In Ōkami, a later sequence in the game tells you about the coming Day of Darkness, when the sun will be swallowed and there's nothing you can do about it. Since you're the Goddess of the Sun, this would be a Very Bad Thing but of course, no matter how much you dawdle, the sun is only swallowed the moment the final boss stares you down, leaving you powerless.
However, in an earlier chapter, if you dawdle too long, Oni Island WILL disappear.
In Little Big Adventure II (aka Twinsen's Odyssey) a certain event partway through the game puts your home planet in danger of being smashed into pieces by its own moon, which is being pushed towards it by a huge reactor. Since the game doesn't have any time limit, you can wander around the planet you get stuck on as long as you want. Certain events will trigger a short video of the moon moving, but the collision never happens — unless you get killed after the reactor is launched, in which case you will get the "end of the world" game-over cutscene.
At one point in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Link has to get somewhere before the pirates do. Tetra gives Link a head start, and tells him that she'll stall the pirates until morning. Fortunately, that particular night doesn't end until Link does what he has to do (but becausethere was a curse that made night eternal).
You can even dawdle around after Midna gets hit with Lanayru's light, but there's little reason to, as you can't leave the map in a direction that doesn't take you to Castle Town, or she'll plead with you to hurry to Zelda and you'll automatically turn around.
Both played straight and subverted in The Legend Of Zelda The Minish Cap. Before the final fight, Vaati states that when a bell chimes three times it will be too late to save Zelda. The first two always happen at the same time no matter what, but it's subverted when you're fighting three Darknuts one room away from Vaati. If you take too long, the third chime rings.
Though there are still cases like when the Imprisoned starts acting up, and everyone is shouting at you to hurry and go beat it up. You can technically do as much sidequesting and stocking up you want, because the monstrosity will just wait for you to arrive before trying to escape.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask is the only Zelda game where this trope is not in heavy application, and shows what a difference it makes. The player is under constant pressure, knowing that the moon is literally hanging over his head, ready to drop and destroy the world when time runs out, and if he doesn't manage his time wisely, everything he's accomplished in that cycle will be erased.
In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, you rescue Zelda and hide her in a sanctuary, then set out to acquire the necessary Plot Coupons to get the Master Sword. No matter how fast you are completing the next three dungeons, you are informed that she was re-kidnapped just before you return. Later when are trying to re-rescue her from Aghanim, he will always have her with him and seemingly sacrifice her, no matter how fast you are to complete the dungeon.
College Humor digs at the idea of Link not having this trope in effect here. (NSFW)
As you enter the last quarter of Shadow of the Colossus, it's revealed in a cutscene that Emon and his entourage are chasing you, and are just over the horizon from the forbidden lands. However, the last four Colossi all require lengthy voyages through the land to reach and protracted battles to defeat. Dormin announces before you fight the last one that you need to get a shift on, but you can still go sightseeing or food hunting, and the inevitable won't take place until just after you've killed the last Colossus.
The final submarine level in Tomb Raider Chronicles has the sub Lara is in sinking to the bottom of the ocean. She even urges the NPC to hurry up and help her find a way to escape, but you can take as long as you want finding the key items and secrets.
All three endings in Castlevania II: Simon's Quest are determined by how many in-game days it takes you to complete it. The clock runs and cycles through day and night when outdoors, and pauses when indoors. This means that you can spend as long as you want inside the shops and mansions without affecting either the day/night cycle or the game's runtime, giving you all the time you need to Money Grind.
In Batman Arkham Asylum, the Joker tells you that there are hostages who will gassed, and you supposedly have two minutes to save them (complete with the Joker counting down). In reality, you can take as long as you need to find a way to save them though this is because the Joker was bluffing about the bomb.
Subverted in another point of the game where Zsasz has Dr. Young hostage and even though there's no time limit given or shown anywhere, if you don't save her before he's done ranting, he gets bored of waiting and just kills her, complete with a mocking speech from Joker afterwards.
In God Of War, an oracle is dangling from a rope at one point. You need to solve a puzzle to be able to climb up to the room's high platform, which sets off an Event Flag for a Timed Mission in which you must navigate an obstacle course to reach her in time. However, you can take as long as you want in solving the puzzle that allows you to reach that platform, despite her cries.
Subverted in Mirrors Edge. A number of levels have the voice in your ear tell you that SWAT teams are on their way, but if you dawdle too long or spend a long time trying to make a jump, they bust into the room and, ah, speed you along.
An inversion occurs in Grim Fandango. No matter how long it takes you to figure out how to unlock the lighthouse during Year 2, Manny will get there just a moment too late to save the girl. He will, however get there in time to hear her last words and receive a clue, before she turns into flowers and blows away.
In Riven: the sequel to Myst, during your quest you learn that the world is coming to an end. But no matter how long you explore, it'll always be a peaceful sunny day with nary an earthquake in sight (at least until you strike the death blow to end the world). There is one timed interaction in the game, but you get a long window and three chances (with clear warnings) to make the "right" choice.
Averted in the endgame of Timelapse. Once you steal the robot's power crystal in Atlantis, he will chase you for the remainder of the game, and if you stand still too long, you'll be caught.
In The Pandora Directive, at one point, you have to light a stick of dynamite and throw it at a door. You can light the dynamite while in another building, go outside, over to the other building where you have to throw it, throw the dynamite, then just as lazily walk to a safe distance. The dynamite won't blow until you're out of reach anyway.
Averted in Shenmue. While the game and manual never spell out that you have any kind of time limit, there is one: failing to complete the game before April 15 will result in a Bad Ending. The time limit is pretty generous, though.
Lampshaded in Waking Mars: If you discover sentient life, they will convey extremely urgent-seeming requests to you, ultimately requesting that you make a choice for them. Since the designers didn't want to make this a Point of No Return, you can walk out of the room and explore the rest of the caves, even though this makes no logical sense. You can even make your way all the way back to the base camp and chat with your partner, Amani, who will marvel at how you discovered intelligent life, adding 'Then you just left them in there. That was kind of weird of you. Hope they didn't need anything important.'
Oni: In level five you're chasing the Big Bad, who is fleeing towards an airplane, across the airport's cargo hangars. You can, however, Take Your Time and explore every single room in the hangars, and when you reach the plane the Big Bad is just boarding it.
In both No More Heroes games, but especially in No More Heroes Desperate Struggle. You (Travis) have urgent revenge to get against Jasper Batt Jr., which you are letting drive and consume you. You also want to beat him as quickly as possible, as there's 49 other assassins gunning for him, including the number 2 ranked assassin who could take him on at any time. You still have plenty of time to work a few odd jobs for cash for clothes, including one which requires your going into space, plus time to: watch porn, babysit your comatose twin brother, let several days pass, and still make it to fight the second ranked Alice just before she was ready to take on the number one. Fortunately, Batt at least is patient, as he's been wanting to fight you or engineer your downfall for three years, and wants you at your best before hand.
Just about everyClue Finder game has this. Of course, considering they're all educational games, what exactly would be the fairness in putting a time limit on long division problems? Kids struggle enough in school!
3rd grade: No matter how long you take building the Mathra trap, Joni and Santiago never get caught.
4th Grade: Justified, but then played straight considering something the Big Bad wants is in possession of the kids and his minions were ordered to spy on them for the first half of the game. Then, no matter how long you spend wandering around the Nile Kingdom helping the mice or admiring the scenery in the Pyramid, nothing really bad happens.
5th Grade: No matter how long you spend looking at the computer, The Aliens never walk in and bust Owen and Leslie, despite banging on the door. They also do not bother to stop you when you're spelling catwalks. Owen and Leslie are also in absolutely no danger despite that they hear something early in the game walking to them.
6th grade: It's implied that you have a notable time limit, but no matter how long you spend completing the challenges (Which actually can take awhile given that two out of the three you have to complete are reading comprehension, and one of which requires you to cycle through information), Joni never turns into a plant beyond the cutscene where she begins to change. Owen even says "We can't just stand around here while Joni turns into a salad!"
Math 9-12: Well, okay this isn't as much...the treasures are never gathered.
The Incredible Toy Store Adventure: When Leslie and Santiago are caught by the Big Bad and trapped in a gumball machine, they don't seem to be in any danger when they're stuck inside the gumball machine. If you also don't have enough items to complete the unshrinker and have to go back to get them, Leslie and Santiago wait, as does the antagonist.
Search And Solve Adventures: Only during the last part, in which the Big Bad never actually does get away. Granted, he does get stuck in a flume ride, but no matter how long you take unscrambling the code, he never gets himself unstuck.
Unusually, Reading 9-12 actually justifies it. The Big Badhad Joni and Owen complete the Amulet of Life for her, meaning she was wiling to wait for however long it took for Joni and Owen to decode all the reading challenges and create the amulet for her, all the while holding Leslie and Santiago hostage to keep them going. When it was actually completed, Malicia accidentally grabbed a fake amulet that Joni bought from a gift shop, so she had to keep Leslie & Santiago alive still so Joni and Owen would bring the Amulet to her.
Where In Time Is Carmen Sandiego is MADE of this trope. Jefferson will beg you to quickly find parchment so he can write a draft and run to Philly (b/c there are people there who needs it like...NOW!!) or Yuri Gagarian will plead for you to get the Chronoskimmer and get the frong out of his ship, yet you can simply leave the computer, eat lunch, watch a movie, and come back to a still patiently waiting Jefferson/Yuri.
Fridge Brilliance in the final mission where you're trying to find out where and when Carmen is. You catch her just in time..because guess what? You have the Chronoskimmer...you can theoretically pinpoint the exact moment Carmen appears in the present and ambush her. (Whereas before, you could only follow through wormholes)
Super Smash Bros. Brawl's Subspace Emissary mode is really bad at this. There are several instances where you fight while a bomb has been set, but with the exception of one Boss Battle, the timer shown on the bomb never makes it into actual gameplay. And said boss battle is after two segments that aren't timed, and you still have two out of the three total minutes shown on the bomb.
Mortal Kombat: Deception is extremely bad about this. Not only can you take your time in Real Time, but you can take your time in Game Time. For example, one sidequest features a woman who is lost and needs you to get her a map. You can then enter a hut, and train for five years, only to come out and see her still lost and asking for a map.
In Far Cry 2, many missions revolve around destroying a vehicle (the arms dealer missions) assassinating a person coming in by car, etc. However, you can take as many hours/days you want to get there, and the vehicle will always be driving in circles in the same part of the game world.
Far Cry 3 continues this trend. You don't have to go where Dennis or Agent Huntley or any other quest-giver says. They're not the boss of you! It's entirely possible to liberate every pirate camp, acquire almost every single piece of equipment, and skin almost every single animal on the island without completing more than a few story missions. Slightly subverted, though, in that most of your skills don't unlock until after certain story quests. Still, that only makes all those other activities more challenging.
In Halo: Combat Evolved , the missions are all supposed to be time-critical, and there are several points in the game where Cortana (or in some cases, Guilty Spark 343) urges you to hurry, yet only the final escape scene is actually timed.
This happens in Halo 2 as well. The first major level in the game requires you to defuse a live bomb, set on the Cairo by the Covenant. However, you can muck about the level for as long as you want, despite Cortana constantly nagging you about the bomb over the radio. When you finally succeed, you're told how close you were.
Also happens in the second part of the Arbiter's first mission, where you cut the cable to the gas mine, causing it to plunge towards the planet core, then pursue the Heretic Leader back to the hangar for a rather long Boss Battle.
