[[quoteright:300:[[VideoGame/JediKnightIIJediOutcast http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/linear.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:300:[-[[SarcasmMode Hmmm, which way do I go?]]-] ]]
->''"What's that? You still have the illusion of freedom? Nope! Go take a long walk down a straight hallway for forty hours!"''
-->-- '''Aeris''', ''Webcomic/VGCats'' #[[http://www.vgcats.com/comics/?strip_id=293 281]] (as a reference to ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII'')

Just as a gamemaster in a [[TabletopGames tabletop game]] may create [[BrokenBridge artificial rules, boundaries and obstacles]] to keep his players on the game track that he has designated (a procedure known as {{Railroading}}), so too a video game may employ such tactics in order to force the player down a [[TheOneTrueSequence specific path or method]] toward the goal. And one of the easiest ways to keep a player from wandering off is, quite simply, to give the player nowhere to wander to.

Technically, this trope is the polar opposite of the QuicksandBox; it describes level architecture which forces the player down a singular path. This trope is most common in [[FirstPersonShooter First-]] or {{Third Person Shooter}}s (except, usually, tactical shooters) and platform games, wherein the challenge is generally supposed to be the enemies and/or [[MalevolentArchitecture obstacles]], not in figuring out which way to go. It can also crop up in {{Role Playing Game}}s as a very visual form of {{Railroading}}. The trope is forgivable in 2D {{Platform Game}}s such as ''Franchise/SuperMarioBros'', which allow only forward progression due entirely to the limitations of the geometry; not everything is a {{Metroidvania}}. It only applies in situations where, intuitively, you'd ''think'' there might be other areas of a place to explore, but these are [[TheLawOfConservationOfDetail not implemented because they are not plot-important]].

The most common incarnation is to simply have several rooms chained, each with a single entrance and a single exit, or to have long corridors with no side branches and few if any side rooms. The only options for progress are "forward" or "backward." This applies even when the rooms are tightly packed together and should have (you'd think) some degree of interconnectivity; imagine living in a New Orleans [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shotgun_house shotgun house,]] where you have to travel from the front porch into the living room, then through the kitchen, to the dining room, through the spare bedroom, and finally into the den, just to get to the bathroom. ''Every'' time you wanted to go to the bathroom. No shortcuts.

Note that these layouts do not necessarily preclude entirely the presence of side rooms or hidey holes. However, these are usually just little culs-de-sac with a weapon, power-up or treasure chest, or maybe a switch to allow continuation down the main path.

This is becoming [[http://h-2.abload.de/img/thumbs_hornoxe_com_picnamg.jpg much more common these days,]] what with the enormous graphical detail of modern level design limiting the number of paths that can be [[CopyAndPasteEnvironments made at the required quality]]. Also, [[StoryToGameplayRatio story]] is much easier to place in a game that is linear as opposed to one that involves heavy exploration. Also, if the game designers want to keep a tighter, more evenly-paced story, sometimes [[TropesAreNotBad this is the best design method]] to ensure that.

A popular method for enforcing this type of level architecture these days is by the use of {{Locked Door}}s, which adds a bit of verisimilitude by suggesting that, yes, other areas do normally exist in this location, but due to game constraints you won't be going in there; this can still be jarring if you're armed with powerful explosives or weapons ''designed'' for breaching doors and still can't get by a flimsy door, and more so if you destroy some such doors during the game but can't do anything to others.

In the 3D shooter genre, games that prominently feature this kind of architecture are sometimes called "Corridor Shooters".

{{Railroading}} is the TabletopGame equivalent, where a Game Master tries to keep the party from deviating from his set plot.

As usual, TropesAreNotBad. Keeping gameplay linear makes introduction of gameplay elements easier, as a designer can be certain that the player has learned a skill from the previous room, and that they will not be thoroughly confused when the following room uses the same skill.

Not to be confused with scripted games such as {{Adventure Game}}s or ActionAdventure which use more subtle techniques to keep the player from going OffTheRails of the game's plot. Some of them do have levels that resemble this -- Compare TheMaze -- or a ClosedCircle series of rooms; but it's generally frowned upon in InteractiveFiction unless it's essentially a CutScene.

See also BrokenBridge, TheLawOfConservationOfDetail, SpaceFillingPath, TheOneTrueSequence, RailShooter, MasterOfUnlocking, and InsurmountableWaistHighFence. QuicksandBox is when developers go too far in the other direction. VideoGamesAndFate can be a way to justify this in-universe.

