Several enemies will get stuck in water and die. Curiously, lone headcrabs will drown in seconds, but headcrab zombies seem content to lie underwater indefinitely, regardless of its toxicity.
Lampshaded in The Simpsons Game. If Lisa or Bart drowns in one of the levels, Comic Book Guy will add it to his list of video game cliches.
Drakkhen takes place on a perfectly square shaped continent that is bordered by a vast ocean to the south, and one region contains a ludicrous number of lakes and rivers, which makes it very vexing to navigate because your characters will sink and die in any water in a matter of seconds.
The SNES version, at least, offered a ludicrous solution: make your characters walk off the screen. They only sunk when visible, so making them exit would un-sink them. While this was time consuming as the game would keep trying to show them until you cleared the water, one likes to imagine a group of four super drowners wading across the ocean to reach the continent in the first place.
In Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, the Prince is never shown to actually swim, as there are no pools deep enough in the Fortress, but the enemies, being composed of the Sands of Time, will instantly die and dissolve when exposed to water. This includes the seemingly unstoppable Dahaka, though he does try to defy the laws of nature. The only downside of this is that you get no weapons or Sand from a 'drowned' enemy, but can still use this to your advantage if you enter the Garden Tower with a proper sidearm, and throw the attacking enemies in the central pool (they won't step into it on their own, the AI is good enough).
Superman on the NES. Seriously, the Man of Steel can fly but he can't swim? Really only came into play on the Freedom Island part of the map, and some of the underground caverns.
The PS2Armored Core games were very guilty of this. Shallow pools aside, your mech would instantly and completely shut down and sink upon even the slightest contact with a large body of water.
Steel Battalion: Your VT can wade through shallow water, but take one step into deep water and your VT will sink, with the cockpit flooding in the process. If you don't eject, the pilot drowns and your save file gets erased!
The little child from Limbo will automatically drown if he submerges his head in water for more than a second. This may have something to do with the water in Limbo-world, but given how little backstory you get, who knows?
The heroes of the Grand Theft Auto games, who are amongst other things highly skilled speedboat racers, can't swim. This seems to be a common problem in their world, where even the most lavishly appointed swimming pool is about two feet deep. The manuals say oil spill, shark attacks, blah blah blah. CJ,Vic,Niko,Johnny,Luis,Franklin, Michael, and Trevor, however, all avert this trope.
CJ, ironically, claims at one point to suffer from hydrophobia.
CJ's girlfriends, as well as recruited gang members, can also swim, which makes it hard to dispose of them once all their benefits/the player's patience are used up. Everyone else in the game drowns in -seconds-. Cops are not smart enough to avoid leaping in after the player, and often drive trucks straight into the water.
Amusingly, Claude, the protagonist of Grand Theft Auto III, drowns when his crotch is submerged. Though the inability to swim is justified in game by explaining that Liberty City's water supply is the most polluted on Earth, to the degree that dying from being submerged waist deep in it may be fairly explained as being exposed to a large dose of a terrible poison or deadly bacteria. This is why you take damage when you so much as skim the water while trying to get out of your boat.
Tommy Vercetti from Grand Theft Auto: Vice City thrashes and flails most awfully before succumbing. Leaping from roof to roof or crawling out of a flaming upside down car is just fine. This is much more noticeable than in GTAIII because like Miami, Vice City is roughly 80% beach. Of course, there are supposed to be sharks in the waters surrounding Vice City, but that doesn't explain Vic Vance from the PSP spinoff game, who can swim there fine... until he gets tired (and once he completes enough of a certain side mission, he doesn't have to worry about that anymore).
Having managed to averting the trope in all of the recent GTA installments, it feels like kind of a bummer that Rockstar's western hero, John Marston, instantly dies the very moment any water touches his neck.
Sleeping Dogs grants main character Wei Shen the unique ability to swim in water. The citizens of Hong Kong, however, are not so lucky. They die instantly upon touching water, before they're even fully submerged. This leads to some humorous kills by shoving NPC's into the ocean and watching them ragdoll as soon as their feet touch the shore.
In Psychonauts, it was actually written into the story that Raz and all his family were cursed by a psychic to die in water. Getting too close to water causes a giant watery hand to reach out, grab Raz, and pull him under to his death. One world even includes a cardboard hand coming out of an equally cardboard "ocean" during a stage play, drowning Raz in fake water.
Of course, in-game Raz won't lose a life from the water. He'll just wash up back on shore or just restart on land with no consequence.
Milla makes a comment about this if Raz falls into the water in her mental world which also isn't real water. She'll ask if he wants to talk about it after the test is done.
In The Sims, the characters can swim, but cannot climb out of a swimming pool without a ladder. Remove the ladder and they will just keep swimming until they tire out and drown. The Sims 2hangs a lampshade on this: in the Pleasantview neighborhood, you'll see a little text saying Brandi Broke's husband died in a "suspicious pool ladder accident".
Subverted in The Sims 3 where they can, and usually will, climb out of the pool if you remove the ladder. Played straight in that some sims can now be hydrophobic, and fear their Super Drowning Skills to the point that some freak if they have to take a bubble bath.
In The Sims Medieval, Sims can't drown, but they also aren't given the option to swim at all. The closest they get to swimming is wading into the sea to fish.
Your guests can't swim in the first two Rollercoaster Tycoon games, so if they fall into the water they have to be lifted out manually by the player. Though, for some reason, it's much more satisfying to watch your paying customers drown.
In Crash Bandicoot, falling into water kills you, even in Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped, which features rooms filled with water that rises and falls, which makes you wonder why Crash can't just wait for the water to lower before dying instantly.
Also in Crash 3, Coco has been shown to swim if her jet ski blows up. Fridge Logic kicks in at Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex where falling into deep water causes her to instantly panic and drown. The worst part? Most of Coco's levels in that game are filled with water.
Crash 2 and 3 have also made Crash panic before drowning. In his only level in 4 with deep-enough water, Crash will drown in at least one second in and float to the surface, motionless. At least 3 and 4 also avert this by containing a few Under the Sea levels where Crash wears some scuba gear.
The first game, however, didn't make him drown in deep water. He just disappears.
Super Mario Galaxy featured a non-lethal variation of this: If Bee Mario falls into any body of water (even a raindrop), he'll lose that powerup. The exact same is true with the Cloud Flower from Super Mario Galaxy 2.
In Croc: Legend of the Gobbos, Croc, who is a crocodile, can swim in certain pools of water (you enter a special level). Most pools of water, however, are in the ice world, where it's implied to be extremely cold, and does damage to Croc instead. Of course, there's the Fridge Logic of why cold water hurts him while running around wearing nothing but a backpack in snow and ice doesn't have any ill effects...
