A video game trope that's sort of the opposite of a Broken Bridge
, but still accomplishes the same effect. The plot has a very clear route in mind for which order you're supposed to visit which locations. However, dropping a Broken Bridge
in the areas other than where you're clearly supposed to go may seem too heavy-handed. The solution? You can go wherever you want...but if you try to go anywhere out of order, the game will kill you.
Basically, later areas are guarded by disproportionately (or maybe proportionately by the time you're actually supposed
to be there, but definitely not until then) powerful enemies that will beat you down for approaching them too early. As a player, you're supposed to recognize that as a sign that you should just come back later. With any luck, you'll be ready for those challenges by the time the game actually mentions them.
The good news is that if you're somehow miraculously able to pull it off early, via some sort of Revive Kills Zombie
application of the Useless Useful Spell
, clever strategy, or sheer luck, then you get to learn why there's nothing quite like enjoying amounts of experience and equipment drops that you probably weren't intended to have until fifteen hours later. It can also sometimes be fun to beat them for Sequence Breaking
- Breath of Fire II: You can theoretically return to Gate almost immediately after getting Spar in your party. You are only actually supposed to return to Gate much much later, and the encounters in that area prove it.
- Chrono Trigger has the bucket at the End of Time, which you can reach about three or four hours into the game. Using it takes you to the final boss. Odds are you don't actually want to use it until you've made it through the actual plot, unless you're using a New Game+.
- The original Dragon Warrior only had one Broken Bridge in the entire game, and that was the one leading to the final dungeon.
- EarthBound Zero: There is a very significant difference between the level at which you can wake the dragon in Magicant and fight it and the level at which you should.
- Another EarthBound Zero example that's half this and half Broken Bridge: you can try to simply walk through the tunnel from Merryville to the next area without clearing the path for the train. You just really don't want to.
- Etrian Odyssey is madly in love with this trope. For one thing, it's the entire point of the FOEs. Beyond that, certain special cases that are even mentioned in game (usually in the form of a "you get the feeling that the monsters in this area are much too powerful to fight" message or a quest all about having to get something from its lair while absolutely not drawing its direct attention) include Wyvern in Etrian Odyssey, Scylla in Heroes of Lagaard, and the Stalkers in both games.
- Fallout had this as a consequence of being fairly non-linear. 60-80% or so of the towns will be hard for a few levels if you don't visit the starter towns first, but they are all about the same level of difficulty to get to in the first place. Thus, most of the game is unlocked as of level eight or nine, except for the very end-game parts.
- Fallout 2 has a strategy for sneaking into one of the end-game areas and doing the sidequests there by employing talking skills and running away from any actual fight. This can get you very advanced weapons, the second-best armor in the game, and a mountain of XP that would be a fair reward for near-end game characters, but is utterly insane for starting characters. (One quest gives you 20,000 XP. Starting characters can get two or three levels from that.)
- The original Final Fantasy had the Peninsula of Power, which was originally a programming oversight that included those few tiles on the first continent as part of a much much later area as far as what random encounters lived there.
- Final Fantasy II seemed to have some sort of unnatural hatred for cohesive world map design, and ended up combining a serious case of this trope with incredibly poor directions. The people in town A say that you should visit town B. Outside of town A lie featureless plains and forests in all directions and nothing preventing you from going anywhere, leaving you to have to take a wild guess which way town B is. If you guess wrong, you will be first-turn annihilated by the very first random encounter in the area surrounding towns X, Y, and Z that you just accidentally approached. This, combined with how poorly-done the game's system for getting stronger was in the first place, made it a bit of a Wall Banger.
- Not only that, there were definite ways to get significantly out of your league even in places you were supposed to be. At one point, you have to sneak into an occupied town to rescue someone. The way the game handled the occupation is that it looked and acted like a normal town, except that talking to anyone led to their calling you "Rebel Scum!" and triggering an absolutely impossible battle against the very enemy that was used as a Hopeless Boss Fight in the game's introduction.
- Final Fantasy Tactics A2's Cinquleur missions. You can take the first one ("The Red King of Cinquleur") as soon as you reach the second town, which should be around level ten if you avoid the plot and do every sidequest you can first, but the actual mission is to take down a level 44 enemy. Should you pull this off, it proves to be the first in a series of missions against all of Cinquleur's colored kings, each 11 levels stronger than the one before. Thus, the second mission in the chain, "The Blue King of Cinquleur", pits you against a level 55 enemy, and so on. If you can pull that off, all you need to know about the final mission in the chain is that it's called "The Five Kings", and that the titular five kings have all been promoted to level 99. Every mission in the chain can be accessed the second you complete the mission before it, meaning that the only thing stopping you from doing the entire chain as of the second town in the game is your ability to not die trying.
- The original Legend of Zelda was completely wide-open, with nothing stopping players from entering any area on the map and fighting enemies which can kill them in one hit. Of course, it is possible to survive if the player is skilled enough.
- Suikoden 2 had an example of this that was strange enough that it might not have been intentional: near the beginning of the game, when you are still just an orphan with a couple of mercenary friends, you can approach the gate to one of the last areas of the game, Matilda. The gate is locked, and guarded to boot, but for some bizarre reason, you can push it. That is, you push the entire gate back a few feet, allowing you to slip through the sides, into an area significantly over your level. You don't have a chance against any of the enemies, but if you can run far and fast enough, you can make it alive to a small town you weren't supposed to reach for a few dozen hours, and there you can recruit a couple of characters you weren't supposed to meet until then. Said characters start at levels proportionate to the area, meaning you can use them to power-level your other characters to a ludicrous level before you pick up the main quest line again.
- Similar to the Suikoden 2 example, it is possible for Tales of Symphonia players early on who navigate the higher-level areas successfully to recruit Sheena early.
- Almost every MMORPG allows sufficiently determined players to enter zones they have absolutely no business being in, with predictable results.
- City of Heroes actually has level requirements to enter the hazard and trial zones, but nothing to stop level 1 players from entering the higher-level city zones--even Founder's Falls, where even the random purse-snatchers have an average level of 50 or so.
- World of Warcraft has several.
- The high level zone of Plaguelands located right next to the undead starting zone. There is a gate that separates the zones and some high level NP Cs guarding it, so most players should probably realize they shouldn't go there, but nothing prevents them from doing so.
- One of the early zones for Alliance players is similarly connected (via a big intimidating looking gate) to the much-higher leveled Burning Steppes.
- The infamous "death run", a route that night elf players have to take in order to get to the Alliance capital for the first time. It's called that because most players go there at fairly low level, since night elf capital's practically a ghost town, and the zone they have to go through is filled with mobs roughly twice their level.
- Many a DM in most tabletop games rely on a combination of this and broken bridges to make sure the players go where the DM wants them to. One site with a tabletop RPG cliche list mentioned "T-Rex on the Plains", where the DM puts a t-rex in an area just to keep the players on rails.