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no-one has to die. is a Visual Novel and Puzzle Game from Sammy Madafiglio on Flash game site Newgrounds (first released at https://clay.io/game/die).

The setup is simple: you are the No Name Given protagonist, referred to in-game as the "Visitor". While making a delivery to the Fenix Corporation, you find the security guards dead and a fire breaking out, endangering the lives of four people; employees Steve, Christina and Troy, as well as CEO Lionel. You assume control of the security system to try to save them, but due to the limitations of the system, you must decide who lives and who dies as the fire spreads. Communications between The Visitor and the four main characters is done through text chat, and reveals more and more of the story, and the Fenix Corporation's true purpose.

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See also Virtue's Last Reward, a visual novel that very clearly inspired no-one has to die.

Due to the nature of the game's plot, most of the listed tropes are spoilers.


No-One Has to Die features the following tropes:

  • 11th-Hour Superpower: In the last playthrough, you gain the ability to close four fire doors at once.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: The conversation which has Steve and Christina say that the other wouldn't sacrifice themselves for anyone is the same one where they offer themselves to die in the place of the other.
  • Accidental Hero: Troy knowing what the security code was in his second to fifth run-throughs of the fire leads to the Visitor always saving Troy, believing he could save everyone, leading to him seeing his co-workers die over and over again.
  • all lowercase letters: The game's title is written this way on its Kongregate page.
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  • Always Save the Girl: Steve will get very mad at you if you kill off Christina. The reverse is also true, too.
  • Animal Testing: Fenix Corporation bought six million cockatiels in order to test their time travel machine by teaching them all a phrase until they had a cockatiel that not only already knew the phrase before it was bought but also managed to survive the time travel process.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The flowchart and ability to skip seen dialogue let you go through each of the endings easily and with little re-reading.
  • Arc Words: "I've been here before." First said by Troy to reveal that he's a time traveller, then by Christina when she reveals she's planning to find a universe where her mother survived, and goes back in time after the Omega Ending to set the destination date to when she died.
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  • At Least I Admit It: Christina criticizes Steve's willingness to actually sacrifice himself. When he rebuts to whether she can do it, she replies she can't, but at least doesn't pretend that she can.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Thanks to the Merged Reality, the Visitor is able to get everyone out of the building alive. However, Christina goes back into the TEMPEST to try to save her mother, due to being a murderer and an arsonist, and having spent far too much to avenge her mother to let her efforts be in vain. In addition, countless alternate versions of the characters had to be sacrificed or continue on in their universe without any knowledge of what happened.
  • Black Comedy: Steve is a big fan of this, joking about Troy's death and even making a joke about his Heroic Sacrifice for Christina. This is not the case when Christina dies, however.
  • Boss Rush: Variation: the final route takes you once again through every puzzle you faced. However, you can lock every door by this point, making for a very trivialized rush.
  • Brain Theft: Fenix Corp had removed the brain from the body of Christina's mother before returning the body to her family. Christina believes it was to experiment on that brain, but Lionel reveals that she already died and the company tried to figure out why she did.
  • But Thou Must!: You have to save the maximum possible amount of people to progress through each floor. Failing to do so will reset the level.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • At the very start of the game, the announcement system mentions TEMPEST being engaged. TEMPEST is a Time Machine, and its engagement is its destination time period being set to the start of the incident.
    • On floor B2, there are seemingly useless doors in front of where Lionel and Steve are, due to the both of them being able to be protected from fire by water. In the Merged Reality, the doors are used so that you can save both of them without condemning one to drowning or burning.
  • Cliffhanger:
    • Each character's ending can be considered an instance of this, as they each leave you with unanswered questions that only the other endings and the true ending finally piece together.
    • If Troy and Lionel are the only people left alive, Troy finally appears willing to explain all the weird stuff he's been saying, and drops a Wham Line right before the chat cuts out. If you want him to give you the full explanation, you need to spare him.
    • The true ending is this as well; it ends with Christina announcing her intent to walk into the TEMPEST machine and return to the past to try and save her mother.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Each of the characters has a color to match their handle.
    • Steve: Light Green
    • Christina: Orange-Red
    • Troy: Grey-White
    • Lionel: Lavender
    • Visitor: Rock Blue
  • Controllable Helplessness: The Bad Endings, where you are forced to sit there and watch as Christina and Lionel burn to death.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Lionel wastes no time in trying to bribe you to let him live, and his cold dedication to the company resulted in the mutilation of a scientist's body, which is what provoked her daughter to light the fire. Downplayed, in that he's also the most cool-headed of the four employees and never shows any actual malice—nor does he get upset with you in the bad endings, where his death is inevitable. In the ending where you save him, he even keeps his word and fully explains what his company really does to you, a delivery guy, even though he could easily refuse to do so since his life is already saved.
