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Player Punch / Adventure Games

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  • The Ur-Example is almost certainly from Infocom's 1983 Interactive Fiction game Planetfall. Early in the game, the hero receives a Robot Buddy named Floyd who doubles as the comic relief. Toward the end of the game, Floyd sacrifices himself to retrieve an important item. As Floyd dies, the hero cradles him in their lap and quietly sings his favorite song. The touching moment is considered a landmark in the development of video games as a narrative art form. Many players admitted to the game's designers that they were moved to tears by the scene.
  • Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle Of Flesh when Trevor is killed right after he and Curtis confess their love for each other and are about to kiss? That bastard is going down.
    • The fact that Trevor is one of the few likeable characters in the game certainly doesn't help.
    • In his Let's Play of the game, The Spoony One comments:
    "The sad thing is, I was really supporting (the Big Bad) until he killed Trevor. That bastard."
  • Stories Untold has a big one in the fourth episode, which also serves as The Reveal : the player is forced to reenact the events of the night where the player character gets drunk, crashes his car, fatally injuring his sister and a cop, and plants the bottle of scotch he was drinking on the cop, posthumously ruining his good reputation.
  • Shannara had THREE particularly nasty Player Punches closer to the end of the game:
    • 1) At the Dragon's Teeth Mountains, you meet with Allanon, your mentor throughout the entire game. After a strangely banal (for Allanon) talk, you have to cross a chasm. Once you do it, "Allanon" starts trying to kill off everyone he can, and is revealed to be the Shifter, disguised in the form of your mentor. If that wasn't sudden enough, he will injure the most lovable character in your party, Shella, to the point of near death. You then have a choice between using the elfstones to heal Shella, or finishing her sufferings by finally killing her with your sword and using the Ritual of Release to save her from becoming Brona's ghost. However, using the elfstones is a Nonstandard Game Over.
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    • 2) Just before the last area of the game, the Allanon (the real one) will reveal that the Shifter is STILL ALIVE, despite falling into a near-bottomless chasm. No matter what you do, Davio will do it and die along with the Shifter.
    • 3) A prelude to this is this: Shella and Davio die, Geeka leaves, Telsek leaves, Brendel cannot climb and you're forced to leave him — you enter the final battle alone. Then, you pull out the Sword of Shannara, the "mirror of inner truth". What it actually is, it's a long "dream sequence" where you meet up with Allanon, Brendel, Shella, Davio, and Telsek, not in that order, but I don't remember the real order. Each of them asks one of these hard-to-answer questions (like Shella's "Why did you kill me, Jak?") and you have to choose one of the four answers at the bottom. Despite the fact that you cannot lose, it's one of the most emotionally draining moments of the game.
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  • The Interactive Fiction game Zero Sum Game gives you an adorable sidekick named Maurice. Naturally, he must die in order for the player to win. To be specific, the player has to murder him.
  • Heavy Rain is made of this. The game is specifically designed to draw you into the characters, making their suffering hit you that much harder. Noteworthy examples include:
    • Jason's death at the beginning. You know it's coming, and there's nothing you can do about it, but at the same time, you can't help but feel that if you had somehow managed to get there a little faster, you could have saved him. Compounded by the fact that rather than just seeing him in cut-scenes, you've actually played with the child.
    • Admit it, you winced when you had to make Ethan cut off his own finger.
    • Some players felt this way when they found out that Scott Shelby is the Origami Killer. Especially the way you find out: Shelby is one of the player-controlled characters, and you control him destroying the collected evidence.
    • Didn't save Shaun? Great! Now you get to watch Ethan commit suicide (possibly in front of Madison) and, if he's still alive, Norman painfully OD on triptocaine!
  • The outcome of the epic battle of the Big Robot Bil in The Neverhood:
    Willie Trombone: Bil, hang on!
    • And if that wasn't enough, you can backtrack to the room where Willie was leaving hint messages for you and enjoy reading letters from Klogg, who even bothers to taunt you about Willie getting killed off. Ugh.
