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Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay
Imagine playing a First-Person Shooter and finding that NOT shooting the bloodthirsty enemies is the expected solution, and merely pointing your gun long enough without firing will scare them away with no body count. Since every shooter is designed to let you shoot enemies, why would you think this time would be different? This can also be the result if a Physics Engine or gameplay effect is made to simulate reality without the player knowing, and is suddenly called upon to solve a problem.

Didn't know you could do that? How could you not? It's common sense!

As always, Tropes Are Not Bad. There are a number of games in which part of the game is figuring out the rules, or in which changing the rules is necessary to win. This type of gameplay is simply not very common, which is why it tends to bamboozle and frustrate some players.

Subtrope of Hidden in Plain Sight. Contrast Moon Logic Puzzle, in which the logic which solves the puzzle is so out there that there's no way it was obvious, as well as Misaimed Realism, where an element intended to be realistic only ends up highlighting unrealism.

As this is a puzzle solutions trope, there are unmarked spoilers ahead.


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Gaming examples:

    Adventure Games 
  • In Another Code, you have to press two maps together, one on the top screen and one on the bottom screen. To do so, you have to close and open the DS.
  • One late game puzzle in Last Window involves retrieving a key from a music box. The DS essentially acts as the lid and the interior of the box, which turns off when the two halves are sufficiently closed. The trick is using this at just the right time in order to pop out a key when the internal mechanisms are aligned in such a way as to let it out, which is assigned to one of the shoulder buttons.
  • Myst series is known for it's Moon Logic Puzzles. Uru: Ages Beyond Myst at times require simply to jump up and down on stuck bridges or run over things to continue. (Granted, Uru has different interface from other Myst games.)

    Action Adventure 
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, you have to press two maps together—one on the top and one on the bottom screen. To do so, you have to close and open the Nintendo DS.
    • Twilight Princess:
      • In the City in the Sky, at one point Link enters a bottomless room guarded by two lizalfos. Simply take two steps forward into the room (after the door locks behind you) and both leap to their doom while trying to come after you.
      • Another Twilight Princess example is the second jousting match with King Bulblin. The first time, you rode Epona past his boar and swung your sword to knock him off, a la a proper joust. The second time you face him, he's wearing armor on his sides that protects him from sword swings. How do you properly joust him this time? Who said anything about jousting? Just pull out your bow and shoot him a few times in the chest. The third match would be the worst offender, now that he traded his armor for shields that prevent swords AND Arrows. How do you get past him now? Well his reactions aren't perfect, just shoot him when you're close enough that he couldn't possibly be fast enough to block.
  • In God of War 2, there is a segment where the player has to climb up to a ledge to continue. There is a pushable block nearby, but standing on the block still leaves the ledge just out of reach. There is a switch the player can hit that causes a square part of the floor to raise up on a thin, round pillar, but it falls back down too quickly for the player to use it. The solution is to kick the block UNDER the raised floor before the pillar falls. Like many examples here, in real life this solution would be obvious, but most players would expect the entire floor-pillar object to act as a solid rectangle.
  • The third person shooter Spec Ops: The Line has many examples of this. In one instance, the player is confronted with a riotous mob of civilians threatening to kill the player. Naturally being a shooter, the expected response would be to gun them down, especially since the scene beings with the players weapons drawn and aimed at the mob. However, if the player simply fires warning shots into the air or ground, the civilians all run away, allowing the player to pass without killing anyone.
  • The manual for Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis warns you that the roulette tables in Monte Carlo are rigged, and hints that you need to do something to "beat the system". The expected solution? See what number came up, then reload the game and bet on that number.
    • The same solution is required to allow your psychic ally Sophia to 'sense' which number her mark is thinking of.

    Platformers 
  • In Super Metroid:
    • There's a pit of lava immediately to the left of a long platform near where you just fought Crocomire, with a door on the other side of this pit that you must reach. You reach the door by using your newly-acquired Speed Booster to run along the platform and jump to boost your jumping distance. The game never told you beforehand that combining Super Speed and long jumping was possible, so the only way you could know about it is to just take a (literal) leap of faith.
    • One section of the game has you trying to find a way into Meridia, an area that you can see through a glass tube, but can't get to. The solution is to simply destroy the glass tube with one of your vast array of explosive weaponry—but because your weapons normally only affect enemies and doors, not scenery, it's not obvious. (Unless you've seen the clue in another part of the game, where a similar tube has already been destroyed.)
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the NES, there's a gap between two platforms that is about as wide as your character and impossible to jump across, as the ceiling is too low and you end up hitting it and falling. The solution is to simply walk over it.
  • The first X-Men game for the Sega Genesis is notorious among fans of the system for the ending of the second-to-last stage, where you must escape from Mojoworld by "resetting the system," but once you get past the boss, you find yourself in an empty, featureless room with a timer rapidly counting down. Getting past that stage and to the final level requires you to literally reset the system, by hitting the reset switch on the front of the Genesis itself.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • In Hunter The Reckoning, the final boss is a Lasombra Vampire. The Lasombra are a clan who specialize in turning darkness and shadows into physically controlled weapons and tendrils, but take extra damage from sunlight. The Boss is in the top floor of its hideout, a boarded up abandoned building that, three levels earlier, you entered during the day. The quick and easy way to defeat the vampire? Don't aim at him, instead aim at the boarded up windows behind him. Shatter the boards, the sun streams in, and he's toast.
  • Some NPCs in Neverwinter Nights would refuse to talk to you if you had a weapon drawn or weren't wearing any clothes. This was dropped by Hordes Of The Underdark and not picked up for Neverwinter Nights 2.

