In most games, running out of Hit Points means your character dies instantly, or at least suffers a Non-Lethal K.O.. The consequences of this are usually either losing a life, being sent back to the nearest Checkpoint, having to reload your save file, or sometimes being forced to start the whole game all over again.
For team-based multiplayer games, these solutions aren't always viable: it would be frustrating for your team to be forced to continue the mission by themselves with a man down, not to mention how boring it would be for the dead player to be forced to wait for them to finish. To remedy this, such games may opt for the Combat Resuscitation mechanic: characters who run out of Hit Points are not immediately removed from the game, instead being put in a helpless state where they aren't of much use to their team, but can be revived by a teammate and brought back into the fight.
Usually, reviving a player consists of running up to them, and holding down a button. This will cause a meter to fill up, slowly or quickly depending on the game. Once it's full, the fallen player will stand up like nothing happened, although they will usually have less than full health. Depending on how severe injuries are in the game, one might wonder why they need help to get up when they can clearly stand by themselves afterwards.
There is usually a time limit on reviving a player: take too long to help them, and they die for real. This is often justified in-universe as the character bleeding out from their injuries and needing to be stabilized. Some games also give downed characters a health meter separate from their regular one: enemies will Kick Them While They Are Down and speed up their dying process, so you'd better save them before they take too much damage. And if everyone in the team is incapacitated at the same time, the result may be an instant Game Over; after all, if no one's left standing to revive anyone else, you're completely screwed.
Some single-player games may also opt for this. In these cases, you may have a way to revive yourself, such as by killing an enemy or using an item, or may be left at the mercy of your AI partners who may or may not decide to help you out. In games where you control multiple characters, such as strategy and role-playing games, you may be able to revive a character by ordering another party member to do so.
There are several possible variants of this system:
- The level of helplessness of downed players can vary: sometimes, they become completely incapacitated, unable to even move. They may be allowed to slowly crawl around in order to get to a safer location for their teammates to revive them. Sometimes, they may even be allowed to keep fighting while in their downed state, although in many such cases downed players are limited to using only their sidearm.
- How many times a player is allowed to be downed can also vary: some games allow you to be knocked down and revived an unlimited amount of times, while others may put a limit after which you can no longer be revived.
- In games with a more realistic setting, not all injuries will result in the player being put in the incapacitated state: lethal wounds such as headshots or explosions may kill the character outright without giving teammates a chance to revive them.
Can be considered a form of Controllable Helplessness when downed characters are still allowed to move.
- Ghostbusters: The Video Game: If one of the five team members (including the player character) runs out of health, they will fall on their back and be unable to do anything other than complain until a teammate helps them up, or a certain amount of time elapses, after which they can stand up on their own. The only way to lose is if everyone is incapacitated at the same time.
- Call of Duty series
- Players with the Last Stand, Final Stand, or Second Chance perk (depending on the game) can do this. They are limited to crawling slowly and using their pistol (except with Final Stand, which allows the use of your primary weapon).
- Nazi Zombies uses this mechanic: downed players can use pistols and move slowly as if they had Second Chance, but will eventually bleed out and die. Dead players will respawn once the next round starts.
- In Left 4 Dead and its sequel, incapacitated characters are immobile but can use a pistol to help clear away infected while their friends help them up. After being incapacitated twice, a player's screen will turn black and white, a Heartbeat Soundtrack will be heard, and if a first-aid kit is not used on them, their next incapacitation will result in their death. Dead players can later be revived by finding them trapped in a closet later on, or by using a Magical Defibrillator in the sequel. Additionally, some special infected can inflict a special type of incapacitation with their attack: a Hunter's Deadly Lunge will pin a player to the ground, a Smoker can drag a player away and strangle them, a Charger can pick up a player and repeatedly slam them into the ground, and a Jockey can jump on a player's head, interfering with their ability to move by shoving them around.
