You're playing a video game when things go bad. The car you're in is blown up. You take a nasty fall. Your powers are painfully drained away from you. You get impaled. Whatever happened, the point is your character is down for the count.
Except they're not. They get up and stagger on, proving that they are a Determinator, and nothing will stop them from achieving their goal.
And then...a level?
Injured Player Character Stage is a video game trope and a subtrope of Gameplay and Story Integration. An injury taken by the Player Character in a cutscene or scripted event has an impact on their abilities in the next level. Movement is usually reduced to a slow limp, often staggering or collapsing periodically. Most of your abilities are usually locked, especially the ability to run or jump. Pressing one of these buttons might do nothing, or even cause your character to collapse.
While it can happen at any time in a game, it generally occurs near the end, after the Climax Boss, although there may still be an Anti-Climax Boss. If it happens earlier in the game, the goal is usually to get medical treatment.
This can have a powerful effect on the player, because, as the controller, they're intimately familiar with the character's abilities by this point, which makes the character's sudden limitations all the more real. Yet, the game isn't over, so as weak as they are, you have to proceed.
This, however, also has the potential to result in quite a bit of Fridge Logic, especially if the Player Character frequently suffers such injuries in normal gameplay without suffering any other impairments than a tick down in their health meter, and even more so if they are able to quickly get over said injuries either by Regenerating Health or the use of medkit pickups. The former raises the question of why the character can't just walk off this particular injury like all the others and the latter will necessitate absence of health pickups, which can come across as rather jarring when they were previously fond, if not in abundance, then at least with some frequency.
A sister trope of (and often overlapping with) Expository Gameplay Limitation. See also Controllable Helplessness and No-Gear Level. Compare/contrast Plotline Death, where a playable character is injured so badly by the story, they are no longer playable at all (and dead). A possible manifestation of You Can Barely Stand.
As this trope is most often used near the end of a game, beware of spoilers.
- About halfway through Tomb Raider (2013), Lara gets more hurt than usual. Unlike most examples, Lara is not terribly inhibited in this sequence, although she staggers and takes damage whenever she jumps.
- Asura's Wrath has several segments wherein the titular character ends up breaking all of his arms. These instances don't deter him (and the player) from trying to kick and/or headbutt everything that pisses him off, even if it's less convenient.
- Essentially the entire flipping game of Batman: Arkham City. Batman is poisoned early on by The Joker, but due to being The Determinator he pushes through everything the city throws at him. At one point the poisoning starts really getting to him, including a reduction to the health bar and Interface Screw effects like blurred vision and tilting camera; he comes back from it by conning some Lazarus Pit water out of Ra's al Ghul and Talia, but even that's just an extension to the deadline rather than a full cure.
- During one stage of Cataegis: The White Wind, a robot suddenly crashes into the heroine and she's sent into a trap-filled dungeon with a single health point. Thankfully, it doesn't take too long until a healing item comes up.
- In God of War II, Kratos has just defeated the Colossus of Rhodes, when one of the Colossus's hands falls on him. Critically injured, all Kratos can do is limp to the Blade of Olympus, which is holding all of his godly power. When Zeus shows up, all Kratos can do is flail about with his blades, very slowly, until Zeus inevitably pins Kratos to the ground and impales him through the stomach with the Blade of Olympus.
- After completing the water temple in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Link and Midna are attacked by Zant, who mortally wounds Midna and curses Link. Trapping Link in his wolf form and preventing Midna from using any of her abilities in the following sequence, as they desperately seek Zelda's aid.
- Lego Adaptation Games:
- In Lego Indiana Jones, at the beginning of the first level of the Temple Of Doom Indy is poisoned, can't jump and can only walk slowly. The player has to bribe some mooks so they will give him an antidote.
- LEGO Lord of the Rings has two examples:
- During the boss battle with Lurtz, Boromir is shot every time Lurtz loses a life, reducing his health bar's maximum length. During the final phase of the battle, he can barely move and dies in one hit.
- In the game's final level, until the boss battle with Gollum Frodo, weakened by The One Ring, can barely move and can't jump.
- In Metal Gear Rising Raiden gets his arm lopped off when getting the living crap kicked out of his metallic ass by Jetstream Sam. You get to fight a bit longer but the screen flickers, Raiden can barely manage one slow awkward slash and can only stagger around, and Sam just keeps his distance and taunts you.
