Also known as a Quick Time Event.
An event during a video game where you think you're watching a cinematic, but then a massive button pops up on screen, sometimes accompanied by a prompt like "Press X to dodge" or "Press B to avoid blades of death". Failure to do so results in damage or an alternate scene at best, or a Game Over at worst.
Largely originating with Dragon's Lair (though pre-dated by the obscure The Driver), the gameplay of which consisted entirely of these; It was pretty much a cartoon where you had to press buttons at the right time for the story to continue. (Exactly the right time, often without any sort of prompt.) Die Hard Arcade and the Sega Dreamcast game Shenmue as well as the Licensed Game of Berserk on the same console introduced them to the action genre.
Similar to but distinct from Action Commands (these happen during cutscenes, while those occur during gameplay), and third cousin once removed to But Thou Must.
They add a feeling of tension that adds to the gameplay or they just interrupt the gameplay at inappropriate times just to look cool and nothing else, but they certainly encouraged ADHD players to pay more attention to the cutscenes in either cases, now that they are actually a bit interactive. Thanks to overuse and misuse this may become a Discredited Trope (although it's probably already an Undead Horse Trope). Contrast Press X to Die. Compare Coup de Grāce Cutscene, where no input is needed. Smashing Survival is a mix between this and Button Mashing.
Named for a Running Gag in Zero Punctuation.
It is also a prime example of a split infinitive.
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The Bourne Conspiracy randomizes which buttons you need to press each time, to prevent you from just memorizing them. Get even one wrong, and you're usually sent straight to the Mission Failed screen.
It's also possible to build up adrenaline and unleash a multi-mook takedown manuever, which also requires button pushes. Failure during these sequences just means that you lose the adrenaline and any mook you haven't taken down gets a free hit.
Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow has a similar mechanic, forcing you to draw the proper pattern on the touch-screen to kill a boss once it reached 0 health. Fail, and the boss regains 25% of its life. Made a lot less irritating by how you always know what pattern you need (it opens the door to the room), and are allowed to practice the patterns beforehand (or even during the fight) until they become second nature.
Just Cause 2. In the PC version, you have to press numbers from 1 to 4 to hijack vehicles, hack computers and generally do anything mission-relevant. It's particularly annoying when you're trying to jack a helicopter, because the sequence takes time, and all the while the cops are shooting at you and damaging the chopper.
Required once (and only once) in Mirror's Edge. Also, every frontal disarm is a QTE. Every disarm taken from behind (sneak disarms rare but possible if you run up on an unaware enemy fast enough) requires that you only press the Y button; timing does not matter so much as positioning.
The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon features several, both in the form of "Press X To Not Die" and "Button Mash X To Not Die." Some of them come during boss fights, meaning if you fail, you'll have to do a portion of the boss all over again.
Ōkami had several sequences where the player had to perform certain actions at certain times to help a certain character. The only reason few people noticed it was this trope was because it's done with brushstrokes instead of buttons.
Prince of Persia (2008) uses those whenever the character is on the verge of being defeated (since you cannot die, failing the events causes the enemy to regain health). Certain bosses also use these to deal the killing blow.
Dead Space uses a system where if a Necromorph grabs a hold of you, a prompt will appear to press a certain key repeatedly to try to wrestle out of their grip. If you fail to do so in time (or at all), you will end up being killed in one of many possible gruesome death scenes, if you succeed in breaking away, you will push the Necromorph far enough away to use your weapon to kill it.
Or for the smaller enemies, you get to watch Isaac brutally kill them with his bare hands like a frantic, terrified, space mechanic. Worth letting them grab you once just to see it.
Spider-Man 3 was filled with these, usually unexpectedly popping up during a dramatic cut-scene after the button flashes for a 1-0.5 sec warning. Or between twitchroid Simon-says exercises, just when enough action has passed that you can believe it's over and you can just enjoy the rest of the show—whoop, there's another one! Fortunately you don't die, you simply reload to slog through the prior crap for another iteration.
The final boss fight against Venom was terrible for this for two reasons. 1. You had to replay the last part of the fight before getting back to it. 2. The button response time was so ridiculous you had to have memorized it, meaning you had to die to it once, resulting in "Y! FUCK! *replay boss* Y! B! FUCK!" etc.
An even more forgiving version appears in Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, where they're only used at the very end of boss battles (so you know when to expect them), keep the same sequences, and if you fail, you just restart the button sequence.
Done well in the Wii version of Anniversary; the QTEs were motion gestures that matched Lara's on-screen actions, adding to the immersion.
In Underworld they're mostly unused except for a moment where you must save yourself from falling to your doom via QTE.
Tomb Raider (2013) included a few, mostly consisting of getting grabbed by enemies hanging over ledges or heading into incoming danger which can mean death if you're not fast enough to move Lara out of the way quickly. The most traditional examples were escaping the Scavenger Cave, a fight against a wolf that was performed entirely via a QTE, and the controversial sequence where Lara must fend off an attempted sexual assault/rape early in the game. The final confrontation with Mathias is also a QTE.
