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 gauntlet
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 the player 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.
Beat 'em Up
- 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.
- 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.
- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker features the Savage Labyrinth, a dungeon with 51 floors where enemies don't drop any items, so you're stuck with whatever was in your inventory at the time. Many an unwary player had to quit the dungeon early not realizing this was the case.
- Metroid: Fusion has two instances of this:
- First is the Timed Mission to stop the boiler in Sector 3 from exploding. Save points are disabled during this sequence, so you have to get in, fight a minor boss, and get out, all in one sitting.
- Secondly is when the station's main power reactor goes down, shutting down all save points and Recharge Rooms (apart from Samus' ship) until you turn on the auxillary generator... which requires navigating through a hallway of dangerous enemies and fighting That One Boss. Die at any time during this sequence and you have to do it all again. Worse, there are still a couple of Demonic Spiders between the boss room and the first save point afterwards...
- 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.
- 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 power ups and are forced to fight waves upon waves of increasingly tougher mooks, sometimes with mini-bosses thrown in. The second game also makes the elevator ride a Boss Rush, featuring tougher analogs of previous stages' bosses.
- 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.
- 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.
- Gulg Volcano in Final Fantasy I and its unavoidable damaging floors. Tip: ignore the One True Sequence and tackle this dungeon last.
- 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! It's even more egregious in the penultimate bonus dungeon as both of the two bosses you can choose to fight at the end are That One Boss.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 unless you hold the Flee button so they can't catch up to the running party.
- 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. Sounds hard... until you start 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. Flip them over, appeal for more star power. Repeat. Save up enough power to use a healing ability. Repeat. Goombella is best for this.
- 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 (though, as of generation 3, PP-restoring Leppa Berries can be grown). 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 lab...it 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.
- 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.
Hack and Slash
- Level 23 of Descent 2, "Iwihml" (an acronym for "I Wish I Had More Lights") fits its title due to having no energy centers and very few energy pickups. However, experienced players will find enough Vulcan ammo and missiles to get through it without much trouble.
- 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 have 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.
- Half-Life 2:
- Ravenholm is a zombie-infested ruin without much ammo. Gordon is, however, provided a wide range of sawblades, explosives and environmental traps to use against the zombies with the aid of the newly-acquired Gravity Gun instead, and indeed the ruined city becomes a playground for this style of gameplay, at least until you have to escort Father Grigori.
- Both Episodes One and Two started with a Bag of Spilling and a half-dozen drought levels. Ep 1 made up for this by handing Gordon the supercharged gravity gun that players didn't get enough of in Half-Life 2's ending. Ep 2 included Alyx armed with Bottomless Magazines to escort Gordon.
- 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 (unless you trigger an Easter Egg or bring better weapons from earlier parts of the level). Luckily, Halo has a long and proud tradition of players taking weapons from their slain enemies.
- Like the Doom II example above, Catafalque, the first level of Episode 4 of Heretic, is very stingy with its 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.
- Left 4 Dead and its sequel are coded, especially on higher difficulties, to deprive players of ammunition replenishment or medkits - instead, the game will spawn pain pills or adrenaline shots (only the former restores health, but temporarily, and the latter is only good for doing anything faster), and, if you're lucky, a primary weapon to replace your empty one, forcing you to shift playstyles. On normal and below, the game will usually allow the player to restock on health and ammo on the final level of any scenario, but higher levels will keep this restriction all the way through. Have fun!
- Acme Station from Marathon Infinity. The main reason why it's 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 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.
- 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 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.
- Dark Souls verges on this at times. Although you can carry multiple uses of the Estus Flask, multiple healing items 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 ammunition, etc. Replenishing bonfires are thankfully abundant throughout the game worlds with very few "long" stretches between them, but in the event that there are such stretches...
