"In reality, while you're sitting there able to take 10 hours solving a single puzzle in a game, the characters probably have a very limited time frame to do it in. Although, this is understandable: You're not Sherlock Holmes. You can't as a game designer expect people to be able to complete a hard puzzle within seconds just to make the game realistic."
- Modern Gamer
A near-ubiquitous RPG trope: no matter how urgent the hero's quest is, he can almost always take time before confronting the Big Bad
to finish every sidequest
, collect every item, repeatedly stay overnight at the Trauma Inn
, unlock the hidden superpowers
of his teammates (including any useless ones
), or even simply waste time on minigames
. Usually, this is because, in pretty much every RPG, in order to progress the story or the quest at hand, you have to trigger an event somehow
On a smaller scale, even the most pressing, immediate tasks, such as, say, rescuing a fellow character who is dangling off a ledge at five hundred feet in the air, can be done at one's leisure, provided there isn't a number countdown ticking away on screen
. Of course, the accompanying cutscene might still depict you arriving just barely in time
(or only moments too late
), and you can expect NPCs to nag you constantly to establish a false sense of urgency
From a gameplay perspective
, suddenly railroading you into the final dungeon or an urgent quest seems a little unfair, doesn't it? Traditionally, quite a few sidequests like the quest for the Infinity+1 Sword
only open up when the final dungeon is in the sky, or in a part where you aren't powerful enough, even with the Peninsula of Power Leveling
...if you have a very small window before it's Lost Forever
due to you getting stuck in a Point of No Return
, how will a player who doesn't have a strategy guide
know they had a small window of opportunity to do the sidequests? Or that it was possible to recruit a Guest Star Party Member
permanently before the final boss?
On the other hand, just because there's no timer counting down on the screen doesn't mean you're not in a Timed Mission
. Periodic reminders that you have X minutes left for decreasing values of X should be taken as warnings that, unlike with Magic Countdown
, you'll fail if you take more than X minutes, at least in terms of in-game time. If there's an In-Universe Game Clock
, even an offhand mention of something that won't happen for several days may be a good thing for players to worry about.
Compare with Offstage Waiting Room
. May overlap with Traveling at the Speed of Plot
. May be caused by Orcus on His Throne
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- 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 (because there was a curse that made night eternal).
- The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass lets you wander off halfway through the final boss battle if you get a Game Over. While the Big Bad is holding Tetra hostage. Lampshaded when Linebeck calls Link on it after you return to the ship after playing a minigame.
- Lampshade hung (along with quite a few other things) by Midna in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Of course, it doesn't matter to her if you delay, because she just wants the MacGuffins, and would actually be happy enough to see your world end (at first).
- 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.
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has a justification in the form of time travel being involved.
- 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.
- Played straight when you actually make it to the moon, where there's no time limit. Good to know those giants, who are visibly struggling to keep the moon from falling, have enough stamina to keep it steady while you take your time in the optional side-dungeons.
- 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)
- You may sleep as much as you want in Cave Story, but the Doctor will not prepare Mimigas for experiment until your final sleep in Plantation.
- 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 Simons 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.
- Justified in Mega Man Legends 2. After Sera heads off to Elysium, regardless of how long you take to go after her, when you reach the Final Boss room she reveals that she had already finished preparing the Carbon Reinitialization Program. However, she decided to wait for Mega Man Trigger to show up because she wanted to personally defeat him first, believing this would resolve her feelings of jealousy over the Master's favoritism towards him.
- 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.
- In the Spider-Man 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.
- 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.
- The Journeyman Project series lets you take your take your San Dimas Time, as long as you're not in the present. If you're in the present in the first game, you can become un-made by the incoming history-altering "distortion wave" if you dally.
- 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.'
- Mostly played straight in Quest for Glory I, III, IV, and V, though small aversions during specific sequences occur (for example if you dawdle too long during the final confrontation with the Big Bad, he'll take you down.) II averts the trope altogether, with hazards, sidequests, and other opportunities only being available on specific in-game dates, and can be Lost Forever, possibly resuling in Unwinnable situations or a Non Standard Game Over.