The reboot makes far more use of Action Commands than QTEs, particularly for performing more complex kills during melee fights.
In Uncharted (which, incidentally, is the half-Trope Namer; Yahtzee used the phrase in his review of the game), about once or twice a short cutscene would have a platform collapse underneath you and require you to press X to jump to the next platform, which is very difficult to do the first time around since it is so random. The sequel offers much more swallowable quicktime events in that they are only used when you attempt to melee a miniboss and are exactly the same buttons as meleeing any other enemy.
Metroid: Other M will often end a cutscene with a monster charging towards Samus, which she must dodge with the sense move to avoid taking extra damage before the fight proper.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess have instances during battles where you must hit the A button during a specific moment to make Link perform a special attack, and it's the only way of defeating some foes. The later gives the player more time, but sometimes the attack randomly misses (even if you successfully hit the button) and makes you stab the ground and get temporarily stuck. Twilight Princess also uses this method for performing scripted jumps in certain sections, though these don't have a time limit (except for a few rare occasions).
Asura's Wrath has quick time events that aren't as unforgiving as a lot of others, and some of them can even be skipped, with only a bit of health being taken away from you. They're mostly used the other way around when Asura is about to cause some serious damage, and even when they are from enemy attacks, the prompts are intended less for avoiding damage, as they almost always end with Asura pulling a counterattack.
There's also a unique example in a version called "Synchronic Impacts". Usually, whenever a quick time event appears on a video game screen, you need to press it immediately in order to succeed. These particular versions, however, act more like Rhythm Game inputs where you wait for a circle to shrink around a Y or Triangle button command and time your button press to them, and it usually occurs whenever Asura does a big attack on an opponent after pressing the burst button to initiate. This is one of the skippable examples, but doing so costs you end of level points that give high rankings. It even has rankings of Good, Great, and Excellent depending on the timing of your button press, just like an actual Rhythm Game.
Another unique example is where the true final boss's final form has these along with your own as a form of counter QTE's. As the sequence goes on, the boss visibly starts screwing up its inputs, allowing you to pummel it.
Although God of War has mainly Action Commands, it does occasionally have Quick Time Events as well.
It also has (at least?) two QTEs that you can't win: In Rhodes, when Zeus fights you while you're half dead, it eventually prompts an O-mash minigame. Whether you lose or "win" it, you still get stabbed. Then in the start of the end of the last battle, you will stop and pretend to surrender when faced with Zeus' lightning...cage...thing, no matter how furiously you press the O button.
A better example of this trope is what happens right after you pretend to surrender. A cutscene begins where Zeus comes down to finish you off, beginning one of the few mid-cutscene QTEs.
In Chains of Olympus, a QTE is made of Kratos pushing his daughter away, so that, when it emerged that he could not remain with her or be reunited with her again, he could muster the strength to leave her.
Madworld does a similar version to the above, but cooler (and more forgiving).
That said, the Wiimote sometimes has trouble registering which direction you're swinging it, especially left or right, which makes some fights (the Shamans in particular) a rough time.
But nowhere is this more important than with the Mini-Boss of the level the Shamans appear in, Death Blade. Failing his prompt results in instant death. And despite what it says on the screen, doing the prompt right as it appears also counts as a failure. You have to use very specific timing.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance uses these a lot for giant bosses, and it gets rather annoying as you will often have to use them repeatedly to kill them. And they never change. And the cutscene is exactly the same each time. Vicarious Visons removed them entirely for the sequel, at least on Xbox and PS3.
MUA2 for Wii uses them for every boss fight.
Used in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed to avert Critical Existence Failure. Rather than draining the boss's health to zero, you just have to get it in the red and go through a Quicktime Event where you finish the boss (not always to death, if the plot does not call for it). They often go above and beyond the realms of normal in-game use of the Force, in style if not in raw powernote considering you get to pull a Star Destroyer out of the sky during gameplay. Messing up results in damage and having to repeat the sequence or part of it. On Sub Bosses like AT-STs and Rancors, the QTE is optional, you can kill them with normal attacks.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance blurs the line between and Action Commands during the shift between phases in many boss fights. Sometimes, the required prompts are for an action you could do anyway, and doing them correctly results in a context-sensitive and generally awesome arena transition/counterattack opportunity. Messing those up usually only results in Raiden coming off second best during the exchange and taking a little damage. On the other hand, there are many moments that require a button prompt to perform the finisher for some of the bosses. If you do it right, it looks spectacular. If you do it wrong, you just lost your No Damage S-Rank run because you missed one lousy button. At least the game auto-saves right before the latter.
The PS3 exclusive Heavy Rain is almost nothing but these. Unlike a lot of other examples, however, there is (usually) no penalty for failing an event; the game simply continues, albeit with some scenes or lines changed to reflect your clumsy fingers.