* Most of ''Makeruna! Makendou Z'', with the exception of the jungle towards the end (where you could end up going in circles). Only one item pickup in the game, and you can't even revisit old areas. It's even mentioned in [[http://www.pcenginefx.com/PC-FX/html/pc-fx_world_-_game_reviews_-_m.html the review]]
* In ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'', beginning with the first game it's traditional to start with a nearly linear path, and either ease up over the course of the game or just dump you into a 'sandbox with a story' after a few hours. Once you get the ship or airship, the world opens up and SequenceBreaking is sometimes possible.
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyII'' is the only one that gives you total freedom of exploration at the start, and even then, [[BeefGate accomplishing that is a feat in itself.]] If you move so much as 5 squares west of the starting city, you'll be fighting level 30 monsters. The game gives you very little indication of where to go next. You'll be told to go to X, but the game won't tell you HOW to get to X.
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX'', the first game in the series not to feature an OverworldNotToScale, has very tube-like pathways, even in places like forests, with strictly controlled camerawork, features a disturbingly linear path through the vast bulk of the game's landmass. Even villages are corridor-like, and the game features a minimap that literally tells you which way down the one giant path to go to finish the game. The temples you have to stop at are also just rest stops along the predetermined path. There is, however, one notable wide-open field near the end of the game/long corridor... which turns out to have only one entrance and exit again.
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX2'', features the same areas as in the first game, but is broken into separate locations, along with the addition of several alternate side areas and a jump button make it a lot more fun to explore. Furthermore, you start the game with an airship and can explore any area at your leisure.
** The bulk of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII'' is this. There are occasional minor branches, but it's usually for treasure. Out of the 13 chapters, Chapter 11 (Gran Pulse) is the only one that does not follow this rule, but ironically, it's more of a QuicksandBox. Shopping is done at save points, and while there are towns, they're no more interactive or open than any other area. WordOfGod states that the linearity was a story-writing decision and had nothing to do with fanbase opinion or development issues, but fans tend to think it had more to do with complaints over ''XII'' being [[QuicksandBox "too open"]].
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXV'' decides to close its so-promised WideOpenSandbox once you hit Chapter 9 out of 15, "for plot reasons". Players didn't take well to that, especially considering how advertised the sandbox aspect was, and how rushed the second half of the game feels.
* ''Franchise/{{Grandia}}'':
** ''VideoGame/GrandiaII'' is so linear that there are times that your compass can point either ''forward'' or ''back'', and the game generally only allows you to backtrack to the last town you passed.
** The original ''VideoGame/{{Grandia}}'' also gave very few opportunities to backtrack and limited exploration. Ironically, the main characters are explorers. From a narrative standpoint, though, this has the advantage of making the world seem much bigger than is usual for an RPG: exploring the entire world is an impossibility, just like it would be impossible in real life for one person to go everywhere. Thus, things like crossing oceans (which in the typical RPG would be work of a few minutes at most) is a very non-trivial undertaking.
* Every level in ''[[VideoGame/SoulSeries Soul Calibur Legends]]'' is one of two scenarios:
** '''Scenario 1:''' Start at Point A, then run to Point B while killing everything that gets in your way.
** '''Scenario 2:''' Stand in one room and finish a BossFight.
** The one exception is a single level where 4 bosses must be fought, which plays out very similarly to Scenario 2 in practice.
* Surprisingly common in games based on the ''Franchise/StarWars'' franchise:
** ''Literature/ShadowsOfTheEmpire'' was notorious for this; its depiction of [[Film/TheEmpireStrikesBack Echo Base on Hoth]] was literally a long hallway leading from the starting point to the ending point, with only a couple of side rooms at the beginning (admittedly, there is one alternate corridor early on, but it quickly loops back in and joins the main path forthwith). And the other levels in that game fared no better, the only upgrade being that they weren't ''all'' closed-in corridors.
** The ''[[VideoGame/DarkForcesSaga Jedi Knight]]'' series often uses the LockedDoor / DoorToBefore method of forcing you to take the long way around. A section in ''VideoGame/JediKnightJediAcademy'' lampshades this when the player, controlling a new character as they are accompanied by the previous series-wide protagonist, encounters a locked door, and said previous protagonist makes multiple jokes about how a key for the door existing would be "too easy" and that the console to unlock it is "probably hidden in some room twelve floors up or something".