At one point in Deus Ex, the main character's killswitch is activated. The player is told at several points that J.C. has X hours left to live, but these points are specifically scripted, and the player can take as long as they want to get to Tracer Tong and deactivate the switch.
Just as you get to Tong and deactivate it, JC comments that it's been some time but he still feels fine. Paul seemed to show adverse symptoms relatively rapidly (not that this stops him from running about shooting lots of MJ12 troops). Meanwhile JC's flown from New York to Hong Kong in a helicopter in 11 hours (24 hour timer has 23 hours just before the start, and 12 hours have passed after activating a bit after landing) and is still in tip-top condition.
If you managed to help Paul fight his way out alive he somehow manages to get to Tracer and have his killswitch deactivated, but he always shows up after you've had yours deactivated even though he had less time left.
When you destroy the welding points on the superfreighter, you can chill on the boat until the sun burns out, but it will never sink with you on it.
This is averted in the first mission of the prequel, Deus Ex Human Revolution. You are sent to handle a hostage situation, but if you dick around the Sarif Offices too long, the hostages will be executed, and you'll arrive only to have to fight Purists. It's played straight for the rest of the game, though.
In Metroid Prime 3, the Galactic Federation is certainly nice to wait on Samus when it comes to her doing the critically essential tasks they assign her in one or two places. It's realistic if you take your time doing it, but they seem perfectly content to let you wander off to entire other planets, collecting missile launcher expansions instead of doing your damn job.
Averted, though, in the more immediate sense. In the game, you have several ostensibly "timed" missions, but you never see an actual timer on screen. The only indication seems to be the voice over telling you to hurry, but time actually will run out if you take too long.
Also happens near the end of BioShock. At one point your heart will start to stop beating, which slowly reduces your maximum health until it is dealt with (the explanation for why this takes time is that "The heart's a stubborn muscle"). However, rather than being a continuous Standard Status Effect, it only happens in intervals at scripted points in the level and will not actually kill you outright, even if you never took the power-ups that augment your maximum health.
At the end of Bio Shock 2, the player character and his ally are running around Rapture, trying to escape before several timed charges go off and sink the city. The ally repeatedly shouts things like "We must hurry!", but you don't have to.
Most challenges in the Half-Life series allow you to take as long as you need, provided you can keep certain key allies alive. However, the jump to Xen includes a time-critical moment between when the gate opens and when it malfunctions; miss it and get a Non Standard Game Over.
Similarly, the last battle in Half-Life 2 gives you a limited amount of time to defeat the Big Bad before he wins by default.
Perhaps the most obvious examples of this trope are when Combine soldiers were coming and you have to set up a perimeter with turrets. You can take as much time as you want doing this, and in fact the first time around you can even pile up junk in front of entrances to keep the Combine out completely, but the Combine only start coming once the last turret has been placed.
Episode 1 does this for the entire game. The citadel's core is on the verge of causing an explosion that will completely wipe out City 17. In the start of the game, Alyx keeps reminding you about the crisis, but you can go as slow as you want and the core will still be intact. Plot wise, Gordon and Alyx can take a bit more time on escaping after they delayed the core from going off, but when their plan stops working, Alyx once again urges Gordon to keep moving, but you can still go at a leisurely pace. The Citadel never explodes until after Gordon and Alyx board the train and leave City 17.
Similarly, Episode Two does this on several occasions. You are reminded several times that the Combine are hunting down Alyx and Gordon because they stole data from the Citadel that can be used against them. Even though you are urged to hurry to White Forest, you can practically hold down the walk button and the rebels' reaction to your arrival would still be the same. Likewise, after Alyx gets impaled by a Hunter, you are urged to be swift and retrieve an antlion larva extract to prevent Alyx from dying. No matter how fast or slow you go, by the time you come back with the MacGuffin, you'll always hear how Alyx's pulse has stopped and you're always in the nick of time to save her.
At the beginning of Half-Life 2, there are several instances where the dialogue makes you believe you need to leave quickly to avoid the Combine. One is the first meeting with Barney, another is in the apartments. You can stay as long as you want watching the citizen hold that door against the Combine. It'll never open.
Left 4 Dead 2 has this for the finale in "The Parish". After contacting the army, the soldier tells you that the escape chopper will leave in 10 minutes, but you can take as long as you want since it will still wait for you. The zombies, however, are not so polite, and will happily take the extra chances to continue trying to kill you.
Technically, all the rescue vehicles that come to rescue you like to take their time in both games. They say they will be there in ten minutes, but really only appear after you kill the second (or in "Swamp Fever", third) Tank.
Due to some bugs in the game, the trope gets subverted where the Tanks die off before you can fight them, speeding up the rescue.
In Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, your superiors will constantly be telling you to hurry, your ride will be telling you they only have enough fuel for 30 seconds, etc. Unless there's an actual timer on the screen, you can safely ignore the former.
In Modern Warfare 2, there are no more rooms of infinite-respawning enemies, so in a lot of places it is to your advantage to take it slow even though your commander is yelling in your ear to "Hurry! Hurry! We're Oscar Mike!" The only notable aversion occurs in "Whiskey Hotel". If you take too long to get to the roof of the White House, the bombers WILL destroy it.
Starting midway through the second act, Portal 2 sets a vague time limit on the player by stating that the Enrichment Center is going to explode in "a few hours". You can take as much time as you want getting to the third act, after which it's implied that a minimum of twelve hours of game time have elapsed since the start of the second. Again you can take your time getting to the Final Boss encounter. When you get there, you're explicitly given six minutes until the nuclear meltdown, and there is a time limit to the battle, even if it expands somewhat in actual execution. However, between the resolution of the battle and the action that triggers the final cutscene, you can literally wait forever, with explosions going off, debris falling around you, and the AI characters screaming at you to finish before everything falls apart.
Not only does Red Faction use this trope, it actually has an NPC pull a weird inversion on you. When Capek's base is on a one-minute self-destruct timer, Eos insists that you escape while she finds some crucial data. She won't move a muscle until you're gone — but even if you leave her only one second on the timer, she'll somehow turn up later having accomplished her mission. Apparently other characters can Take Their Time as long as you're not around!
If you Take Your Time rescuing the seals in Drakengard, visiting other places, perhaps grinding away if you feel like it, The Empire will take its time in destroying them.
Though it should be said that the trope is averted somewhat in the game; every single level is on a time limit. Thankfully, unless the level has a significant plot reason to be especially urgent, the time given is either 30 minutes or a full hour depending on the size of the area, which is generally more than enough.
The personal story quests in Guild Wars 2 often have a sense of urgency about them, and at least one instance in each story arc where you have to pick one mission, often making you choose between saving a named NPC or averting A Million is a Statistic. Because there often isn't enough time to do both. Except that the next story mission generally has a level requirement about 3 levels higher than the previous, so the game clearly expects you to Take Your Time and do some general questing.
In City of Heroes, unless your contact specifically says that you X amount of time before the bomb goes off/they escape with the hostages/initiate their plan you can take all the time you need. But if there is a set time, you have exactly that much time; even if you exit the game and get back in, the timer is still ticking.
This is then subverted in the bank missions. You have only so long to stop the villians before they escape with the bank's money, but once they are taken care of, you have fifteen minutes to run around beating up bad guys. This is then Double Subverted, since the timer can be extended by stopping a jailbreak or stopping groups of vandals.
In the villain version of the bank missions you have a time limit to rob the bank and defeat the hero who comes to stop you. Like above you can extend your time by defeating cops and committing acts of vandalism anywhere from smashing parking meters to demolishing cars and setting buildings on fire. You can also get even more time for robbing extra stores, performing a kidnapping, and breaking another villain out of jail along your way to the bank (or after robbing the bank, the mission does not end until the clock runs out or if you exit.)
In RuneScape, many quests have rather urgent situations that you can just leave alone and solve it later.
The island quest in Kingdom of Loathing is an impressive example. Ostensibly a war between two opposing hordes of mobs, it actually involves both armies waiting passively for you to systematically eradicate them. If you do some sidequests, killing a mob will trigger a fixed number of extra kills by the side you're fighting for, but they still won't score any kills when you're not around, no matter how long you screw around in other areas.
Averted in De Blob: you have a time limit on each level. It is explained that the time limit is in place because if you don't get the mission done soon enough the enemy will learn about your presence there and mobilize. This makes sense... until the last level where you fight the leader of the Inkies. OF COURSE they know you're there! The time limit is pointless!
Recommended before the final mission of Psychonauts: leveling up by collecting all the pickups will make the boss battles much easier. It doesn't matter that Oleander's evil plan is about to begin; Raz can run around collecting figments indefinitely.
In Donkey Kong 64, the whole game is technically played while K. Rool is charging a laser that he plans use to destroy DK Isle. However, only the final level has a timer, and you can extend that.
Banjo-Kazooie (also made by Rare) takes place while the evil witch Gruntilda prepares to use a machine that will swap her ugly looks with those of Banjo's sister, Tooty. Even though, as you trek through her lair, she regularly taunts you about this, Banjo and Kazooie will have more than enough time to collect the Jiggies necessary to reach Grunty before she can get the machine to work, and it only ever does in the Game Over sequence.
And in Banjo-Tooie, Grunty's sisters build a life-sucking machine to restore Grunty's flesh, as she was reduced to a skeleton in the time between the two games. However, they only ever use it once on King Jingaling, after which it needs to recharge. Like in the first game, the heroes have all the time in the world to collect the required Jiggies before the machine is done charging.
In Prince of Persia (2008), there is a part of the story where your trusty female sidekick is dying and you must rush to save her. You can actually get an achievement by sitting in place and doing nothing at all (you can't input anything on the controller during this period) for a long enough period of time during this segment.
She wasn't dying. She was already dead.
In the first and thirdRatchet and Clank games, the final two levels are part of a plot in which you have to prevent the use of a superweapon. Both games not only let you return to other planets, but encourage it by introducing side-quests which require you to go elsewhere. In both, once you've reached the final boss, you can leave the region — and the planet, if you wish — and return later, with no risk of him actually using the weapon.
Towards the end of the third game, the Phoenix is invaded in a last-ditch attempt by the villain to eliminate the Q-Force. The few survivors are huddled under a walkway on the bridge, only metres from enemy forces. In the plot, this is made out to be a matter of urgency and the ship explicitly goes above normal speed to get there; you're not even given a choice of locations. However, once you're there, you can leave, fly around the galaxy, return and be in time to save the day.
At the end of Sly 2 the Big Bad's flying fortress is blown up over Paris. You then have to navigate the debris, make you way to the villain, beat him up and rescue you friends all before hitting the ground. There's no rush. You're apparently falling from orbit because you have plenty of time to precisely plan you jumps.
Sonic Adventure 2 has a few Timed Missions where the plot mandates more urgency (notably when the military base is about to explode). Likewise, the final fight of each story is timed, although no countdown is present on the HUD to draw attention to this fact. However, it's played straight with the ending stages of both Hero and Dark stories - whether you're rushing to stop Eggman from firing the ARK on the Earth, or rushing to stop the heroes from stopping Eggman from firing the ARK on the Earth, this trope is in full effect. This is also played straight in Cannon's Core, where you supposedly have only 27 minutes 53 seconds to complete it and the following boss battles but exceeding the time has no penalty.
Mega Man Zero 2 gave us the launch of Neo Arcadia's missile, set to blow up the Resistance base, after Elpizo's/Elpis' Operation Righteous Strike fails. One of the navigators estimates you have ten minutes; however, if you're willing to sacrifice your score (or just restart after), you can stay on the stage for ten minutes and nothing will happen.
