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Video Game / no-one has to die.

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no-one has to die. is a Visual Novel and Puzzle Game from Sammy Madafiglio on Flash game sites Kongregate and Newgrounds (first released at

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.


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.
  • all lowercase letters: The game's title is written this way on its Kongregate page.
  • Always Save the Girl: Steve will get very mad at you if you kill off Christina. The reverse is also true, too.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The flowchart and ability to skip seen dialogue.
  • 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 Machine to try to save her mother, believing that there is no reality where her mother and her love, Steve, can both survive. In addition, countless alternate versions of the characters had to be sacrificed or continue on in their universe without any knowledge of what happened.
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  • 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.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • "TEMPEST engaged."
    • Christina: "Steve? Why are you here? I thought you'd gone home." Turns out she lit the fire not knowing Steve, her lover, was still there.
  • Cliffhanger:
    • Each character's ending can be considered an instance of this, as they each leave you with unanswered questions that only the true ending finally pieces 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.
  • 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. See "Groundhog Day" Loop below for more info.
  • 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.
  • Dummied Out: The soundtrack includes a Triumphant Reprise of "Tragedy" called "Regret" that doesn't appear anywhere in the actual game.
  • Everybody Lives: The final ending, after every character has gone through the TEMPEST machine, results in everybody surviving the fire.
  • Featureless Protagonist: The Visitor. The only thing known about them is that they were delivering stationery and noticed the fire break out.
  • Foreshadowing: Practically all of Christina's dialogue, especially reactions to peoples' 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
  • Golden Ending: If you find all the endings, an alternate path with the true ending appears.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: Of a twisted kind. Gets even worse in Troy's ending: he's had to watch his co-workers and boss burn to death five times. 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.
  • 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.
  • Info Dump: One at Lionel's ending, and one at the beginning of the Golden Ending route, both courtesy of Lionel.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Played for drama. Steve, devastated by the death of Christina in his route, becomes absolutely convinced that Christina 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 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.
  • 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 burns its employees to a crisp.
  • Mega-Corp: The company where the fire breaks out in - though Christina and Steve question it, as all they do is account for the most meaningless amounts of items: lots of parrots, toilet seat covers, 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: While traveling forward in time and then going back works normally, traveling backwards, by itself, doesn't. Instead, it apparently destroys your body, but dumps you into any number of alternate selves in alternate universes - and it's implied that the body you take over kicks out the consciousness in it, which goes to another reality. There is a catch with traveling forward, though - your consciousness abandons your body, leaving it lifeless until you come back. The visitor points out that this makes travel ahead by more than a few hours useless, as your body would rot before you returned. Lionel admits this and states that Fenix is working on ways to keep the body intact. "Freezing seems promising."
  • 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.
  • 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 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 End 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. Especially prevalent in the final level.
  • 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. The person who started the fire is one of the four people you're trying to save, but it isn't Troy.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, who is trying to bring her dead mother back to life after the Fenix corporation apparently killed her.
  • 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 five .
  • Significant Anagram: The four 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).
  • Stable Time Loop: What you are trying to establish.
  • Time Travel: The true purpose of Fenix Corp is to research time travel. 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, who hired a woman whose mother died in their experiments. Christina suspects that they gave her the job 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 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."


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