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"Talk to everyone. Talk is cheap. You don't talk, you don't learn."

Along with "check behind the chair", this is rudimentary gaming advice for whenever you're stuck and don't know where to go. Nintendo Power gave this particular advice the top position on a list of "top video game tips".

90% of the time, you're thinking too much and getting too far ahead, and then promptly dying from high level monsters. 95% of the time all people want to tell you is "Welcome to ______!" over and over. This is frustrating if you've saved at an odd time and are talking to people in an effort to remember where you were supposed to go.

Occasionally, just speaking can cause unseen consequences, like a cutscene or a trigger to a later event. In fact, you'd better have talked to that goose salesman at the very beginning of the game if you ever want Sir Bob to get the Infinity +1 Sword twelve hours in later. This can reach truly absurd levels, where you can SEE the lever, you KNOW you have to pull the lever, but you simply can't do so unless you talk to some random NPC who suggests pulling it.

Failure to follow this advice, particularly in older Japanese-made games, can often lead to a Guide Dang It! scenario. More than one game has a seemingly-obtuse puzzle that is fairly easily solved if you've collected enough information from someone nearby. Then there are games that complicate this further where talking to a certain random someone can actually cause an optional item to become unobtainable if you didn't get the item first, or require you to talk to certain NPCs twice to get them to do something helpful.

See also Try Everything.


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    Action Adventure 

    Adventure Game 
  • Every time you meet a new character in Another Code, you'll have to hear all the conversation options to progress the plot.
  • Since Hotel Dusk: Room 215 and Last Window are all about learning about the characters and their plots, this makes sense. However, there is an instance or two where you'll want to not say something to them, lest you find yourself with an early Game Over.
  • In the PC game Sherlock Holmes: Secret of the Silver Earring, the trope is present in the extreme — not only must you speak with every NPC you find, you absolutely must pursue every single possible line of dialogue or the game will not move forward.
    • A DOS Full Motion Video Sherlock Holmes game averts it, however. You receive a better final score for talking to as few people as you possibly can in order to solve a case.
  • The Little Big Adventure games make use of this, since friendly NPCs can provide useful info, including tips on what Twinsen is capable of doing as a Player Character. When you have a specific objective, Twinsen will usually ask about it, and if you're talking to the right person, chances are you'll be given some clues — or at least a reminder of what you were going to do when you left the game the last time several weeks ago.
  • Grim Fandango relies so much on collecting information that failure to follow this advice on the first playthrough (particularly during Year 2, as Rubacava has quite a few characters you can interact with) will at worst get you stuck, and at best make you scratch your head at puzzles that would otherwise make perfect sense — a lot of crucial conversations are completely optional, and that only makes things worse. There's a reason this game has a dialogue transcript option on the main menu. Below are some of the crueler examples.
    • At the end of Year 2, you have to get Glottis kicked out of the cat race track by getting the police chief to raid your own cafe/casino. How are you supposed to arrive at this conclusion? Why, by discussing the problem with the owner of the kitties, Maximino, who is in his office, and who specifically tells you that Glottis has credit as long as you're in business... what do you mean you've never noticed that door before?
    • Another conversation, triggered by opening a cabinet in Toto Santos's scrimshaw parlor, reveals that Toto uses liquid nitrogen as a painkiller. Miss it, and you'll tear out your hair upon encountering an already illogical puzzle where you have to freeze some gelatinnote . Also, a puzzle near the end of the game where Manny uses the remains of the liquid to get rid of the sproutella flower in his chest makes a lot more sense if you have heard this dialogue.
    • Then there's a scene in the Year 4 where the game, evidently, expects you to listen to a character's insane ramblings long enough to hear a clue (along with some good bit of foreshadowing).
    • And, of course, you need to get a certain character to read all of her poetry in Year 2, if you want to know just why exactly the game is titled Grim Fandango...
  • The Broken Sword games often fall into this, with the additional complication that you may have to talk to everyone about each and every item in your inventory before you find the relevant dialogue tree.
  • Heroine's Quest can easily mess you up on a specific sidequest if you do this: the tutorial specifically tells you that conversation options that are not greyed out have not been tried, telling you to talk to everyone about everything in order to get the most information. However, at one point in a sidequest, the conversation option that is not greyed out is essentially you declining to complete the quest, which you can easily click on if you're just going through all the conversation options. While it doesn't make the game Unwinnable, it does keep you from getting that Last Lousy Point.