Zig-zagged in Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War 2. Some missions have expiration date, while others don't. All the plot missions, however, don't. Say you have to close the gates leading to the industrial city district, or else the endless implacable hordes of Tyranids will storm in, destroy the crucial installation and extinguish the very last hope of defeating the terrible Tyranid Hive-Fleet...Yep, they will storm...Any minute now...Already storming...Almost there...You waste another day on sidequests and all will be lost...Well, you waste another two days...you get the idea. The funniest thing? You can lose the mission, i.e. get all your units incapacitated and withdrawn back to the base...and then you'll simply get another try to start the mission from the very beginning.
Mission choice option makes Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty VERY guilty of this. Even when offered a mission that you'd think you have to complete ASAP before something terrible completely out of your control and independent from your actions happens, like Big Bad finding some vital information she's searching for, Protoss fleet obliterating a Zerg-infected planet, or a nearby star going nova, you can still take your time completing a whole side arc, before attending to those pesky nuisances.
In the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games, there are some story based missions that try to give you a sense of urgency. But in reality, you can do whatever missions you please (or no mission at all), getting around to the story based one when you're ready to advance the story.
Although Chatot will give you heck if you don't do the Perfect Apples mission immediately after he asks you to.
Also, many acknowledge retrying a story dungeon.
No matter how quickly or slowly you progress through the quests in Diablo II, you're always just a step behind the Dark Wanderer. No matter how long it takes to get through the expansion chapter, you can never beat Baal to the Worldstone, but he doesn't have time to finish corrupting it and leave.
In the Neverwinter Nights games, this trope is handily illustrated by their various attempts to bring resting from the Dungeons & Dragons rules into the games, allowing players to interrupt any crisis with a representation of what is supposed to be an 8-hour nap, including sometimes in short breaks in the midst of battle.
Averted somewhat in the expansion Storm of Zehir, where resting is restricted to actual beds and outdoor camping (somewhat at the price of the complexity of dungeons, all of which needed to be surmountable without the benefit of resting). Still, the possibility remains of going into a dungeon, fleeing from the horrors inside out the front door, setting up camp literally on their doorstep, and charging back in with a full night's rest - said horrors, of course, politely refraining from trying to escape or pursue you.
With a few exceptions (such as events that happen in x days or when a quest giver asks you to do something within a specific timeframe), what's considered the "main story" in every Elder Scrolls game is pretty much encouraging you to take your time to continue the illusion of non-linearity.
Final Fantasy IV. Multiple times. Especially Zemus, since two of your allies go off to confront him inside the moon. No matter how long it takes you to get to the center of the moon, they are always just beginning their fight.
Final Fantasy V lets you rest as much as you want while your ship is being attacked by monsters. You can't leave, but the boss just waits by the bow of the ship for you to come fight him, however long it takes.
No matter how long you take going about your business in Final Fantasy VII, the Meteor just hangs in the sky and never comes down. Try to think about this from the perspective of the characters:
Red XIII: Cloud! Meteor's going to fall in less than a week!
Cloud: Let's race Chocobos!
Also, after Diamond Weapon emerges from the ocean to attack Midgar, you get to actually see it wade and waddle its way towards its target, and you can't attack it until it lands. The kicker? If you just sit there and watch it go forward, it will eventually just stop right in front of Midgar and politely wait for you to kick its ass.
Crisis Core also has some points like this. Director Lazard waiting to speak with you? Whatever, let's go on some missions!
Some points? With missions available at any save point, you can run off to hunt treasure while Nibleheim is burning to the ground!
A classic example is in Final Fantasy VIII, where the hero's main Love Interest, Rinoa, is shown dangling from a rock over a tremendous fall. You must hurry there and rescue her! However, there's no timer counting down... so, sure enough, you can Take Your Time. No matter what you do, you'll always arrive in time to grab her hand and save her from falling. In all, she ends up holding on for a solid thirty minutes, while the two Gardens keep crashing into each other.
And yet Averted while Rinoa is dangling, as the fistfight between Squall and the flying Mook will end after a certain point of time if you haven't finished him off yet.
Even more egregiously, at a later point in the game, Squall happens to be on a space station about to be swallowed by a cosmic catastrophe, and to gain a particular card in the game's card game sidequest, you are required to play a secondary character, an opportunity that comes only in this instance. To its credit, the game does some Lampshade Hanging on this by having the character state, "You wanna to play cards now!?"
Although not a very notable example, there is a scene in Final Fantasy IX where the main party has to chase Beatrix, which is, long story short, an enemy. She leaves the room and you have to go after her... but, not only you can take as long as you want talking to everybody, you can actually talk to the Moogle in the room to spend the night in a Tent. And when you leave the room, you'll still catch up with her right in front of the building. It's like a video game version of The Tortoise and the Hare.
There is an exception listed further below, though.
At the end of Final Fantasy XII, a battle between The Empire and La Résistance is in full swing over your home city, and you need to get there and defeat the main villain before the whole place gets wrecked. But no matter how long you spend doing hunts and dungeon crawls, the city will still be miraculously unwrecked and the battle will still be going on.
"We need to get to Jahara/Mt Bur-Omisace/Draklor Laboratory/Giruvegan as quickly as possible! Clearly, we must therefore hang around for 100 hours hunting monsters, finding lost treasures, unlocking Clan Primer sage advice by killing common monsters a lot, completing these odd and largely pointless subplots..."
While your characters never cease to remind you that they have limited time before the phlebotinum they're carrying in their bodies turns them into mindless monsters, the actual lenght of that limit is barely even hinted at. In fact Fang's explanation of the the brands' variable growth rate makes it pretty obvious it happens at the speed of plot.
The Mega Man Battle Network series does this a lot. Often, there will be something bad going on, like your house's kitchen being set on fire, the ventilation system for the basement you are trapped in having been shut down, the plane you are in being about to crash, or a powerful Navi is wreaking havoc on the Net. However, you can fool around all you want and when you DO start your mission, you'll arrive just in time to put an end to the problem.
In Mega Man Battle Network 3, Wily's evil plan can go off at any time, yet you can go back and forth between ACDC Town and Wily's fortress as many times as you want, a process that takes half an hour according to the game, and Wily still hasn't set off his plans yet.
Even better, in Mega Man Battle Network 2 and 4, you can take an airplane to different parts of the world every time there's something urgent.
Continued in Mega Man Star Force, in which you can not only fit in hours of adventuring during any given day, but you can do this on days when ancient and/or alien superweapons are pointed directly at your house and ticking, without actually risking any harm to your home or friends.
Near the end of Shadow Hearts, the villain proclaims that an alien of godlike power will lay waste to the world in seven days. Given that the game is set before World War I, and that you're moving between different locations in Europe, you can spend about a year's worth of time on the different subquests without the week running out.
The sequel, Shadow Hearts: Covenant, does the same damn thing: The Big Bad explicitly mentioned that The Very Definitely Final Dungeon will ring a 108 times before unleashing its powers. Yet, most players would leave the dungeon to do sidequests.
In Baldur's Gate: Shadows of Amn, you can run all over the countryside, Level Grinding and building Infinity Plus One Swords — and when you finally get around to rescuing Imoen from the prison she was sent to at the beginning of the game, she'll still be fine. And when you leave the prison, you can dawdle all you want in the Underdark and then complete all the quests you missed, despite the fact that your soul has been stolen from you and her, and both of you are supposed to be wasting away and dying without them.
In The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion, the barriers keeping the demonic realms of Oblivion apart from your world are sundered. But nothing happens, no Daedra invade, no gates open until you carry out the second mission on the main storyline, or stumble upon a certain city, whether you do so immediately or never do. Similarly, you are told that time is of the essence in recovering the main quest item, entirely in keeping with this trope.
What makes it even worse is that the game is a Wide-Open Sandbox. You are actually encouraged to join various guilds, explore hundreds of caves/ruins/graves/whatever and do side quests for NPCs, all the while being told that the fate of Tamriel hinges on a Plot Device you happen to carry around (and which can't be dropped except by following the main quest).
Worse than that, nobody seems to care about impending doom, still continuing their petty crimes and rivalries. You'd think a thousand wild theories would flourish, but no, everyone agrees it was the magical cult wot did it. Where's the "Last Seed 27 Truth Movement"?
One mission has a doom weapon about to enter the world through a magic portal, and if you take 15 minutes+ to finish, said weapon does enter the portal, and you die soon after. Fortunately you can easily complete the mission in well under the required time limit.
Probably unintentional, but Oblivion is notorious for the main quest becoming harder and harder to complete the higher level the player is, due to all enemies level and gear scaling with the player. Once you've reached a sufficiently high level, the game becomes almost impossible to beat without cheating, thus encouraging (in a roundabout way) the player to complete the main quest as quickly as possible before wondering around.
The enemies scale with your level. The NPCs do not.
In the sequel to Oblivion, Skyrim is in dire straits. A civil war threatens to break out at any moment, dragons are attacking all over the place, the apocalypse itself is nigh and you're the only one who can do anything about any of it. But whoa now! What's your rush? You've still got time to join all the local guilds, become a Jarl and buy (or build!) a house in every town, track down all the Daedric artifacts, get married, join the resurgent Dark Brotherhood, clean out every bandit camp in the country, and mine the ore for your Infinity+1 Sword (oh, and max out your smithing skill so you can forge it). Alduin can sit his spiny butt down and wait, you've got shit to do!
In Dragon Quest IV, you enter a village to learn that a girl has been kidnapped and the kidnappers demand a magic bracelet be brought by midnight. Now, the map world has day and night, and you can run around all you like, or take a few nights at the inn, or the like, before continuing. And you almost certainly must do so (since by the time you get to this point, it's too early to attempt the cave where the bracelet is). But when you finally get around to moseying into the graveyard at night, there they are, waiting for you...
Early in Dragon Quest V, you must free the nearby haunted castle of evil spirits to...keep some kids from teasing a cat. If you die, you'll just be dragged back to the inn and will have to try again the next night. Fortunately, your dad has a cold, and won't get over it until you finish the quest.
In Spiderweb Software's Exile (later remade as Avernum), you can take whatever time you need to get your quests done... but there's a certain city that gets destroyed by a demon only after you complete a certain semi-related activity.
In Exile/Avernum 3, though, the plot did actually advance without you so that, if you did nothing, the cities would slowly be attacked and destroyed and their inhabitants killed (of course, crucial NPCs would survive — sometimes hidden in the same city, sometimes moving to others).
Not quite a time limit, but in Jade Empire the hero needs to infiltrate a sinister assassin and spy cult. That doesn't stop you from running around rescuing orphans, laying ghosts to rest and otherwise being a selfless noble meddling do-gooder.
Or, for that matter, a heartless, selfish prick who could make Ayn Rand blush.
Not really an example, yes the hero does need to infiltrate the cult but from a storyline perspective there's not urgent need to do so, the situation would likely still be the same in a few days as it is now.
Towards the end of Xenosaga Episode 1, an orbital superweapon is being aimed at a planet, and you are told it will be ready to fire in 5-10 minutes. Even if you do rush through the next portion of the game, it will take at least 45 minutes to an hour or so to stop the weapon, without it ever firing. Of course, you can also go the usual route and spend hours or days leveling and working on sidequests/minigames, too.
