Games where choices doesn't reflect what you expected

Playing through Binary Domain again got me thinking about it. In this game, you have some options when your crew asks you something and sometimes the answer (broke down with short answers) doesn’t convey the meaning that you wanted to convey. In that game it’s kinda funny, but in others it can be really frustrating.

The biggest culprit might be L.A. Noire, it’s either Cole letting himself get stepped on by a potential suspect, or him going 0-100 immediately and making insane threats that makes me wide-eyed and say “I definitely did not expect that”, making it really frustrating. There even was times where it was incredibly tasteless (The Fallen Idol’s victim), when you just wanted some simple answers through logic rather than brute force your way.

Has there been other games where you felt what you wanted to convey through choices didn’t end up being what you wanted at all ?

Any game where I can’t read the actual dialogue line when I’m selecting it feels like this is an unforced error. I realise it’s because games now want a voiced protagonist and to avoid making you read the line then hear it slowing down the game but I kinda think it’s essential to being able to actually role play to be able to know the options for what you can say.

Not saying no games do this well but I’d say more games do it badly and, especially if you play Fallout 4 with the mod to put the full dialogue options back in, appears to be a way of avoiding making it clear that you’re being asked for dialogue choices that don’t even attempt to change the feeling of the dialogue, let alone any meaningful choices. Basically you’re being asked to pick a dialogue theme just to give you something to do rather than letting it play as a cutscene. Not quite the same as the issue you raise but I think they’re both part of a spectrum of issues that make this a bad design decision which creates disconnects when paying and tries to mask bad writing.


There’s a quest on Kashyyyk in KotOR1 where you ostensibly help some Wookies but it’s actually an evil action and negatively effects your morality. I have no idea why.

It was the straw that broke the camel’s back and made me drop the game in rage though.

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Remember at the end of Hotel Dusk: Room 215, I was really frustrated that I could not tell two characters that they were estranged family members. Tried talking to both of them about it before leaving the Hotel and effectively ending the game but to no avail. Know it is not your traditional choice based narrative game (i.e. Mass Effect, Dragon Age, etc.) but it was really frustrating that I had all the information to deduce they were family and wasn’t given the choice to tell them in a game.


I don’t mind not reading the dialogue line beforehand if the meaning of the “summary” is conveyed decently enough but it’s not always the case. I do feel it drags down the game when I have to read, then hear it afterwards so I can see where developers are coming from with this. Though if I had to choose, I’d rather have agency.

Fallout 4 seems to be a pretty big culprit too

I don’t remember this, I feel bad :flushed:

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Every Bioware game with the dialogue wheel. I cannot count the times I’ve reloaded because my character said something I didn’t mean to say. The biggest culprit was when I unintentionally chose the option to punch the reporter in Mass Effect. I thought Shepard would continue yelling at her not assault.

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I feel this. I think it was in the first Dragon Age game that I decide I wanted to roleplay as religiously pretty agnostic and I went into a place and this priest was asking for donations into the church, and I had a dialogue option which was basically no, I’m not into that, so I picked that because just randomly giving money to a church doesn’t seem like something the character would do.

But all the dialogue that followed made me out to be a complete jerk, completely out of character. And I was kind of disappointed in the game for doing that, it seemed like a really odd choice that you could either donate to the church or be a complete jerk about it, with no warning.

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alternate take: maybe this is good actually

95% of the games where this might be a problem are about transplanting you into a world in which you’re more powerful. we have enough of that, every game that advertises infinite choices runs into the fact they’re still games at some point, and ain’t nothing particularly interesting about every game continuing to indulge a cultural collective power fantasy without ever making the player uncomfortable for buying into that at some point

so night in the woods did this really well by making it very clear that mae isn’t you and letting you, the detached observer, think you’re living her life and then make you sit helplessly and choose between limited dialogue options that all involve messing everything up. but it’s so obvious how she could help, you cry! and then: oh god that’s such a messed up thing for someone who fundamentally isn’t her to say, to tell people who have existences beyond what you see and again, aren’t you, how to fix their lives, why are we at the point where games reward us for this with xp and a meaningless pat on the back

wow, say games, you’re such a good person (or you can be a bad person but only in very limited ways where you still end up being the hero & neither really has consequences because both are predicated on the player’s overwhelming power in the first place, also that’s it, those are the only two things to be)

more games that exploit their mechanics to make you uncomfortable about the role you play in these people’s lives please

& last i checked the main thread for nitw was basically just: hey everyone i didn’t like mae so the game is bad; me bringing unwanted positivity into an thread started to complain is actually just restoring balance to the world, you should all be thanking me

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Every single time I think of a video game that gave me an option I didn’t expect when I picked a choice, I think of TWAU.