    Stealth-Based Games 
  • Metal Gear:
    • In Metal Gear Solid, the fight against Psycho Mantis. He starts controlling Meryl and making her try to blow her brains out. The easiest way to stop her? Just put her in a choke hold to knock her out.
    • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater has a mad, passionate love affair with this trope.
      • You have to open a locked door. How do you do it? Disguise yourself as a scientist, and knock.
      • The Fear constantly uses up all of his stamina to turn invisible and jump around. He replenishes it by finding food on the battlefield. Thus, Snake can leave his rotten or spoiled food around for The Fear to find and actually poison him with it!
      • The Pain attacks with a swarm of bees in water-filled caverns. And since everyone knows bees hate water, you can actually toss grenades into the water to splash him.
      • You can defeat The End by sniping him the first time he appears in a cutscene, thus skipping his entire boss fight. Barring that, you can also skip the fight entirely by just saving the game and leaving it alone for a few days. Since The End is over 100 years old, he'll actually die waiting for Snake to show up again!
      • You just ingested rotten food and don't have digestive medicine to counteract it, so what do you do? Well, just go to the Medical screen and start spinning Snake around until he gets dizzy and pukes it out!
      • The fake cyanide pill has several uses. Many enemies will reveal their positions, expose vulnerabilities or unlock doors to see what the hell happened if Snake just suddenly "dies" right in front of them. It's also the only way to pass one particular boss fight.

    Survival Horror 
  • Twice in Illbleed, the player character comes across a boss that's literally invulnerable, then remembers that he or she is in a theme park, defeating them by going into the control room and disabling them from there.
  • One locked door in Obs Cure is opened not by rooting around for a key or figuring out some bizarre puzzle, but rather by smashing through the door's glass panel, then reaching in and unlocking it.
  • In a break from survival horror tradition, many locked doors and blocked passageways in Condemned are overcome not by hunting around for keys or solving puzzles but simply smashing through them using the game's melee weapons: using a fire axe to chop down a wooden door, for example.
  • In Dead Rising 2, one group of survivors Chuck can rescue are a pair of stranded US Army soldiers. Having had the rest of their unit just taken out right before their eyes, they're understandably a little nervous... So approaching them with a drawn weapon might not be the best idea.

    Text-Based Game 
  • Giant parts of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy game. You have a headache? Take an aspirin.
  • Most of the solutions to puzzles in Bureaucracy by Douglas Adams involve thinking in strange ways. However, there's one puzzle that you have to solve by thinking in real life terms; at one point, you're faced with a locked door. To get it to open, just knock on the door, and the person who lives in the apartment will open it for you.
  • In += 3: A Logical Adventure, a troll demands three items before he will allow the player to cross a bridge; the player must remove three articles of clothing (which, typically of interactive fiction games where they're not relevant to the plot, are not listed in the player's inventory) and give them to the troll. Two articles of clothing and the otherwise useless Red Herring calculator also works, but there's not enough items you can actually get your hands on without using at least some clothing. And wouldn't you know it, there's an unreachable fish and a mysterious ticking noise to bring the number of red herrings up to three.
  • In Don't Shit Your Pants, it turns out that deciding to defecate with your pants still on or defacating outside of the bathroom isn't such a good idea. The game is very precise, and often players get a bad ending on their first playthrough.