However, Albedo is implied to have deliberately delayed the firing sequence to allow Jr. (and the rest of the party, but mostly Jr.) to make it in time for a suitably dramatic final showdown. The first words out of his mouth when you reach him are, after all, "You're late, Rubedo!"
Justified when used in Episode III, since the Big Bad literally can't restart time to the beginning without two of your party members present.
At the very end of Tales Of Symphonia, Mithos is about to leave the planet with Derris-Kharlan and the Great Seed. This removal of mana will cause both worlds to perish. Despite this apparently imminent threat, there are several bonus levels and sidequests that only open up after you open the door to the final boss fight. This one is justified by the story, however: the Cruxis Crystal containing his soul is still carried by one of your party members so he has to wait for you to reach him.
In the end of Tales Of Symphonia Dawn Of The New WorldRichter is attempting to force the door between the world of the living and Niflheim, the demon world, open to allow the demons to invade the world. After finding this out the gang splits up to prepare for the final fight (and you can visit them). After the team regroups, you can take care of all the things you forgot, including Gladsheim (a bonus level that can take an upwards of 3 hours to complete). When you finally do get to the final boss he's JUST about to complete his goal.
Only a couple of aversions. In the Temples of Fire and Lightning, certain delays, if taken too much, can in fact lead to the heroes being too late to grab two of the Mac Guffins, which will then be lost to them for an extended period of time. But only if time is lost in those specific ways. Other than that, you can take all the time you want.
At the end of Tales Of Vesperia, Duke has raised Tarqaron for the sole purpose of absorbing the life of everyone on the planet in order to defeat the Adephagos. In fact, many people in the world are already feeling its effects, meaning he's already absorbing their life! Of course, you can take as long as you want to go there, and the game actively encourages you to do just that, as a huge chunk of the available sidequests only become available after this happens.
When traveling to Nordopolica the first time Kaufman tells you she's in a hurry to beat Leviathan's Claw (who've been taking her customers), however, you can make a brief detour since you're making good time. At this point quite a few sidequests (some time sensitive) open up in almost every city you've visited thus far (and some require staying the night at an inn). You still make it in time anyway (Leviathan's Claw must be pretty slow).
Immediately afterwards you're told the only time you can meet the head of Nordopolica is on the night of the new moon. You leave and go take care of other business for the next 15 or so days. The game requires you to spend at least 6 nights in inns while taking care of the business and 3 more for sidequests. So far that's 9 of the 15 days. Then there's the desert level you pass through with a day/night cycle. Regardless of how long you take you'll still get there in time.
Tales Of The Abyss has some sidequests that are only made available after seeing the last scene before the final boss fight. Even after they've trekked all the way through the final dungeon and had a pep talk about how they're going to finish this once and for all, none of the party finds it strange to then wander off to get some new clothes.
What makes this more amusing is that the writing feels like it was trying particularly hard to create a sense of urgency in the player. But since a lot of the sidequests have odd cut-offs for no apparent reason and a lot of them are the only way to learn about the world, its history, and most of the backstory of one of the characters, by all means run around bothering random NPCs while the land threatens to collapse, it'll wait for you.
In Tales Of Graces, there are moments of urgency in the game where you obviously have to go somewhere...however you cannot doof around doing whatever, as the game may tell you "No that's not the right way" because the characters will know they can't just run around. However, you can take all you want in some dungeons when you attempt to stop something. The Valkines Cryas in Fendel is about to explode? Let's just run around doing requests. And you don't need to worry about Richard beating you to the Valkines Cryas - no matter what, Richard always seems to arrive a few minutes after you got there
During the Olympus Coliseum segment of the first Kingdom Hearts, the enormous boss Cerberus can loom over Hercules's head indefinitely, inches from defeating him, until Sora gets done puttering around the other worlds and finally comes back to help out.
Xemnas never tries to open up the door to Kingdom Hearts until you confront him. He never does anything else inside Kingdom Hearts until you enter the door.
Birth by Sleep does this a few times as well, such as when Terra's escorting Cinderella to the ball - at one point, you see her surrounded by Unversed ahead of you, but since it's not part of the actual escort mini-game you can take as much time as you want getting to her.
In Kingdom Hearts 3 D, there's nothing keeping Riku from going off and gallivanting around in other worlds after Sora succumbs to the darkness and gets kidnapped by Xehanort.
Eye Of The Beholder and its sequels even informed the player about the amount of time that had passed while the party was resting, but no matter how many days you spent sleeping, the Big Bad never quite got around to completing his nefarious plans.
Square-Enix is apparently very generous with time, as in the action RPG, The World Ends With You (or It's a Wonderful World), the plot involves placing missions with time limits on players; if the mission is not cleared within the time limit, then any players in the mission will be erased. However, you can deviate from the mission as long as you want. Even if the game recognizes that a full week has passed, you can take your time leveling up as much as you want, and spend time shopping as long as you want; the time limit is only plot sensitive. Funny enough, each Reaper Game is seven days as well, and the game explicitly gives you XP for your pins for up to a week of not playing your DS after saving.
Parasite Eve has one. After beating the boss on the hospital rooftop, the dying boss gets a lesser minion to jump onto the lift where Aya is, knocks out the brakes, and the lift starts to plummet to the ground. You're forced to battle the smaller monster, which is no different from the ones in the NYPD building, only it has more HP. You could take 2 minutes or 20 minutes, it won't matter since there is no time limit and when the battle ends, Aya will always stop the lift several feet up from the ground no matter how far the lift has gone down (about to the height of a street light).
But right before that, the Big Bad causes a jet fighter to go on a crash course to the roof where said lift is. If you take too long to get to the lift, game over.
Very well done in Chrono Trigger: In a game that revolves around discovering and mastering time travel, the party receives forewarning of the Big Bad's attack and has all the time in the world to prepare, as long as they eventually travel to that moment. It's possible to skip straight to the final confrontation (and get instantly splattered) for most of the game.
However, no matter how many times you sleep in an inn or Crono's house (or a jail cell), the Millennial Festival will not end until after you defeat the final boss.
In Fallout 3, there comes a point in the main questline when the Enclave are about to take control of a vital piece of technology. You can of course, just say you need a while longer, and nothing will happen (apart from some new random encounters). Finally, you can pop back into the Brotherhood of Steel's Citadel, say you are ready, and emerge again to see the Enclave have set up turrets, mortars and troops everywhere during the two minutes you were inside.
Also, at the end when you are following Liberty Prime and the other Brotherhood of Steel troops through DC, if you are with them they will run off ahead at their own pace, with you just appearing to be little more than another rank and file trooper. However, you can wander off and explore the world for weeks and the entire Brotherhood army will just stand about and wait up for you.
Enterprising players have discovered that some Quest NPCs will follow you until you reach a certain destination or complete their quest. If you never actually go to that destination, the NPCs will simply tag along as free backup indefinitely (provided they don't die). If you do this in a specific order, you can have as many as 7 characters following you (though this prevents you from entering some quest hubs.)
Then there's the mission "Reilly's Rangers", in which Reilly, who was injured in a super mutant attack, asks you to save the rest of her team, who are pinned down on the roof of a hotel surrounded by a small army of mutants. You're also told that, while fleeing the mutants, the guy carrying the ammo box was killed and they were unable to retrieve it (meaning they're probably low on ammo). You can ignore the urgency and instead go get the Chinese Stealth Armor from the Operation: Anchorage DLC and an Infiltrator from The Pitt (or, even better, The Perforator, a unique version that takes longer to get) to make pushing through an army of heavily armed super mutants easier (which can take weeks) before finally tackling the mission. You get to the roof just in time to help the rangers in a fire fight.
Then there's Point Lookout, which takes a month of game time to travel to. Any quests you left hanging back in the Wasteland will be unaffected by your time away. Conversely, the 250 mile rail handcar journey to The Pitt does not pass any game time.
Fallout New Vegas continues the Fallout tradition of this. The second battle of Hoover Dam is about to happen. Every major faction in the game will be participating. And yet, the battle can be delayed as long as it takes for you to do whatever else you want.
In fact you need to finish the 4 DLC stories before you finish the game since there is no post-game. One DLC, Honest Hearts, starts with a 1 month timeskip while you travel to Utah. And a 1 month timeskip when you leave. And since the best time to do the DLC stories is near the end of the main story (when you're at a high level and have decent weapons), the NCR and Legion will be waiting a long time to finally fight over the Hoover Dam.
Also no matter how long you take Benny will wait forever at the Tops for you to show up and foil his plan.
Actually subverted in the first Fallout where, if you don't finish the game in 100 in-game days, it's game over. Played with in the sequel, where the shaman in your village give you warnings when you take too long getting the G.E.C.K, but nothing actually happens to the village until you do get it. There's a timed mission in the 2nd game which you heve to complete in several in-game days, however, or you fail.
In Star Ocean The Second Story, there are several instances where characters keep telling you that you need to be somewhere, to save the world and all that, but you can still wander from town to town, level grind, and make rotten shashimi to your heart's content.
Golden Sun. In the final dungeon, you get the Teleport Lapis, finally allowing your party to warp to any town you've already visited as well as to use certain teleport circles to advance further into the optional dungeons. So, halfway through the final dungeon, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance, your party can just pop on off to complete sidequests and then come back to Mars Lighthouse when they're good and ready.
While not mobility-based, in Dark Dawn, you get the Sol Blade right at the end of the final dungeon, which, like the Teleport Lapis, allows access into certain areas. You can piss off right then for some sidequests and come back, when a number of cities are relying on you to fire the cannon to dispel the shadows currently running amok.
Dark Cloud 2 is an interesting example because not only does the game feature a day and night cycle, it keeps track of how many in-game days have passed since you started playing. Griffon's army is closing in on the Gundorada Workshop in the future? No problem! (Even though it appears that the game uses San Dimas Time). Monica is stuck in a volcano with Gaspard? I think I'll go catch some fish and then maybe race them! Griffon brought his flying castle through time to terrorize the present? Let's go to an old dungeon and see what prizes we can get from Spheda!
In a sense, all of Eternal Sonata falls under this trope. You're exploring the dreamworld of a man who has less than four hours left to live, yet no matter how long you spend in any area, he doesn't get any closer to death until the story gods say he is.
You might be able to explain this away under the fact that time passes rather inconsistently in dreams as compared to the outside world. Who hasn't heard of a five year dream or something like that?
Played straight in Dragon Age: Origins. The Blight never gets past Lothering until the plot advances far enough. Indeed, every location in the game seems to be frozen in one point in time, until the player does something to advance the plot.
You can wander around the Mage Tower all you like and you never have to worry about the demons taking it over or the Templars storming it and killing all the mages, assuming you failed. The same happens in The Fade.
Early on, when you have to light the beacon, you can look around the tower for as much loot as possible and take your time doing it even though every character up to that point has been saying how quickly this task must be done.
Arguably most gratuitous in the Take a Third Option quest at the end of the Redcliffe arc. You can elect to go to the mages tower instead of making a decision of whether or not to kill a possessed child or his mother... said child is possessed by a demon capable of making the dead rise. There are no consequences for this decision, you can faff around as much as you like on the trip to the mages tower and back without consequences, despite there being the very real danger of the abomination going berserk and killing everyone in the castle. And if you haven't already completed the Mage Tower main quest at this point, you have enough time to do that (including the lengthly Fade sequence) and get back to Redcliffe with no consequences.
