Stupidity Is the Only Option
Sometimes a story requires the heroes to fail. They need to be captured by the guards, inadvertently allow the villain to get the MacGuffin
, be betrayed, walk into a trap, or free the Sealed Evil in a Can
. Setbacks and challenges are a core building block of narrative, so this is fine... sometimes. Video game stories, however, have the protagonist controlled by you the player. What happens when the plot needs you personally to fail? Why, force the error
, of course. Whether it's due to a Cutscene
or But Thou Must
, the game simply cannot progress until the awaiting disaster is triggered.
In more 'literary' game stories, this might be explained for the same reasons as in a book - the *character* makes a mistake for perfectly understandable reasons, and perhaps even the other characters realize this. This is fine; great characters make great mistakes. In other games, a sufficiently Genre Savvy
player sees where a plot point is going - or perhaps a villain-cam scene outright shows the betrayal awaiting Our Heroes - but the characters themselves
are clueless, so this is also acceptable. There's a third option, though: enforced stupidity. Too hard to figure out a way to trick the player, or at least the character, into the blindingly obvious trap? Just force 'em in. Stupidity is the only option.
Compare Press X to Die
, where the stupid action is entirely optional. Contrast Violation of Common Sense
, where the stupid action is optional, but results in rewards
for the player instead of punishment. Also compare Trap Is the Only Option
, where the characters themselves are aware of an Obvious Trap
but still feel it's the only way to progress.
Common consequences of this trope include:
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- The Legend of Zelda:
- In The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages, the game begins with you meeting Impa, whose skin is inexplicably blue, and having to get through a rock that only the Hero can push. Of course, it turns out that she's possessed by Veran. What makes this even stupider is what happens if you do it in a linked game, as Impa appears in Oracle of Seasons and yet seems to not remember you at this point in Ages.
- In Phantom Hourglass, when you board the Ghost Ship, you are asked by a creepy girl to help rescue her sisters. Even though all four girls are extremely suspicious (including doing their damnedest to get you captured by monsters), you have no choice in the matter and need to save them, at which point they turn out to be the dungeon boss. At least killing them afterwards is pretty satisfying.
- Four Swords Adventures starts with you being dumped in front of a sword in a pedestal Shadow Link jumps around. You're flat out told that pulling the sword out will release Sealed Evil in a Can, but if you refuse you'll just be stuck there until you do.
- Meanwhile in Master Quest, the puzzle to obtain one of the small keys in the Spirit Temple spits in the face of logic and insults its mother. While passing through the dungeon as a child, you'll see a rusted switch. Naturally, you can't do anything about it. After you get the Silver Gauntlets, you come back as an adult and you'll eventually come back on that switch again, so you pound it with the Megaton Hammer. The problem comes in where exactly the chest drops. It's in the same area, but it's still impossible to reach without crawling through a passage. So you go to the Temple of Time, turn back into a child, and when you get back to the Spirit Temple the chest will still be there for you to loot.
- Several times in Ōkami, Amaterasu has to make a blind leap to advance the plot (once is straight down the gullet of a massive Water Dragon). After a while, her companion Issun comments that "leap before you think" is pretty much their motto. Also, you find an artifact that is a Big Bad's source of power and must not fall into evil hands. So what do you do? Turn it right over to the secretly but obviously evil NPC, of course.
- Tell Tale Game's The Walking Dead has a classic one in Chapter 3. To explore the train station, you need to prop the door open to let in some light. Your first inclination is to use the wooden pallet that is conveniently about two feet from the door, and your second is to use one of the paint cans that is about ten feet from the door. Unfortunately, neither of these work. Instead, the game forces you to jam the door open with your melee weapon, which of course leaves you wide open for the zombies that were waiting patiently inside for you to do so.
- Then there's the end of episode 4, where Lee goes chasing after Vernon under the mistaken assumption that he kidnapped Clem. While not completely outside the realm of possibility, did Lee and company really forget about the creepy stranger who has been talking to Clem over her walkie-talkie, found abandoned on the ground only moments before? Though in their defense, it wouldn't have mattered since they would have had no idea where to start looking.
- In season 2, Omid warns Clementine to keep an eye on all her stuff when she heads into a bathroom. Thus, when she knocks over a water bottle and has to go after it, a savvy player will likely try to pick up her gun first. Except you can't, resulting in another survivor stealing it and killing Omid.
- Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time has this setup for the finale: Carmelita is bound and gagged, in a darkened room aboard the Big Bad's zeppelin with a frigging spotlight shining on her. The player knows it's a trap. Bentley and even Murray know it's a trap. Sly himself knows it's a trap. There's about a thousand ways he could go about it, but he just runs right in and promptly gets captured.
- Tomb Raider (2013) has no less than three separate occasions where the player is required to do serious damage to the structural integrity of a location in order to proceed (detonating mines in the Scavenger's Den, tearing down the roof of the Mountain Monastery, and exploding natural gas veins in the Geothermal Caverns). Each time other people are killed and Lara barely escapes with her life. Every time another character is captured and Lara is hidden and in the perfect position to just shoot the villain with any of her various guns (most of which aren't even optional), a cutscene happens where Lara takes out her bow and is as loud and as incompetent as possible which leads to Lara herself getting captured and/or the other captive getting injured.
- Harry Potter games require some stupid player actions in order to follow the plot of the books. E.g., in some versions of the first game, you can't put your invisibility cloak back on after sending Norbert away, since getting caught is essential to the plot of the source material. And in the XBOX version, because the invisibility cloak had functionally no effect to begin with; you'd get caught by Mooks anyway. This is not exactly helpful when the point is not getting caught for once.
- At the beginning of God of War 2, Kratos is faced against the Colossus come to life. Zeus, who had just shrank him down and took some of his godly power, gives him a sword. However, in order to effectively use the sword, you must put all your godly energy into it. Gee, what could possibly go wrong? What you mean it's a trap? And yes, the only way to beat the boss is to put all of your god energy into it. (To be fair, it was either "Put all your godly energy into a sword" or get flattened by metal statue that was an Implacable Man and was Nigh Invulnerable.)
- In Tomb Raider 2, when Lara reaches the temple where the Dagger of Xian is located, the floor directly in front of it is a trapdoor which opens when stood on. At best you can use your prior knowledge to preemptively fall down the pit before the trap and put yourself in a safer position than if you just blindly ran into the trap.
- At the end of Prince of Persia (2008), having just witnessed the Heroic Sacrifice of your support character, you're left hanging around a small patch of desert, ringed by invisible or unclimbable walls (even without them, you need the no-longer-possible double-jump to cross the chasms the invisible walls keep you from
falling throwing yourself into) and plagued by the whisperings of the Sealed Evil in a Can you just spent the game resealing. In order to get the absolutely final ending, you need to do a Face-Heel Turn and unseal the evil to resurrect the girl and get a well-deserved What the Hell, Hero?. The Epilogue does justify this decision somewhat, but before that it seems to make no sense.
- In the beginning of Ghostbusters: The Video Game, Slimer gets free and the team find him staring at the ghost containment unit. The player is required to shoot at Slimer, damaging the containment unit and letting out another ghost. Recapturing that ghost then becomes the Forced Tutorial. The containment unit will get damaged even if the player fires from an angle that should logically only hit Slimer.
- Subverted in Touch Detective 2 1/2. In the game's final chapter, in order to progress, you have to free the game's villain, the Cornstalker, from his cell. Despite this seeming to be an incredibly stupid idea — to the point that Mackenzie, the main character comments on two occasions before it that there's no good reason she should... nothing but good ends up coming of it.
- In the adventure game The Longest Journey, as protagonist April Ryan you are forced to wander into one of the most obvious traps imaginable. After hearing that "something" is lurking in a mysterious forest and killing/eating locals and wildlife, you come across a hideous, decrepit, Gollum-like, hissing old creature constantly letting slip obvious comments about wanting to eat you, all the while claiming to be a "poor old ladyyyy... hiss... jussssst picking bones... I MEAN FLOWERS, yessss, flowers, for my sssssteeeeew...". You are then forced to walk home to her little cave/hovel in the dark/evil part of the forest where she locks you in. It's made all the worse by the fact that April seems perfectly aware that she's wandering into a trap via meta-comments and her Genre-Savvyness regarding the fairy-tale-esque world in which she's adventuring, but that the logic and decision making sections of her brain are not communicating too well...
