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- At about the end of the first third of Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, the game splits into one of three possible paths depending the player's choice: the combat-centric "action" path, the self-explanatory "puzzle" path, or the "team" path where Indy travels together with Sophia. These paths all converge at the last act in Atlantis, and beating all of them is required for the maximum Indy Quotient points.
- In the Adventure scenario of Clonk's "Metal and Magic" pack, you can either choose becoming a mage or a paladin, and both choices lead to quite a long story...or you can become a roadsweeper, which ends the story in about five minutes.
- Kingdom Hearts I and its sequel ask the player to choose which skills to emphasize and de-emphasize (strength, magic or defense) and how quickly they level up at the start of the game. Woe to the player who might unknowingly choose to level up slowly at the start.
- In Final Fantasy X-2, at the beginning of Chapter 2, you have to decide which of two factions to give an important MacGuffin to. This affects which faction-related sidequests will be available to you later.
- In the Pokémon series, your choice of starter Pokémon determines your rival's starter as well: if you choose the Grass-Type starter, he'll choose the Fire-Type; the Fire-Type starter, the Water-Type; and the Water-Type starter, the Grass-Type (i.e. whichever you choose, he gets the one that's strong against it). Yellow is an exception: there, your starter is always the Electric-Type Pikachu, and your rival's Eevee will evolve into Vaporeon (weak against Electric), Flareon (neutral against Electric), or Jolteon (strong against Electric) depending on how often you lose to him. Your rival's starter (or his starter's final form) will also determine his final team. Some of the later games have another rival character who gets the remaining starter Pokémon (the one that is weaker to yours).
- Also, in the FireRed and LeafGreen remakes, your choice of starter determines which of the Legendary Beasts from Generation 2 will roam the Kanto region: choosing Charmander will cause Suicune to appear, choosing Bulbasaur will cause Entei to appear, and choosing Squirtle will cause Raikou to appear.
- In Pokémon Black and White, your choice of starter Pokemon determines both which gym leader you fight in the first gym (as with your rival, it will always be the one with a type advantage), and also which one of three Pokemon you receive as a gift prior to the battle (which will always have a type advantage over the gym leader).
- Subverted in Radiant Historia, one of your earliest decisions is whether to stay with Heiss in Special Intelligence, or join your friend Rosch in his new brigade. However, due to the nature of the game, the paths are not truly mutually exclusive, and because of some interplay between the two diverging timelines, it is not only possible but necessary to experience both, making only the order you do events impacted by your choice.
- Front Mission 3 has quite possibly the most extreme example in all of gaming: an innocuous choice at the beginning (whether or not you want to hang out with an NPC for drinks) determines your entire path through the game. There are two complete storylines with wildly different results throughout, all hinging on that little choice. If you choose not to go with your friend, you have time to read your email and learn that your sister is working at a military base in town. Later, when an explosion occurs while you are at the base, you try to find your sister. But if you do go with your friend, you don't check your email before going to the base, so you leave after the explosion and don't learn until later that your sister was there, causing you to try to sneak in to find her. In both stories you get help from opposing factions which leads to the very different plots.
- Very early on in Soul Hackers, the Player Character is asked what his very jittery companion Hitomi is normally like. The answer given changes one line of her dialog... and Nemissa's entire skill tree. All the possibilities are about equal in the end, but you're given no indication these two things are related until you answer different next time and wonder why on earth one of your party members is learning wildly different skills.
- Exaggerated Trope in Super Paper Mario. Your first choice of the game is whether you will accept the challenge of saving the world. If you say no three times, you don't save the world and automatically get a Game Over.
First Person Shooter
- Early on in Wolfenstein: The New Order, the player is given a choice of saving one of two characters, Fergus or Wyatt, which significantly impacts the storyline and several mini-games for the rest of the game.
Real Time Strategy
- Battle Realms, at the beginning of Kenji's journey, he must choose whether to slaughter or save peasants. If he saves the peasants the takes the Dragon path, if he kills them he takes the Serpent path.
Turn Based Strategy
- Fire Emblem Fates builds its entire premise on this. The protagonist is a Child of Two Worlds, born into the royal family of Hoshido but raised by the royal family of Nohr. The two kingdoms are at war, and shortly into the game the protagonist has to choose a side to support. Which side they choose affects the story so drastically it branches into two separate games! And there's a downloadable third route where they side with neither, which branches into a third storyline. Each has a completley different set of chapters and recruitable characters.
- Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis is nasty about this one. Not only does the big choice determine Alphonse's loyalties and the path the story takes, but it looks completely innocuous. It's about the third choice you make (with the previous two being yes or no to recruiting a character), it's simply whether Alphonse quietly accepts Cybil's plan or voices his opinion, while ostensibly going along either way. Unless you play the game again or look at a guide, you could reasonably have no idea the decision did anything at all.
