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Dialogue Tree

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Decisions, decisions.

Hey there, Troper! What brings you to the Dialogue Tree page?

  • I fell in a Pot Hole and here I am.
  • I wanted to learn about them, of course!
  • You know me, I can't resist smashing that "Random Trope" button.

I thought so. Well, a Dialogue Tree is a common feature of Role-Playing Games and Adventure Games, where interactions with certain Non Player Characters are done by selecting a possible response from a list of two to five choices. As you might imagine, this can lead to frustration as the player tries to figure out the correct sequence of responses to get what he or she wants out of the NPC.

  • Sounds annoying. So why even use them, then?
  • But they can't be all bad if they're so common, right?
  • Yeah, that's great, anyway - have you seen Tropey the Wonder Dog around? It's Trope-tan's turn to give him a bath.

They're one of those Acceptable Breaks from Reality, since fishing for correct vocabulary and grammar that actually yields a result can be drag on gameplay for any genre other than Interactive Fiction, and some old-school RPGs that implement a Keywords Conversation mode (if you want to know what that's like, just click on any wikilink in this paragraph). The games industry's standard of fully voiced dialog also makes it prohibitively expensive in voice acting hours, and the technology for synthetic voice hasn't progressed far enough past Robo Speak for a satisfactory cost-effective substitution. On the upside, some games use Dialogue Trees to allow the player to try out their non-combat skills or abilities, or affect where on the Karma Meter the Player Character turns out.

[FAILED] No thanks, I'm seeing a nice page from the Sugar Wiki. Anyway, this can also be a form of Truth in Video Games, as it accurately captures the genuine excitement of calling the customer-service number of your ISP or phone company. So, do you understand now, or Shall I Repeat That?

Okay then. And remember, nothing's more annoying than the illusion of choice. And on that note, how would you like to do a long and tedious Fetch Quest? See, I need 20 Bear Asses for no adequately-explained reason, and I have a hunch that the Broken Bridge out of town won't be fixed until I get them. Will you help me?


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    Action Adventure 
  • Link from The Legend of Zelda is a strange case. Unlike everyone else in the series, he never gets a regular dialogue box, making him a Heroic Mime. He does, however, frequently get dialogue trees, ranging from a simple yes/no to humorous retorts.
  • Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness included this as one of the many RPG elements of the game. Notably, you will pretty much always end up with the same result no matter what options you choose, with only three exceptions: being too brusque with Carvier results in her not handing over the book (forcing Lara to find it herself), being too snarky to Bouchard results in him shooting Lara right there and then, and being rude to Luddick means you won't get a useful weapon until a level later.
  • In The Speris Legacy, an Action RPG for the Amiga, when you encounter NPCs, you must interact with them by repeatedly selecting things to say from a list. The list generally dwindles until the only remaining option is, "I've got to go now, Goodbye!"