- In Rainbow Six Siege, players who run out of health from a non-lethal wound will become injured: they cannot use a weapon, and will bleed out after some time if not revived by a teammate. Injured characters can crawl, which causes them to bleed out faster, or apply pressure on their wound, which stops them from moving but also slows down their bleeding. A possible tactic is to intentionally leave an enemy in the injured state to act as bait: when their friends come to revive them, you can easily shoot them.
- In Borderlands, players who run out of health are referred to as "crippled". They cannot move, but can still attack (albeit with reduced accuracy). Killing an enemy while in this state will grant you a Second Wind, allowing you to revive yourself. Teammates can also revive you when playing in co-op. If you've gone down multiple time in a short period, you'll have less time to revive. Some characters even have skills that make them stronger when crippled. Krieg in Borderlands 2 has a whole skill tree based around intentionally crippling yourself, letting him move around freely and create a giant explosion when he dies, which will still grant a Second Wind if it kills an enemy.
- Halo 5: Guardians introduced a Revive system for when a player's health is depleted, allowing their teammates to rescue them. But while helpful enough on co-op, in single player your NPC teammates are much harder to count on...
- Metroid Prime: Federation Force allows team members to revive defeated players during the campaign mode.
- In Star Wars: Republic Commando, you play as Boss, the commanding officer of a Clone commando squad, and if you get downed, you can order your squadmates to either mop up the remaining enemies without you and revive you afterwards, or come to your rescue right away (exposing themselves to danger) — this makes even going down a tactical challenge for the player. And, of course, if one of your AI teammates goes down, you can either revive him yourself or order another to do it for you using Squad Controls.
- Payday 2 has revives with a timer, after which your character is "taken into custody" by the police and is not released until a random amount of time has elapsed (you can also be taken into custody if caught off guard by the police during stealth capers). Revival usually requires proximity, but a high level Mastermind perk allows you to revive others just by shouting at them from a distance (even while you're downed yourself)—which is as broken as it sounds.
- Brink: Incapacitated players can either respawn as part of the next wave or wait for a medic to give them a revive syringe, and some characters can learn abilities that allow them to continue contributing to combat while incapacitated; High level Medics can administer revive syringes to themselves to get back into the fight faster, Operatives can deploy a cortex bomb, detonating themselves in order to invoke Taking You with Me, and high level characters of all classes can learn Downed Fire, allowing them to continue firing their secondary weapon while waiting for a medic.
- A variation: In Team Fortress 2 Mann vs. Machine, after you die it is possible for a Medic on your team to use his medigun to instantly revive you, bypassing the usual respawn timer. After reviving you are also located exactly where you died, rather than on the usual spawn point next to the upgrade station.
- Kirby Mass Attack: In this adventure, Kirby is split into 10 and has to find a way to turn himself back to normal. In the stages, if one Kirby gets hit by a hazard, that Kirby will turn into an "angel" that another Kirby must pull back to the ground before that dying Kirby flies away; if you succeed, the dying Kirby will be turned back normal.
- Dawn of War II: In the campaign, downed heroes can be revived by having another hero go to them and revive them (in the orks' case, presumably by kicking him in the fork), or be in range of someone using a medpack. If every hero is downed, the level ends with everyone getting an emergency teleport. In Retribution's ork campaign, this leads to the particularly amusing combo of using Brikkfist to crash into the enemy and fight until dead, detonate a bomb hidden on his body, then use Spookums' grappling hook to drag him away where he can be revived safely.
- In The Settlers 5, if one of your Hero Units loses all their health, they drop down unconscious and can be revived again if near a friendly unit and no enemy is around.
- The Mass Effect effect series introduced the revival system in Mass Effect 2 (the first game instead used medigels to heal squadmates), and used it to great effect in Mass Effect 3 multiplayer, which featured enemies that could immediately incapacitate you until the end of the current wave (e.g. Banshees) as well as enemies who actively finished you off after you went down and your teammates couldn't reach you (basically, every Cerberus enemy ever). Notably, the multi-player introduced revive countdowns, which single-player didn't have.
