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Critical Status Buff

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"Get close enough to death, and you will become Death himself."
— Publicity blurb for The Equalizer, Team Fortress 2

The heroic counterpart to enemies turning red.

Not only do Video Games tend to neglect the hindering effect of non-lethal injuries during combat, sometimes the character's Heroic Resolve effectively creates an automatic Status Buff as they approach Critical Existence Failure. This gives the player one last chance to dramatically turn the battle around, at the obvious risk of losing the battle entirely should they continue to take more hits.

Sometimes this is an ability inherent to the character, other times it is granted through the use (or acquisition) of special items or equipment. In any case, a Critical Status Buff triggers automatically when the user's HP decreases to low levels, though whether or not the status boost remains in effect after the character has been healed (or recovers full HP) varies from game to game.

Another variant has the buff's effect proportionally getting stronger the lower your HP (or any related meter/counter) becomes. Think of it this way — your character becomes stronger when they are in critical conditions or in near-death. Obviously, there is a balancing factor — the buff's effect gets weaker once you start recovering HP.

If the benefits of this status are powerful enough, they can be the key to many a Self-Imposed Challenge, especially the Low-Level Run. In low-level games (and similar challenges) in many RPGs, monsters in The Very Definitely Final Dungeon are often powerful enough to KO a party member in one or two hits anyway, so if the player is already relying more on "Revive" than "Heal" spells, there's little practical difference between whether said character is at full health or not, and a player may as well exploit this status while they can. Also note that maintaining critical status for prolonged time can be difficult if the game refills the player's HP at regular intervals (such as after every fight).

Players deliberately taking hits is a common sign that they are trying to invoke this trope and exploit it.

Super-Trope to the Limit Break and Desperation Attack, which are active skills and attacks. Compare Comeback Mechanic, which applies specifically to multiplayer, and Rubber-Band A.I.. Contrast Injured Vulnerability, where being in a critical condition adds extra weaknesses, and Full Health Bonus, an ability that works better at high health rather than low health. See also Pain & Gain.


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    Action Adventure 

    Beat Em Up 
  • Dragon's Crown has the Adrenaline passive skill of the Amazon, which increases her damage the lower her current HP is.

    Card Battle Game 
  • Bloodcraft decks in Shadowverse uses Vengeance as its staple mechanic, which is active whiles the user's health is at half health or below. Vengeance serves as a requirement for many powerful card effects, or occasionally, there are powerful cards that punish the user if Vengenance is not active for them. Bloodcraft decks also have many cards that deal self-damage, but just as many that heal them.
  • Slay the Spire: The Red Skull relic grants you 3 bonus Strength when you're at or below 50% of max health.
  • Hearthstone includes a number of effects for various classes and characters, and mechanics, that rely on a dangerous relationship with Health to gain advantages:
    • The Warlock class has a ton of cards and abilites that Cast from Hit Points but offer them major boons:
      • Their base Hero Power draws a card for 2 Health points, and has the potential to accumulate insane card advantage compared to the opponent as the game goes on and they lose Health.
      • A number of their spells and minions actively damage them when played, in granting them greater statlines or effects than other cards of the same mana cost, or mana cheating of some kind, as they lower their Health (examples include the Flame Imp which deals 2 damage but is a greatly overstatted 1-drop, or the Bloodbloom spell that allows the Warlock to cast their next spell for Health instead of mana). Some minions embody this trope more directly, such as the Hooked Reaver which buffs itself if the Hero has 15 or less Health.
      • Various deck archetypes of theirs, over the years, have relied on losing Health in order to gain board or card advantage. Handlock is probably the most well-known example: the deck, among other mechanics, encouraged damaging oneself in order to play Molten Giants, 20-Mana minions that reduce their cost depending on how much Health has been lost.
    • Warriors also have a few effects that trigger the closer the Hero is to death, such as the card Mortal Strike, which deals 4 damage for 4 mana but upgrades to 6 when the Hero has 12 HP or less.
    • Some archetypes attempt to remove their own deck as quickly as possible in order to gain an advantage of some kind. Examples include:
      • Decks revolving around Mecha'thun, a 10/10 minion that, when it dies, instantly wins the player the game if their hand, deck and battlefield are empty;
      • Similarly, decks that include cards triggering when the deck is empty, like Chef Nomi (who fills the board with huge minions) or Neeru Fireblade (a Warlock exclusive which opens a Portal that infinitely summons Demons);
      • Decks utilizing Hakkar the Soulflayer or the Fatigue mechanic, which theoretically involve symmetrical damage for the players but, played correctly, can lead to the opponent taking a lot more damage;
      • King Togwaggle or Tony King of Piracy, minions that swap both players' decks, leading to combos where one's entire deck is removed before swapping, thus killing the opponent with Fatigue.