    Adventure Game 
  • One of the earliest games to attempt this was Windham Classics' Alice in Wonderland game. When conversing with a character, you had options like "Coax," "Tease," "Scold," and "What are you doing?" Picking the right answers yielded clues or items to advance. Angering one of the Wonderland residents would cause them to vanish for a few in-game hours. This being Wonderland, polite behavior wasn't always the best course of action.
  • The Another Code games use these as well.
  • A Tale of Two Kingdoms has standard dialogue trees, but with the added option to ask people "could you do something for me." This lets you ask the NPC you're speaking with to look at or touch anything in the room, which gives different results than if you do it yourself.
  • Best of Three runs on one. You're given 1-4 options to respond or ask Grant questions. Alternatively, if you don't like your choices, you can type "topic [noun]" to see if you can discuss that instead. You also get a limited selection of traditional IF commands, such as being able to sip your drink or examine the area.
  • Averted in Bientot Lete. The conversation part of the game is instead represented as a chess match between your character and their lover. Each square on the board activates a certain response when a chess piece is placed on it. This usually results in beautifully-sounding, but ultimately disjointed and meaningless conversations.
  • The Broken Sword games also use icons instead of real text, and you can even talk about/use your inventory items in conversations.
  • Culpa Innata had highly prominent dialogue trees in practically every conversation. You were expected to use these in order to interrogate the various suspects in your way, but other people could also be talked to at any times, which impacted Phoenix's Human Development Score, and consequently, the ending.
  • In The Dame Was Loaded, they were used occasionally. Usually the differences were minor, but particularly bad decisions could lead to a Game Over.
  • The Dig used icons as well, but made a joke out of repetitive dialogue. After learning about the in-game bridges made of light, Boston Low (the PC) can call up another crew member and speculate at EXTREME length about other things you could make out of light. Light house, light salad dressing, light beer... The first few amuse your NPC crewmember, but she gets more and more annoyed as you go on.
  • Discworld Noir has these, which is unsurprising for an adventure game. It adds that you can bring up any item in your inventory as a conversation prompt, along with notes you've made about topics you've encountered.
  • Fahrenheit has perhaps a unique manner of conducting dialogues in real time! Every time you get only about 2 seconds to choose a line (neatly presented in forms of brief notions, like "tell truth" or "turn into a joke".) Fail to choose in time and the character will blurt out one of them at random.
    • Spiritual successor Heavy Rain allows you to do the same. It even gives you Inner Monologue Trees when it comes to listening to your characters' thoughts!
  • One of the selling points of Grim Fandango is that it has "over 7,000 lines of revealing dialogue".
  • The CD-i adventure game Laser Lords had a unique approach to this; the responses are key words you can select from the talking character's current dialog. You also have the option to remember key words so you can say them to anyone, which is needed for relaying passwords or asking about things only one character mentions.
  • Subverted in Last Word. Every time you talk to someone you begin with a choice of Gossip, Chatter, Discourse and Leave. Chatter will have the other character automatically say whatever they want to talk about, and Whitty will occasionally reply, also automatically. Gossip is similar, but you pick one of the key topics (Chatter Estate, Private Prattle or St. Lauden's Military) through a separate menu before approaching a person.
    • Last but not least, Discourse leads to the argument minigame that is the game's selling point. No actual words are shown on screen; instead, Whitty and her current conversation partner first attract attention by being Disruptive, then use Submissive phrases to build up Tact, which, counter-intuitively, allows them to use Aggressive options in order to efficiently push the argument slider in their favour and thus win it. (being aggressive and tactless is prohibited because you're at an upper-class party). Those three main options can each be said in a Subtle, Normal or Overt way, which has slight tactical differences but allows you to get the opponent angrier (and thus more suspectible to Aggressive option) by countering their type of response in a rock-paper-scissors element.
  • Nancy Drew games rely on this trope for the most part when you need to have a conversation with someone.
  • Used in most adventure games. Sam & Max Hit the Road was unusual in that it replaced questions or topics with graphical icons representing things you could ask about.
  • The graphical icons were also used in Discworld point-and-click games.
  • Completely averted in the Starship Titanic game - it really can read full, typed out sentences and has a huge number of recorded responses.
  • The X-Files Game allowed you to select what kind of emotional response your character would give to certain lines. In an interesting take, certain events would change depending on how you decided to respond: for example, picking mostly "paranoid" answers would cause a dead body to suddenly twitch at you in the morgue.
  • Clarence's Big Chance: During the date.
  • Randal's Monday: Mainly used to pick out your favorite quip, but a few puzzles are reliant on this, including the last puzzle.

    Dating Sim 
  • The Sakura Wars series has a variation. You usually have a time limit to choose from the dialogue choices given to you; if you didn't pick anything before time ran out, the character you were talking to would treat it as the player character deliberately remaining silent. (This wasn't necessarily a bad thing.) Sometimes, additional options would appear halfway through the countdown.
    • The Love Hina GBA game does pretty much the same thing.

    Edutainment Game 

    First-Person Shooter 
  • Gene Troopers has dialogue branching in conversations between your character and the various NPC, though the outcome is usually the same.

  • In Runescape, this is the only way to communicate with an NPC, and frequently one must answer the correct string of choices.
  • In Poptropica, both player-to-computer and player-to-player conversation takes this form, the main idea being to prevent bad language and such.

    Point-and-Click Game 

    Puzzle Game 
  • Somehow manages to turn up in a climactic level of World of Goo, despite it being, roughly, a puzzle game. Subsequently it gets a big Lampshade Hanging (see the quotes page).
  • Gunpoint lets you choose between being serious and professional or being a Deadpan Snarker pretty much every time you get to talk. It has no real bearing on anything gameplay- or storyline-wise, but making conversations go in a typical internet fashion is kinda nice.
    • At one point you get an option prefaced with "(Lie)". If you pick it, the character you are speaking to will mention how you put (Lie) in front of all your lies.
  • Dialogues in Wonderland Adventures work like this.