  • In the Carmen Sandiego games it's talk to the right everybody. At each location on the trail of the thief there's somebody with a clue to the thief's next destination, and somebody with a clue to the thief's identity. Miss the first kind and you'll lose the trail; miss the second kind and you won't be able to get a warrant for their arrest. But misinterpret a clue, and you'll waste your time traveling to a location where nobody you talk to knows anything at all.
    • Aversion: One Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego actually penalizes you for it as the game goes on: your translator power is limited and you make more and more stops each game. By the final location, you're expected to figure out the next location just from talking to one person, by which point you're supposed to be smart enough to figure out the one clue.

    Platform Game 
  • Rabi-Ribi not only averts this trope by having NPCs without names give you absolutely nothing of benefit (at best they offer a little exposition and worldbuilding, at worst they complain about the place they're in or accuse you of wasting time hunting for bunnies), there's even an achievement for talking to enough unnecessary NPCs. The only NPCs who will give you anything are the various town members you recruit, who give you buffs and items in exchange for EN, Rumi whose interaction is required to advance the game, and Miriam who is required to advance the game in an early part. In fact, it's possible to complete the main game by only using the Talk action on the latter two.

    Role Playing Game 
  • Not always necessary for plot advancement, but the requirements to unlock some of the hidden scenes, artes, and weapons in the Tales Series can be downright absurd. Didn't talk to that one nondescript NPC before you spent a night in the inn? Sorry, an entire side-quest chain is now completely unfinishable. (Even worse, you may not realize this until you've gone several hours into it.) Some of the games provide incentive to talk to NPCs, particularly Tales of Graces, where Pascal can get three titles based on the number of NPCs you've talked to, or Tales of Symphonia, where Zelos can get various items by flirting with every female NPC you see, and a title if he talks to them all.
  • In Star Ocean: The Second Story, a series of chats will inadvertently remove a power limiter on a boss, making him absurdly more powerful.
    • There's a small time-frame in which you're supposed to backtrack to a previous continent so that you can recruit not one, but two characters. Fail to do so and you'll never even know they existed, except that you keep finding these weapon pieces that apparently attach to a laser rifle...
  • Early iterations of the Ultima series of RPGs.
  • Final Fantasy: Just about every game has some sort of character you speak to in order to get special items.
    • During the first visit to Mysidia in Final Fantasy IV, talking to anyone is a gamble because the entire town hates the main character. The bartender poisons you, a random citizen turns you into a frog, and a dancer transforms the entire party into pigs. After a key event, most of the townsfolk stop doing this... except for the dancer.
    • Final Fantasy VIII: Even animals, sometimes. A dialog tree conversation with a Chocobo, for example, can yield potions if done correctly. In, you can also engage in card games by finding out-of-the-way characters and talking to them.
    • In the final dungeon of Final Fantasy IX, you can talk to thin air in certain spots to reveal "spirits" to play Tetra Master with. Also, the NPCs have fairly well-developed backstories, comparable to the Trails Series example shown below, so it's worth checking back with them throughout the game for that in addition to the sidequests that require you to do this. One such quest in Disc 3 expects you to remember the personalities of the 8 Pluto Knights based on the conversations you had with them in Disc 1 (if you don't just use a guide, that is).
    • Final Fantasy VII has one during the party's attempt to avoid Shinra's ID check on the train. You only have about 45 seconds to get to the end of the train so the party can jump off safely. However, talking to the homeless NPC lying on the seats during this event (when he had nothing interesting to say the first time you meet him) nets you a good item. Many other NPCs follow suit.
    • Final Fantasy X - because Yuna is on a quest to save Spira from Sin, it's not unusual for random NPCs to provide items upon being talked to the first time. They can generally be talked to up to three additional times for more dialogue. In Final Fantasy X-2, Yuna has become known as the High Summoner who brought the Eternal Calm, but NPCs in this game generally aren't quite so ready to cough up items. Additionally, after the player makes the decision whether to give the Awesome Sphere to either the Youth League or New Yevon, members of the group that they didn't give it to can sometimes be downright hostile, or even engage the party in battle.
  • Final Fantasy XII is possibly the first FF game where a giant spreading megalopolis isn't seemingly populated by just 20 people, but instead...maybe a few hundred. That's not many when compared to real life, and the idea is that you're only seeing a fragment of the population at any given time, but towns and cities seem much more populated than other entries in the FF series. In anticipation of players trying to talk to everyone, only certain people in towns or cities will talk to you- the other people are just fluff to make the area look more populated. This helps calm the player so they don't have to worry about talking to every single person, just the green blips on the map, and it saved the developer a lot of time and space on the disc. It also means that most of the conversations will actually have a point.
    • In Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, the practice of talking to everyone is lampshaded by Ba'Gamnan. The game is more akin to an RTS than an RPG.
      Ba'Gamnan: Where did you pick up the habit of talking to everyone you see? Could be bad for your health, aye.
  • In Kingdom Hearts II, Goofy explicitly identifies this as "Adventuring Rule #17: Collect information!"
  • Mother:
    • In EarthBound Beginnings, speaking to certain NPCs in the perpetually wintery town of Snowman will cause them to sneeze on you, giving you their cold. A status effect similar to poison, this will gradually deplete your HP.
    • In EarthBound (1994), you must talk to a specific Mr. Saturn so that he tells you how to enter to Master Belch's factory. No matter that there are like 15 of them and they all look exactly the same. There's one town later in the game which blocks your progress because its inhabitants aren't willing to talk at first. The good news is that you can solve the problem by bringing them a book on "Overcoming Shyness." The bad news is that the person who borrowed the book got abducted by Giygas' forces, and is being held in the Stonehenge Base.