    Puzzle Games 
  • The Portal 2 developer commentary mentions that due to having the thought that portals appear instantly when you press the button rammed into players brains, play-testers were confused when they fired a portal at the moon and it, realistically, didn't appear instantly, due to the vast distance. Play-testers would not see a portal appear and look away. They made it so that the camera fixes once you've fired the portal, to stop confused players looking away. The vast distance and the speed at which the portal travels is actually calculated to the exact second, so players won't be waiting for long.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas preparing for the upcoming casino heist requires you to date a girl who works at the casino in order to steal her key card. In a game with some missions that won't even let you destroy your highly non-essential car without failing the mission, this mission has two options: Go on a couple of dates with her. Or just kill her. You won't fail anything, and the key card will be right there in her house.
  • Grand Theft Auto V:
    • There are optional tow truck missions where you have to save a car that's stuck on train tracks. This is a pain in the ass because you need to drive in front of the car, lower the hook, and back up squarely until the hook is attached, and then drive away ASAP before the train hits it. ...Or you can just push the car out of the way with the tow truck first. This won't fail the mission, and it's a hell of a lot faster.
      • You can also tow antagonizing vehicles, pretty much bringing any vehicular combat to an abrupt end.
    • A fast way to lose the cops is to switch vehicles or change clothes (without them seeing you do it). Even if you get spotted in their field of vision, they will ignore you. However, if they find your old car, they'll spot you no matter what you're driving.
    • Convenience store clerks will recognize you if you try to rob them more than once and sometimes will have the cops laying in wait for you... unless you wear a mask they haven't seen before.
    • One of the later heist missions involves acquiring several muscle cars and tuning them to carry the loot. The game offers pictures of where they might be found and stolen in parking lots spread across the city. Alternatively, if you have been frugal, you can simply whip out your character's smartphone and buy all the cars you need right from the in-game internet.
  • In Red Dead Redemption, you don't have to kill a shop keeper to rob his cash register—just take out your gun and point it in his general direction, and he'll put up his arms and slowly back away, allowing you to plunder his cash. Of course, if you do it accidentally, the results will be the same and your Karma Meter will go down. Well, what did you expect, swinging a loaded gun in a guy's face like that?
  • While it's fairly easy to build and launch a simple rocket in Kerbal Space Program, actually getting that rocket into orbit or to places other than Kerbin is fairly difficult if you're more used to less realistic space simulators or you're expecting the gameplay to fit the cartoony graphics.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas:
    • You can spend most of the game with your gun out and ready to fire without consequences. Places where you shouldn't have a gun out will remove all but holdout weapons, and you can still draw holdouts without causing alarm. But a couple of very tense quests to resolve conflicts between factions that are either about to shoot or are already shooting will only end in violence unless you holster your weapon. Because approaching a hostile situation with a plasma rifle up and ready to fire is naturally going to lead to some assumptions from both sides...
    • Some characters, both major and minor, will react completely differently depending on several factors, such as: what type of clothing you're wearing, what followers you have with you, what your reputation with specific factions is, among other variables. For example, if you want to talk to someone who'd normally be hostile to you because you've killed their allies in the past, you can throw on their ally's armor beforehand, and leave that Follower they hate somewhere out sight. Not realizing this beforehand can lead to situations where you're just minding your own business and someone you've never met opens fire on you for reasons you don't even understand.
  • In the Elder Scrolls games, NPCs usually react angrily if you talk to them while holding your weapons; if you want to speak to someone without having your reputation with that person plummet, you have to literally Sheathe Your Sword first. This came as a surprise to numerous gamers, who were quite used to the video game idea of being able to walk around with holding a sword of pure evil, with a small armoury strapped across your back, and have none of the NPCs of that particular game bat an eye.

Non-video game examples:

    Light Novels 
  • This is a plot point in Log Horizon. When the Elder Tales game becomes real, most inhabitants (former players) continue to try and do things in everyday life the same way the rules were originally defined in the game. For example, creating food through a sub-menu. However, they quickly learn that food prepared this way has no taste. Instead, the protagonists learn that by preparing food yourself, as you would in Real Life, is the only way to create real food. However, you also need a prerequisite skill level in the relevant craft. Eventually, this is used to break the rules of the "game", turning the world of Elder Tales into something entirely new.

    Webcomics 
  • Penny Arcade had a strip where Gabriel experienced this problem with Tomb Raider (2013), trying to figure out a way to get across a gap. Tycho suggests simply jumping over, which works, leading Tycho to remark, "I don't think this is a puzzle room."
  • Characters in Homestuck retrieve items using complicated "sylladex" systems that require them to think ahead, choose their words carefully, or even play memory games to access each item. Out of frustration, one character just reaches over and takes the item out of his inventory. Physically. With his hand. It works.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Jason from FoxTrot once spent a week trying to defeat the Red Orb Guardian. Paige instantly bypasses it by... walking right by it. Jason declares just walking past a menacing, powerful boss to win to be "counterintuitive," to which Paige asks him how many nanoseconds a day he spends in the real world. (See also Lord British Postulate.)

What a cool article! How can I make it better? What? Just edit it?! Why didn't I think of that?
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