As for the ones that do have penalties, they usually result in the player character's death.
At one point, the player character is looking for his son Jason in a busy mall; beside movement, the only option the player can do is to press a button to make the character shout for Jason. This has been mocked on gamer forums as "Press X to Jason".
Indigo Prophecy is about 75-80% this trope. Irritating if you're one of those that tries to watch the action at the same time as the button prompts.
Although it does play with the concept a little. There's one point where the little "Press this button" indicator goes absolutely nuts to indicate that your character is a state of completely blind panic. There's another where you have to fail a series of QTEs on purpose to ignore the invisible green ticks that try to distract Lucas while he's being questioned by the police. If you do beat the QTE, Lucas will freak the hell out and make the detective suspicious. It Makes Just as Much Sense in Context.
infamously, the European version of Indigo Prophecy has a QTE-controlled sex scene that was removed for the US release.
Simon-Says style QTEs are also used to decide the outcomes for several one-time-only events (a boxing match, a basketball match, etc) for which developing an entire minigame would be a Bizarro Episode, a Difficulty Spike and a waste of time, both the players' and the developers'. Tropes Are Not Bad!
Telltale Games' Jurassic Park The Game. The entire game, minus some sections where you get to stop, take a breath and play with some puzzles, consists of this style of gameplay. Press X to Not Be Eaten by a Tyrannosaur indeed.
Telltale's The Walking Dead has a few points where Press X to Not Be Bitten are true, but also includes points where you have to make a split-second decision which can alter the game's story (such as which of two characters to save).
Beat 'em Ups
Bayonetta has a few of these, sometimes during cutscenes, sometimes during bosses. Some of them have very unforgiving reaction time, too. Fortunately, after the first time you'll know when they're coming, and they thankfully don't randomize the buttons.
However, during the first playthrough, it's absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to see them coming, so a new player will have to continue many, many times. Many instances where this overlaps with Action Commands during boss fights, where it's more like "Press X to avoid being hit For Massive Damage" - unfortunately, the reaction time on quite a few of them, such as Jeanne's missiles in Chapter XIV, is equally unforgiving, so you will probably fail quite frequently on bosses until you have them all memorized.
Incidentally, the second cutscene QTE requires you to time a press of the shoot button (under default assignments) to fling a part of a building at a boss. Mistiming or missing the press altogether results in the player being blown up and instant-killed. The shoot button on the Xbox 360? "X".
The Wonderful 101, from the same creator as Bayonetta, adds drawing QTEs to the mix of familiar button prompts and button mashers; they're woven very well into gameplay and deserve considerable praise for making QTEs actually innovative and fun.
One Piece Pirate Warriors has plenty of these, though they happen quite a few times (sometimes during cutscenes, sometimes during combat) and they give you a lot of time to react. Though there is the odd QTE that is annoying for one reason or the other, they aren't frequent.
The combat in Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi consists almost exclusively of these. There are very few things a player can do to another player that won't start a small minigame.
Most Naruto games are victim of this. In the most recent Ultimate Ninja Storm 2, if you're doing a battle that's important to the plot, you will not only just have to press one button. You will have to press one button, mash one button, input a series of buttons, and many more things that involve buttons.
The very first Soul Series game, Soul Edge had these for endings: if you didn't do... something at a certain point, you'd almost always get a bad ending. Most of the later games didn't do this.
Soul Calibur III'' had these as well. In addition to affecting which ending the player would get, there were several cutscenes mid-game where failing would result in starting the next battle at a disadvantage. Seung Mina's ending contains five, where you apparently are supposed to have the response time of, as Yahtzee puts it, "a paranoid gnat".
In III, it's possible to replay a cutscene over and over until you get the result, without having to beat the game with the character multiple times. Of course, this also means the player wouldn't see what the gameplay effect would be.
Many characters get a better ending by not inputting the command, making it more of a guessing game at times.
Injustice: Gods Among Us does this for its story mode. All of them involve trying not to get hit (and looking awesome doing so, like with Batman's towards Green Arrow), but two (one with Joker towards Regime Nightwing and one with Superman towards Regime Black Adam) involve your character fighting back. Getting hit puts you at a disadvantage in the actual match.
Battlefield 3's single player campaign has tons of them, and in many cases are often in a series which requires you to press different buttons, and very often in unexpected places. You will soon learn to get ready to press something after opening a door. Unfortunately, they're almost all a literal case of "Press <whatever> To Not Die," but succeeding frequently results in your player character returning the favor, especially if it's the end of the level:
Dima's "first" level (chronologically second) has him fight with a nuclear device carrier over who will throw the other in front of a speeding train, while his "second" level (chronologically first) has a QTE to decide whether he's kicked out of a helicopter to his death or manages to drag his target out with him into a water-filled pool.
An unfortunately designed QTE tasks Blackburn with silently knifing some guy from behind. Here, dying is as simple as deciding to crouch-walk towards him (oops, pressed the Crouch key!) rather than being more obvious about it.