- This is hilariously Lampshade Hung in April's Diary:
I've been tricked! I should've known something was wrong with that old woman. I mean, she was drooling and slobbering all over me, she kept tripping over her words saying things like "prisoners" instead of "guests", and her teeth were abnormally large. But still! If you can't trust sweet old ladies who've hurt their leg picking berries in the forest, who CAN you trust? Hansel and Gretel, my heart goes out to you kids...
- In the same game, she is unable to sail a ship to Alais without tampering with a compass and causing the ship to sail into a magical storm. And after she is punished by being locked in the hold, she must use an axe to (accidentally) sink the ship while she's still in it.
- In Hamtaro Ham Ham Heartbreak, you mainly play as Hamtaro and Bijou but at one point in the Boo Manor level, you control Bijou separately. This is a result of Hamtaro being railroaded into walking over a trap door by Dexter, leaving Bijou to save him. What makes this worse is Howdy previously fell through the trap door and Dexter doesn't explain what happened until it's too late.
- Defied when you attempt to have Bijou go down the trap door. When you get close enough to the edge, the game prevents her from falling.
- The climax of Bow Street Runner is an egregious example. The mastermind behind all the events leaves a woman who supposedly opposed him bound and gagged in his hideout after fleeing. The woman offers to lead the player into his current hideout. Given that said mastermind has a way of killing anyone who opposes him, the set-up is obvious. Of course there is no way to avoid it; worse, the villain berates the player for falling for "the oldest trick in the book"...
- The only way to proceed to the second part of the Catacombs in King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow is by deliberately blundering into the one pitfall that doesn't kill you. Of course, you're boned if you aren't carrying a certain item at that point.
- In SD Snatcher, a pair of cultists tell the protagonist to assassinate the Snatcher who has taken over the cult under the guise of a priest. You enter battle with the priest, with no evidence other than the word of the cultists, and the priest forgoes the superstrength of the Snatchers for a simple punch attack which does little damage. The game cannot continue until you shoot the priest, killing him instantly and losing your job as a result, forcing you to go undercover under the mantle Solid Snake (as insisted upon by your wife) in order to clear your name.
- It could be argued that, initially at least, Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy is a variation on this: the player alternates between playing as Lucas Kane, a murderer, and Carla Valenti, the detective investigating his case. The two are obviously acting at cross-purposes to each other, so whatever is beneficial for one character will be detrimental to the other, and you are always required to do a bare minimum of beneficial actions for one character in order to advance the plot: at which point you switch to the other character, and so on and so on ad infinitum.
- In the adventure game Loom, at one point Bobbin gets captured by Bishop Mandible who imprisons you in a cage and then pretty much tells you to try and escape. Of course, you can easily escape using the open draft, but you know that the bishop is waiting for you to do just that and it can't be good when you do. Except for there isn't anything else that you can do. So you do the only thing you can, and you step right into the Xanatos Gambit: Stay in the cage or help Mandible.
- Subverted in Star Trek: Borg; at one point you are presented with two choices, both of which will get you assimilated by the Borg, and gets Q to rewind you to an earlier point in time and try again. What you're supposed to do is use the access codes you learned post-assimilation to defeat the Borg, sufficiently impressing Q with your ability to "think outside the box".
- In The Lost Crown, you find the titular artifact and then are presented with the dilemma of finding a safe place to put it. What you're supposed to do is put it in the trunk in your bedroom, but after you do a guy breaks in, steals the crown and gets killed. However, to have gotten that far in the game, you need to have found the safe in the basement of your house and inspected the contents, meaning you know the safe's there and how to open it. Putting the crown in there only becomes an option after the guy gets killed.
- In Hopkins FBI, Hopkins has to shoot a target at a firing range five times to get a clue left behind by a serial killer. All of the clues that Hopkins has previously found are attached to the corpses of the killer's victims. Sure enough, there's a person behind the target, and Hopkins kills her when he fires at it. The player actually has the option to search behind the target, but if they elect to do so, Hopkins insists that there is nothing there. The only way to proceed in the game is to kill the victim.
- The indie adventure game the white chamber has Sarah unable to progress unless she walks right up to the horrific monster sitting in the warped control room and get skewered in the chest; she wakes up in the crew's quarters shortly afterwards.
First Person Shooter
- The "walking into a scripted trap" seems to be a common trope since the dawn of FPS games to force your character to start from scratch to keep the game from getting boring after you've gained all the cool weapons and ammo. The earliest iteration of this that comes to mind was the segue at the end of Episode 1 of the original Doom where after killing the boss monsters, there's nothing left to do but teleport to hell and die, thus starting Episode 2 with nothing but a pistol and your fists.
- In the original BioShock 1, you find yourself in the middle of a filthy, wrecked room with a barely functioning vending machine full of dirty syringes. You have to pick one up and jam it into your arm to continue the game, infection risks and common sense be damned.
- In Half-Life, there's a mandatory plot sequence where Gordon is captured by HECU marines. The room where this happens has a conveniently placed health charger and is the only way to proceed. On subsequent playthroughs, no matter how hard you try, you cannot fight these enemies. You can lay down grenades, fire into the room until all your ammo is gone, whatever, but once you walk in there, they get you. The doorway is fairly innocuous and the subsequent capture does tend to come as a surprise; it's only really frustrating when you go back and try to find a way around it and figure out there isn't actually one.
- Half-Life 2 gives the player no choice but to climb into a Stalker pod in the Combine Citadel. And after being (of course) captured, stripped of your weapons, and escaping due to a Deus ex Machina, you are later required to step into another, identical, pod, and be captured again. Lampshaded by the Big Bad, who congratulates you for delivering yourself to him so conveniently.
- In many non-Stealth Based Games that nonetheless possess a number of Stealth Based Missions, the player will often sneak deep within the bowels of some heavily guarded location to accomplish some goal only to, upon reaching whatever you're after, be confronted with a shunt of absurd Insurmountable Waist Height Fences and But Thou Musts that force you to do some idiotic thing that you know will immediately blow your cover, raise the alarm and force you to fight your way back out in order to complete your mission. Prime examples would be Red Faction, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, and Medal Of Honor.
- The MoH series gets special mention here, seeing as how your character always sets 10-second timers on bombs that he plants during stealth missions (and sets off remote-detonated bombs barely out of blast range), making it impossible to get far enough from the explosion to avoid immediate implication.
- The Call of Duty series falls victim to this, in which the only way to advance the level forward is for YOU, most often a mere private, though sometimes as high as a Sergeant, to be the first one to break cover and move out, even if the enemy is close enough to start shooting at you as soon as you break cover—your allies will do nothing and not move to support you or take down those enemies unless you move first.
- Similarly, Private Allen in Modern Warfare 2 is sent to infiltrate Makarov's terrorist organization to stop him from plotting attacks. Despite having a clear shot at the entire terrorist squad for the entire mission, Allen is forced to play along the entire time while they massacre civilians (read: perform exactly the sort of attack Allen was sent to stop). He has no option to attempt to subdue Makarov for capture. Naturally, at the end Makarov betrays you and pins the whole attack on the USA. This is later explained that the Big Bad was Allen's commanding officer, but from Allen's and the player's perspective, it still comes off looking completely stupid.
- A more unique example from Call of Duty 2: At one point in the Russian campaign, you are attempting to sneak through fuel pipelines to get past German soldiers and support allies at a heavily-defended station. The pre-mission journal entry even says that it's best to not let the Germans know you're in the pipe. So, naturally, as soon as you get to a hole in the pipe that would allow German soldiers to see you, one of your allies sent ahead blocks the path forward until the Germans in question discover you. Also naturally, said ally gets himself shredded by machine gun fire before he can exit the pipe, which shows you which path not to take.
- In one of the last campaign missions for Battlefield 3, walking up the stairway to the train platform near the end of the mission results in you getting ambushed by a terrorist hiding around the corner. However, the way that he is positioned makes it fully possible for you to see and shoot at him before you actually finish walking up the stairs, or to toss a grenade so that the blast manages to hit him. Unfortunately, the terrorist is protected by Story-Driven Invulnerability, as taking him out before the ambush would break the entire chain of events leading up to you losing track of the Suitcase Nuke before it detonates and takes out half of Paris.