- Though the time limits in the second game are very obvious. Whenever an elemental appears, you have 3 days to deal with it, and it destroys the city on the fourth day. The comments you get from NPCs are increasingly anxious as the days go on, with their comments on the last day pointing out that the elemental is about to destroy everything. Sidequests are less forgiving, but they are specifically pointed to as soon as they are available. For example, you might get a message from the innkeeper as soon as you wake up that the guard at the city entrance wants to speak to you, which is avoidable only if you stay out all night...in which case you've almost certainly been out in the desert all night and will automatically see the guard at the city entrance next time you return to the city.
- In The Walking Dead Episode 1, Lilly's dad's heart acts up, and you have to complete several tasks in order to get into the pharmacy for some nitroglycerin. With Larry being a Grade A Jerkass and Lilly not being much better, you may be tempted (especially if you've played to the end of Episode 3 before) to take your sweet time. Go right ahead! Despite the urgency of the situation, not only will his condition not worsen no matter how much time you take, no one will even nag you for dawdling while a man's life is on the line!!
Beat Em Up
- 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 every ClueFinders 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!
- 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.
- 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.
First Person Shooter
- 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.
- After the Proving Grounds, Tenenbaum actually tells you to take as much time as you need to prepare for the Final Boss. After injecting enough plasmids to thoroughly hulk out in preparation for you, it's kind of understandable that he'd refuse to leave without a fight at this point.
- At the end of BioShock 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.
- There's also the Siren Alley level, when Sinclair is stuck in what's left of your train car in the flooded Dionysus Park station and urges you to hurry up because he's running out of air. You're quite a long way from completing the level when he says this, even if you do hurry.
- In BioShock Infinite, when you first meet Elizabeth and Songbird arrives at her tower, you can wait as long you'd like in the library. It does become grating, however, as you'll keep hearing his screeching for as long as you stay in the room.
- 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!
- Star Wars: Republic Commando plays this straight in some missions, where you're told to rush but there is no timer and events won't happen until you trigger them. Other missions, however, have 'time limits' in the form of more enemies being in the area depending on how long you take to get there. There's also a genuine Timed Mission at the end of the first chapter, where you're trying to get off a ship that you've sabotaged which will self-destruct in five minutes.
- In S.T.A.L.K.E.R. It is Zig-Zagged a bit, On the one hand. The Story Line can take for as long you want. For Side Quests you have typically 24 hours in game time.
Hack and Slash
- 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. 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.
- 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.
- 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 villains 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. Recipe For Disaster justifies this by putting the events of the quest in a time-bubble.
- 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.
- 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.
- Averted in dungeons in Final Fantasy XIV: every dungeon has a time limit of between 30 and 60 minutes, meaning you can't just sit around and slowly kite your way through the much tougher enemies. However, that being said, most dungeons can be completed in half the time you're given; the time limit is less of an obstacle, and more of a prod to have pick-up groups work together.
- 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 the first and third Ratchet 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: Band Of Thieves, 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 your 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 your 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.
- In Antichamber, there is a clock in the menu/pause/map screen that counts down from ninety minutes. After the ninety minutes are up, the clock remains at zero and an image◊ of someone in bed throwing away an alarm clock appears, with a caption saying "Live on your own watch, not someone else's.".
- In SSX (2012), no matter how long it takes the members of Team SSX to complete their individual deadly descent runs, Griff will still get to Mt. Aorki at the same time as Ty for the final run.
Real Time Strategy
- The campaign of the original Dawn of War is effectively nothing but this trope. By the last few missions, Ork hordes are rampaging everywhere, Imperial Guard forces are getting slaughtered or falling to Chaos, Chaos themselves are preparing to unleash a daemonic Sealed Evil in a Can, and a Negative Space Wedgie literally from hell is about to swallow the system, warping the very planet, and there is absolutely no in-game reason to care.
- Zig-zagged in Warhammer 40,000: 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 II: 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.