The final level of the game start off with a QTE. Then mid way another QTE. Finally, near the end, Solomon shoot Monte before aiming his handgun at the player: if the player misses the QTE, then Solomon fires and kills Blackburn, but if the player pulls off the QTE, then it's empty and Blackburn handcuffs Solomon to himself so as to choke him with his own arm wrapped around his neck; there's a QTE or two more after that as they brawl on a car before finally succeeding at the last QTE has Blackburn bashing Solomon unconscious with a brick to the head.
Battlefield 4 tops it off by using QTE to counter knife in multiplayer.
Crysis 2 features Quick Time Events in some cutscenes. Fortunately the time window for pressing them is very generous, and the buttons you're required to press always correspond to the actions your character is trying to perform on screen (i.e. pressing the jump button to jump up to a helicopter). Furthermore, due to the way cutscenes are woven into the game, the player is always able to continue looking around with the mouse, so you'll pretty much always have your hands on the controls ready to Press X.
Far Cry 2 has a literal version of this trope. If your health drops below 20%, it will continue to fall until you die, unless you push the "restore health" button, which results in the character patching up a serious wound to bring you back to 40% health. If you don't push the button, or you're continually interrupted while trying to heal, then you die.
Modern Warfare 1 had a very annoying recurring 'Press V not to die' (or the right thumbstick/R3 button, for those of you playing the game on consoles) in which you need to melee a dog that is attacking you, but you only get roughly a quarter of a second to press it. Too early, you die, too late, you die. Oh, and did I mention that the default melee button is 'V'; just far enough from WASD to be hard to press without looking. By which time you have died from a dog to the throat.
Returns in the sequel much to the annoyance of many. The final mission, "Endgame", also features you pulling a knife out of your gut and throwing it into the poor shmuck Big Bad's forehead.
In the beginning of the mission "Takedown", you have to hit crouch or else you'll get shot straight in the head while in the passenger seat of the vehicle. There is a good chance you won't know you can even do this the first time around, even with Soap screaming to get down.
A similar event happens later on, which uses the trope by name (though paraphrased). When walking through a field, Bouncing Betty mines spring up, the game goes into super-slow-motion, and text appears:
Text: "Hold (button) to evade landmines!"
The "Throw back grenade" action been part of the series since Call of Duty 2. Although great if you get it right, it was very common to get it wrong and lob the grenade into the nearest wall, whereupon it bounced back at you, eliciting a cry of "OhSh-"
The dogs are coupled with fanatic Japanese soldiers using bayonets instead of biting you in Call of Duty: World at War. They're actually possible to consistently defeat without dying, however. The animation for killing them when you're down is a Moment Of Awesome, and you are invisible to other enemies in the mean time, so sometimes... yeah.
In Call of Duty 3, hand-to-hand combat is executed by these types of sequences.
Hell, in the first game, this happens during the intro of the Soviet campaign. You are packed in a boat with other Russian soldiers making your way across the Volga River while German planes and artillery attack the boats. You can't move, but you can look around. And you can crouch. And you should, or you'll get hit and killed by a strafing German plane. All before you can even get off the boat.
FEAR 2 got some flak for its use of these. Press X to stop an abomination eating your face, press X to wrestle an angry man with a mustache, press X to avoid death by ghost rape.....
Done occasionally for key moments in Red Steel 2. Surprisingly, for a Wii game, these tend to eschew motion controls for more conventional "button and a direction" moves.
The final battle between Turok and Kane in 2008's Turok was like this. Somewhat justified in that it was an extension of the game's previous Action Commands gameplay, and not a last minute Unexpected Gameplay Change completely out of left field. Also, missing a Press X to Not Die prompt often didn't kill you, but merely changed the course of the fight to one less advantageous to you (you had to lose multiple prompts in a row to actually die).
Shows up in Metro 2033, both in-game and during the cutscenes. In-game, it happens when you're about to get mauled by a mutant and need to shove it away and carve its face off with a big knife. During cutscenes, it's often needed to avoid falling to your death from flooring/ladders collapsing.
Ninja Blade has a few of these; a mini-boss as early as the second mission pulled out a cutscene that involved one of these about once a minute. In a surprisingly obvious move to reduce frustration, when you actually die in one of these sequences, it rewinds the sequence a bit and gives you an opportunity to retry from there rather than giving you a Game Over.
The 2012 Ninja Gaiden 3 game has a lot of quick-time events.
Lollipop Chainsaw is full of these, mostly used to keep big, heavy objects coming right at Juliet from killing her. However, these are a lot better than most QTEs, because the buttons that you press for these actions are the same buttons for the same actions you use during combat: Triangle or X to use the chainsaw, Circle to jump or dodge, and Square to punch or kick.
