"Ethel, I think we’re fighting a losing game!"
'Unwinnable' is a gameplay state in which, while the game has not yet ended, it is completely impossible for the player to finish the game. Players who have reached this point have only two options: reload a previous save—in the fortunate situations where this is possible, or start the game anew—for the much more unfortunate situations where it is not. This is also known as a "walking dead" state.
Unwinnable comes in four flavors:
Examples go on the subtropes above.
Compare Luck-Based Mission
and Controllable Helplessness
, as well as Endless Game
. See also Wake-Up Call Boss
. Contrast the Lord British Postulate
, when a game that's Unwinnable by Design
may be winnable