After the End: The prospects look pretty bleak for recovery; unless the dust settles, plants are going to have a hard time growing, and without plants...
Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Type 2 for many enemy survivors, to the point where forcing a surrender at gunpoint is a game mechanic used to conserve ammunition.
Annoying Arrows: Averted in gameplay; an arrow is just as good as a bullet to kill someone. Played with in character reactions; unlike with a gun, your bow will rarely intimidate anyone, unless they're isolated, probably because they don't take it seriously due to this trope. The fact that they know you only get one shot out of it probably emboldens them, too.
Apocalyptic Log: The main character creates one over the course of the game, and is implied to have been creating one from before the game.
Armor Is Useless: Averted. Body armor can take a few bullets or arrows, and helmets protect from headshots.
Attack Its Weak Point: Armored enemies can only be killed instantly by a headshot, and the final boss is only vulnerable in his legs.
Attempted Rape: One of the survivor encounters in the Hotel involves shooting the perpetrator through a curtain.
Awesome yet Practical: The Hunter's Bow. You only get one shot at a time (two in the finale), but you never need collect more ammo (just get the arrow back out of what you shot), and it can easily be used in conjunction with your more intimidating pistol to whittle down larger groups of machete-wielding mooks.
Blade Lock: "Struggle" kills with the machete act as this. There is no dedicated "melee attack" button, too, so this is the only way to kill someone at close range when they're alerted to your presence.
Bittersweet Ending: You get Mei and Linda to safety, but Henry is missing in action and you refuse to board the boat with them, hoping to save him and find your family. Furthermore, the woman who started watching the recordings at the start of the game is hinted to be your wife, and it's pretty heavily implied that you're dead by the time she watches them.
Button Mashing: Blade Locks, breaking open locked gates, lifting shutters, and forcing extra effort out of your character (whether running or continuing to exert past the stamina limit) all involve pressing the left mouse button as fast as possible.
The Combat Pragmatist: In the "Encounters" trailer, the main character strongly advises taking this stance on violent altercations. Use surprise to kill the first of the enemies in a group, identify any other gun-wielders and shoot them immediately, and use psychological pressure to get the rest of them to fold (usually by killing the "leader" of a group). If at all possible, intimidate them into backing up into a cliff or a fire that you can kick them off of/into. This may seem pretty dirty, but it's a dirty world, and if you let your guard down, these bastards will kill you.
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: The computer never runs out of ammo, and in fact does not even need ammo. This is plainly obvious when you find an empty gun on a survivor you just killed, even though that same survivor is perfectly capable of shooting you with his supposedly empty gun if you don't kill him immediately. The computer also doesn't play by the same machete rules you do.
Continuing Is Painful: You're given a finite number of retries for the checkpoints in a level (9 maximum). If you run out, you have to restart from the beginning of the level. However, if the checkpoint has a retry pickup nearby, you can abuse that for an infinite number of retries in that section. Higher difficulties give you less starting retries, with the highest giving you none save what you pick up in the field.
Darker and Edgier: See What Could Have Been below. Apparently, the second premise trailer of this title in 2011 (surviving in a post-apocalyptic era) have received a bit more positive reception from some viewers because this version is a more believable survival scenario.
Deadly Gas: The dust in some lower areas of the city causes a stamina decrease just by being in it. This is lessened once you acquire a gas mask from some of the other survivors.
Decapitated Army: Part of the surrendering mechanic involves finding the tough guys in a group and killing them, thereby convincing the weaker ones to drop their weapons for an easy Tap on the Head. The tough guys don't flinch as much at your gun and keep a steady voice even when threatened.
Determinator: The player character walked clear across the United States to get back home. Linda is appropriately impressed.
Development Hell: It was first announced at E3 2008, and since then was delayed repeatedly, changed developers, was completely revamped, and missed a number of projected release dates. It was finally released on March 7, 2012 on XBLA.
Difficulty Spike: Used to demonstrate how powerful the survivor camp hunters are. More than half are armed with pistols, are resistant to surrendering when aimed at, and they employ a fully armored man as their leader. The game actually gives the player at least two health kits (probably one of the rarest items in the game), because you'll need it.
Disaster Scavengers: Along with being one himself, the main character will run into them. Not all of them will be friendly.
Driven to Suicide: The survivor who wants two "canned foods" in the subway hangs herself after you leave her regardless of what you do.
Eleventh Hour Superpower: In the final level, to make up for the fact you lose your pistol, you get a second arrow for the bow. This is a lot more helpful than it sounds.