    Racing Game 
  • Once you've won a cup in F-Zero GX, your racer is taken into an interview room with F-Zero TV host Mr. Zero, where you choose what question he asks. The available questions change depending on your difficulty.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • An interesting version occurs in Castles (and would've been a subversion, if the game hadn't been as old as the trope itself!). While building your massive castles, you are occasionally interrupted by a scene of one of your subjects (be it a knight, bishop, peasant, etc.) coming to you with news, threats or advice. The scene consists of some narration and the text spoken by your audience, after which you get to choose from one of three optional responses. The trick is that after your respond, the game goes back to the castle-building mode as though nothing happened. You are then left to pretty much obsess over what implications your decision may have. About 10-15 minutes later, another cutscene/dialogue will trigger, possibly continuing the same plotline from before taking your previous decision into account, or it may be a completely different person starting a new dialogue tree! Some of these "side-events" can continue over a few "years" of game-time, and some can even be circular: going back to square every few cutscenes until you can figure out a way to resolve the situation for good. Of course, some of the choices in certain dialogues will lead to instant battles, and many of these are the most difficult battles you'll face in the game. At other times, a dialogue option can cause half your laborers to leave the building site, or other such dreaded scenarios.

    Role Playing Game 
  • The Age of Decadence uses dialogue trees for every conversation, and the options available differ greatly based on your character's background (of which there are seven, and the option to have an undefined background.) In addition, the success or failure of the many choices you get to lead to a desired outcome is heavily dependent on player's stats, as well as their reputation with game's 7 factions. Even being a pacifist has its downsides, as you'll be instantly shown the door if you try applying to the local assassins, known as The Boatmen of Styx.
  • Albion has universal standard options (eg. you can ask most people what their profession is), a key word system (mostly used for finding about the local culture, but sometimes to advance the plot), and only occasionally actual lines you can choose - and even more rarely more than one that are genuine alternatives. Aside from the smoothness of finding out about local gossip and cultures by asking just about anyone without having to have dialogue options to do that with, this doesn't help avoid any of the problems.
  • Alpha Protocol is heavily built on dialogue choices. Usually the top node is an aggressive/assertive stance, the left node is a suave/attitude stance, and the right node is a professional/polite stance (a miscellaneous node that usually refers to actually doing an action or using special information is the down node, though it isn't always present). The game also uses a DSS, Dialogue Stance System — your actions and words will increase/decrease your reputation with someone.
  • Arcanum provided a wide range of dialogue choices for every conversation, and these were heavily influenced by character stats and gender. The most prominent example was Magic/Technology scale , whereas player's growing proficiency with tech led to increased respect (and when maxed out, outright adoration) from engineers and such, but led to simultaneous disdain from mage-affiliated NPCs. There was a traditional Good/Evil scale with similar effects, too.
    • In another example that shows how well dialogue trees were developed in Arcanum, it was possible to talk your way out of nearly every encounter with the right stats. Dedicated players could easily finish the whole game without killing anyone.
  • Baldur's Gate was the first BioWare game to use them, and a beginning of a fine trend for the studio. While the original didn't use them too often, they became far more prominent in the sequel, as player's party members were much deeper and gained their own sidequests, and there were more opportunities for conversation in general.
  • Bound by Flame had dialogues with every party member, which could be used to learn more about them or even unlock romance options. Dialogue options were also used to resolve the quests in a human or demonic way, leading up to the ending choice.
  • Child of Light had a few dialogue trees, notable by the fact that all options and character replies were written in rhyme.
  • Cosmic Solder from 1985 may possibly be the Ur-Example in role-playing games.
  • An important element of Dead State, where your interactions with you companions (and thus their well-being, including whether or not they trust you enough to lead them) largely depend on the dialogue choices you make. The game has about several novels' worth of such text in it.
  • Devil Survivor has a number of these for every conversation, and while some won't matter or will just make you choose the other choice later, some have huge effects on story events. Speaking of story events, you choose which ones you do. So there's really a ton of possible ways to go through the game, regardless of there only being 5 (or 6, depending on who you ask) endings.
  • Dex uses them during the conversations with all characters. All the replies are fully-voiced and more important decisions have explainer tags like [threaten] or [convince].
  • Disco Elysium goes as far as lampshade the game's use of them by Leaning on the Fourth Wall, as being a sign of the Player Character's insanity. In a dream the Player Character meets his ex-fiance Dora, and she calls him out on always structuring his conversations like this:
    The Detective: In case you haven't noticed, I'm a cop. It's not easy work, like some kind of Academy or something.
    Dora: A cop... You've worked there for so long that you can't even talk like a real person anymore! It is always lists with you. Questions.
    The Detective: They're not lists. They're trees.
    Dora: This is another, isn't it? We're in a tree right now!
    The Detective: Yes, but it's not possible to talk without trees.
  • Divine Divinity had offered lots of frequently silly dialogue choices that often didn't do anything important. Beyond Divinity continued the tradition, and the two paired characters (literally chained by their souls) frequently commented on each other's replies during dialogue. Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga had a single playable character, but his mind reading ability frequently unlocked bonus options in dialogue (including multiple quest resolutions).Divinity: Original Sin again had two player characters, and if you're not playing in co-op, they would argue against each other through dialogue trees, with rock-paper-scissors minigame used to resolve their arguments.
  • Dragon Age generally provided 5-6 dialogue options at the start of the conversation, and had a similar conversation mechanic to KOTOR where skills and your gender/origin play a part in dialogue. For instance, Dwarf Commoner can tell to Alistair early on that even though dwarves are experienced at fighting darkspawn, they personally had to fight city guards a lot more often.
  • Dragon Age II changes to a Mass Effect dialogue wheel that came with tone indicators, usually correlating to a diplomatic, sarcastic, or aggressive attitude. These choices gradually affected the player character's personality; e.g., choosing snarky options frequently would make Hawke more sarcastic in their dialogue that wasn't chosen by the player.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Daggerfall has a dialogue tree method that uses keywords and divides them into topics and regions of interest. Most information you will learn from these involve updating your town map with store names. Actual quest-based information is handled via a "shut up, I talk, you listen" approach.