  • In one Fighting Game adaptation of Beast Wars ("Beast Wars Transmetals"), the amount of time required to charge a character's Limit Break decreases as they take damage, allowing an injured character to unleash them more frequently than a healthy opponent.
  • In Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon SuperS: Shin Shuyaku Soudatsusen on the Playstation and Sega Saturn, all the girls unlock the ability to use their most powerful attacks when their health has been reduced by 3/4th. For the inner senshi and Moons this means using their Mid-Season Upgrade attacks and for the outer senshi this means using their Talisman attacks.
  • In the BlazBlue series, after losing enough health your character's heat gauge, which allows them to perform special attacks, will start filling automatically. Though, this also applies to your opponent.
    • In Chronophantasma, overdrives last longer the lower on health you are.
  • In some SNK games like The King of Fighters, players are offered different styles or "Grooves" that change how special bars behave. One of these styles allows for Super moves to be used without spending the special bar if the character has a 4th of their life left. And another one makes the bar smaller every time you lose a character (King of Fighters is played in teams of 3), meaning that if you are on your last character you can charge it almost immediately. Spam Attacking ensues.
  • Persona 4: Arena and its sequel have the Awakening state, which starts after dropping below 3/8 of your health. After entering it, your character gains 50 SP and increases his maximum by the same amount, gets a significant defense boost, and unlocks his most powerful SP Skills.
  • Painwheel from Skullgirls is built around her chargeable attacks. She still takes damage while charging, but she's Immune to Flinching, encouraging risky play. Two of her super moves work better with low health; the Hatred Install makes her attacks more powerful and lasts longer the lower her health is, and the Buer Overdrive returns all the damage she took while charging attacks. With the two combined, she can deal nearly twice the damage she took in one attack.
  • One skill in Soulcalibur IV is "Will power", a passive ability that boosts a character's attack power when low on HP.
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl: Lucario's attacks become stronger (and hit more easily) as his damage increases.
    • Another example occurs in the fourth installment and Ultimate as a gameplay mechanic called Rage. With Rage, the more you're damaged, the more knockback you deliver. This can be both good and bad, as higher knockback means both easier KOs and combos that are harder to pull off. This doesn't completely remove what made Lucario unique, as the Aura Pokémon is still the only fighter that gets to modify properties of moves other than knockback.
    • In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Sephiroth will automatically sprout his iconic black wing when he reaches a certain damage threshold. The wing increases his speed, gives him a third jump, and makes him Immune to Flinching while executing Smash attacks, and it lasts until he KOs an enemy or is KO'd himself.
    • Also in Ultimate, Terry gains access to two especially powerful moves, Power Geyser and Buster Wolf, when his damage exceeds 100%.
  • Tekken 6 introduced a Rage System, in which the user gains an attack boost at 5% of their health, while their limbs Turn Red. The tag spin-offs do something similar based on Relationship Values between the tag team, and Tekken 7 lets you use a Rage Art while in Rage.