- For a hardened criminal with opulent experience doing time, Riddick does some surprisingly stupid things in Escape from Butcher Bay. Immediately upon his arrival to the slam, some fishy dude with a nervous voice and shifty eyes all of a sudden offers him a shiv (an illegal and relatively valuable item, mind you) completely for free. Although you can practically hear admiral Akbar shouting at that point, you have no choice but to go into the dude's cell and fall into an ambush.
- Later you must make him try to open a door with a retinal scanner, although him being an escaped inmate, it's clear from the start that it's not going to work but will instead trigger an alarm. Conveniently, the alarmed guards will open a necessary door for you.
- There's a level in Halo where you have to fall out of the (landed) spaceship to the ground, and spend a fair chunk of the level trying to find a way back in. It's designed so that the hole is difficult to see and easy to step on; most players are caught the first time around, because they're not expecting it. If you do see the hole and try to turn back, the game congratulates you for avoiding it, but then spawns ever-increasing aliens to attack you and drive you back, prompting you to jump through the hole to escape them.
- Vivisector: Beast Inside forces you to get into numerous obvious traps during the first third of the game, which is even more frustrating when said traps are designed to make you into a sitting duck for wave after wave of enemy mooks.
- Left 4 Dead's "Dead Air" campaign features, at the last leg of the penultimate map, a metal detector. Because of all your weapons, walking through it sets it off and triggers a horde of infected. Naturally, everyone will want to skip around its sides, which is easily done. Even the AI understands this and goes around. When the developers ported the map to Left 4 Dead 2, they made it impossible to not walk through it.
- There's also The Sacrifice campaign where a wrecked train is blocking the survivors' path and there's a Tank (super zombie) inside. The survivors know that there is no way around the train and they must go through, which means releasing the Tank.
- Borderlands 2:
- Captain Scarlett DLC makes it blatantly obvious that the eponymous captain is going to turn on you as soon as you find the treasure (she even tells you as much), but it doesn't stop you from doing missions for her until the inevitable betrayal.
- In Torgue's Campaign of Carnage you have to fight Pyro Pete to gain access to a sponsor, whom he has locked up. Torgue, who's understanding of subtlety is on par with that of a rocket launcher, narrates Pete's entire plot of setting up the arena as a trap for you, before you actually step in. You still have to do it, considering you still need that sponsor and the whole thing is a televised show, but Pete is understandably less enthusiastic now that Torgue stole his thunder.
- Duke Nukem 3D had one at the end of the third level; as you approach the exit bars come down and enemies appear behind them, but there's no other way forward. The next level starts with you escaping from an electric chair with no weapons or items.
- Super Robot Wars Original Generation 2 - the player has to ignore the obvious trap that Echidna Iisaki is leading Lee Linjun into. At one point an officer warns Lee that this may be a trap and he demands they charge in anyway. The end result is that Lee is captured, which has dire results for The Captain. Considering that Lee is a jackass most players are glad that Lee is gone.
- A few times in the Metroid series:
- In Metroid: Fusion, there is a sequence in which Samus's escape route is blocked by rubble, forcing the player to find another escape route. The sole route available passes through a high security area for which you have no clearance. Several plot revelations later, you finally make it back to the main area to be informed that you will most likely be arrested for breaching a secure area.
- Also in Metroid: Fusion is the data room (where you install new abilities) in Sector 2 (TRO). True you're forced to take a rather long detour to get back to the Navigation Room thanks to the SA-X, but there really is no reason you can't take that same route back to the room other than it taes a bit of time. You can actually go back whenever you want, but Adam instead acts as if it's become completely inaccessable and forces you to keep unlocking security doors to reach new rooms (and inadvertently allowing the X to infest more areas of the station).
- In Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, while hunting down Gandrayda (a rival bounty hunter who has recently defected, and whom the introductory sequence has explicitly established as being a shapeshifter), Samus encounters a lone Federation Marine in the middle of the Space Pirates' home planet. He neither explains why he's there nor bothers to explain why, exactly, Samus should come with him, only that they "have to take the elevator to get out." His first transmission to the player, before one even sees him, has the player thinking "it's Gandrayda", and they're absolutely right.
- Also in Corruption is a stage that requires you to call in your spacecraft to airstrike a shield generator. Said generator is surrounded by several blatantly obvious anti-aircraft cannons... but the doors leading out of the area are locked, and the game won't allow you to proceed until you actually call in your ship and get the crap shot out of it. At another point, you waltz into a secret Pirate lab with Metroids trapped in forcefield cages. When you find the local weapon upgrade, it's in a forcefield container. To get it, you have to disable all the forcefields, with predictable results.
- In the original Prince Of Persia, the penultimate level (level 12, a giant tower that you have to climb all the way up), after fighting your mirror self, there is no apparent way forward. With no way out, the player could ultimately decide to commit suicide by running off of the top of the tower... at which point, a floor magically appears underneath you! Turns out the only way to beat level 12 is by simply walking off of the edge of the tower.
- Subverted in Psychonauts: In order to get the PSI blast power, Sasha Nein claims Raz has to defeat 1000 censors in his mind then walks off. The adjustable Mook Maker only goes up to about 40 before shutting down... and the only way to progress is to set it to the maximum level ominously marked with a skull, which causes all hell to break loose. Some platforming and a boss battle later, Sasha gives you the PSI blast power and tells Raz to never mention the incident again... however, if you go back to Sasha's mind afterwards, he will say he actually wanted Raz to overload the machine. (The Mega-Censor and Sasha getting crushed were not part of the plan, though.)
- In Ratchet & Clank, the player is at one point given the option: "Press the big red shiny button?". This happens on a spaceship. It doesn't take much Genre Savviness to understand we're talking about a Self-Destruct Mechanism. However, you can't get your hands on the Infobot containing the coordinates to the next location without blowing the ship (and nearly yourself with it) to smithereens.
- Justified in this case, because the button in question is located on a decomissioned Blarg warship and the purpose of blowing it up is to "strike a blow against the Blarg forces".
- Sonic Erazor blocks your progress with a spike that only disappears when you grab a S-Monitor that depowers you and sets off a Timed Mission.
- In Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, Cortex claims that a planetary alignment threatens to destroy the Earth, and the only way to stop is to bring him a total of 25 crystals. It becomes blatantly obvious early in the game that he's using you as a pawn for his schemes. Crash's sister, Coco, even tries to warn you but keeps getting interrupted, so the only way to stop him is to keep playing through.
- One question in The Impossible Quiz 2 reads, "Press this button to kill yourself with death before the bomb does!" The idea of pressing a large button that clearly reads "DEATH" sounds outright stupid, but guess what? Clicking it is the answer to the question. And if you try to get clever and click the words "this button," you die.
- Both Portal games make heavy use of this.
- In Portal, during the Final Boss fight, GLaDOS is (inadvertently) giving good advice when she tells you to leave the "Aperture Science Thing-We-Don't-Know-What-It-Does" alone. However, your only choice if you want to proceed is to ignore her and dump it into the Aperture Science Emergency Intelligence Incinerator.
- Portal 2 both uses and averts this trope. Just prior to what turns out not to be the Boss Battle, you are presented with an incredibly Obvious Trap that you have no choice but to fall for; this is Lampshaded mercilessly by GLaDOS. Humorously, the trope is averted in several other instances where you are offered the opportunity to voluntarily walk into a Death Trap. If you choose to be an idiot and do it, you die, but are rewarded with achievements to celebrate your gullibility. GLaDOS lampshades one instance of this, pointing out that Wheatley's trap is the only way forward.
- In 13th Skull, one of the games in the Mystery Case Files Ravenhearst arc, you experience the most blatant violation of the laws of common sense in the entire series. The player character receives confirmation that the people she's come to Louisiana to assist are actually con artists, thieves and murderers. The librarian who gives her this intelligence even says "You've got to get out of there!" Instead, she trots off to the swamp to confront them, only to be forced at gunpoint into finishing the game.
