Should Enemies Be Able To Surrender In Video Games?

Illustration for article titled Should Enemies Be Able To Surrender In Video Games?

Game developer Andrew Doull recently asked reader of his blog whether players of his upcoming game should be able to get enemies to surrender. You seldom see this option, because, well, it'd be messy.


Doull pondered how surrender would work in his game, Unangband, which is classified in the strategic genre of "roguelike":

I'm going to be implementing some changes to the monster AI to allow monsters to be bribed, which will allow a 'not allied but not trying to kill you either' state for monsters to be in. They'll hang around suspiciously and follow you, they won't target you with spell attacks or try to injure you with melee, and they'll either betray you or leave after some period of time, as well as periodically asking for more money or gifts.

Now this AI could also be used to allow a monster to surrender to you if you have sufficiently injured it. Unfortunately, this is directly contrary to a lot of the design and game play for a roguelike - you basically want to be able to kill stuff - so I'm interested in whether having monsters surrender could ever be an interesting choice. Do you know of any games where the surrender mechanic does work successfully?

In the comments below his post, Doull's readers questioned the gameplay advantages of having monsters surrender. Doull posted a follow-up, arguing that, for things in a game that might be moral choices, gameplay advantages shouldn't be factors... which of course raises the question of whether enemy surrender as an option would be a feature added for gameplay benefit or moral intrigue.

Enemies who can surrender...what do you say?

Should Monsters Surrender? [ASCII Dreams via Twitter]

(Post image of mock-surrender of a player-character in EA's Army of Two: The 40th Day)


I know in SWAT 4, enemies could surrender. Then again, you're a cop and you can order them to listen to you, or if not, you can mace them, or tazer them, or if they start to get violent, you can shoot back.

So yeah, there's games out there that have a surrender mechanic.

For a review of some of the SWAT 4 levels, Spoony over at the [] did a whole thing on them. I think he's only missing the last mission. His commentary is pretty funny too, especially how he ends up getting Flash Bang'd by his own Swat guys.