  • Cryptic Conversation: When asked about what happened to the thousands of birds bought by the company, Lionel answers that they were searching for a phoenix. The "phoenix" in this context was a bird that survived the time travel process.
  • Cutting Off the Branches: Downplayed. While all four endings lead to the Omega Ending, the Visitor in the final timeline is explicitly the one from Lionel's route.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Lionel is usually quite professional, but he can get rather snarky. If a choice between saving him or Troy is coming up, he chimes in after Troy's request to die with "I must concur. Please, spare me!" And then, in his ending:
    Lionel: Our true interest here is time travel.
    Visitor: ...time travel.
    Lionel: That is indeed what I just said.
  • Death Seeker: Troy frequently tells you to kill him and seems to have no sense of self-preservation. He's from five other timelines where he failed to save anybody else, and now just wants someone else to live through the fire instead of him.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Interestingly, the title can be read as "No, one has to die".
  • Downer Ending: If you spare Christina and Lionel, that route causes them to burn to death and nets you a Bad Ending, as neither of them are in a room that can be flooded with water or can be blocked off.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Later in the game, Christina has this attitude towards Steve's Black Comedy, probably because of her guilt for Troy being killed by the fire she started. This only intensifies when Steve tries to downplay the severity of his Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Dying Declaration of Hate: Should Steve be the one to die second, Christina will say that she hopes both the Visitor and Lionel end up in hell when the announcement system says that there are two unavoidable casualties.
  • Everybody Lives: The final ending, after every character has gone through the TEMPEST machine, results in everybody surviving the fire.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Compared to his other attempts to persuade the player to save him, when Lionel is faced with certain death, he takes it in stride.
    Lionel: It's alright. There's nothing you could've done.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: All of Troy's attempts to save the others in his previous timelines failed, and he reveals this information after failing to get himself killed.
  • Featureless Protagonist: The only thing known about the Visitor is that they were delivering stationery and noticed the fire break out.
  • Foreshadowing: Practically all of Christina's dialogue, especially reactions to people's deaths, makes much more sense when you realize she lit the fire.
  • Four Is Death: Four is the number of people at the mercy of the fire. Before Mental Time Travel kicks in, a maximum of one can survive.
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble: The characters sans the Visitor.
    • The Cynic: Lionel
    • The Optimist: Steve
    • The Realist: Christina
    • The Apathetic: Troy
  • Gameplay and Story Integration:
    • The way Troy is placed in each level means that you can immediately save him by closing a door next to him, stopping him from killing himself by running into the fire.
    • On B1 with Christina and Steve alive, in order to save Christina, Steve has to perform a Heroic Sacrifice by moving away from the safety of the locked door to activate the sprinklers.
  • Golden Ending: If you find all the endings, an alternate path with the true ending appears.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: Troy has had to watch his co-workers and boss burn to death five times thanks to the TEMPEST machine bringing him back to the start of the fire. The real kicker? You will only find this out if you sentence his co-workers and boss to death again. Thankfully, the loop is eventually broken thanks to Merged Reality.
  • Hazardous Water: The water from the sprinklers is capable of drowning people. Somehow.
  • Heroic BSoD: Steve does not take Christina's death well, lashing out at the player, desperately asking for Christina to reply, deluding himself into believing she's alive and making a crackpot theory as to why she survived from the fact that some cockatiels were taught to say "Christina lives".
  • Heroic Sacrifice: If Christina and Steve are the only characters remaining, the final level is set up this way. Steve can take a single step into the fire door to save himself, or he can rush forward to activate the sprinklers, which will save Christina but doom him. Christina, in turn, begs you to lock that door for Steve knowing full well it would doom her to die.
  • I Lied: It turns out that Troy was lying when he claimed to be the arsonist. He's actually trapped in a "Groundhog Day" Loop and is trying to provoke you into killing him so someone else can survive.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Christina lets slip that she knows the security guards were shot when all everyone else knows is that they're dead, though no-one picks up on it.
  • Info Dump: One at Lionel's ending involves the reveal of time travel, and one at the beginning of the Golden Ending route involves the follow-up on how backwards time travel really works, both courtesy of Lionel.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Played for drama. Steve, devastated by the death of Christina in his route, becomes absolutely convinced that she didn't actually die. Why? Because a bunch of birds the company had been experimenting with well beforehand had been taught the phrase "Christina lives". Not only does this not logically follow in any way whatsoever, it turns out that wasn't even the Christina they were talking about.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Steve is sarcastic, hot-tempered, short-fused, impatient, rude, and crude. He jokes about Troy's death, and also callously tells the player to let Lionel drown/burn to death instead of him, albeit after the revelation that Lionel is apparently not a good person, and after Lionel offers the player a very large reward for saving him instead of Steve. Steve, however, begs the Visitor to spare Christina when it comes to the choice of killing either him or Christina.