- The very first thing the player must do in Spore is decide whether his character should be a herbivore or carnivore. It is possible to reverse this choice during the cell stage by swapping mouths, but once the cell stage is over you're stuck with it. The choice of herbivore, carnivore, or omnivore determines which mouths you can use in creature stage.
Stealth Based Game
- At the start of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, the player will be asked to choose their favorite game in the series. Picking Metal Gear Solid makes Snake's stamina decrease more slowly; picking Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty starts the player wearing the Raikov mask in the very first cutscene; and picking Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (in the Subsistence remake) unlocks a "Peep Theatre" cutscene. This choice has no impact on the story, however.
- In The Nameless Mod, after leaving the starting area, the player has the option to join either PDX or World Corp. It affects the entire plot of the game, most of the missions, and even which locations you encounter.
- In the first chapter of Eternal Darkness, you have to pick up one of three artifacts. Which one you take determines which of the three Ancients will be the Big Bad of your playthrough, which also affects which of three attributes (Health, Magick, and Sanity) the protagonists are particularly strong/weak in and by extension, the special properties of Elite Mooks in that playthrough.
- A decision made early in Saw II: Flesh & Blood determines who survives at the end of the game.
- Visual Novels as a genre tend to have this at their core, especially if they have multiple largely independent storylines branching off early in the story, depending on a few innocuous choices early on.
- In Tsukihime, a few less than obvious choices during the first two days of the story determine which one of five branches it will follow for the rest of it. It doesn't help that some options and branches only become available after you clear other endings.
- In Fate/stay night, you are given a few choices regarding how you follow your day as an Ordinary High-School Student... and the answers you give determine which route you follow for the rest of the game.
- In Reflections on the River, the first choice players make is whether to abduct Prince Shun or Princess Yanyu. This sets the game down completely different paths. (However, the result of the choice itself is flipped by the non-chosen character saying Take Me Instead, so you end up going down the path of whichever you didn't select).
- In Mystic Messenger, your very first choice of the game is whether to play Casual Story or Deep Story mode (although the latter becomes available only after you unlock it with 80 hourglasses). The modes diverge greatly after the first day with different love interests accessible on each one (Zen, Yoosung, and Jaehee in Casual Story; Jumin and 707 in Deep Story).
- Dragon Age: Origins has its eponymous Origin stories: class/race-specific pseudo-tutorial missions, the consequences of which come up again and again throughout the rest of the story.
- In Dragon Age II, your choice of class (mage or non-mage) determines who of the younger Hawke twins dies in the prologue, before their character arc can even begin to unfold. The death of their sibling haunts Hawke for the rest of the game.
- In Dragon Age: Inquisition, pretty much the first major plot choice is whether to approach the mages or the Templars for help with closing the Breach. Doing so effectively allies the Inquisition with the respective faction in their on-going war, causing their enemies to turn to the Elder One instead and be transformed into his brainwashed and disposable mooks for the rest of the game.
- In Sid Meier's Pirates!, your choice of nationality and era determines your starting ship, crew, and home port. The era chosen also determines the balance of power among the four nations on the game map. You are also given a choice of one of four different skills, each of which make a different aspect of the game easier to manage.
- In Alter A.I.L.A., the choice at the end of the prologue determines which faction you (and by extension Green) will side with for the first chapter, and determines who your allies will be.
- Fallout 3 gives you the option of nuking the town of Megaton fairly early on. If you go through with it, you kill off many characters and lock yourself out of any quests there that you haven't completed yet, which can be quite extensive. If you refuse, you miss out on a free penthouse apartment, which is snazzy-looking but not particularly gameplay-relevant (especially since you can get a functionally equivalent pad in Megaton instead).
- The first thing you do in Nox is pick your Character Class, which also decides which one of three largely different storylines the game will follow.
- Early in Wasteland 2, you receive simultaneous distress calls from Highpool and the Ag Center and can only answer one in time to save the respective settlement. The other will be destroyed, and you will be reminded of your choice at every opportunity throughout the rest of the game.
Wide Open Sandbox
- Spoofed in Saints Row IV, where immediately after the tutorial you're thrust into the role of President. During your walk to a press conference, your Veep gives you the option between pushing a bill for curing cancer or one for ending world hunger, a confrontation with a cranky Congressman lets you choose whether to "punch a dick in the head" or "punch a dickhead," and finally an annoying actor asks if you want to hang out and watch Nyteblade later. Absolutely none of this matters because in the very next cutscene, aliens attack Earth and abduct you, putting you into the computer simulation you'll spend the rest of the game trying to escape from.
Non-Video Game Examples
- In the Web Serial Novel Dream High School readers get to make some big decisions off the bat, but one of the first ones that has evident repercussions throughout the rest of the story is joking to somebody who hardly knows you that your name is Grok, Destroyer of Worlds. They believe you, and it becomes your well-known nickname.
- In The Game of Life you can either go to college or enter the workforce straight out. This affects two things right away (how much money you start with and which career paths you can accept) and will impact your overall earning potential for the remainder of the game (which ultimately influences your retirement options).