    First Person Shooter 
  • Borderlands 2 has various skills that involve increasing certain stats as health lowers. Most notably is Krieg, who has a skill tree more or less focused on this trope. Specifically, he gains various buffs as he takes damage, particularly once his shields are down. He can even gain a few Desperation Attacks that either let him toss dynamite when his health hits 0 or even transform into a Badass Psycho when triggering his action skill at 1/3 of his health. In addition there are a number of shields that do things like give health regeneration or melee damage whenever they're completely depleted.
  • PAYDAY 2 has the Berserker skill and the Yakuza perk deck; Berserker increases melee damage by 250% when under a quarter health, and the aced version doubles ranged damage as well. The Yakuza deck gives faster armor regen and movement speed when under half health.
  • PAYDAY 3 has the Tank skill, which when Aced grants or refreshes Grit (which cuts incoming damage by 10%) when an armor chunk is broken.
  • Team Fortress 2:
    • When the Equalizer, an alternate melee weapon (a pickaxe) for the Soldier, was introduced, it boosted the Soldier's attack power and speed depending on how much his HP was lowered. The Pyromania Update in Spring 2012 reskinned the Equalizer and limited its effects to damage only, while simultaneously introducing a carbon-copy of the original Equalizer called the Escape Plan that sacrificed the attack upgrades for the speed ones (then later also had to deal with taking mini-crits when the weapon was out). Anyone who owned the Equalizer during the update got the convenience of a free Escape Plan for each Equalizer that they owned.
    • One of the Sniper's unlockable melee weapons, the Shahanshah, inflicts 25% extra damage if the sniper's HP is below half. This example also inverts the trope when balancing the weapon as it deals 25% less damage when the user is above half health.
    • The multi-class findable secondary weapon, the Panic Attack, used to have a unique mechanic where the player loads up their shots into the clip before firing them in quick succession after releasing the trigger, with considerably faster, but less accurate shots the lower the user's health. It was eventually reworked to be much closer to the standard shotgun, doing more damage spread over a larger number of bullets in exchange for becoming less accurate with successive shots.

  • Granblue Fantasy has Enmity, a weapon skill that increases party members' attack based on how much hp they're missing. Getting the most out of the skill be extremely risky since it requires leaving your party with very low hp.
  • Temtem has two traits that provide this:
    • Energy Reserves (held by Piraniant and Grumvel) boosts the holder's attack and gives them the invigorated status (which halves the stamina cost of all techniques) when their HP drops below 40%.
    • Furor (held by Skail, Raize, Osukan, and Pycko) boosts the power of the holder's attacks by 33% when its HP drops below 33%.
    • Inverted by the Plethoric trait (held by Wiplump, Goty, and Ukama), which increases the holder's speed if its HP is above 70%.
  • World of Warcraft: Affliction warlocks get a healing bonus to their Life Drain when at 25% health or lower; subtlety rogues have Cheat Death, which gives them a Last Chance Hit Point and massively reduces damage taken for three seconds.
    • Blood Fury, one of the Orc racial abilities, used to grant more power the lower your health when you used it.
    • Mists of Pandaria introduced several class abilities which activate only when the player is low on health, granting additional stats or health as a final resort.
    • The Cunning specialisation for Hunter pets - usually used for PvP - grants the Cornered ability, reducing chance to be crit and increasing damage by a massive 50%. In Warlords of Draenor, even non-cunning pets can gain it.
  • In Wynncraft, a piece of armor imbued with the Earth Powder Special amplifies Earth damage as the wearer's health bar dwindles.

  • In Dota 2, Huskar has the passive ability Berserker's Blood, which grants him extra attack speed and health regeneration, the amount given increasing the lower his HP is. His other abilities are Cast from Hit Points, which helps maintain the buff.

  • In Mega Man & Bass, there's a power-up that increases the shots' damage output when the characters' life bar drops too low.

  • The Binding of Isaac:
    • The Whore Of Babylon, which boosts your stats dramatically when down to one red heart. Eve starts with it, and even gets a slightly stronger version of itnote , but ??? gets the most benefit if he finds it, since his inability to get red hearts is treated by the game as being permanently in critical condition. Eve can cheat this system in a way too, by using a Devil Room or Potato Peeler to shave off a red heart and get locked into permanent "critical" condition.
    • Speaking of Eve, her entire play style revolves around this as she starts with abysmally low stats. At full health she'll struggle against rooms of even just flies and spiders, and good frigging luck if she lands a Damage Sponge boss like a Harbinger or Baby Plum in Chapter 1. To offset this she starts with Whore of Babylon (as mentioned) and Dead Bird which spawns an aggressive attack familiar for the remainder of the room if she takes damage. Generally the best boss strategy as her is to enter a boss room with one and a half hearts, take a hit, and then double-team the boss with her boosted attack and her aggressive familiar to sweep the room.
    • Tons of items will only function properly if the player has little to no red health or only soul hearts. There's the aforementioned Whore of Babylon, but there's also Empty Vessel which requires having exactly zero red hearts. Scapular grants a Soul Heart when reaching a half-heart of health. The Polaroid and The Negative which give a shield and damage burst respectively when taking damage with 0.5 or fewer red hearts. Dark Prince's Crown gives a massive tears up when at exactly 1 red heart.

