For the longest time, video games told stories only through dialog that would occur either during cutscenes, or when you walked up to a person and hit the button to talk to them.
But now, with the growing trend toward story-oriented games (especially those with cutscenes), companies are starting to have their characters talk and hold conversations during gameplay.
Naturally, this occurs in games where a group of characters travel together, since otherwise, there'd be no-one for the hero to talk to (though many games did have solo heroes making one-liners—or just chatting with themselves). Sometimes you get this banter with Mission Control. Oftentimes, the heroes will be traveling the countryside, wandering through a town, or so on, and the characters will talk to each other. Or they might remark on something they just saw, or something that recently happened.
This tends to make the characters feel more "alive" by showing their personality, but it also has the benefit of conveying story and character without hurting the flow of gameplay. If Nathan Drake quips with Elena and Chloe while you're making him explore a ruined city, then you don't have to stop what you're doing just to watch the characters talk. Plus, it gives more of a feel of actually being there with those characters, to hear them conversing while you're controlling the lead hero.
On the other hand, this kind of dialog is easy to miss while concentrating on the game, especially if there are no subtitles and there is action going on. So it's best limited to background detail, with actual game-critical information given in cutscenes.
On the technical side, including unobtrusive dialogue is handy to fill in the boring sequences of trekking across safe/already explored locations. For the same reason, it is sometimes used in conjunction with Dynamic Loading. It is also very closely related to Expository Gameplay Limitation.
Note: If the gameplay stops for any reason for the characters to talk, that's not this trope. Therefore, the skits from the Namco Tales series don't count. Also, if it doesn't involve characters talking to each other and only involves the main character remarking on things out loud, it's not dialog.
See also Boss Banter, which is when bosses taunt the player during gameplay - not quite dialog (as there's no back-and-forth).
- In Unavowed, whichever two characters you bring with you on your mission will sometimes banter in the background about the current state of the mission or just bond over their common experiences. Banter also occurs during the character select screens on the subway, involving the entire party.
- ANNO: Mutationem: Ann and Ayane frequently chime in to each to discuss about the current area they're exploring while also talking about the various characters they run into while trying to solve what The Consortium is planning.
- Assassin's Creed occasionally has the voices of your support team appearing during gameplay, and regularly has dialogue during escort missions. Boss fights sometimes have the player character and the boss trading words.
- In Batman: Arkham Asylum (and the sequel), Batman will converse with Oracle and Alfred to discuss objectives and such during gameplay.
- Beyond Good & Evil has protagonist Jade and her partner characters talking constantly with her. Some of it allows them to exercise their Exposition Fairy sides, but some of it is simply for flavor or character-building.
- In Deadly Premonition, when you have passengers in your car, there's conversation between York and his passengers. York can also have one-way conversations with his invisible friend Zach when he's driving solo.
- All conversations in Dead Space and Dead Space 2 happen in real time through the videologs projected from Isaac's RIG.
- Sam Bridges of Death Stranding regularly talks with himself while out making deliveries, with some of his remarks seemingly directed at the player. He can give himself pep talks while carrying heavy loads, curse under his breath while navigating past BTs, complain when his stamina is too low, or simply bring attention to some of the things that he sees out in the world, such as footpaths.
- Grand Theft Auto:
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has this during some boss scenes. Thus, sometimes delaying the death blow so the player can hear what else the opponent has to say.
- Grand Theft Auto IV has the above, with the addition of conversations that take place while you are driving to missions. Almost every mission has a conversation, and there are even alternate conversations that occur if you have failed the mission and are attempting it for the second time. On the third pass, the NPCs usually just want to listen to the radio. The player can also make and receive phone calls during gameplay, and it's just as tricky to dial a mobile while driving as it is in real life.
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix has Ron and Hermione talking in the background about plot related subjects at regular intervals while you walk from place to place.
- inFAMOUS has conversations with your companions when you're on an escort mission sometimes, and you regularly have Cole talking to various people on the phone during gameplay. One time Cole's jerk friend Zeke calls up in the middle of a battle, and won't take the hint that now is not the time to be talking about cool names for Cole's new superpowers.