- Later in the game, Raiden realizes all those dirty cops and soldiers he's been chopping into hamburger are mostly good-natured people being controlled by nanomachines who actually don't want to face him at all. He's so shocked that once again he starts staggering around and the player has to avoid being seen by enemies until reaching the enemy stronghold.
- The final level of Modern Warfare 2 consists of Soap staggering around half-dazed after going over a huge waterfall, having lost all his weapons besides a knife as he tries to finish off Shepherd.
- The second act of Modern Warfare 3 ends in a flashback sequence where you, as Yuri, have just taken a Desert Eagle bullet to the chest at the hands of Makarov, and have to get the fuck up and stop him. Stop him from what, you might ask? The airport massacre in "No Russian", from the previous game. However, because you're bleeding and severely injured, you stagger about and cannot aim properly, and your intervention is unsuccessful as a result.
- Near the end of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Mitchell's Artificial Limb is disabled. For the remainder of the game, you can't use grenades or two-handed weapons, and you can't reload. If you run out of ammo you'll need to either kill enemies with your knife or grab a new gun. Fortunately, Mitchell can use Mini-Mecha with only one functional arm...
- Downplayed in Halo: Reach. On two levels the player starts out with less health than usual because of crash-landings in the previous cutscene. On the final level it overlaps with Interface Screw; your visor is cracked, preventing you from seeing how much ammo you have left.
- Halo 4 has a part at the very end where the Chief is too injured to stand and must crawl toward the objective. Halo 5: Guardians does something similar in its own ending.
- Near the end of BioShock, Fontaine tells your heart to stop working but it's a "stubborn muscle" as he calls it, and it just amounts to reducing your maximum health for the level.
- At the start of Far Cry 2, the Player Character contracts Malaria, leaving him suffering badly from its effects when The Jackal arrives in his hotel room. The effects of the disease can be eased when the player gets hold of medication, but it comes back with a vengeance late into the game. The disease can randomly mess up the player's vision until the player takes the necessary drugs to counteract it.
- The Player Character in Unreal I starts off with low health, having just survived the crash of the prison ship they were on. Fortunately, there are plenty of health pickups scattered around the ship.
- A significant portion of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is like this, since protagonist B.J. Blazkowitz just barely survived being right up next to an exploding grenade at the end of the last game and still hasn't fully recovered. For a long time his maximum health is capped at 50 rather than 100note , and in the first level of the game he's confined to a wheelchair until he gets the Da'at Yichud Powered Armor at the end of the level. Even then, B.J. doesn't get back to 100% until near the end of the game, where he's decapitated by Frau Engel and his allies hastily attach his head to the body of a Nazi Super Soldier.
- Another World: Near the end of the game, Lester is badly injured and can only crawl slowly for the remainder of the scene. It is left ambiguous if he ever gets better.
- Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons uses this trope in an unusual way. When the older brother dies, you continue as the younger brother. you are technically in full health, but now must accomplish feats that took both brothers by yourself.
- Mega Man Zero 2: The game's intro continues from the ending from the previous game where Zero wanders off and fights a lot of mooks hounding him for a whole year, and it didn't appear that he has gotten himself repaired or even rested once during this time. As you're playing in the intro stage, you'll see that he always holds his shoulder (something you normally only see if his health is critical) and his weapon upgrades are lost from the previous game; the Triple Rod weapon from the previous game is also unusable because it's broken during the interim. His status screen is also the one from the first game, until it's updated to the one used in this game after the intro stage.
- The fan game Mega Man Unlimited has one of these as the post-final boss escape sequence after Zero slices off Mega Man's arm cannon.
- Late in Night in the Woods, Mae takes a nasty tumble down a mountainside as she flees from cultists. Her following playable sections have her walking at a snail's pace while fading in and out of consciousness. She doesn't completely recover until it's time for her to jump up the well to find a means of helping her friends escape the caverns below Possum Springs.
- The short segment where you play as Elro in Iconoclasts is after Black rips his arm off so he is slowly limping around and barely leaves the ground when jumping. Despite this he manages to have an awesome boss fight at the end of the section.
- The second level of Gamer 2 starts with Hailey tripping and losing her deflector plate. Since she hasn't found any weapons yet, she's forced to sneak her way through the building full of zombies as a One-Hit-Point Wonder.
- In the Rail Shooter Panzer Dragoon: Orta, after defeating the fourth stage boss, the dragon's wings are injured in the explosion, sending it and Orta plummeting to the ground (into a huge snowdrift, fortunately.) The next stage has it running through a frozen tundra until its wings heal.