  • In Bastion, the Werewhiskey tonic raises critical chance to 100% whenever the Kid drops below 33% health. Might as well make the most of it, right?
  • In Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter, the "Soul" class of shields features an ability that provides an increasing defense boost as the wearer's HP decreases. There is also "Reversal", a Desperation Attack.
  • Chrono Trigger: A variation. Magus' Doom Scythe does more damage when teammates are dead.
  • In Darkest Dungeon
    • Depending on whether they roll a Virtue instead of an Affliction, Heroes at 100 Stress might do this.
    • The Flagellant hero class from the Crimson Court DLC gains power from pain, and his attacks get stronger the closer he is to dying-and he becomes an absolute monster at Death's Door. At one third of his health, he gains a Life Drain attack too. His sole Affliction is to become "Rapturous" and go completely berserk, striking friend and foe alike with buffed damage.
  • Dark Souls has the Red and Blue Tearstone Rings, which grant their user a whopping 50% increase in damage and defence respectively when their health drops below 20%. The latter is less practical than the former due to the near-complete lack of health, limiting its benefits.
    • Dark Souls III has the Morion Blade, which grants their user 20% Attack Rating. It also stacks with the aforementioned Red Tearstone Ring, effectively making you a Glass Cannon.
  • Diablo has one due to Good Bad Bugs as you normally have a brief stun animation whenever you're hit but this animation does not play if the next hit will kill you. This doesn't take into account when you have a Mana Shield active, turning what would normally result in a Cycle of Hurting into a way to escape monsters as long as you have a good supply of mana potions.
  • Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories: Some abilities activate at less than 25% HP, such as the male ninja, which gains such a large evasion bonus that they can become nigh-impossible to hit.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II: The Talent "What a Rush" gives characters an extra Action Point per turn while they're below 50% health, improving their ability to move and use skills.
  • Dragon Quest IX: A handful of abilities work like this, notably a Minstrel buff that "raises evasiveness in a pinch".
  • Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas: The "Nerd Rage!" perk maxes out strength and gives a sizable boost to damage resistance when your health is less than 25% of max.
    • Fallout 3 has the Nuclear Anomaly perk, which causes you to detonate in a mushroom cloud the instant your health drops below 20. The only reason it doesn't count as a Desperation Attack is because it triggers automatically and cannot be controlled, causing you to erupt every ten seconds while your health stays below 20. On the other hand, it also straddles uselessness by the fact that not only it activates when you are about to die anyway, the explosion damages allies, your armor and due to a bug, it kills you on Normal difficulty and above.
    • Fallout: New Vegas has the Hot-Blooded trait, which gives you a 10% damage bonus at <50% health, but docks 2 points from your Agility and Perception in this state.
  • Final Fantasy has several examples:
    • In a few games, some equipment can activate Protect, Shell, or Haste buffs automatically when the user's HP drops to critical levels.
    • Final Fantasy V: The Mystic Knight job has the Barrier passive ability which causes the character to automatically cast Shell on himself when put into critical health.
    • In Final Fantasy VI, when a party member's HP is in critical status, there's a very small chance that their normal attack will be a special powerful attack instead. However, this is so rare that most players have never seen it while playing. Also fairly common is abuse of the Thief Knife, which grants bonus damage based on missing HP.
    • Final Fantasy VII has the Final Attack support materia, which casts the linked materia when the character equipping it is killed — pairing it with the "Revive" or "Phoenix" materia results in an Auto-Revive.
    • Final Fantasy VIII's Limit Breaks activate at random, with a greater chance of occurring if their HP is low or if the character is suffering from negative status effects.
    • Final Fantasy X:
      • The game contains the "SOS" equipment that can grant powerful status boosts while your character is below half of their maximum HP. Since some characters have odd-numbered hit point totals and a Phoenix Down revives your character at half health (rounding down), a clever player of the game's more brutal Self Imposed Challenges can double a character's speed almost all the time.