- Naughty Dog title The Last of Us has not only story-related dialog, but also banter that occurs before, during and after fights. Even when a fight is not finished, Ellie might exclaim "Holy shit, Joel!" when Joel lights someone on fire with a molotov cocktail, and Joel will tell her not to freak.
- The Legend of Zelda:
- In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, the boss himself will chastise you for fighting poorly. If Ghirahim blocks your sword strikes one too many times, he will grab the sword for himself and start swinging it at you while berating you for telegraphing your attacks so amateurishly.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, each battle against a Divine Beast involves an ally who helps you incapacitate the machine; said ally will also give you hints on how to fight the Beast and congratulate you for good shots. The hints and congratulations carry over to the end-of-dungeon bosses, where the trapped spirits of the Champions will tell you about the creatures that killed them a century ago.
- This was an innovation in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots; previously, whenever Otacon or your other Voice with an Internet Connection wanted to talk to you, they'd have to interrupt the gameplay by pulling up the Codec menu to talk to you. In MGS4, Otacon gives tips to you right in the middle of gameplay; this becomes vital if, for example, you get totally lost inside a collapsed building.
- All the dialogue between Faith and Merc in Mirror's Edge happens via Faith's headset while she is running really fast. Apparently, she is just that good at keeping her breath steady.
- Outcast has enemies on patrol while the Ulukai speaks with various Talan. If they get too close, the conversaion breaks and requires combat to be resolved.
- Happens while the player is platforming in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time trilogy. Sometimes, the conversation is distracting and leads to the player's death, making them miss out the rest of the conversation. Likewise, there is a lot of banter between Prince and Elika in the 2008 version.
- In Scarface: The World Is Yours, in the 'storage area' an extra summoned mook will sometimes decide to get into a verbal shouting match with the mook that shows up because it's a storage area.
- Silent Hill: Shattered Memories allows Harry and anyone currently travelling with him to hold a conversation en route to their destination, either on foot or in a vehicle.
- Several of the Spider-Man video games have Spider-Man and the bad guys toss back and forth verbal barbs at each other. Sometimes townspeople will talk to Spidey or shout up at him while he's swinging around the city, and he'll talk back.
- In the Ace Combat series, most of the dialogue takes place while you are flying/dogfighting, though the really important (story-relevant or character-building) exchanges take place during the quiet getting-to-the-target-airspace sequences. In Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War, you could even participate in it with simple yes/no answers (if you didn't press a corresponding button due to being too busy actually playing, the prompt disappeared after a few seconds and the dialogue continued).
- This goes all the way back to Space Ace, with Dexter and Kimberly exchanging witty banter (and exposition) during action scenes.
- In Shadowverse, the pre-defined emotes serve as a simplistic way for players to communicate with each other. Later story chapters have your playable character exchange unique lines with their opponent at specific turns or after the match.
- Shows up in copious amounts in BioShock Infinite, which Booker and Elizabeth talking and exchanging banter even in the middle of a firefight.
- The Left 4 Dead series has lots of this. Characters talk to each other frequently, mostly yelling out information (such as enemy positions), but sometimes hold brief conversations as well.
- Devil May Cry is no stranger to mid-battle dialogue, but Devil May Cry 5 takes this to a new level, not only having the character(s) talk to themselves about various events going on around them, but in a few cases they have active chatter against the enemy.
- Dynasty Warriors and many of its contemporaries have the significant characters talk to each other even as the player is hacking through hundreds of mooks. They're usually explaining what happened during the scenario/mission.
- En Garde! is all about its battle dialog. Characters constantly joke around and tease each other, and some of the dialog is pretty funny. It all adds to the game's very light mood.
- The God of War series occasionally has dialogue during gameplay, but it's pretty rare and usually other characters taunting Kratos. God of War (PS4), on the other hand, has Kratos frequently talking to Atreus and later Mimir. They discuss not only what they're doing at the moment, but also the world and several stories that Kratos and Mimir tell Atreus while they're rowing.