- Subverted in The House of the Dead 4: James, one of the two player characters, gets injured at the end of Chapter 5 by a last-ditch attack by The Star, and he has to be physically assisted by his partner Kate in the next chapter. However, this has no bearing gameplay-wise, and he doesn't even lose a life from the cutscene attack.
- Mass Effect:
- A borderline case happens in Mass Effect 2, when you control Joker in a similar style to the example below. He hasn't been injured, but his natural delicate state makes it so he can only move slowly, dies the moment he enters combat, and is incapacitated if he falls down.
- At the end of Mass Effect 3, Shepard's armor is broken, and most of his/her skin is badly burned. You must walk, and then crawl, to the Reaper ship anyway, shooting a few enemies on the way with only your pistol.
- The Inquisitor gets one in Dragon Age: Inquisition after the battle at Haven. The rest of your people have evacuated, and the town has been buried under an avalanche; you only survive by being knocked into an underground cellar. Most of the rest of the level consists of you slowly hobbling forward through the blinding dark and snow, trying to catch up with the army before you freeze to death.
- In Summoner, Joseph loses his left hand at the end of the first major arc, and can't use shields or two-handed weapons until it's magically regenerated most of the way through the second.
- In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Explorers of Sky, during the special episode that focuses on Sunflora, she is on fire and has the Burn status during one of the boss battles.
- In Final Fantasy IX, Garnet is injured psychologically after her home kingdom is attacked and suffers heavy casualties with her unable to do anything to defend it as queen. For a while after this, she will occasionally fail to cast spells or or otherwise act in battle, and she also does not speak ingame at all during this section. The point in the game at which she recovers from this is marked with an Important Haircut.
- Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII has the final battle of the game: it's Zack's final stand, where he fights as long as he can against inexhaustible numbers of Shinra soldiers. As the battle goes on and Zack inevitably loses his HP, he gets visibly tired and injured until it's to the point that he can barely stand, the DMW system is slowly breaking down and showing the player flashbacks of his friends, until he's lying on the ground bleeding to death and the DMW gets stuck on... Aerith . And the entire sequence is technically gameplay, albeit slightly altered for story purposes.
- In Final Fantasy XV Ignis is left blind during the confrontation with Leviathan in Altissia. The next dungeon afterwards requires the player to walk slowly to allow him to keep up; failing to do so results in being told off by Gladiolus.
- One side-quest in A Dance with Rogues sees the Princess slashed across the throat, her entire inventory taken away, and her body dumped in the sewers. She survives with 1 HP and, because health does not regenerate on its own, has to rely on stealth to get out and find help. All of a sudden, a corridor full of common sewer rats becomes a terrifying ordeal.
- Played with in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. Although it's not the player character (the Exile) affected by the injury, two of the Player Party members (in the grand Star Wars tradition) have missing limbs, which prevents them from using certain abilities and weapons. Specifically, Kreia loses a hand to Darth Sion in the prologue, rendering her unable to dual-wield lightsabers (or any weapons) or use double-bladed ones, even if she has the perks necessary for it. Bao-Dur, meanwhile, had lost his arm long ago and has since replaced it with a prosthetic, which, however, severely limits which types of armor he can wear—basically, anything with sleeves is right out. In a way, the entire game is an Injured Stage for the two of them.
- Parasite Eve 2 has Aya suffering a gunshot wound after a lengthy cutscene near the end of the game. Aya's HP is reduced by a small amount to reflect her gunshot wound, though you can easily heal it with an item or healing ability.
- Downplayed in one mission of Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days; Roxas's stats are halved because he's "having an off day". It's only later that we find out this was caused by Xion draining his power.
- Assassin's Creed:
- In Assassin's Creed: Revelations, Ezio falls off a speeding carriage down a cliff. Until he finds a Healing Potion towards the end of the mission, his injuries prevent him from performing most of his fancy acrobatics, so he has to rely on basic moves and environmental shortcuts.
- In Assassin's Creed III Conner lands on a spike chasing Lee causing him to limp for the rest of the mission. Also in any cut-scene after he has a notable limp showing it never fully healed.
- Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag: Edward slashes his arm on a tree while sliding down a slope, leaving him limping towards his crew on a beach before he collapses of blood loss.
- Metal Gear Solid:
- In Metal Gear Solid it's possible for Snake to contract a cold if you submit to Ocelot's torture, which causes him to periodically sneeze which guards can alert. Cold medicine can be found for it in B1 of the Nuclear Warhead Storage Building or Snake can tough it out and get over it naturally in time.