- The Day The World Broke: Over the course of the game, you find out that Diode, one of the Mechanimals blocking the Elemental Vents, has been trying frantically to reach the surface world, and that the reason for this is he wants to eventually take over. But you still have to give him the medallion that will let him use the Magnetic Pole safely to exit the core in order to get him off the vent. There is a way to mess up his plans. When making the ingot needed to reverse the medallion, you can make it from an experimental metal that will cause Diode to hurtle uncontrollably to the end of the pole and get frozen solid. You will see this in the ending instead of seeing him in a taxi in New York.
Real Time Strategy
- Command & Conquer Red Alert 3: Uprising is so chock-full of this that it makes the Allies a Game Breaker. The VERY FIRST MISSION of the game involves using a tiny Soviet force to infiltrate a massive Allied base and rescue three scientists, then try to get them out of the base, presumably using some kind of stealth or strategy, and escape via boats. The ONLY option is to have the scientists run as fast as they can RIGHT THROUGH THE ALLIED BASE while under HEAVY ENEMY FIRE from artillery that, although sluggish in targeting, can kill ANYTHING YOU HAVE with one hit. The final moments of the mission are less Real-Time Strategy and more "Frantically double click the exit and scream at the scientists to run faster".
- Actually, there is a better way to do that mission, though it isn't obvious at all. Have a Tesla Trooper run up right next to the artillery cannon and use his secondary EMP power to disable it, then march your troops over to destroy the cannon at your leisure. Repeat for the other artillery cannons and the rest of the mission is a cakewalk.
- In Command & Conquer 3 during the GDI Sarajevo mission, you are ordered to fire your Ion Cannon on Kane's fortress. The fortress that's standing right next to a chunk of tiberium the size of an iceberg. Even if you have the fortress itself surrounded by your forces and could just sit it out. The result: BOOM. The purpose of forcing the player to do so was to set up the climatic choice at the end of the game, when you have to choose whether to use the Liquid Tiberium Bomb, thereby killing millions of people, or do things the hard way and save those lives.
- In Haegemonia: Legions of Iron you at one point receive an order from your supreme command to withdraw your forces to your home system. Upon arrival you learn that the order was falsified by the enemy who used the distraction to seize the system you were fighting them for. A neat trick, but how to ensure that a well-informed player doesn't ignore the false order? Simple. If you do that, then after some time the game ends as you are deposed and court-marshalled for disobeying an order... a sort of Schrodinger's Order.
- The same but worse happens in Perimeter. You start a mission with an objective to destroy the enemy base and half-way through you are suddenly ordered to withdraw from the area. Worse part is that you actually can ignore the false order and carry on with trashing the enemy...which will count as defeat.
- Dawn of War 2: Retribution has the mission where you're required to kill a bunch of Eldar conducting a ritual, unintentionally allowing the Exterminatus fleet to arrive and kill everything on the planet, which plays right into the Big Bad's plans. Strangely this isn't an example most of the time, as five of the factions have good reasons to think the Eldar are the enemy... except the mission plays out the exact same way even if you're playing as Eldar. Poor Communication Kills, literally.
- Near the beginning of Tales of Symphonia, Genis wishes to visit a friend of his at the human ranch. Mere minutes before, the townsfolk informed him that doing so is against the rules. No matter how hard you (as Lloyd) try, you have no choice but to accompany him. The result of your actions? His friend dies, your hometown is destroyed, you are banished from the town, you become a wanted criminal, and Lloyd will angst about his failure at many opportunities in the future. Even worse, this event has little positive effect on the plot. It gives Lloyd a reason to follow Colette's group, but he was planning on doing so anyway. It seems that the only benefit to this railroad session is that Genis gets an Exsphere.
- In Breath of Fire II, the heroes must pose as thieves and enter a thief base. At one point, there is a closed gate guarded by a single guy on the other side, who informs you that the switch to open the gate is located in a hole on the right wall. When you reach into the hole, a poisonous spider bites you and the thief tells you that a real thief would have known that it was a trap. Even if you know the trick beforehand, you will never be able to pass the gate without falling for it.
- In Megaman Battle Network 3, Lan trusts a former terrorist from the first game and plants programs throughout the hero's base. They turn out to be bombs, and Lan angsts over his literally criminal stupidity. Curiously the fact that everyone else trusted this man, Mr. Match, aka Hinoken, to wander around the base unguarded isn't brought up. Even more impressive, he's still free in later games. As a teacher, no less.
- Super Paper Mario:
- There's a scene in Count Bleck's castle where the wizard Merlon shows up out of nowhere, and tells the player to hit a switch. Now, any player with a memory that works is going to know that it's really Mimi, the Count's shapeshifting minion, but you can't advance without following directions. If you press the issue, and speak to Merlon multiple times, he'll eventually say something about event flags. This particular event comes with a minor aversion, though. Earlier, this character asks you to fill out a survey of what you're most afraid of - and then fill up rooms with these things. You have the option of saying you have crippling aversions to healing items.
- Earlier in the game, you come across an urn resting on top of a coin block. There appears to be nowhere else to go, aside from a section above you that requires you to jump on the block to reach it. In short, there is nothing to do but jump on the block or hit it. Either way, the urn falls and breaks, and you are accused of breaking it and forced to pay back its value if you wish to proceed. The rest of the chapter consists largely of paid slave labor. This one was also Mimi's doing. Basically, this seems to be Mimi's gimmick. She sets very obvious traps that you have to set off to keep the game going. Such as the time in Sammer's Kingdom where the Sammer King suspiciously shows up about 1/3 of the way through the chapter to just give you the Pure Heart. Instead of just giving it to you, he tells you that it's in that totally unsuspicious treasure chest that was just left on the arena.
- Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door:
- Crump places a trap in a room, badly-disguised as a pedestal of the kind used throughout that dungeon. In order to get through you have to get caught by the trap and use a new way out made by Crump. In another scenario, when preparing for a sea voyage, Lord Crump appears as a badly disguised crew member. When he's introduced, he'll loudly declare that he's a loyal crew member and then shouts for "You! Yes, you, on the other side of the screen! Don't tell Mario who I am!"
- Another comes in early when someone loses their contact lens and tells you not to not to move or you'll step on it. Which will happen no matter how little you move, and they'll never find their contact in one piece no matter how long you wait.
- In Paper Mario 64, one of the Koopa Bros. is seen setting up a trap. It's completely obvious that this is a trap, even for new players. Of course, you still must activate the trap to continue the plot.
- Super Mario RPG: early in the Moleville mines, you reach a circular dead end. There's a trampoline in one of the rooms, and the only way to get deeper into the mines is to jump on the trampoline, hit your head on the ceiling, and pass out. When you come to, all your money and items have been stolen.
- After a Midbus fight in Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, Big Bad Fawful treats Anti-Hero Bowser to a large buffet of unhealthy food to celebrate. Even though it is entirely plausible and even likely, given the incidents that started the whole plot, that the food is drugged, you are still forced to approach and eat six of the dishes yourself. Naturally, it's a trap, though not necessarily in the way anyone expected.
- Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal:
- The game features a painfully obvious Evil Plan user as its final villain, who you are able to interact with peacefully on multiple occasions. At no point can you point out her oh-so-obvious villainy to her or try to do anything about it, even as she just stands right in front of you.
- In the first Baldur's Gate: many a player might very well break the ingenious code and guess that Koveras is really Sarevok. You still can't stop him from framing you though, or do anything about him when he's standing right in front of you in Candlekeep, alone, unarmored, and apparently unarmed as well.
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion:
- The next-to-last mission for the Fighters' Guild quest series has you infiltrating the Blackwood Company, the evil unscrupulous murderous puppy-kicking rival to the Fighters' Guild. Despite having been warned repeatedly that the Blackwood Company hires people out for any job, however illegal or unscrupulous, despite the fact that your sole mission in this company is to find any incriminating evidence against them, and despite the fact that you are handed a flask of what they tell you is a highly illegal berserker drug and ordered to drink it as part of your induction into the Blackwood Company. Needless to say, by the time you snap out of your drug-induced walking hallucination/berserker rage, you've helped massacre an entire village full of innocent people while under the delusion you were just fighting goblins. Well, hey, at least you got your evidence, right? Oh, wait. Your next mission is to now go back to the Blackwood Company hall (which you are now a deserter from, thus meaning you have to fight your way back in against the entire Blackwood Company staff in residence), go into the basement, and destroy their drug production lab. Granted, it's possible to leave the village during the attack without harming anyone, but you still have to go back in and shut them down.