What's worse is that if you do the mage origin, Wynne will ask you how long you've been away from the Tower, and your answer? One Year. Which means that it takes roughly one year just to go to Ostagar, witness a battle, pass through Lothering, spend one day at Redcliffe, and fight your way to the top of a tower. (Assuming the player proceeds in the intended order, anyway.) Given that this is about a quarter of the game, it's theoretically possible to leave elves in pain and shapeshifting into werewolves, let the dwarves continue fighting over succession, watch Arl Eamon die slowly of poison, and even keep a demon-possessed child in his room, for up to four years. The only exception is Redcliff - Take Your Time around the village, but if you leave to go anywhere else, it's completely destroyed.
Played both straight and averted in Dragon Age II. Secondary, Side and Companion quests generally disappear when you go to from act to act. However, within a single year? The looming threat of a poisoned district, dangerous blood mages on the loose, or an insane serial killer kidnapping your mother? It's fine, feel free to wander the Dalish camp or take that random item back to that random NPC. The safety of hundreds can wait.
In Knights of the Old Republic, Darth Malak only seems to attack Dantooine after the third piece of the star forge is found. He also doesn't enter the Star Forge no matter how much you doof around playing Pazaak. And during the ending of the first game on the Light side, the Republic Fleet can apparently hold out no matter how much time you spend running around killing mooks before getting to the final fight with Bastila.
Taris also never gets destroyed, but it's justifiable considering that usually, the sith are looking for Bastila and won't glass the planet just yet.
Justified in the sequel, in which there's no real "Time limit". Sion never manages to catch up to you because he's not looking in the right places, and you alone are not enough to lure Nihilus over.
In fact, there's really no sense of rush at all in regards to the overall main plot of the sequel though on the other hand, it may be because a lot of it is tied into Kreia's plan. The best example is Malachor V, where she is literally waiting for you. However, there are some times and places where your character *should* be hurrying up but can take all the time he/she wants. The most striking example is after the Harbinger docks at Peragus, and the Exile, Kreia, and Atton board it to find an alternate route to the Ebon Hawk. While the Sith forces are justifiably waiting on the Harbinger because they have no idea that everyone on the mining station has been murdered and they want to lure the Exile to them, things get weird once the trio is on the Harbinger. Specifically, Sion catches up to you on the engine deck (it's clear that he was following you for quite a while), and Kreia runs off to distract him. The Exile and Atton, however, can fool around all they want (there's even several workbenchs in the immediate following areas!) and take forever to fight their way to the Ebon Hawk. It gets even stranger when you do arrive at the Ebon Hawk... Sith Troopers were following you the whole time and attack!
Pokémon does this several times.
In Pokemon Red And Blue You'll just walk in in time when Giovanni is discussing "grown-up things" with the boss of Silph Co. in the first generation games (and their remakes).
In Pokémon Gold and Silver /Crystal and their remakes, you may not really be able to go on to Blackthorn while Team Rocket has taken over Goldenrod, but you most definitely can run around all you like and Giovanni never comes out of hiding. The Kimono Girls also wait for you in the remakes to perform their ritual. (Seemingly justified, though, since they specifically wanted you to battle Ho-Oh or Lugia.)
Technically, there is a reason you can take forever and never worry about Giovanni turning up, at least in the remakes. It's because after obtaining a Celebi, you travel back in time, beat Giovanni, and get told by him that even though he's been training since another kid beat him three years ago, the fact that you beat him means he still isn't ready to come back and take charge of Team Rocket again. Admittedly this just means you have to take your time getting a Celebi, but since it's time travel, you have all the time in the world.
In Pokemon Ruby And Sapphire, Archie and Maxie always wait for you to arrive before sending a crazy Pokémon on the world. But seemingly justified in that your presence is requested specifically in Sootopolis by Wallace and Stephen. However, you don't need to worry about the world getting flooded or the oceans evaporating in the process, oddly enough.
Pokemon Diamond And Pearl. You could start playing one now and keep hanging around breeding for movesets and Level Grinding until you've worn the DS buttons down so far you have to press them with a pencil, and Cyrus's attempt to remake the world will hover forever at the brink of success.
Team Galactic's attacks on the three sacred lakes also counts. In Platinum, at least, Lake Acuity can only be accessed by noncombat use of Rock Climb, which forces you to detour to Snowpoint City and defeat the Gym so that you can use Rock Climb outside of battle. Your rival will just stall Commander Jupiter at the Lake until you get there.
In Pokemon Black And White, the plot moves along with you, but no matter how long you spend after reaching the Pokemon League, N will never beat the Champion until the second you arrive. After that, you can dink around in the castle all you want. However, justified because N is specifically requesting you.
In Ultima Underworld II, everyone has been trapped in Castle British by the Guardian's spell, and problems like running out of food and water are explicitly alluded to. Despite this, the plot only progresses when you make it. This is particularly odd given that the game does have a time system, you can sleep to pass time and check the time on your pocket watch, but still nothing significant happens without the player character triggering it.
In Ultima VII the planetary alignment of course does not actually occur until you reach the chamber of the Black Gate.
In the old SSI Dungeons & Dragons RPG, Secret of the Silver Blades, your party can rest for up to 99 days at a time, as often as you like, and the Black Circle will be no closer to freeing the Dreadlord from his icy prison until just before the PCs get there.
Used liberally in Rune Factory 3: There's a giant skeleton lizard monster attacking the univir village? You don't have to actually fight it for days. No one can cook anything for fear of attracting a lion-like beast? Eh, do whatever you want. Your fiance has been kidnapped by a dragon? It can wait.
Justified in the later one, she is in no real danger. The dragon was only testing you
One of the main quests in Mass Effect 1 is actually called "Race Against Time", in which you have to find the Conduit before Saren does. This quest kicks in relatively early in the storyline, and you can Take Your Time for as long as you like - no matter how much time you spend cruising the galaxy prospecting for mineral deposits between advancing plot points, an actual time limit only kicks in when you are actually within sight of your objective (at which point there's nowhere else to go anyway).
Furthermore, once you've stolen the Normandy and become a fugitive from the Citadel, you can complete all of the side quests you want that don't involve going back to the Citadel, even though the trip to Ilos (the aforementioned Race Against Time) is supposed to be of the utmost importance. If you do any of the sidequests that involve the Alliance, you'll be contacted by Alliance leaders as normally, even though you've stolen a prototype Alliance warship and committed mutiny.
Mass Effect 2 generally plays this trope straight, but it's averted near the end of the game. After the Collectors invade the Normandy and kidnap the crew following the penultimate mission, you're given the option of starting the final mission immediately and entering the Point of No Return or choosing to wait. You can choose to wait, but you can only do one mission. More than one, and half your crew will die in a most horrific fashion by the time you get to them. Do more than two sidequests and only Doctor Chakwas survives. Considering that the aforementioned penultimate mission involves the recruitment of a character (thus restricting your time spent with them if you want the Golden Ending), this is a clear example of why so many consider this trope an Acceptable Break From Reality.
Also averted in The Arrival DLC. When Shepard recovers, s/he only has about an hour to destroy the mass relay before the Reapers arrive. If you let the timer run down, you get a Non Standard Game Over.
Mass Effect 3 has a strange relationship with this trope: Earth and quite a few other of the most important and influential planets of the galaxy are under attack by the Reapers from literally the first few minutes of the game, and the majority of the game's atmospheric background NPC chatter and flavor text emphasises how every minute you spend running around the galaxy, people are dying in droves; the main plot-advancing missions are identified by the label "Priority." In general, Priority missions are the only ones not on a time limit - these will wait as long as the player likes, whereas optional sidequests left undone will often expire after the main storyline has progressed passed a certain point, often with tragic consequences.
At one point in Radiant Historia, you can stay in an inn that is on fire, while the entire city is being burned down around you and the citizens are being murdered by soldiers... who are actively hunting you specifically. The innkeeper lampshades this, saying that he can't leave because another (oblivious) NPC is still there.
In the Neopets game, The Darkest Faerie, they justify this in the last act, set in a city trapped in slowed time, meaning that you CAN Take Your Time and return in time to defeat the Big Bad
Kingdoms Of Amalur Reckoning has this in full force. That woman who got knifed and is lying on the street groaning? Yeah, she can wait a week or two for that first aid you're supposed to be providing.
Persona 2: Innocent Sin plays this dead straight over the course of the game, though averts it for a handful of locations where you're on a timer (specifically, a bomb's timer). You can even take a break from the Very Definitely Final Dungeon where you're supposed to be chasing Nazis intent on bringing about The End of the World as We Know It, and go visit the final section of the optional dungeon (which only opens after you've been through the first part of the VDFD!), grind your way to the level cap, gather up everyone's ultimate weapons, waste time in the casino, and play as many magazine sweepstakes as you feel like.
Games created with Unlimited Adventures: There is no way to keep track of time, so there is no real point for the players to ever care about what the in-game clock is telling. The only times where it comes into play is duration of spells cast on the characters, and whether it's day or night time (which can affect some events.)
In Drakensang you can always take your time to solve quests, even those in the main line. This is especially jarring in the first and third Oracle quests (in the former, you've to rescue a mage who's keeping a barrier against a horde of zombies in a swamp, the latter deals with an army of Orcs and Ogres sieging a castle).
In Dragon Quest VIII, this is very noticeable in two places. The first is the duel with Dhoulmagus, who briefly talks to you when you open the door and makes it sound like he's gonna attack right away, but you can outright flee the room and go training. Also, Rhapthorne the dog heads into Savella Cathedral after you follow him. If you don't open the gate and head into the High Priest's room, though, you can go to Neos and train for hours on Liquid Metal Slimes, following it up with some gambling at Baccarat.
In Kingdom Hearts, you can at the very least head over to a save point in most of the boss battles. There are some areas that won't let you go back to town, but you can still take a breather, even when facing Jafar where he's supposed to be attacking you immediately.
Since the plot of the X-Universe games isn't the point, this is a given. In fact, when noobs get stuck (as in "can't get past this part 'cause I keep dying"), veterans regularly recommend that they take a break, do some trading, and come back with a bigger ship.
Despite having only an "18-hour time limit", Solid Snake can run aimlessly around Shadow Moses for days in Metal Gear Solid without the terrorists making good on their threats. It's later revealed that the nuclear threat was a ruse, but you can still play way past the eighteen-hour mark with no one saying anything.
Snake does gets complimented about his fitness or teased about his age depending on how long the player takes to get out of the underground dock.
Portable Ops has this trope as well, in an interesting form. The game has a date system, it keeps track of the day, month, year and time of day because part of the gameplay aspect involves passing time to create items or using night as a sneaking tactic. But, because of the series' established continuity, and the fact that Portable Ops is a prequel, in theory Big Boss can only spend so long on this mission before the continuity calls for him to be elsewhere doing other stuff. This doesn't happen, if you take too long, the date system will merely say: "Time Paradox".
Subverted in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater a certain boss is said to be very old, only willing himself to remain alive to face his ultimate battle. If you take more then 2 weeks of real time to reach the boss after he gets in position... he'll have died of old age, forcing you to fight mooks instead.
However, this is also played straight, as you allegedly have one week to complete your mission, or there will be a nuclear war. However, the fact that you can wait two weeks for the aforementioned boss to die should be a clear indication that this does not happen.
Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons Of Liberty starts off on a tanker sailing down the Hudson River, which Snake is supposed to disembark at the Verrazano Bridge. You can see the tanker's movement from the decks, but it won't get to the bridge until you've explored a large portion of the vessel, even if that takes hours. It won't get past the lower bay no matter how long you spend on board after that.
