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Drought Level of Doom
You know that level. A Marathon Death Course that serves to wear down your limited stockpiles of ammo and healing potions in a battle of attrition. It often does this by sending you through a Multi-Mook Melee stacked with Elite Mooks that require costly magic spells to take them down, or by the much cheaper method of wearing down the player's Hit Points with Damaging Terrain.

You'll be nearly dry on supplies before the next checkpoint. If you can't go back, it can render the game Unwinnable or nearly so, and can cause massive Unstable Equilibrium depending on how it's implemented.


  • The Dread Isle, Imprisoner of Magic, A Glimpse in Time note , and Dragon's Gate in Fire Emblem will punish you if you forgot to stock on the pirate ship. You will find yourself running low on weapons and vulneraries rather quickly.
    • In Sacred Stones, a literal Drought Level is found in Jehanna, where movement across the sands is extremely limited, especially for mounted units who can normally move halfway across the screen. Getting to the armory in the far corner is... discouraging. Luckily, flying units are unaffected. Unluckily, there are only four—three of which being Fragile Speedsters.
    • Mages are also unhindered by the sands, stating their cloth robes makes it very easy to travel in.
  • Gulg Volcano in Final Fantasy I and its unavoidable damaging floors. Tip: ignore the One True Sequence and tackle this dungeon last. Or you can tackle the Castle of Ordeals as soon as you get the canoe and you will find the Heal Staff and the Zeus Gauntlet, allowing free healing and free offensive magic.
    • Chaos Temple at the end also serves as this, with lots of floors, mazes, tough enemies, and surprise reappearances of the four fiends. If you can make it to Chaos with any resources left, you're lucky.
    • The remakes do this for the bonus dungeons. Thirty floors? Forty floors? Deal with it!
  • The majority of the longer routes in Pokémon games are like this, owing to your Mon having a limited amount of Power Points for all four of its moves, and items used to replenish PP can't be bought in stores. The various incarnations of Victory Road are often the worst offenders, due to having lots of tough trainer battles and being really, really long. They also generally require multiple HM moves to progress through them, which further limits your party since you'll most likely need to haul along an HM Slave (who is generally useless in battle at these higher levels) to do the dirty work. Taking on the Elite Four also counts this, as you will most likely blow all of your money buying supplies and heals that will most likely all be gone by the time you get to the Champion.
    • Pokémon Colosseum has one in the shadow isn't truly long, but unlike many levels, there is no heal machine unless you backtrack to the beginning. Also you can't save anywhere like the handhelds.
  • Nearly every stage in Resident Evil 4 ran on this, but if you are low on supplies by the Island, lord help you. Doubly so on Professional difficulty. This also goes for other Resident Evil games, as well as Survival Horror in general, especially Code Veronica, where there is simply not enough ammo to kill everything. Fortunately, the knife is actually useful. Resident Evil 0 in Hard mode is noteworthy as well, where it is best to run from a fight if possible.
  • Super Mario Bros. 3 to an extent. In World 6 and 7, Mushroom Houses are slim in comparison to earlier areas. If you use all your items in these worlds without restocking (via game over and farming), then you'll be in for a rude awakening for World 8, which has some of the hardest stages in the game and no Mushroom Houses at all. You can save a P-Wing to use for those levels. That is, unless you deem them Too Awesome to Use or just run out of the rare things.
  • The endgame for World of Warcraft used to require massive resource stockpiling efforts before a raid could begin. It got (somewhat) better.
  • To a certain extent, most Mega Man X stages were used to weaken you for the boss and waste your lives and life containers. For most Mega Man players, the first life is a throwaway regardless because you probably won't be able to defeat the boss unless you're at full health. This isn't, however, the case in the first game, because the bosses were pretty easy to Buster to death. There were some exceptions, though - you were expected to toss a life or two to Launch Octopus before he would deign to be destroyed, for one.
  • The Zombie Apocalypse level of TimeSplitters: Future Perfect, The Mansion, derives most of its difficulty from the literally unending (they respawn indefinitely in some places) horde of walking dead and the perpetual concern of running out of shotgun ammo, of which there is little to speak of in the first place.
  • Left 4 Dead practically runs on this trope.
  • Some portions of Paper Mario can delve into this because of the importance of certain items and the limited carrying capacity, particularly in longer dungeons. Averted, however, by the game's "Pit of 100 Trials." One of the games looks like it's going to be a chore. No resurfacing to restock on items for 100 levels... until you start in and realize enemy drops practically fall out of trees and you can subsist on what they drop, saving all your items for the boss at the end. In the pit, you can recharge yourself to 100% any time you have a shell enemy whom can be incapacitated by flipping them over. Flipthem over, appeal for more star power. Repeat. Save up enough power to use a healing ability. Repeat. Goombella is best for this.