Perhaps the most ridiculous example is Frogger, where the main character — a frog — died on contact with water. Frogger II: Threeedeep! makes matters worse by waiving this trope just for the opening screen, which is Under the Sea. Some versions handwave this by saying the currents are too fast and strong for the poor frog. Later installments in the series say it's due to a childhood accident in which he nearly drowned.
In contrast, perhaps the best handling of this is in Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus. When Sly hits the water, he flails helplessly, then loses what amounts to a life point and is tossed back to wherever he came from. If he doesn't have one left, he thrashes, then gives up, assumes "Captain Going Down With The Ship" position, and makes a resigned but dignified exit, stage down. Eventually, Sly retrieves Suzanne Cooper's Water Safety Technique, allowing him to recover from dunkings without penalty. In later games in the series, however, he apparently forgets it, as he still loses health on falling into the water. Adding to the problem, his companions are a turtle and a hippo, and neither of them can swim either. At least Bentley (the turtle) has the excuse in the third game that he's paralyzed from the waist down. (and is in a wheelchair kitted out with lots of electrical equipment). One of the manuals actually lampshades this, with the characters saying "We really should have taken those swimming lessons back at the orphanage."
In Majora's Mask, Link can transform into a Goron. The game states that since Gorons are basically living rocks, they sink like one. With the Deku Mask, Link can skip across water a few times, but if he runs out of skips before touching dry land again, he sinks like a rock.
One example of when this trope should have been used is in Link's Awakening, in which it was originally possible to make the game Unwinnable because you jumped across a moat you shouldn't have crossed yet.
Link fares no better in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, where falling into water pits will kill him instantly. The only body of water he can walk into is that leading to the Sea Palace (fifth dungeon), and he still needs the Water Boots from another dungeon to do it.
Sonic the Hedgehog, like his fellow platforming compatriot Mario, tends to play with this trope depending on the game. Generally speaking, he doesn't automatically die jumping into water (unless its a pitfall trap); the nightmare comes from getting out of the water, before he drowns - made difficult due to the removal of his speed and lack of fine control when submerged. The 3D games, however, with a few exceptions, tend to treat water as bottomless pits, to the point where, in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), Sonic dies in knee-deep water that he could easily walk out of.
In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, every character has an individual limited amount of time they can swim in water, with Sonic having the shortest swimming time by a fair margin.
Funnily enough, come Sonic Colors he seemed to finally overcome this by learning how to jump infinitely underwater. Of course, come the immediate sequel, Sonic Generations, he's somehow forgotten how to do this.
While Kirby can swim just fine underwater (though he wears a snorkel in more recent installments), if a non-aquatic enemy touches the water, they'll sink like a rock and die.
In Dragon's Dogma jumping or falling into a body of water deeper than your character's head summons TheBrine, which mercifully doesn't kill you. You simply get spit back out onto nearby dry land some time later. However, your followers and all other characters are killed on contact.
In Thief: The Dark ProjectThief II: The Metal Age the anti-hero Garrett could swim, and used this skill to infiltrate buildings through sewers and reach a lost underground city. In Thief: Deadly Shadows, he lacks this skill and will in fact drown on contact with water. This is probably a consequence of the developers having added a ability to switch between a first- and third-person perspective and not bothering to make swimming animations for the latter. Interestingly, Garrett was the only character in the Thief games who normally swam; that meant deep water was usually a safe place to flee to. (There were some exceptions; Craymen and Water Mages couldn't drown.) Luring enemies into drowning themselves was a way to kill them without violating the "no kills allowed" requirement on higher difficulty levels, and also an excellent way to stop zombies, which usually need explosive ordinance to permanently put down.
The first two Thief games even drew the line between enemies drowning themselves and Garrett actually making them drown by knocking them unconscious and then leaving them in water. He could swim carrying unconscious bodies without having them die, possibly through means that are best not thought too much about, but dumping an unconscious body into a pool would eventually cause it to drown, and you'd fail the mission if Garrett wasn't allowed to kill anyone.
Instant drowning became a bug in one of the first game's missions. When you had to rescue the high priest of the Hammerites, he would instantly die if he contact water. The intent of the mission was to use the raft, but the game would sometimes detect water contact if you placed him on the raft while it was moving.
In the video game Spider-Man 2, the eponymous character can swim, though the player never controls him while he does so; if the player lands Spidey in the water, the screen fades out then back into him reappearing near where he was when he fell in. Complete with really annoying voiceover complaining about his getting wet. Especially in one of the heroic deeds you needed to do: saving people from a sinking boat. If you touch water in any fashion while carrying someone, you fail.
Amusingly, in the PSX/N64 Spider-Man game, water kills you outright.
Pilots who bail out of their aircraft over water or soldiers who fall off a bridge in the Command & Conquer game series die instantly upon contact with the surface (the only exceptions being Tanya and Navy SEALs in Red Alert 2).
The first game does not contain any such logics, though. They were first implemented in the first Red Alert game, where moving away a water transport while a tank is entering it will cause the tank to instantly sink into the water. Strangely enough, the logic was not implemented for infantry; moving away the transport while a soldier is entering it leaves the soldier standing on the water. Given the fact they did implement it for vehicles, this is a pretty odd oversight. Not to mention, an exploitable bug.
Boris, Tanya's Soviet counterpart notes in a mission parallel to one where Tanya has to swim that he won't swim and demands a transport. Apparently he's just lazy.
Justified in the German version as every soldier besides the special ones (like Tanya, etc.) were made into cyborgs to make the game less violent.
The background materials for Red Alert 3 explain that the Soviets deliberately do not train their soldiers in swimming in order to reduce desertions. On the other hand, Natasha doesn't seem to mind swimming in cold water.
Tiberian Sun claims that most of Earth's waterways have been overtaken by Tiberium making travel by ship impossible. Considering Tiberium's Toxic Phlebotinum status, the lack of swimmers is understandable.
Infamously, the Core Defender from Tiberian Sun's Expansion pack Fire Storm can be destroyed by luring it onto a bridge, then blowing up both ends before it can get off. It's apparently immune to EMP and the Ion Cannon, but not waterproof.
The otherwise indestructible Hulk in The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction appears to suffer from acute hydrophobia — landing in water will cause the player to instantly lose control of the character as he automatically jumps back to the nearest shore. So does Spiritual SuccessorPrototype. Alex Mercer is too dense to swim, but he just jumps back out of water if he falls in. The standard Infected are not so lucky.
The Last Ninja, despite being able to somersault with ease, drowns instantly on contact with water. He can't even grab the bank/log he had just fallen off to slow his demise. Made even more ridiculous when the water he's falling into is a little creek less than two meters across, which couldn't be more than knee-deep.
In a particularly frustrating example, the heroes of Neopets The Darkest Faerie can't swim in anything above knee-deep. However, in most levels it's impossible to tell the difference between a creek and a raging river. In addition, there are some places where falling into the water will just knock off some of your health, and some places where it will kill you outright and send you back to your most recent save point. Again, there's no way to tell the difference between the two until it happens.