In Resident Evil 0, there is a scene where Rebecca is attacked by T-virus infected apes, and falls through the floor into a Bottomless Pit, where she hangs by one hand and calls on the radio for Billy's help. While the dramatic music plays and the radio occasionally squawks, "Billy, help!" Billy (controlled by the player) can take nearly as much time as he needs to collect ammo and health, kill zombies and apes, and get to where she dangles over certain doom; there actually is a time limit, but it's fairly generous. Upon arriving, he will grab her wrist just as the strength in her fingers gives out and she falls.
Similarly, at the beginning of the game Billy and Rebecca are on a train which abruptly starts speeding down the tracks. You can let the train run for hours with no ill effects, until you trigger the sudden, urgent need to engage the brakes.
Another good example of this in the series is Resident Evil 3 Nemesis, where at a certain point in the game, Jill gets infected with the T-Virus and becomes unconscious, at which point you take control of Carlos and must go to the hospital to get a cure. Despite him muttering "I must take care of her quickly", no matter how long you are in the hospital, when you return, you always arrive just in time to save her.
Deadly Premonition. Play darts, go fishing, stare into coffee, and do whatever. Just remember to get back to the investigation at some point.
The lengthier half of Jet Force Gemini has the player gallivanting about the galaxy to collect pieces of a ship required to catch up with an asteroid that's on a collision course with Earth.
Dead Space: No matter how dire the situation, Isaac Clarke can sure take his sweet time.
For example, there is one section of the game in which the ship drifts through a debris field with its asteroid defenses offline. Isaac can take all the time he wants, because an asteroid will only smash through the bridge once he gets there. And then, when he boots up all but one of the auto targeting asteroid guns, the asteroids will only start coming once he gets behind the manual controls of the one malfunctioning gun.
The weirdest example of Final Fantasy series goes to Final Fantasy Tactics. The game actually has date count. Year by year, the heroes get older and older. Despite this, starting his hunt for the Corrupt Church, which kidnaps his sister and tries to waken a goddess to destroy the world, at the age of 18, Ramza and his army can spend their time Level Grinding, completing subquests, getting a Secret Character, ultimate equipments, and hidden spells then finally go save his sister and the world by the time he's older than 30. Yet no one has actually aged and the situation never changes.
The same strange mechanic is in play for Ogre Battle64. Your character has birthdays, complete with a party and presents. You can age Magnus to 100 years old, but the characters appear no older, his dad will still be alive, and the bad guys' plans don't advance. Except that if you do, each birthday party results in increasingly grumpy comments by all of the guests about how long this is taking.
Fire Emblem. Unless it's a Timed Mission or there's some other time-sensitive event, chances are anyone who doesn't care about their Tactics score will stand around for hours building supports, beating up the boss for experience, arena-whoring, etc.
At at least one point in Shining Force II, a whole castle is allegedly falling apart while the screen shakes. You can take all the time you want to leave; the screen will just keep shaking.
Trying to leave the final dungeon in Final Fantasy Tactics A 2 will start a short skit where Luso asks if it's really okay to leave...and then Cid responds that nobody really cares about the Big Bad at all, and doesn't care how long it takes to come back and fight her.
Which is pretty funny because when you do reach the final boss, she tells you that you're late, even if you immediately go confront her after being warped to the final area.
You can take your time before entering the final dungeon in the Luminous Arc series, even when the fate of the world hangs in the balance.
In all of the Nippon Ichi RPGs, plot progresses at the speed which you fight the story battles, meaning that you can grind to the Absurdly High Level Cap of 9999, reincarnate, and do it again as many times as you want in the random dungeons and whatever "dire" situation is still there waiting for you to resolve it. (This gets particularly silly in Disgaea 3, where Almaz is supposedly cursed to become a demon after so many hours, a time limit that you can eventually pass once you take long enough to grind.)
Although John Marston of Red Dead Redemption implies that he has only a small window of time to collect his former outlaw mates before his family dies a horrible death, you are free to take as long as you need to complete his quest.
Red Dead Redemption still has shades of this trope even if you focus entirely on the main plot. Many story characters will end their quests by asking John to meet them somewhere for the next stage of the quest or telling you to go see some other character to start their questline. But generally speaking you can do these quests in whatever order you please, leading to some awkward pauses in the middle of certain questlines.
The Grand Theft Auto series largely averts this, as it's rife with Timed Missions, but there are a few classic Take Your Time moments. In particular, throughout all the recent installments, random gang leaders instruct you to "get to the payphone in [district]," implying that they're calling right now. You, of course, can wait on it for in-game weeks, and the phone will always be ringing.
Humorously averted in IV. At one point early on, you can go on a date or help out your cousin from getting beaten up. If you choose the former, your cousin calls you afterwards, complaining that you didn't help him out. The mission still happens regardless, though.
The same thing happens at the end with Roman's wedding. It's scheduled for 10:30 AM, but if you miss it, Roman will call and complain but will allow you to come the next day. You can miss it as many times as you want.
If you do exceptionally poorly in a gunfight, it is possible to escape and grab some lunch (restoring your health), and buy more armor and guns before returning to the fight.
In The Godfather: The Game, there are some missions that imply time pressure, such as going to the hospital after Don Vito gets shot, but if there's no explicit timer you can spend your time extorting businesses, taking hit contracts and generally ambling around aimlessly as long as you like.
In Batman Arkham City, despite Hugo Strange stating the countdown till Protocol 10 throughout the game and the fact you are rapidly dying from blood poisoning, you can pretty much do whatever you want between the main mission from completing side missions, finding Riddler Trophies, or just beat up random mooks for fun.
inFAMOUS 2 has a screen that comes up whenever loading a game and between chapters stating how far The Beast is from arriving in New Marais, and Cole is often told he needs to hurry to find the Blast Cores to power the RFI so he can fight it, but no matter how many side quest you go on or how long you spend doing player-made missions, The Beast doesn't arrive until you follow the plot missions.
The Amazing Spider-Man (the game tie-in to the movie) does this frequently. Several missions lure you into a false sense of urgency (quick, the Spider-Slayer is heading to your apartment to capture Connors - better hurry! Gwen is infected with a virus...she's running out of time!), but the story won't progress until you head to the objective marker. You can spend hours looking for comic pages, doing side missions or swinging around the city and no one will do anything until you start a plot mission. Though Spider-Man won't shut upabout it till its done.
Mason can take his time in Red Faction: Guerrilla: The commander thinks Sam might be walking into an ambush — get over there right now! Or later! When you feel like it!
This also applies within many missions. You can take as long as you need to recover from one fight before tackling the next; if the enemies are really giving you trouble, try holding position and letting them come to you to thin out their numbers. If you accept a mission to rescue prisoners, the EDF will learn nothing useful from them until you arrive. And in the final mission, you can scale Mt. Vogel as slowly and carefully as you please, and chill at the top for as long as you want — with Death from Above on a planetary scale mere moments away!
Red Hood and the Outlaws: Despite the threat of the Untitled, as well as Red Hood's vow to destroy them all, it doesn't look like he's going to follow up on it anytime soon. Though, mostly because he has no idea where any of them are.
In Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, the duo keep saying how they need to get from New Jersey to Los Angeles in three days (by driving/hitch-hiking, a 2800-mile jaunt which would be murderously hard) in order to stop a movie from being made. About halfway through the real movie they stop mentioning that plot point and it never becomes relevant.
Averted: They don't make it in time. The first day of filming has already started when they reach the studio. Instead, Silent Bob has to quick-talk Banky into paying them likeness rights for the film in order to avoid a lawsuit the duo would probably win. They then use the money to fly all over the country and beat up the GIFTed people who had inspired them to try stopping the movie in the first place.
The Black Pearl is the fastest ship in the Caribbean, and its crew is suffering horribly from a dreaded curse. Upon capturing Elizabeth Swan during a nighttime raid and thinking her the solution to their problem, they set sail for Isla de Muerta to break the curse. One would think that with the fastest ship in the Caribbean that they would be in a hurry to end their suffering, yet hero Will Turner has enough time to awake in the morning after the raid, break Jack Sparrow out of prison, help him steal the Interceptor, sail to Tortuga, pick up a crew and sail through a storm to get to the island before the start of the curse-breaking ceremony.
Later in the same film, Will Turner is found to be the one the pirates need to break the curse, and they maroon Jack and Elizabeth on an island. Once again Jack and Elizabeth have enough time to play on the beach, sleep through the night, get rescued by the Royal Navy and sail to the island, and still arrive in time to save Will.
Keep in mind, however, that "Fastest ship in the Caribbean" isn't exactly like comparing an SR-71 to a DC-3. Even the fastest sailing vessels of the era needed hours, if not days to lose a pursuer.
And the second time The Black Pearl had just been in a crippling battle, whereas The Dauntless was completely untouched.
In Terry Pratchett's Moving Pictures, the protagonist is aware that his universe is currently running on movie tropes and that he'd probably arrive just in time no matter what he does. He seriously considers stopping for a rest instead of running towards the climactic scene, but decides that would be "cheating".
Nobilis: one hilarious power guarantees that you will pull a Big Damn Heroes just before the bad guys do whatever it was that they were up to; the enhanced version runs right into a hilarious example of this trope, since it guarantees that you will be in time, even if the sacrifice is at midnight tonight and you decide, on a whim, to go backpacking around Europe starting right now.
The tabletop version of Temple Of Elemental Evil while not specifically imposing any time limit, does give specific rules for temple recruiting - non unique groups of enemies growing at anything from one member per week to one per day to replace losses or increase in size. A very generous Game Master would only allow losses to be replaced. Less generous ones would allow recruitment to increase group sizes once the temple had been actively attacked. A Killer Game Master would start the clock as soon as the players arrived in Hommlet and apply it to all evil forces, not just temple-specific ones. If a group of PCs dithered around for a few weeks, they could find that the group of a dozen goblins they originally had to handle would now be forty strong! From this point it is easy to turn the whole scenario on it's head by having a vast army of humanoids and monsters come boiling out of the temple and other evil strongholds, if the PCs are really lax about getting stuck in, to assault the entire area causing a general disaster.
Simply by virtue of having a human moderator and presenter (the Game Master), Tabletop RPGsin general can readily avert this trope, play it straight, or mix the two approaches to taste — even switching back and forth on the fly if necessary.
Red Mage tried (with little sucess and humorous results) to invoke this trope in the final arc of 8-Bit Theater when attempting to convince Chaos to wait a for them to level up a bit before the upcoming final battle. He actually intended for the gang to then ignore Chaos and have him wait for their return until the heat death of the universe, at which point he wouldn't be their problem anyway, but...
Red Mage: ...which I figure is fine since time is meaningless to you. Chaos: Yes, you may do this thing. Red Mage: Score. Chaos: And take as long as you like. As long as it takes no more than 24 of your Earth hours. Red Mage: But you said— Chaos: I'M CHAOS!
Not a video game, but a similar concept in Danny Phantom: Phantom Planet. Upon learning of an meteor poised to hit the earth in a week, Earth has sufficient time to panic in the streets, launch ICBMs at it, build a state-of-the-art spaceship, fly it to the meteor and back, negotiate with an Evil Overlord, fly the ship to the meteor and back again, build a phase-shift-the-Earth machine at the South Pole, and lay foot-thick cables from there to the North Pole. What did you get done this week?
Sir Francis Drake insisting on finishing his game of bowls before going off to confront the Spanish Armada.
"There is plenty of time to win this game and thrash the Spaniards too."