  • Half-Life 2:
    • Ravenholm is a zombie-infested ruin without much ammo. The player is, however, provided a wide range of sawblades, explosives and environmental traps to use against the zombies instead.
    • Both Episodes 1 & 2 started with a Bag of Spilling and a half-dozen Drought levels. Ep1 made up for this by handing Gordon the supercharged gravity gun that players didn't get enough of in Half-Life 2. Ep2 included Alyx armed with Bottomless Magazines to escort Gordon.
  • The original Dark Cloud for the PS2 had a notoriously bad reputation for this. Whether your item broke, you ran out of repair power, had no antidotes (and thus had to wait in a healing spring until you were brave enough to leave) or water, the game did its best to narrow down your perishable items to slim to none.
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link has many caves and areas you must travel through in order to get to various dungeons and temples. The game kills you in such efficient ways that you're likely to run out of both health and magic by the temple and dungeon in question, let alone facing the boss.
  • This shows up in several casual games of the block-breaking or match-three type. If you don't have lots of power-ups to use, you almost can't get through the level.
    • Zodiac Tower has several near the top;
    • Jewel Quest has a couple in which having the wrong amulets in effect can make it nearly impossible;
    • Monarch, The Butterfly King has several boards that require making matches to generate potions in the right area; and
    • If you don't have the correct two power-ups fully charged at the end of level 63 of 4 Elements, you can't get through level 64 at all.
  • A literal Drought Level Of Doom: Doom II's Level 9, "The Pit", is famous for not having quite enough ammo to destroy all the monsters, even on a full playthrough. Those wanting 100% completion usually had to resort to using the fists or chainsaw for good chunks of the level.
    • The first level of Ultimate Doom's Episode 4 not only has extremely limited ammo and health pickups and forces you to fight in very tight quarters, but eventually teleports in a Baron of Hell for you to fight (and triggering one of the secrets unleashes two more,) making it the hardest level in the original game.
  • Final Fantasy XI has many events like Limbus and Dynamis with armies of Mooks and a time limit, with Assault and Einherjar being the most hectic of the events. Campaign Battles can possibly be like this, depending on the amount and timing of enemy waves.
  • The recurring "void" levels of Sinistar.
  • Wonder Boy and Adventure Island have a variation of the trope. During parts of mountain levels, there are very few bits of food to pick up so player is in a hurry since picking up food before energy runs out is a key for survival.
    • In the later levels, chances to regain your weapon are few and far between, so dying in certain areas can render the game Unwinnable.
  • After returning from the Moon in Final Fantasy IV, you are forced to go straight into the next dungeon, which is full of very strong enemies, culminating in TWO Boss Battles in a row (Although you do get to save and heal in between by backtracking to the save point), all without being able to re-stock on your items!
    • The DS remake has a merchant Hummingway (or counterpart) at the single Save Point in the Giant of Babil. They compensate for this by making the two boss battles harder - unlike the SNES, PSX, and GBA versions, the Archfiends use all their abilities from the first encounters in the rematch, and the CPU battle is murder.
    • It also averts the trope—Remember Gurgu Volcano? (If not, just scroll up a bit). Final Fantasy IV has two semi-optional-ish areas called Sylph Cave and Passage of the Eidolons, which have a poison floor and a lava floor, respectively. You can, if you want to, trek through them the hard way, taking damage constantly—or you can spend eight measly MP and cast Float on the party. See? Simplez!
  • Final Fantasy XII can be like this when trekking between key locations. The long road can wear you down with nary a save crystal or a shop in sight as you waste MP and items on monsters that keep swarming you.
  • Phantom Brave does this in later stages by limiting the number of usable objects on the stage. Strategy comes into play as you have to face powerful enemies with a smaller squad at your disposal. If you don't make use of good strategy, I hope you ground Marona...
  • "Day Dream" in Lumines Supernova, with a time-line so painfully slow you're lucky if you can clear any blocks.
  • Black Sigil has a sky-high Random Encounters rate and Mooks that hit very, very hard. The entire game is basically this trope. Triggering a dungeon run without restocking on items can easily render the game Unwinnable. Fortunately, there are multiple save slots.
  • Infinity Mode in Dead Rising serves as a version of this. There's plenty of food at the beginning but it doesn't respawn, so you must balance your inventory carefully, and fight dangerous psychopaths and survivors to get more. Then, on day 7, all psychopaths and survivors disappear and you are left with the quickly dwindling food supplies.
  • All of Turok 2 on Hard difficulty. Conserve, and choose your weapons and strategy wisely.
  • In Impossamole's Slippy-Slidey Ice World, you are bound to take alot of unavoidable damage from Goddamned Bats and Malevolent Architecture, and healing items and powerups are very scarce here.