    • Fortunately, both Willie and Bil get brought back to life at the canon end of the game.
  • The end of Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse, when Max goes far beyond No One Could Survive That! by exploding in deep space, taking out a few other characters. And then Momma Bosco's Hope Spot sets the player up for a one-two combo. The grueling closing credits give the player plenty of time for that to sink in. (Thankfully, Max from the past arrives in the present using the time machine from Season 2 to replace the dead Max.)
    • Sal's death was quite heartbreaking too. However, during the post-credits scene, as the camera pans up to the sky, you can see a giant cockroach crawling up a building to the left of the screen, implying that he might have survived (or maybe it was a different cockroach altogether).
  • In the penultimate episode of Tales of Monkey Island, Lechuck kills Guybrush. The protagonist. And he does so just after Guybrush is starting to believe that Lechuck has made a genuine Heel–Face Turn. And unlike practically everything else in the entire series, it isn't played at all for laughs. It's played entirely straight.
  • This is the entire point of the classic Interactive Fiction game Photopia. At first the game seems overly linear, but this makes the climax all the more emotionally painful: the player realizes what's about to happen, but no command can stop it, only propel the story forward.
  • The Walking Dead game pulls this at least 3 times an episode:
    • Forced to choose between which companions live? Check!
    • Forced to mercy kill your own brother after learning he's become a zombie by repeatedly striking him in the head with an axe? Check!
    • Have to strike at a poor guy's leg in order to cut his foot off to free him from a bear trap before a pack of zombies arrive, only for it to still be a moot point since he dies from his wound? Check!
    • The third chapter delivers a jarring blow to the jaw within its first thirty minutes when Lilly, freefalling into paranoia, kills Carley/Doug. As if it isn't enough that the one killed is Lee's most consistent friend and, especially in Carley's case, well-loved by the fans, there's a good chance that the normally Jerk Ass Lilly will have almost fully warmed up to Lee by just before.
    • And lastly for Chapter 3... having to Mercy Kill a ten year old boy that you've known since the near beginning of the game because he was bitten by Walkers? CHECK!!
    • It gets worse in Chapter 4 when Kenny finds a walker no older than his child in the attic, who died of dehydration and is so mummified it can barely even move. Kenny suffers a fierce Heroic BSoD and just sits near the poor thing, reflecting on how the child's final days would have been nothing but fear and suffering as he laid dying hoping someone was going to save him. Jesus...
    • In Chapter 4 ... Lee getting bit by a Walker. Casts a shadow over the entirety of Episode 5, and leads up to a massive Tear Jerker of an ending.
    • Season 2 has continued this trend, with the first twenty minutes of play seeing the death of the Plucky Comic Relief Omid, the assumed death of Christa's baby, and then Christa being attacked by a group of thugs, her fate left uncertain.
      • It gets worse. By the end of the season, the only people left in the group are Clem, Kenny, Jane, and Alvin Jr. Clem has to choose to kill one or both of them, and the scene where Kenny dies is one of the most heart-wrenching since Lee's passing in the first episode. His final words? "You made the right choice."
  • King's Quest remakes love delivering these on the fandom
    • The Air Gem tests in the AGD Interactive remake of King's Quest II: The first is a lighthearted flashback to childhood where you accidentally hit King Edward with a ball when playing. But the scene changes, and instant Mood Whiplash. It's Graham's darkest hour on King's Quest III; the dragon has burned Daventry, Graham's remaining child has been sent as a Human Sacrifice to try and appease it temporarily, and in come The Father to gloat...
    • The Silver Lining: Graham comes back with the initial spell ingredients to make the attempt to rescue his children...only to find Valanice succumbing to dark magic.
    • King's Quest (2015):
      • Chapter one has the death of Achaka. You spend an entire section bonding with him and learning (despite a language barrier) what a good man he is.