- The sidequest "Where Spirits Have Lease". You're supposed to evict the spirit of an Evil Undead Wizard from a haunted house. When you find his tomb, he asks you to rejoin his hand to his body in order to give him rest. Any Genre Savvy player's first thought is, naturally, "Trap!" Naturally, you can't just toss his evil corpse into the river. You have to rejoin the hand, causing you to have to fight a very powerful lich in order to destroy the spirit. The spirit even lampshades your gullibility.
- In one of the Mages Guild quests, you have to meet with the Count of Skingrad, and a man tells you to meet him at the Cursed Mine at 2:00 AM. You get attacked by a group of necromancers led by that same man, and when the Count shows up to save you he insults you for being so stupid. Though this one might catch you off guard if you have prior knowledge that the count is a vampire, making his request to meet you in the middle of the night somewhat understandable.
- At the end of the Dark Brotherhood questline it's revealed that you've been following the assassination quests of someone else and not your leader, through "deaddrop" notes. The stupid part? It's completely obvious that the sources for the letters have been switched after the first two. The first two letters contain a clinical mission objective (such as "Kill so-and-so") whereas the fake letters are in a handwritten font and have more personalised orders (such as "so-and-so is wanted dead because they did such-and-such). You have no choice but to follow the instructions of the obviously fake notes until the questline's conclusion, getting your leader and half the Dark Brotherhood's Elders killed in the process. Worse, when you "discover" (in-character) the betrayal by finding the impostor's diary (and his mother's decaying head), you then meet with the heads of the Brotherhood, who have killed your boss thinking he was the traitor. The diary you've read (and could very well be carrying on your person) explicitly states that he wasn't, and that one of the other leaders of the Brotherhood is. Nonetheless, there is absolutely no option to mention this to the heads of the Brotherhood, no way to show them evidence of your boss's innocence or the fact that the traitor was still among them. Instead you have to go with them to the Night Mother's shrine, exactly as the diary said the traitor was planning on, and allow the trap to happen. You can even take the decaying head out and show it to him. His dialog clearly shows that he is the only one affected by this, but you can neither tell the other members, nor do they notice his reaction.
- The main quest in Tribunal, the expansion to The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, is made of this trope. To progress in the game you must complete a series of morally dubious quests for two different people, one of whom is clearly losing her sanity, while the other makes no secret of the fact that he tried to kill you (to be fair, given that he knows that the player character knows that already, admitting it might be seen as making him more trustworthy, not less). It's not even a 'choose the lesser of two evils' situation - you can simply ignore them both and leave. Except, of course, that you can't complete the game that way.
- Darkstone has you retrieve a powerful artifact for someone who is obviously the vampire you've been hunting. Fortunately, Stupidity Is the Only Option for him, as well, and he celebrates his acquisition with a suicidal attack on your monster-slaughtering character.
- The game has a point where Ark meets a Mudman across a chasm who, once defeated, causes a causeway to appear and asks Ark to cross it in the creepiest voice possible in a text box, so he can give him something that clearly does not exist on the Mudman's abandoned side of the cliff. You have to cross the causeway, which the Mudman naturally causes to disappear again with you on it. And, in the beginning of the game, you are warned not to open a certain door. If you open it, what comes out will destroy your entire village. But if you don't, nothing will ever happen.
- Also, at a certain point in the game, you have to sneak through a castle in which Meilin creates an illusion of your childhood friend trapped in a dungeon (who had NO way of getting there). Shortly after being rescued, Ark falls into exactly the same trap AGAIN.
- At another point, you have to wake the evil Mad Scientist Beruga from his cryogenic sleep. If you don't, the plot stops advancing. If you do, Ark gets killed by Beruga's drones a minute later (but he gets better again afterward).
- The entire sequence of events leading up to and after the boss battle at Jupiter Lighthouse in Golden Sun: The Lost Age. There are about a hundred things the hero could have done that would have been more intelligent than simply walking up to the bad guys with only half his party and bearing the MacGuffin they're after.
- A lampshaded moment from Ultima VII here (linky.)
- Few examples are more egregious than one particularly bad scene in Wild ARMs: Princess Cecilia has a pendant the bad guys very clearly want called the Tear Drop. At one point, an evil army raids and burns her hometown just to try and get the Tear Drop. The King is fully aware of what they're after, and orders Cecilia (and the rest of your party) escorted to the most secure inner sanctum of the castle and watched by a team of armed guards so as to protect them and the Tear Drop from the invading hordes. Then, Cecilia has the brilliant idea that if all they want is the Tear Drop, then she can stop the slaughter and destruction of her people by giving it to them. Not only is this a blindingly obvious bad idea to absolutely anyone except, apparently, your party, and not only does the game force you to actually walk up to them and hand over the Tear Drop instead of seeing it in a cutscene, but the game goes as far as making you play a stealth minigame to sneak past the guards and escape the well-defended inner sanctum so that you can walk up to the enemy lines! Amazingly enough, it turns out later that letting them have the Tear Drop was actually a bad idea, and the way the King scolds you for this is incredibly annoying.
- Bad enough that it was directly addressed in the remake. The elaborate lead-up where you're required to sneak out and personally hand it over is cut, and it's made clear that the choices were either "Give them the Teardrop and save the kingdom, hopefully giving you a chance to recover it before they can use it for evil" and "Don't give it to them, the kingdom and the heroes die, they get the Teardrop anyway, and now there's no-one to stop them."
- Probably every Final Fantasy has at least one stupid trap the player must fall into.
- Final Fantasy I has an elf king living in a decrepit castle in the middle of nowhere, who supposedly dropped his crown in a dungeon. Despite the party having - presumably - heard about how a random dark elf, Astos, stole Matoya's crystal ball, they go through the dungeon and give the elf the crown. Guess who the elf was. Making things worse, the dungeon you have to go through to get the crown is (in the original game) a huge Difficulty Spike over everything that came before.
- Final Fantasy II has a point in the story where you return to your base and are told by just about every single person in the base that the queen has been acting very strangely, some speculating that she might have lost her mind after the death of the king. She then invites the lead protagonist to her bedroom specifically excluding the rest of his party. Considering that at worst, this is some kind of trap by the villains influencing the queen in some manner, and at BEST trying to sleep with a clearly very emotionally unstable person, you are still given no option but to follow her into the bedroom hop into bed and make no effort to resist at all. The truth is that the queen was replaced with a monster and the ONLY thing that saved the hero from getting stabbed in the back was that one of your party members was spying on you for fun.
- Final Fantasy IV had a point where the villains demanded the last of the four crystals in exchange for the life of the protagonist's love interest. Instead of refusing or at the very least switching the real crystal out for a fake one like any other smart person would, our brainless heroes decide that the only option is to trade the world away for the life of one person.
- Twice in the face of decisive battles, the party decides, "Let's make the women Stay in the Kitchen!" Yes, they're the game's best spellcasters and the only reason they have made it this far. The men decide big boss battles are exactly where not to bring the heal spells and earth-shattering summons. Even worse, the first time they do this they get their asses handed to them and still get one of the girls abducted, but learn absolutely nothing from it. Admittedly, the first party split is suggested by the King of Fabul, and he has a good reason (both women have healing magic and the infirmary will need help.)
- In Final Fantasy V, right after arriving in the second world, there is a scene where a monster kidnaps Lenna and Faris, and Bartz must fight it one-on-one so that he can be dragged off to the villain's hideout. Should he lose, he goes straight there, but if he wins, you'll be taken back to the area you were in, with a treasure chest that wasn't there before. It's quite obviously a trap (one containing sleeping gas, to be specific), but since Bartz can't leave the area and there's no other way to advance the story...
- Final Fantasy VI has the part where the emperor pretends to be regretful for what he's done and to lock Kefka away, while commanding you to go make peace with the Espers. There is no reason for your characters to believe this guy who's been a villain the whole game, but every attempt to assign blame or reject him has a "But Thou Must" that sets you up for the sudden but inevitable betrayal. To add insult to injury, the entire *nation* is in on the conspiracy, despite being decimated.