      • Auron's ultimate weapon, the Masamune, gives him an attack power boost if he's missing more than half of his HP.
    • Final Fantasy X-2 has the Cat Nip, an accessory found in the Bonus Dungeon. If you go critical while having it equipped, all your attacks will do 9999 damage. Pair this with the "Trigger Happy" skill, and you get a Game-Breaker that can take out even most Bonus Dungeon Bosses in one hit.
    • Final Fantasy XII has a set of abilities on its License board to boost the user's Defense, Attack, and/or Magic when their HP reaches critical levels. (Some bosses have these abilities too.) There are also inverse abilities granting Attack or Magic boosts any time the user is at full HP.
    • The "Sentinel" class in Final Fantasy XIII has a passive ability called Deathward, which boosts their status when their HP drops under 25%.
    • Final Fantasy XV soes this in a slightly different way - the Ascension node "Static Edge" boosts your attack power if you fully deplete your MP and go into Stasis. This is dangerous in a different way, as having no MP means your mobility is tanked, Noctis will stagger if you accidentally try to do something that consumes MP, and your ability to defend yourself if you get attacked is severely limited.
    • The Episode Ardyn for the same game replaces the usual "Danger" mechanic with this, as when your HP is depleted, Ardyn enters "Overkill" state where his attacks are replaced with wild punches that deal thousands of damage, but at the cost of being slow, not to mention being in danger of actually being killed and facing a game over. And it still counts as death for End-Game Results Screen.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics has abilities to grant a character things like Regen, Reraise, or Haste when their HP is critical.
  • Grim Dawn has a number of skills and items that activate when health falls below a certain threshold.
  • Hollow Knight:
    • The "Fury of the Fallen" charm will boost the damage the Knight deals with their nail and nail based abilities while they are at 1 HP. This creates an interesting choice, as the Knight has the ability to heal themself at almost any time, so they can (try to) pull out of the dangerous state at any time. This can create an interesting game of "Chicken" between fights and platforming.
    • The charm also changes the Knight's animation, making them no longer look tired when at 1 HP.
    • "Gruberfly's Elegy" normally gives the Knight a ranged attack only at full health, but when combined with "Fury of the Fallen" will also activate at 1 HP and be twice as strong.
  • I Was a Teenage Exocolonist: One of the cards for the card-sorting mini-game contributes more to the final score if the stress meter, which prevents the player from doing any main game tasks when completely full, is more than half full when it's played.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • "Defender" increases defense at critical HP, "Berserker/Striker" increases attack power, "Damage Control" halves damage taken, and "Grand Slam" boosts critical hit rate.
    • Kingdom Hearts II introduces the ‘Experience Boost’ ability, which doubles experience earned by 100% when Sora’s health is below 50%. The ability was changed in Birth By Sleep and Dream Drop Distance to trigger at 25% health instead.
    • 358/2 Days includes limit breaks. These allow you to enter a superpowered frenzy when you are low on health. If your health gets especially low, you can perform multiple limit breaks in a row. In order to prevent this from being completely overpowered, the health threshold required to use a limit break gets lower and lower the more it's used, although it can be brought back up with items. Also, you're not invulnerable during a Limit Break.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, Atton's saving throws get higher the lower his health is.
  • In The Legend of Dragoon, Haschel's most powerful weapon (the "Violent Mace") deals more damage the lower his HP is.
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, players can equip characters with a master quartz called "Chevalier" that boosts their physical attack power if their HP is low and "Magius" that boosts their magical attack power if their HP is low. "Keeper" also increases defenses that even bosses on Nightmare difficulty deal double digit damages the lower your HP. In Cold Steel III and IV, players can equip up to two Master Quartz. Do the math. The only downside is that these Master Quartz have to be obtained by an ongoing sidequest till the final hours of the game.
  • In Legaia 2: Duel Saga, certain equipment contains abilities that link a character's atack and/or defense powers to their current HP (directly or inversely). "Reverse-HP" and "Reverse-HP Defense", for example, provide greater effects at low HP. Each character also possesses a secret "Mystic Art" technique that can only be performed at less than half HP.