    • This trope is lampshaded in Mother 3, where a NPC says something under the lines of "You just have to talk to everyone, don't you? ... No, I'm not saying that's a bad thing."
  • The Magic Candle is one game that simply can't be beaten if you don't spend a lot of time talking to people. Unlike most RPGs, this one doesn't have a strict sequence of events or an obvious Big Bad. Your goal is to repair the seal that keeps the archdemon Dreax from getting out and killing everybody — and to do that, you have to find out how. You'll need bits of information from all over the world to get the instructions and magical items required. Oh, and there's a deadline.
  • Planescape: Torment:
    • Mocked in a conversation with a random old woman early in the game.
      "I'll bet ye've got all sorts o' barmy questions!" She mimics your heroic stance: "Greetin's, I have some questions... can ye tell me about this place? Who's the Lady o' Pain? I'm lookin' fer the magic Girdle o' Swank Iron, have ye seen it? Do ye know where a portal ta the 2,817th Plane o' the Abyss might be? Do ye know where the Holy Flamin' Frost-Brand Gronk-Slayin' Vorpal Hammer o' Woundin' an' Returnin' an' Shootin'-Lightnin'-Out-Yer-Bum is?" She spits, "Dung, all o' it! Only gets ye in the Dead-Book! I ought ta kick ye in the shins fer even pestin' a poor ol' woman about it all! Now go away an' leaves me in peace!"
    • The Nameless One quickly becomes infamous amongst Sigil's more knowledgeable residents for his persistant questions, to the point where at least one character tries to run away before TNO can strike up a conversation.
  • In the original Ys: Ancient Ys Vanished ~ Omen, you can't leave the first town without literally talking to everyone in it. Only once you've spoken to every person in town will the head of the town guard give you a sword, and they won't let you leave town unarmed (for good reason). Ys II even makes you talk to monsters.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • Arena and Daggerfall make use of database dialogue, meaning only quest-important NPCs will have anything unique to say.
    • In Morrowind, as can be seen in the page quote, this is recommended by the game itself. While you'll still get quite a few repetitive responses, it's the best way to uncover quests, get helpful advice, and get information to fill in the deep Backstory. It may also be worth it for some of the unique "latest rumors", "little advice" and "little secrets" mentioned by otherwise unremarkable NPCs which adds a good amount of flavor to the game world.
    • Oblivion brings fully voiced dialogue, which is both a blessing and a curse. In addition to hearing the characters speak, it's a blessing because nearly every named NPC will have at least one unique piece of dialogue. But it's also a curse because having to voice every bit of dialogue costs money for voice actors and the sound files add to the size of the game file. This still leads to a TON of repeats and situation inappropriate dialogue.
    • Skyrim has further improved the system, adding a large number more context-sensitive and unique dialogue. Even better, NPCs can now have meaningful conversations with each other. The downside is that everyone will be trying to talk to you at once, since dialogue no longer freezes time, and one NPC will frequently be drowned out by three others blathering at you. One particularly ugly case of this: if you don't talk to a certain Argonian just outside Riften, who's almost never referenced by anyone else, and help her out, then talk with her again, you'll never be able to buy the town's manor.
  • Some situations in Custom Robo and Mega Man Battle Network require you to talk to everyone... literally. Or at least most of the people in an area.
  • This advice is given to the player in Sunset Over Imdahl, then justified: your character unknowingly has The Plague, and the advice-giver wants you to spread it and wipe out your hometown.
  • In Ultima III, you'll eventually run into someone who will say "You should go to bed! It's too late to be playing Ultima!"
  • Star Trail was particularly bad about this. There are at least a few quests that can only be solved by checking every single house in 300 house town, where 298 of the people in those houses will tell you to go away.
  • Persona 4 scatters its Fetch Quests across the NPCs in town and at school, such that you'll want to either talk to everyone regularly (at least once per in-game month) or consult a guide to catch all the quests.
  • Sailor Venus's route in Chapter 2 of Sailor Moon: Another Story requires you to talk to every single person in the streets of the Rias Village in order to proceed - for no better reason than just having to spend some time waiting for some ceremony to start.
  • Sword of Vermilion often makes you talk to most of the townspeople to acquire maps of the wilderness and caves in your current town, or for quest items that you'll need fairly soon.
  • The Trails Series is very fond of this trope as The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero and Trails to Azure, and The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel have "Hidden Quests" which don't show up in your quest list or get marked on your map: you can only discover them by talking to a specific nondescript NPC at a given time. Because of this, it's a good idea to talk to everyone at every possible moment you can. As a bonus, the game puts a lot of effort into giving every individual NPC different dialogue based on what's currently happening in the plot, so you miss out on a good deal of the game's script if you don't follow this trope. Cold Steel III somewhat makes it easier for players to see these hidden quests by marking them on the map but it still plays the trope straight when in one particular scene in chapter 4, players are required to talk to the entire people in the map twice! (and there are a lot of them).
  • Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book: The game's help files tell you to frequently visit the town and talk to people, especially if they are not in their usual locations.
  • SoulBlazer: In one house, you are told that you should talk to all the doors.
  • In Cthulhu Saves the World, you can talk to NPCs to get clues for your next destination. At one point, the trope gets lampshaded when Cthulhu comes into the church in Alhazred.
    Nun: Have you come to our humble church to pray for salvation?
    Cthulhu: No, not really. I just like to go around towns and talk to everyone. Force of habit.
  • Okage: One of the most egregious examples in Playstation 2 history; after the main character is hit with a curse that erases their identity from the world, causing their party members to forget why they're adventuring in the first place and go back to their old lives, you need to talk to almost everyone in the entire setting to cure it. There is no fast travel, and you need to manually check each person in each town all the way to the PC's family. On the plus side, there are no enemy encounters during this segment.