- On the other hand, he is willing to hand over some sweet loot if you jump through the right conversational hoops, the chance to get a lost party member back and the chance to play as a badass with a mohawk for a few blessed minutes in exchange, so it's not all bad. And, to the party's credit, they assume that the Emperor is probably lying, so they create a backup plan just in case. It doesn't work, but they don't blindly accept what he says, either.
- Final Fantasy VII, for example, sports a scene where the perverted mob boss you just ruthlessly interrogated actually points out that the only reason he would give everything away so easily is because he was sure he would win. And then you get trapped. For added stupidity, the party was on their way to Sector 7 anyway, and it would be much easier to take the land route (and possible open the gate between Sectors 6 and 7, which is how Tifa got into Sector 6 in the first place) than to fall for that trap. All it took to get there was to just keep on walking and leave the lech to his own fate. Stupid, stupid Cloud.
- In Final Fantasy X-2, you watch a sphere in which the two people doing terrible, horrible, very bad, no good things are instantly recognisable by their distinctive voices, but the characters Fail A Spot Check and decide to trust these people.
- In Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time, you have to help Larkeicus in return for his providing you with medicine... despite the main character having a recurring dream featuring him as an obviously evil figure since well before they met him. Unsurprisingly, this results in him doing evil things and everything going wrong. Justified since the plot centers around a Stable Time Loop; you are predestined to help Larkeicus, because every part of the main character's life up until this point is a direct consequence of Larkeicus's plot. Failure to help him would beget a Grandfather Paradox. As the hero, you receive a small crystal for your 16th birthday. You pull it out frequently. What happens when you do? An innocent little female friend of yours is cursed by a mysterious illness with no apparent cure, the evil mastermind you defeated mere seconds ago is resurrected and vows to annihilate you, and an ancient peaceful immortal is transformed into a gigantic insane electric flying bird monster that tries to kill you. Thanks for the gift, mom!
- Pokemon Ranger:
- The game features the four challenges of the Jungle Relic. The player goes in to test their skills but is repeatedly told not to complete the fourth challenge as doing so would cause some disaster to befall the region. After completing the three available challenges, which all involve capturing a tough Pokémon, your companion suggests that you look at - but not do - the last one. Once there, the villains announce their presence and tell you to capture a Charizard they found there. The one up-side is that you try to leave, your companion will tell you to go back and help the Charizard so you can at least blame them when things go to hell.
- Also, in the sequel, any smart person would realize quickly that Kincaid is one of the bad guys. Yet you still have to respect him and everything until 'officially' finding out.
- In Fallout 3, you venture into a Vault in search of your missing father. The vault's run by some friendly enough robots who assume you're simply a late arrival, and has a sophisticated set of sleeper pods at its centre, whose occupants are clearly in there for the duration. The only way to advance the main plot is to climb into a vacant pod and settle in for a snooze.
- In Grandia: in the first area of the second disk, when you reach the second screen, directly in front of you is a badly concealed pit trap.
- In Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines the player is given the choice to side with one of a number of factions in the city. This is all well and good, except when you are forced to rat out Nines to the Prince for being at the home of a murdered Primogen as part of the Prince's plan to frame him. Never mind that there was a convenient vampire hunter there to pin it on and Nines was clearly Not Himself. Other examples include walking into the trap set by the Hengeyokai even though it's very obvious it's a trap, and being forced into the Mandarin's experiment. A Malkavian will Lampshade the Trope by Breaking the Fourth Wall and stating he doesn't want to do something, but the guy playing the game is forcing him to.
- The First ancient temple of Golden Sun. The class on field-trip made all the wrong choices to make when dealing with ancient ruins. Sometimes the player is asked "should we keep going" but gets shot down if the answer is the obvious "no". At some point it looked like the teacher might end up having some evil agenda, and he did make things really easy for the bad guys. Then later in some mining site, there's a sign that reads "don't touch wall". Guess what you have to do to continue on...
- In Gene Forge 5 the player is given the mission to track down the origins of an assassination attempt of a ranking member of the government, with explicit orders not to let that attempt be revealed to anyone. The clues lead to a fortification commanded by a general with the arrogant discrimination and control-freak methods typical of the culture, but the game cannot progress unless the players reveal their purpose for being there to the guy in charge. In spite of being the hardass overseer type he knows nothing about what's going on in his fort in this case, but suggests that he couldn't possibly know anything that might be going on in a deathtrap that has been barred to everyone, leaving him as the only one with the authority to enter. Maybe you should look in there, hero?
Guardian Makar: I'm pompous and I hate you.
Player: Oh. Someone tried to kill Astoria!
Guardian Makar: Really? Well, you came to the right person!
- In the Fable II DLC, there's a mission where the player must purchase a cursed skull and remove the curse. When you use the skull, you are transported to another world where you immediately run across a spirit trapped in a giant skull-shaped statue. It declares that it was once a famous knight, trapped in the skull by an evil necromancer. To the surprise of absolutely nobody, it's really the necromancer. Predictably, there is no other option than to free him. Once you do so, he mocks you for being gullible and tries to kill you.
- The only way to start the Devil social link in Persona 3 is to repeatedly dump money into an obvious investing scam, the social link character even calls you out on it! It was noted in a Let's Play of the game, where the Main Character pays him anyway merely out of the fact that his dungeon-crawling adventures meant that the amount was pretty negligible to him.
- In Neverwinter Nights you are forced to let the obvious traitor steal the cure to the plague. Telling everyone about him doesn't work, obviously. But more egregiously, you are forced to let him get away. Attacking him doesn't work. If you manage to physically block his path by standing in front of the portal, everyone will just sit there until you let him run away.
- At one point in the third chapter of Marvel Ultimate Alliance, you beat Loki (who's famous for his illusions and trickery) in what seems to be an Anticlimax Boss. Then Nick Fury calls and tells you to collect 4 swords to get the armor Loki was trying to get, even though you would have absolutely no reason to do this. To nobody's surprise, this is a trick by Loki to get the armor. Naturally, you have to do this.
- Star Ocean The Last Hope at one point you apparently (it's actually an alternate universe) time travel to Earth in 1957 where you cheerfully agree to hand over your power source technology to a woman who may as well have "I AM A VILLAIN" tattooed on her face, she's so Obviously Evil. After only a few minutes of talk, at gunpoint, during which she promises to save the world with the technology and assures you that the party member she is holding prisoner is just fine. It doesn't occur to your character to confirm any of this before going further in your dealings with her. Instead you hand over the power source and are shown to the room where your party member is being held. It looks suspiciously like a cell and your party member is unconscious and appears to have been the victim of an "enhanced interrogation." Still no concern is shown by your character and your entire party crams into the cell to see her. The cell door slams and locks behind you. The villainess then proceeds to blow up the planet with your technology.
- In Mass Effect 2, when you rescue Jack you are forced to hit a button that releases every prisoner on the station, one of whom confessed to murdering about 20 people and blowing up a habitat, which he says is minor compared to most of the guys around. On the other hand, releasing Jack causes her to go on a giant Roaring Rampage of Revenge that inflicts enough damage to the station that all the other prisoners would have been able to escape anyway.
- Dragon Age:
- In the Silverite Mine in Awakening, a large and conspicuous cement disk just inside the entrance would strike any seasoned adventurer as highly suspicious. There is plenty of space to navigate around it, but the game combines this trope with Gameplay and Story Segregation so that when halfway past it with clear intent not to step on it, a Cutscene is triggered in which your character and party do exactly that.
- In a lot of the sidequests in Dragon Age: Origins you have roadside encounters with bandits or smugglers you know you have to eliminate, while they don't necessarily know why you're there. But even if you place your party tactically around the battlefield beforehand, once you trigger the cutscene by talking to the leader, your whole party is teleported back together, right in the middle of the enemies' crossfire.
- This is a strategy in the Yu-Gi-Oh! games. If your opponent has a face-down monster on the field, you may be forced to attack it, despite this usually being a very obvious trap. If you don't destroy it, your opponent will simply flip it on the next turn, activating its effect, and then sacrifice it to summon an even stronger monster. Also seen with trap cards, where they're very obvious, but often time, if you don't set them off, you can't go any further.
