"With platform games, only playing the difficult parts can really take it out of you. It feels good to play parts that you can breeze through as well."Sometimes in a video game you'll notice that the learning curve is more of a learning zigzag: you may find yourself in a level harder than you were expecting, followed by a level that is significantly easier. A logical application of the Sorting Algorithm of Evil would say that the two levels should appear the other way around. A cynical explanation would be that the levels are out of order due to poor testing or time constraints in production. A more charitable one is that the easier level is a Breather Level, allowing the player to recover from the previous, more challenging encounter and (should they be a feature of the game) stock up on extra lives for the further challenges ahead. The aim may be to extend the tension over a larger part of the game, by opting to stretch and relax the tension rather than let it build up continually. Games from the arcade era explicitly put in bonus levels for this purpose. Sometimes, a Breather Level exists to teach the player new skills that later, non-Breather Levels, will test the player on. Compare the TV equivalent, the Breather Episode. The Breather Boss might be found in this kind of level... but on the other hand That One Boss might be there to balance out the drop in the level's overall difficulty. When there are quite a few Breather Levels between harder ones, you'll get Schizophrenic Difficulty. Contrast That One Level.
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- In The Matrix: Path of Neo has level 2, 'Office Escape' which is far easier than level 1, 'All Just a Dream' which is a difficulty setting level and level 3 'Kungfu Training' where the action really picks up.
- Level 5 of Rabbit Rampage (called "Level 2001" in the game) takes place on an alien world. There are only a few different enemy types, the platforming is pretty easy, the only instant-death hazards are the bottomless pits (and getting shrunk and squished by the Martians), there are several 1-Ups and plenty of checkpoints available in the level, and it's one of only two levels in the game that doesn't have even the semblance of a boss battle. Really, about the only remotely threatening things this level has to offer are the occasional moderately small platforms and the rather confusing layout of the floating platforms. This one's status as a Breather Level is especially noticeable because the game's level 4 is long and full of annoying enemy types, some of which can easily knock you right off a platform into a pit, and level 6 is That One Level, with no checkpoints, a somewhat annoying platforming segment, and a rather tricky boss.
- In the Atari 2600 version of Frogger, the difficulty slightly zigzags (1, 2, 3, 4 increase in difficulty, 5 is a bit easier than 4 but harder than 3, and 6 is pretty tough), but following a tough Level 6 you get an easy Level 7 which is either the third or fourth easiest level in the game. By this time you're in rhythm enough that it's a breeze (the fast moving snake being the only obstacle still easy to avoid). Then comes Level 8 which makes Level 6 look like a warm-up level. Level 9 is slightly easier than Level 8, but 10 and up continue to increase in difficulty as the game wears on.
- Aquaria gives us The Veil, with beautiful, open areas and very few enemies compared to earlier levels.
- In Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, after completing all the mansions and whipping your way through countless enemies, there's Dracula's Castle. If anything, it's atmospheric.
- The Catacombs and Entrance stages in Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, mainly for being shorter and lighter on evil enemy placement. They're not completely simple, but they aren't as insane as the stages they are sandwiched between.
- Block 5 of Super Castlevania IV is only two parts, short, and there's not even a boss. It's quite welcome after Block 4 which involves facing a series of rotating-blocks that send Simon to his death if he doesn't quickly jump across them and confronting the Sub Boss Puwexil. Followed by a rotating room with spikes and Medusa heads. The third part of the stage involves outmaneuvering a falling floor. The last part consists of avoiding blocks that try to crush him against more spikes, and finally facing the stage boss Koranot.
- In Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin certain rooms in the "Nest of Evil" Bonus Dungeon (usually placed before of after some of the most difficult fights, like a single Iron Golem before That One Boss, Abaddon) are obviously intended as breather for the player.
- On the other hand, such things do not exist in the "Small Cavern" Bonus Dungeon (or Brutal Bonus Level) of Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia.
- Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has the inverted castle, which is a copy paste of the main one. The thing is, you are completely left to your own devices, and can do it in any order, which often means you find yourself struggling in some hard areas before getting to some of the easier areas later on. This is further exacerbated by how fast you level up in the inverted castle, so it often depends what level you are when you reach an area as to whether it's a Breather Level or not.
- About halfway through Ecco: Tides of Time, there's a small level with no enemies, a bunch of friendly whales that help you through and soothing background music. It's a real breath of fresh air among the game's otherwise relentless difficulty and haunting atmosphere.
- Pandora's Temple in the first God of War Series alternates between "maddeningly difficult" and "relaxingly easy"; the former describes most of the area's obstacle runs, the latter, most of the puzzles.
- The Legend of Zelda:
- In the original The Legend of Zelda, Level 7 in the first quest, and (even more so) Level 8 in the second quest. Despite being so late in the game, these dungeons are mostly filled with Goriyas and Stalfos, an enemy who first appears in Level 1, as well as a rematch against the bosses from Levels 1 & 2. The only real challenges these dungeons present are finding the entrances, and then finding your way through them. There's also no particular reason that the levels have to be played in order, so many smart gamers will get them out of the way earlier. The fact that Level 8 contains the Magic Key (which greatly increases one's ability to progress swiftly through dungeons) adds to the incentive to do this. In fact, the only levels one has to have visited to get the Magic Key in this quest are Levels 2 and 6 (although doing the levels this way will make it impossible to complete level 6 at this point, which makes that route sub-optimal for speedrunning).
- Zelda II: The Adventure of Link has the Sea Palace, which is filled with surprisingly few high-level enemy recolours, all of whom have more HP and some of whom have higher AI, even though you've been facing armies of the shield-fantastical blue Iron Knuckles in the previous dungeons.
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past:
- Turtle Rock is a fairly straightforward romp with few difficult enemies that is more an exercise in puzzle-solving than ardent combat (and is also one of the few dungeons in the game with a mid-level break and an opportunity to complete a Heart Container midway), topped off with a boss that's Colour-Coded for Your Convenience with regards to its initial weaknesses. It's not even designed as a regular dungeon, it's more like a bigger-than-usual cavern. The preceding dungeon? The aptly-named Misery Mire. The following dungeon? The last one.
- Blind's Dungeon (Thieves' Town) qualifies as well, even if activating the boss is somewhat of a (simple) puzzle. Before, you have Skull Woods with a complicated layout, Wallmasters, Pikits, and Mothula. After, The Ice Palace with one of the most difficult puzzles of the game, which itself is wrapped in even more enigmas.
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time:
- The game has the straightforward Fire Temple after the confusing Forest Temple, and straight before the even more frustrating Water Temple.
- Once you've developed a sudden need to sleep with every light in the house on after the hell that is the Shadow Temple, there's the blessedly simple and uplifting Spirit Temple. Easy monsters (except for the Iron Knuckles, but with the Biggoron Sword only the first one as Young Link will pose any real threat), conveniently placed fairy fountain, no block puzzles, pretty music, no creepy dead things everywhere, couple tricks with a mirror to take out the witches, and bam, you're done. It's even got a nifty little shortcut that you get pretty early in the temple.
- In Master Quest, which makes most of the dungeons three times more difficult, you may be surprised when you blow right through the Water Temple. It was made to be much easier than the original as an apology to gamers for having to endure the original one.
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has the Temple of Time. The level right before it is the more difficult Snowpeak Ruins, a labyrinthine mess of an ice level with lots of annoying enemies that don't drop hearts at all and sliding block puzzles. The level after it is the City in the Sky, an even worse Marathon Level full of Bottomless Pits and bunches of Clawshot maneuvering, plus the very long Fetch Quest required to enter. The Temple of Time, on the other hand, is a very linear levelnote with simple enemies, relatively easy puzzles, and interesting music (plus an easy boss to finish it off).
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has the Ancient Cistern, which is surprising for a water-themed dungeon. Water isn't even the most prominent element, as it's also shadow-themed. In comparison, the dungeons before and after it are the Lanayru Mining Facility and the Sandship, which are more complex because of the Timeshift Stone puzzles.
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
- There are several shrines that consist of only a short corridor with a chest. The difficulty with these shrines is generally finding them.
- Vah Medoh has a much more straightforward structure compared to the other Divine Beasts and the puzzles are not as complicated either. Even the boss is more straightforward compared to the others.
- Hyrule Castle, surprisingly enough. Most of the dungeon can be skipped if you have the Zora Armour and use it to climb the various waterfalls in the area.
- The Entrance Hall in MediEvil, which is sandwiched between the extremely difficult Ghost Ship and Time Device levels.
- The final area of Metroid: Zero Mission is the Space Pirate Frigate. You start off without your Power Suit and must avoid enemies, as you cannot kill them. It is the most intense, difficult part of the entire game, until, halfway through, you reacquire your Power Suit with its full upgrades, after which you are practically unstoppable. The second half of the Space Pirate Frigate is a breather level for the first half.