- Characters in Hyrule Warriors keep up a running commentary of the battle, to inform you of their plans or to ask for your help when they're overwhelmed. Unlike most examples of this trope, the dialogue is not voice-acted (since it is a Zelda game) other than a short gasp or similar sound to alert you to their dialogue. Given the hectic nature of battles in the game, it can be quite easy to miss unless you happen to glance over at the bottom corner of the screen at the right moment.
- Azure Striker Gunvolt has him (or Copen) and the Mission Control talk as they traverse through the levels. Occasionally the mooks and even the boss may also talk, either to each other or to the heroes. They're sometimes hard to follow, especially since it's a fast-paced game; some sections may also trigger a certain conversation even when the previous one isn't finished yet.
- Used in Meta Knight's Revenge in Kirby Super Star. The villainous crew constantly banter among each other (even giving out gameplay/boss hints) while you play through the game.
- Sonic the Hedgehog:
- Sonic and the Secret Rings has Sonic accompanied by a fairy/light that follows him around, and sometimes the two talk to each other.
- Sonic Forces: Sonic frequently talks during gameplay, and exchanges comments with bosses during fights.
- Sonic Heroes: The team members talk among themselves during gameplay.
- BioWare's RPGs frequently have this, as part of the company's traditional attention to characters. The fandom's term for this is "Party Banter", since most of the dialogue takes place between active party members.
- The Baldur's Gate series started the tradition but there, the party members with opposing world views would start arguments and draw on the PC for arbitration, thus making it a regular cutscene. Sometimes, however, they would spontaneously compliment each other while traveling, playing this straight.
- The Mass Effect series follows suit, with squad members conversing behind Shepard's back, especially during the elevator rides used to conceal level loading in the first game.
- The Dragon Age series has a set of predetermined locations, passing through which would trigger dialogue between two (sometimes all three) NPCs accompanying the player. Each pair of characters has 5-6 dialogue bits that play out sequentially, regardless in what order you visit the trigger locations (though some play only after certain plot events), and each bit reveals hidden aspects of their personalities (like Leliana catching Sten playing with a kitten, or Zevran hitting on Morrigan). Dragon Age II even lets the Suddenly Speaking Player Character participate in the banter.
- It's greatly expanded in Dragon Age: Inquisition, where there is over five hours of recorded dialog between the 9 party members and player character. Banter can occur at any time (except when fighting, or in Val Royeaux) and takes into account what quests you've done and who you've romanced.
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion has NPCs getting into conversations about rumors and current events with each other, while the player is walking around.
- Final Fantasy:
- Final Fantasy VII Remake continued the trend, with the party bantering in battle and around the map, as well as NPCs around the towns. As Cloud's reputation builds, the dialog adjusts to account for his growing notoriety.
- Final Fantasy XIII has this; when you're walking around, sometimes your party members will comment on stuff like the scenery in the corner of the screen.
- Final Fantasy XV has this between the four main cast members for a large chunk of the game. This has the side effect of making the awkward silence between the four after a spat during the game's plot and the isolation in later sections where The Hero finds himself on his own even more jarring.
- Fossil Fighters includes Combat Commentators discussing the battles going on, via text boxes on the DS's top screen. Like with Kirby Super Star, you can pick up tips if you pay attention.
- Granblue Fantasy has certain characters in the party talk with each other during battle for nearly every action they can do. When the Four Dragon Knights have their unique costume equipped, they get even more battle dialogue with each other.
- The protagonist couple of Haven (2020) regularly talk with each other while they're out exploring Source. In addition to making idle conversation related to the time of day or the latest plot developments, they can also respond to riding flow threads, performing large jumps, collecting cooking ingredients, going too long without eating, and more.
- Kingdom Hearts: Most of the games at least have the characters saying something during battles, though it's usually more for flavor than actual dialog, e.g. shouting a character's name while casting a healing spell. Kingdom Hearts III has more of this, with characters pointing things out (e.g. collectable items) while walking around outside of combat.