** ''VideoGame/StarWarsEpisodeIJediPowerBattles'', in classic platformer style.
** ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic'' averts this, however, even though compared to previous Bioware titles like ''VideoGame/BaldursGate'' and ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights'' each area is very spartan and compact, there's a single path through each one, and planets (the only major choice the player has) are completely self-contained.
** The somewhat dubious on-foot and in-walker sections of the ''VideoGame/RogueSquadron'' sequels feature this - on levels like Jabba's sail barge, it's reasonably forgivable given that they're fairly limited environments. But on the various levels where you're progressing through large facilities or ships (like Hoth Station, or Yavin Base) or ''planets'' like Dagobah or the Hoth exterior level, it's a bit more irksome. Part of the walker sections become literal on-rails shooters, too. A few of the ship-based levels are similar.
* ''VideoGame/MassEffect2''. In VideoGame/MassEffect1, sidequests were done in wide-open tank sections where you could explore an implausibly rough square mile of terrain, and occasionally, you'd get out to shoot some guys in the same three buildings on every planet. They've been replaced with linear corridors filled with guys to shoot. Whether or not this is an improvement...[[note]]One hand, you don't have to drive around in a not-so AwesomePersonnelCarrier that moves like a drunken rhino and has tissue paper armor. On the other hand, the open world segments wouldn't have been so bad if they were handled better...[[/note]]
* ''VideoGame/NoMoreHeroes'' features a long, grey, linear corridor in one of the levels. However, that level and the following [[BaitAndSwitchBoss "boss"]] are both like that just to screw with the player.
* This criticism has also been leveled at both ''VideoGame/StarTrekEliteForce'' games.
* ''VideoGame/HalfLife'', like the ''Jedi Knight'' games, usually justifies this with such things as [[SpaceFillingPath collapsed ceilings]], {{Broken Bridge}}s and {{Locked Door}}s.
** According to some EpilepticTrees, the strictly linear gameplay of the game is an actual story theme, representing Gordon's powerlessness as he is forced to take the path the G-Man has planned for him. Also, note the ubiquity of [[RailRoading trains and other rail vehicles]] throughout the series.
** [[WordOfGod According to]] Creator/{{Valve|Software}}, they did this because they found that given two (or more) paths, play testers would go down one path, turn around, and then go down the other path(s), presumably to make sure they saw everything. Thus they decided to give the player just one path so that the player could proceed with the story without missing anything.
** And then there was the time they thought to include a choice of two paths where one path was a trap that looped back around to the beginning of the area. After watching one playtester repeatedly take this path for ''half an hour straight'' without ever realizing that they were going in circles, Valve was convinced that making the game as linear as possible was the only way to go.
* ''Franchise/{{Halo}}'':
** ''VideoGame/HaloCombatEvolved'':
*** "Assault on the Control Room": Hallway, bridge, hallway, nondescript circular room, hallway, canyon, hallway, underground room, hallway, canyon, ad nauseum. Complete with the usual CopyAndPasteEnvironments. It doesn't help that it's the longest level. And then, a couple hours later, ''you have to go through it again.'' The only difference is you're coming the other direction and now it's full of Flood enemies, quite a few of which have rocket launchers and will not hesitate to fire them in close quarters.
*** The Library". A series of long, identical, Flood-infested, albeit spacious, hallways.
** ''VideoGame/{{Halo 2}}'': Sacred Icon/Quarantine Zone, especially the vehicle sections, is one big gauntlet, i.e. sticking around to fight the enemies will just get you killed repeatedly.
** ''VideoGame/{{Halo 3}}'':
*** In the final battle against the Prophet, you have one long hallway to the battle, one long hallway back.
*** "Crow's Nest" is somewhat this, but has an unusual amount of {{Backtracking}}.
* ''Franchise/SuperMarioBros'':
** The original ''VideoGame/SuperMarioBros1'', which prevents the player from being able to ''[[RatchetScrolling backtrack]]''. At most there are the three maze levels, each one a total GuideDangIt, where if you pass the point where the level registers that you took the wrong path (easy to do accidentally), you get forced along it even if you backtrack.
** ''VideoGame/SuperMarioSunshine'', ''VideoGame/SuperMarioGalaxy'' and [[VideoGame/SuperMarioGalaxy2 its sequel]] are all noticeably more linear in design than ''VideoGame/SuperMario64'', partly because most stars have to be collected in a certain order. This is because there is only one star available per mission, while in ''Super Mario 64'' there can be multiple stars besides the one that comes first. Despite this, the games include some exploration-based levels like Delfino Plaza, Honeyhive Galaxy, and Sea Slide Galaxy. There are also secret stars that are optional and can only be gotten by sidetracking.