- Rhapsody A Musical Adventure has the protagonist cheerfully walk through a "spa" that is blatantly preparing her as a meal for the monsters inside.
- In Dragon Quest VI, there is a treasure chest at the bottom of a lake. An NPC says that he would "sell his soul to the dark side" to see the lake drained and asks you whether you would do the same. Even though you are in the realm of a mighty force of evil and are given various clues that he or some of his servants are listening to this conversation, you must say that, yes, you would, in order for the game to progress. However, in order to avoid a loop of the same scene, you must take the longer way down to the chest, opening it without talking to anyone, else they'll just be killing each other and, ultimately, you'll have to fight and kill one of the people there, restarting the scene.
- In Robopon 2, at the climax you have to listen in on the Zeros' conversation. They know you're there, and drag you off to the Robopon Graveyard for the final battle.
- In Ace Combat 6 the player must disobey orders whether he wants to or not, an action that proves to be a bad move as the command had a reason to tell you to retreat (Turns out the enemies had a bioweapon that they were going to use if they were losing too badly. ).
- In Tony Hawk's Underground, the player is forced to forgive and trust Eric Sparrow, a supposed friend, even after he attempts to screw the player out of an amateur tournament registration, later tries to prevent him from reaching pro rank and even later acts like a complete jerk towards the main character. At least, the game lets you finally stop trusting Eric Sparrow after he gets you involved in a diplomatic incident with Russia that ends up with the character kicked out of the skateboarding team and forced to leave the country by his own means.
Stealth Based Game
- Metal Gear Solid: some genius decided that the nuclear weapon keycard should be a toggle between "armed" and "disarmed", which can only be used once. Guess what state the nuclear weapon's really in when you rush to the control room to deactivate it. The closest thing you can get to an alternate ending is jumping into the nuclear furnace, switching the game off, and never playing it again. To raise the stupidity another notch or two, the reason you have to use the keycard is because the DARPA chief told you to... you know, the guy who seemingly died at two different times in two different places and said things that other characters specifically said were nonsense. And also you know for a fact that one of the terrorists is a Master of Disguise. Yep, better do what he says.
- Assassin's Creed I runs rampant with this; though this is justified from the player's perspective by how the main character is reliving and re-enacting something that already happened in the past, and must go along with historical events, this frequently just begs the question of why the historical events happened that way in their original iteration.
- At the beginning of the game, Altair brazenly displays his Jerk Ass-ness by openly attacking Robert de Sable after announcing his presence, though this is to show just how over-inflated his ego is, as the rest of the game is about Altair learning from his mistakes and overcoming his own pride and hubris.
- Later, in Jerusalem, Altair has to walk into a trap set up by Talal, the slave-trader he's been sent to kill.
- Toward the end of the game, Altair is once again sent to assassinate Robert de Sable, and in order to trigger the cutscene to enable the assassination, he must enter a funeral procession. The entire funeral is one big trap.
- In a mission of Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, Lambert informs Sam that uniquely, the upcoming guards are armed with less-than-lethal equipment where they are otherwise just armed with the killy-kind of bullets throughout the game. Should the player manage to take them all out, they'll find there is simply no where else to go in the level - meaning you have to get the guards to find and incapacitate you to trigger the next part of the mission, in which Sam escapes being interrogated.
- In Thief: The Dark Project, the preliminary missions end and the main plot arc begins when you accept a mission from a mysterious man named Constantine to steal an artifact gem known as the Eye, the offered fee being more money than an entire army of thieves could steal in a lifetime. Despite finding out, as the next several missions progress, that the Eye is sealed in a cathedral in the abandoned, zombie-infested quarter of the city, that the Eye is a sentient magic item that talks to Garrett in his head and tries to get him killed, and that the cathedral in question was sealed away by a mysterious sect of hidden protectors known as the Keepers (that Garrett, as a former member of, knows just exactly how serious their duties are and what sort of threat it takes to make Keepers consider interfering in events at all), requiring Garrett to retrieve four artifact keys hidden with three separate factions at enormous expense and effort in four widely separated locations... not once throughout this entire chain of events does it even begin to cross Garrett's mind that maybe, just maybe, any magical artifact that people have gone to this much effort to bury should stay buried. Instead, in order to progress to further chapters, the protagonist must carry the Eye back to Constantine. Who, of course, immediately reveals himself as an evil deity bound in human form, thanks you for retrieving the artifact, and embarks on his long-delayed plan to destroy the world. Oh, and he tries to kill you. And you don't get paid a dime. You'd think Garrett would have been able to see it coming, really. The ancient Hammerite Cathedral even has a sign hung on the outside that says "Warning: Great evil resides in this place, and it is no longer fit for men. The doors are sealed to protect us from that which lies within. Do not remain here.", and the game's storyline still has Garrett not stopping to think about this. Even for a second. And about Constantine, he has a whole "plants growing" motif in his introductory cutscene when the local Satan figure is a malevolent nature deity. Making it even less surprising when he turns out to be said Satan figure.
- In Resident Evil 5, Chris and Sheva enter a corridor that has very obvious pressure plates along the floor. Any normal person would be able to step over them or shimmy along the wall to avoid them. You, of course, can only walk straight into them, triggering a quicktime event of avoiding the ensuing traps.
- Leon's chapter from Resident Evil 6. In the university you need to pass through an airport-style metal detector to enter one building. There is a desk, a desk blocking you from just walking around it that even a child could scrabble over, but that's not an option. You're only allowed to saunter through, have the alarm start blaring because of all the weapons you have, and enter massive zombie horde within earshot stage right.
- Silent Hill 1 has an interesting variation in that it doesn't actually feel like stupidity on the main character's part, even though you'd see it clearly as a bad idea if you didn't have to do it yourself. The player character has entered a deserted hospital, explored every possible room of the first floor, then gone down to the basement and restored power to the lift. You take it up to the second floor, find all the doors leading away from the lift area locked, then go up to the top floor, and find the same thing. With nowhere else to go, you go back to the lift, and a fourth button has appeared on the panel. Pressing it transports you away into the town's other dimension.
- We can only imagine how creepily obvious this was for the original Japanese gamers- as if it wasn't bad enough that an additional floor has apparently appeared out of nowhere, in Japan hospitals never have a 4th floor (sometimes even skipping straight from 3 to 5) because in Japanese, Four Is Death.
- Silent Hill 2 has the infamous scene where James reaches into the hole in the wall, a move that a more Genre Savvy character would do well to avoid. There's also the series of seemingly bottomless pits that you have to jump into in order to progress through a later area of the game. And this is after James has found a note addressed specifically to him, warning him that very bad things will happen if he keeps up his search.
- Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth has a house with a growling, unruly thing locked behind a door in an upstairs room. Everyone tells you not to free it. The game is extremely railroaded, so guess what you have to do.
- There's also the hotel in which you stay on your first night in Innsmouth. The developers must have been worried that some players wouldn't pick up the atmosphere of "subtle" menace that suffuses the place, its proprietor, and every line of dialogue he speaks, so they helpfully included an easily accessible (almost impossible to miss, really) room full of hacked-up human bodyparts, complete with a bloodstained journal recounting the hotel owner's murders. So naturally you go to your room and curl up for a good night's rest, unconcernedly talking to yourself about how you're not likely to find a better place to sleep. Guess who tries to do what to you later that night. (Although staying on the streets of Innsmouth at night is hardly a better option than the hotel.)
- In The Suffering: Ties That Bind, in order to get to the Big Bad, you must leap into a pit that just manifested not one, but two horrific demonic adversaries. It's also similar to other pits which have spewed deadly horrors. Belly-flopping into a three-foot deep pool of toxic sewage is just a goofy bonus.
- In the 2004 flash horror game Exmortis, the protagonist reads two separate journal accounts of people who read the English translation of the Exmortis and were subsequently plagued by unspeakable horrors, their lives taken and ruined by supernatural forces. So naturally when you finally come across the book, the only option to move the game forward is to read it yourself.