- Towards the end of Metal Gear Solid 2, Raiden is captured and has his clothes and items taken from him. He is forced to sneak through the next section naked and unable to defend himself, and contracts a cold due to the low temperatures which causes him to sneeze periodically, which can alert nearby guards.
- In Metal Gear Solid 3, Snake gets captured and shot in the eye, permanently blinding him. Thereafter for the rest of the game, if the player enters first-person view mode, the extreme right-hand side of the screen will be darkened and the depth perception will be inaccurate compared to beforehand. This is taken even further in the remake of the game for the 3DS: the 3D effect is disabled when entering first-person view mode after Snake gets shot in the eye.
- Just before the fight with the Fear, Snake is shot in the leg with a crossbow bolt coated in poison. This leads to an interesting glitch if you cure the poison but don't remove the bolt: Snake will go through the rest of the game with the bolt in his leg, unable to remove or even select it in the CURE menu.
- At the start of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Venom Snake, having woken from a nine year coma, must escape the hospital because the XOF Unit is trying to kill him. At this point, he is initially unable to stand under his own power until the Digoxin given to him by Ishmael kicks in and even then, he's missing a hand and has to make do with a Hook Hand (though this doesn't impair his ability to reload a gun).
- Sam gets affected by the VX nerve gas in the Abandoned Mill stage of Splinter Cell Black List, which causes Interface Screw like blurred vision and a wobbling camera. Sam also starts coughing as the stage goes on, which can alert nearby enemies.
- Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones: During the prologue, Seth is wounded by Valter and as a result, starts out on the first map with less than half of his maximum health. However, being The Ace of the Renais army and averting Overrated and Underleveled, he is capable of wiping the floor with the enemy mooks regardless. This trope may also serve to justify his Crutch Character status, though he is a much lesser example than others in the series.
- The first Disgaea game has Laharl suffer 50% reduction in all of his character stats for most of Chapter 5 because he's Allergic to Love and the chapter's boss instructed his minions to spout hopeful statements like "World Peace!" It only gets rectified in the final battle of the chapter when Mid-Boss suggests earplugs.
- Treasure Planet: Battle at Procyon: During Mission 3, a solar storm occurs, damaging both of the player's ships and nearly disabling their engines, crippling both ship's mobility. The rest of the mission involves trying to hide from pirates until the engines are repaired, and then escaping from the pursuing pirates.
- Ada's scenario in Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles deals with her escape after the events of Resident Evil 2. The heavily wounded Ada begins the level in critical condition.
- Resident Evil: Revelations has a variation where the PC is fine, but you're helping an injured NPC limp around, so you're effectively reduced to moving around very slowly and only using your pistol. There are also brief sequences where you're knocked down and have to fight something off before you can get up.
- In the mandatory fight against Nemesis in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, the monster infects Jill with the T-Virus, putting her in a constant state of limping. The health meter is also screwed up, only showing you Jill is under the "virus" status. Throughout the whole fight, you have no idea what your exact health is.
- The final battle of Resident Evil 5 takes place after a fairly rough plane crash which leaves Chris and Sheva limping and clutching their injured bodies. Thankfully it's purely cosmetic and their health is still in the green.
- In The Evil Within's first chapter, Sebastian is injured, and can only limp around (as well as being unarmed). This forces you to learn the stealth mechanics.
- This happens in The Last of Us when Joel is Impaled with Extreme Prejudice. It happens right after a quick time event too, so first time players will probably erroneously think that it's just a Non-Standard Game Over. This isn't just a one-off injury either, it has long lasting repercussions on the plot.
- Subverted in the final chapter of The Walking Dead when Lee gets bitten by a walker and can opt to saw off his own arm to slow the infection. The only thing on his mind is rescuing Clementine and he already knows he's a dead man, so it turns him into an unstoppable Implacable Man who's not slowed down one bit and ultimately walks down a crowded street of walkers armed with nothing but a butcher's knife. And makes it.
- At the end of Outlast, the already-injured Miles gets invaded by the host-less Walrider after shutting down Billy Hope's life support machinery going by how his main vocalizations are crying, it's something that hurts, and hurts a ton. When he becomes controllable, he's reduced to a very tender limp, and he's forced to lean on railings and countertops to remain standing; when there are neither around, he'll fall down, squirm in pain, then get back up painstakingly slowly.