* ''[[VideoGame/YoshisIsland Yoshi's New Island]]'' is noticeably more linear than the two games before it. Many side areas are only one screen wide, most only exist to provide a hiding place for collectible items, and almost all exit to the same pipe or door they were entered from, if not nearby. On top of that, the series' trademark ability transformations were reduced to a short trip through a long hallway (even when this makes ''no sense'', such as with the helicopter).
* ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'':
** The Temple of Time from ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess'' has eight floors, being the tallest dungeon in the game (along with the City in the Sky, which has five floors and three basements, for a total of eight as well). However, it's the most linear dungeon due to the straightforward path between the entrance and the top area where the missing statue is. All Link has to do after reaching there is escort the statue back to the first floor with the help of the Dominion Rod, and the only detour he needs to make is in the sixth floor, when he has to reach and explore the lone room that houses the Boss Key.
** ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaPhantomHourglass'' has very linear dungeons that feel claustrophobic as a result, although the world is a little less linear. The distant sequel ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSpiritTracks'' has more open dungeons, but you're literally railroaded through the overworld.
** ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSkywardSword'' has this within the surface regions (Faron Woods, Eldin Volcano and Lanayru Desert) due to their dungeon-like structure. When Link reaches a new area, he has to tackle all sorts of obstacles and puzzles to reach the next dungeon, but the geography makes it so he's unable to take any alternate routes along the way (indeed, the shortcuts are available ''after'' Link takes the long route the first time, so they act more like [[DoorToBefore Doors to Before]] instead of being quicker alternate routes). This contrasts with the Sky areas, since only Skyloft, the Lumpy Pumpkin and the Isle of Songs are required destinations, and the first two still have plenty of side content. The main story only gives leeway once the first six dungeons are conquered and The Imprisoned is defeated for the second time, letting the player tackle the three locations for the Song of the Hero in any order, and the final dungeon (Sky Keep) being very non-linear.
%%* Most games made by Creator/{{Treasure}}, to name one entire company, follow the trope.
* The demo game that used to come with the [[GameMaker RPG Toolkit]] {{Lampshaded}} this; doors were noted to be locked, and then commented that it was probably because the programmer was too lazy to make another room.
%%* The ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' FPS ''VideoGame/FireWarrior''.
* ''VideoGame/DungeonSiege'' is one of the biggest offenders, mainly because the required path is very, ''very'' long. The game also has only one DoorToBefore, meaning that backtracking from the end of the game back to the very beginning could easily take over half an hour ''real time''.
* ''VideoGame/YouAreEmpty'' is the epitome of this trope. Whenever it seems like you might have more than one choice (two paths, two corridors, two doors...) expect one of them to be blocked by collapsed walls and ceilings, fences, gates, locked doors and... [[InsurmountableWaistHighFence furniture]].
* The ''VideoGame/MedalOfHonor'' series, except for ''European Assault'', ''Vanguard'' and ''Airborne'', which occasionally let you pick your way through many of the levels. Mind you, they're still often rather structured.
* ''VideoGame/CallOfDuty'' from ''VideoGame/ModernWarfare'' onwards. The original ''Call of Duty'', ''United Offensive'', ''Call of Duty 2'' and ''Call of Duty 3'' actually gave objectives that could be completed in any order the player desired, and there were often many alternate paths to an objective, each with their own pros and cons.
* The multiplayer of ''VideoGame/ModernWarfare''. There are many areas that look like they would make for a great alternate route through the map, but as soon as you try to go there yourself you'll find that, at best, there's only one entrance or, at worst, there's more than one and ''none of them lead anywhere else''. This is less of a problem in the multiplayer of later games, which is rather ironic considering Raven Software, the same team behind the later ''Jedi Knight'' games above, helps with creating the multiplayer levels.
* ''VideoGame/RedFaction'', made even more tragic by [[EverythingBreaks the primary feature of its engine]]. The game allows backtracking, but this is rarely necessary. Inverted by ''VideoGame/RedFactionGuerrilla''. One guy with a sledgehammer [[note]]And guns that can dissolve matter[[/note]] laying waste to an entire ''planet.''
