Most video games are divided into clearly separated levels, where you play level 1 and then see the end-of-level screen, then start level 2 in an entirely different location, and so on. This isn't the case in Wide Open Sandbox
type games, which aren't divided into levels, and are open and nonlinear. But in linear level-based games, each level is like its own totally separate location.
Some games, however, try to give the feeling that you're continually progressing through your adventure in a logical fashion where each level is a direct continuation from the last. For example, level 1 might be forest themed, and have a cave at the end. When you beat it, you see the end-of-level results screen, which then disappears, keeping you where you left off, where you then proceed to enter the cave manually. Since the game didn't transport you directly from "forest" to "cave", but instead had them connected as if they were continuous, it gave more of a feeling of a continuous adventure.
Other games go a bit further, and do away with beginning/end of level screens altogether, along with the entire concept of "levels" as distinctly different places. Those tend to be games that go for a more cinematic feel. Some of them may display chapter titles onscreen at intervals, some may even have loading times hidden within tunnels or hallways (e.g. Half-Life
), but they do away both with outright stating that you're in a level, and having any sort of level intro/results screen.
These sometimes fall under Realistic scale, most of world in background
due to their linearity necessitating background details be just that: background.
Wide Open Sandbox
games and Metroidvania
games are not this, since they are not linear and not divided into straightforward "levels" anyway. This trope is when linear games are either divided into levels that connect naturally, or do a good job of hiding the fact that they are, to try to give the illusion of continual progression through the world as you get closer to your goal.
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- The Metal Gear series have cut-scenes, limiting the player's control of his character, but they never flat out sent the player to a new location. In Metal Gear Solid 3, the player can hold down the R1 button in certain instances to view the scene from his character's perspective.
- Every area you go to in Silent Hill logically progresses from the immediate previous one, with rarely a cutscene showing, say, a car or boat ride to the next place.
- The Tomb Raider series uses this for individual levels within chapters, especially the third game (e.g. jumping down a shaft to the next area), but there are still disjunctions between chapters.
- Legacy of Kain: Defiance would count. Arguably Soul Reaver 2 and Blood Omen 2 as well.
- The God of War series. No division into levels, and no loadscreens to break up areas.
- That said, when the narrator speaks, it feels like a hard-break.
- Aside from one point where you're captured by goblins, Rune sees you go every inch from under the underworld to mountaintop fortresses and back again, the hard way.
- Stages 4-6, 9-10, and 11-14 in Wonder Boy III Monster Lair. Not so in the Mega Drive version, which cuts out five of these levels.
- This is used rather strangely in The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures, where each area ends with the Links teleporting away, only for them to start the next level either on the screen they just left, or in one that clearly looks like it should be right next to the one they just left. After each main dungeon however, you're transported to a new area far from where you were. An exception comes in the Death Mountain stages where you end one stage in front of ladders leading up the mountain, and the next stage on a high-up ledge with no ladders in sight.
Beat Em Up
- The arcade versions of the first two Double Dragon games have continuous stages until reaching the hideout of the final boss.
First Person Shooter
- Duke Nukem 3D plays with it. The first two episodes aren't too concerned about it, but by episode three a lot of the levels begin precisely where the previous level ended. In E3L2, for example, you start off in the final area of E3L1. As for the first epsiode, E1L4 begins in the now-sunken submarine you entered at the end of E1L3.
- This also holds true for Blood.
- The Half-Life series is an example of this. While chapter titles briefly flash onscreen at times, the game continually progresses forward from one area to the next. There are still loading times inbetween areas, but no loading screens, and they're placed in locations such as hallways or tunnels to try to give the impression that you're still roaming through a continuous world.
- Unreal did this too, seldom allowing you to go back to a previous level but always maintaining a certain direct progression from one area to the next and Foreshadowing later levels or parts of levels in the level you're in.
- The 2010 Medal of Honor game does this to great affect. With a few exceptions, there aren't even anything like mission briefings before each mission, instead you get your instructions as the action unfolds, or as part of a discussion between characters as you get to the first objective. Each mission is separated by a (typically short) transition cutscene, in the later missions, typically only long enough to make it clear you are playing a different character. As an example, one mission ends with a pair of helicopters arriving. The cutscene shows them leaving, and the next level puts you in the gunner's seat of one of the choppers. At the end of that level, you have a cutscene of your choppers flying over the character you play for the next level. Probably half or more of the levels transition this way in the game.
- The older MOH games also did this, eg "Battle in the Bocage" in Allied Assault directly continues to "The Nebelwerfer Hunt", "Diverting the Enemy" ends with you crashing the gates to "The Command Post", "Sniper's Last Stand" is made up of two contiguous levels which in turn seque to "Hunt for the King Tiger", and "Return to Schmerzen" has a logical progression all the way through. Same for most of the levels in Frontline.