Ōkami treats water(and with an upgrade, lava) like a cursed zone, you can't go 45 seconds in the water or you'll die. It's later averted when you acquire the Water Tablet, literally letting you Walk on Water.
However based on Ammy's reaction in a hot spring, it's not the water itself that bothers her but the cold. Which makes sense given that she's the goddess of the sun.
Ammy is given Super Not-Drowning Skills when she swims in Mermaid Springs, but the second you swim away from that, she gets her normal drowning skills back.
In the same game, there is also nasty, toxic-sludge looking water, which will kill you if you fall in it.
Metal Gear Solid 3 does this, but with a hint of Lampshade Hanging. While Snake swims very well, his enemies don't, and can be killed easily by knocking them into water. Interrogating one can often result in a perky, "The lot of us! We can't swim!"
Raiden can swim extremely well in Metal Gear Solid 2, however, the bacterial tank in which the Vamp boss battle takes place is filled with a special kind of water in which he will sink instantly and drown. Vamp himself can swim like a dolphin in it, though.
In Predator: Concrete Jungle, if you fall/jump/lean in the water you instantly die, only to reappear seconds later a few feet away from where you descended to a watery doom. Justified, since with his armor and all the predator weighs about half a ton.
In Rayman 2, sometimes you can swim rather well, and sometimes (in supposedly "piranha-infested" water) you can't.
The title character of Voodoo Vince has this, with justification; the main character is a burlap voodoo doll, and burlap really does sink quite rapidly.
The eponymous protagonists of the comedy turn-based Worms series can survive grenades, dynamite and point-blank shotgun blasts, but die instantly when contacting water. Most projectiles succumb as well, but a fast-moving bazooka shell can skip across the water. A fast-moving worm will skip across water, as well.
In Prehistorik Man, at first the character died in any hole, including water, in the same fashion he dies from any damage. But in the last levels, after being told you can't breathe in water, when falling into it... No, he doesn't swim either: he just sinks and drowns, but with a "drowning" sprite this time. This this is a game when you actually learn to drown, giving a new meaning to Super Drowning Skills.
In Battalion Wars, when a vehicle is driven into water, it can drive fine, but if the water is too deep, it floods the engine cavity, and the vehicle takes damage until it either explodes, or is back on dry land.
Most games had this problem. CastlevaniaI-IV would kill you instantly if you fell into water. Bloodlines would kill you if it was Bottomless, and do serious damage if you ended up with water above your head.
City planners in Castlevania II Simons Quest thought it would be a great idea to punctuate their streets with bottomless pits of water. This has the unfortunate side effect of preventing villagers from walking through town unfettered, unless they take several flights of stairs from building to building (stair-climbing is unfortunately not a skill the peasantry has developed by this point.) Meanwhile, Simon Belmont, allegedly one of the greatest Vampire Hunters who ever lived — killing Dracula more than once, a rare feat for Castlevania heroes — will die horribly and instantaneously when he missteps into one of the many water hazards that are part of Transylvanian architecture. Forget about Edge Gravity; The controls are so flighty and the width between edges so unforgiving that it almost feels like the water's actively trying to suck you in right in the middle of a routine cross-town walk.
These are still present in most fan remakes, meaning the very victims of these watery deathtraps wish to visit thier childhood miseries upon us to this day. Dracula's Shadow deserves special mention for managing to have water that insta-kills you, and water that you can wade through, with no clues given as to which is which. "Death puddles... Not acid, not lava, not a giant toothy maw... But H20?"
Castlevania 64 and Castlevania: Legacy of DarknessHandwave the inability to swim by having the protagonists remark that the water has been 'poisoned' by the evil of the castle. The steam that rises whenever you fall in seems to suggest a more malicious chemical at work, though.
Averted in the later two games on the DS: Charlotte and Jonathan in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin can't drown in the one bit of deep water they encounter, and Shanoa in Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia gets an item that lets her breathe underwater early on. In a subtle bit of Lampshade Hanging, Shanoa actually can't swim at all. Careful inspection of her sprites shows she holds her breath while submerged and competently treads water on the surface, and the water-breathing upgrade simply allows her to walk slowly on the bottom.
Alucard's allergic to the old H2O in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. It gradually erodes your HP until you get the Holy Symbol; this is a nod to old vampire lore (Castlevania likes these; see also Walter and Isaac having red hair per traditional Romanian 'how to tell a vampire on sight' cues) that states that the fangity ones cannot cross running water.
When Hitman: Blood Money added shoving to Mr. 47's repertoire of attacks, it was the NPCs that gained super drowning skills. You can kill people instantly just by pushing them into a fountain or a swimming pool. Granted, one person in the entire game can actually swim and thus survive a fall into a tank of water. Unfortunately, that tank also houses a very hungry shark. Hilarity Ensues.
Lampshaded in Darkened Skye, a game that frequently breaks the fourth wall. On first encountering water, the heroine exchanges a conversation with her sarcastic sidekick, culminating with the line, "YES! I'm a warrior-hero-adventurer-goddess who CAN'T SWIM."
Commander Keen 4 features a boy genius with an IQ of 314 who built his own laser gun, spacecraft, and intergalactic translator but never bothered to learn how to swim. Once you acquire scuba gear, he can then doggy paddle on the world map and stay underwater indefinitely in the game's one water level.
In the Dizzy series, which were a fairly harsh series of platform-puzzle games, the protagonist was an egg. Since he was a good egg, he sank rather than floated. In most of the games, water was instantly fatal (and in the first three games, so were any other hazards). A couple of games featured an aqualung (or similar equipment) which allowed you to breathe underwater indefinitely.
Treasure Island Dizzy was the first one to have a "rubber snorkel". Annoyingly, it could easily be accidentally dropped underwater, as Dizzy's inventory was organized in a "first in, first out" manner. (Even worse, Dizzy has only one life in this game.)
Spellbound Dizzy has an aqualung, and falling into water without it caused Dizzy to gradually lose energy instead of immediately dying. A similar system was used in Crystal Kingdom Dizzy.
In the PC game Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy, a homage to the original 8-bit series, water is handled inconsistently: in some areas falling into water was handled as in Spellbound (you gradually lose energy, unless you have an aqualung); in others, water is instantly fatal, even with an aqualung.
In the original game, Altaďr is a highly trained assassin who can murder a dozen people before breakfast but the game instantly "desynchronizes" if he falls into any water deeper than his knees. The second game's manual lampshades this as a consequence of the story's Framing Device: specifically, a glitch in the Animus 1.0's programming.
Assassin's Creed II and subsequent games allow the protagonist, Ezio, to swim perfectly no matter how much armor he's wearing. However, none of the guards and civilians possess this ability and a very effective way to subtly murder people is to tackle, push, or throw them into water — although this can also cause you to fail missions where the objective is not to kill anybody. This becomes doubly amusing when you realize that part of II is set in Venice.