* ''VideoGame/CliveBarkersJericho'' has monochrome and identical layouts and shallow sidelets that are fruitless to explore. There are no pickups in the game and plot coupons are only delivered on the intended track.
* Many levels in the ''SoldierOfFortune'' series, including Siberia, Sudan, Colombia, the Hospital, and the entirety of ''Payback'''s levels.
* Most levels of ''VideoGame/{{Doom 3}}''. A few levels, such as Alpha Labs 4, have branching paths.
* ''Franchise/KingdomHearts'':
** ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII'' has more than a few levels like this or close to it (i.e. not a lot of exploration). Such is the case of [[spoiler: The World That Never Was]] and Disney Castle. Allegedly done because [[VideoGame/KingdomHearts the original]] was more in the opposite direction, to the consternation of many players.
** ''VideoGame/KingdomHearts358DaysOver2'' is even moreso of this trope. Since you play as Roxas going on specific missions assigned to you by Saix, it is largely linear and one-goal based. Because of this, in almost all missions, they even ''block off'' some of the paths of a world that "are not necessary for the mission." The only extras you really get are going around to find extra Heartless to fill up your Bonus Gauge.
* In an extreme case of TropesAreNotBad, ''VideoGame/{{Painkiller}}: Resurrection'' attempted to avert this by giving a more open-ended level design compared to previous installments. It didn't work out that well. ''VideoGame/{{Painkiller}}'' itself uses this trope to it's advantage as the game play boils down to "kill everything that moves" and "complete these optional objectives for power-ups" while still being entertaining.
* The linearity of ''VideoGame/TombRaiderLegend'' was a frequent complaint amongst both reviewers and fans. While frequently linear the earlier games tended to at least provide a couple of choices of where to go at a given point, whereas all but a couple of Legend's levels were almost a straight line, which drew several complaints and some attempt at averting it in Anniversary and Underworld.
* The original three ''Franchise/CrashBandicoot'' games had 3D levels which were very straight and narrow corridors with enemies, items and obstacles, Naughty Dog chose that level design thanks to the limitations of the original PlayStation, but tried to make an effort to downplay it starting with the second game, since in the first the levels not only are linear, but also have to be done in a forced order. Not just with branching paths on a few levels (that need to be explored for [[HundredPercentCompletion 100% Completion]]) and extra-hard side paths but also often forcing the player to defy logic and jump into hazards they normally wouldn't to reach secret levels.
%%* ''VideoGame/MegaManXCommandMission'', very much so.
* ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaOrderOfEcclesia'' has many levels that are very short and only have one path from left to right. It's a departure from the usual {{Metroidvania}}s, but not too different from the 16-bit and earlier entries in the ''Franchise/{{Castlevania}}'' series.
* While ''VideoGame/{{Portal}}'''s test chambers are deliberately designed as well, a test, once [[spoiler:Chell escapes]] the paths are even ''more'' railroaded, especially in the office stages. There's a LampshadeHanging in VideoGame/{{Portal 2}}:
-->'''Wheatley:''' ''Look at this! No rail to tell us where to go! OH, this is brilliant. We can go where ever we want! Hold on, though, where are we going? Seriously. Hang on, let me just get my bearings. Hm. Just follow the rail actually."
* ''VideoGame/BreathOfFireDragonQuarter'' is extremely linear in comparison to the rest of the ''Franchise/BreathOfFire'' series, with no sidequests to be had and very limited chances to backtrack. FridgeBrilliance sets in once you remember that 2/3 of your party members ''will die'' if you don't reach [[spoiler: the surface]] in time. You do not have time to mess about.
* All three ''VideoGame/MaxPayne'' games.
* ''VideoGame/TheConduit'' has this in its single-player campaign. It's all the more noticeable because the first two-thirds of the game are set in locations with lots of corridors (office buildings, underground bunkers, etc.). The last few levels of the game offer significantly larger areas, but progression is still very linear.
* The Xbox game ''VideoGame/{{Breakdown}}'' had one single path and instead focuses on immersing you into its {{mindscrew}} storyline rather than exploration. You get a few dialogue choices from time to time, and get to make a big decision to determine which of the two ending sequences you get to see, but that's the extent of it.
* Creator/ElectronicArts' [=PS2=] ThirdPersonShooter ''X-Squad''.
* Most of ''VideoGame/WinBack'', which often combines this with {{space filling path}}s for FakeLongevity.