- Prince of Persia has two, Levels 9 and 11. The even-numbered levels are far harder.
- The entire "Vivi's Funeral Salon" sequence in Brain Dead 13, in which you encounter over a minute of dialogue before an easily-avoidable death by spider. From then on it results in more dialogue and pretty much less of the "Press X to Not Die" scenes, one of which (the "deadly manicure" scene) is pretty difficult to master without noticing Vivi's clumsy finger-pointing clues. Otherwise, it's a bit of a relief in this level.
- The first monastery in Hype The Time Quest is significantly easier to complete than its preceding level, the dungeon.
- The Final Part in The Secret of Monkey Island, titled Guybrush Kicks Butt consists simply of using the Root Beer you acquired in the last part to kill all the ghost pirates in your way, and finally use it to take out Le Chuck. None of the brainbending puzzles that characterized the previous parts, just a chance to unwind and enjoy the ending.
- The fifth mission of SWAT 2 involves apprehending an airport sniper. If you don't storm in right away TOC reveals more and more information, including a woman loyal to the sniper. Both can be arrested with reasonable use of force at most, the mission serving as more of how to assess a situation and tactical considerations (you lose points for authorizing a demand of money for example) rather than how to resolve heavily armed and armored suspects.
- The sixth stage in God Hand comes after the nigh-impossible fifth stage, which ends with one of the game's toughest bosses, Demon Elvis. While it's not easy, it is a definite breather compared to its bookending stages, and has perhaps the game's easiest boss at its conclusion (Demon Shannon).
- Dragon Quest VII is a rather long game where the heroes Set Right What Once Went Wrong to save towns from being destroyed in the past. Naturally, some of these are shorter than others:
- Regenstein. The scenario does not have any boss fights or dungeon stalking at all, and is a real downer.
- Greenthumb Gardens is another - the boss of the scenario is fought very early, and the entirety of the scenario takes place in town surrounding the Love Dodecahedron and the relating drama. In fact, the scenario ends rather abruptly - a player might have to talk to the party to figure out that yes, you've done all you can here and that you don't have to go into a dungeon to continue.
- During the assault on Shrinra's HQ in Final Fantasy VII, after having fought and killed numerous soldiers, destroyed dozens of security robots of one variety or another, you reach a level of the skyscraper containing a gym, and can chat to the chief of security on a treadmill before taking a nap to recharge.
- Final Fantasy Tactics features a battle where you take on five chemists, and practically all they do is heal each other. This also makes it That One Level just due to the annoyance.
- In Final Fantasy Tactics A2, you have 'The Dig', the very next storyline mission after the one where you faced off against Illua. There are only about six mostly-average monsters to contend with, and none of them pose any significant threat.
- Final Fantasy XIII:
- Chapter 6, with its bright and colourful scenery, pretty music and reasonably easy enemies. (Well, with the exception of Wyverns and Scalebeasts, though you're explicitly warned to avoid the latter.) It comes after Chapter 5, which was a bit of a difficulty spike (not helped by being forced to lead with Hope) and ended with a disgustingly hard That One Boss, and before Palumpolum, which is longer than both chapters 5 and 6 combined, has random enemies very capable of killing you if you aren't careful and ends with you fighting a freaking airship.
- Chapter 8, which follows Vanille and Sazh in Nautilus, Cocoon's biggest amusement park. The atmosphere is just that of people having good fun, watching a wonderful parade and wandering around, overall forgetting their situation for a while. The last third of the chapter does become darker and filled with battles, but the battles are easy enough to get to, until the boss and the battle against the Eidolon Brynhidlr and a Wham Episode ending off the chapter.
- Chapter 10 is pretty short, and only the fight with Cid Raimes midway through is likely to give you trouble. It comes between the Disc-One Final Boss and Gran Pulse.
- Chapter 11 counts as this as well, finding the party on Grand Pulse. The landscape is fairly well-lit and green, especially coming off from Chapter 9 and 10 that were lacking in plants and taking place in mechanical vessels (an airship or war-preparational Arc), with a relaxing soundtrack. And while the game does have another difficulty spike at this point, the game makes it easily clear what enemies are the ones you want to avoid at first. It even counts as a breather level in-universe, because the party has managed to flee the claustrophobic Cocoon and they feel free enough to not rush to the next location, though they do have a goal in mind.
- The repurposed Onett map in The Halloween Hack has nothing except disturbing but harmless enemies that drop great healing items. The boss, on the other hand...
- Kingdom Hearts I and Kingdom Hearts II have the Hundred Acre Wood, where Sora doesn't have to worry about fighting any Heartless and spends his time playing games and solving puzzles for the wood residents. Even the command normally labeled as "Attack" is changed to "Hit", letting the player know that they won't need to be entering any stressful battles here!
- RPGs in the Mario franchise:
Professor Frankly: No fearsome monsters or dangerous dungeons, either! It's just a tourist attraction!
- In Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, the fourth Star Piece is on Star Hill, a very short dungeon with weak enemies and no platforming or puzzles. This is sandwiched in between a very long and involved side plot in which Mario rescues the Princess from Booster (itself starting after acquiring a star, which is why this one probably ends up being left unguarded), and the Sunken Ship, a lengthy dungeon filled with tough enemies and frustratingly convoluted puzzles. This is the only Star Piece you get without even fighting a boss for it. In fact, the most tense moments are when you get scolded by Mallow for eavesdropping on people's — that is to say, his — wishes (which are scattered around the dungeon in the form of little stars), and if you find the star of Mallow's parents wishing him to return home.
- In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, most of the cave areas have no enemies. Also, Little Fungitown, a village accessible only by elevator, has no overworld enemies or other hazards, until Mario eats an Invincishroom and contracts Bean Fever.
- Lampshaded in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door for the Excess Express, the train ride of Chapter 6.
- Of course, it is not as easy as Frankly says. There's still a pitstop at a dungeon and the obligatory boss fight, but compared to the last chapter it's less annoying. Just be careful of the Spiked Parabuzzies.
- In Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, the whole Ultibed Quest is this. Before it? Dreamy Driftwood Shore, the Elite Trio... and a whole bunch of somewhat difficult areas before that. Afterwards? Dreamy Wakeport take 2, Earthwake, Somnom Woods, and the Very Definitely Final Dungeon, complete with lots more tough bosses. The quest itself is just mostly exploring small parts of the overworld in already visited locations, a refight against the first boss and what's basically just a bunch of sidequests.
- MOTHER 3: Following a decidedly irritating dungeon and boss in chapter 5, chapter 6 is just one long Heartwarming Moment for which all you need to do is hold left. Then comes chapter 7, the longest in the game.
- In just about every main game, the seventh gym leader is a bit of a cake walk compared the main story Big Bad, the eighth gym leader, and then the Elite 4. The only notable exception is Tate and Liza in Emerald, who are probably the single most difficult battle in the game on an unsuspecting player, especially if they played Ruby or Sapphire and thought they'd be an easy battle.
- Pokémon Diamond and Pearl may also buck the trend; while Candice herself is a Breather Boss (besides Froslass in Platinum), you have to go through her Gym to get to her, and needless to say it's That One Puzzle...
- Subverted in Pokémon Gold and Silver, where the fifth, sixth and seventh gym leaders can be battled in any order. If you go to the town with the 7th gym and defeat Team Rocket there, the experience gained will make all 3 of the gyms much easier.
- Sector Fornax in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, a relatively straightforward area sandwiched between Sector Eridanus and Sector Grus. For a brief few floors, the worst you'll have to deal with is dark areas and pitfalls, with nary a teleport maze in sight.
- Dissidia: Final Fantasy: In the final required story mode, Shade Impulse, chapter three is, for a normally-leveled character equipped with the best available (which isn't much, beating Shade Impulse unlocks the courses where you can get trade goods for the passable-to-good stuff), absolutely brutal. Then once the player scrapes through that, the short final chapter four is a breeze, with straightforward board/level designs and very easy-to-dispatch enemies. ...Of course, the Final Boss at the end of chapter four is a textbook SNK Boss, but you can't win them all.
- Super Smash Bros. Brawl:
- In the second Subspace Bomb Factory stage, you'll eventually find yourself in a small room that consists of nothing but three Heart Containers and a long drop of an exit. This says nothing about the fact that the area is sandwiched between an autoscrolling area filled with hazards and enemies, and a boss fight with a timer. Of course, when you first play through this level, the Heart Containers would be redundant, since the area will be immediately followed by a movie introducing the boss, and you will have to choose a new lineup of characters, and when that happens, your health completely refills anyway.
- The second portion of The Swamp after beating Giant Diddy Kong is somewhat of a breather. Even the music from Yoshi's Island that is played in that level seems to suggest it.