- Zigzagged in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity. At multiple points, your partner will insist that you attend to the matter at hand if you try to take any missions from the board or go out to do a dungeon without a mission. However, you can still use Companion Mode to do missions freely at any point in the story (Albeit without the aid of your hero and partner).
- Ancient Domains of Mystery uses this in spades. These two examples stand blatantly out even here:
- Soon enough in the Caverns of Chaos, the player will find Khelavaster, the dying sage, standing on the stairs. Now the player can either chat with him to let him die, or give him an amulet of life saving to, well, save him. Or you can back up, leave him there for months or years of game time, and he will still stand there - until the player finally chooses his fate.
- Both averted and played straight with the Puppy quest. In order to save the puppy, you have to find it within four days in game-time, one second later and it's dead. However, it's the moment of entering the floor which counts for generating the puppy alive. If the player enters the floor and then leaves for whatever length of time they please (possibly even winning the game in the process) and then come back, the puppy will happily wait for them there.
Role Playing Game
- 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.
Stealth Based Game
- 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.
- Resident Evil has Chris (during his secnario) getting grabbed by Plant 42 and is effectively held hostage by the monster. Rebecca arrives to help and Chris has her making a chemical that can weaken the plant monster. During your time in making the chemical, you can take as long as you want and Chris won't suffer for it.
- Averted in Resident Evil Outbreak. Regardless of what character you pick, the zombie infection counter is slowly ticking its way up to 100%. Getting hurt, doing certain physical activities (like hanging from a ledge), or for some characters, using their special ability, will cause the infection to increase faster. It's game over if it reaches 100%, and there's no way to reduce it.
- Deadly Premonition. Play darts, go fishing, stare into coffee, and do whatever. Just remember to get back to the investigation at some point.
- STALKER: Clear Sky. Your central nervous system has apparently been damaged by being caught out in not one, but two emissions, and over time it'll be more and more damaged until you eventually become a zombie. The only solution to this is to stop the Zone from going nuts by finding out whoever's getting too close to the center and ending them. No rush, though, feel free to sit through dozens of emissions and hunt for all the artifacts you want.
- In Shadow of Chernobyl, you take down the barrier that prevents entry to the center of the Zone, starting a rush towards the artifact-rich area. You're told via radio that you'd better get a move on if you want to get in on the profits, but there's nothing stopping you from turning around, walking all the way back to the starting village, hocking a bunch of gear, taking a few side missions, fending off a bandit attack, hunting some artifacts for petty cash, maybe grabbing lunch, and then heading back just in time to join up with a bunch of other stalkers who were heading towards Pripyat. Subverted when you actually get to CNPP itself. A blowout starts, and while there's no timer displayed, if you don't get inside before it hits, you will die.
- In Call of Pripyat, you're sent in to find out what happened to an entire heliborne platoon of soldiers that were heading towards the center of the Zone. They're in an extremely hostile area, filled with people who shoot anyone wearing a military uniform on sight, short on supplies and ammo and are waiting on you and you alone to find them and get them home. Feel free to help out literally everyone else in the Zone before examining so much as a single crash site. They'll wait.
Third Person Shooter
- 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.
Turn Based Strategy
- 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 Battle 64. 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. It's especially notable in that you can do it even when it should be logically impossible. For example, in Fire Emblem Awakening there's absolutely nothing to stop you from running off to another continent to do some shopping between, even though according to the storyline the player is trapped between two armies.
- 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 A2 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.)
Wide Open Sandbox
- Pretty much the definition of this game style.
- 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.
- In what's probably the apex of this trope, all of the sidequests except one can be started at any time, left dormant, and then completed after the storyline has been beaten…at which point John Marston will have been killed, three years will have passed, and you'll have started playing as his son Jack. So it's entirely possible to begin a sidequest as John and complete it with hia grown son, with none of the characters noticing that an entirely different person started working for them.
- 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 up about 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!
- Endless Ocean proudly wears this idea on its sleeve, with in-game characters constantly assuring you that there's no pressure on when you should complete tasks assigned to you.