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aka: Mercy Reward
Some games reward you for not killing your enemies.
Compare Pacifist Run
, but this is not necessarily a full no-death run — it may just be that isolated incidences of non-lethality get you more points than a lethal version of the same.
Often coincides with Videogame Caring Potential
, for when your own troops inspire affection rather than the desire to use them as C-4 strapped lemmings.
Can often be an aspect of the Karma Meter
and Videogame Caring Potential
. Contrast Videogame Cruelty Potential
, though the "reward" in that case is usually simply one's own personal amusement or gratification, as well as Videogame Cruelty Punishment
, where you are punished for unnecessary violence.
- Jo Wood's Cold Zero gives you more XP for enemies KO'd rather than killed and still more for enemies left unharmed at the end of a mission.
- Materia Magica features a samurai duck who wears a full set of ebony armor - valuable stuff at low levels. But if you pass him by without killing him, you earn the Mark of Truth.
- Early in Resident Evil 4 you encounter a dog caught in a bear trap. If you let him out, he shows up to distract El Gigante who, given your weapons at that point, would otherwise be a rather cruel fight without the help.
- Metal Gear Solid 3 rewards you with new camouflage if you nonlethally defeat bosses, but they die anyway.
- In the fight against The Sorrow you must dodge The Sorrow's attacks while wading through the ghosts of every character you have killed up to that point in the game. The fewer characters you have killed, the fewer there are to dodge and the easier the fight is.
- Literally wading; the battle takes place knee-deep in a river of variable length.
- You can also take the easy way out and drown yourself in the river which also causes the fight to end, but doing so means you won't get his camo.
- Nonlethally beating The End gives you his modified-to-fire-tranquilizers sniper rifle, making the rest of a Pacifist Run much easier. (You actually have to corner and hold him up for his special camo).
- Splinter Cell games (at least the later ones) deduct points for every enemy Sam kills, all of them if its a civilian or ally. However, this does not apply for individuals you are specifically told to kill. In Chaos Theory, it is entirely possible to go through the entire game without killing anyone who is not marked for death by the objectives...and Sam meets some people that are really asking for it.
- The SWAT series does this, however it still rewards you for breaking police procedure if you can knock out hostile criminals instead of opening fire. A bit of a Justified Trope in that minimal loss of life is part of their goals.
- SWAT 3 and 4 docked you points for killing, but SWAT 2 would suspend officers for killing terrorists who had their guns drawn. Also, you had to deal with certain terrorists non-lethally to get the best ending.
- In real life, officers that are involved in a fatal shooting are always placed on suspension with pay while the shooting is investigated. It's not so much a punishment as it is a requirement for proper decompression and dealing with taking life. Officers can still train, but are not on-duty until cleared by Internal Affairs. So, really, SWAT 2 is the most realistic.
- The Suffering: Ties That Bind rewards mercy, but in this the form of Shoot the Dog, by finishing off a slowly dying officer.
- The original The Suffering has a similar sequence in the abandoned insane asylum. You come across a prison guard who's been mostly eaten alive by rats, in agony and incapable of much but twitching sickeningly. Killing him is counted as good act, rather than an evil one, by the game's Karma Meter.
- The original The Suffering also has a more straight example. Late in the game you'll come across a prison guard who doesn't want to kill you (note that up to this point pretty much 100% of the prison's guards have been your enemies) and instead just wants to escape the crazy prison. Shoot him anyway and you're guaranteed a bad ending.
- The second Spider-Man game for the PS1 does this with one particular boss: if you defeat The Lizard with nothing but antidote shots (which gets tough), you're rewarded with an insulated costume - making the latter parts of the game against Electro far, far easier.
- The grizzled veteran quartermaster in the beginning of Deus Ex rewards you with extra ammo if you use non-lethal methods, or withholds them if you kill. After a certain (early) part of the game, though, this ceases to be a factor.
- It seems to be the designer's way of saying "Good show" to players who decide not to kill everything in sight...because as it turns out, the NSF are the good guys. The general also reacts better if you ask for nonlethal weapons, or nonweapon equipment.
- Except for the fact that he has no problem giving you a rocket launcher, assuming that you'll used the anti-tank weapon against the robots.
- BioShock rewards you for showing mercy to the Little Sisters. You only get half the Adam for sparing them, but after sparing a few you get a 200 Adam bonus (equal to 2.5 spared Sisters) and other assorted rewards.