Sword of the Berserk: Guts' Rage, being one of the codifiers of the trope, played it with a light touch. Most examples, if missed, only sent you down a different path or forced you to fight the next battle with some damage taken. A few boss battles, however, did have "Press X or Die" moments, usually right before the battle itself actually started.
Mario Party 3 had a mild version of this: Losing the Action Time microgame would just put you at a predetermined space.
It does give you some warning in advance so you know it's not just a cinematic, plus intentionally failing Action Time to get yourself moved is actually a viable strategy.
The grand majority of WarioWare microgames consist in essence of a single QTE.
Nintendo Land in its Zelda attraction. The archer receives quick-time event prompts for any enemy that can't be resonably disposed of before they can get an attack off (Giant Mooks and archers, basically). This is necessary because you have absolutely no control over your movement, and without it avoiding damage (and thus mastering the level) would be impossible. Depending on who you ask, it might be impossible anyway.
Distorted Travesty has its share of 'PRESS A/X NOT TO DIE!' moments in one level, while parodying the whole idea of quick time events and bashing game makers who use these. The main characters (who are gamers) react as though quick time events are the worst possible thing that could happen in the game, to the point that they put the main adventure on hold in order to kill the source of the events ASAP.
Super Adventure Rockman was a Japan-onlyMega Man game released in the mid-nineties. It was an animated adventure that gave the player Choose Your Own Adventure style choices that would guide the cutscenes. Every once in a while, in the middle of a cutscene, arrows would flash on the screen and you'd have one second to choose a direction, hit the D-Pad, and dodge a surprise attack.
Mega Man Battle Network 4, specifically the Red Sun version, had this in the lead-up to the fight against SearchMan; he was in the Undernet, and when you go there to look for him he snipes at you every few seconds. When he takes aim, a crosshair appears over MegaMan, followed by an arrow determining which direction to press to dodge the shot.
In a series that's been otherwise free of them, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption introduces one in the form of "Phazon overload," which you have to burn off by frantic mashing of the firing button. Not doing so fast enough earns you a Nonstandard Game Over. The first and last time it happens, it's a Press A To Not Die; in all other instances it takes the form of an Action Command. Usually overload works in your favor as it's basically a free Hypermode, but it can be overdone to cruel effect on the hardest difficulty setting.
In Other M, they adapted this trope for use beyond a specific mechanic like Phazon corruption, instead working it into parts of normal gameplay for the first and, so far, only time in Metroid's history. In other words, being Genre Savvy won't save you if you fail to mash the control pad when the action slows down.
Both versions of Sonic Unleashed have a few of these as well. In the earlier daytime stages, missing a prompt will cause you to take a less efficient path (or, in the harder side-missions, could result in your untimely demise). Mandatory nighttime QTEs are limited to two bosses, the Dark Gaia Phoenix and the Egg Dragoon. Otherwise, it simply helped to gain extra points. Eggmanland in the PS3/360 version, on the other hand, is positively full of the mandatory types. (And the PS2 version has quite a few mandatory QTE's as well.)
The portions of the final boss where you control the Gaia Colossus against Dark Gaia plays out through these in the PS3/360 version. Hit the button right, and you slug the monster right in the face. The Wii/PS2 version dispenses with them in that part, allowing you to really slug the guy in the face, a-la Punch-Out!!.
Arid Sands Act 2 consists mainly of a series of Quick Time Events, all of them mandatory.
In Sonic and the Black Knight, you gain followers (who may give you goodies as well) by pressing the right button/button combinations shown on screen before the meter depletes. Rather arbitrary, but mercifully, screwing up won't kill you, making this more of a "Press X To Make Friends" thing.
Sonic Rush has this happen in the zone 7 boss. You need to mash B in order to push Blaze (or Sonic) off the edge of the platform before they do the same to you
Cruelly inverted in The Impossible Quiz. One of the questions tells you to press the Tab key 50 times and gives you a short time limit. However, pressing the Tab key at any point in the quiz immediately causes a Game Over. What you are supposed to do is ignore the instruction, and after a few seconds, the game tells you "On second thought, don't do it, you'll die!" and moves on to the next question without a hitch.
The Ur Example is The Driver, a 70s action-racing game released by Kasco (Kansai Seiki Seisakusho Co.), which consisted of pre-filmed situations (recorded on 16 mm film) that required the player to match their steering wheel, gas pedal, and brakes with the movements shown on screen, much like those seen in 80s laserdisc video games.
Need for Speed: The Run peppers in moments like this during the main storyline to spice things up.
The first Dark Cloud employs a unique version in its mini-boss battles: It warns you ahead of time that you're about to enter a quick-time event, then the buttons you need to press scroll by the bottom of the screen in an interface reminiscent of Guitar Hero or Dance Dance Revolution.
Final Fantasy VI sometimes throws directional choices at you during what looks like a travel cutscene. Failing won't kill you, but it'll stick you with more battles.
Oddly enough, picking one set of options is the only way to obtain 100% Completion later on. Not an absolute adherence to this trope, but certainly annoying.