Note that Drake was a master seaman and navigator. He could see the English Channel from where he was standing, and knew how fast the Armada would be travelling. Even figuring in the game of bowls and the ride to the docks, he would have had plenty of time to ready the fleet and set sail.
There's also the minor detail that he couldn't leave immediately since the tide was against him. It's very easy to play it cool when your choices amount to 'Finish the game, or run down to the ship...then twiddle your thumbs for four hours while the tide turns.'
In the final dungeon of The Legend Of Zelda The Minish Cap, you have to rush to the roof of the castle before the bell chimes three times, or Princess Zelda will be turned to stone forever. If you take too long to get there, the bell really chimes three times, resulting in Game Over.
Actually, only the third bell has a time limit. The first two ones ring once you go through two of the doors in the hallway. So, technically, this is played straight AND subverted within one hallway.
In the Spiderman games if you take too long to rescue a person about to fall they will drop. However, once you've grabbed them it's treated as completely reasonable to walk all around New York with them.
This can lead to some pretty funny results if you're investigating a random crime, in which case you're not ever punished for failing, taking too long, or going outside the event area. As a result, you carry around things like muggers, balloons, or even a purse, which doesn't impede your abilities at all, and you can carry it back to its owner for a free health refill.
You can even take time out from fighting a pair of battlesuits to rescue a little girl's balloon, and the health refill you get from this will actually enhance your fight with the suits.
Also happens with the plot in Spider-Man 2. Unless a timer specifically shows up, you can spend ages swinging around solving random crimes and you will always be just sliiiiightly late, when rationally you should be showing up three days after class ended.
The Adventure GameFull Throttle double subverts this trope in its endgame; if you take too long during any section, the vehicle you're currently in either falls into a canyon or explodes. However, after fading to black, the protagonist, Ben, says "Let me try that again," and the game automatically restarts in the last stage of the endgame you reached. This is because the entire game is told in flashback.
Speaking of adventure games, some of the older text-only games had time limits in spades, particularly Spellcasting 101 and its sequels, in which you had to complete certain tasks in a certain number of actions or else the entirety of the game would be impossible.
In the shockwave-based puzzle/adventure game Lenny Loosejocks in Space, the player has four real-time hours to complete the game before the entire galaxy is nuked to oblivion.
You only think that will happen, but it ends up being delayed by the Y 3 K bug.
The Last Express is an Adventure Game by Jordan Mechner that takes place entirely in a kind of real time, sped up by a factor of five. The game spans three days, though there are a couple of time skips when you are knocked out or fall asleep. You often have to be at the right place at the right time to witness a plot event. Good news is that the game has Multiple Endings. Bad news is that only four out of 34 of them don't see you dead. Luckily, the game has an absolutely ingenious retry mechanic. Fail at a task, the clock simply rewinds to a point where it is possible to complete it. You can also do this manually.
Quest for Glory I has no day-specific events. There is, however, the errand Baba Yaga gives you in exchange for not having you for dinner—she asks for a mandrake root from the local graveyard, and if she doesn't have it before the very next morning, "her curse turns you into a frog on the spot, and you are forced to live out your years dodging Sauruses (Saurii?) with large feet."
Only Quest for Glory II is on a strict timetable - you get sixteen days in Shapeir to freely do as you wish (just remember to deal with the Elementals within three days after they appear, or they'll destroy the city), followed by three completely linear days in Raseir, and the endgame takes place in one night.
Quest for Glory III has the character go to a meeting with Rakeesh and Rajah at day 3, after which you join Rakeesh to go to the Simbani village. After that, you can take your time doing as you wish.
Quest for Glory IV has Igor falling into a grave at day 5. If he's not rescued in three days, he'll die, and so will the unjustly convicted gypsy (and so will you and the townspeople, because of the gypsy's dying curse). Also, you need to speak with the Domovoi at day 5 to get the doll to give to Tanya, or the game becomes Unwinnable by Mistake. Other than that, you can waste as such time as you wish.
In Quest for Glory V, the storyline doesn't start until you're ready to enter the Rites of Rulership. This is explicitely told to you and your old friends advise you to take some time to relax and enjoy yourself before the Rites (and hopefully, build up skills and look for better weapons and armor). Once the fun starts, certain quests allow you to Take Your Time because only you can complete them, with others if you wait long enough, someone will beat you to them. Also, the Arena fights are set for the first 25 days of the game regardless of anything else.
Kings Quest II+ VGA mostly plays this trope straight; although most of the game is set over the course of a day, time only passes to the next stage when you get a Gem of Destiny. One exception, however, is when you must get Caldaur's tiara. If you take too long, Caldaur will appear and kill you.
Kings Quest III averts this. There is a clock at the top of the screen at all times, and the evil wizard who imprisons Gwydion has a set schedule, which he keeps to regardless of how fast or slow you figure things out. Even if you ready all the ingredients for his demise or rather, transformation into a cat, you still have to wait until he gets home to do anything. Also, after you complete a certain event, a ship sails into the harbor and stays there for no more than twenty minutes. If you don't get on it, it leaves and the game becomes Unwinnable. Not that the game tells you this.
In Metroid Prime 3, during the opening sequence, a meteor begins falling toward the Federation base on Norion, and you have a limited amount of time to stop it. While at first, you can mess around, after a certain point, it turns into a Timed Mission. While there's no timer on-screen, if you disobey the words of the Female Computer Voice, you will be a very sorry Bounty Hunter indeed.
Most Metroid games have at least one timed mission - usually escaping the area before it blows up at the end of the game. The cardinal Metroid rule is that if the game ever mentions an explicit amount of time - "Meteor impact in four minutes", for example - you better fucking heed the warning whether the clock's onscreen or not.
Used, Averted, and Semi-Averted in Star Wars Republic Commando. During a few missions you're told to rush but there is no timer and events won't happen until you trigger them. Other parts, have 'time limits' in the form of more enemies being in the area depending on how long you take to get there. And then there's the last mission of the first chapter where you're trying to get off a ship that you've sabotaged. When the mission starts you hear a voice saying '5 minutes to self destruct'. You have 5 minutes to complete the entire level, no timer is shown but every once in a while you'll hear 'x minutes till self destruct'. To make it harder you need at least 1:30 in the last room to complete it, and generally more like 3 minutes. The instant the 5m are up the ship explodes and you're squad is killed (unless you've triggered the end sequence, where the ship explodes around you but you win anyway).
Crysis 2 has at least one aversion: In the "Power Out" level after the Ceph spear appears you must complete the objective that follows within a certain timeframe or die.
Averted in Pathologic. The restrictive In-Universe Game Clock is ticking constantly unless you pause the game, and it will make you hard-pressed to finish everything in time thanks to the fact that your Player Character can only walk at a leisurely pace. If you spend all day looking through garbage bins, going shopping, and sleeping, the plot will progress without you, usually locking you into an Unwinnable state (or giving yourself a Game Over).
The Time Crisis games. You have to clear each screen of terrorists or whatever they are before a timer goes to zero - doing so causes the timer to reset. This prevents the slow and safe technique, where you hide to prevent wasted ammo and getting hit while shooting everyone. This, if you do run out of time, will take one of your lives away, and kill you if that was your last life. It also doesn't help in Time Crisis 2-4, when a supporting character will go into your range and you aren't supposed to hit him.
The first Time Crisis was much more stubborn with regards to time. Instead of the timer resetting after clearing a wave of bad guys, time would get added to the timer. Trouble is, the timer runs even while the player is (non-controllably) running to the next wave of bad guys - and running out of time ends the game (unless you insert another coin or two.)
The Silent Scope series works this way as well. Later games melded time and life into one entity (you can only receive bonus time, getting hit by an enemy costs you time, etc.)
Averted in Half-Minute Hero. As the title suggests, you have exactly thirty seconds to grind up, buy equipment, perform sidequests, and kill the Demon Lord. You can buy extra time, but the cost goes up every time. Unlockables include a five minute mode and a brutal 3-second mode.
Played completely straight in World of Warcraft nine times out of ten. One quest in particular that springs to mind involves a competition with a dwarf as to who can kill 60 animals first. This quest is specifically designed to overlap with other "Kill X many Y" quests which have a far smaller amount of animals to kill - at certain points when you have killed a specific number of animals, the dwarf will appear, laugh at you about how many more animals he has killed, and disappear. Around the 40 point he'll take a nap, at 55 or so he'll wake up, and at 60 he'll be 2 or so kills behind you.
An example pointed out a few times on fansites involves Sentinel Hill, a military base and the only place in the entire Westfall region that isn't full of homeless people, burning to the ground by the Defias Brotherhood. The leader, Gryan Stoutmantle, yells at you to hurry to Stormwind and tell King Varian, telling you to take a gryphon and not waste any time. You can go anywhere on that gryphon, maybe spend a few hours in a dungeon, heck, level all the way up to the level cap if you'd like.
Justified in RuneScape by Recipe For Disaster: the events of the quest are in a time-bubble.
According to the plot of the classic Prince of Persia, the protagonist has only one hour to save the sultan's daughter. This carries over to the real world, as the player is only given one real-life hour to finish the game.
More specifically, the player has 60 minutes of "alive time" to defeat Jaffar. The timer doesn't count down when the player is dead (a separate, hidden timer starts upon death, and if that timer finishes, the game restarts), and since the threat to the sultan's daughter is Jaffar, defeating him stops the timer.
Averted in Impossible Mission. Despite the main character respawning upon death, you have only eight hours to complete the game (and each death penalizes you by a few minutes). You loiter, you lose.
World in Conflict generally plays this realistically, rewarding you for accomplishing some tasks within a certain time-frame, and many primary objectives are timed on their own (the timer isn't always visible). However, there is one exception: the two missions before the finale are supposedly under time pressure as you need to liberate Seattle before the president is forced to nuke it to prevent Chinese landfall, but only one objective is time-based (and it has nothing to do with the primary threat).
Pikmin is divided into thirty game days of about twenty minutes each. If anybody's not in their respective aircraft by nightfall, they're eaten. If you're not done with the game within the thirty days, your life-support system runs out and you get killed by the oxygen. C'mon, hustle! The sense of haste induced by this deadline so clashed with the rest of the game that Nintendo removed it for the sequel.
Although the sequel does keep the "Pikmin left outside at night will be eaten" rule.
While your superiors in Supreme Commander will continuously badger you that it would be really smashing if you could just finish your objective, like, now (and use the new cover sheet on the TPS reports), at least the first phase of a mission will leave you enough time to you build up your defenses, construct the infinite resource generator, arm ten nuclear silos ... all while the enemy will send about ten units at a time to let you know he's still there. Occasionally, the difficulty is in not accidentally finish your objective (by, for example, building several long range artillery pieces that destroy the enemy base).
(your ACU is capturing Black Sun in the last Cybran mission)
In Warhammer Dark Omen you can swerve from the main course and take on side missions, but the enemy bulk will be on their way, so when you finally arive to the site of the next grand event, you'll find the enemy force much stronger then you could've otherwise or even that the castle you were to defend was taken and now you have to take it back. You also get chewed on by your mentor for your lack of determination.
Some sidequests in some RPGs, such as, for example, a couple Elder Scrolls games and MMORPGs have time sensitive sidequests.
Exactly one quest in Oblivion has a time limit, the one to join the thieves guild, where you have to compete against someone else. The time is in fact exceptionally short - if you take too long talking to people to figure out where to go, you'll fail. Fortunately if you fail the mission, you are given a second chance.