- In BioShock 2, there are 3 instances where you can choose to kill or spare an antagonist. If you spare the first one, she will summon some security bots to help you in a fight later. Also, there is an achievement for sparing all 3 characters and saving every Little Sister, while there is no equivalent achievement for taking the "evil" path.
- In Red Steel, sparing your enemies in the sword battles will give you more allies in the final level. Of course, you're still free to mow down all the guys with guns with no penalty whatsoever. It also gets you the good end if you do this in the final sword battle, but your opponent will not yield unless you break his sword, unlike all of the other enemies.
- Robin Hood: Legend of Sherwood, an old Strategy First game, increases your overall game score and gives you more troops/workers if you keep your bodycount low. As compensation, knocking people out is dead-easy, you have infinite rope and tying them up works indefinitely as long as they aren't found by their comrades.
- This is actually required in one level: you have to sneak into the fortress of a potential ally to enlist his aid, and killing his men would probably make him your enemy for life.
- Medieval II: Total War has its own take on this, giving a Karma Meter to each of your individual generals. A governor-general that is very Chivalrous (as opposed to Dreaded) will increase population growth and happiness in a city instead of just public order. Good-aligned generals are, therefore, much more useful in empire-building. And given that troops fighting for them are less likely to run away, they're really helpful for taking on an enemy bristling with firearms.
- The original Medieval: Total War had a somewhat less altruistic reward for not executing captured enemy soldiers, since this allowed you to ransom them back to the original owner for a fair chunk of cash. Of course, this meant that you would have to face them on the field again at some point, so it was often a good idea to put a few to the sword during the battle...
- It also worth noting that while good-aligned generals are useful for empire building, dreaded generals are more useful for long, outdrawn conflicts, like the crusade. And if you combine King Edward the Ridiculously Cruel, with some nasty anti-moral weapons, the enemy will be running before you know it.
- In the Bakumatsu chapter of Live A Live, you are given four path options - Kill as necessary, Kill Everyone Ever Forever (not really that extreme, but you end up leaving nothing but bloodstains in your wake), Kill Everyone (but spare the women), and Kill No One. The latter two get your rewards, in the form of an Inrou (Medicine Box) from the women living in the castle if you've killed no women, and Yoshiyuki, Prisoner's sword (which is MARKEDLY stronger than any weapon you can acquire in the chapter) as your equipped weapon for the final chapter.
- Also in the Final chapter, where the only way to get the best ending is to refuse to kill Oersted when prompted.
- Super Smash Bros. Melee had the "Merciful Master" bonus awarded if you win a match without KO'ing anyone - which usually means they managed to KO themselves. And an even bigger bonus called "Switzerland" awarded for not taking any damage and not using any attacks at all. This even extends to using recovery moves for navigation.
- The first two games of the King's Quest series tends to give you more points for nonviolent solutions to problems. The later games, not so much. For instance, KQ4, KQ5 and the remake of KQ2 all require you to deal violently with the antagonist. However, if you have the choice between violence and non-violence, the peaceful method is usually the "correct" one that gives you the most points and the Golden Ending.
- In some Super Robot Wars games, you can on certain occasions earn a battle mastery or (much more practically and rarely) a new unit by reducing an enemy to critical damage without destroying them. Of course, most of the time, you're rewarded for finishing off boss units, who tend to run away at low HP.
- Inverted in Baten Kaitos Origins; killing the Quirky Miniboss Squad in the cutscenes after you defeat them gets you good equipment. However, for 100% Completion, you need to both kill them (for the items) and spare them (to see bonus scenes in the final Collapsing Lair sequence). Naturally, this requires you to play through the game at least twice via New Game+.
- Used in Vectorman. Go through a level without shooting once? Get a hefty point bonus. (This is doable on some levels thanks to the fact that your Double Jump can do damage at certain points.)
- If you let Sareena live after defeating her in Mortal Kombat Mythologies Sub Zero, she shows up dramatically at the conclusion of your battle with Quan-Chi to deliver the coup de grace.
- The original NARC had this. You could gun down every crook you meet, but if you stayed in his space long enough, he'd be arrested, for a nice end-of-level bonus. You are a cop, so this makes sense.
- But busted criminals never drop items (particularly ammo and grenades), which are needed for Boss fights and then there are...
- PCP addicts and serial killers (they have melee attacks and will slaughter you if you try to arrest them), and is suicide against drug dealers (who throw extremely powerful syringes).
- Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction had this for the top-level bosses and minibosses, the Deck of 52. You could capture a card and drag his/her happy ass to an extraction point (hopefully the chopper doesn't get blown up on its way in) for the full bounty, or you could just level the place and snap a photo of the corpse for half. And for the sadistically antisocial, you could capture a card, load him/her in the chopper, get the full bounty..and then blow the chopper up for just the standard friendly-fire penalties.
- One of the most interesting examples of this is in Mortal Kombat 3. A certain button combination at the "Finish Him/Her!" screen would trigger a Mercy which grants the other player a tiny bit of life to continue fighting. It also unlocks the ability to perform Animalities after you beat that shred of life out of them. That's right: For sparing your opponent's life, you gain a brand new way to brutally murder them.
- Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 allows you to Capture enemy units. There are a few rules to it, of course, but you get their equipment and won't have to lose your own units if you're clever.
- Iji utilizes this well, but it's important to know that kills are only counted if they are caused by your projectiles (From version 1.6 onwards, those bounced off of a Resonance Reflector keep their ownership, allowing you to kill an enemy with his own rockets without getting your hands dirty). Assassins drop Nano when they voluntarily bail, so they don't count (with one exception). Also, breaking turrets, Skysmashers, and Proxima don't register on your kill tally either.
- There is a single Tasen in Sector 3 between the Komato pursuit party and Elite Krotera. Leave her alive and she'll reunite with her homies, and they will unlock Deep Sector in Sector 9 - giving you access to a Supercharge and a sizable ammo cache. Too bad the Assassins move in as well.
- If you manage to go through the game with a kill tally of zero, not only will Assassin Ansaksie assist you against Annihilator Iosa (and do her in for you to preserve your tally, though she's not doing it for you), but she'll also leave the Massacre for you to use on General Tor on all difficulties (except Ultimortal, where you're forced to kill a certain enemy, preventing full pacifist runs).
- World of Warcraft's Diremaul instance has a section where the players can become king of an ogre tribe by killing the previous king. All the other bosses can be spared using several tricks to get past them, and doing so results in them paying you tribute in the form of items that are usually superior to what you would get by killing them.
- Both Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect award Karma Meter points for getting out of certain situations without combat. There's also an achievement in Mass Effect 1 for defusing seemingly unwinnable situations with your Charm or Intimidate skill. In one particular twist, doing so will avoid losing a party member.
- The Virtua Cop series rewards disarming enemies (rather than hitting them directly) with a "Justice Shot" bonus.
- At one point later on in Chrono Trigger, right after the destruction of Zeal and the death of Crono, the remaining party members, meet up with Magus. You have a choice to make: fight him, or choose to leave him alone. If you choose the former, you battle him and kill him (for real). If you choose the latter, Magus decides to join your party. Whoa.
- Minor one in Final Fantasy VII, as the team travel along the train tracks of Corel, a certain section of the tracks has a chirping sound. Cloud can travel up the slope to find a bird's nest with two treasure chests. If you choose not to attack the bird and give up the treasure, and either Aerith or Tifa is in the team, it can up their Relationship Values for the Golden Saucer Date sequence.
- Subverted later when you can also spare some members of the Submarine crew when you take it over. They're the guys you performed with when you masqueraded to send off Rufus Shinra. Taking them hostage rather than killing them nets their thanks, avoids conflict, and they never betray you/ But they are one of the only (and in fact last) sources of the Shinra Alpha armor piece if you fight them and steal it, a nice pick-up if the player is low on gil and/or hasn't done the endgame side quests. Can be a good incentive to fight the outclassed mooks instead of showing mercy.
- Doing good deeds in Red Dead Redemption (such as clearing out gang hideouts, helping the law, retrieving stolen goods, etc.) raises your karma meter slightly. When it's very high, random people will give you items, including but limited to cash, guns, and a rosary that deflects bullets. Disarming people in duels and bringing back bounties alive also gets you more fame, faster than killing your charges would have.
- In Quest for Glory II, the hero may be awarded with the title of Paladin at the end of the game if he avoids performing certain unmerciful actions, such as trying to slay his opponent after disarming him during the trial to join the Eternal Order of Fighters, or acting similarly in a situation that arises near the end of the game while confronting the villainous henchman Khaveen.
- Alpha Protocol gives you specific perks for sparing enemies and using nonlethal weaponry. Of course, you also get perks for mercilessly slaughtering everyone in your path. You can also form alliances with characters you spare, most of which will pay off in the ending.
- Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines grants bonus XP for doing certain missions without being spotted or without killing anyone. Many of these also penalize you (i.e. The Prince yells at you and withholds money) if you kill anyone, since you're supposed to be upholding The Masquerade.
- Very subverted in Dungeon Keeper. Setting your enemies free will merely cause them to come back to fight you; in contrast, torturing them causes them to eventually join your side.
- This becomes doubly subverted in the unofficial expansion Ancient Keeper - at times you actually need to capture enemies, heal and buff them, and release them - still as enemies - to win. It also adds another subversion, requiring you to play the Bad Boss and selectively turn your own minions against you at various points. (Certain creatures can do things while trying to hurt their master they can't do to an enemy Keeper.)
- In Queen's Blade: Spiral Chaos, if you fully break Monster Girl's armor with The One Guy instead of killing her, she'll join your army. Sadly, you can capture only one monster of each type.
- In Yoshi Topsy Turvy, starting in Chapter 5, you will get levels where the Spirit of Kindness challenges you to get through the level while killing few enemies as possible. Killing none at all yields the best medal.
- If you're running a good-aligned party in Mightand Magic VII, one of your mandatory quests is to do a pacifist run of a fairly difficult dungeon called the Walls of Mist. You fail it if you so much as damage an enemy, though you can try again. (Evil parties have a quest that takes them here too, but are free to kill anything they like).
- Inverted in Infinite Space. Letting a minor villain live will cause an innocent girl to die horribly.
- Shin Megami Tensei games sometimes feature this. In random fights, in case you've almost finished beating the crap out of an enemy squad, with just one enemy left, sometimes he will stop the fight and attempt to converse with you, pleading for mercy. In case you grant it, he can leave with no fuss, thank you and give some money or items, decide you're cool and join your team, or invoke I Surrender, Suckers and have a last stab at you.
- In Summon Night: Swordcraft Story you can defeat human enemies by either beating them up or breaking their weapon. If you can manage the latter you'll learn the technique to make an exact replica of their weapon for your own use.
- Scarface: The World is Yours. Ignoring rival gangs instead of blasting them means your drug-smuggling ventures are that much more profitable and easy. Blasted 'em anyway? You can outright bribe 'em into not hassling you so much. Of course to get one hundred percent completion they all have to die.
- MARDEK 2 has a choice to spare a character. Doing so is required to access an optional Dungeon Town and arena, and gets you a very useful shop in Mardek 3.
- The Mass Effect games occasionally use this. An excellent example: In Mass Effect 1, you are given the choice to spare or kill the rachni queen. If you spare her, you meet an asari in the sequel carrying a message from her promising an army of rachni to help you fight the Reapers.
- Mass Effect 2 tries be more ambiguous on the issue in one quest on Illium. Sparing a begging mercenary recruit will come back to haunt you when it's revealed the recruit was an unrepentant Psycho for Hire who joined the mercenaries after murdering an innocent(ish) volus merchant and now walks free. Then again, you can give the evidence of her crime to the police, which can still be considered a better option than murdering her before the Player Character even knew she was evil.
- Mass Effect 3 takes this to the extreme. Throughout all three games, an obnoxious reporter hounds Commander Shepard, hell-bent on digging up any kind of dirt she can find. In all three games, you can spout a one-liner and then punch her out. However, if you import a save after both games, and in those games you non-violently managed to upstage her in her own interviews, you can get her to support you for the coming war with the Reapers. Well, didn't see that coming...
- Sparing the Rachni Queen in ME1 and Legion and Zaeed in ME2 all give advantages in ME3 - especially in Legion's case. Wrex is a subversion, since the highest possible score requires him to be dead (as you can betray his more dim-witted replacement without fear of discovery).
- Mega Man X: Command Mission features enemy medics. Kill them and they yield XP and money as normal. Kill everyone but them, and on their next turn, they'll 'Surrender' and heal your party instead, and if they're spared for another turn, they'll retreat, but not without a 'Thank You'.
- Note that it's only the "Nurse" medics who do it. If you try with the "Doctor" class, which is an upgraded version of the Nurse, they'll only attack you like their non-medic counterpart.
- In the ending to Mega Man 10, Dr. Wily is sick when Mega Man captures him, so Mega Man takes him to a hospital instead of taking him to prison. To reward him, Wily leaves behind the cure to the Roboenza virus when he escapes.
