Injured Player Character Stage

You're playing a video game when things go bad. The car you're in is blown up. You take a nasty fall. Your powers are painfully drained away from you. You get impaled. Whatever happened, the point is your character is down for the count.

Except they're not. They get up and stagger on, proving that they are a Determinator, and nothing will stop them from achieving their goal.

And then...a level?

Injured Player Character Stage is a video game trope and a subtrope of Gameplay and Story Integration. An injury taken in a cutscene or scripted event has an impact on your abilities in the next level. Movement is usually reduced to a slow limp, often staggering or collapsing periodically. Most of your abilities are usually locked, especially the ability to run or jump. Pressing one of these buttons might do nothing, or even cause your character to collapse.

While it can happen at any time in a game, it generally occurs near the end, after the Climax Boss, although there may still be an Anti-Climax Boss. If it happens earlier in the game, the goal is usually to get medical treatment.

This can have a powerful effect on the player, because, as the controller, they're intimately familiar with the character's abilities by this point, which makes the character's sudden limitations all the more real. Yet, the game isn't over, so as weak as they are, you have to proceed.

A sister trope of (and often overlapping with) Expository Gameplay Limitation. See also Controllable Helplessness and No-Gear Level. Compare/contrast Plotline Death, where a playable character is injured so badly by the story, they are no longer playable at all (and dead). A possible manifestation of You Can Barely Stand.

As this trope is most often used near the end of a game, beware of spoilers.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Action 

  • About halfway through Tomb Raider (2013), Lara gets more hurt than usual. Unlike most examples, Lara is not terribly inhibited in this sequence, although she staggers and takes damage whenever she jumps.
  • Asura's Wrath has several segments wherein the titular character ends up breaking all of his arms. These instances don't deter him (and the player) from trying to kick and/or headbutt everything that pisses him off, even if it's less convenient.
  • Essentially the entire flipping game of Batman: Arkham City. Batman early on is poisoned by The Joker, but due to being The Determinator he pushes through everything the city throws at him. At one point the poisoning starts really getting to him, including a reduction to the health bar and Interface Screw effects like blurred vision and tilting camera; he comes back from it by conning some Lazarus Pit water out of Ra's al Ghul and Talia, but even that's just an extension to the deadline rather than a full cure.
  • In God of War II, Kratos has just defeated the Colossus of Rhodes, when one of the Colossus's hands falls on him. Critically injured, all Kratos can do is limp to the Blade of Olympus, which is holding all of his godly power. When Zeus shows up, all Kratos can do is flail about with his blades, very slowly, until Zeus inevitably pins Kratos to the ground and impales him through the stomach with the Blade of Olympus.
  • Lego adaptation games:
    • In Lego Indiana Jones, at the beginning of first level of the Temple Of Doom Indy is poisoned, can't jump and can only walk slowly. player has to bribe some mooks so they will give him an antidote.
    • Lego Lord of The Rings has two examples.
      • During boss battle with Lurtz, Boromir is shot every time Lurtz loses a life, reducing his health bar's maximum length. During the final phase of battle, he can barely move and dies in one hit.
      • In game's final level, until boss battle with Gollum Frodo, weakened by The One Ring, can barely move and can't jump.

    First Person Shooter 

  • The second act of Modern Warfare 3 ends in a flashback sequence where you, as Yuri, have just taken a Deagle bullet to the chest at the hands of Makarov, and have to get the fuck up and stop him. Stop him from what, you might ask? The airport massacre in "No Russian", from the previous game. However, because your bleeding and injuries are so severe, you stagger about and cannot aim properly, and your intervention is unsuccessful as a result.
  • Near the end of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Mitchell's Artificial Limb is disabled. For the remainder of the game, you can't use grenades or two-handed weapons, and you can't reload. If you run out of ammo you'll need to either kill enemies with your knife or grab a new gun. Fortunately, Mitchell can use Mini-Mecha with only one functional arm...
  • Halo:
    • Downplayed in Halo: Reach. On two levels the player starts out with less health than usual because of crash-landings in the previous cutscene. On the final level it overlaps with Interface Screw; your visor is cracked, preventing you from seeing how much ammo you have left.
    • Halo 4 has a part at the very end where the Chief is too injured to stand and must crawl toward the objective. Halo 5: Guardians does something similar in its own ending.
  • Near the end of BioShock, Fontaine tells your heart to stop working but it's a "stubborn muscle" as he calls it, and it just amounts to reducing your maximum health for the level.
  • Both episodes in Half-Life 2 starts off with Gordon Freeman's health being in a very low state. Episode 1 begins with Gordon buried alive after the events from the main game where a large part of the Citadel explodes. Episode 2 involves Gordon sustaining injuries from the end of episode 1 where their escape train gets derailed and flies off the tracks.

