On Being Beaten In Cutscenes

Another quick note before I start – this was again written on my phone, and entries will be like this for the foreseeable future. They’ll be short and have strange typos, so please bear with me!

So, having your character lose in a cut scene is the fucking worst, as I think most players will agree. When I say “lose in a cut scene”, I’m referring to when the narrative demands that the protagonist/s fail and so makes the villain win.

This isn’t actually that bad, except in the many cases where you’ve just finished kicking the snot out of someone only to have them smack your party or character about as soon as control is taken away.

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My angry rambling is always validated when I discover the TV Tropes page for whatever I’m whinging about.

“Cutscene Incompetence”, as TV Tropes calls it, is frustrating at best. It sucks to feel like you would have won if the game hadn’t arbitrarily taken control away from you. But to me, the worst thing is that there’s rarely a good reason for it to exist.

I get it – the protagonist/s should lose sometimes. It’s dramatic, it’s interesting and so on. But there’s no reason to do this in a cutscene.

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Many games – RPGs especially – will put players into fights that simply can’t be won. This is similar in that the game is forcing a loss, but it feels about a thousand times more natural because it happens in gameplay.

Final Fantasy 9, for example, has a few unwinnable fights. The player is never told this explicitly, but regardless of their performance the boss will eventually use a devastating attack that ends the battle.

I don’t see a good reason that more games can’t use this system. Either allow the player to win or have an extremely tough boss with the ability to guarantee a win of the player performs well enough.

Its not perfect by any metric, but it’s a lot more interesting and I’d say even more obvious. Do you have any examples of frustrating cutscene incompetence? Do you love it? Why? Let me know!

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