First Person Shooter
- The second episode of Blood is this, since it's a lot easier than the first one. It has a larger variety of weapons, including the Voodoo Doll, and its final boss, Shial, is just a big spider that can only spawn lesser ones and cannot attack on her own, and is nothing comparing to the first episode's Cheogh the Stone Gargoyle, which does heavy damage and is unbelievably hard to kill with the first six weapons. Sure, there are Stone Gargoyles in episode 2, but the Voodoo Doll chews them up and spits them out.
- Stylish first-person shooter The Darkness has a level around the middle of the game where you visit your girlfriend's apartment and sit around watching old black-and-white movies on the couch with her until she falls asleep or you leave. No, really.
- Dark Forces features the "Fuel Station" level in between the levels "Imperial City" and "The Executor." Imperial City is a brutal slug fest against multiple Dark Troopers, hordes of Imperial troops and droids, as well as Boba Fett himself, a lightning-fast jetpack-wearing rocket spammer. The Executor is a pitched fight against even more Imperial troops, lots of Dark Troopers, and some unpleasant puzzles. By contrast, "Fuel Station" has lots of ammo, relatively weak enemies (again, save for the one or two Dark Troopers on the station), lots of Exploding Barrels to shoot to wipe out enemy squads, and no particularly cruel instant-death puzzles.
- Deus Ex:
- Between the early missions you would go back to base, where there were (usually) no enemies, though you could get yourself killed pretty fast by trying to kill your comrades. There are similar areas later on, but they get more and more infrequent as your character becomes more badass (having started out with almost no special powers, skills, or equipment). Though occuring at the mid-later stages of the game, the Du Claire mansion is almost entirely deserted, bar a few soldiers near the end of the level. Even the music is too peaceful to cause a Nothing Is Scarier effect.
- Everett's hideout also qualifies, although the shady nature of Everett and the MJ 12 mechanic at the end of the level make it not quite as what it seems.
- The Hong Kong level is somewhat less devoid of action, but plays this role in another way. After all the sneaking and shooting during your narrow escape from Majestic 12 clutches, you find yourself on a lively Hong Kong street, a step away from freedom. The change in the background music cements the effect.
- DOOM II MAP19, "The Citadel" can be considered disappointingly easy since the level's difficulty contrasts its epic style (the level is a friggin' castle, for Pete's sake) and music ("Shawn's Got the Shotgun", the same BGM used in MAP07). The enemies are generally limited to light sprinklings of lower-level Mooks, and when hordes of them are thrown at you, it's always in areas where you have an environmental advantage. It does help the player absorb the overall atmosphere, though, and is a nice preparation for the downright Nintendo Hard MAP20.
- The enemy-less chapter "Black Mesa East" in Half-Life 2 comes right after you've fought your way through lengthy canals and down a river before facing down the hyper-persistent Hunter-Chopper. This comes right before Ravenholm, a zombie-infested chapter with very little in the way of conventional combat supplies that comes right before you start facing regular grenade-tossing Combine soldiers. Valve games do this on purpose and this is discussed in the commentary tracks in the subsequent episodes. After the player has just made it through one of the game's larger action sequences, they will typically come up against a complex jumping or physics puzzle as a change of pace. This is to prevent the player becoming fatigued. Valve optimise their games endlessly through playtesting before release to find places where the player was getting tired and giving them a different challenge.
- Following seven extremely long and challenging levels, Jedi Knight 2 gives us two consecutive breather levels. In the first one, you do absolutely nothing, just walk from point A to point B and then to point C. In the second (force training), you need to use the force to solve a few puzzles. You need to try really hard to even die.
- Left 4 Dead:
- The AI Director was intended to do this in theory—it would send nastier hordes at you if you were doing well and ease up (while giving extra items) if you were getting thrashed. In practice, it's hard to notice a difference, but there are almost always sufficient lulls between attacks by hordes and special zombies to get your bearings and heal up (except during finales and setpieces).
- The elevator ride in the 4th map of "No Mercy" is a mini breather level. As you ride up, no infected will come in to attack you, regardless of the hole in the elevator's ceiling. In VS mode however, this luxury is kind of taken away since actual people are controlling the special infected and could choose to jump through the hole and attack.
- Any area where a crescendo event takes place will be devoid of zombies no matter how long you hang around until you start the event, including the finales. This is to give the players some breathing space and come up with defense plans as they recover.
- Marathon had you teleporting from the eponymous human colony ship to the evil aliens' ship in later levels, since there was only one kind of alien weapon you could wield, this necessitated occasional trips back to the Marathon in order to load up on ammo for your man-made Hyperspace Arsenal.
- In Serious Sam - The First Encounter, Sewers is one of the examples. It's a fairly short level with relatively few enemies.
- The Wild West level of Time Splitters 2 is a very simple, straightforward shootout level that comes directly after the Unexpected Gameplay Change Stealth-Based Mission in Neo-Tokyo, often considered the most frustrating level in the game, and is followed by the hair-pulling Timed Mission in Atom Smasher, the annoying puzzle-heavy level in Aztec Temple, and finally the Robot Factory, which is considered the hardest level in the game.
- Similarly, in TimeSplitters: Future Perfect, the mission You Take the High Road takes place after Something to Crow About, which involved tough robots, two bosses (and the one at the end is especially nasty), Rolling Robots, and many high stakes obstacles. The former involves the same Mooks from Scotland The Brave plus more, so the threat is much more sedated.
Hack and Slash
- Storming the enemy's doom-fortress in Drakengard is one of the harder levels of the game, as it requires a relentless assault on a well-defended stronghold out at sea on dragonback which happens to be reinforced with a fleet of battleships. When you finally break into the fortress, there's no one in it. Ominous as this is, it's the easiest level in the game; all you have to do is run to the end.
- The Mountain Realm in Gauntlet: Dark Legacy, but there's a reason for it: Dark Legacy is more or less an expanded re-release of Gauntlet Legends, with more characters and extra worlds added on to the beginning and end of the game. The Mountain Realm was the first world in Legends and got bumped up to world 2 to make way for the new Town Realm, but little else about it was unchanged; hence why it has some of the shortest and breeziest levels, and the easiest boss, in the game.
- No More Heroes: Letz Shake. The level is the world's longest hallway, with about six dual-lightsaber wielding Darth Vader ripoffs scattered far in-between, a health pack or battery recharge at almost every enemy, all the trading cards are in plain sight, and the boss gets killed right before the battle starts. The only actual challenge is that the enemies are a little spammy.
- In No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, both rank 3 and rank 10. Rank 3 consisting only of a motorcycle drive with no enemies and no obstacles, while rank 10 is hyped up as a battle royal of assassins but instead consists only of a single battle. With Letz Shake, no less.
- If it's possible for something to be simultaneously a Breather Level and That One Level, level 6 in Temple of Kroz might qualify. It contains no enemies or anything else that can deplete your gems (the breather part), but it is also composed almost entirely of invisible walls (the annoying part).
- An older example is Pac-Man and its spinoffs. The amount of "blue time", where monsters can be eaten, decreases as you progress through the game. But it occasionally ticks back up: in both the original Pac-Man, and Ms. Pac-Man, this happens after levels 6, 10, and 14 (and also 18 in Pac-Man). Most of these levels are immediately after a cutscene.
- World of Warcraft:
- Mount Hyjal and the first parts of the Black Temple after those two bosses, Lady Vashj and Kael'thas Sunstrider. Similarly, Sunwell had The War Sequence after a gauntlet of three bosses fought in rapid succession. There's also the Chess event in the middle of Karazhan, and the Gunship Battle in Icecrown Citadel (not that the bosses before Gunship were particularly difficult, but Gunship was almost impossible to lose, giving it the name Lootship).
- The sections inbetween each boss can be considered this as well, with the enemies fought on the way (usually called "thrash") being generally a breeze to get through.
- Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg has 'After The Blizzard', the third mission in Blizzard Castle. It's a fairly simple mission in a small area with few enemies, and consists of building a head for a snowman. It comes right after Blizzard Castle's boss, Moles, who can be a right sod to beat.
- Croc: Legend of the Gobbos has Hard Levels, Easy Bosses, but the boss stages can get fairly brutal as they're not Boss Only. But in between the hell that is the last half of the third island and the first levels of the final island, there is Cactus Jack's Ranch. In addition to an easy boss, the stage is the easiest since the first island, with only two stage rooms involving some very easy jumps, a grand total of three non-threatening enemies, and two free lives. Breather indeed.
- Donkey Kong:
- Given the Nintendo Hard difficulty of the sixth world in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, Clapper's Cavern (6-4) is a relatively easy stage with a fairly low enemy count and very few Platform Hell moments. Plus, it has the adorable Clapper The Walrus to help you out.
