Say you're a Space Marine
in a completely normal space facility. You pass by an innocuous piece of wall, and then suddenly - SHOOM
the wall opens behind you to reveal a 2-foot by 2-foot square completely empty except for a demonic space monster trying to burn the back of your head off.
Primarily a First-Person Shooter
trope. It's mainly present in older first-person shooters as it's becoming largely discredited, due to better storytelling techniques or replacing it by offscreen or onscreen spawning.
One must question a few aspects of this situation:
- Why is there a random closet in the wall that isn't being used?
- Why is it hidden? (Although being hidden does sort of explain why they weren't used)
- Why do so many of them have monsters in them? How did they get in there in the first place?
- Why does it automatically open as the Player Character passes by? If the monster could open it from the inside, why did it stay in there?
A form of Malevolent Architecture
Compare Teleporting Keycard Squad
and Mook Maker
- Doom did it a lot. Often times rooms would be just a pedestal with an item on them, but taking the item opens up all the walls to reveal nasties.
- They did it with Doom 3, where it stretched believability to the breaking point. "They're breaking through the walls!"(radio transmission)
- Half-Life explains it by way of the monsters getting into unused drywalled-off corridors due to random teleporting.
- In Metroid Prime, the first Sheegoth that you fight bursts out of a wall that was concealing a room just big enough for said Sheegoth, with no way in or out.
- Portal explains where the turrets-in-the-walls come from by showing you a whole distribution system for them criss-crossing the entire facility.
- After a while you can pick out exactly what parts of the wall the Necromorphs will pop out of in Dead Space and Dead Space 2 although Dead Space 2 just skips the closet outright at times and has monsters magically appear.
- All three games have vents. And 2 has several sequences where the player themselves must crawl through service tubes. You can tell where this is going.
- Serious Sam does it occasionally.
- While the closets in Left 4 Dead are not hidden, several contain absolutely nothing except respawned survivors. However, sometimes a Horde may spawn in it.
- Also, some walls are fragile and allow zombies to burst through them.
- Since the AI Director chooses which closets are used, exploring players will find empty dead ends that could have been monster closets.
- Hordes of 30 zombies spawning out of a closet is pretty much one of the main game mechanics.
- At least in the spirit of this trope, though, as you play Left 4 Dead or Left 4 Dead 2, you will encounter plenty of zombie configurations that will make you stop and ask, "How the hell did this happen? How did these guys get here? Why did they stay?"
- It can also lead to unintentional hilarity when a witch spawns in a closet. Open door, toss in molotov, close door, wait for the screaming to stop. Repeat as needed.
- As the Versus game mode is Player Versus Player, it isn't unheard-of for particularly sneaky or particularly evil Special Infected players to take advantage of small, ignored closets by sitting and waiting until Survivors pass by...or coming up behind them from what they thought was a safe zone.
- It's been almost entirely replaced by "Ah, they're coming out of the air vents!" in video games. For instance, Mass Effect 1 does this with some of the rachni on Noveria. Though the exact same problems apply to those as do to the monster closets.
- Resident Evil: Dogs and zombies coming through windows? Check. A zombie bursting out of a literal closet? Check. Licker crashing through the one-way mirror? Check.
- Oven Man from Resident Evil 4. Leon will even lampshade this by wondering what he was doing in there.
- The Quake series does it sometimes in the first 2 installments.
- The first video game adaptation of the classic board game Space Hulk sometimes features Genestealers popping out of the walls - usually right behind one of your Marines. No sooner do you hear "Ambush!" then you hear the death scream of the unfortunate Marine.
- Happens in Ayleid Ruins in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, though this is at least handwaved by the fact that Ayleid ruins are notorious for being booby-trapped.
- Many examples in Duke Nukem 3D, many of which could be avoided by using the jetpack to quickly fly over the Event Flag.
- In La-Mulana, removing a certain section of wall in the Temple of Moonlight releases a whole bunch of Goddamned Bats. Amazingly enough, this is not a trap.
- Before Doom 3, the Descent series was the king of this trope. You could often find dozens of these in every single level.
- Skewered and fricassed in Zero Punctuation's Review of Dead Space 2, a modern adherent to the original version of the trope. The narrator notes that monsters pop out of identical air vents so often there's no surprise when they do, but that the air vent doesn't go anywhere, suggesting the poor beastie had to pry off the cover, put the cover back on once it was inside, and just take a nap. Since Dead Space is a Survival Horror game, knowing where the enemies are all but guaranteed to jump out from certainly removes a ton of suspense.
- The first Unreal, generally averted this trope, placing enemies in sensible positions, still plays it straight once near the start. Up to that moment you've only encountered Brutes (slow and easy to kill, if quick to shoot), tentacles (plants that shoot nearly harmless spikes) and birds (quick but easy to dodge and kill), wiping out the whole of them. The task at hand is to deactivate a generator powering a forcefield. Upon coming back from this task, the long, narrow corridor you've already walked through before starts getting dark, as lights switch off. Right about the time you start to wonder what the hell's going on, a Skaarj Warrior jumps out from the darkness from a previously closed closet-sized empty room and proceeds to scare the living daylights out of you.
- Does Monsters, Inc. count as a non-videogame variation? Technically, the closets aren't hidden, but it's impossible to tell from the outside when one of them's gonna open and reveal a monster.
- These are called "vaults" in the roguelike genre, though typically they don't open up on their own; either they have (often hidden) entrances, or you have to dig your way in.
- Several Final Fantasy games have the "Monster-in-a-box!", special encounters (often with a special opponent and rare loot) whom you face when you open a seemingly innocent treasure box. Why, exactly, are the monsters hiding out in the boxes?
- As another RPG example, there are a few very straight cases of this trope in the High Entia Tomb in Xenoblade Chronicles. Justified, as not only is the place supposed to be full of traps, but the "monsters" that jump you are ancient machines built to guard the place. And there's a twist too, exactly one of them is more than just a closet: it's an actual secret passage that leads to a hidden area.
- In Clive Barker's Undying, this happens with a skeleton while you're around the monastery catacombs.
- Vault 34 of Fallout: New Vegas has an interesting take on monster closets. Because the player effectively has radar, just hiding monsters in secret wall panels wouldn't do, so instead the vault features several feral ghouls (universes version of zombies) trapped in various temporarily inaccessible rooms, which convenient glass picture windows so that you very much know they are there. The power doors pop open when ever you pick up certain items or perform certain tasks required for opening the Vault's armory. However normally the opened door will be on the other side of the vault, so the ghouls often spread out when they are released and you can seldom be sure that you've eliminated all the free ghouls.
- This can show up in real life in haunted house design, although it's uncommon (as it's better to have a "backstage" hallway network connecting areas). Probably the most justified version of the trope.