    • In Morrowind, you can choose what to talk about with NPCs in a dialogue tree, including "Lore", "Background", and "Race". NPC responses on one topic can contain the names of topics new to the player, allowing the player to select those new topics in dialogue with any NPC having a response to that topic. Certain classes (and individuals) have more responses available: priests will talk about the gods, and savants will talk about pretty much everything in the game. Additionally, some topics are region-based, and will appear in a given NPC's dialogue tree because they had spawned in that region of the game world. Thought nearly all of the game's dialogue is written, there are tens of thousands of lines available.
    • Oblivion's version is limited in comparison, in large part due to the game switching to most spoken dialogue. Every character has at least a "Rumors" topic, and city dwellers can talk about their city. Guards will respond to queries about notorious thief Gray Fox and guard captain Heironymous Lex. Some topics are scripted to do things when chosen—for instance, beggars have the "Have a coin, beggar" option, which actually makes your character give them 1 gold. Contrasting with Morrowind, Non Player Characters tend to have occasional unique dialogue; though there are far fewer lines available due to, once again, the move to voicing the lines.
    • Skyrim has a more traditional dialogue system, where you actually choose what your character says instead of just choosing a topic to talk about.
  • Done in the Exile series. Then, in the original Nethergate, it was made something like a webpage, with certain words you could ask about highlighted. In order to ask about something, you click on a word. The remakes (Avernum series and Nethergate: Resurrection) use a conventional dialogue tree, though.
  • The Fall: Last Days of Gaia had them, where they’re used to accept and reject quests, in general conversations, as well as make storyline choices. A common type of dilemma is whether to spare or execute one of the captured antagonists.
  • Used in the Fallout series, with some variation. Most dialogue uses a tree, but you also have the option to type in a keyword, which they will treat as a request for information about the topic, but most characters have few or no options. Later installments stripped out the keyword option.
    • Fallout is a masterwork of interlocking player character skills (and stats, advantages, and even equipment or clothing) with hidden twists and turns in the dialog trees. The most famous one, however, is low intelligence. A character with a sufficiently low intelligence is too stupid to actually possess a working knowledge of language. The game still possesses dialog trees, it just that they tend to all consist of options like: "Hunh," "Ugh," and "Mom?", with various characters in the game reacting to this utter idiot accordingly. Amazingly, the game is still playable, possessing a whole alternate dialog for the entire game, based around your character possessing the mental acumen of a somewhat clever dog. There are even quest resolutions that only exist with an abysmally low intelligence character.
      • There is an interesting bug with the character Dane in the cathedral. The parser only prints the last few sentences of his dialogue before topic choices, rendering his conversation even more raving than displayed. His full dialogue is here.
    • Fallout 2 had the simpleminded Torr Buckner in Klamath. If your PC is also simpleminded, meaning having low intellgence, you two can have an in-depth conversation, in which the subtitles are subtitled, as detailed in the dialogue file, here.
    • Fallout 3 continues the tradition with conversation options for stats, skills, karma and even perk related dialogue. It also probably holds the record number of swearwords you can select in any game.
    • Fallout: New Vegas adds special dialogue choices for taking a Gay Option, which can even interact with the aforementioned low-intelligence options ("You too tense. It wrinkle your nice face."). There's also a Terrifying Presence perk that lets you interrupt a hostile dialogue with a Badass Boast that not only initiates combat, but sends your opponent running.
    • Part of Fallout 4's Broken Base came from it taking a chainsaw to the series' traditional dialogue trees, so to speak. Instead of getting a list of responses to choose from, the player is given a Mass Effect-style dialogue wheel with one- or two-word labels that don't always let you know what your character is about to say, which can lead to frustration if the fully-voiced Sole Survivor misses the tone you were going for. Unlike Mass Effect, most of the choices don't affect the conversation's outcome, so that the player's response options boil down to "Yes," "Sarcastic Yes," "No (Yes)," and "What?" And just as critically, the only way to get alternate outcomes or persuade other characters is your Charisma stat, none of your other skills or perks come into play at all, with two or three exceptions during specific sidequests. The only thing your dialogue choices really impact is your current companion's opinion of you, with "nice" characters approving of polite or supportive responses, and others liking it when you're rude or dismissive.
  • Final Fantasy II (the original, not IV) made use of this, something that was pretty revolutionary for its time, considering this was an 8-bit NES game from 1988. As you played, you would pick up special words used as branches that you could then ask other people about in various conversations. The tree only appeared when talking to specific people though (otherwise, they'd Welcome to Corneria you), and they were only programmed to respond to certain branches at certain times. This made it odd when you tried to talk to Princess Hilda near the endgame with a good 20 branches to choose from, and any besides 1 or 2 still currently relevant choices resulted in her just flinging a "?" at you.
  • Final Fantasy VI had a scene in which your characters would have a dinner party with Emperor Gestahl. During the dinner, you're called upon to respond to his prompts, such as who to toast at the start of dinner or what to do about the recently imprisoned Kefka. Depending on what you say, and how many soldiers you spoke to before dinner, you'd be rewarded with diplomatic gestures, such as imperial troops being withdrawn or gifts from the Emperor himself.
  • The Geneforge series makes use of dialogue trees as well. What you say can have an impact on your reputation (News Travels Fast). Putting points into the Leadership skill gives you more conversation options, making you better able to persuade people.
  • GreedFall: There are usually three dialogue options for any prompt, though they usually provide only an outline of the much longer speech your character is going to say upon selecting that option. Certain Talents also open up dialogue options that can offer alternate solutions to problems.
  • Haven (2020) provides at least one dialogue prompt in most conversation scenes, with certain prompts changing the scene's outcome and/or increasing the speaking protagonist's Confidence if the more assertive option is chosen. In co-op mode, both players must agree on a single dialogue option by mutually selecting it.
  • In the first Kingdom Hearts you are asked three questions at the very beginning. How you answer them will determine how hard or easy the game is. In both games there is a similar situation where you must choose various weapons and skills to determine how you will level up and what sort of combat you want to focus on.
  • Knights of the Old Republic, with many tradional Light and Dark Side of the Force choices. KotOR 2 manages to turn the Dialogue Tree into a Dialogue Weapon twice; early on in the game you have a battle of ideals with Atris, and then much later you're required to use words to erode Darth Sion's will in between bouts of lightsaber combat, effectively talking him into suicide.