- You get infected by Exocels in Cold Fear at a couple of set moments in the game, causing you to limp weakly and suffer blurred vision until you get the thing out of you.
- The Order: 1886 uses In Medias Res to start this way, with Sir Galahad having been tortured for several weeks.
- In Spec Ops: The Line, Walker is injured badly a couple of times, reducing him to an agonizing crawl, armed with nothing or just the basic pistol, for the next section.
- The final boss battle of Resident Evil 5 takes place after a plane crash. Although they're not slowed down in any way, Chris and Sheva clutch their bodies in pain and use the "injured" walking animation even at full health.
- Uncharted features several examples:
- Probably the most well-known is the train aftermath in the Himalayas that opens the second game, Among Thieves. Nate is naturally slow due to being gut shot and low on energy, but once he defeats the onslaught of enemies after escaping the wreckage in the How We Got Here Chapter, the snowstorm means he's practically limping in his walk.
- The third game, Drake's Deception, has a non-injury example in the Rub Al' Khali Chapter, a playable montage of Nate navigating the titular desert. What pushes it into this trope is that Nate is very obviously afflicted by the journey: he no longer walks entirely straight, has a terrible gait, and at certain points is reduced to crawling on his knees. In almost all of these scenes Nate will stumble to a stop if the player lets go of the left stick, and takes a moment to pick himself up when he gets moving again. The worst of these will result in Nate outright collapsing to the ground!
- A Thief's End has a brief one when Nate makes it to the Libertalia island after surviving a boat crash. Like in Uncharted 3, he isn't explicitly injured, but is clearly incredibly low on energy; climbing is now a huge strain on him, and certain jumps will wind him upon landing and have him literally fall flat on his face. It culminates in a bad fall that knocks him so hard he fades out until morning (after which he'll be moving just fine).
- Valkyria Chronicles: In the Trapped Behind Enemy Lines mission that follows the successful defense of desert Valkyrur ruins, Alicia's leg is injured, her movement animation is that of limping, and her maximum movement per turn is penalized greatly. The map has several spots with wild herbs, which can be used for injury treatment, effectively reducing the penalty.
- A relatively minor case in inFAMOUS: First Light. Fetch gets blown up near the end. While her movement is slowed, and she starts the sequence with no Neon stored up, she can still jump and use all her powers.
- Saints Row IV uses a variation when you escape the simulation. The Boss isn't exactly injured but extremely shaky after being essentially asleep for days and even has to vomit a couple of times and has none of the weapons or powers you've unlocked so far (since that was all in the simulation).
- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City has a mission where you have to take Phil Cassidy to the doctor because a batch of Boomshine just blew off his arm. Thing is, you got a whiff of the potent stuff earlier and it's left you so drunk both the car you're driving and your view are all wobbly. Doesn't help that, due to Cassidy bleeding out, it's a Timed Mission.
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has a mission where you are fighting enemies from a helicopter until one of them shoots your chopper down with a rocket. CJ is forced to bail and lands in the sea, which injures him a bit (reduced health) and loses all of his weapons except for a knife.
- Red Dead Redemption has main character John Marston shot right at the beginning of the game. He's seen to by a doctor, but walks around with bandages showing during a bit of gameplay. He still does work in the game despite the injury. He also will hold an arm over the injury while walking or standing, but gets back to normal fairly quickly.
- Red Dead Redemption II:
- During a Chapter 3 mission, Arthur Morgan is captured and tortured by O'Driscolls. Beaten and shot through the shoulder, you'll need to escape their camp.
- During the opening of Chapter 5, Arthur washes up on Guarma following a ship wreck. He's exhausted, sunburned, and dehydrated. You'll control him as he stumbles to find the rest of the surviving gang members.
- Toward the end of Chapter 6, Arthur gets ambushed and injured by Micah Bell while in his final stages of TB. You have to fight off Micah for as long as you can, and if you went with John, you'll have to crawl over to Micah's revolver in the final part of the fight while he's chasing after you.
- While Jensen isn't technically injured, this can occur during the Namir boss fight in Deus Ex: Human Revolution. If the player gets the biochip upgrade, Jensen's augmentations are switched off before the fight, leaving them unavailable until afterwards, and the player is additionally forced to deal with an Interface Screw of flickering - and worthless - HUD data throughout the encounter.
- A similar though minor example occurs at the start of the main game, when Jensen's HUD is malfunctioning - the first objective the player receives is to find Pritchard's office and get it repaired.