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Now, Where Was I Going Again?
"The term used a lot for this concept is conveyance, and I think that's a fitting name. I mean haven't you ever been playing a game and you're just like: What do I do!? Where do I go?! That's what I'm talking about. That's bad conveyance."

Role Playing Games and adventure games take a long time to finish. However, games cannot really predict how long you plan on playing, and so they allow you to save your progress and continue later. The trouble here is that a player may save at point A but, by the time he returns to the game, forget he was going to point B. Saving midway between the two, or even mid-quest, is also disturbingly common. This can be especially nasty when the savepoint itself is in a distracting place.

After a few days, it dawns on the poor player that he has no idea where he is or where he should go. Some games may log the player's progress and quests in some way that can be referred back to later, a very good way to counter this. Other games put in an Exposition Fairy character that constantly reminds the player to Continue Your Mission, Dammit!.

Some games avoid this by establishing artificial borders in the game world at different times, while other gamers think the deliberate wandering is worth it for a quicker if more difficult level grind.

Unfortunately, this isn't strictly limited to RPGs, as many action games and older first person shooters would leave the player wandering about for hours on end looking for an unintuitively-placed key or switch.

The ways to combat this falls into the Acceptable Breaks from Reality because really, it can be annoying to get lost and frustrating because you want to progress in the game yet have no clue what to do next.

See Quicksand Box - when a Wide Open Sandbox doesn't give you a clear way to look up what it was you were doing at first (or give you some hints on what you can do) making it easy for players to wind up lost.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Action Adventure  

  • Ōkami logs your quests broadly, and you can buy hints off of a fortuneteller.
  • The fortune teller in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past provides hints concerning the main plot, and refills your Life Meter, for a few rupees. The game provides plenty of easy money anyway, so go right ahead.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening there are periodic phone booths you can use to get a hint.
    • There are three main methods for determining where you're supposed to go next in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
      • First, Navi the Exposition Fairy shouts 'Hey! Listen!' about every ten minutes to remind the player where they should head for the next step of the main quest. Even if you're trying to perform unrelated sidequests at the time. Even if you just got sidetracked for a moment and really are on your way back to the main quest. She tends to get on a less goal-oriented player's nerves.
      • Second, once you learn Saria's Song, you can talk to her any time you want. This is particularly weird when Saria is a prisoner within the cursed Forest Temple, and after she has Ascended To A Higher Plane Of Existence.
      • Third, just pause the game and look at the map subscreen. The locations you should probably be going to next appear as blinking dots. This game may be Nintendo Hard in the dungeons, but you can't claim to not know where you're going.
    • Aside from Tatl the Fairy, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask includes a handy day planner item that not only tracks quests, but reminds which times in the time loop they can be completed.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, Ezlo reminds Link of the next objective when resuming a saved game.
    • The King of Red Lions (that's the boat) in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker clues Link in to the next objective whenever he is spoken to.
    • For ten rupees, the fortune teller in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess will consult her Crystal Ball on one of two topics: Career (where to go next) or Love (heart piece locations). Midna (who literally shadows you) is also happy to chime in with some Tatl-like snarkiness whenever you tap the "Z" (Up on the D-Pad for the Wii version.) button.
    • Similarly, in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword the same fortune teller's Identical Ancestor will give hints on either the next plot device or the location of treasure (though the two are often one and the same) for the same rate, and this game's Exposition Fairy, Fi, will remind you where to go if asked.
      • Also, on the file select screen, it gives a brief description of the last major thing you accomplished, where you are, or where you need to go next.
    • The fact that the first Legend of Zelda game has nothing like the above 'assistance' is partly why much the game is such a huge Guide Dang It, it's often pretty hard to figure out even what dungeons you've cleared in said game without a personal diary or strategy guide.
  • An idiot button or text description will pop up if you take too long to figure out the next objective in Uncharted 2.
  • When continuing a saved game in Batman: Arkham City, the loading screen will display images from the most recently seen story-related cutscene, along with expository dialogue regarding your current objective.