Assassin's Creed III continues this trend, with both protagonists fully capable of swimming. They appear to be the only characters ever to learn this skill. Anyone else who ventures past waist deep plunges under the surface like they have legs made of lead weights and die instantly. This MIGHT be acceptable for soldiers, who are carrying heavy packs and weapons, but if you nudge a fisherman who is dressed in light clothing and is only carrying a fishing rod? Same thing. Amusingly, this panics any other people in the area, who flee the waterfront as they apparently realize just how close to instant death they are. As a bonus, you get no penalty or warning for shoving people to their watery graves, unlike the threats of desyncronization that come if you outright shoot them.
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag Averts the trope by having everyone being able to swim, if they just fall into the water by themselves, and not shoved, or pulled off a ledge in an attack.
GLaDOS: Please note that we have added a consequence for failure. Any contact with the chamber floor will result in an "unsatisfactory" mark on your official testing record, followed by death. Good luck!
Also justified in that the water is most definitely toxic. It deals damage when you fall in, evident from the way the screen flashes when Chell goes underwater, the same way it flashes when she gets hit by bullets.
In the Legacy of Kain series, both protagonists at first can be destoyed by water not due to fear but due to their nature. Later Raziel lost this vulnerability after consuming the soul of his vampire brother Rahab.
Another Vampire protagonist, Rayne of Bloodrayne has the same problem, for the same reason. She doesn't actually "drown" so to speak (considering that there isn't any body of water in the game that goes over her head), but any contact with water will quickly burn her to death.
In the original Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen, Kain eventually gained a Mist form that would allow him to at least cross bodies of water.
Little Big Adventure. It's amazing how the hero doesn't drown when stepping into small patches of water that can be found in caves, or when walking in the rain without an umbrella. Then again, not being able to swim did not prevent him from stopping the Big Bad and saving his home planet. Perhaps he just doesn't have enough time for practicing swimming.
This carries over into the sequel, even though he lives on a small island.
The "water=death" version is justified in Otto Matic, where the main character is a primitive robot who short-circuits if he touches liquid.
In La-Mulana, water just sucks away at your health bar (like lava) until you get an item. The remake handwaves (and justifies) this by pointing out that the water is poisonous.
A rather egregious example turns up in the Nintendo Hard arcade game Captain Silver, where the protagonist, a pirate, can die minutes into the first level by falling into a water fountain approximately one foot deep.
Being a pirate does not guarantee someone knowing how to swim. Many sailors, particularly in older times, were deeply supersitious and avoided learning to swim based on the (fairly widespread) belief that once the sea got a taste of you, it would want more hence avoiding the sea was the best way of surviving the sea. Fridge Logic ensues.
There was also a more practical line of reasoning: in condition likely to take an experience sailor overboard, the remain crew wouldn't risk the ship of a fool's errand of trying to find them. Not being able to swim meant drowning wouldn't be so prolonged.
... unless you know that you can type "swim" the parser to make Graham start treading water, saving his life if you do it quickly enough. Except in those places where the water has hazardous currents, or alligators.
In King's Quest II, Graham will swim automatically upon entering water. However, by King's Quest V he has forgotten how to swim entirely. This is Handwaved by the water being "too cold", or the current being too strong.
His son Prince Alexander fared no better: he can swim just fine in King's Quest III, but not in King's Quest VI. Although there is a strong emphasis in the mythos of his location, the Land of the Green Isles, that an extremely strong current runs around the islands, creating an insurmountable undertow that will drag people far out to sea and drown them; only the best navigators can steer through them on a ship.
Most Sierra adventure games were very unfriendly in this regard. Laura Bow and Roger Wilco also had their fair share of either drowning deaths or being attacked by something living in a body of water anytime they got close to it.
Quest for Glory has cautiously stayed away from scenes where swimming could be required (except for the fifth game). On the other hand, Police Quest 2 has a scuba scene, and Eco Quest plays almost entirely underwater.
In Leisure Suit Larry 3: Passionate Patti in Pursuit of the Pulsating Pectorals, if Larry or Patti just walk into the sea at a seashore, it is instantly "game over" as they drown.
In the game Die By The Sword, the character remains upright with his head above water when falling into the water, can barely move, and dies in a few seconds, after which he falls to the bottom of the water. This might be partially explained by his heavy shield and sword, but the short duration of him sinking and how little he can move in the water makes it unrealistic.
In Nightfire, you can swim in the single player mode (without moving your arms at all, but still). However, in split-screen multiplayer, water equals instant death... even in the same level you were swimming in on single player.
Another Rogue Like, ADOM inflicts drowning damage the instant you enter water. It has a swimming skill to sometimes prevent damage. The "bridge building" skill and ice magic can make water crossable without swimming, which is required at one point.
Although you cannot drown in Halo (you're wearing self-contained Powered Armor), it's shown that Master Chief can't swim either (after all, he weighs 1 ton). He sinks to the bottom of pools in Halo 1, and Halo 2 has a cutscene of him being knocked into a lake and sinking like a rock. Some areas, such as in Halo 3's early levels, have bodies of water that insta-kill MC if he so much as touches them, as a form of Gravity Barrier. This makes a certain amount of sense until you notice that if you are killed and your corpse lands in water, it will float gently down the river. Apparently dead Spartans can be used as flotation devices. Oddly enough, in one instance of the first playable level of Halo 3, you are able to walk around in a large pool of water for as long as you want, with only minimal affects to your vision and speed. You can even run after schools of fish.
Samus of Metroid fame sinks like a rock if she enters any liquid, be it water, lava, or harmful chemicals. While she can't drown due to her power suit the latter two will kill her due the fact that they drain the life bar if she stays in them long enough. She also can't move around very well in most games until she gathers the proper suit upgrade (and some add one that lets her swim in Lava as well). The only time she's been out of her power suit she can't get to any type of liquid to test and see if she drowns.
Another ubiquitous example is The Lost Vikings. Even though most of the liquids are lava, sludge or acid, the vikings can't swim in regular water either. In the sequel, one of them gets cybernetic aqualungs.
In the Roguelike game Alpha Man, without the proper items, the player quickly loses hitpoints and drowns in water.
The AI in Crysis is infamous because North Korean soldiers die several seconds after touching water (even if their heads never go below the surface). This doesn't stop them from happily charging into the ocean to chase your character, however. Averted with vehicles: A fun trick in multiplayer was driving an anti-aircraft tank underwater. It would continue to be fully functional until the top of the radar dish was underwater, turning a tank sized target into a hitbox that would make even Oddjob jealous.
In The Simpsons: Bart vs. the World, if Bart falls into the water, he won't even try to get out, he will literally just stand there and drown. Angry Video Game Nerd noted that he's a depressed kid.
Falling into the lakes in Escape from Camp Deadly, also made by the same company, means instant death for Bart.