- Halo smoothly transitions into cutscenes by adding widescreen-esque bars with the level names on them, but without changing perspective immediately. All of Halo 2's missions are pairs of contiguous levels: The Armory->Cairo Station, Outskirts->Metropolis, The Arbiter->The Oracle, Delta Halo->Regret, Sacred Icon->Quarantine Zone, Gravemind->High Charity, and Uprising->The Great Journey. Halo 3 has Crow's Nest—>Tsavo Highway—>The Storm—>Floodgate.
- Halo: Reach also has seamless transitions between most levels, such as at, the end of Winter Contingency, you hitch a ride on a Falcon to ONI Sword Base in real time, complete with Scenery Porn. Tip of the Spear picks up where Nightfall left off. Long Night of Solace ends with Noble Six falling from orbit, and the next level, Exodus, starts right after his landing.
- Each act of Return to Castle Wolfenstein is contiguous, and extremely large. Several even invoke something of a hot pursuit.
- Sensory Overload for the Macintosh used elevators, stairways, or airlocks(inexplicably) for transitions between levels.
- Most missions in Soldier of Fortune II, and a few levels of the original. The PS2 version of the original divided the levels into contiguous sublevels.
- Quake II and IV. The units or missions in the former each have a logical connection to the next, and you can (and usually need to) backtrack to areas within a unit, ala Metroidvania; also, some missions in IV backtrack through previous levels.
- Marathon Infinity has three sets of levels like this: Poor Yorick—>Confound Delivery, Where Some Rarely Go—>Thing What Kicks, and Son of Grendel—>Strange Aeons—>Bagged Again. Frequently occurs in game mods as well, such as Schmackle—>Life's End in EVIL.
- Left 4 Dead did not do this initially as an intentional design decision. Though, exploratory fans found links in many of the levels to the previous, and the DLC "Crash Course" made one of them explicit. In the sequel, the connections are direct all the way to the finale of the campaign, though "The Passing" adds a mid-quel between "Dead Center" and "Dark Carnival."
- Red Faction is continuous most if not all the way, with only loading screens and sometimes cutscenes marking the end of each section. The second game also does this, with the exception of the break between the prologue and the main story.
- In FEAR, each Interval is a set of continuous levels, and the intervals themselves usually have direct continuity from one to the next, sometimes with transition cutscenes such as the helicopter ride from the abandoned building to the dock warehouses between Intervals 1 and 2.
- The original Call of Duty was continuous or nearly so for each army's storylines.
- Each act in the Modern Warfare series is contiguous for the most part, e.g. Blackout->Hunted->Death from Above,The Bog->War Pig->Shock and Awe, All Ghillied Up->One Shot, One Kill, and Ultimatum->All In->No Fighting in the War Room->Game Over, although the levels alternate between the American and British storylines for the first act in each game, and there are occasional hard breaks.
- Goldeneye1997, Perfect Dark, and Perfect Dark Zero, like most other mission-based FPS's, use continuous blocks of levels for each mission; the former has a particularly long example in the form of St. Petersburg.
- Some custom mapsets for Doom, such as Talosian Incident.
- Another World, also known as Out of this World outside of Europe, did this in the original PC version.
- Portal uses elevators for the transition between its linear set of testing chambers but never breaks your control of Chell, particularly once you escape into the backrooms.
- Sonic 3 And Knuckles did this between acts, with the end of one act also being the beginning of the next. Between zones, it had a transition (such as falling down a cliff into the next level - Angel Island > Hydrocity - or being shot from a cannon into the next level - Carnival Night > Icecap), but the zone transition isn't quite an example of this trope, while the act transition is.
- Sonic Triple Trouble did it once, between acts 2 and 3 of Sunset Park Zone: no "level complete" screen or music and the signpost just falls through the ground. The game only tells you you're now in act 3 if you die.
- Jak and Daxter, at least the first game, has no seams between zones and no obvious loading. A player can walk from one end of the land to the other without ever seeing a load screen.
- The Bonk series does this for most sub-levels of its zones, for example, the first sublevel of the first game ends with Bonk entering a dinosaur's mouth, while the next sublevel is in its digestive tract, and Round 4 of the second game starts on a beach, then goes Under the Sea, then onto an ocean liner.
- The Pitfall arcade game does this.
- Level 6 in Prince of Persia ends with you jumping into a pit, and Level 7 starts with you falling and grabbing a ledge. Later, Level 12 is contiguous with Level 13.
- Stages 6 and 7 in Flashback.
- Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse's levels mostly if not all directly connect from one to the next, and the first game partially did it with the sublevels in each "block".
- Every level in The Adventure Of Little Ralph is connected by continuous corridors hiding the Dynamic Loading.
- In Gods, levels are divided into worlds. Despite showing a completion bonus screen at the end of each world, they are entirely continuous until the end of the level.