- Eternal Darkness seems to be very fond of forcing people to make stupid choices, expecially when confronted with the eponymous Tome... one instance, in particular, with a franciscan monk, seemed quite out of character: "Should Paul Luther claim the Tome of Eternal Darkness?" For a catholic priest during the inquisition, one would think it would be more appropriate to "Burn the Tome of Eternal Darkness, his pedestal and the whole room with his screaming walls and moaning floors". Alas, the choice is between leaving with your new book made out of human flesh, or not leaving at all...
- Again, in the same chapter: "Shall you put an end to this heresy?" Sure, enter the room where a shapeshifting evil lich just went after he made clear that your faith won't protect you ( guess who ends up being the new carpet for the Black Guardian...).
- And again: you have to pull the rope of the church bell to call the Custodian (which fortunately is still on your side), but that doesn't seems quite a good idea when the rest of his order is also hunting you for killing purposes...
- Human Pious Augustus live and breathe this trope: first, he hear suspect voices calling to him, to wich he can only respond by getting to a strange stone circle to be teleported to his doom. Then they ask to smash a statue of himself (quite metaphorical) to open a door to his doom. And then you're confronted with three artifacts of unimmaginable power (and, of course, doom). One guesses that after the first time you've died and been through hell and insanity for over two millenia, you would have learned to be more considerate before touching them again... instead you've got to do it two more times for the true plot to unfold!
- Subverted in Metro 2033. On the way to your heroic journey to Polis Station, you must cross a warzone between the Fourth Reich and the Red Line. This looks like a setup where poor Artyom is going to have to slink between two heavily armed, trigger-happy factions, which, indeed, you can do. However, exploring reveals a shortcut that easily bypasses moving through the poorly-lit warzone.
- In Outlast, journalist Miles Upshur gets a note saying that the doctors at Mount Massive Asylum are doing something illegal. Thinking he's going to report a corruption story, Miles goes to the asylum and finds military vehicles parked outside and the door locked. Not taking this as a cue, Miles breaks into the asylum and finds barricades, blood on the walls, and no people, and keeps going anyway. It takes a guy impaled on a spike telling Miles to go for him to consider leaving, but by then he's been locked inside.
Third Person Shooter
- The Matrix: Path of Neo features a notable aversion. You have the option of following Morpheus' directions all the way out of the office building, breaking from the movies' plot and evading capture by Smith and his merry band of agents, culminating in your escape with Trinity via motorcycle. If you pull it off, you're rewarded by unlocking the Hard mode.
- When you finally defeat the Big Bad in Rune at the foot of his evil patron god, instead of beheading him or something you allow him to stumble into Loki's blood and become a nigh unstoppable undead fiend who leaps out of the chamber you're fighting in to taunt you and then tromp off to bring about Ragnarok. Not content with such a small dose of idiocy, your character then refuses to clamber over an Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence to pursue him, refusing to leave the room until you jump into the previously deadly pool of green blood (in spite of Loki's mockery) and become a hulking soulless outcast. While this does make it much easier to defeat your enemies ( and you get to go to Valhalla anyways), your character had no way of knowing he'd still have his free will after being transformed.
- The walls of the pit you are in are actually so high that the only way to get over them is to take the risk of losing your mind and jump into the pool to become an undead yourself.
- At one point in Red Dead Redemption, you're informed that the Mexican Army has captured two of the fugitives you've spent the entire game pursuing and are holding them in a church for you to pick up. Of course, they've actually just found out you aided some rebels they were fighting, and are planning to ambush you the moment you walk in. Despite the fact that Captain De Santa is acting very odd, and Marston himself is extremely suspicious of the whole thing, you nonetheless are forced to enter the church, where you are promptly knocked out.
- The last mission of part one of Saints Rowthe Third forces the player to arm a bomb in a building the Saints are about to enter, turning it into a timed mission. Lampshaded when Shaundi asks the obvious question:
Shaundi: Why didn't we wait to do that until after we'd killed Loren?
Pierce: That's...a very good question. We better move!
- Fate/stay night does this a lot. Not joining a highly dangerous war you'll probably die in gets you killed. Not taking a blow for your (much more powerful than you) Servant gets you killed. Staying away from a dangerous fight, like your Servant told you to, gets you killed. Taiga cheerfully tells you in the Have a Nice Death segments that you should be as stupidly heroic as possible or you're going to die. It's worth noting that Shirou, the viewpoint/Player Character, has a spiritual/psychological complex which means that from his point of view, many of these things actually fit his motivations and morals. There's something to be said about playing the game in-character.
- In Katawa Shoujo, if you want to go to Emi's path, you must overexert yourself during the second day on the track, which causes you to have a heart murmur.
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is full of this, as Phoenix never learns from his mistakes; he repeatedly confronts the true murderer with his only copy of vital evidence about which he has told no one else, apparently not seeing the inherent problem with this approach. There are also multiple instances where there is a glaring inconsistency in a witness' testimony, but the player is unable to pounce on it, because Phoenix will be too busy lamenting about how the case is lost to notice until another character points out the problem.
- Near the climax of 1-4 you get a very incrimninating piece of evidence that indicates Von Karma as the mastermind behind the murder. What do you do with said evidence before the Trial? Show it to the one who wrote it who then proceeds to hit you with a 600K Volt Stun Gun and takes the evidence to be properly destroyed before it could be used to indict him. Nice one Wright...
- Case 1-3 provides a particularly bad example. Not only does Phoenix show incriminating evidence to Dee Vasquez, but has to follow her into an abandoned trailer to talk the matter over. This is after being told that she already took great lengths to cover up the incident the evidence proves happened, and was believed to have ties to The Mafia. So it comes to absolutely no surprise to anyone that as soon as Phoenix and Maya follow her inside, she demands the evidence and, when they refuse to comply, summons some goons to "erase" them.
- In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, in the case where you flashback to the case that got Phoenix disbarred, you have no choice but to use the incredibly suspicious piece of evidence, given to you by an eight-year-old girl not five minutes before the trial, with no option of showing it to anyone else or asking about it or doing anything to get Phoenix tipped off that the evidence was forged. Even worse, Phoenix himself admits via inner monologue that he has no freaking clue where he got that piece of evidence from!
- In Corpse Party, in order to get the true ending to Chapter 1 and proceed with the rest of the game, you have to go into a room that you're warned it's a bad idea to even enter, then deliberately ignore the dying message of a skeleton you find in the room. Otherwise surviving the ghost attack in the infirmary just leads to Seiko still dying and Naomi being compelled to commit suicide by supernatural forces.
Non-video game examples:
- In Chess, there is a state of the board called "zugzwang". It is when any move you make will give your opponent an advantage. It is normally forced, but it sometimes happens without the other side manipulating the position.
- The choose-your-own-adventure series of Goosebumps books, called Give Yourself Goosebumps, always had the first choice in the story be about whether or not to do the Too Dumb to Live action that gets the player character in the mess in the first place. If you choose not to do it, the page you are told to flip to has some sort of "What's wrong with you? You are too chicken/boring to do anything fun, this book isn't for boring people like you!" message, and then makes you go to the page in which you do the stupid option anyway.
- Probably the most blatant one is the one named Don't Eat the Purple Peanut Butter. Come on, people, how stupid do you have to be?!
- This happens a lot in Choose Your Own Adventure stories, especially if the reader really wants to have an interesting story and thus must choose to drink the mysterious potion found or pull a strange lever or whatever. Some instances are rather odd, in that the only way forward looks stupid, but when you get to the page indicated, it's carried out in a way that actually turns out well.
- In The Order of the Stick, Genre Savvy Spoony Bard Elan figures that if there is a trap set for them, they were meant to fall in it and doesn't leave the trap. His friends assume he's stupid, leave the trap, and get beat up. When they're all captured and he's the only one that didn't need to be beaten up, Elan has trouble resisting the urge to say "I told you so.".
- Batman: The Animated Series: The first episode to feature Ra's Al-Ghul has a lampshaded example:
Robin: It must be a trap.
Batman: Must be. But what other choice do we have?
- The Spectacular Spider-Man has a similar quote to the Batman one above with Spider Man and Tombstone when they are going after the Green Goblin. Naturally lampshaded by the Green Goblin:
Goblin: Yes, yes; I'm a big, fat liar! Like we didn't all know this was a trap.