    Simulation Game 
  • Rune Factory:
    • You must speak to all of the townspeople to get all of the basic farming equipment that previous games have given you from the beginning, much to the chagrin of the player. Without an FAQ, some of the tools are very difficult to find. The game requires you to talk to everyone in town in order to start your next day on the farm.
    • In Rune Factory 3, your first quest is, quite literally, to introduce yourself to everyone in town.
  • Harvest Moon:
    • Harvest Moon: Back to Nature for the Playstation presented the choice to whether or not to let the mayor take you around and talk to everyone. Accepting, actually has him do this in cutscene form similar to the introduction cutscene so not only do you not have to be on the lookout for them, you also can't stop midway.
    • Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life has Takakura showing you around town and talking to most of the villagers through cutscene. In Special Edition you can skip this by insisting on doing it alone, which has you go around introducing yourself offscreen.
  • Animal Crossing has the tradition of forcing the player in their first job at the beginning of the game to talk to every single person in their town. Mind you, you usually don't have a map handy unless you go to the postboards of it. Sometimes you can easily find them in their house, but often they will be outside wandering. This is even worse in the more recent games as the map is no longer divided into screens, and animals are free to wander the whole town. Even moreso, pity the person who joins in on another player's file, and the town has up to 15 residents if it's on the Cube. Oh, did I mention they don't tell you who you have, and have not talked to? Hope you have good memory.
  • One of the first quests in Stardew Valley has you go around and talk to everyone in the town.