Actually, there is another: taking too long to hunt down Raynil Draylas at the end of Brotherhood Betrayed (one in-game day to be exact) results in him successfully fleeing to Morrowind and failing the quest.
Several main quests in Daggerfall are timed. Even those generally aren't actually urgent — most of the plot is driven by the Agent's actions, and of the two things you are told to do before setting sail to Daggerfall, it is the supposedly less important one where waiting potentially could have caused trouble with solving it.
Subverted in Final Fantasy X-2. Waiting around too long at the final level of the game will result in the cannon being fired, causing Spira to be obliterated.
The above-mentioned Baldur's Gate II also contains a quest chain in the Underdark wherein a series of tasks must be completed within a certain number of hours game time, or the quest chain is broken. As a result, you have to do a disproportionate amount of killing and maiming to complete the game.
Even earlier (though less drastic) examples include several NPCs that join for quests of their own (Minsc, Korgan and Nalia). But they will either leave the party or attack the party if you take more than ten game days to fulfill your part of the bargain.
In the first game, your first party members outside of Candlekeep besides Imoen- Xzar and Montaron, and Khalid and Jaheira- will tell you to go south, pestering you if you take too long and leaving if you don't listen. In the eponymous city, you will get poisoned and must find an antidote in time.
In Betrayal At Krondor, the plot revolves around preventing an invasion of the dark elves into the human kingdom. The very first chapter has the goal of escorting a messenger who is bringing a warning about this invasion. Even though trooops are constantly amassing and preparations are being made, there is no drawback at all to taking your sweet time and exploring the Wide-Open Sandbox world the game has to offer right from the beginning.
In Fallout, the player must find a replacement water chip for his shelter's computer systems within a set period otherwise his people will die of thirst. He can, however, pay to have water taken by caravan at certain times of the month, thus extending the clock. This would, however, reduce the clock of the second time limit...
The game used to contain an invisible second time limit; if you waited too long, an army of supermutants would overrun the world - having water delivered to the vault would cause the mutants to be able to locate it faster, ending the game. However, fan complaints led the developers to remove this second time limit extend it to a ridiculous level (the 500 day limit became about 17 years) with a patch.
Averted in Shadowrun for the SNES. At one point in the game, a Cortex Bomb that's been implanted in Jake's head is activated, and he finds out that he has 30 hours before it detonates. If the player does not find a way to deactivate the bomb in 30 real-world minutes, Jake dies.
Staying at a hotel takes just a few seconds of real-world time, whereas adventuring is in 1:1 time; thus the bomb actually takes between 30 minutes and about a half-year of game-time to actually go off. Of course, apart from the bomb, you can spend years and years at a hotel to no effect whatsoever.
In Fountain of Dreams, the sequel to the acclaimed Wasteland RPG, the player characters must deal with the constant threat of mutation caused by post-nuclear holocaust radiation. Since mutation increases your attributes, but decreases your ability to heal from damage, if the player takes too long (especially if they wander carelessly into highly radioactive areas), the game essentially becomes unbeatable as you are no longer able to heal when hurt by enemies.
While mostly subject to the trope, Lost Odyssey does include one sequence in which the party must prevent four giant monsters from ravaging the country of Numara. Not only must the characters chase each monster down in their Cool Boat, but while they're busy fighting one, the others keep heading for the coast, and if any of them reach land, it's game over. Thankfully Useless Useful Spell is averted for the most part in the game and thus you can put 3 of the monsters asleep while you take care of the 4th.
The first Valkyrie Profile has a set number of Chapters, with a set number of Periods within them. Going into a dungeon or to recruit an Einherjar takes up one or two Periods, so you've got a rather limited amount of time to adventure before the Very Definitely Final Dungeon triggers.
Persona 3 and Persona 4 mess around with this as well. The games are run by a date system and you can only complete so many actions per day. For instance, while simple item exchange sidequests typically take up no time, social links and spending time in places advance the clock. There are only so many days in the game, ergo, you do not have infinite time to complete everything, hence necessitating more than one play through. You can, in theory, spend an infinite amount of time in Tartarus/The TV World, but this is not recommended, since you would run out of items or money and would need to progress to the next day to heal. However, this trope is in effect with respects to Tartarus in Persona 3, because Tartarus appears during the dark hour, a magical one hour block between midnight and 12:01, but you can remain in there for over an hour of game time.
Provided, of course, that your party doesn't get worn out from the constant battling, thereby necessitating your retreat within a reasonable amount of time. However, this is only an issue in the very early parts of the game when your characters are still at low levels, and is especially not so during the final climb to the very top where you are not allowed to leave Tartarus until the final boss has been defeated, and can take as long as you need in order to do so.
And (at least in FES) on the day before a boss fight, you're allowed as much time as you want in Tartarus without your party ever getting tired.
In Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army, there's a case of this the first time Raidou travels to the Dark World, as he discovers he has to save a schoolgirl from being devoured by a tsuchigumo, but can do whatever he feels like without her getting eaten. This turns out to be justified, as the whole thing was a trap, and it wouldn't exactly work if he ate the bait.
Egregious in Rudra no Hiho, where having only 15 days before the end of the human race is the whole plot, yet days only pass if you advance the story, not when staying the night in an inn.
Might and Magic: World of XEEN attempted to use the availability of cash as a sort of level cap. Combine the ability to create new characters at any time, a bank with compound interest, and a job that made time pass quickly as well as netting some cash. Wait a century. Congratulations! A truly epic Take Your Time, as you recruit a brand new party to actually save the world, since the guys you started with are so old that if you let them sleep they'll never wake up.
In Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy VI, there are several instances in both games where the party is forced to escape a structure or to rescue another character. Running out of time in either case will result in a Non Standard Game Over, and you cannot save during these situations for obvious gameplay reasons. It gets worse when you realize that the timer will keep counting down even while you're fighting monsters and even Mini Bosses, and it gets even worse when you notice that the timer even counts down while you're accessing the menu/status screen or reading dialogue conversations. Better set the Battle and Message speeds to the fastest settings!
Final Fantasy VI even has a sequence where you want to cut it as close as possible while escaping the Floating Continent, if you jump down to the airship before the clock counts down to 5 seconds, Shadow won't be able to catch up and dies for good.
The Suikoden series doesn't do this too often, but Suikoden II has an somewhat infamous example in Clive's sidequest to track down Elza. It requires talking to certain people across the game world within an extremely short amount of time (short for an RPG, anyway), and being late by even a second means the trail goes cold and the quest can't be completed.
In Suikoden I, after you win Kwada's army everybody shouts "yay! let's go and kill the bastard!", the game picks your party for the mission and your party starts to run to the castle gates. People are waiting outside to see the results of the battle. And then you can go, rest, do whatever you like and come back to attack the castle. Everyone is still waiting outside.
Another example from Suikoden I, you are rushing back to your castle which is under attack. Before the enemy's invasion begins, you can go anywhere you want to grind. Which is good, because when the invasion begins you have a defeat a level 40 with a single character which may have stayed at level 8 since the beggining of the game. Failing to win the duel means the good ending is gone. So good thing they give you time to grind.
Partially averted in Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter. You do have a time limit, but it's more related to how long you walk, use dragon powers, and explore around rather than how much time you take. Ryu could stand in one place and the D-counter never increases, but if he wanders around, then it increases.
Even though Paper Mario 2 is already listed on this page with a straight example, there is an actual timed mission earlier on, at the end of the second chapter. You have to chase down The Dragon and defeat him in a certain amount of time, or you and a tree full of Ridiculously Cute Critters goes kablooie.
Although, the battle against him itself is not timed. He'll stop the timer after a brief cutscene where he's yelled at by the elder, then you fight him.
In the first Wild AR Ms game, there's a timed mission where you have three minutes to escape a collapsing dungeon. However, the timer doesn't count down during battles—a very important caveat, because there's a Guide Dang It bonus boss that is only available during those three minutes, who you can spend as long as you need to actually fighting.
In Star Control II: The Ur-Quan Masters, the Lost Technology superweapon of the Big Bad will (unless you put a stop to it) eventually begin exterminating every other race in the game before reaching Earth. Also, the rogue Slylandro Probes will become progressively more numerous if left unchecked, to the point that there are so many running around, completing the game becomes nearly impossible. Players who specialize in battling the Probes will often deliberately not do the quest because salvaging destroyed Probes can be a more efficient resource-gathering technique than mining.
The ending of Call of Cthulhu involves your escape from a collapsing undersea temple while an American sub is attempting to destroy it. At first it seems like the standard "take your time" scenario, no clock or anything and the 'collapsing fortress' we've seen in so many games. The reality however is that if you take too long the ceiling falls in on you and you die, its an extremely hard time to make actually and there are programs/cheats out there to make it easier.
Averted in Pathologic and Dead Rising, where the games' events play out over a number of days, and it's up to the player to complete his quests on time and be present for important events.
Dead Rising actually plays this somewhat straight, as some of the events will be going on for an absurdly long time if you let them. The first gunfight between Brad and Carlito in the Food Court will rage for over two days unless you intervene.
This sort of happens in Obscure: The Aftermath. When you go to rescue Jun, there's a health bar (read: timer of the non-showing you just how long you have left variety). If it runs out, it seems like nothing happens. Although it technically has an effect- depending on how much of it dwindles down. If you make it with time to spare and kill the fat thing menacing her, she falls down a hole to the Scrappy Level and subsequently dies. If she has a little health left, you see her die. If she has none left, you see the enemy and her body.
Though the games try to imply that zombies are kicking in the doors, often you are free to take as long as you need in Resident Evil games, with one *huge* exception. If you screw around too long in the Gamecube remake of Resident Evil, all the normal zombies you killed without destroying their heads will eventually return as much faster, much stronger Crimson Heads. You can burn the bodies to prevent this, but there isn't enough fuel to do it to all of them.
A second exception is the Outbreak series, where every character is infected with the T Virus (represented by a % counter) that ticks up and acts as the time limit. It ticks up much faster if wounded, so it also acts as the health bar.
Heroes of Might and Magic V usually lets you take your time, but quite a few missions have time limits of one kind or another. In some cases you are running from an enemy or need to be at a place first, or the enemy forces a decisive battle at a certain time. The Dwarf campaign in Hammers of Fate is filled to the brim with time limits.
In Starflight, the goal is to discover the cause of stellar instability moving through the sector. If you take too much gametime to stop it, your home system's sun will flare and destroy your base. (You can still "win" after that point, but you'll have nowhere to resupply your ship or make repairs in the meantime, and it makes for a somewhat bittersweet victory.) Also, depending on when you're in a given system, you may be warned of the star's instability; if you don't leave in time, the resulting activity will destroy your ship.
It is an exception because if you spend too long doing these things, the guy you're up against does, in fact, come back for the other mirror and kill you, resulting in the bad ending.
Way Of The Samurai has a somewhat persistent timing mechanic going that can be sped up sometimes and ignored at others, but generally speaking if you screw around you'll probably get roped into one of the crappy endings, most of which involve everyone kicking the bucket. Unless you quit early, the game ends on day 3.
Most missions in STALKER have a time limit of a day, this can get fairly annoying when you have to cross several miles on foot to complete said mission while avoiding get shot, eaten or ripped apart.
In Russian game Space Rangers, nobody waits until you arrive. Military forces and fellow rangers will launch assaults by they own, so will your enemies. Not only that, but, depending on the game difficulty settings, one of the warring factions can actually win if you linger long enough.