kyosuke proceeds to have a cozy chat with her, and thus comes the unexpected cheap shot from Juergen that made people think he killed Lamia. But as OG Gaiden reveals, turns out she's Not Quite Dead.
And OG Gaiden reverses this trope to 'Good condition-Bad condition-Good condition'. The first phase deals with how Lamia was still alive, but the second phase was how she was Brainwashed and Crazy again, and there's almost no way they could bring her back to her senses. And the third phase finally involves Axel screwing all those bad conditions and still rescue her, thus finally making a successful, happy conclusion for the EFA.
The trailer for Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning gave one in the final battle between a Priest of Sigmar and a Chaos Chosen.
An almost-hope spot in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. When you use the Oath to Order on the clock tower at the end of the third day before saving all the giants, the giants you HAVE saved will come to stop the moon, and for a moment, it looks like they may do it, but soon will tell you they aren't strong enough.
They aren't strong enough to completely stop the moon even if they are all there. The only difference is that if they are, then the moon will open up and absorb Majora's Mask before continuing to fall, giving you one last chance to finish them both off.
Done excellently in Portal 2. After a battle with the final boss, you gain access to the room containing the control-removing button to stop the place going up in flames, only to, brutally, discover that it was booby-trapped.
Hell even before all this craziness, It seems that Wheatley was killed early, but surprise, he survived and proceeds to help you sabotage GLaDOS's traps so when you finally confront her, she's got nothing to kill you with. You extract her from the main core, put in Wheatly and all seems right with the world. You're finally free to leave this godforsaken lab... oh nevermind. Wheatley's gone mad with power.
Often times in Left 4 Dead it will get really calm right before a horde, Tank or Witch (or any combination of the three) appear.
This is a common tactic to use in the Total War series. Surrounded troops will fight to the death. Soldiers who think they have a chance to make a break for it will run, making it much easier to chase down and kill them.
In League of Legends Karthus is built for creating these. His ultimate creates red light over the head of every enemy champion which deals damage after a short period. This red light appearing over their head signals doom to any champion who, protective resources exhausted, has just managed to limp to apparent safety.
Actually, a considerable number of champions can do this, they just don't get to do it as rage-inducingly often. Got away with low health and teleporting back? Hope that you don't get sniped with Ashe's/Caitlyn's/Ezrael's/Draven's/etc. ult in the process, even if you're concealed in brush. Remember, you are never safe until you are actually back at base.
So, so many in Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean. Thought you could stop everything by killing off Geldoblame? Think again, Melodia was working with Kalas to gather the End Magnus. Think you can stop Melodia and Kalas with the Ocean Mirror? It works on Kalas, but Melodia revives Malpercio and shatters the mirror. Thought you could get the Sword of the Heavens, the last of the three artifacts that sealed Malpercio away? Krumly pulls a Face-Heel Turn, steals the sword, and offers it up to Malpercio, which leads to the sword being shattered. It's ultimately a happy ending, but you go through hell to get there.
In Baten Kaitos Origins: So Baelheit is defeated, and he seems to realize how wrong he was. Think this is the end? Verus has other ideas...
Scarface: The World is Yours subverts this; by having the mansion gunfight that ended the original film as the first stage, it is inevitable that Tony detects and kills his would-be murderer, then fights through the Mooks and escapes to return another day. If the player deliberately takes too long to move and lets the assassin kill Tony, it becomes a Double Subversion.
In Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, Chapter 5, you've been put thru hell- the Sigurd's father died to give him his Infinity+1 Sword, then you watch as Sigurd's Best Friend Cuan and his Sister (Cuan's Wife) Ethlin are brutally murdered in the desert... as you approach for what appears to be a massive battle against Reptor and Aida... Velthomer forces, which had been dropping meteor on you up until this point, suddenly change their tune and attack Reptor and his allies- things finally seem to be going right... Upon talking with Aida, she states that Alvis knows Sigurd is innocent... and has a hero's welcome planned for him at the capital. Guesswhathappensthen.
In Suikoden II, a famous scene includes LucaBlight asking a woman in his mercy if she wanted to live so badly. The woman says yes, then Luca tells her to act like a pig for his entertainment for him if she wants to live. The woman did so. And when she's done doing so?
Luca Blight: DIE, PIG!!! *kills the woman*
In Mega Man Zero 4 we have a lovely example. After defeating all of the Einherjar Warriors it would seem that everything will finally be okay. Then Craft goes and fires Ragnarok anyway in an attempt to kill off Dr. Weil. It apparently works. That is, until Genre Savvy players notice that the game hasn't gone through the prerequisite Boss Rush...
The Halloween Hack: Dr. Andonuts becomes determined to recover from his madness as his past is explored. It ends badly.
In Final Fantasy X, the Awful Truth of the Final Summoning and the teachings of Yevon is that they will never provide true salvation from Sin. The teachings of Yevon are total hogwash that the Church itself doesn't follow, and the Final Summoning actually guarantees that Sin will be reborn. Yuna eventually rejects both, saying she wants to live and find a better way without false hope.
In Bioshock Infinite, Booker & Elizabeth have just fought through a horde of Founders and traitorous Vox, snagged the airship First Lady, and set course for Paris, finally set to leave the hell of Columbia behind. And then Songbird shows up and brings the airship down.
In the final cinematic of Warcraft III: The Frozen ThroneArthas approaches the Frozen Throne all the while hearing the voices of various characters calling him out on his actions throughout the last two games. As the Lich King demands to be freed, Arthas roars and swings his sword into the Frozen Throne, shattering it. Just as players think he's finally redeemed himself, Arthas puts on the Lich King's crown and both declare
Lich King/Arthas: "Now we are one."
In World of Warcraft, Ji attempts to invoke this trope in the pandaren starting zone, after the pandaren player character returns with news that their master has passed away. Aysa tells him that he knew this was going to happen, but he responds with "let a pandaren hope, would you?"
One of the endings to Obsidian has protagonists Lilah Kerlins and Max Powers escape from the artificial worlds they've been trapped in for most of the game. However, as the presence of the villainous AI CERES' avatar, the Conductor, and the dramatic camera zoom-out show, CERES' dream of a 'rebooted' Earth have been realized.
Discussed in Dragon Age II. During a conversation with Aveline during the third act, she describes the lighting of the beacon as this.
The eponymous CIMA in CIMA The Enemy actually exploit this. Since they feed on people's hope, they set up situations for people who are pulled into the CIMA world to allow them to escape, only to crush them later on before they can get out.