* In the ''[[VideoGame/{{Avernum}} Blades Of Avernum]]'' community, anything designed by Terror's Martyr. The ''VideoGame/{{Avernum}}'' series is known for its huge outdoors and nonlinear approach to play... meanwhile, Terror's Martyr designs tiny, tiny outdoor sections, and scripted blocks to your path everywhere, so that you don't wander off the correct order of completing his scenarios.
* ''VideoGame/{{Descent}} 3''. Gone are the vertigo-inducing maze maps of the first two games, replaced by RailShooter-style corridors. The outdoor sections only make it more jarring.
* ''VideoGame/MetroidFusion'' is far less open-ended than other games in the franchise, but the much-despised ''VideoGame/MetroidOtherM'' is the pinnacle of this trope within the series. The game consists mostly of corridors with one entrance and one exit and leaves virtually no room for exploration at all except for the post-game.
* ''Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog'':
** Sonic games released between 2007 and 2009 are sometimes criticized for being a speedy game with some platforming rather than the other way around (i.e., too much running). ''VideoGame/SonicColors'' averts this with a decent number of alternate routes, and in some levels, two goal rings, as does ''VideoGame/SonicGenerations''.
** Speed-oriented levels in ''VideoGame/SonicAdventure2'' tend to be extremely linear, usually consisting in a single path with very few or no alternate routes.
* ''[[VideoGame/LivePowerfulProBaseball Power Pro Kun Pocket 7 (GBA)]]'' has its second success mode as a parody of RPG genre. All dungeons in it are narrow paths that you can only walk stright to bosses, or backward to retreat the missions.
* ''VideoGame/PrinceOfPersiaTheSandsOfTime'' and ''[[VideoGame/PrinceOfPersiaTheForgottenSands The Forgotten Sands]]'', for most of the arcade sequences. One ledge, one ladder, one column to climb. The games have a story being told by the prince and he can't talk about hidden rooms he never found.
* ''VideoGame/EnslavedOdysseyToTheWest'' couples a really pretty looking world that you would like to explore with the only path you can take highlighted for the player.
* ''VideoGame/{{Rayman 2}}'', despite not being completely linear, is a notable example since it was one of the first 3D games that deliberately aimed to recreate the fast-paced, single-direction feel of 2D platformers from earlier times (in contrast with ''VideoGame/SuperMario64'' and its [[FollowTheLeader multitude of clones]]).
* ''Franchise/SilentHill'':
** A variant is present, which the protagonists themselves will usually attempt to justify with "I don't need to go that way" or something similar; however, since the town itself is (at least in ''2'') a proven GeniusLoci, it's possible that the protagonists are being purposely railroaded into going where the town wants them to go, whether they're aware of it or not. You ''can'' backtrack to areas you've visited before (minus any plot-important ones, for obvious reasons), but there's usually no point in doing so.
** ''VideoGame/SilentHillDownpour''. When you meet Bobby Ricks he tells you he has a boat out of town but you need to find the key that was taken. Murphy tells him he can hot wire it no problem, and Ricks tells him it won't work because 'they have to play by the town's rules'. [[spoiler:Then monsters burst in and abduct Ricks, with him never being seen again, to prove the point.]]
* ''VideoGame/TalesOfLegendia'' has, for the most part, very linear dungeons. Almost any time there is a fork in the path, one way will lead to a dead end, so there is really only one path to the end of the dungeon. Even the world map tends to have constricted, corridor-like paths instead of allowing more open exploration. The first half of the game especially gives the impression of being ushered through a very pretty tunnel.
* The first Xbox-[=PS3=] Ninja Gaiden, while mostly linear, still allows for a bit of exploration and you can return in previously visited areas for hidden items or challenges. Its sequel however, plays this trope totally straight: don't think, just go forward and slaughter everything that crosses your path! [[PointOfNoReturn Points Of No Return]] are frequent not only between but also inside the chapters, and exploration elements are kept to the very minimum. Even the puzzles are never more complicated than opening a door with a key that you can find effortlessly. The first half of the last but one chapter consists literally in going through a straight line corridor; the [=PS3=] port Sigma 2 takes it UpToEleven: not only are the already petty puzzles outright removed, but the doors [[AWizardDidIt open by themselves]], so combat is the only thing you have to do.
* Several levels in ''VideoGame/DawnOfWar II: Retribution''. You notice this very quickly if you add Jump Infantry or teleport infantry to your squads, as they will magically -- and for no reason whatsoever -- be unable to use their abilities outside the one true path through the level. This gets especially bad during the [[spoiler:Exterminatus]] level, which teases you with multiple alternate paths that all get blown up immediately when you get close to them.