- Perhaps the best examples of drought levels in the first game 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 the second game, two areas stand out for having notoriously hard stretches without a bonfire. The first is No-Man's Wharf, accessible early in the game and possessing only one bonfire at the very start; unless the player can somehow make it to the second half of the level and open up the two shortcuts to the boss area, they'll be forced to make a dangerous trek up and around the enemy-infested houses surrounding the pier every single time. The second is the Gutter, a pitch-black, mazelike underground shanty town filled with deceptively lethal hollows, zombie dogs and poison-spitting statue traps, on top of having bottomless pits around every single corner and only two bonfires—one of which is hidden around a corner near the very end of the level and easy to miss.
- 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.
- Adventure Island andWonder Boy 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.
- In Impossamole's Slippy-Slidey Ice World, you are bound to take a lot of unavoidable damage from Goddamned Bats and Malevolent Architecture, and healing items and powerups are very scarce here.
- 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, while the 8-bit sequel has no rings for any of the boss levels.
- Sonic 3 & Knuckles's final zone, Death Egg Zone, does the same thing with the three-form Final Boss in Act 2: a checkpoint activates and there are no rings during this section, so you will have to fight all three forms again with no rings.
- Super Mario Bros.:
- World 5-1, the first of two grassland levels in the game that doesn't have a single power-up. It does have a star, however, so it isn't too difficult to beat it.
- World 8-1 follows a similar formula with a star and no power-ups, but it is the longest level in the game with only 300 on the timer, and has a nasty jump near the end.
- In Super Mario Bros. 3 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.
- In Level 4 of Valis: Legend of a Fantasm Soldier for the PC Engine CD, there are almost no weapon pickups and thus little to no chance to regain your power if you die or continue, and the boss will give you hell if you aren't powered up.
- 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.
- "Day Dream" in Lumines Supernova, with a time-line so painfully slow you're lucky if you can clear any blocks.
- The Puzzle & Dragons series has some dungeons that do not spawn any Heart Orbs, meaning that any damage taken cannot be recovered unless you have a monster that can create Heart Orbs or directly recover your HP. However, enemies in such dungeons tend to do less damage as compensation.
- A multiplayer-oriented example: In Mario Kart 8, Bone-Dry Dunes is unusually sparse in Coins compared to other courses. As each Coin provides a slight boost in speed for as long as you have it, fights over Coins in Bone-Dry Dunes can get very rough, especially the ones dropped from the Toads on board the airships near the beginning.
Shoot 'em Up
- DanceDanceRevolution games beginning with DDRMAX -DanceDanceRevolution 6thMIX- have Extra Stages where your life meter starts out full, but cannot be replenished. Should you meet certain requirements, you can gain access to a One More Extra Stage / Encore Extra Stage where you're reduced to a One-Hit-Point Wonder.
- Eschatos is usually generous with throwing 1-Up items at you. Stage 3 (Areas 12-15), however, has no 1-ups.
- The recurring "void" levels of Sinistar. The only way to get a weapon that can damage the boss is with Sinibombs, which are mined from asteroids. Roughly 25 percent of levels in the game feature... nothing. Few enemies, and even fewer asteroids, causing the player to rush and seek out the precious few that exist before Sinistar lives.
- In Silpheed: Super Dogfighter, all orbital levels have no power-ups.
- In Blue Revolver, stages 3 and 5 do not have any ground or naval enemies, and thus you're deprived of one major source of special weapon ammo. You'll have to rely on the very occasional "E" capsule ships to refill your special weapon, use Smart Bombs on bullets (there's only one bomb item on this stage, by the way) or use up a life to reset your special energy.
- 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.
- A similar scenario occurs in Under the Knife 2, this time with Derek needing to operate on an emergency case, and the limited supplies being attributed to the sudden reduction in manpower at that point in the plot.
- 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 Fire Emblem: The 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.
- 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...
- In BioShock's Fort Frolic, ammo, medkits, and cash are significantly scarcer than previous levels, and the Hacking Minigame difficulty for vending machines is much higher. And this level introduces Plastered Spider Splicers.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The last route to the end boss in Fatal Frame only has one save point before throwing you into a gauntlet of enemies especially when resources in the game were hard enough to come by already.
- 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 scale their level 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 at maximum 100 pounds before enteringnote , Dead Money strips you of all your Wasteland equipmentnote , and Old World Blues combines scarce supplies with Respawning Enemiesnote .