  • Mass Effect handles this in such a way that you can choose which option you want your character to say, before the current speaker has finished their line. It certainly helps to keep the flow of the conversation, and prevents most instances of a paused interruption. The game also put its own spin on the trope by having you choose only the general tone of Shepard's response, rather than the exact words.
    • There's even one instance in the climax where you can convince the bad guy to commit suicide simply by using your wily, idealistic charms or your bed-wettingly preposterone-coated manliness. Actually two instances, but the second is much harder to accomplish, and requires consistent dialogue choices through the entire third game.
  • Megami Tensei from 1987
  • Metalheart: Replicants Rampage had them, but they were only used to ask questions and rarely impacted on anything.
  • Mitsumete Knight R: Daibouken Hen, a game from Sakura Wars's creators Red Entertainment, does the same time limit variation of the trope described in the Sakura Taisen entry above, during the World Travelling sequences.
  • Neverend had dialogue trees with some good and evil responses. However, you got Good or Bad ending based on just one choice near the end of the game.
    • Some unimportant dialogue in Vampire Hunters, which was developed by the same team. The game was so bugged, however, that text of your replies couldn't be read in resolutions higher than 1024 x 768.
  • 911 Operator: You respond to the calls by picking options in this manner, which then lead to further voiced responses from the callers.
  • Games in the Neverwinter Nights series used them efficiently. The best example was the episode where the player gets tried before court, and needs to seriously use their wits to avoid unfortunate consequences.
  • Due to its low budget, Of Orcs and Men usually had only two choices presented during its dialogues, and these often fell into But Thou Must!. On the other hand, these options were also always in character and did a lot to fill in the otherwise sketchy lore and character details.
  • Okage: Shadow King uses them, but with Ari's sheer lack of presence meaning your choice of response usually has no immediate effect.
  • In Persona 5, talking with party members, answering questions in class, doing part-time jobs, and negotiating with demons all involve picking multiple options from a list of potential responses.
  • Pillars of Eternity has loads of them. Player's class, gender and stats all have a measurable impact on conversations. What's more, choosing a certain type of option particularly often (diplomatic, aggressive, etc.) opens up more advanced versions of them, here it can actually lead to alternate quest resolutions and such. It's like the system of Dragon Age 2, but properly balanced.
  • Planescape: Torment is built on this, it's used for virtually any interaction more complicated than opening a door or picking up an item, and when used in conversation the trees get obscenely long and elaborate, to the point that you spend far more time in them than actually exploring and/or fighting. Often you even have two identical dialog options, and the only difference is whether you're lying or not.
  • Prince of Qin generally had a few choices at the beginning of each conversation, before the trees turned into a single branch without choice. Your choices did impact on the storyline, though, and eventually led to one of the several endings.
  • The 1992 PC game Realms of Arkania: Blade of Destiny may be the Ur-Example for Western RPGs. Much of the dialogue was incomprehensible when translated out of German, though.
  • Rise of the Argonauts uses a dialogue wheel similar to Mass Effect with the key difference of appealing to the natures of Jason's four patron gods (Ares, Apollo, Athena, and Hermes) instead of a Good/Bad mechanic. For example, Ares choices are naturally aggressive and Hermes' are compassionate.
  • Fully implemented for all conversations in Sanctuary RPG, with many choices intentionally lighthearted and making fun of traditional tropes.
  • The officially sanctioned commercial mod for Silent Storm, Hammer and Sickle, frequently used them in storyline conversations. Player's stats occasionally impacted on the proceedings and the choices built up, leading to one of five endings.
  • Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood uses icons to represent the attitude with which you respond. You usually get a couple of on-topic or topic-introduction options, and a snark or two.
  • Freeware RPG Sore Losers allowed the player to approach every NPC with three responses. These usually led to two more responses, before dialogue ended. Storyline conversations occasionally had them too, but only for flavour, with only one dialogue tree determining the last level, and thus, the ending.
  • The MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic features fully-voiced dialogue trees.
  • In Super Paper Mario, super nerd Francis will use an interface reminiscent of a dating sim to converse with Peach. The player can choose Peach's responses.
  • Tales of Xillia 2 has much more of this then the previous games in the series, for the sake of putting the player into Ludger's shoes.
  • Done in a hidden way in Ultima IV. The player could type in ANYTHING they wanted to, to any NPC - as long as it was one word. The only three words that all NPCs were guaranteed to respond to were "Name" "Job" and "Bye". Occasionally a NPC in their dialog would let slip a subject that you could then bring up to another NPC - who would then reveal some useful bit of information about that subject. Sometimes an NPC would ask the player a question, to which you could reply, usually with 'yes' or 'no'. By Ultima VII the series had switched to a more conventional dialog ree.
    • Ultima VII goes so far as to lampshade the U4 dialog options. Talking to the troupe of the Britannia Theatre Company in Britain gives you an opportunity to be an understudy for the role of, all things, The Avatar in their upcoming production. The only lines you're given are "Name", "Job" and "Bye" and to add insult to injury, you get told you're not convincing enough for the role.
  • Undertale has conventional dialogue trees for talking with some NPCs (mostly shopkeepers), with a list of subjects to choose from, helpfully adding "(NEW)" where you can continue a discussion further. More importantly (especially in a Pacifist Run), the "Act" menu provides a list of verbs for interacting with monsters on encounter screens, whose effective use is highly context-dependent but tends to elicit a Speech Bubble response in any case.
  • Both Vampire: The Masquerade games have this. In the sequel, dialogue which makes use of particular skills or vampiric disciplines would be coloured accordingly.
    • More than that, like the Fallout example above this game contains an entire alternate dialogue script for the whole game. In the world of Vampire, the Malkavians are cursed with a different, random insanity for each of those turned. Appropriately, while playing as a Malkavian all of the dialogue responses are changed to nonsensical statements and observations that either make no sense, or are allusions to information that you as the player don't have yet. In addition, if playing a Malkavian then sometimes during dialogue trees the background audio of the game will involve quite voices whispering information to the player. There are even a few alternate voiced statements from NPC's reacting to how crazy and creepy you are.
  • They're present in Venetica in a simple "good-evil-neutral" format, and rarely impact on anything.
  • In Wizardry 8, you could ask about any noun or noun phrase and the AI would fill in the question it thought was appropriate around said noun.
  • X-Men Legends II deserves special mention because its Dialogue Trees are a bit more complex: you can get different dialogue from a character depending on whether you encounter him/her as an X-Man, a Brotherhood member, or the one character he/she has special dialogue with.