- Crystal Caves in Donkey Kong 64, at least compared to the surrounding levels. It's much smaller than Fungi Forest or Creepy Castle and nowhere near as confusing. Most of the bananas are close together (there are two hubs for the Kongs to snag their bananas from, as opposed to just one, if you're lucky) and/or easy to get to (except the beetle race, of course). And most of the puzzles are just the Kongs helping each other out. Even the boss is just a slightly harder version of the first boss. The only drawback is the constant earthquakes caused by an enemy at the top of the level, but it can be dispatched quickly if the player knows where to go.
- Donkey Kong Country Returns:
- Nintendo Hard is the phrase of the day throughout most of the game, but the level where you first get Rambi is not only a cakewalk, it's an empowering one; Rambi Took a Level in Badass since his last calling, and is now more or less an unstoppable horn-tank of pain, including being able to destroy spikes by touching them. But after having a breezy level with Rambi, it's back to the fiery pit of borderline Platform Hell.
- World 5, Forest, is this after the very difficult World 4 (which consists of fast-paced, stressful Minecart Madness and Rocket Ride levels). It only gets difficult through the end, with the level Muncher Marathon (5-8) and then the boss fight.
- In Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze:
- Jelly Jamboree (5-5) is this, especially considering that it comes after Fruity Factory (5-3) and Panicky Paddles (5-4).
- There's 4-5, Sea Stack Attack, especially if you don't like the underwater levels. After 4-3 (Amiss Abyss) and 4-4 (Irate Eight) through the default route, as well as 4-B (Shoal Atoll) through the alternate route, 4-5 is a very welcome breather both figuratively and literally, being the only level in the world (aside from the mine cart level) not to feature any swimming. Checkpoints and buddy barrels are fairly plentiful as well. Even the music is more upbeat and relaxed, as opposed to the somber theme of Amiss Abyss or the frantic "Lockjaw's Saga" remix in Irate Eight. Enjoy it while you can, as it's also preceded by the tricky level 4-6 (Current Capers) and the infamous boss level housing Fugu.
- Dynamite Headdy follows Stage 6 with "Headdy Wonderland", a surreal but peaceful area full of cows and birds with no threats whatsoever until you reach the boss. Even the boss is a relaxing matter, as Heather shows up and attacks the boss from above while you distract it.
- Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures has the maze at Pankot Palace in the "Temple of Doom" portion, with its slow pace, relative lack of tough enemies and abundance of easy-to-get power ups and extra lives. And considering it's followed by some of the hardest levels in the game, you'll need all the lives you can get.
- I Wanna Be the Guy, of all games, has one: The Castle of The Guy is, if not easy, at least fair (by IWTBTG standards). Then comes The Guy.
- Kirby Mass Attack has World 3, Dedede Island, whose levels are practically just minigames that just give away fruit to hog.
- Episode 6 from Sly 2: Band of Thieves: The three previous episodes took place in the Indian jungle, which was a complete maze to navigate, and Prague, which featured a confusing prison compound followed by The Contessa's ancestral home; the whole city is so dark and grimy that you can hardly tell the instant-death water from the dry land. Episode 6 sends the action to Canada, in which the map is not only much smaller and more straightforward, but also takes place in virtually broad daylight.
- In The Adventures of Lomax, the space levels can feel like this after The Wild West levels. The enemies are back to being destroyed after a single hit, as opposed to the cowboy enemies, who take two hits and shoot walking bullet enemies, which explode on contact and are the only enemy immune to your spin attack. Also, no Obstructive Foreground.
- Very common in games in the Sonic the Hedgehog series, which were/are typically easier than their Nintendo Hard cousins to begin with.
- Casino Night Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog 2. The fourth level in the game, it has relatively few enemies, no Bottomless Pits whatsoever, many opportunities for extra lives and a series of slot machines that would have bankrupted any sensible casino. The presence of the challenging Chemical Plant Zone as the second level heightens the feeling of being a Breather Level. The boss, on the other hand, is pretty difficult.
- The Casinopolis action stage from Sonic Adventure takes this a stage further: Because the player is forced to collect 400 rings to complete the level, gaining at least four extra lives becomes almost mandatory. This is less of a Breather Level than some because the two preceding stages are not very difficult either, but it is most definitely a compulsory bonus stage. Of course, this only applies to Sonic's story; Tails is run through the Dilapidated Way section, and Knuckles is focused on Master Emerald shard collection.
- Casino Park in Sonic Heroes (Team Chaotix missions) is another similar compulsory ring collectors.
- Other zones are not necessarily extra life buffets, but still provide a breather aspect by falling between two more difficult levels. Such zones include Star Light Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog and Sky Chase Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog 2. To many players, Spring Yard Zone is the breather level between the exhausting Marble Zone and the frustrating Labyrinth Zone.
- Sonic Rush:
- Huge Crisis during Blaze's game, sandwiched between Altitude Limit (and its) boss and the first act of Dead Line. Huge Crisis isn't hard, throws lives at you, and has an easy (if annoying) boss to trounce. As Sonc, Altitude Limit is after but Night Carnival before it is harder. Similarly, Act 2 of Dead Line is somewhat overstocked for rings, considering its placement as the final playable act in the game, making it almost impossible not to rack up a few lives in preparation for the final bosses.
- Considering Blaze starts at the obnoxious Night Carnival Zone, Leaf Storm as the second stage is much simpler. Makes sense, considering Leaf Storm is the first zone as Sonic while Night Carnival is the fourth, and Blaze's run is simply the same levels but in a different order.
- Rush Adventure has Blizzard Peaks, where it's almost impossible to die and the acts are really short. It's actually possible to visit this stage after Sky Babylon, which you're supposed to do afterwards, making Blizzard Peaks seem even more pathetic by comparison.
- Sonic 3 & Knuckles:
- The Hidden Palace Zone has no enemies, a simple design, and a relatively easy boss (Knuckles). It exists mainly as the setting for a cutscene. Its Breather Level nature is especially obvious if you're playing as Knuckles, in which case it has no boss and in fact consists of a single room that contains no hazards of any kind (and it immediately precedes Knuckles's final boss fight).
- Mushroom Hill Zone. Since Sonic 3 & Knuckles is the combined game created by adding Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles together, Mushroom Hill Zone is the first level to Sonic & Knuckles and is thus a bit of a Green Hill Zone, while in the combined game it comes right after Launch Base Zone, the significantly harder final level of Sonic the Hedgehog 3.
- Carnival Night Zone is difficult for Sonic/Tails due to the length and the numerous obstacles meant to waste your time. However, Knuckles' run through of the same zone is actually a lot shorter and easier with less hazards to deal with and Knuckles doesn't even fight a boss in act 2!
- Ice Cap in Sonic and Tails playthroughs compared to Carnival Night above. Ice Cap is easier and a heck of a lot shorter. It's more difficult that Knuckles' Carnival Night though.
- Sonic CD:
- Stardust Speedway is the penultimate level of the game, but tosses few enemies at you, the Acts are relatively short, and it is basically a level to let Sonic "roll around at the speed of sound". Then it caps it all off with the one of the most memorable sequences in Sonic history, the race to Amy between Sonic and his metal doppelganger.
- Quartz Quadrant, the fourth level, is mostly straightforward and short. It comes between the Underwater Ruins and the level where the floor bounces you high into the air while you try to jump on platforms and avoid lasers.
- Sonic the Hedgehog 4 has the 2nd act of Casino Street Zone (console only). House of Cards is full of extra lives. It is not unusual to get 10 or more in a single run. The iOS version is also simple as it's just a pinball machine in which you need to get points to complete the level with no actual way to die.
- The main courses for Rooftop Run in Sonic Generations are explicitly noted to be "a quick breather" in the associated achievement. The Modern Sonic level in particular is much easier than the levels it's sandwiched between.
- In the 8-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog, Scrap Brain Zone, of all Zones, is a Breather Level. Positioned between Labyrinth Zone and Sky Base Zone, it has few badniks and very easily avoidable obstacles, its main gimmick being that it's supposed to be a maze. Its status as a breather level is cemented by its first act, which is nothing more than a short walkway with a couple of easily avoidable bottomless pits, and its third act, which is the only third act in the game to have rings... and no boss battle at all.
- The 8 bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 has Green Hills. It appears oddly late, being stage 4 of 7, and comes immediately after the Underwater Ruins. It's pretty short, simple, and allows you to rack up lives. The breather aspect doesn't last though: act 3 consists of blind jumps over spikes and you have no rings.
- Sonic Advance 3 has two instances. The first is Ocean Base, which has two long and gruelling acts and then a significantly shorter third act. The second is Twinkle Snow, which is lighter on getting crushed and obstacles in general compared to Toy Kingdom before it. However, the boss is probably the most difficult part of the entire game.