The Simpsons Game does the same thing. In the Day of the Dolphin stage, both Bart and Lisa will drown if they fall in.
Stranger can swim with ease in Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath, yet knocking an enemy into water will cause them to dissolve, clothes, weapons, and all. The only thing that survives is the Moolah they're carrying (which is always equal to their "dead" bounty, for some reason.) Storywise, it does bring up a few interesting points. 1) There are so many outlaws in the Mungo River Valley because said river is dried up, 2) The reason Sekto is making so much money selling bottled water is because no one wants to drink water with dead outlaw in it, and 3) The Dam breaks at the end of the game, filling up the river... while also flooding the Clakker towns and outlaw hideouts. Strangely, only Mooks seem to be affected, though you never have the opportunity to shove a boss into the water in game.
One of the Lenny Loosejocks minigames, Billabong Bunyip Boomerang Bash, justifies this trope in that the pools of water you have to jump over are apparently realty acid that will skeletonize you in seconds.
Every Pikmin (Except for the blue ones) will drown in seconds if they enter a body of water. Olimar has a chance to rescue them, by calling them back to him, but the chance that a Pikmin still drowns is pretty high. Also, the blue Pikmin can help save its drowning brethren. Olimar himself can't drown, since he's wearing a spacesuit. In the games after the first, their aversion to water is shown to be so strong that if some enemies simply splash them with it, it'll send them scurrying about in such a panic that they'll soon die if you don't calm them down by whistling at them.
Ultima VIII: Pagan was notorious for this, as falling into any body of water, including water right next to the shore or even the Tenebrae water fountain, would kill you instantly. In fact, throwing or knocking any object into the water would destroy it. This is handwaved by the fact that the seas are the realm of the Lurker, the Titan of Water, who claims any victims that enter her territory. The irony of this is that the Avatar was in fact rescued from drowning after the Guardian dumped him into the sea in the intro sequence, but apparently that can only happen once. This site has an interesting exploit involving the use of water to destroy things in the game.
Bomberman had this problem as well. This is lampshaded in Bomberman 64: The Second Attack, when Pommy taunts him about not crawling through a pipe filled with running water.
It gets even worse when you visit the water planet Aquanet, and Pommy comments on how an underwater town must be full of treasure, but because Bomberman can't swim, they can't go check it out.
Also in Bomberman Hero, falling into water would cause you to lose a life point and throw you back to the nearest piece of land.
In the Wii game Dewy's Adventure, the hero will die instantly if he falls into water. This is justified as the hero is literally made of water, so entering a large body of water causes him to "lose" himself.
In Painkiller, so much as stepping in a puddle of water causes the player to instantly die. Drag a toe into it and you're gone, regardless of that perfectly safe log you tried to reach.
In Final Fantasy Tactics A2, there are two whole races who, for no apparent reason, physically can't enter water, although they could in the first game. This is despite the fact that water in the game is never more than ankle-deep. The only logical explanation is that they needed the walk on water boots to have a purpose once it became possible to take normal actions while standing in water. It's actually around waist deep for humans, making it about mouth height for moogles, one of the two races that cant enter water.
This also applied to Cid, Babus, and Ezel if you managed to recruit them to your clan in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. They cannot, without any reason whatsoever, enter water unless you give them the Feather Boots. One fan theorized that the programmers simply didn't bother creating sprites for them when they entered water. The Tonberry enemies in the same game had the Galmia Shoes effect; ignore height but unable to enter water. Once you had your own Galmia Shoes, anyone wearing it could not enter water.
And in Advance, you can't use any abilities while in water for no adequately explored reason. Meanwhile, in the original Final Fantasy Tactics, all units are able to enter the waist-high water and perform actions in it. Unless, of course, the water is than two panels (around neck-high) deep, then they can't use abilities.
Reign of Fire. Entering ANY body of water will cause your vehicle's health to drop like a rock. Perhaps the humans couldn't find any steel anymore so they instead build tanks out of bread that's been spray-painted black? This is even WORSE when you consider getting wet is the only way to stop yourself from dying in seconds if you get lit on fire, and since you're fighting dragons and all the whole time, you get lit on fire a LOT.
They're turtles, for fuck's sakes! They can't even swim?!
Played straight in the Amiga port, in another ridiculous example. If the turtles fall in the water in the side-scrolling portions of Stage 3, they'll drown and be "caught". Despite the NES version having them return to the entrance of the building they previously fell in the water.
This is also a case of lazy programming and/or continuity failure: The turtles know how to swim in Stage 2 but they suddenly lose that skill afterwards.
In Giants: Citizen Kabuto the Meccaryns would be eaten by piranhas if they fell in the water (though it was possible to escape), while Delphi (a mer-woman) would heal while swimming. Kabuto meanwhile sank and died.
The goblin-like Minions of the titular Overlord have this one. The Overlord himself can wade through any water he comes across and will not enter anything deeper, but his Minions are much shorter and flail around amusingly before drowning. Only the Blue Minions can cross water, and they can also save their brethren, if managed correctly.
Aladdin (Virgin Games) had a scene where you had to cross a pond by jumping on the backs of flamingos. The flamingos, obviously, stand on the bottom, but if Aladdin touches the water he's history.
The Lion King video game, from the same publisher, had a scene early into the second level. It featured Simba jumping on giraffes' heads instead of Aladdin jumping on flamingos, but the premise is the same—giraffes stand on bottom, Simba dies instantly if he touches the water.
Luther from the Lands of Lore series, has super drowning skills and the design of rivers makes it impossible to climb out most of the time. His larger form, fortunately, can wade through water that would quickly trap and kill his other two forms.
The freeware PC games Knytt and Knytt Stories by Nifflas give this weakness to their protagonists. NPCs can still swim without issue.
A Deus Ex Machina reprieve from Superhuman Drowning: in Total Overdose: A Gunslinger's Tale in Mexico, falling, jumping, or even wading too deeply into water resulted in the character Ram flailing a few moments before being rescued with a teleport to nearby land and the admonishment: "This isn't a diving game!"
The text-based game had a similar issue, though in each case where it was possible to enter the water it was justified—albeit in annoying ways. The black river that makes Bilbo doze off and drown is the least problematic. If Bilbo jumps into the raging river instead of using a barrel, he will be swept helplessly into a portcullis and drowned; this takes a turn or two but is more annoying because other characters are apt to jump in without your permission and become stuck. Finally, there is a bog in which Bilbo can sink; Thorin, if present, will object to standing around in the bog and drowning, but there is no way out.
The title character of the freeware game Dr Goo and its sequels has Super Drowning Skills.
Dr. Grant in Jurassic Park for the Sega Genesis would drown and die instantly if he touched the 50 cm deep water on the river level.