Elite Mooks: Armored survivors can't be intimidated and need to be hit in an unarmored area to stop them. In exchange, they don't charge at you, just walk.
Surprisingly averted. Enemies can and will accidentally kill their friends with gunfire if they get too bunched up, making combat easier. This can be hard to pull off, though, as enemies tend to spread out to avoid this sort of thing.
Played straight on your end. Certain critical NPCs can't be attacked at all; blade attacks are disabled and the gun and bow crosshairs become an X if aimed at them.
Good Samaritan: The twenty victims spread throughout the game reward your charity with a bit of backstory and a Retry. The main character is considered one by Mei's mother, Linda, for helping Mei. You also get a bonus to your score for only taking what you need from certain non-hostile survivors, rather than just stealing everything they have.
Handguns: The first weapon available, and the only projectile weapon your enemies will ever use.
Harmful to Minors: You spend one of the early chapters with a child tied to your back. This won't stop you from shooting and stabbing potential muggers, or executing the ones you've wounded.
I'm a Humanitarian: Some of the more desperate scavengers have resorted to cannibalism in lieu of continuing to eat on the dwindling supply of canned goods. You can find some "meat" in a couple of rare places in the game. It's the best possible healing item, filling up your health and stamina capacity... but it isn't rat (that's a separate meat) and there's no more livestock. If you eat any, the end screen will take 5% off of your score and outright calls it human meat.
It also serves as one of the five items you have to give to the dancing mutant to get the shotgun. There's a piece lying on the ground right near his home.
Improbable Aiming Skills: Averted. Your character mentions he's never fired a gun before in his life, and it shows. His aim is below average, and even if the iron sights are dead-on you can still easily miss a headshot at anything more than about 15 feet, wasting a valuable bullet. It's always best to just go for torso shots (which still incapacitate in 1 hit), unless you're dealing with an armored enemy.
Instant Death Bullet: Played With. One bullet will always stop an enemy, but it won't always kill them. They may instead be left writhing on the ground in agony. You have the option of performing a Mercy Kill on them with your machete, if you so choose.
I Surrender, Suckers: Many encounters involve letting a hapless enemy get close, throat-slashing them with your machete, then taking out anyone else with a gun and dealing with the remainder. Some enemies attack outright, however, rendering this strategy ineffective.
It Gets Easier: Implied; our protagonist says he never used a gun before The Event. During the start of the game, he doesn't bat an eye at kicking a machete-wielding man off a cliff.
Kill It with Fire: One of the options you have for dealing with enemies held at gunpoint is to kick them into a fire.
MacGuffin: The Survivor Camps, where the protagonist's family is heavily implied to be. Not too long in the story you'll find you aren't the only one searching for it...
Menacing Stroll: Armored enemies do this, since it's the only way for you to manage a headshot.
Men Are the Expendable Gender: Women aren't all noncombatant victims, but the only armed and dangerous women you'll meet are of the "territorial survivor protecting their stash" type. All gangs are male.
Mook Chivalry: Averted; if you're engaged in a Blade Lock with an enemy, his buddies will whack you from the sides and interrupt you. Therefore, engaging in melee should only be done as a last resort or on the last remaining enemy in a group.
No FEMA Response: Averted. The government tried to send military and relief efforts early on after the Event. But within one year, any semblance of civilization, let alone emergency aid, had long crumbled.
Noodle Incident: "The Event," the cause of which is a total mystery. The only thing you know is that it caused terrible earthquakes and unleashed never-ending dust clouds. Given the deformed man you meet, it's very possible radiation is also a hazard.
Whatever happened between the protagonist and his wife. In the letter she wrote for him, she says that she "forgives [the protagonist] for everything". Given that he was off away from his family at the time of the Event, and that there's no male clothing or anything related to it at his house, it was something pretty big that he did wrong.
Oh Crap: Most machete-wielding enemies when you pull a gun on them. Also Linda when Mei goes missing temporarily in the final section.
One Bullet Left: In the early levels, you'll often find yourself literally living bullet to bullet. Several times you'll have to do with no bullets at all, until you kill one with a gun and take his bullets.
Averted in the final levels, where, if you conserve ammo, you should have about 13 bullets left; in the scheme of things, this is about the closest you can get to a Game Breaker. Just to make sure you can't abuse this, though, you lose your pistol for the final round and have to make due with a replacement pistol and ammo you scavenge off the enemies.
Playing Possum: An encounter in the sewers has several enemies playing dead among a group of corpses. They attack you outright once you close in.