- Platformers in the Super Mario Bros. franchise:
- Super Mario Bros.:
- Level 3-2 is significantly easier than Level 3-1, allowing you to use the Koopa shells to easily plow through several enemies. Level 3-1 also has Hammer Brothers, which Level 3-2 goes blissfully without.
- Level 6-2. Whereas, 6-1 is a sparsely designed level with no enemies other than good ole Lakitu, 6-2 is an incredibly fun level with pipes galore, three hidden bonus rooms and a coin heaven vine.
- Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels has 7-3, a very large chasm level where the only thing required is to jump very high from spot to spot, and the wind currents help Mario do this. The same can't be said about the similar level C-3, as a Lakitu is included in the area and makes things much harder.
- Super Mario Bros. 2:
- 4-1 is this after the Difficulty Spike that was world 3. Except for the part at the end with all the enemies, but when you go up the hill at the end preparing to fight Birdo, the crystal's already there as an Anti-Frustration Feature.
- 6-3 is the third-to-last level in the game and the second-to-last castle stage, and it is probably one of the easier castles in the game. After 3-3, 4-3, and 5-3, you'd expect 6-3 to be pretty tough, especially seeing that huge intimidating-looking gate you enter. You'd be wrong, unless you are stymied by a few Bob-ombs, a very mild bomb "maze", or a bit of vine-climbing and Hoopster-dodging. Except for the trickier Birdo and Triclyde fights, it plays out like a normal level. It doesn't hurt that you can actually bypass the entire level with a hidden shortcut.
- 7-1 comes right before the final level, 7-2, which is The Maze and a Marathon Level by SMB2's standards. 7-1, for the most part, is fairly straightforward.
- Super Mario Bros. 3:
- The game has World 4, Big Island. Coming between World 3 and World 5, it has noticeably fewer levels than the worlds that bookend it, pits you against comically oversized versions of the standard Mario enemies (no harder to kill than the standard ones), and along the way gives you two P-Wings and a Lakitu's Cloud. The closest thing this world has to That One Level is 4-3 with the giant Hammer Bros. In addition, the World 4 airship is one of the easiest in the game (as well as one of the only two to feature two power-ups, the other being World 7's).
The boss, Iggy Koopa, is also noticeably easier than the one before or after, thus doubling as a Breather Boss. Wendy O. Koopa of World 3 is That One Boss, with deadly candy rings that continue to bounce around the screen instead of vanishing. Roy Koopa of World 5 is The Big Guy and can make the whole screen shake when he jumps (stunning Mario). Iggy just fires his wand twice and can jump pretty high.
- 7-3 is very similar to 3-4, and by this point in the game, anything from world 3 feels easy in comparison to the Nintendo Hard Pipe Land. But it's surrounded by a maze level in 7-2 and a Platform Hell underwater scrolling stage that throws everything you hate about water levels at you in 7-4.
- Level wise, 3-9 is this, coming in between Boss Bass hell of 3-8 and the ring-wielding Wendy O. Koopa on the airship.
- The game has World 4, Big Island. Coming between World 3 and World 5, it has noticeably fewer levels than the worlds that bookend it, pits you against comically oversized versions of the standard Mario enemies (no harder to kill than the standard ones), and along the way gives you two P-Wings and a Lakitu's Cloud. The closest thing this world has to That One Level is 4-3 with the giant Hammer Bros. In addition, the World 4 airship is one of the easiest in the game (as well as one of the only two to feature two power-ups, the other being World 7's).
- Super Mario World:
- The first Special World level, Gnarly, is much easier than the Nintendo Hard Star World 5 and That One Level Tubular that follows it. It's very short, with only five easy-to-handle enemies (the only ones that might be a little challenging don't get to stay on screen for very long).
- The secret level Groovy is it, preceded by Tubular, Way Cool and Awesome. Groovy itself is an easy grass land level which is even featured on the title screen with the only hazards being the baseball-throwing Chargin' Chucks and Pokeys, which Yoshi can eat. This is the reason why the level was chosen to serve as the main title's demo.
- The Star World itself is a friendly world compared to the regular worlds it's connected to, as all of the levels except for Star World 5 are reasonably easy, with secret exits that aren't too difficult to reach. This, of course, leads to the Special World.
- Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island:
- The game has the World 6 Extra level as this. Only the platform-over-thorns section is reasonably difficult; the rest of the level feels more like a celebration for the player having beat the game (and done so while earning 100% Completion in the levels of the last World). It's also the Extra level with the most checkpoints.
- World 4 is this in comparison to the ever-annoying monkeys of World 3, and the Platform Hell in the ice and clouds of World 5. Even the extra stage is easier, provided you figure out the maze.
- New Super Mario Bros.:
- 2-3 only has ten enemies, of which half are killed easily by Mario sliding down the first hill, and only the single Giant Piranha Plant and the single Swooper pose much of a threat to Mario at all.
- 7-3, also known as the giant Wiggler level. True, there are no checkpoints, but it's very linear and straightforward, has few enemies, and even gives you a Starman halfway through (which you can chain to last for the rest of the level). And for a World 7 level, there is very little danger of falling into a bottomless pit.
- 7-4 contains one enemy. One single red Koopa Troopa, which is far from a huge threat. And the Bottomless Pit at the bottom of the stage is covered up by platforms in all but two single-tile-wide places. The level is also very short, and even then, the timer is probably more of a threat than anything else.
- New Super Mario Bros. Wii:
- 8-7 may take some time in locating, but compared to the rest of World 8, it is a breeze. It introduces a new kind of platform called the spine coaster which is equally as fun as it sounds, complete with screeching at just the right time.
- 7-5 is surprisingly easy, as despite the Bubbly Clouds nature of the world, it's a fairly straightforward and grounded level with the only real gimmick being essentially harmless enemies that blow clouds to momentarily obscure your vision.
- Super Mario 64:
- Snowman's Land due to it having an easy boss and much less of a focus on platforming than the others at that point in the game. Only the freezing cold water note and lava-like ice around the Bully should give you any chance of losing a life in this level.
- Lethal Lava Land. Outside the volcano, which you'll only need to go into for two stars (and the 100 coin star in all likelihood), it's geographically the smallest level in the game, has a quite simple layout, and the platforms are usually generous enough to make avoiding the lava pretty easy. All of the stars outside of the volcano are also quite easy, as two of them are simply fights against an easy boss, a borderline insultingly easy red-coin mission, and one that does involve some platforming, but can be worked around with the Wing Cap with relatively little effort.
- Super Mario Sunshine:
- The special obstacle course found in Gelato Beach is the easiest in the game, as the player simply has to run fast through a road of sand. The red coin mission related to this course is even easier.
- The grass-themed special course found in Delfino Plaza (which is accessed with the help of the Rocket Nozzle), is merely a square-shaped savanna with weak enemies and a simple red coin hunt.
- In Super Mario Galaxy, this is the case with most of the beach themed levels. Beach Bowl Galaxy has no boss fights or tricky platforming and some ludicrously easy missions like passing the swim test, and Sea Slide Galaxy has mainly racing and item collecting missions with no real platforming or combat. Especially a breather considering the former comes before Ghostly Galaxy and Bouldergeist and the latter after the tricky Toy Time Galaxy.
- In Super Mario Galaxy 2, there's Starshine Beach, which minus an annoying green star it's again a sedate level with few tough enemies or jumps and a collectathon focus to it; meanwhile, Slime Spring Galaxy is not much more than a subterranean river with few enemies and relaxing music, ending with a stunningly beautiful hill at sunset. Just make sure to keep that Oxygen Meter full.
- Some of the more open-ended levels in Super Mario 3D World, where the only concern is to find the Stars and the Stamp instead of having to sort multiple obstacles. An example of this is Sprawling Savanna.
- Subverted by Ruka's Beach in Super Mario TKO, a ROM Hack of Super Mario World. It seems like a Breather Level, on a calm beach, with the occasional multi-coin block. Then the timer hits zero and Mario dies. If Mario hits all those multi-coin blocks, he will not reach the goal in time. The level is too long, or the timer is too short.
- Super Mario Bros.:
- Super Monkey Ball
- The first game is heavy with difficult levels, and sandwiched between two of them is one of the easier levels in the game: Skeleton (in Deluxe, it's Expert 8 in the first game), who is extremely merciful in stark contrast to its two surrounding levels.
- Swing Bridges in Super Monkey Ball 2 is the second stage in the Master set, the very last part of a very hard game. It is also by far the easiest stage in Master, with plenty of room for error and some pretty large, slow-moving platforms, though you can still lose a few lives if you're careless. Striker, from Master Extra, could also count, since unlike any of the other Master Extra stages, you are asked to do only one thing, and again, you have a bunch of room for error—the difficulty lies more in the camera unintentionally obstructing your line of sight than the stage itself.
- Levels 5-7 in Syobon Action are mostly just straightforward platforming, with few of the usual Everything Is Trying to Kill You traps present.