Final Fantasy VIII had a couple, too, where you had to move Squall just the right way to get to safety or rescue Rinoa, and it wasn't immediately obvious in either case that you COULD move yourself, much less that you had to. Made particularly frustrating in the one where you have to move Squall to safety; there are two ways to go, and it's not immediately obvious which was the right one. Pick wrong? Game over. Of course, the official strategy guide clearly states which way to go.
In Final Fantasy IX, your team splits up into 4 pairs, each headed for different elemental temples. In the one temple you actually get to play (the rest are taken care of automatically), you have to press "X" to get past a trap. It's really easy, and other than the boss, it's the only obstacle in the temple.
Kingdom Hearts II brought Reaction Commands to the franchise, some of which occur during what seems to be normal cutscenes... then a massive Δ comes up over the screen and your thumb has to hit the button faster than you can say "Light!" Sometimes they worked in your favor (most often), but when combined withProud Mode...
Apart from it being the triangle button, Bonus Boss Sephiroth applies this horrifyingly literally — his reaction event requires you to press triangle to not end up hit multiple times with seventeen feet of sword, and he frequently does this right afterHeartless Angel, a move that puts Sora on one life with no mana. Miss the triangle? You have to start again.
Later games in the series change up the formula somewhat. Birth By Sleep features several Quick Time Events that require more involvement than the simple "Press Triangle to Not Die" situations in II. The most elaborate is Ventus's final battle against Vanitas, which gives you an entire new set of abilities you need to use in order to power up your QTE style Finishing Move. Other quick time events simply require you to stand in a specific location and enter the appropriate button combination.
Dream Drop Distance takes advantage of the 3DS's dual screens with "Reality Shifts". Activating one of these events pauses the action so you can enter the appropriate commands on your touch screen. Unlike normal Quick Time events, these Reality Shifts are specific to the world Sora and/or Riku are currently in. At certain points, using Reality Shifts are required to advance or survive.
Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story has two QTEs as well. The first is when you fight the Dark Star in Bowser's body; defeating it causes it to do a Taking You with Me in which you have to Mash A and B so Mario and Luigi escape, but the aforementioned trope is averted because the Dark Star survives as well. Second, as you're chasing Dark Bowser up Peach's Castle, he pauses to get into a psudeo Beam War with Bowser, using their fire breath. The player has to mash X to (assumingly) Not Die. Also happens again at the very end just before the final boss fight proper, although that one doesn't require the player's input as it is a stylized entrance to the battle.
Considering that dungeon crawling in Riviera: The Promised Land is composed almost entirely of Quick Time Events, it's not too surprising when a trap throws one of these at you.
Shoot 'em Ups
In Sky Gunner, when your plane is knocked off balance, you're given a set of buttons that you must press repeatedly to recover control before you crash. Fortunately, you can press them in any sequence (as long as you press them all;) unfortunately, the more damage you take, the more presses you have to make and the less time you're allowed.
The Time Crisis series has many moments where you must press or release the pedal to avoid losing a life to an environmental hazard, such as hooks hanging over a cargo elevator, machinery in a factory, a falling tree, or signal posts alongside a train.
Assassin's Creed II has optional ones during certain cutscenes. You don't die if you miss them, the cutscene just goes a slightly alternate direction (for instance, Ezio won't...remove the woman's dress, or won't hug Leonardo, or will get hit in the head with a vase). It's a bit more strange than most other games, as most other games have quick time events when something dramatic and sudden happens. This game however, has quick time events for... shaking your friends' hands...
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood has exactly two of these. The first is in the introductory Flash Forward, which is a preview of the Final Boss battle. In the actual fight, they occur when you deal sufficient damage to the boss's health; Ezio attempts a Hidden Blade kill which instead strips away pieces of Cesare's armor. Oddly, once he's finally defeated, Ezio instead opts to throw Cesare off a wall, making the whole exercise pointless.
Assassin's Creed III has these for animal attacks. Any time a dangerous animal lunges at you, this kicks off one of these sequences. For most, two buttons are enough. Bears require three. A special uber-bear in a sidequest requires six.
The fact that you're told to use the Middle Stick to avoid Joker's gun should tip you off.
On the PC version, you are asked to 'Tilt the Mouse'.
However there are several actual events, like avoiding falling into a very deep or poisoned pit, escaping from a vine, or shaking one of the crazier inmates off you.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater has one and precisely one such event, which also winds up being the most emotionallyloaded event in the entire game: Press Square To Kill The Boss.
A slightly hidden one, more a case of 'Hold L2/R2 to not die', just before the torture cutscene, the screen is blank, save for a health bar, holding L2/R2 will make the usual sound prompt as for inventory cycling, if held until the cutscene starts, you keep your full health.