  • Karma Houdini: In the true ending, Christina, the one responsible for nearly all the misdeeds done in the building, escapes through the time machine to another dimension.
  • Kill 'Em All: The four regular endings result in the death of everyone but the Visitor and one person. Both bad endings wipe out everyone but the Visitor.
  • Little "No": Said several times in the face of a Sadistic Choice or consequence, such as Lionel facing guaranteed death in the bad endings, the player seeing that either Christina or Steve must die, and Christina after Steve dies in her path.
  • Maybe Ever After: Christina doesn't admit to being in love with Steve until the 'true' end, when she leaves to search for her mother and Steve never manages to admit to feeling the same. Christina wishes she could be with him, but decides to travel through time and simply hope she can see him again one day instead.
  • Meaningful Name: The Fenix Corporation, who uses time travel and multiversal hopping to effectively become immortal in a constant cycle of rebirth. Oh, and there's also a raging fire that's burning its employees to a crisp.
  • Mega-Corp: The company where the fire breaks out in. Christina and Steve question the company's operations, as all they do is account for the most meaningless amounts of items being sold for next to no profit: lots of parrots, toilet seat covers, guitars, and so on. It turns out they're a research corporation that discovered time travel and dimension hopping; all the purchases are a front to keep the government in the dark.
  • Mental Time Travel: Time travel forwards in time results in your body becoming lifeless until the destination date is reached, reviving you (if you body hasn't decayed). Conversely, time travel backwards in time involves a person's consciousness being sent through the multiverse back to their body at the destination time, possibly ending up in a different reality altogether. However, sometimes multiple consciousnesses end up in one reality, leading to one overwriting the others. This also means that some realities don't get a consciousness after the time travel, leading to that person entering the time machine and permanently losing their consciousness, as what happened to Christina's mother.
  • Merged Reality: The final ending, where every character from all the endings is dumped into where they were at the start of the fire, with the information of all the fire door codes, so that, well... no one has to die.
  • Miles to Go Before I Sleep: Troy won't stop the time loop or kill himself until someone else survives the fire.
  • Mood Motif: "Tragedy" for sad scenes, "Up In Flames" for tense ones. Notably, since you usually have to sacrifice someone to complete a level, a portion of "Tragedy" is audible in "Up in Flames".
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Christina, in her ending. Her fire was intended to kill Lionel, but she didn't check well enough to realize there were other people in the building. She curses you for saving her instead of Steve, and only isn't arrested because she accidentally gets into the TEMPEST system instead.
  • Multiple Endings: One for each of the four characters, as well as two bad endings. In reality, each ending is an alternate timeline. Completing all of the character endings unlocks a true ending where no-one has to die.
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead: When Steve jokes about Troy lighting the fire over the recent wage cuts, Christina chastises him over joking about a dead person. Happens again when Steve suggests they ask Troy for the answers, with the same response from Christina.
  • Never Trust a Title: Despite the title telling you otherwise, you must pick someone to die in every level, and you won't be able to unlock the true ending until each character survives to the end at least once.
  • No Name Given: The Visitor is only ever referred to as such.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Whoever designed the fire suppression system should be fired (literally). You have to enter 4 different codes to use it to full effect, and the water sprinklers have to be manually activated. The latter is probably fortunate because the sprinklers somehow release enough water to drown people.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: While most of the endings have a musical sting over the closing titles, the Bad Ends cuts out to the title in silence.
  • Omega Ending: If you see all four endings, you get access to the Golden Ending.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted (and not by the actual guy named Steve). Christina has the same name as her mother. This causes some confusion in Steve's path when he finds a document stating that "Christina lives" and assumes it's referring to the daughter, not the mother.
  • Playing the Heart Strings: "Tragedy", the "sad" Mood Motif.
  • Precision F-Strike: In the bad ending where Steve dies second, Christina swears at both the Vistor and Lionel.
    Christina: I hope you both burn in hell.
  • Red Herring:
    • Troy tells you at the beginning of the game that he set the fire. He didn't; he's just trying to goad you into letting him die for other reasons.
    • On floor B1, there are two doors that are to the left and right of the fire above the switch in the left section. They are impossible to use use without failing, including in the Merged Reality.
  • Reset Button: Pressed every time the Visitor helps someone survive to the end. Of course, it's not an actual reset button, but simply going to a timeline with the exact same situation.
  • Retraux: The style of the characters' portraits are cute, simple, 8-bit-style drawings. The sound effects are chirpy bleeps as well, in contrast to the orchestral music. Justified in that you're using a chat program to communicate, and run simulations on the same computer to decide what the characters should do.
  • The Reveal: Each of the non-bad endings reveal something different.
    • Steve's ending reveals that the cockatiel experiment involved more and more cockatiels being bought, with the purpose of teaching them a phrase, until one of the cockatiels already knew the phrase. They then passed the birds through a machine, which killed all of them except the one who knew the phrase. And the phrase in question? "Christina lives."