Tap on the Head: Where he hits them. Though it is implied to be non-fatal (hence the need to make the enemy surrender first), there is no way to be sure.
Puzzle Boss: Or "puzzle enemy encounter," anyhow. You are regularly surrounded by three or four armed men, and you'll need to keep your wits about you to take them all out, especially if you only have one bullet left.
Rape as Drama: Heavily implied to be what happens to women in the Hotel. One of the women there even refers to their position as "pets".
Secret A.I. Moves: Machetes are the only melee weapon available to anyone in the game, but while you are limited to using a Blade Lock or a surprise kill with it, your opponents have the ability to actually swing the machete like a normal weapon.
Self-Imposed Challenge: You can turn auto-aiming off at any time, which makes crack shots against groups of survivors a lot harder to pull off. It has no bearing on achievements and is available at any difficulty.
Shoot Out the Lock: At various points in the game, you'll run into gates that are padlocked shut, which you can shoot to open. It wastes a precious bullet, but whatever's behind the gate is usually worth it.
Shotguns Are Just Better: Averted. It is equally deadly compared to the pistol and bow, and you won't get any more ammo. However, it does give you a second weapon to use in the final section, after you lose your pistol.
Short Range Shotgun: Also averted. The range for the shotgun is realistic, though spread is, as ever, a problem.
Slashed Throat: The stealth kill from behind with the machete. You can do this from the front, too, by getting a bully enemy to close in.
Sprint Meter: The stamina meter. It decreases as you run, climb/hang from your hands, or do anything else with more than average physical exertion, and depletes its maximum when empty, causing further exertion.
Story Breadcrumbs: Aside from getting another Retry token, this is your reward for helping victims. They tell you a small bit of backstory about the city and what happened, and possibly where to find your wife and daughter.
Twenty Bear Asses: There are 20 victims in the game, each of which needs one or two of some item you've probably collected on the way. In return, you get an extra Retry and some backstory. A strange, gorilla-like mutant living in the dust cloud asks for five hard-to-find items, but at least he hands you a loaded shotgun as a reward.
Unwinnable by Design: Gathering and conserving resources is pretty important. If you're really unlucky or incautious, you might find that it's impossible to get through the next fight or the next climb because you're out of items, and can't backtrack to get more. Also, be careful about where you shoot that bow - it's surprisingly easy to fire your one and only arrow somewhere where you can't retrieve it.
The Wiki Rule: Has one, but has 30+ articles, including from the pre-release, retail form of the game.
Weapon for Intimidation: Half of the mileage you'll get out of your gun is using it to intimidate machete-wielding mooks after you've shot the ones carrying guns. This can either be used to force them to kneel for a Pistol-Whipping or to back them up to a fire or cliff, into which you can then kick them. However, it should be noted that enemies will eventually try to call your bluff if you go too long without firing, and kick kills will only work once if there's more than one mook. Averted with your bow, which is deadly but rarely intimidating.
What Could Have Been: The original premise of this game involving trying to survive six days after an earthquake in Chicago. Apparently, the developing team didn't think this scenario to be a believable survival setting. The name of the protagonist is Adam Collins, an ordinary office employee who gets caught in the mess unlike the protagonist in the game's final release who had to travel by foot since the dust made air travel almost impossible.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Henry's wheelchair is found near the end, but he is not seen again. A nearby victim will tell you that they took him alive to wring the location of the hidden survivor camp out of him, but you'll never find him.
Also, the helicopter and its pilot in the "Strangers" chapter. The hero sees a newly crashed helicopter on top of a building and theorizes that the pilot jumped out before it went down. There is no way to examine the wreckage any closer, there is never any sign of the pilot, and neither the crash or the pilot are ever mentioned again. (In fact, the incident is so strange and unrelated to anything else in the game, it's just shy of being a Big Lipped Alligator Moment.)
You Bastard: Lone survivors are often territorial (and sometimes guarding a healing item), but not actually out for your blood unless you get too close. If you wind up killing them (either by accidentally pissing them off or on purpose) they may mutter some final accusation at you, like "Murderer!" before croaking. Even some surviving people in the vicinity of the kill may react with fear even if non-hostile and also call you out on it.
Two occasions have survivors offer you some of their stash. Take more than they offered and they'll chew you out. You'll also lose the bonus to your score that you'd otherwise get. Mercifully, you have to go out of your way to do this, preventing any accidental grabbing.
You Wouldn't Shoot Me: If you hold an enemy at gunpoint for too long and can't get them to surrender completely, they'll decide that you're too chicken to waste a bullet and attack you.