    Platform Game 

  • Another World: Near the end of the game, Lester is badly injured and can only crawl slowly for the remainder of the scene. It is left ambiguous if he ever gets better.
  • Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons uses this trope in an unusual way. When the older brother dies, you continue as the younger brother. you are technically in full health, but now must accomplish feats that took both brothers by yourself.
  • Mega Man Zero 2: The game's intro continues from the ending from the previous game where Zero wanders off and fights a lot of mooks hounding him for a whole year, and it didn't appear that he has gotten himself repaired or even rested once during this time. As you're playing in the intro stage, you'll see that he always holds his shoulder (something you normally only see if his health is critical) and his weapon upgrades are lost from the previous game; the Triple Rod weapon from the previous game is also unusable because it's broken during the interim. His status screen is also the one from the first game, until it's updated to the one used in this game after the intro stage.
    • The fan game Mega Man Unlimited has one of these as the post-final boss escape sequence after Zero slices off Mega Man's arm cannon.

    Rail Shooter 

  • In the Rail Shooter Panzer Dragoon: Orta, after defeating the fourth stage boss, the dragon's wings are injured in the explosion, sending it and Orta plummeting to the ground (into a huge snowdrift, fortunately.) The next stage has it running through a frozen tundra until its wings heal.

    Role Playing Game 

  • Mass Effect:
    • A borderline case happens in Mass Effect 2, when you control Joker in a similar style to the example below. He hasn't been injured, but his natural delicate state makes it so he can only move slowly, dies the moment he enters combat, and is incapacitated if he falls down.
    • At the end of Mass Effect 3, Shepard's armor is broken, and most of his/her skin is badly burned. You must walk, and then crawl, to the Reaper ship anyway, shooting a few enemies on the way with only your pistol.
  • In Summoner, Joseph loses his left hand at the end of the first major arc, and can't use shields or two-handed weapons until it's magically regenerated most of the way through the second.
  • In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Explorers of Sky, during the special episode that focuses on Sunflora, she is on fire and has the Burn status during one of the boss battles.
  • In Final Fantasy IX Garnet is injured *psychologically* after her home kingdom is attacked and suffers heavy casualties with her unable to do anything to defend it as queen. For awhile she will fail to cast spells or do attacks when told because she is to busy replaying the scene in her head. She also does not speak in game at all during this section.
  • In Final Fantasy XV Ignis is left blind during the confrontation with Leviathan in Altissia. The next dungeon afterwards requires the player to walk slowly to allow him to keep up; failing to do so results in being told off by Gladiolus.
  • One side-quest in A Dance with Rogues sees the Princess slashed across the throat, her entire inventory taken away, and her body dumped in the sewers. She survives with 1 HP and, because health does not regenerate on its own, has to rely on stealth to get out and find help. All of a sudden, a corridor full of common sewer rats becomes a terrifying ordeal.
  • Played with in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. Although it's not the player character (the Exile) affected by the injury, two of the Player Party members (in the grand Star Wars tradition) have missing limbs, which prevents them from using certain abilities and weapons. Specifically, Kreia loses a hand to Darth Sion in the prologue, rendering her unable to dual-wield lightsabers (or any weapons) or use double-bladed ones, even if she has the perks necessary for it. Bao-Dur, meanwhile, had lost his arm long ago and has since replaced it with a prosthetic, which, however, severely limits which types of armor he can wear—basically, anything with sleeves is right out. In a way, the entire game is an Injured Stage for the two of them.
  • Parasite Eve 2 has Aya suffering a gunshot wound after a lengthy cutscene near the end of the game. Aya's HP is reduced by a small amount to reflect her gunshot wound, though you can easily heal it with an item or healing ability.
  • Downplayed in one mission of Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days; Roxas's stats are halved because he's "having an off day". It's only later that we find out this was caused by Xion draining his power.