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, meanwhile, has quite a few, with only one not rewinding to earlier in the cutscene if a cue is missed. That one being at the end of the (quite lengthy) "Infiltrate the Underground Base" mission, with the reward for success being a keycard for use in the next mission, and the reward for failure being an immediate cut to Snake getting surrounded by the armed guards he's fighting off (which will happen anyways, at the end of the day).
Metal Gear Solid, Metal Gear Solid 2 and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker have these done horribly wrong: In harder, difficulties the scenes become Mash X Until Your Fingers Fall Off To Not Die. At least MGS1 gave an opt-out leading to an alternate ending. The exact same set-up was in Metal Gear Solid 4, but it was so organic that most players don't realize they're in the "torture scene" until well after it's done.
Also in 4, several cutscenes had L1 or X pop up in the corners of the screen for an optional Snake's eye view or Flashback sequence. Not a QTE in the Press X to Not Die sense, but close enough.
Same in 3, pressing R1 on opportune moments switched to Snake's POV, which could then be moved around. This was used a few times to help advance gameplay (The Sorrow gives you the opening code for the cell during the torture scene R1 section) but it's best reserved to admiring EVA's physique as the default viewpoint in her introduction.
This trope is the basis of impromptu survival in the first three Clock Tower games.
Haunting Ground is completely devoid of this trope until the finale, when the protagonist has to deal with a sudden case of QTE in the form of a statue falling on her. Considering QTE's never factor during gameplay, this one is both shocking and irritating.
Used in Deadly Premonition, mostly in the Raincoat Killer sequences. He's usually generous enough to give you a second chance if you miss the first prompt...usually. The boss fights also include quicktime events, but failing them only results in taking damage rather than instant death.
Resident Evil 4 is chock full of them, often resulting in player death if you don't pull it off in time. It may be the Trope Codifier, as the game's success led to an explosion in QTE's among other games. While many previous games used this trope, RE4 arguably had the most memorable and cinematic uses up to that point in time. It also included an entire fight/ informative cutscene that consisted of nothing but QTE's. Luckily for people who dislike QTE's, you get to fight the enemy in question later on in a more conventional way.
Quick Time Events return in full style for Resident Evil 5, where failing a button prompt during a cutscene results in instant death and failing a button prompt during a boss fight results in significant damage on Veteran and Professional. Professional mode makes button prompts even more deadly. On the other difficulty levels, you can fumble around with the buttons as much as you want until you realize which ones a cutscene wants you to press, as long as you press it in time. On Professional, the first mistake you make will be your last.
Returned with a vengeance in Resident Evil 6, though it did mix up the actions a bit and at least included timers on a few of them this time. Some were the standard "press to break free from zombie" action where failure just meant damage to your health. But some now included doing mundane things like looking at panels and whatnot to operate a vehicle that was in danger (i.e zombies attacking it, a plane going down, etc) or trying to pry open something during a zombie attack. And of course you got the usual one shot KO cutscenes if you fail. To the game's credit, they were much more exciting then RE5's, but the timing window will frustrate first time players, especially on co-op.
The Umbrella Chronicles and The Darkside Chronicles have QTEs. Cutscenes that have a QTE start with a quick white fade-in and play a tense theme when the danger you have to avoid appears. They also are used in boss battles to dodge an incoming attack.
In Silent Hill Origins, almost all of the monsters have a special attack that does extra harm to Travis should you mess up the QTE. It's only instantly fatal in the case of one enemy (the Ariels, when they hang from the ceiling), but it's still annoying.
Silent Hill: Homecoming has a few, particularly while fighting Ferals and Needlers. It also has Press X To Shrug Off This Minor Inconvenience with Swarms and Smogs. The most significant doubles as a Cutscene Boss; the sort of Big Bad is killed in a cutscene with their own power drill. In the face.
Gears of War 2 multiplayer. If you have a lancer and an enemy tries to chainsaw you from the front, and you do not immediately begin hammering Y, X, B, or A, you will die. Often you'll die anyways - it's usually a question of who starts hammering first, and since you need to use your finger rather than your thumb to get maximum speed, this is often a tricky situation.
Lost Planet 2 has three instances of this. Interestingly, you have to die at least FOUR times for 100%.
In Mass Effect 3, the final ten minutes has a straight version when you confront The Illusive Man. If you cannot talk him into suicide, you have two quick-time events in which you shoot him to death. If you don't press either of those, he shoots Anderson and then you, and you need to reload to the last checkpoint.
Max Payne 3 has "Last Man Standing" events, where if Max is downed but has painkillers on hand, he gets one last chance to take out the enemy and recover. Subverted in that it's not always possible to win these because of Camera Screw. There are also some more conventional ones in cutscenes, including one infuriating example which requires you to watch Max get killed again and again until you realize you can only hit the right buttons ONCE and at exactly the right moment you hear a sound. And there's about five of them in a row, despite this being basically the first QTE in the game. Guide-dangit.
Cooking Mama has a few of these, in the unlikely event you lose grip of an ingredient, you get to catch it. This is extra infuriating in World Kitchen.