      • Chapter two is built around this. Your friends are all slowly starving, and two of them need the only bottle of medicine to be had. It's not possible to save them both, and there's a good chance that the one you lose will be the pregnant Bramble. It's also possible for at least one of the others to collapse from hunger, if you don't figure out the mechanics in time. The punch is, at least, mitigated on future playthroughs, as the player now knows that no one actually dies.
      • Chapter Four brings the revelation that whichever princess Graham did not romance in the previous chapter has become the evil Queen Icebella, thanks to the Big Bad's manipulation. That's bad enough, but then comes the Hope Spot at the end of the chapter when you have reason to think that her old friend, Queen Valanice, has broken through the brainwashing and brought her back to herself. As a matter of fact, she has... and so the Big Bad kills Icebella. Valanice is devastated, and the player is likely upset too.
      • Chapter Five pretty much fits this trope completely. Unlike the first four chapters, at this point Graham's mind is completely wandering and his story is confused and disjointed in the beginning, with his granddaughter having to remind him of key points. His memory gaps are represented in the game by chunks of the scenery being whited out, and early on he says that he attempted to go to town, only to forget the way there as soon as he was a little way from the castle. The developers also attempt (in the PC version) to give the player a similar sense of confusion and disorientation by suddenly reversing the keyboard controls. It works. For those who have had a loved one suffer from this kind of thing in real life, it's doubly poignant.
  • Despite being a comedy, Space Quest had more than a few:
  • Life Is Strange:
    • The first one comes at the end of episode 2, when Kate attempts (and potentially commits) suicide after all the bullying she receives throughout the first two episodes. You have to watch her jump at least once before you can rewind and stop time to try to save her. In this case, because Max's powers stop working when she gets to the roof, you have one chance to save her. If you fail, she dies.
    • The second comes at the end of episode 3, where Max saves Chloe's dad from dying in a car crash, Chloe is implied to have suffered a car crash herself and, the last thing you see in that chapter is Chloe as a quadriplegic with a breathing tube in her neck.
    • The third one comes at the end of episode 4, when Max and Chloe are trying to prevent Nathan from destroying evidence that Chloe's friend Rachel was murdered, and suddenly someone injects a drug into Max from behind, and shoots Chloe in the head. The drugs prevent Max from rewinding time, and she can only lay there and gradually fall into unconsciousness. The last thing the player sees is the teacher Max admired most staring down at her with a gun in his hand.
    • Three words: The Final Decision.
  • Life Is Strange: Before the Storm:
    • The game ends on a seemingly happy note, with a montage of Chloe and Rachel having fun together, set to an upbeat soundtrack. The Stinger however ends with a shot of Rachel's phone showing the date of her disappearance from the original game, with 17 missed calls from Chloe.
  • Near the end of Armikrog, during a brief confrontation with Vognaut, the villain proceeds to mercilessly vaporize Beak Beak with a single shot after Beak Beak unplugs his P-tonium extraction machine in order to save P. Even if you were expecting a Player Punch at some point due to the game's nods to The Neverhood, it can still come off as shocking, especially since Beak Beak is not only the protagonist's sidekick, but a controllable character as well.
  • Episode 1 of Code 7 starts with one. You spend the entirety of Episode 0 to get Alex and Sam to safety, begin Episode 1 with some small bantering and then have to listen to Sam slowly suffocating, followed by her ship crashing into Mars.
  • In the third game of the Hero Of The Kingdom series, there's a moment of this, especially for players returning from the two previous installments. Up to this point in the series, if a hero has a loved one disappear during the course of the story, they turn up alive and well before the end. So when the hero of this game returns home to find that an earthquake has destroyed his house with his beloved Uncle Brent trapped inside, the player can very easily assume that it's a mistake and Uncle Brent wasn't home when the house was wrecked. But come the end of the game... nope. Uncle Brent really is dead. It's especially sad because Uncle Brent is the hero's only known relative, and the game has made a point of showing that the two really love each other.


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