    Turn Based Strategy 
  • In Shining Force II, talking to random people proves ridiculously useful. Kiwi and May join your party, completely out of the blue, just because you talked to them in Granseal and Rubble, respectively. Then again, this game is notorious for having people join you for the silliest reasons.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! Monster Capsule GB, a standard tactic to use when in the RPG worlds is to talk to everyone, as it can open new paths or quests.
  • In Fire Emblem, visiting villages (after you've saved them from bandits, of course) may offer you gameplay tips, share important lore, and even provide very useful items. It's also recommended to take 'Talk' commands whenever they pop up, as they also have a high chance of providing your unit with cool equipment or even recruiting that enemy soldier over to your side.

    Visual Novel 
  • Ace Attorney: The entire exploration/investigation part of the series is made of this trope. Basically, to advance in the plot, you need to talk to everyone and choose every dialogue option.
  • Fleuret Blanc: Characters have literally over a dozen generic lines of dialogue, and have a comment to make on every single gossip topic (sometimes providing something different if you've advanced the relevant subplot). Some of this is fluff, but most of it provides important information needed to solve the mysteries.

Non-video game examples:

    Tabletop Games 
  • This trope is derided in pen and paper roleplaying games where, thanks to the presence of a GM, you really can talk to all 130,000 inhabitants of New Gundark if you really want to. The movie The Gamers: Dorkness Rising lampshades this by depicting the new player talking to the first person she comes across (a merchant) and trying to gain intelligence about the plot from a lowly NPC. The other players incinerate the merchant to discourage her from doing this. Much to the chagrin of the DM, who was about to give them the information they needed through the mouth of the NPC. In this particular case, it was less "talk to everyone" that the other players hated, so much as "talk to anyone"...

    Web Comics 
  • 8-Bit Theater:
    • Mocked — specifically, the version of this trope where you have to talk to someone non-obvious to advance the plot. This happens a time or two in Final Fantasy, the game on which the comic is based. For instance, learning to speak Lefeinish requires you to go find the Slab (a.k.a. Rosetta Stone), then take it to the random NPC Dr. Unne so he can interpret it for you... apparently just on the evidence that he's a doctor. Though he did mention that he was studying their race...
    • The real problem with the Dr. Unne quest is that you meet Dr. Unne in Melmond, at the beginning of the second act, in which he introduces himself and expresses incredulity that you've never heard of him before. The next mention of him is in Onrac, at the beginning of the third act, by a random NPC who mentions the good doctor is studying the Lefeinish language. You then get the slab from the dungeon nearby, and have to remember where you saw Dr. Unne in order to learn the language. The problem is that the time between meeting Dr. Unne and getting the slab can be as much as 10 hours of gameplay, with four dungeons in between, and several towns with their own multitude of NPCs.
  • The NPCs in Gold Coin Comics really want the main character to go to the tavern.