Die Hard Arcade might be one of the earliest games to do this. Failure meant extra enemies to fight, or taking a bit of damage.
Occasionally the target is knocked out of the next fight too, if it involves you in physical-contact range with a mook.
Some bosses in Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard are fought like this. A button or other controller action is shown and you have a moment to do it and get Matt to beat up his foe in the cutscene. Repeat until bad guy falls. Missing them will make him lose the fight and die. The game plays with this at points. One such 'fight' is a single suckerpunch that you can't lose, and another is repeatedly smashing the other guy's face into his car.
GHOST Squad has Hand-to-Hand Combat scenes in which you must line up your aiming cursor with targets on your opponent and hit the Action button to block his attacks. Completing a scene will show a cutscene of your character beating the crap out of his opponent, while failing a scene (from taking too long to hit targets) will, in addition to taking off health, will show your character getting his ass kicked instead.
Attempts to do this on the highest difficulty level (lv. 20) will almost always be met with failure, as while the number of simultaneous targets go BACK down to 1, the timing window for that one target suddenly becomes comparable to Gambol on Another. Carefully planning your route through the missions to avoid these confrontations suddenly becomes a good idea. Oh, and did we forget to mention that PERMANENT EXP is obtained from successfully doing "missions" IF the level is cleared (boss is properly defeated)? And the best route for this always goes through at least ONE of these scenes? FUCK!
Used a lot in the movie game for Kung Fu Panda, making up the majority of the fights vs. Tai Lung. Most are just hard enough that you may not succeed the first time you play them, but not so hard that you have to replay the sequence a ton of times after to get through.
The Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers game on the Sega CD was constructed around the trope. All you did in the game was tap the buttons on the screen while watching a random mishmash of action scenes from the series in the background.
Despite Shenmue being the origin of the term "Quick Time Event", there was one notable inversion in Shenmue II. A barber tried to intimidate the player character into making a wrong move by holding a razor to his neck during what looked like a routine haircut. If the player followed the normal Quick Time Event prompt, the scene ended in failure; the trick was to ignorethe button prompt and not press anything.
Also subverted in general. Many of the QT Es actually have several routes through them, meaning you can mess up a button press or two and still be fine.
The Wii version of Pirates of the Caribbean, being a licensed game, is fairly awful, and includes a lot of these. The required ones, fortunately, just start again if you miss a button (or Wiimote waggle), but lots of sidequest ones become Lost Forever if failed.
This appears in the licensed game for the 2007 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film. Losing all your health results in your character falling on one knee. Here you have to repeatedly hit the button that shows up onscreen to save him. If you're playing in a level where the Turtle is solo, this helps him slowly get back up - once he does, his health is restored. If it's a level where the other Turtles are in reserve, one appears when your Turtle falls and starts to help him up. Once successful, he replaces the injured Turtle in battle. Doing nothing in either case causes the afflicted Turtle to collapse and die, to reappear at the last checkpoint.
Interestingly, there is a point in the game where your character is supposed to be knocked out, for plot purposes. He falls and you get the cue to button-mash, but he collapses anyway and the screen fades to black for some relevant voice-overs.
In The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, this is often a part of combat against creatures that are massively larger than humans, like the dragon in the prologue or the Kayran at the end of the first chapter.
In the Jurassic Park mini-game in Universal Studios Theme Park Adventures, the player gets to shoot at a T-Rex! When the dinosaur gives up, a small cutscene will play with the driver having a hard time passing through some rough terrain. Then, all of the sudden, a huge (L) or (R) appears on-screen. If you don't press the button at the right time (which seems to be 1 frame long), you'll merely stay momentarily incapacitated.
Quite a few laserdisc games are built around this. Dragon's Lair (both of them, as mentioned above), Space Ace, Road Blaster, Super Don Quixote, Badlands, Time Gal, and Esh's Aurunmilla'' all fall under this, with Road Blaster being the only one to actually require you to aim at times.
Except that Dragon's Lair doesn't tell you X, not when to press it. Enjoy!
In the Dragon's Lair clone, Brain Dead 13, you'll be doing this quite a lot from the very start. Some of the actions that you do can lead to bad moves, resulting in Press X to Die.
Sewer Shark on the Sega CD has one of the most patently unfair examples: In one cutscene, your player character commands you to fire your gatling gun...and the game expects you to hit the fire button exactly then, with no button prompt or any other indication for actual interactivity. And if you don't fire on his mark, it's an instant Game Over and you have to start all over.
The Sega arcade title Time Traveler was a Dragon's Lair-esque game that came out in 1991. Its particular schtick was its "holographic" visuals, which were in fact created with a CRT television screen and a curved mirror.
In Infinity BladeIII, if you see a wide open area with no enemies in sight, be prepared to do this. Otherwise, a huge dragon is gonna roast you for half of your life.
Non-Video Game Examples:
The name of this trope appears in this video at about the 3:48 mark.