Playing With / Controllable Helplessness

Basic Trope: The player of a videogame can do nothing effectual while waiting for their rescue or doom, even though the action menu is still available.
  • Straight: Alice ends up captured and is set to be sacrificed at dawn. You will die unless you bury a dead sea-captain in a nearby empty tomb. Do so and his ghost will cut you free and give you his prized cutlass.
  • Exaggerated: The whole game appears to be about escaping from genocide. In the end as long as you don't do anything blatant enough to warrant a Nonstandard Gameover it comes down to random chance for if your rescue comes. It can come anywhere from after you are already dead to seconds after you start.
  • Downplayed: While none of the normal action commands are helpful, you can access a minigame and earn coins while Alice waits out the mandatory time period.
  • Justified: ???
  • Inverted:
    • See also Kaizo Trap.
    • The character accomplishes something significant in a cutscene.
  • Subverted:
    • Alice can learn telekinesis after saving a psychic vagrant and use this to escape.
    • Alice is tied to a girder. But the girder has a sharp edge, and Alice can move her arms to slowly cut away at the ropes binding her hands. Fission Mailed.
  • Doubly Subverted: However, Alice is recaptured and imprisoned in a cell equipped with an anti-psi-field emitter, and finds that she can barely use her telekinesis at all until someone comes along to shut the field off.
  • Parodied: Alice has two options when her head gets inevitably blown off: twitch and bleed.
  • Zig Zagged: ???
  • Averted: The player never ends up in a situation where they have control when helpless.
  • Enforced: "We really need to drive home how utterly hopeless Alice's situation is. How about we let the player struggle for a while, looking for a way out, and eventually come to the realization that there's nothing Alice can do at this point to save herself?"
  • Lampshaded: "There's nothing I can do. This is hopeless".
  • Invoked: Alice's captors give her time alone in her cell to brood over how helpless she is.
  • Exploited: ???
  • Defied: The instant they capture her, a Non Standard Game Over cutscene depicting her death kicks in.
  • Discussed: ???
  • Conversed: "Great, I got captured. Now my controls are 'weep uncontrollably' or 'curl up in a ball and piss yourself.' Not pathetic at all".
  • Deconstructed: Alice has a Sanity Meter, and while you're stuck in controllable helplessness the sanity meter drops unless you do things that give her the illusion of control over her situation or else she loses all hope, accepts her fate and you lose control of her completely. Game over.
  • Reconstructed: Struggling against the restraints is pointless. Sitting still gives Alice time to mentally go over what she's seen so far, center herself, and be ready to bust out when the guards show up to take her away.
  • Played for Laughs: Alice is stuck in her cell for about five seconds of gameplay before her friends pull a Big Damn Heroes and bust her out. Alice overreacts dramatically...
    Alice: "You took long enough! I thought I was going to DIE in there!"
    Bob: "B-but... you were only there for a few min—"
    Alice: "I was gonna die from BOREDOM, you slowpokes!"
  • Played for Drama: Alice, a character you have spent the entire game up to this point bonding with is about to die. The player has enough time and enough control over her to feverishly go through what sort of options you have to escape... only to come to the conclusion that there are none. You can't save her. As you desperately try to figure out if there's something — anything! — that you've missed, somebody arrives at your cell, and the door opens as a Cutscene kicks in...

Wander back and forth in your cell until your execution or your friends show up to bring you back to Controllable Helplessness. But they won't.