     Adventure Game  

  • The Monkey Island games often involve forcing you to complete one quest and limiting your ability to anything else until it's done. For example, in The Curse of Monkey Island, every character you meet will refuse to talk to you and tell you to see the Voodoo Lady until you find her.
  • Discworld Noir uses the journal not only as a means to remind the player on what he has to do next, but also as a gameplay mechanic. Namely, the journal entries can be used to question the characters. Appropriate, considering that the protagonist is a Private Detective is in a skewed Film Noir fantasy game.
    • But also occasionally irritating, as the other characters almost always get annoyed when you ask them something that's not relevant to their case, and sometimes even if it is. Trying to figure out which questions are the right questions to ask, and who to ask them to, can be a Guide Dang It in and of itself.
      • Especially at least one instance where you have to realise that you have to question a character in relation to a note that he gave you. Especially annoying as you can continue on for quite some time without doing this before you are no longer able to progress, giving you no reason to think that you need to talk to him at the moment!
  • In the Professor Layton games, the good professor keeps a journal that often tells you your next goal. This is good, as it lets you know what to try to avoid until you find as many puzzles and hint coins as you can manage. Also, every time you continue the game a "The Story So Far" screen recaps recent plot developments. Not to mention the fact that while you're wandering around there's an instruction on the top screen telling you what you need to do and often an arrow showing you the next direction you need to go in. Really, it's hard to get lost while trying to follow the plot in these games. (Of course, if you're looking for all the puzzles and hint coins, things are a bit more troublesome.)
  • In Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, Strong Bad will start talking to himself about what he should be doing every once in a while. The frequency of these hints can be adjusted.
    • Ditto Guybrush in Tales of Monkey Island. Depending on the setting, sometimes another present character will make the comment instead (in both games).
    • This feature was actually first introduced in Sam & Max Season 2. Season 1 also tried to introduce a system where you could ask Max about things, during the later episodes (5 and 6). Despite the success of the Season 2/Strong To MI system, there's apparently a new one upcoming in Season 3.
  • Policenauts has a "summary scene" option whenever you load up a game from the main menu. This is probably more so you don't forget the plot, as it's usually obvious where you should be.
  • Ever since Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures, Telltale Games has put a recap of the plot up to that point on the Load Game screen.
  • God help you if you pick up Hotel Dusk: Room 215 after you haven't played in a while; the game offers absolutely no clues on where to go next or even the objective unless you wrote it in the virtual notebook or something beforehand. The sequel, Last Window, was a little better about this by allowing to review recent conversations for a hint.
  • The Another Code games, made by the same company as Hotel Dusk, fell into the same habit of providing hints the second time out. The first game didn't give you hints when you started it up again, but the second game gives you a quick recap of your current objective when you load a file.
  • Ace Attorney falls into this, mainly during the investigation sections, but also during the trials as well. Good luck working out where to go or what to do if you leave the game for a good while. Considering the game is all about using the recent plot to progress, the game pretty much becomes impossible to continue if you can't remember what you were doing before you stopped last time.
    • The cases themselves fall into this also. Considering the game is about solving murder cases, if you go to play it without the memory of what the case was about, you'll have a hard time. It's not impossible to progress, but it makes trying to follow the game and its dialogue is completely impossible. Somewhat subverted in that a lot of information about the case is there for the player to look over, such as info on people, how the victim died and the like. But when the cases start going deep into the events of what happened...you'd better not be thinking of taking a break from playing for too long.
    • Completely subverted in Dual Destinies, the first game in the series to have a check-list to mark your progress, and your current main goals.

     Driving Game 

  • The more recent titles in the Driver series show a short "Previously On Driver..." cutscene whenever you load a game. It's mostly for flavor, since only Driver: San Francisco has non-story missions, and even then you can almost literally see the critical mission marker from orbit.

     First Person Shooter  

  • Along with the current mission objective that can be accessed from the pause menu, Bioshock provided a compass on top of the HUD that would automatically point in the direction of your goal. Bioshock Infinite swapped this out for a glowing arrow that would appear on the ground and point you to your destination when you pressed Up on the Directional Pad.
  • Metroid Prime has a digital equivalent to Navi the Fairy. Samus's Chozo suit will frequently supply information about "incoming scans" that pinpoint the room where the next element of the main plot will take place. You can turn this off, however, if you don't want to be bothered.