    Stealth Based Game 

  • Assassin's Creed:
    • In Assassin's Creed: Revelations, Ezio falls off a speeding carriage down a cliff. Until he finds a Healing Potion towards the end of the mission, his injuries prevent him from performing most of his fancy acrobatics, so he has to rely on basic moves and environmental shortcuts.
    • In Assassin's Creed III Conner lands on a spike chasing Lee causing him to limp for the rest of the mission. Also in any cut-scene after he has a notable limp showing it never fully healed.
    • Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag: Edward slashes his arm on a tree while sliding down a slope, leaving him limping towards his crew on a beach before he collapses of blood loss.
  • Metal Gear Solid:
    • Towards the end of Metal Gear Solid 2, Raiden is captured and has his clothes and items taken from him. He is forced to sneak through the next section naked and unable to defend himself, and contracts a cold due to the low temperatures which causes him to sneeze periodically, which can alert nearby guards.
    • In Metal Gear Solid 3, Snake gets captured and shot in the eye, permanently blinding him. Thereafter for the rest of the game, if the player enters first-person view mode, the extreme right-hand side of the screen will be darkened and the depth perception will be inaccurate compared to beforehand. This is taken even further in the remake of the game for the 3DS: the 3D effect is disabled when entering first-person view mode after Snake gets shot in the eye.
      • Just before the fight with the Fear, Snake is shot in the leg with a crossbow bolt coated in poison. This leads to an interesting glitch if you cure the poison but don't remove the bolt: Snake will go through the rest of the game with the bolt in his leg, unable to remove or even select it in the CURE menu.
      • Ocelot and Eva get in on this too. While fighting Ocelot if you shoot him anywhere that's visible, he'll have a bandage over the wound the next time you see him. The final escape mission before confronting The Boss has Eva severely wounded and staggering slowly behind you while you protect her and lead her to safety.
  • In Metal Gear Rising Raiden gets his arm lopped off when getting the living crap kicked out of his metallic ass by Jetstream Sam. You get to fight a bit longer but the screen flickers, Raiden can barely manage one slow awkward slash and can only stagger around, and Sam just keeps his distance and taunts you.

    Strategy 

  • Valkyria Chronicles: In the Trapped Behind Enemy Lines mission that follows the successful defense of desert Valkyrur ruins, Alicia's leg is injured, her movement animation is that of limping, and her maximum movement per turn is penalized greatly. The map has several spots with wild herbs, which can be used for injury treatment, effectively reducing the penalty.

  • Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones: During the prologue, Seth is wounded by Valter and as a result, starts out on the first map with less than half of his maximum health. However, being The Ace of the Renais army and averting Overrated and Underleveled, he is capable of wiping the floor with the enemy mooks regardless.

    Survival Horror 

    Third Person Shooter 

  • The Order: 1886 uses In Medias Res to start this way, with Sir Galahad having been tortured for several weeks.
  • In Spec Ops: The Line, Walker is injured badly a couple of times, reducing him to an agonizing crawl, armed with nothing or just the basic pistol, for the next section.
  • The final boss battle of Resident Evil 5 takes place after a plane crash. Although they're not slowed down in any way, Chris and Sheva clutch their bodies in pain and use the "injured" walking animation even at full health.
  • Uncharted features several examples:
    • Probably the most well-known is the train aftermath in the Himalayas that opens the second game, Among Thieves. Nate is naturally slow due to being gut shot and low on energy, but once he defeats the onslaught of enemies after escaping the wreckage in the How We Got Here Chapter, the snowstorm means he's practically limping in his walk.
    • The third game, Drake's Deception, has a non-injury example in the Rub Al' Khali Chapter, a playable montage of Nate navigating the titular desert. What pushes it into this trope is that Nate is very obviously afflicted by the journey: he no longer walks entirely straight, has a terrible gait, and at certain points is reduced to crawling on his knees. In almost all of these scenes Nate will stumble to a stop if the player lets go of the left stick, and takes a moment to pick himself up when he gets moving again. The worst of these will result in Nate outright collapsing to the ground!
    • A Thief's End has a brief one when Nate makes it to the Libertalia island after surviving a boat crash. Like in Uncharted 3, he isn't explicitly injured, but is clearly incredibly low on energy; climbing is now a huge strain on him, and certain jumps will wind him upon landing and have him literally fall flat on his face. It culminates in a bad fall that knocks him so hard he fades out until morning (after which he'll be moving just fine).

    Wide Open Sandbox 

  • A relatively minor case in inFAMOUS: First Light. Fetch gets blown up near the end. While her movement is slowed, and she starts the sequence with no Neon stored up, she can still jump and use all her powers.
  • Saints Row IV uses a variation when you escape the simulation. The Boss isn't exactly injured but extremely shaky after being essentially asleep for days and even has to vomit a couple of times and has none of the weapons or powers you've unlocked so far (since that was all in the simulation).
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has a mission where you are fighting enemies from a helicopter until one of them shoots your chopper down with a rocket. CJ is forced to bail and lands in the sea, which injures him a bit (reduced health) and loses all of his weapons except for a knife.
  • Red Dead Redemption has main character John Marston shot right at the beginning of the game. He's seen to by a doctor, but walks around with bandages showing during a bit of gameplay. He still does work in the game despite the injury. He also will hold an arm over the injury while walking or standing, but gets back to normal fairly quickly.
  • While Jensen isn't technically injured, this can occur during the Namir boss fight in Deus Ex: Human Revolution. If the player gets the biochip upgrade, Jensen's augmentations are switched off before the fight, leaving them unavailable until afterwards, and the player is additionally forced to deal with an Interface Screw of flickering - and worthless - HUD data throughout the encounter.
    • A similar though minor example occurs at the start of the main game, when Jensen's HUD is malfunctioning - the first objective the player receives is to find Pritchard's office and get it repaired.

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