  • In Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals, Guy gains two Titles granting Critical Status Buffs: one that increases his damage output the lower his HP gets, and another that raises his Critical Hit rate if he's the last party member standing.
  • Monster Hunter has the "Adrenaline" skill which functions as a stat boost, either defense (+1) or attack (+2), when the player's character's HP drops below a certain point.
  • In Odin Sphere, the Adversity Ring increases your character's attack power as their HP decreases.
  • Paper Mario 64 and its sequel The Thousand Year Door: Quite a few badges give attack, defense, and evasiveness boosts when Mario is in the "Danger" state (5 HP or less). There are also badges that give even bigger boosts when Mario is in the "Peril" state (1 HP). You can pay an NPC in both games to increase one stat at the cost of decreasing another. The very popular "Danger Mario" build involves lowering Mario's maximum HP to 5, making him permanently in the "Danger" state, and then piling on as many of these badges as possible to turn Mario into an invincible powerhouse. You can't lower Mario's maximum HP below 5, so the "Peril Mario" build doesn't see as much use.
    • In special hacks of the game, in particular Master Quest and Pro Mode, redesign the bosses to have more health, more attacks, sometimes more allies, and more damage. Ironically, one of the best ways for pro players trying to beat these bosses is to deliberately take damage during the enemy turn so you get knocked into Peril, then to use various items and partner abilities to negate damage while Mario whales on the boss with the massive power boost.
  • Path of Exile has the Low Life condition, which is used to trigger passive skills such as Pain Attunement (which gives a large boost to spell damage when at low life), Bloodthirst Support (supported skill gains physical damage proportional to maximum life while at low life) or the properties of unique items (Ex. Wondertrap is a set of boots that give an enormous boost to rare item drop rates at low life). By using Petrified Blood or Arrogance Support on an aura to reserve life, they can put themselves at a Low Life status permanently.
  • Pokémon:
    • Certain Desperation Attacks, like "Flail", "Reversal", and "Endeavor", will inflict more damage when used at lower HP.
    • Several Pokémon species have passive abilities that boost attacks of a particular elemental type when the user is low on HP, counting Blaze for the Fire-type, Torrent for the Water-type, Overgrow for the Grass-type and Swarm for the Bug-type. There are also various Berries that yield automatic status boosts when the user's HP becomes low.
    • A Pokémon holding a Liechi Berry can boost its attack power when its HP falls below 1/4th. Other berries exist that can do this for the other stats, while the Starf Berry greatly raises a random stat instead.
    • Inverted by the ability Defeatist, the signature ability of the Archen line, which lowers the mon's offensive stats when HP is less than half.
    • Pokémon Sun and Moon gives Zygarde the Power Construct ability, causing it to enter its One-Winged Angel form when its health falls down to 50% or less.
    • In the Pokémon Ranger spinoff series, "latent power" boosts the Styler's attack power when low on HP.
  • Steven Universe:
    • In Save the Light, the Berserker Badge gives the wearer an attack buff when at 15% HP or lower while its Lucky version instead guarantees all of their attacks to be Lucky Hits.
    • Unleash the Light:
      • Some characters have skill upgrades that give them a stat boost when their HP drops to 20% or lower, like Amethyst's Scrappy (boosts Luck) and Lapis's Stretched Thin (boosts Attack).
      • Garnet's "Rally: Attack!" ability powers up an ally's next attack, with its power growing stronger the lower their health is.
  • Super Robot Wars has the pilot skill "Prevail", which increases accuracy, defense and evasion stats as hit points for their respective unit decrease. Every game has it, and so does every pilot (including bosses).
  • A few of the Personal Skills in Wild AR Ms 3 only trigger when that party member is knocked into a critical health state. These are prefaced with 'SOS' for easy recognition. Said skills can include buffs to critical hit chance, reflexes, or even having them immediately cast every character buff spell they know upon themselves.
  • In The World Ends with You, various clothing items feature status boosts that activate at low HP — the "Lapin Angelique Suicidal Special" combines said clothes with pins that put the user in critical status from the start of battle.