Real Time Strategy
- Syndicate's campaign is made up of a handful of extra-long missions divided into continuous "milestones" that leave off immediately where the last one began.
- Dark Souls has a different aesthetic and name for each area, but they're all connected with no loading screens apart from the Painted World of Ariamis which is accessed through a painting in Anor Londo. Anor Londo and the Undead Asylum can't be accessed on foot from the rest of the world, as you are flown to and from them in cutscenes. The towers of the Duke's Archive above Anor Londo can be seen from vantage points like the Undead Church, so it's technically still connected.
- Final Fantasy
- Final Fantasy X does this for a good majority of the main story.
- Ditto with Final Fantasy XIII to an extent. There are points were characters branch off and take airships to other locations, but otherwise it's linear.
Shoot Em Up
- RayForce does briefly show the individual level's names, but there's no score screen or Fade To Black and all of the levels have a logical link between them, unlike most Shoot Em Ups.
- Einhänder does this for the first six of seven levels. Between a boss and the next level, your craft is shown travelling towards its destination while you are informed of your next objective.
- Quite a few shmups by Toaplan (Truxton, Vimana, Dogyuun, Fire Shark etc.) play like one really long (often looping) level occasionally broken up by boss fights.
- Dogyuun actually has you face a few of the previous level's enemies at the start of a level, just to emphasize this.
- Another Toaplan example that is surprisingly not a shooter is the obscure Demon's World, a horror arcade platformer later converted to Turbografx 16. Basically the game is one huge level with varying environments.
- Ditto the Toaplan-inspired Raiden series.
- Starblade is a rail-shooter that does this.
- Many 3D light gun games, especially the first Time Crisis.
- Xevious has 16 areas which succeed each other seamlessly (even those ending with Boss Battles), and loop endlessly.
- Scramble (and its semi-sequel Super Cobra) are probably the Trope Makers for continous-scrolling shooters. The end of each level opens up onto a piece of flat terrain, a short message is displayed with an accompanying jingle, and then the next level scrolls into view.
- RefleX does this with stages 1 to 6.
- Ditto for the last four stages of the arcade version of Gradius III (Boss Rush->Fortress->Bacterian's Lair->Escape Sequence), and the mountain and underground stages earlier in the game. Each of these sub-levels has their own backgrounds and music.
- In the Famicom version of Gradius II, the Volcano and Crystal stages are contiguous with each other, as are the High Speed and Fortress stages. Likewise for the Death Mountain and Lethal Lava Land zones in the fourth game, and the High Speed Zone, Fortress, and the second visit to Bacterian's Lair in V.
- In the arcade version of the original Contra, the final four stages (the tundra area, the energy zone, the hangar and the alien's lair) are all set in one continuous level. In fact, if it wasn't for the changing backgrounds and music (and the fact that the game's Japanese flyer lists the stages), the final four stages almost feel like one longer-than-usual stage since there's no indicator when a stage begins or ends.
- The stages in the arcade version of Super Contra are also connected; for example, you enter the base doors at the end of Stage 1, and Stage 2 takes place from an overhead perspective inside the base, after which you exit to the jungles of Stage 3, then that progresses to the two alien lair stages.
- The arcade version of Jackal (aka Top Gunner) took place in one entirely long level, with the only indicator of how far the player has progressed (besides the map at the Game Over screen) being the heliports, which were numbered by their order of appearance (there were eight in total).
- Thexder had all its levels connected by narrow horizontal corridors.
- Varth: Operation Thunderstorm.
- All three Ikari games (Ikari Warriors, Victory Road, and Ikari III: The Rescuenote ) have this.
Third Person Shooter
- Uncharted does this to maintain its movie-like feel. Chapter numbers and titles sometimes appear onscreen, but while you're still moving your character and in full control. No loading screens show up inbetween areas, and the game flows continuously. On the rare times that Nate ends up somewhere completely unexpected (usually as a result of loss of consciousness), it tends to be as jarring for the player as it is for him.
- The Syphon Filter series does this with most of its missions. Case in point: the first level has you racing to the bottom of a subway station to disarm a bomb, the second has you climbing out of said station after it is destroyed, and the third has you chasing one of the villains through the main subway line, which is still active, then that continues to the Washington Park and Freedom Memorial. In the last act of the game, there's Pharcom Warehouses=>Access Tunnels=>Missile Silo. The final act of SF 2 goes directly from the Agency Biolab to the New York slums to the sewers to a parking garage. Same for Interstate 70=>Mountain Bridge=>Union Pacific Train, Airbase Interior=>Airbase Exterior, and Club 32=>Industrial District=> Volkov Park in that game.
- In Resident Evil 5, each chapter's area connects to the next in some manner, for example Chapter 1-2 starts in the area where 1-1 left off, and at the end of 1-2 an elevator leads from the furnace area to the garage where Chapter 2-1 starts.
- Most if not all of Vanquish's levels have seamless transitions in between.