  • Acme Station from Marathon Infinity. The main reason why its That One Level. Vacuum, hordes of enemies, narrow corridors, scarce ammo, and only two refills for your Oxygen Meter.
    • The original has G4 Sunbathing (Hunters and Troopers, respawning Compilers, and since it's in vacuum, you can only use you Pistols and Fusion Pistol), Neither High Nor Low (only one save point at the beginning, little ammo, lots of traps, enemies are mostly Hunters), and the Pfhor ship levels (no ammo pickups to speak of, and Pfhoraphobia has no save points or recharges either).
  • In Sylpheed, a Shoot 'em Up distributed by Sierra from Japan, ALL orbital levels has NO power-ups.
  • The last level/encounter of Grand Theft Auto III is supposed to be like this; the character is stripped of his guns and left to chase the Big Bad with only a machine pistol stolen from a mook. However if one has been dilligent in collecting the bonus packages, a nearby safe house will have a related number of weapons for the grabbing...speed is essential at this point.
  • Each game of the Streets of Rage series traditionally has a section - usually during the last level - where the players are trapped in an elevator with a small selection of weapons and power ups and are forced to refight all of the Bosses that they have already fought. They have to do this in quick succession, and at higher difficulty levels the enemies have much more health than the first time you met them and usually turn up with a crowd of mooks too.
  • Some levels of Halo: Reach follow this trope, especially on Legendary difficulty,. For example, in Exodus, you start out with only a pistol against Suicide Grunts, Skirmishers and Brutes, and ammo for it and the DMR is extremely sparse. Then the game starts throwing armored Brute Chieftains into the squads, coupled with Hold the Line sequences. Suitable Covenant weapons such as the Needle Rifle are also lacking. The worst is probably the part of the Pillar of Autumn where you have to Hold the Line for about 15 minutes against multiple waves of Brute Captains and Chieftains, with almost no ammunition for your good weapons. Luckily, Halo has a long and proud tradition of players taking taking weapons from their slain enemies.
  • The Body of the Many in System Shock 2 may not actually be this to a well-prepared player, but it sure believes that it is, as at one point it taunts you about your dwindling resources.
  • System Shock 2 is one big Drought Game, really. Throughout the entire game you're going to be constantly on the lookout for one supply or another, and most players kill the majority of their enemies with the wrench, because ammo is Too Awesome to Use.
  • BioShock Infinite features Comstock House near the end, which is filled with asylum patients that drop nothing upon death and no vending machines. This is to encourage the player to be as stealthy as possible and avoid being spotted, because while you can just ignore the Boys of Silence and blast your way through, your ammo supply will likely be exhausted well before you can replenish it. Luckily, you're more or less in the clear once you reach the warden's offices (which is well-stocked with China Broom shotguns), and thorough searching can turn up a few weapons hidden in the asylum section.
  • Everything in Dark Souls verges on this at times. Although you can carry a maximum of 20 Estus Flasks and attune a lot of healing spells if you build your character right, long stretches between bonfires filled with hordes of Demonic Spiders can make you burn through them terrifyingly fast. Add in weapon degradation, limited spell castings and the price of arrows, etc. Replenishing bonfires are abundant throughout the game world with very few "long" stretches between them. Perhaps the best examples of drought levels would be the Undead Parish (especially if you haven't figured out how to avoid the Hellkite Drake and light the bonfire beyond) due to the distance, enemy variety, and Early Game Hell; and the Duke's Archives.
  • In Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, medkits are much scarcer on the Hard difficulty setting, which can make certain sections unwinnable if you blunder away your health beforehand.
  • Final Fantasy III's endgame goes like this: Last inn and item shop, dungeon, last save point, semi-optional dungeon, long difficult dungeon, Point of No Return, short difficult dungeon, Final Boss. And that save point isn't really a help, since it means that you'll have to go through the first dungeon if you need to warp out.
  • The first half of Gears Of War 3 is an example, mainly if playing with 4 players. Especially during the segment where you control Cole's team. Weapons are scarce, half the lambent don't use guns, everyone will be using the same ammo, and most enemies are rather durable. You will find yourself low on ammo a fair amount of the time. Once you start running into more standard enemies from the rest of the series., guns and ammo become much more common.
  • The Divide from Fallout: New Vegas: Lonesome Road. Enemies include Marked Men, Deathclaws, and Tunnelers, all of which level scale with the player, ammo, food, and water supplies are few and far between, and the only shop is the Commissary, whose stock is also rather limited. Expect to return to the main Wasteland a few times to restock. The other DLC's are potentially worse, as you are locked in until you complete the main quest. Honest Hearts requires you to decrease your inventory weight to 100 pounds before entering, Dead Money strips you of all your Wasteland equipment, and Old World Blues combines scarce supplies with Respawning Enemies.