- The Inquisition is without a doubt one of the shortest nightmare stages there is. There are only two levels, and the first is very simple compared to the rest of the game, using no special or challenging blocks that result in death. Afterwards comes The Child, who is quite simple compared to Immoral Beast before him. After this is the far more annoying Quadrangle.
- The Cathedral. Despite having cracked blocks and being an Escort Mission, your escortee is pretty mobile and will move around, to avoid being in the player's way too much, and the player doesn't even have to make it completely to the exit door, as a scene will begin to play several rows down, if the player manages it up there. It's also the only section of the game's puzzle tower that is one stage long and includes one of the most heartwarming scenes in the game.
- In Dilbert's Desktop Games, one of the mini-games required you to climb up to the top of the corporate headquarters skyscraper. To complete a level, you had to collect donuts, while avoiding the boss and other obstacles. The various levels were named after departments such as "Marketing", "R&D", "Software Engineering", etc. When you got to the level named "Employee Benefits", it was totally empty, except for a single donut that you had to collect, and the sound of wind echoing through the deserted halls.
- The game has the level "Honeycomb", level 26 or 16 (depending on whether you're playing the deluxe version or the online version) in Stomped mode. It's not super easy, but it's easier than the last 3 to 7 levels in the game and definitely easier than the levels after it. Large groups of matching eggs, not much in the way of awkward angles, a high eggs-per-stomp counter...this one isn't much of a threat for being so far into the game (there are only 4 levels after it).
- Level 18 in the deluxe version, "Big Money" (the title is a Shout-Out to another Pop Cap puzzle game) also qualifies to a lesser extent. You can clear a huge cluster of eggs out of the middle of the puzzle, and it is the last level in the game before reaching the starting point of Hard Mode and level 19, where things start to become "Not so Easy". The previous level (17 in Deluxe, 12 in the original), "Temptation", is also very easy if you resist the "temptation" and just drop the middle part of the hanging structure right at the start. (In fact, the level before that in the Deluxe version has the same feature...seems to be a common theme.)
- None of Portal is insanely difficult, but testchamber 16 features the first appearance of enemies that are actively trying to kill you. It's kind of nice to go back to combat-free gameplay in chamber 17.
- Portal 2 plays this for laughs: near the end Wheatley, having replaced GLaDOS, starts putting you through test chambers again. The first one requires you to push a button to win, and that's it.
- Retro Game Challenge has one during the Rally King SP set of challenges; the second challenge is a moderately difficult time trial on the hazard-ridden desert stage. The third challenge, on the other hand, is simply to get a turbo boost off the starting line of the first stage. Lampshaded by Game Master Arino in that he claims he just gave you that challenge to stall for time because he couldn't think of anything.
- Tetris: The Grand Master has your drop speed decrease once you clear level 200, but from that point onwards, your speed will increase all the way to what Tetris fans call 20G—that is, blocks will fall 20 lines per 1/60th of a second—that is, they hit the bottom of the stack instantly.
- In TwoDots, as a rule, highly difficult, come-on-spend-real-money-on-bonuses-already levels are followed by significantly easier ones.
- In Rage Racer, once you unlock Class 3, you gain access to the Extreme Oval course, which unlike the other three courses is a simple three-turn oval course with an emphasis on speed. Once you purchase one of the Assoluto cars, a victory on this course shouldn't be too difficult compared to doing the same feat on the other courses. It's also the highest-paying course of the four, so you can grind this course again and again to rack up tons of money. It's still the highest-prize course in Class 4, but once you get to Class 5, it becomes the least paying course out of the four.
- The Twisted Metal 2 battlefield difficulty curve: easy -> moderate -> very easy -> moderate -> very easy -> hard -> INSANE -> moderate.
- Any Story Mode stage in Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 3 set on Hakone. How easy are they? You can set your horsepower to the lowest possible setting (beyond stage 40, that's 600 horsepower out of the maximum of at least 800). and still win by at least 100 meters. Ironically, Hakone is That One Level in all other modes.
- In many Wipeout games the hardest track is right near the end, but not the last one, and the last track is usually a lot easier if you got through the previous tracks. In every game with 8 tracks, the hardest track is either number 4 or 7.
Real Time Strategy
- GDI mission 14 of Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn. It's the mission just before the final mission and all you have to do is kill a bunch of NOD troops passing through. The map might be a challenge to inexperienced players, but someone who got up to this point should have no trouble.
- Empire Earth: The Russian campaign has a ridiculously easy third level after the Nintendo Hard second mission: the player must go to each garrison on the map to get forces and release them on the enemy fortress in the center in the map. Did anyone mention you have a Humongous Mecha at your side that fires both rockets and lasers and has ridiculous damage resistance?
- The Glutton's Kitchen cavern from Pikmin 2 counts as it's one of the few caverns during that point of the game to not have any dangerous hazards like Bomb Rocks, explosions and falling boulders. It's especially noticeable for players who come here after having played the later, more difficult caves of Awakening Wood and Valley of Repose (and fully paying the Poko debt in the process). The boss is also very easy, as it's a King Mook version of a harmless enemy whose only annoying factor is stealing treasure/corpses. In fact, you can kill it by tug-of-war.
- Mental Omega: the third Epsilon co-op mission consists of defending Rashidi's prototype MCV from Terror Drones for three minutes. You have Gatling Tanks, which eat Terror Drones for breakfast. This makes the level ridiculously easy, since the rest of the levels are Nintendo Hard. The devs themselves acknowledge this in their playthrough.
- StarCraft II has a few breather levels:
- The mission "The Devil's Playground" is a joke even on Brutal difficulty; you can collect the required 8000 minerals and simply build troops to defend your base from light Zerg offenses, or you can go and trump the enemy's buildings, only to find adversity within the last base, which contains a Brood Lord and an Infestor as well as standard defenses. In fact, at that point you can collect the minerals and keep your units near the last base so you can fend off the attacks easily.
- The mission "Breakout". You only control one unit, and do relatively little micro-ing, even on Brutal difficulty. Only sheer recklessness is the way to fail the mission, as with Tosh you can consume an infantry unit to regain energy and stand next to Medics constantly to heal yourself.
- Media Blitz, which concludes the main storyline of the Rebellion branch, is also very easy compared to the missions that precede it.
- Starcraft I had at least one with Brood War's Terran Mission 6. The previous mission had you facing a nuclear barrage or a massive Battlecruiser armada at the outset, before fighting your way through a sprawling, heavily-defended Terran base. The following mission is a tactical scenario with limited units in a maze-like, trap-filled installation where you race against the clock while fighting hordes of enemies. But Mission 6? You get a substantial starting force, access to plenty of resources, numerous initial buildings and free upgrades, an incredible defensive position surrounded by fortifiable ridges, and Protoss and Zerg opponents who attack each other as much or more than they attack you. You can take things slow and enjoy a leisurely campaign, or finish the objective in less than a minute if you know the right trick to use.
- In the last level of Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance, after getting a defence that can overcome the Tech 2 raids, you can basically build tons of experimental units from all 3 playable factions (plus the Serraphim themselves if you capture an engineer or factory) and buildings before finishing the first objective. Once you've got enough, you can wipe everything off the map each time it expands with them, most notably with the T3 aeon rapid-fire artillery and the experimental UED artillery (which can both bombard anything on the entire map).
- DJMAX Portable Black Square's Club Tour mode has missions that gradually become more difficult with each passing area. By the 5th area, Kingdom of Rock, many of the missions you face demand extremely high scores while chaining Fevers, or large combos. However, one mission in Kingdom of Rock, held by DJ EGGBIN, offers some relief: the objective is to clear "Sweet Shining Shooting Star" on 5-Button Normal with at least 95% accuracy. If you've been able to make it this far in Club Tour, this mission is a complete walk in the park. It helps that SSSS is one of the more relaxing songs in the game.
- In DJMAX Portable Clazziquai Edition's Club Tour mode, after about an hour of two of grinding songs just to have a high enough rank to challenge and defeat enough opponents in the 6th area's last club, the final club, Clazziquai, is an easy Music Club with 6 songs, all of which are Crowning Music of Awesome composed by the band Clazziquai. Upon completing all 6, you are presented with the ending movie.
- Elite Beat Agents has Episode 12: A Christmas Gift. Though it's still a challenge, it is quite a fair bit easier than the levels right before it and right after it. In terms of gameplay, at least.
- Rhythm Heaven
- Ringside may have four different cues to pay attention to, but they are all lengthy and given to you well in advance. It's made even easier by it becoming memetic; anyone playing Rhythm Heaven Fever is likely to have seen one of the many videos and parodies on YouTube, most of which are perfect runs. Ringside comes right after the exhausting Remix 3, which combines mechanics from multiple stages together and requires single-frame timing; and right before Packing Pests, a stage that moves way faster than the ones before it and will overwhelm you if you don't concentrate. Ringside is even more of a breather level when it returns in Rhythm Heaven Megamix, as it's sandwiched much further into the game, between the infamous Frog Hop and Tangotronic 5000 which, while not particularly difficult, is still more demanding than Ringside.