- The Last Story does this almost constantly throughout the game. There are even many sections where a player might hold back in finishing off a boss in order to hear the full conversation.
- The Legend of Heroes - Trails: Beginning with Trails of Cold Steel, the party members have a brief conversation while out exploring in various areas.
- Neopets browser RPG Neo Quest II has a few lines the characters can randomly utter during any move outside fights. Each character has their own lines.
- Your party members in Persona 3 and Persona 4 are quite chatty during battle, and they provide all sorts of commentary on things like scoring a critical hit, missing an attack, finishing off an enemy, another party member finishing off an enemy, getting inflicted with a status element, an ally getting downed, number of enemies left, etc, etc.
- Travelling through Mementos in Persona 5, you will hear plenty of chatter between your party members. Conversations are modular, with multiple characters capable of responding to the same piece of dialogue if it gets repeated. It's a shame their conversations get interrupted whenever you open a door.
- Rogue Galaxy had a feature called "Active Chat" (a possible title) where as you run about each planet, the active members in your team quip random comments. Many of these were context-sensitive, reflecting on the current situation/objective, the previous Random Encounter, the surrounding environment, how long the player has been running around (or standing still), how long it's been since they used a Save Point, or so on.
- Almost all of the storytelling in Sonny is done via this, since the game is essentially a long string of battles with only a single fairly short cutscene in between each chapter.
- In South Park: The Fractured but Whole your party members will have something to say about just about anything that can happen during a battle, from being attacked to having different status effects inflicted to using items to specific other party members attacking, and sometimes characters will even have short exchanges with each other. And that's not even counting the lines specific to different story fights.
Mosquito: Well, you really need to punch your enemies, Super Craig?Super Craig: Uh, yeah.Mosquito: All right, then. Don't be a hypocrite.
- This has become very common amongst many games in the Tales of... series. Frequently, the beginning of a Boss Battle will have dialogue between the participants during the fight itself. Party members may comment on the player's tactics, such as using the same technique repeatedly or running around the enemies and not attacking.
Marta: You're using too many Artes!Emil: It's to win!
- Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World had conversations mid-battle, usually as the result of player action (i.e. using items, taking a lot of damage).
- Instead of telling the story through cutscenes, dialogue in The Persistence will play between your player character and the game's one NPC when you progress to key parts of the ship. You'll also get unique dialogue when you respawn or pick up an particular item for the first time in a life.
- The characters throughout A Plague Tale: Innocence constantly banter with each other. Depending on how quickly you progress through each setpiece, you might even find their lines running over each other, making it a bit hard to suspend disbelief in those moments where Amicia and Hugo are trying to be stealthy.
- Ghost Recon Wildlands has mission briefings and conversations during the game. When combat breaks out, the dialog pauses while the players get to focus on combat, with said dialog restarting once combat is evaded or ended.
- Kid Icarus: Uprising has a lot of this during both gameplay types - the flying and the on-ground fighting. Pit has a lot of back-and-forth dialog with Palutena, and other characters, such as bosses, have a lot to say during gameplay as well. Some of it is story-related, while a lot of it is comedic banter.
- L.A. Noire likes to include dialogue while you are driving to somewhere. If the player has his partner drive, which automates the trip, the conversation will complete before the cut to the destination.
- Walker, Lugo and Adams frequently converse during Spec Ops: The Line's campaign.
- There's lots of chatter with your wingmen in the Star Fox series. Sometimes enemies exchange taunts with the heroes, and sometimes other characters talk to the Star Fox team. This has been happening since the first game, which originally used only text and no voice acting to convey the dialog.
- The Uncharted series lives and breathes this trope. There's a lot of conversations the characters have with each other during gameplay, not just during exploration but also sometimes even during battle!
- Warframe: While the player is a Heroic Mime (until a certain questline), The Lotus and other characters will talk with the player as the mission goes on. For Assassination Missions, the target in question will throw out taunts towards the player.