My first experience with the Bioware Dialogue Wheel was Dragon Age II. The first time I selected the “jerk” option, I came of as far, far more aggressively hostile than I could have ever anticipated.

Morality, according to Bioware, means your either Gandhi or Hitler.

Not quite the same, but I had issues with the ending of GTA 5.

The first time I played I chose to kill Trevor as it made the most sense to me since Franklin was making the choice. He values his own life and wouldn’t kill Michael. I misunderstood the “Deathwish” choice and didn’t realize it was actually just a way to get the “happy” ending. I went back and played it but the choice always kinda left a sour taste in my mouth the way it was implemented.

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I had this problem sometimes in 80 Days. For example, I’d choose an option that I thought just meant “voice a concern about the boat,” expecting a few lines of re-assuring dialogue, and Passepartout would instead complain directly to the ship’s captain and force him to turn the ship around—and because 80 Days doesn’t let you reverse or undo, I’d find that I’d just booted myself off of an interesting storyline and lost precious time as well.

Part of it, I’d guess, is down to the difficulty of writing games of this size—80 Days is in the realm of 750,000 words—checking for not just bugs but also for these little tonal mismatches.

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I had this problem a lot with Dragon Age: Origins, but I thought the tone icons in 2 and Inquisition clarified the abridged dialogue options a lot.

Binary Domain, on the other hand, felt totally unclear and seemed more or less like a guessing game. Cain reprimands me for being reckless, but loses trust when I apologize? OK…

I think one of the best examples of this is in Front Mission 3. The game splits into 2 paths early on, where you’re fighting on one side of a war or the other. Obviously this is a very big decision. How does the game decide which path to put you on?

Within the first half hour or so, the protagonists friends invite him to go hang out at the mall. Whether or not you go with them determines the course of the rest of the game.

There IS a reasonable explanation for why such a seemingly unrelated decision has such an impact, though. I still can’t decide if this was a case of questionable design or an intentional statement about “right place, right time” dumb luck/fate/butterfly effect.

Agreed re: LA Noire. It could have been such an easy fix to give us emotional context with each choice. (Aggressive, Skeptical, etc). I spent so much time trying to read into each option and seeing that there were multiple ways of looking at each.

They also needed to take away the audio clues of “that’s the wrong choice” in the middle of the conversation. The game doesn’t let you completely fail interviews and make you do them over (IIRC), so having a less clear sense of how the interview went could have felt more natural. Instead they play a sad trombone with every mistake, making each dialog choice feel like a game of chance, hoping for the positive tones to play.

Same exact thing happened to me and couldn’t agree more. I really don’t think that game needed a final choice and should have just had the “happy” ending be cannon.

My feeling is more towards the former, but also kind of an awareness of “oh this game we’re making exists in the world of strat guides/gamefaqs and we feel both storylines are equally strong so whichever they see first is fine.” Just a guess, but I believe without the benefit of a guide you’re meant to finish either playthrough and then realize that was the only dialogue choice you’d been given in the entire game which theoretically would lead to you checking out the other branch.

I’m still stuck on Front Mission 1 but I see what you mean. That’s definitely interesting. What a series, I should really push myself to get through all 5 of them, only did Gun Hazard (fantastic) and half of 1 so far.

Yes! This got me so angry to hear that sad trombone. At the very least if I fail I fail, let me infer my failure through conversation instead of giving me 1. a sound cue that makes me go off rail 2. a written statement on the screen telling me I messed up.

I would have been fine just rolling with the punches and see what happens at the end without all these alerts, but even then most of the time your failures means you don’t get to have evidence, which means everything plays the same but you are set to fail a conversation at a later date because you don’t have the evidence. It makes sense in a way, but the game doesn’t have any kind of flow to it. It doesn’t acknowledge where you messed up and react accordingly.

That’s why I also used the quit function to reload my save from time to time, there were points where I didn’t trust the game enough to let him skew my progression lol

I stuck it out until the big reveal and dropped it when I had to deal with the insanely restrictive options. It was already grinding my gears by not letting me not want to be a damn Jedi.