- The entire first half of the fourth set in the original Game Boy Advance game, Rhythm Tengoku, consists of stages that go pretty easy on you, each in a different way. They consist of Quiz Show, a stage where you don't need any rhythm and all you do is count the number of times the host presses the buttons on his podium (and you don't even have to press the same ones); Night Walk, where you just continuously tap the A button to the rhythm with no variation whatsoever; and Power Calligraphy, whose cues are telegraphed so elaborately and far in advance, and the timing window so lenient, that there is greater challenge in anticipating when to press A than getting the timing right.
- In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon's second installments we have Mystifying Forest. A very easy forest themed level that the player must go through in order to graduate from Wigglytuff's Guild after the main story. It's chock full of low-leveled bugs, Rattata, and other such Com Mons (aside from the occasional Torterra), and comes right after the Demonic Spider infested Temporal Spire. The battle at the end isn't as easy as the rest of the dungeon, though.
- In the freeware Rogue Like Transcendence, they give you St. Katherine's Star. It's a peaceful place, with only a few small enemy bases scattered throughout the encircling Asteroid Thicket. There's a cluster of Corporate Enclaves and even a fully stocked Commonwealth Station. The one that came right beforehand was the incredibly manic Charon system, and it is the point at which the game goes from playing fair to adding such favorites as the Sung, the Marauders, the Sapients, the Dwarg and the Ferian Miner Colonies.
Run and Gun
- Most Mega Man (Classic) games contain at least one part in the final castle where you can just stock up on health and weapon energy, often before going after the 8 previous bosses. Special mention must go to Wily Stage 1 in Mega Man 3. It may be the first of the fortress stages, but it comes after four successive stages that are revamped, harder versions of one of the original eight stages and each contain two fights with Doc Robot, who mimics the Robot Masters from the previous game. The stage has relatively low danger and the boss is quite easy, unlike some of Doc Robot's forms (good luck with Spark Man's revisited stage, which finishes with Doc Robot mimicking Quick Man...with a larger hitbox and a higher rate of shooting projectiles than the original Robot Master). Probably all of the fortress stages in this game are easier than most of the Doc Robot ones, in fact.
- Level 7 of Air Fortress is considerably easier than level 6—the approach has only two squads of moving enemies; all others are stationary and don't fight back. Navigating the fortress itself is also much easier in level 7 than level 6.
- Darius Gaiden has a notorious subversion in Zone M, which opens with a few waves of very weak enemies but is actually mostly dedicated to Titanic Lance, one of the hardest bosses in the game.
- Galaga: The "Challenging Stages" of the arcade classic feature non-firing aliens. Also, the sixth and certain other regular stages are just like the first level, with the enemy swarms simply flying into formation at the beginning of the stage (without extras trying to crash into the ship) and not firing upon the player until after all the formations are set.
- The arcade version of Gradius III is famous for being brutally Nintendo Hard, but Stages 6 (Bio) and 8 (Plant) are considerably easier than the rest.
- The plant stage was originally planned to be Stage 3, which might explain its situation somewhat.
- Lampshaded in Hydorah. The level description for the third and seventh levels is "Upgrade your weapons." Both consist of a couple of waves of pathetic Mooks and the easiest boss in the game. Notable in that both come directly after a big Difficulty Spike.
- Ikaruga Chapter 5, which is substantially easier than the previous two chapters and has extremely simple chaining. Even the Bosses in Mook Clothing that show up at the end of the pre-boss section that fire massive bullet storms only fire in one color, allowing you to absorb these bullets easily to charge up your homing attack. But then you fight Tageri.
- Stage 6 of most Touhou games. Generally short, low danger, and filled with resources. Which is good, since it's right before the Final Boss.
- Thunder Force:
- Stage 5 of IV is a fairly short stage, with a somewhat easy midboss, a brief and easy Battleship Raid part, and an Anticlimax Boss where your allies help you defeat it. Afterwards, in a cutscene, you get a Mid Game Upgrade. Then you go on to Stage 6 and the game continues being Nintendo Hard.
- In Thunder Force III, Haides, a stage full of moving terrain, several guaranteed ways to die (or lose shield), and a speed section, is followed by Ellis, a sparsely-populated stage with few sudden hazards. Or if you started on Ellis (which makes Haides the last of the first five stages), Haides is instead followed by the Cerberus, which is even more fair than Ellis.
- It's based on score, not on levels, but Star Castle inexplicably slows to a crawl after scoring a specific (and very large) number of points. One way to learn the game is to have an expert player get you to that point, allowing you to play against stupidly easy enemies with, most likely, hundreds of lives to spare. Just be sure to pass the controls back before it snaps back to normal ...
- Mission 11: Escort in Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies: After the previous mission involving taking down several well defended enemy bases while an untouchable superweapon is firing at you periodically, you're tasked with taking down ten planes, all of which come in one at a time or in pairs.
- The mission "Devil" in Trauma Center; you only have to kill a few bugs to pass it. The previous mission introduces Paraskevi, one of the hardest strains of GUILT, and the next mission introduces Savato, the hardest strain of GUILT. There's also the "nanomachine" puzzles. You're given a few hexagon-made shapes and have to fit them all into a certain area. You get this twice. Even before that, you have the "master the Healing Touch" level.
- The Ultimate Skatepark Skate Station Alpha in Backyard Skateboarding, the final level, is a Breather Level because there are no Pro Challenges and the level is small compared to the preceding one (the Medieval Castle).
- Fire Emblem:
- The chapter "Training" from Path of Radiance takes places before the most annoying chapter in the game, the desert chapter, where you have to try and kill as few enemies as possible, while your own units have shit for movement. It is a fairly easy chapter with plenty of XP.
- The Feral Frontier (the desert chapter from the same game) can also be another breather level- an EXP bonanza if you want to take it (forgoing the BEXP) with a boss who has no ranged attacks and doesn't move, allowing anyone with a ranged weapon to easily farm experience off of him, immediately following a Fog of War chapter and two chapters before the four-part swamp slog (even worse movement than desert, and your magic-wielders are affected as well) that is Day Breaks.
- Radiant Dawn has 4-5, the most XP rich chapter in the entire series, right before the "endgame" levels.
- Chapter 29x/31x in Fire Emblem 7 came directly after a huge castle defense map, and was basically a shopping trip for which you were given 30,000 gold. Granted, it was optional and had a five-turn time limit.
- Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon's Gaiden chapters are all this; since they can only be accessed if you have lost either most of your units (6x, 12x, 17x, 20x) or the tools you need to beat the final boss (24x), it is likely that this was intentional on the developer's part. You always get an above-average unit to join you, and in the hard difficulties all of the enemies have weapons that are a grade weaker than what the enemies are currently using.
- Super Robot Wars Original Generation has a climactic battle in which both Maier and Julia are fought for the final time and Sanger is also fought, and like most such levels, the following cutscene has a major reveal. Then the following level is just a rush of enemies that most of your units can probably one-shot.
- Metal Gear:
- Metal Gear Solid 2 has two "chapters", Tanker and Plant. They can be played separately, but when playing the game straight through the first few objectives of the Plant chapter function as a breather level—they're essentially tutorials on controller functions which the player has already been using throughout the Tanker chapter. (The game recommends the player play through the Plant level without having played the Tanker level if the player hasn't played the original Metal Gear Solid, so the Plant level necessarily has to be somewhat self-contained in terms of game mechanics and tutorializing thereof.)
- Metal Gear Solid 4 has the Surface Tunnel. After fighting your way through hordes of cyborgs, hundreds of scout robots and a complicated boss, you get to use a Metal Gear to destroy enemies which give you massive amounts of points, with a very lenient time limit and little chance of dying on most difficulty levels.
- Amnesia: The Dark Descent has an emotional breather level. After the heart-stopping panic of the water demon in the cellar Daniel arrives at a peaceful (if slightly bizarre) chapel-like room. Then it turns From Bad to Worse. So much worse. Also main Cistern area and where you meet Agrippa in the Nave, which works as a breather room
- BioShock Infinite, after the action-packed first level, sends the player to Monument Island — which has no enemies to fight and no obstacles at all, but lots of Scenery Porn and a proper buildup for meeting the deuteragonist.
- Before that, in BioShock 2, you leave Rapture at a few points and walk across the ocean floor to another part of the city. Your enemies can't breathe underwater, so you get some time to relax and look at the Scenery Porn before resuming combat.
