Persistent character damage can be used as a narrative or gameplay design feature. For example, persistent character damage can show story developments.
In some games, characters gradually gain a rougher look as the game progresses. This effect can be purely decorative, and is often signified by wear on clothing, stubble, accumulated dirt, and injury. This effect is prominent in games taking place over a short, linear timespan.
Other times, games make this effect indicative of the player's current health or danger state. Characters may show visible wounds or gain a limp relative to the gameplay, and not the story.