* ''VideoGame/Warhammer40000SpaceMarine'' follows through with linearity on par with the original ''Super Mario Bros''. There are just so many "sawteeth" (the 3D-equivalent of RatchetScrolling). Thankfully the levels are designed well enough that you will rarely actually feel constricted; you're still fighting on full-fledged battlefields, not in hallways.
* While many dungeons and raids in ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'' have somewhat branched hallways and options on choosing the bosses you fight, others are simply long corridors leading to a final boss in a set procession of other bosses. Perhaps the most obvious example of this is the Deadmines, which is really little more than a long hallway with a boat at the end.
* While ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim'''s larger world is the [[WideOpenSandbox polar opposite of this]], its dungeons are almost uniformly single-path affairs with only one way to proceed and no meaningful branches,. There are exceptions, but very few (not including [[spoiler: Labyrinthian, a dungeon from Arena noted for being very unlinear]] ).
* ''VideoGame/SplinterCell'' is a particularly bad example of this. The main character is acrobatic and skilled in making stealthy entrances but [[GameplayAndStorySegregation is blocked]] by [[InsurmountableWaistHighFence cleaning equipment]] and [[RailRoading "jammed" locks]] that make the game extremely linear. ''[[VideoGame/SplinterCellBlacklist Blacklist]]'', however, which rewards the player for choosing to search around the level or try alternate paths, via "Exploration" bonuses.
* ''Franchise/SuperMarioBros'':
** ''VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiPartnersInTime''. Unlike the other Mario {{Role Playing Game}}s, there's no real 'overworld' so to speak, you access areas through time portals in the present-day version of Peach's Castle, like a mix between ''VideoGame/SuperMario64's'' castle and ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSkywardSword's'' overworld system. It makes for a very, ''very'' linear RPG.
** ''VideoGame/PaperMarioStickerStar'' does this as part of its ill-received attempt to be closer to the main platform games. Instead of a large, connected overworld, the game consists of many small areas linked together with a world map, complete with {{Level Goal}}s. There are relatively few side areas, which are usually only there to give you rare stickers, or "things" that can be turned into rare stickers.
* ''VideoGame/ReturnToCastleWolfenstein'''s levels, while having many side rooms and the occasional DoorToBefore, are more or less linear in path.
* ''VideoGame/{{PN03}}'''s level's each have a strictly linear path to the goal, with occasional dead-end rooms.
* ''{{VideoGame/Bulletstorm}}'' is extremely linear. There are invisible walls everywhere, even on ledges that are only a few centimeters high. Environmental hazards that harm the enemy do not harm you at all. For example, you can knock enemies into bottomless pits, yet [[LedgeGravity you can't fall into them because an invisible wall blocks you]].
* The ''Operation: Anchorage'' DLC to ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}}'' plays out this way, being almost completely linear, in contrast with the main game and other DLC's. Similarly, the final core quest, "Take it Back!", is a straightforward gauntlet, and [[PointOfNoReturn you can't leave]] once you start it. Same with ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas''' ''Lonesome Road'' expansion pack, which also throws a sizable number of {{insurmountable waist height fence}}s in your way but unlike ''Operation: Anchorage'', you ''can'' leave. Hell, even the theme of Lonesome Road is that "men change through the roads they walk".
* ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil4'' was more linear than its predecessors, but still had room for exploration in parts. ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil5'' solidified this trope, with strictly linear level-based gameplay in the manner of ''VideoGame/GearsOfWar'' and other traditional third-person shooters. [[ScrappyMechanic While still partly retaining the]] TankControls.
* Ironically, this is enforced in two ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAuto'' games for certain missions.
** In ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoSanAndreas'', Carl has fly to Liberty City to kill Forelli gangsters at the St. Mark's Bistro. Once Carl wipes out the Forellis, he immediately files back to Las Venturas.
** In ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoV'', two missions, specifically the [[ActionPrologue Prologue]] and Bury the Hatchet, take place in Ludendorff, North Yankton. Ludendorff is not intended to be explorable and deviating from the prescribed course during these missions can result in failure.
* The games ''Ringworld'' and ''Ringworld II: Revenge of the Patriach'' surprisingly had this, despite the mind-boggling vastness of the [[Literature/{{Ringworld}} source material]]. You never really get to explore the Ringworld. Your ship essentially took you directly to the location of your next mission or subquest. So you mostly end up exploring primitive villages and caves that look like they're out of any other adventure game.