    • Christina's ending reveals she was the one who started the fire because Fenix Corporation killed her mother.
    • Troy's ending reveals he didn't really light the fire, and that he's apparently lived through the fire several times before, and now just wants to die after failing to save anybody else over and over again.
    • Lionel's ending reveals Fenix Corporation's true interest is time travel.
    • The Omega Ending reveals Christina already went through the ending where everyone lives, and is planning to travel the multiverse in search of a timeline where her mother survived the experiment.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Steve is right about Christina's reappearance during the Merged Reality, and that the cockatiel experiment's chosen phrase, "Christina lives," was connected, but not about the phrase referring to the Christina in the game, or the whole thing being a sick joke.
  • Sadistic Choice: The Visitor is forced to make these in order to decide who lives and who dies. Subverted in the Bad Endings, where there's no way to save anyone, and the True Ending, where there's a way to save everyone.
  • Sanity Slippage: Steve doesn't take it well when Christina dies, believing that she's still somehow alive.
  • Schrödinger's Gun: Depending on the final survivor, the security code in the blue file they find will be different. In the final route, the Visitor needs all four to activate the maximum security system and save everyone from the fire.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: This eventually becomes everyone's motivation, and is especially Christina's motivation at the end, who decides to keep on time travelling to find a universe where her mother is alive.
  • Shout-Out: The badge you get for beating the game is the Groundhog Day Dilemma Badge.
  • The Smurfette Principle: One woman out of a cast of four, excluding the Visitor.
  • Significant Anagram: The four security codes rearrange to RISE FROM THE ASHES. Appropriate, no?
  • Sole Survivor: The four main endings have only one character other than the Visitor survive. Averted in the bad endings, where nobody survives, and the Omega Ending, where everybody survives.
  • Someone Has to Die: Despite the name of the game, this will be happening a lot. And those deaths are permanent. The Merged Reality simply consists of alternate versions of the characters who managed to reach the time machine and were lucky enough to get dumped into one reality. Everyone else from their realities are dead, except for their own versions of the Visitor.
  • Sound-Coded for Your Convenience: Each character has a different tone in the chat program.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Virtue's Last Reward, the second Zero Escape game. Both games involve Mental Time Travel where when you go to a new timeline, you replace the "previous" you of that timeline; a flow-chart and character endings, including bad endings; an Omega Ending that's reached after clearing every other good ending; and even the cover of the OST for no-one has to die, looks very much like a shot from VLR's Opening Cutscene, (a type of shot that shows up in many games by the same developer).
  • Suicide by Cop: Troy is Driven to Suicide after seeing his friends die in 5 other timelines, so he pretends to be the arsonist so that you'll kill him.
  • Take a Third Option: Once you receive all four security codes in the Golden Ending, there are no projected casualties.
  • Time Travel: Reseearching this is the true purpose of Fenix Corp. Going forward works perfectly, but going backward has... issues. When you go backwards, your consciousness is thrown into the multiverse and spat out in a random timeline. Sometimes this gets you back to your own timeline, and sometimes you end up somewhere else. This is the fate that befell Christina's mother; she ended up in another timeline, no alternate version of her claimed the shell left behind, and she died.
  • Title Drop: Twice.
    • The first time is by Lionel in his ending, describing a theoretical best-case scenario in which traveling back in time grants immortality aside from accidents.
    • The second time is in the Merged Reality, where Troy happily says the game's title when the computer system tells the group "no casualties expected".
  • Triumphant Reprise: The music that plays in the merged timeline, "Ray of Light", is this to the music that typically plays during the gameplay sections, "Up In Flames". As an extra kick, it starts at the same moment a Wham Line is delivered: "Fire on floor B3. No casualties expected."
  • Too Dumb to Live: The Fenix Corporation hired a woman whose mother died in their experiments. Christina suspects that they hired her just to shut her up.
  • Unlucky Everydude: The Visitor, plus two other characters, just happened to be working in the building when the fire broke out. Christina planned for Lionel to be there, but she didn't check the building carefully enough to realize there were other people still inside before she lit the fire.
  • Walking Spoiler: The Time Machine. Most of the major plot twists in the game revolve around its existence and how the characters interact with it.
  • Wham Line: Every ending has one:
    • Steve: "The phrase that the birds were taught? It was 'Christina lives'."
    • Christina: "I lit the fire."
    • Troy: "The reason I lit the fire... I didn't." and "I knew the security code because I heard you read it out."
    • Lionel: "Our true interest here is time travel."
    • Bad Endings: "Two casualties unavoidable." (There are only two survivors left when it appears.)
    • Start of the final path: "Fire on Floor B3. No casualties expected."
    • End of the final path: Christina: "I've been here before."


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