- Dragon Age: Inquisition introduced in-combat revives after the previous two games only featured magical resuscitations and After-Combat Recovery.
- In the God Eater series, defeated God Eaters must be revived via Link-Aid. This involves another character sharing a portion of their own health to heal their fallen comrade. There is a timer counting down during this time, and if it reaches zero, or the whole team gets incapacitated at the same time, the character is sent back to the spawn point and revived with full health, at the cost of an Endurance point. Running out of Endurance results in a failed mission.
- In Soul Sacrifice, you can Save fallen allies, reviving them at the cost of your health. In an interesting twist, you can also choose to Sacrifice them to unleash a powerful attack before killing them. Once dead, a player becomes a ghost who can help out by inflicting buffs and debuffs.
- In early versions of Dungeons & Dragons, if a character is reduced to a range of 0 to -9 Hit Points they fall unconscious. They continue to lose 1 Hit Point per combat round (1 minute) until they reach -10 Hit Points and die. If someone else applies first aid of some kind, including healing magic of some kind (a Cure Wounds spell, potion of Healing, etc.) before then, the Hit Point loss is stopped. If their Hit Points are raised above 0 then they can start healing normally.
- In Gears of War, players who run out of health from non-lethal injury are Down But Not Out: they are completely helpless and will die from almost any attack (except in Execution game modes, where downed characters are immune to long-range attacks and must be finished off up close and personal). Finishing Moves can be performed on downed players. Additionally, downed players can use a frag grenade to perform a suicide attack on nearby enemies.
- In Resident Evil 5, if a player or their partner gets critically injured by attacks which are not One-Hit Kill, they will enter the "Dying" status. A dying player can be healed with the help of a partner (or fully healed if the partner is carrying a First Aid Spray), and the time limit of bleedout depends on the difficulty level.
- In Warframe, incapacitated players bleed out for a few seconds. If any other players are nearby, they can run near the downed player and hold a contextual "revive" button that brings the downed player back to life. The downed player can still fire their secondary weapon while bleeding out. If you're playing solo, or your teammates are too late, you're out of luck and have to use a revive, which each player only has four of per mission and each revive has an increasing cost of sacrificing the XP gained during that mission.
- In the The Last of Us multiplayer, players can get downed by most attacks. If they are hit by molotovs, burned by flame throwers, or get headshots with sniper rifles they die instantly. Downed players can still crawl to safety to get patched up by their teammates and their enemies can finish them of with flashy executions, though smart ones might also use them as bait.
- Splatoon 2's Salmon Run mode respawns splatted players in a life ring, during which time the player can move and pick up Golden Eggs, but that's it. note Other players can shoot ink on the life ring to revive their teammate, but naturally, the team loses if everyone is splatted.
- Final Fantasy Tactics has a rare single-player example of this trope: characters who run out of health are knocked down, and have a timer appear above them. If you don't revive them or end the fight before it reaches zero, they suffer Final Death and turn into a crystal which can be used by another unit to heal themselves.
- The original UFO Enemy Unknown had a system where units could gain a shock value by getting injured. Should it exceed their current health value, the unit becomes unconscious. Since injuries usually drain health faster than shock would recover, this means that these soldiers would usually die if they don't get revived (or at least patched up) by a fellow soldier. However, there are some occasions where unconscious soldiers can actually revive on their own.
- In XCOM: Enemy Unknown and its sequel XCOM 2, soldiers who lose all their Hit Points sometimes drop down unconscious and die after 3 turns (as opposed to dying instantly). Teammates with medikits can stabilize them, but instead of joining the battle again they stay unconscious. The benefit of this is that they can join your squad again in future missions. Supports (XCom EU) and Specialists (XCom2) can unlock an ability that actually lets them join the battle again, but with only one health point, and if they are downed again they are dead for good.