The original Driver had no accessible bodies of water to speak of. In Driver 2, the bottom of the skybox is depicted as deep water, and acts like a Bottomless Pit, you also "drown" if you wade into knee-deep water. Subverted in the third game, in which Tanner can swim, but drowns if he stays in the water too long.
Anyone who manages to fall off of the rail bridge near Dodge City in Gun, only 10 metres or less above water level, is told that they are dead due to drowning. This is a form of Bottomless Pit mechanic, too.
That entire game was full of Scrappy Levels. And when you fell into water (or off a bottomless pit), you were often treated to a hilariously bad FMV sequence showing your ice ninja sinking or falling.
In Spyro the Dragon, the first game, touching water results in the loss of one hit point (out of a maximum of 4). In most cases, the water is inescapable, and the player is guaranteed to drown. Which is funny, because in Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage! and beyond, you have Super Not-Drowning Skills after Moneybags teaches you how to swim underwater in the second game. It does not apply to waters with piranhas in it.
It is justified in Spyro: Year of the Dragon, which differentiates between the transparent "swimmable" waters prevalent in the second and third games and the opaque toxic waters that make their return in certain levels. Sometimes the toxic water and regular water are in the same levels. In one level Spyro could swim, and even dive, in toxic water while under the effects of an invincibility power-up. But if said power-up ran out while you were still in there... you can pretty much guess what happens.
Unfortunately, the Super Drowning Skills return in The Legend of Spyro. All water in the first two games is the dreaded toxic ooze, except for a few shallow streams. Avoided in Dawn of the Dragon where Spyro or Cynder will just hover above water until you fly them over to dry land.
It's played straight in the GBA Spyro games. If the titular protagonist so much as dips his foot in the water, he's history.
There are some flooded areas in MDK 2. The water is deep, and if you fall in, you will drown.
Populous: The Beginning followers can drown instantly in the sea, rivers, swamps and occasionally dry land. So can the Shaman, despite her near god-like magical abilities.
Populous did the same, followers and enemies drown in any form of water. Some levels either used fatal water, but others simply made it harmful (making the flood ability less powerful since the AI would almost instantly recover.) Swamps were always instant kill.
All water in the SNES Populous game was harmful, and never fatal except Swamps (which aren't technically "water"). Water gradually reduces a unit's population (all of those guys on the screen repesent groups of people). When population = zero, the "guy" disappears. If a very-low population unit drops in the water for whatever reason, it merely looks like the water is fatal. Obviously, in some map types, the environment (and water) kills quicker than in other maps (namely the Snow and Ice maps vs Grassy Plains).
The trio of player characters in Mercenaries are Made of Ironbadasses who are accustomed to using practically any weapon and drive/fly any vehicle. Somehow, despite years of special forces training, they have no clue how to swim. The sequel corrected this, with the players being able to swim across the water's surface fairly easily.
Justified in In FAMOUS. Cole probably could swim, but now he's got all his electricity powers, standing in any body of water larger than a puddle will cause him to blow a fuse and die. How long it takes varies depending on whether you stand in a fountain, or jump into the river. On the other hand, small bodies of water (such as puddles) doesn't seem to even annoy him. You can also fry other people standing in the same body of water as you. Also, launching enemies into the body of water surrounding the city will cause them to die instantly. Not the same case in the sewers, as they just stand waist-deep in sewage and keep firing at you.
In both Naruto: Rise of a Ninja and its sequal Naruto: The Broken Bond, if any of the characters land in water, they vanish in a cloud of smoke and reappear on the shore, usually complaining about getting wet.
Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg has most of the characters drown the instant they so much as touch water. However, it does offer you couple of lifelines in certain levels—one power-up allows you to ride your Egg McGuffin around, allowing you to cross treacherous terrain (water included), and one Mon you can find to assist you has the power to swim. Get hit in the water, though, and it's Davy Jones' Locker for you anyway.
Hidden And Dangerous handles this in the worst possible method ever. Depending on the level you can freely move in waist deep water, or will die if you're so much as ankle deep.
Army Men, especially in Sarge's Heroes, will only instantly die to three things: flamethrower, sniper round to the head, and getting a toe wet.
Lemmings die immediately on touching water. Then again, they also die immediately on touching pretty much everything else. And it isn't always ordinary water; there's also lava and (in Oh No More Lemmings), deadly vines, and mysterious bubbly stuff, although all of these act just like the water that's actually water anyways. The non-water water at least has reason — even if it's just "well, we don't have weird bubble stuff on Earth, who's to say it wouldn't kill you" — for falling into it to be immediately lethal, though perhaps in different ways than causing instant drowning.
Justified in 'Splosion Man — the eponymous main character is made of fire. Less justified by the ordinary human scientists, who find water just as instantly fatal.
Left 4 Dead averts this while the sequel plays it more straight. In the first game, you will start to drown if you are underwater for too long. In Left 4 Dead 2, this applies as well but only if you are ducking under the water or are incapacitated under it. Having your body waist-deep submerged in the water in the sequel resulted in instant death, while shallow water up your ankles results in a noteworthy speed penalty.
The infected lack the survivors' speed penalty in shallow water, they too possess severe reactions to waist-deep water. This made very confusing as newer players always learn the hard way in Swamp Fever that even if they are still in "ghost mode" and they don't technically exist yet, attempting to traverse waist-deep water again causes instant death.
Further made annoying in that some rare instances, the game's "AI Director" will spawn common infected DEEP UNDER WATER.
Averted in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion where you can swim and go underwater... Except for some strange physics, for example when you jump in the water the damage you take seems to depend on the height from the bottom of the water, and not the surface or some approximation thereof. Which means it's still quite risky to jump (or fall) into water.
If you send Batman jumping off a cliff into water in Batman: Arkham Asylum, it cuts to a short clip of him grumpily getting back up and out.
The first three Jak and Daxter games avoid this, although swimming too far out causes Border Patrol to kill you. Daxter, however, can't swim in his Gaiden Game, despite being shown swimming in a cutscene in Jak 3. It's played straight in TLF for no adequate reason, though.
In the NES series StarTropics and its sequel: Zoda'sRevengeStarTropicsII, the protagonist, Mike Jones, apparently can't swim, as jumping into water instantly kills him.
In both the NES and Game Boy versions Dick Tracy, the self-titled character also has Super Drowning Skills. Though it only takes a half-point of health in the NES game, it is more severe in the Game Boy version. In the pier portions of stages 3 and 5, Dick Tracy will instantly drown the moment he falls into water.
In Brütal Legend if Eddie, Drowned Ophelia, Doviculus, your car, or any unit so much as TOUCHES water they slowly take damage. The deeper the water, the more rapid the damage. This results in standard death animations, often with a case of gibbing. Landing in deep water in the campaign mode results in instant death.
Averted in some way in multiplayer and in later battles since Eddie, Drowned Ophelia, and Doviculus can fly indefinitely as long as they've got a stage.