- The Flash horror platformer The Bright in the Screen has the "Red Freaks Museum" level and a level where you lose control of the player character, and they easily finish the level on their own, leaving you free to read the screens.
- Chiyo's level in Calling is brightly lit and almost serene. Ghost won't attack you unless you ignore the black cat's warnings, and there's none of the oppressive, paranoia-inducing atmosphere of the previous levels.
- The raid in the Militia Camp Resident Evil 4 is this, as it comes after the climatic and timed battle with Krauser, and you have Mike's helicopter do most of the dirty work, leaving you free to loot ammunition and medicine without fighting many enemies.
- Clive Barker's Undying: The Monastery. Non-threatening human enemies MUCH less dangerous than the fast, monstrous Howlers AND tons of health and ammo.
- Parasite Eve has one. In day 2, you spend most of the day in Central Park, which is a huge "dungeon" with save points pretty spread apart. In the start of day 3, you're in Soho where you get to stock up on guns, armor, ammo, tools for tune ups, stat boosting items, curing items, and recovery items (although some of the really good stuff are practically invisible). You then go the museum to advance the plot. Why such a generous break? The NYPD precinct is under attack by Eve's minions after you come back to from the museum. The monsters have beefed up considerably (and you'll be dealing with monsters that can either lower your defense or cut your HP in half per hit) compared to the monsters you fought in day 2 at Central Park, due to being in a small building.
- Silent Hill:
- Silent Hill 2 finishes with the Lakeview Hotel as its final area. Though it ends with two moderately difficult boss encounters, the Hotel itself is bright and sparsely-populated with monsters. The areas immediately preceding it, the Prison and Catacombs, are full of monsters, difficult puzzles, violations of space-time, and are definitely the most frightening and depressing locations in the game.
- The outside streets in all games tend to be this too. Indoors spaces, the "levels" of the game, all tend to be claustrophobic death traps loaded with puzzles and monsters. The streets inbetween, while still loaded with monsters, are spacious and let you run from A to B with tons of room to dodge the monsters. Plus, if you feel like exploring, there's treasure troves' worth of items to be found.
- Silent Hill 3 starts off with a terrifying dream and then gives you a rest when your character visits the bathroom to escape from the local detective. The rest of the game? Not so much as a cigarette break.
Third Person Shooter
- Jet Force Gemini has the Water Ruin area, which has no enemies in sight; the only intelligent life on it are Tribals that you need to collect and a bear who has you go on a Fetch Quest. There are two Ship Parts to collect here as well (the only other level that has more than one is Mizar's Palace), making it a very profitable level overall. Gem Quarry is also free of enemies, but there is a gem-scooping Mini-Game to do there.
- In Max Payne 2, you have a tourist attraction; Chapter 6 'A Linear Sequence of Scares' was just a stroll through a funhouse ending in a shower scene with The Dame. Oh, and a batch of goodies. It's mainly there to serve as character development, and actually stands out as one of the most memorable levels in the game. It also serves as an opportunity for the player to familiarize themselves with the layout of the map, as he or she will have to return to the location twice - once while fighting enemies, and once while the building is on fire. As the funhouse has the most complex and disorienting level design in the game, this level serves as a dry run before the player has to overcome challenges inside it. All of the dream sequences in the game also function as breather levels, in contrast to the two dream sequences in the original game, which were That One Level.
- Level 8 in P.N.03 is the shortest and easiest level in the game, with only 5 rooms and a pushover boss.
Turn Based Strategy
- Advance Wars:
- In Advance Wars 2, the penultimate campaign level Hot Pursuit is typically regarded as a breather level between Great Sea Battle (where The Dragon is confronted) and Final Front (the final showdown with the Big Bad). Other, similar levels exist throughout the series. In this case, it is revealed that the level is intentionally easier as bait for the Big Bad's trap. In hard campaign however, Hot Pursuit is generally considered the hardest level in the game (along with Show Stopper, Sinking Feeling and Great Sea Battle).
- Days of Ruin has Salvation, the 19th mission. After several rather difficult battles rife with Interface Screw and one hell of a Player Punch, you suddenly get a mission where you face a ragtag group of fanatics. They have only foot soldiers and two tanks, both suffering damage at the start of the level, a war tank with low fuel and no ammo, and no CO, while you have missile silos to tear them apart.
- Days of Ruin also has Crash Landing, a straight forward battle that is opened and closed by the Unusual Euphemisms and antics (such as being the only one to care about the altimeter) of an unnamed IDS agent. In Dark Conflict, the battle is still easy, but without the dialog.
- Battalion Wars has Black Gold, which has pitiful defenses because the enemy units that are scattered all over the place, which this takes advantage of.
- It's a staple of the Disgaea series to include at least one level in each game consisting mostly or entirely of Prinnys, who may or may not be arranged in a fashion that allows you to detonate every single one of them in a single throw. It's baseball in the first game, and bowling in the second. There will also be at least a couple of levels with easy enemies sanding around on XP/Mana/Money boosting Geo-Panels for no other reason then to provide you with an easy Level Grinding spot, often before a Difficulty Spike.
- These are frequently featured in campaigns of Battle for Wesnoth to allow the player to build up gold and experience for their units in between scenarios with loads of casualties.
- The Disgaea games usually have periodic maps where the Geo Effects are all beneficial (particularly in regards to XP boosts), and the enemies are arranged in such a way as to be all killable with a single wide area attack. Basically these are designated spots to make Level Grinding more quick and painless (which, in this series, is a godsend).
- In Drakensang after some pretty hard times of stealth and hard fights in the castle ruins in the Blood Mountains and the siege of Grimtooth castle, Tallon feels pretty much like this. Except for the hidden Linnworm Bonus Boss and the Dragon Jafgur near the end.
- Fallout 3 has one quest that is incredibly simple. You just have to follow Dad's orders, which mainly consist of "go here and press button". Just before this was Vault 112 which was simple but annoying to complete. And straight after this quest the Enclave attack.
- Knights of the Old Republic - First game has Dantooine, second game has Citadel Station. In the first case, you spent a lot of the time at the Enclave first. When leave the Enclave, you've leveled up enough to take on most of the local wildlife without much trouble. In the second game, Citadel has VERY minimal combat until you cross the Exchange. Furthermore, Dantooine is a beautiful environment; all grasslands and rivers, set to a permanent sunset. Compare with Taris, which was all dilapidated Durasteel from the Upper City down, and generally a festering pit of corruption and hatred. Bastilla even invokes this trope, calling Dantooine a place of "physical and spiritual healing".
- Mass Effect 3 has the Geth Fighter Base, where Shepard is sent into the Geth Consensus to destroy the Reaper code controlling a squad of Geth. There's no real combat, and it mostly serves to give some insight into the events of the Morning War. Then there's the Citadel DLC, the second half of which - outside of a game within a game - is mostly comedy and watching your teammates interact.
- In TaskMaker, a Fetch Quest RPG for the Macintosh, the seventh task is one of the easier ones. You have to navigate through a bunch of force fields in Fierce Fold, and even those are easily thwarted with the right spell. Then once you get to Dripstone, where the item in said fetch quest is located, the town is very small (about the size of the town that holds the first task), so finding all the switches to unlock the path is easy.
Wide Open Sandbox
- The first Destroy All Humans! game has a couple of missions focused solely on destroying as much as possible, which usually come after some of the more difficult missions which typically involve stealth and tricky maneuvering or are escort missions. Most notable is the level where you get the Quantum Deconstructor, the most powerful weapon in the game; the mission simply consists of leveling an entire town using it. It comes directly after Furon Down!, which is one of the largest and most involved missions in the game, wherein you have to bust out of containment, regain all your weapons, sneak onto a secluded island, and collect a bunch of things to fix your saucer.
- Terraria: Ironically enough, the two most dangerous and unwieldy places in pre-Hardmode, the Dungeon and Underworld, become this upon the initial transition into Hardmode, as they do not convert into Hardmode themselves until certain event flags have been reached (one Mechanical Boss defeated for the Underworld and Plantera defeated for the Dungeon). The armored skeletons and fire imps that previously resulted in a lot of pain and anguish suddenly pale in comparison to the regular Hardmode enemies lying around in the underground caverns or even right outside your own home. And the Underworld is still this even after, as while the Dungeon becomes the hardest biome to traverse in the game after its conversion, the Underworld only gains three new enemies and doesn't change much at all otherwise, considering it also isn't affected by the streaks of Underground Corruption/Crimson or Hallow that plague all the other biomes.
Non-Video Game Examples
- In Bliss Stage, after flying a mission, the player characters are granted Interlude Actions, giving the players a chance to heal and roleplay. This is the main mechanism by which the characters Level-Up at Intimacy 5.
- In the RPG Mechanics Light Novel Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, Level 18 of the eponymous Dungeon is an In-Universe example. To be exact, monsters don't spawn there.