    Simulation Game 
  • Animal Crossing uses this at the very beginning, when you talk with Rover. This will determine your face (which you can't change). In Wild World and City Folk, this also can determine your hairstyle at Harriet's salon. Thankfully, you can change it if you don't like the style or the color.
  • Part of Growing Up involves making the correct dialogue options to build your relationships with your classmates, with certain choices causing major impact on their lives in the epilogue.
  • In the Wing Commander series, Privateer had a primitive version of this, but it's mostly present in any of the FMV Games from Wing Commander III onwards. Indeed, the climax of Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom culminates in a debate on the floor of the senate. Make the right choices, and you can get the villain to admit to his plot in front of the Senate. Make the wrong choices, and you'll get arrested for treason and the Senate will vote for war with the Border Worlds Union.
  • The Sims Medieval has popups with two options that your Sim can say; sometimes it really is choosing between a nice option and a mean option, but sometimes you can just choose what you like better and get the same reaction. One pirate quest has insult trees, where you're supposed to win an insult duel with a pirate, so both of the options are nasty. (Like any other Sim game there are also the pie menus in normal social interaction, which can include fairly specific things like "Joke About Dragons," "Imply Mother Is A Llama" and "Pontificate Poignantly.")

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • Some dialogue in Battle for Wesnoth campaigns allows the player to choose what a character says, which could lead to something as big as a story branch or just whether a unit should pick up an item or not.