- A Judge Dredd video game for the Sega Genesis gave you 50 points for every dead criminal. Properly arresting one gave you 100.
- In Frozen Essence, not using Mina's destructive power on Caius after he severely injures Rune during the Life Path allows him to live long enough to thwart Oryon from recapturing Mina and Rune. Doing the opposite causes Caius to die of his wounds instead and leads to one of the game's worst endings.
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution is anything but subtle about this: Nonlethal takedowns are, pound for pound, worth twice as much XP as killing someone, and most quest resolutions saving lives pay off after a while as the grateful survivors get back to you.
- You're also rewarded if you decide to give van Bruggen a weapon to defend himself from Belltower despite the guy being a True Neutral mercenary whose previous employers were the people you are now fighting. He later contacts you and transfers a nice chunk of change to your bank account as thanks.
- Galaga '88 has periodic bonus stages where sets of enemy ships flew by in preset formations without attacking. A large "perfect bonus" could be earned by hitting all the ships in the stage, but one could much more easily earn a "secret bonus" worth the same value as the perfect bonus simply by not firing at all during the stage.
- In Utawarerumono, it's technically not a merciful choice the player actually has: after the player manages to beat Mutikapa, the godlike tiger who's been killing villagers, her cub is left alive. Hakuoro automatically decides to spare the cub despite others pointing out that the cub might grow up to be another Mutikapa. Ultimately this provides a huge benefit to Hakuoro: the cub does in fact grow up to resemble Mutikapa in appearance, but it's loyal to Aruruw and therefore the player now has a defensive tank in the party due to Aruruw's desire to help "Daddy!" It even helps scare off Benawi's woptar army in the first battle in which you can control it, lowering all their defenses and making the battle winnable.
- Dishonored gets harder the more people you kill— more rats, more Weepers, and heightened security. You also get material rewards for letting a few specific enemies live such as the Pendleton twins, Lady Boyle's sisters, and the Weepers under the Hound Pits.
- In PAYDAY: The Heist, you can spare a cop's life by intimidating them to drop their weapon and handcuffing themselves (sometimes you'll have to shoot them to get them to cooperate). Getting cops to cuff themselves will count as a hostage under your possession.
- In the sequel, players far enough down the Mastermind tree can convince enemies that have surrendered to actively fight on your behalf. Their AI isn't great, but it gets you an extra gun, and with other Mastermind skills the converted enemy gets massive bonuses to health and damage.
- In Dungeons & Dragons, you gain Experience Points for resolving encounters, no matter how you accomplish this. If the goal is stopping the dragon from flattening a nearby town, it doesn't matter if you do this by killing the dragon, bribing the dragon, or tricking the dragon into going someplace else, you should get the same XP. Naturally, this varies considerably from one Dungeon Master to another, but the concept is there. This doesn't apply to other kinds of reward, of course, since a dead dragon is far easier to get treasure from than a live one.
- Played with in Undertale. Sparing enemies will get you gold but no experience points. (It is possible to get a portion of the normal exp by attacking and then sparing enemies, though.)
- And from a story perspective, a pacifist run — especially sparing Toriel — will get you a more positive ending.
- In Ghost of Thornton Hall Nancy has the option to leave the culprit to perish in a fire. Saving them will result in the most fulfilling and explanatory of the game's three endings.
- In Star Trek: Bridge Commander, a Kessok captain will attempt to negotiate with you at one point, going so far as to drop its shields as a gesture of good faith. You have the option of either accepting these overtures or attacking the Kessok ship while its shields are down. If you negotiate with the Kessok commander, his ship will join you for the final run on the Kessok homeworld, which will in turn cause the Kessok Heavy Cruisers guarding the planet to ignore you while you fight the Big Bad's Mooks.
- Fallen London takes place in a Black and Gray Morality world where violence and cruelty are often rewarded, but it still has some instances of this trope. For example, choosing to kill the Rattus Faber bandit chief during the Troubled By Vermin storyline nets you his rifle which you can equip for a small Dangerous bonus, but taking him alive instead (which is harder to do) makes him available as a companion that gives you a much bigger Dangerous boost than his rifle and the other rats will give you tributes later on.
- Several mission-relevant NPCs in The Old Republic will send the player gifts of money, equipment, or consumables in gratitude for being spared. Of course, in quite a few of these cases a different character will send you a reward for killing them...
- The Matrix Path Of Neo Video Game Caring Potential has a few mission relevent NPC's who turn into health and focus pick-ups.