* ''VideoGame/RockmanXover''. You move automatically, only jumping and shooting at enemies, then arrive at a boss (which turns into a turn-based fight that's hard to lose).
* The ''VideoGame/MegaManClassic'' series often does this, how severely depending on the game.
** ''VideoGame/MegaMan1'' requires the player to go out of the main path all of ''one'' time, and that's to obtain the Magnet Beam required to complete the game. It otherwise is as linear can be.
** ''VideoGame/MegaMan2'' and ''VideoGame/MegaMan3'' are similar; all mandatory items are given to you automatically throughout the game, but there are a couple more paths in the levels.
** Due to the addition of more items to collect this trope started getting phased out in ''VideoGame/MegaMan4'', but ''VideoGame/MegaMan9'' completely got rid of these for level design inspired by the early games. ''VideoGame/MegaMan10'' does have larger and more branching levels akin to the later classic games, but is generally linear.
* ''VideoGame/{{Strife}}'' initially tries to present itself like some kind of proto-VideoGame/DeusEx FPS/RPG-hybrid, immediately throwing the player into a wide open town and even immediately giving them a choice as to which quest they want to partake in (kill a prisoner in an Order-controlled facility on behalf of LaResistance, or steal a chalice from the same building.) Unfortunately, the former quest is the only "correct" one, and the latter will quickly render the game {{Unwinnable}}. This sets a precedent for the rest of the game, giving the player the illusion of freedom when in reality they have no choice but to perform an exact series of tasks in an exact order, or risk rendering the game {{Unwinnable}}, either deliberately or via ScriptBreaking. There's only one true choice the player can make, and that's just if they want [[MultipleEndings the good ending or the bad ending.]]
* The very first ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfSpyro'' game is like this; despite being based on an open-ended 3D platforming series, the game became more of a very linear beat-'em-up with a few platforming aspects. It didn't even have a level select to go back to previous levels! Later games in the series were better about this, with the third game having fully explorable open levels more akin to those of the original games.
* Among {{Pinball}} games, ''[[Pinball/OperationThunder Operation: Thunder]]'' is noted for its ''very'' linear progression, which requires players to advance through all of its missions in order.
* Allegedly, ''VideoGame/Left4Dead'' would've been more open to go along with the AI director giving a different experience every time, but someone on the dev team eventually realized that it was pointless to do so, because someone would inevitably determine what the best possible route for each level is, and then [[ComplacentGamingSyndrome nobody would ever do anything else again]].
* The original ''VideoGame/FarCry'', while having some choice of paths, was still highly linear, in contrast to the WideOpenSandbox gameplay of the Ubisoft Montreal-developed numbered sequels. The Xbox adaptation ''Instincts'', and its sequel ''Evolution'', were even more strict due to processing limitations.
* This became a big problem with the later ''Literature/LoneWolf'' gamebooks. ''[[http://www.projectaon.org/en/svg/lw/17tdoi.svgz Deathlord of Ixia]]'' was pretty typical of most of the later books in the series. Note that there are several points where the path through the book appears to divide, but the apparent choices very quickly lead to the same place. There are no meaningful choices in the book. Compare this to the [[http://www.projectaon.org/en/svg/lw/01fftd.svgz first book]] and the difference is obvious.
* ''VideoGame/JadeCocoon'', despite being a {{Mons}} game that somewhat emulated ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}'', gave you ''no'' freedom to explore. You were given 4 forests which you explored one after the other in order. Once that was done you were faced with [[PaletteSwap color swapped]] versions of the same forests with new enemies, and this time you couldn't even ''backtrack'': you were given one forest and when it was beaten you could only play the next one, and could never revisit the old ones, the original four, or the village.
* The ''{{VideoGame/Uncharted}}'' series. The game's missions and puzzles are all played in a set order, following closely the plot, and there are no sidequests, exploration, or the ability to stray from the path set by the story.
* ''VideoGame/GodHand'' is strict Point A to Point B. There's occasionally space to look around for breakable objects to maybe get items from, but besides that there's exactly one entrance and one exit with no possibility of backtracking, other than a single time you need to make a detour in Stage 3 to get the key for a locked door.
* ''VideoGame/RememberMe'' is one of the straightest platformers in video game history. Which is a major disappointment, seeing as how the game is about an outlaw who has the power to rewrite memories to her whim, which are also pre-scripted events.