    Visual Novel 
  • With varying degrees in regards to the impact (if any) on the story, just about every Visual Novel uses this, save for a few rare aversions or subversions.
    • The original PC versions of the When They Cry series is one such aversion. Only later in the series do choices get added, and this is typically a gimmick. The PS2 version of Higurashi: When They Cry plays it straight, however.
  • The Ace Attorney series uses this from time to time, usually in court, where you have to point out a murder method or decide something. Sometimes the choices are fake outs and you can only go in one direction anyway, which has led to at least one idiotic moment.
  • Buried: An Interactive Story has most events play out its dialogue and results, depending on the player's choice between two options.
  • Emily Is Away uses these, but differs from most games in the interface: You're meant to be communicating with the title character through instant messaging, so after selecting an answer, you then "type" it by mashing your computer's keyboard until the full sentence appears. There are also moments where you'll select one dialogue option, but partway through your character will begin backspacing and self-censor their response: For instance, you might select the dialogue "you're my best friend", but partway through your "typing" the words rewrite themselves into "you're one of my best friends".
  • Invoked in Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair. During Chiaki's final free time event, she hands you a piece of paper with the dialogue options on it. She has a hard time actually falling in love, so she's treating this outing like it were a Dating Sim... which she is terrible at.
  • Hotel Dusk: Room 215 mostly has this when talking to other characters. Sometimes you show/give them items. Sometimes Kyle just speaks and you cannot do anything. It also adds the ability to 'file away' important phrases and interest points, which you can question the person on in the next break in conversation, or question other people on later. It also allows you to interrupt people when they say something interesting and interrogate them further, or just let them keep talking.
    • Its sequel, Last Window, had one puzzle near the end based around a dialogue tree. You had to select the conversation options in a very specific order to prove Kyle knew what was going on. One mistake lead to a Game Over.
  • The Portopia Serial Murder Case from 1983 may possibly be the Ur-Example.
  • The Judgement system from Spirit Hunter: NG is a variant, where Akira can occasionally pick between five expressions to react to a dialogue with, ranging from pissed to gleeful. If he reacts positively enough to a character, then extra information will be unlocked in their character bio.
  • A variation appears in We Should Talk, where you have to construct your responses by selecting phrases using a sentence spinner. While some combinations make the same response, their tone ultimately affects your relationships with the other characters because the game simulates trying to come up with the best response to them.