    Shoot 'em Ups 
  • Gunnail increases your score multiplier in proportion to how much shield points you're missing. Therefore the best way to play for score is to simply wipe out the entirety of your shield meter at the beginning of each stage. However, this triggers a constant Critical Annoyance alarm and one more hit means a Game Over.
  • Hellsinker: If you end up on your last heart you will enter a state called Auto Regen which gives you heart pieces at an accelerated rate until you get an extend.

    Sports Games 
  • In Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions, Morisaki has a skill named "Amazing Effort", that gives him a fixed 20% chance of catching any shot that activates when his spirit goes below 20%.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Don't Rest Your Head has two, one for HP and one for the Sanity Meter, both improving the respective talent:
    • Exhaustion: gets a minimal amount of successes proportional to the current Exhaustion. Additionally, when you decide to raise your Exhaustion to get an extra dice, you get a bonus proportional to your new Exhaustion value.
    • Madness: Madness is required to use your superpower. You can use up to 6 "Temporary" dices... plus the "Permanent" ones you've acquired with the loss of your sanity. 6 dice can affect a city block, but 9 dice means "Last Stand that levels half the town".
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • 1st Edition AD&D Deities & Demigods Cyclopedia: Both the Greek hero Heracles and the Norse god Modi will go into a berserk rage if they drop below 50% of their total hit points. Heracles' rage gives him a damage bonus as if his Strength score were 25, while Modi's rage doubles all of his combat abilities, including the number of attacks he can make in a round and the amount of damage those attacks inflict.
    • 3rd Edition:
      • Barbarians can trade their normal Rage ability for "Berserker Strength", gaining bonuses when their hp falls below a certain threshold.
      • The feat Pain Mastery grants the user a Strength bonus based on how much damage they have taken.
    • 4th Edition introduced a large number of effects that start when a character is seriously wounded, adding a "Bloodied" number (half the characters full HP) to character sheets and monster entries to mark when they come into play. In many monster cases powerful non-recharging effects like Splash Damage attacks get 'reloaded' when the monster is Bloodied.
    • Something Awful: Dungeons & Dragons: Joey has several attacks and abilities that trigger when he becomes bloodied including an aura of fire, extra attacks, and just straight up extra damage die.
  • Fabula Ultima has several classes with skills that confer some sort of benefit while the character is in a state of Crisis (i.e., at half health or less).
    • The Arcanist's Emergency Arcanum skill slashes the MP cost of summoning an Arcanum while in Crisis.
    • The Darkblade's Dark Blood skill makes them resistant to dark and poison damage while in Crisis, while their Heart of Darkness skill lets them forge a Bond of hatred toward a hostile creature once per scene upon entering Crisis.
    • The Fury's Adrenaline skill increases the damage they inflict with all attacks while in Crisis.
  • Games Workshop games:
    • Warhammer: Drycha's Fanatical Resolve causes her attacking power to increase as she takes damage.
    • Warhammer: Age of Sigmar:
      • The insane Bloodthirster Skarbrand is driven by nothing but rage, becoming more dangerous the angrier he becomes. In-game, Skarbrand has five levels of anger that increase as he loses more and more Wounds. The more pissed off Skarbrand is, the more attacks he can make, among other effects.
      • The Ogroid Thaumaturges of the Arcanite Cults become enraged after suffering 5 Wounds, lowering their own casting rolls but becoming even more terrifying in melee.
    • Warhammer 40,000:
      • Chaplain Lemartes of the Blood Angels' Death Company has the 'Fury Unbound' special rule the means that buffs his Strength and Attacks characteristics after Lemartes suffers a Wound.
      • Many favoured members of the Emperor's Children thrive on the pain they suffer, their wounds driving them to great heights of pleasure and encouraging them to fight even harder to prolong the experience. The Emperor's Children's 8th Edition Legion Warlord Trait represents this by boosting their Attacks characteristic whenever they are wounded.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • The Near-Death Experience card instantly wins the game, but only if you start your turn with just one life point.
    • Avatar of Hope is a powerful creature that can be cast for nearly free if your health is at 3 or lower.
    • Death's Shadow grows more powerful the lower your life total gets. At 13 life or higher, it instantly dies when it hits the battlefield. At just 1 life, however, it becomes a 12/12 behemoth that costs just one black mana to cast.
    • The Dark Ascension set has several "Fateful Hour" cards that have improved effects if their user has 5 or less life. For reference, players start at 20 life.
  • Princess: The Hopeful: The Practical Magic of the Court of Storms lets them reverse wound penalties into bonuses, so a Sworn or Princess of Storms become more powerful the closer they get to death. Similarly, Storm's invocation of Tempesta can be applied without spending a Wisp if the user has suffered enough Bashing damage to take wound penalties or any amount of lethal or aggravated damage.
  • The primary mechanic of Sentinel Comics: The RPG is the GYRO system (Green, Yellow, Red, Out) which functions like this. Each character has three zones, the Green Zone, the Yellow Zone, and the Red Zone and progress through these zones the more damage they take, unlocking more attacks as they do so.
  • Tenra Bansho Zero has this as an explicit mechanic. Players get some say in just how seriously an attack wounds their characters and the more severe their worst injury, the better the combat bonuses they get. (They pay for it later when healing, because more serious wounds are also harder to recover from.) This is in fact the only way player characters can actually die in combat — by voluntarily checking off their "Dead" box for the maximum bonus possible (and to signal that the fight has just gotten that serious) and then taking enough damage to actually kill them.