Apparently water is the antithesis of metal and Drowned Ophelia very much lives up to her name.
To make this doubly obnoxious Eddie not only swims to the bottom of the Sea of Black Tears in the finale cutscene, but he fights off its tentacles and holds his breath for an extremely long time.
In Transformers Armada the game shallow water will not hurt you, but the further you go in, the faster it drains you heath to the point that deep enough water will instantly kill you.
While not deadly, in the game verison of Transformers Revengeofthe Fallen only one level has water, a flier only level, and the game will not let you touch it. If you let yourself fall into it, you automaticly start hovering.
In Aion, you play an immortal angelic being who, despite being able to fly, apparently never learned how to swim. Most "lakes" are knee-high pools that you can run through, but you start to drown as soon as the water goes over your head.
Thankfully NCsoft seem to be aware of how ridiculous this is and have shown characters swimming in their planned development trailer. There's no date on when this will be implemented, though, and no information on whether characters will only be able to swim in certain areas or not.
The King's Field games have a non-submergeable hero - made that much worse by his tendency to travel about the world in a first-person viewpoint and the world's equally obnoxious tendency to have open wells and rivers just lying about with no thought given to safety fences. Jumping into the ocean doesn't do you any better. What's more fun is that there are often paths you must take in the shallow water, where the only way to make sure that you don't step off the trail and instantly drown is to practically watch your own feet, leaving you exposed to enemies coming at you from other directions to knock you off your narrow, partially submerged path.
In Chips Challenge, water is just another obstacle, requiring the right footwear to navigate. You can walk into the water, and die, one square away from land. Unless you have flippers. That makes it all better.
In Destroy All Humans! everyone, both Crypto and his enemies, dies instantly if they fall in water. You can drop cars, trucks, and tanks into what must be fairly shallow ponds and streams all day long, but they just never seem to get full.
In Pokémon, the shoreline represents a ledge to you: you can't so much as wade in the shallow area of water. You need to have a Pokemon with Surf in order to get past it, making it a Broken Bridge.
In the video game tie-in to Toy Story 3, if any character touches the water, they instantly die (which may be justified, because they are toys). Also, Woody can drown in coffee that is filling the bedroom in the Bonnie's House level.
In the 1994 The Jungle Book video game adaptations, specifically, the Genesis and Super NES versions, Mowgli can't swim. Falling into water results in a watery grave for him.
In the Sailor Moon Rvideo game, falling into the water in the raft stage meant you lost 25% of your total health. Even Sailor Mercury can drown in water.
In both the 1989 NES and the 2009 Wii versions of A Boy and His Blob, the boy will drown the moment he falls into water. If he uses the blob to use the bubble ability, then he can safely traverse in water.
At least in the first two Double Dragon games, the main character(s) sink like stones if they fall in the water.
In the PC shareware Jill of the Jungle games, Jill drowns instantly when she falls into water. Unless you turn into a fish, in which case you can't leave the water, unless you're swimming down (or up!) waterfalls.
In Red Dead Redemption, you game over once you go into water past your waist. There's no animation of drowning to accompany or explain it, but later on in the story Marston does say that he can't swim (though it doesn't explain how he can't simple wade back to shore)
This can get really annoying in the city Thieves' Landing, which is built on a swamp. If you're careless, you can fall in just about anywhere.
This also seems to extend to every character in Multiplayer as well
In Age of Wonders you can use transports and certain enchantments to move troops across water. If the transport is destroyed or the magic dispelled before they reach land, any without innate swimming will drown.
Justified in Bionic Commando, as the hero has heavy mechanical parts that prevent him from swimming. However, this doesn't explain why he can still drown in some places while his head is still above the surface.
In Donkey Kong Country Returns, unlike their previous adventures, both Donkey and Diddy Kong can no longer swim. Falling into the water at any time results in you losing a life.
In Donkey Kong Land III, while the water that you were in Coco Channel doesn't harm Dixie or Kiddy Kong, however, if Squitter falls into it, he takes damage instantly. It's justified that most spiders can't swim.
In the Creature Stage of Spore, this seems to be averted at first in that the creatures can swim in shallow water and do not drown, but straying past a certain distance from the beach causes a Sea Monster to pop out and eat them.
In Mickey Mania, Mickey takes damage from just touching the water in the Lonesome Ghosts and The Prince and the Pauper levels, even when it's only a few feet deep. It doesn't damage him when the water level is below his head, though.
Sadly, Epic Mickey suffers from this as well. In the cartoon segments, getting in contact with water (such as from a moat or a fire hydrant) produces the same effect as getting burned from the paint thinner blotting Oswald's ruined world.
This does make sense since Mickey is sort made of paint.
The title character from Dangerous Dave doesn't merely drown upon contact with water but violently explodes in a fireball that hovers above the water's surface. (The same effect occurs when Dave touches fire, yet jumping on the stars in the sky does not harm him one bit.)
Bug! had Splot. Touching the water was instant death, not even Mercy Invincibility would save Bug from drowning. Even more egregious- the next level was QUARIA, and Bug could do fine without any harm whatsoever.
Apparently, the heroes in River City Ransom never learned how to swim. Falling in the water where you fight Benny and Clyde instantly kills you, regardless of how much stamina you had.
Dark Castle had log platforms floating in water in the "Fireball" levels, and falling in would kill you. The remakeColor Dark Castle replaced this water with lava, which is another trope entirely.
Vixen, an ancient platformer on the Amiga would have the female Tarzan like player drown in a few seconds if she fell into water.
* In the first Blaster Master, in a ridiculous example, Jason instantly drowns in the overhead sections of Area 4. He can swim in the side-scrolling portions without drowning, including Area 4.
LEGO Universe plays with this. When you jump in the water, it looks for a second like your character will swim...until three seconds later, when a shark's already eaten your character. Of course, if the shark didn't pop up to eat you, you'd be stuck in the sea with nowhere to swim to and no way back up, so you'd have to smash your character anyway.
Lego Lord of the Rings goes one ....erm...better? with this and has all characters flail around in water for a few seconds, and then instantly "die". The only water you can survive in is ford-level. Surely a ranger would know how to swim? No? oh, ok then.
Even Gollum can't swim.
SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom and The Movie games both give us this. If Spongebob or Patrick so much as touch water or any liquid that isn't the water that everybody lives in, they jump out for a quick second back to land (or as close to land as possible). If they make contact with the liquid again... they drown. This can take effect in fountains as well. Also, one episode of the show shows that neither SpongeBob or Patrick can swim.
Handwaved in NieR: water is scarce, so nobody wants to touch and risk polluting what little they have, which means no swimming lessons. Doesn't quite explain why Nier manages to drown in knee-deep water, but it's a start.
In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Action Game, Indy has to cross pools of inexplicably deadly water by jumping between overhanging ropes.