  • Like the second Doom example above, Catafalque, the first level of Episode 4 of Heretic, is very stingy with it's health, weapon and ammo pickups for most of the level (you don't get any weapons beyond the crossbow for at least 3/4 of it,) forces you to fight in tight spaces (except for a large wide-open area in one part) and forces you to contend with boss-level monsters on top of that, including at least one Maulotaur and four Iron Liches.
  • Many fighting games have some kind of Survival Mode, a fight-til-you-drop mode pitting you against opponent after opponent, where you're lucky if you even get a tiny amount of your health bar back for each win.
  • From Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • The final stages of Sonic the Hedgehog and its sequel give you no rings, forcing you to go through one boss in the former and two in the latter with no protection whatsoever. The 8-bit version of the first game also has Sonic trek through the whole last level without any rings.
    • Sonic 3 & Knuckles's final zone, Death Egg Zone, averts this at first, but when you get to the three-form Final Boss in Act 2, a checkpoint activates and there are no rings during this section, so if you lose all of the rings you obtained earlier in the Act, or you die, you will have to fight all three forms again with no rings.
  • Trauma Center: New Blood has 5-4, "No Escape". Previously in the story, Markus and Valerie were kidnapped by a crime syndicate. In this mission, they've run out of stabilizer, and their captor orders them to decide whether to operate on a traitor the syndicate had shot a moment ago or to let him die. Being surgeons, they choose the former. You have to perform the operation with no way to restore the patient's vitals... and worse, they're almost out of antibiotic gel, which means you may be forced to suture minor wounds if that runs out, which damages the patient.
  • Eschatos is usually generous with throwing 1-Up items at you. Stage 3 (Areas 12-15), however, has no 1-ups.
  • Malek's Bastion in Blood Omen is one of these. The enemies there are, like Malek himself, suits of Animated Armor with the spirits of warriors fused to them, and their blood did not restore Kain's life (like other spirits, they had blue blood, which restores magic instead). The bastion is also situated atop a snowy mountain, and the snow will damage Kain unless you have visited the blood fountain that removes this weakness.
    Kain: My eyes yearned from lack of contrast, my mouth ached for want of blood. In this cold wasteland, food was scarce, and my hunger grew.
  • In Return to Castle Wolfenstein, health and armor are scarcer than in most other FPS games, but the final level (not counting the endboss area) really takes the cake; not only is health and armor very scarce, but the place is packed with Elite Mooks as well as zombies. There aren't any armor pickups at all in the second half of the level as well as in the final boss area, so most likely you'll end up fighting him with no armor whatsoever (fortunately, he's not terrible hard to beat, though you not having armor does make him a bit more challenging).
  • The final area of Dementium II is a very long series of fights that is also entirely devoid of health or ammo pickups. Additionally, the final boss can only be damaged by ranged attacks and will probably require at least 1 or 2 heals mid-fight, so you'll need to get through the final area while making sure to save at least a few dozen bullets and 1 or 2 healing items for the final fight. Fortunately, the game gives you a chainsaw-like weapon at the end which doesn't use ammo, and you can just run past about 75% of the encounters in the final area.
  • This is the main reason that the gameplay in the easier difficulties of An Untitled Story is interesting. Slip up, you get hit, no big deal. Can you avoid being hit ten times before the next checkpoint, which is eight screens away? If not, you're going to need to go hunt down some extra hit points before trying again. Much of the game would serve no purpose if health refills weren't mindbogglingly rare (only appearing after defeating a boss), or if save points (which also refill your health) were more common.
  • The later Armacham levels in First Encounter Assault Recon suffer from this, especially the last one, where most of the enemies are Attack Drones that are armed with highly damaging lasers, are hard to hit, take a load of ammo to kill, and don't give any ammo back.
  • The mid-late part of the second and third The Amazon Trail games feature this with Pantanal-style Swamps instead of Rainforests; there are NO fruits or veggies to harvest from these areas. Similarly, fishing around this time gets much more difficult, as the fishing areas get shallow and murky, tending to cause your harpoon to hit bottom over and over again, possibly destroying it, while the fish get much much harder to catch. It's like the game WANTS you to run out of food (and right when you need to TRADE FOOD to various people for the sake of Tokens Of Plot Advancement, too). Same for the desert areas in The Oregon Trail II, where there is little to no water, plants, or hunting opportunities. Venturing here with insufficient water supply will likely result in a Total Party Kill via dehydration.

Down the DrainVideo Game SettingsDug Too Deep
Diminishing Returns for BalanceVideo Game Difficulty TropesEarn Your Fun

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