    Tower Defense 
  • In The Battle Cats, some cat units have the Strengthen ability, which increases their base attack by a percentage after their hp drops below a certain amount. The damage boost may vary, from a 50% boost to a huge 200% boost (I.e. the cat now deals 3x their base damage).
  • Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time has the Kiwibeast, which initially starts out small but grows in size up to two times as it takes enough damage. At high health, it deals weak damage on the square it's on, but when it's taken enough damage and large, it can hit a 5x4 area of zombies for huge damage per hit.

    Turn Based Strategy 
  • Fate/Grand Order has several examples. Both versions of Anne and Mary, Hijikata Toshizou and Ashvattaman all deal much more damage with their Noble Phantasms as their health drops. Hijikata in particular has a skill that damages himself and buffs his critical damage at low health.
  • In Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark, several classes learn counter abilities that apply a specific buff to them when their health gets dangerously low. These include the Reaver class’s "Critical: Rebirth", the Peddler class’s "Critical: Quicken", and the Assassin class’s "Critical: Miragenote ".
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War: The "Miracle" Skill increases Avoid when the user has 10 HP or less. The Wrath skill guarantees criticals when the user has less than half HP. Later games would nerf both of these, making Miracle into a Last Chance Hit Point instead, and Wrath typically only boosting crit by 30 or so. (Still a very strong effect)
    • Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn have the Resolve skill, which drastically boosts Strength, Skill and Speed when the user is low on health.
    • Fire Emblem Fates:
      • Scarlet's personal skill, In Extremis, increases her Critical Hit rate by 30 as long as her health is at 25% or lower.
      • The Awakening skill, learned by Great Lords, increases the user's Hit, Avoid, Critical Hit rate, and Critical Evade by 30 when their health is below half.
    • Fire Emblem: Three Houses adds the Defiant set of skills, obtained by mastering most Master Classes. If the unit's health is below 25%, it'll raise a certain stat. Some Demonic Beasts also have these equipped, making them more dangerous to take down if you can't kill them quickly.
  • Into the Breach: The Advanced Edition adds a skill that pilots can acquire called "masochist", which increases their movement speed if the mech is damaged.
  • In Sunrider 4: The Captain's Return, Kryska Stares can unlock several relationship perks which buff her stats while her health is low. Shield Wall buffs her Armor while she's at 1/4 of her max health or less, Iron Fury I and II give her a chance to fire extra shots from her kinetic weapons while at 1/2 and 1/4 respectively, and her final perk, Shock and Awe, doubles the power of all her attacks while she's at exactly 1 hit point. Asaga di Ryuvia can likewise unlock a perk, Final Stand, which gives her attacks a chance to deal double damage while she's at 1/4 or less.
  • Super Robot Wars has an ability that pilots can learn called "Prevail/Potential" that increases evasion, hit rate, and defense if the robot that they're piloting reaches certain HP thresholds. This makes a Super Robot capable of tanking attacks at low HP or a Real Robot capable of dodging attacks better.
  • In Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus +Heretek, the Xenarite class is built around this trope. Xenarite tech-priests lose a point of health with every attack, but gain 5% crit chance with every HP they lose. Their gear and other skills focus on increasing their health pool, and providing emergency healing. A fully realized Xenarite can have a 100% crit chance with a few HP to spare.


Video Example(s):



Sakurai explains how, if Sephiroth takes too much damage, his combat abilities increase.

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Example of:

Main / CriticalStatusBuff

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