In Tak: The Great Juju Challenge, Lok takes damage if he touches water, but not because he can't swim — fish hate him, and will swarm him angrily as soon as he falls in. (Tak has no such troubles, unless the water is full of gators). However, when Lok's wearing the Lobster Suit, he can walk around underwater indefinitely.
Virmire in the first Mass Effect game is a tropical planet, and Shepard's mission starts with a long beachfront drive through ankle deep water. Your path is guided by jagged rocks to stop you straying into the darker coloured water. Of course, that doesn't stop Shepard from getting out and stepping from the clear, shallow stuff into the dark deep, and sinking like a rock.
According to Garrus in 3, turians can't swim - their bodies are too dense.
Garrus: You obviously haven't seen turians swim. It's a lot of flailing and splashing interrupted by occasional bouts of drowning.
The eponymous Twinsen of Twinsen's Odyssey uses this trope in the extreme. Not only will he drown instantly in any lake or ocean that is more than ankle-deep, but he will also sink like an anchor in a hotel swimming pool that is probably shallower than he is tall.
Tesla The Weather Man has Tesla take damage whenever he falls into water. This is Handwaved by pointing out that he's wearing lots of electrical gadgetry.
Randall from Deadlight can perform many amazing feats, such as leaping great distances across empty space, pulling himself up a ladder using only his arms, easily vaulting over parked cars and low obstacles, and chopping off zombie's heads with aplomb. Why can't he swim? We have no idea.
The lake in Alan Wake is home to an Eldritch Abomination with a personal grudge against the protagonist. In general, any liquid other than coffee is to be avoided.
In the spin-off Contra Force, falling into the water in Stage 2 results in instant death.
In Bubsy, because Cats Hate Water, you can only guess what happens if the titular character falls into water.
If Garfield falls into water in A Week Of Garfield, he will take massive damage for every millisecond he's in water.
In the 1994 Animaniacs video game adaptations, neither of the characters can swim and will drown if they fall in.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 wins a prize. In Multiplayer, you can end up as one of the SEAL's, and still instantly ragdoll when hitting the water and the camera shifts to third person, appearing as though they were dead to begin with. Makes you wonder how they passed BUD/S in the first place. The waist-deep pool area in the map Raid, on the other hand, is ok to wade through.
In the original Giana Sisters and its DS/iOS remake, Giana dies instantly upon contact with water. This is especially irritating in the remake, as some of the water hazards in that game amount to mere puddles of water that don't even cover Giana's head. Giana Sisters Twisted Dreams, in contrast, gives Giana Super Not-Drowning Skills.
In Yggdra Union, only Undines can walk on water tiles. In some maps, water can be frozen with the card skill "Diamond Dust", letting every other unit walk on the created ice sheet. However, the ice melts after two turns, and any non-swimming units who are still on the ice will sink, killing them on the spot (instantly game over if it's Yggdra or Milanor.)
Mega Man 8 Bit Deathmatch does this in some custom maps and in MM 4 DIV. Touch the water and you are gibbed instantly. Added to the fact over 50% of the map is WATER and the actual water in Diveman's stage in Megaman 4 could do you NO HARM, this takes absurd to a whole new level.
MM 2 BUB has pits... In the water... Loads of pits... Enjoy.
A single custom map has this "flushing" that happens in the water area, that covers 25% of the stage. What the flushing does? It causes damage to anyone in there, constantly. Also, this happens actively in pools of water within that same stage.
Quake II features this for the AI. Any Strogg unit that somehow finds itself falling into water will immediately sink like a rock and begin to drown... despite them all being more machine than anything else! What does make sense is when they fall in lava and die — this was uncommon to see in classic FPS games; usually the enemies would continue to behave as usual whether they were submerged or on any form of damaging floor.
Messiah: Generally, if anyone so much as brushes against liquid, they die instantly.
In Magicka wizards can't swim, so you have to freeze the water instead. This also applies to enemies, even Deep Ones which spawn by climbing out of water.
Water in Super Smash Bros. Melee treated water as a bottomless pit that doesn't break your fall. The sequel granted a swimming meter as mentioned above.
In Dishonored this doesn't exist for you, it exists for everyone else. Well, so long as they're unconscious anyway, an NPC will never end up going in the water while they're still standing. If an unconscious character ends up going in any deep body of water, the game counts them as dead, even when you fish them back out!
This is especially infuriating when going for a Clean Hands (no kill) run, since the player may end up accidentally dropping a guard in water (or leaving them somewhere precarious, and gravity does the rest) and not realising it until the end of the level, where the player then knows they accidentally killed someone, somehow, and now needs to do the whole level over.
This also happens when the player has to bring Anton Sokolov back to the Loyalists alive, and killing him results in an instant Game Over. When carrying Sokolov back to the boat, you need to be extremely careful, as the player automatically drops whatever he or she is carrying if they go into the water. If you accidentally fall into the Wrenhaven while carrying Sokolov, he's toast.
In the 1.4.2 update of Minecraft, slimes could spawn at night in swamp biomes. However, they can't swim, so it's quite likely that they will jump in deep water and eventually drown.
The controllable character, Mars, from Shining Wisdom can't swim at all. Justified as he is always in armour but what makes it annoying is that the player is required to wade through knee-high water throughout the course of the game; the only way to tell is that the water is a slightly lighter hue of blue and enemies can easily knock you into deeper water.
Pheus from puzzle platformer Pheus and Mor dies instantly if he touches any water whatsoever. The only way he can cross anything too big to jump over is by standing on the back of his dog Mor.
Star Wars: The Old Republic Has the same problem as Aion where, rather than swim, your character will just tread water until it's over their head and die extremely quickly.
While this was entirely justified in Infamous and Infamous 2 given Cole's electrical powers, it's also present in Second Son, despite Delsin's powers having nothing to do with electricity. Delsin doesn't drown however, he just treads water until you hit the button prompt to return to shore.
In Thomas Was Alone, only Claire (the big blue square) can swim. Anyone else will drown upon touching the water, forcing them to respawn at the closest checkpoint.
PlanetSide 1's soldiers are about as buoyant as a lump of iron (granted, they are wearing Powered Armor). Players "swimming" will simply wade across the bottom of the lake/ocean at a crawl until they run out of oxygen and die. Non-amphibious vehicles with sealed cockpits allow you to survive longer, but the vast majority of vehicles will flood and cease functioning after mere seconds; only the ANT and BattleFrame Robotics could reliably operate underwater. Played even more straight in Planetside 2 - players die the instant they get past knee deep water (generally only in the out-of-bounds area, however), or touch Heyoka Chemical Plant's Grimy Water.
In The Adventures of Lomax, if the titular character falls into water, he can still jump out once if you're fast enough. Fall into water for the second time or don't jump out fast enough, and he'll drown.
In Gruntz, the titular gruntz normally avoid falling into water for a good reason (though there's a rare tool allowing them to swim). But if they do fall into water, they drown instantly.