Non-video game examples:

    Anime & Manga 
  • Excel♡Saga spent its fourth episode parodying a Japanese Dating Sim, and whenever a dialogue tree came up, the last option was always "Put it in".
  • Molester Man: After playing countless Dating Sims, Molester Man can come up with three possible answers in any situation (though he can't always pick the best one).

  • Cat Tales: Early in the story, after Bruce Wayne attends Selena Kyle's one-woman show, he has a conversation with Dick Grayson, where he asks him, "Am I a self-absorbed, self-righteous inflexible prig?"
    Dick suddenly felt like he was playing a LucasArts Adventure Game. He imagined four possible responses to Bruce’s question appearing under his chin:
    * That’s how I addressed your Fathers’ Day card.
    * Is that prig with an “R” Yes.
    * Why are you having new stationery made up?
    And no matter which response the player chose, the character would say: “Why no, not at all. Why do you ask?”

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Terminator:
    • Even the Terminator understands dialogue trees; in The Terminator, Arnie scrolls through one to answer someone asking "You got a dead cat in [your room] or what?". Out of a list that includes "Yes/No" and "Get lost", he picks the Precision F-Strike.
    • In the Terminator 2: Judgment Day novelization, the T-800 also has a dialogue tree to select responses from. When Sarah Connor says that he looks like "handmade shit" when she tries to fix up his wounds, the T-800 accesses the dialogue tree and then comes up with the response, "So do you".



  • Beast Wars: Uprising: Bisk, who thinks he's a video-game character, considers his options this way in a conversation with Megatron. He decides not to go with the romance option, since he doesn't think Megatron would appreciate it.

    Web Original 
  • Dream High School has this, except it's mass interactive: readers vote/get in on a raffle for what happens at the beginning of the next page (and it can't be rescinded by loads or anything- ever).

  • As depicted in the page image, Kria Soulstealer from Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures occasionally thinks like this. Being a demon, almost all of her dialog options involve violence, except for shopping.

    Western Animation 
  • A brief shot from Cecil the Waiter's POV in the Reboot episode "Quick and the Fed" shows him using one of these, with options that include, "Ahh... so nice to see you again sir", "Your usual table I presume?", and "Wait at the bar."

    Real Life 
  • When you talks to someone, the possible responses are endless. It follows the general pattern of "say nice, get nice," though this isn't always the case. Of course, the personality, hobby, mood, gender, orientation, etc. of the character you speak to influences the answers heavily.
  • When someone not knowing the local language gets a service job, they tend to have pre-prepared responses so as to be able to do their job despite not being able to communicate.
    • Hilarity can ensue when the person encounters a customer with an unprecedented question or response. The simplest example might be someone who understands "yes" and "no," but not "a little bit, please."
  • Call centres use these a lot, often to avoid having to give too much training - they just read the options off their screen, and pick what you say, leading to more questions. Hilarity Ensues if you go off script.
  • Fun to play with in shops, especially electronics "big chain" retailers where the assistant is just someone to serve, rather than knowledgeable about the technical aspects of the item. A favorite is to buy a cheap cable for a digital connection, then wait for the assistant to recommend the expensive alternative. Then start asking questions about why gold plated connectors on a cable are better. Point out that, with a digital connection, you either have a connection/signal or you don't, you can't get a stronger/better or weaker signal. For bonus points, start questioning the assistant's knowledge of the PS3/TV/digibox/whatever, and wonder if he was as wrong on that as well.
  • Some people with social anxiety, or autistic people, can prepare scripts that they may rehearse in their heads. People going off script can cause distress if the brain doesn't adjust to the script change quickly enough.


Video Example(s):


The Survival Period

Brutalmoose interacts with his tribemates in "Survivor: The Interactive Game"

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Main / DialogueTree

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