     MMORPGs  

  • In Kingdom of Loathing, one of the features at your campsite is a "Quest Log"... a literal wooden log that contains reminders of the quests you're currently engaged in. In which you're currently engaged.
  • Final Fantasy XI has a quest log...but most of the descriptions are vague, it never updates beyond the first description, and sometimes a quest doesn't show up on the log until you're partway through. While you might be able to get hints from relevant NPCs, chances are you'll run into Guide Dang It territory.
    • Some quests don't even appear to be quests until you finish them. Particularly noteworthy is the quest to unlock the Bard class: you have to speak to a particular NPC once you've reached level 30, who mentions that he is heartbroken after his girlfriend broke up with him. Another NPC nearby mentions a tablet on a beach that has some song lyrics. From this, you are expected to know to take a piece of parchment to the beach, find the hidden location where the lyrics are, use the parchment on them, and return them to the heartbroken NPC. Which completes the quest and shows it in your quest log for the first time. And then, you have to discover that there's another set of lyrics in another hidden location, and travel there with no prompting, at which point you will unlock the Bard job. Guide Dang It doesn't even begin to cover it.
  • Zig-Zagged in World of Warcraft. During Classic, (pre-Burning Crusade even) there wasn't much to indicate what were some good zones to go to next; other than a couple quests that could be easily missable. The starting zone quests were all pretty good, leading you to the next owned-zone, but after you completed those, the next place to go was anyone's guess. When you hit level 40 or so, it got even worse because there weren't as many zones to go to, and there weren't as many dungeons available to you (in part due to Uldaman being poorly-designed and not many people going to Maraudon unless they were doing a "Princess Run", which was more or less late 40s-early-50s anyways.) Things got better at 50 because there were more zones available to you; but not much to indicate you could go there. Before quest-tracking was incorporated into the base UI by Blizzard, you basically had to poke around the zone to find where the quest takes place. Some quests were just terrible, veering into Guide Dang It territory (where in the world is Mankrik's wife?), but this is much less of a problem now.
    • Even before it was incorporated into the base UI, it got better with Burning Crusade. Burning Crusade was a lot more straightforward in where you should go next, since a lot of quests would tell you "Hey, I hear someone over in this zone needs some help - why don't you go check it out?" or "Can you deliver this thing to someone over in the next zone?" and then you conveniently find a bunch of quests next to the person you turn the quest into. You didn't run into a "choice" until you were much higher level (Shadowmoon or Netherstorm, though a fair number of people chose Netherstorm, especially on PvP servers.) Wrath of the Lich King was more or less the same.
    • It became really averted in Cataclysm, which basically made it pretty hard to forget what you were doing. Every capital city had a bulletin board. Alliance ones are called “Hero’s Call”. Horde ones are called “Warchief’s Command”. These boards give quests for the player do. They lead to a region that is roughly the same as the player. Basically it was the same kind of errand quests, except that their starting location was much more convenient.
  • Many MMORPGs not only feature a Quest Log, but also the ability to click on the name of whatever you need to interact with, and then auto travel there while you go get a soda.
  • In addition to its robust mission log (which displays mission objectives on the main map; if the player has to pass through zone transitions to reach the mission, those transitions are also highlighted, although this aspect isn't infallible), The Old Republic features a short recap of the player's current class mission whenever the player logs in, in the style of the traditional opening crawl.

     Platform Game  

  • When you continue a story in Sonic Adventure, the character you selected gives you a rundown of the most recent events. (Pretty much the same thing happens in Sonic Adventure 2 when you choose a story, only it's the character whose level is coming up. This is different, however, because SA 2 puts you in the level with no Adventure Field to go through to find it.)
  • In Psychonauts, you can get hints on what to do next (or how to defeat certain enemies) by waving bacon in front of your ear. Yep.
  • Mushroom Men gives you a log of all the important NPC conversations you've encountered in the current stage.

    Roguelike 

  • Dwarf Fortress's Fortress Mode can get like this at higher populations; the more vertical levels colonized, the more jobs queued, the more disorienting it can be to sit back down to it. And there's no easy solution for it like Adventurer's mode journal since the game has no way of predicting what your layout plan is, which stuff you want shifted to which stockpile and why, or why you might have the magma running. In a big enough fortress, it's possible to forget which rooms and workshops you already built and where. And those levers that might do anything from flood channels to collapse walkways to open your front gates to the enemy could have been labeled, if you got around to it...
    • "Succession" games have it worse; this is a game format where, every in-game year, control of the fort is passed on to a new player who has little to no idea what's going on. It's not uncommon for a succession leader to load up the fort and find it abuzz with activity for no discernible purpose. Half-completed megaprojects, especially those involving aqueducts or magma ducts, are especially prone to this.
    • In some cases, this extends to the dwarves themselves; it's not uncommon for a dwarf with a status aliment (say, Thirst) to drop their job in order to alleviate the problem, only to completely forget what they were doing beforehand.
  • Step away from a game of NetHack for awhile and it's very easy to forget what you were in the middle of. The game can be so deadly that if you are wielding a rubber chicken and make even one move before checking your inventory, it could be game over. Luckily, you can name your inventory and use that to provide yourself with helpful reminders.
    • To clarify: A rubber chicken is a dead cockatrice. The upside of possessing one is that you can use it to petrify monsters by touching them with it. The downside to possessing one is that there are a million ways in which you can accidentally petrify yourself, including, but not limited to, removing your gloves, eating it, kicking it without boots, throwing it upward while not wearing a helmet and falling down the stairs while wielding it.

     Role Playing Game  

  • This can be a serious problem in Mass Effect 1, although less so in the later games, which made the levels somewhat more linear. Particularly during your first trip to the Citadel, it's very easy to load a saved game, look at the dozen different odd jobs you had open or were about to pick up or close, and have no idea which one you had priority on or what you were doing before.
  • Entering or leaving a random town in Star Ocean: The Second Story triggers a cutscene where a character mentions the town they should be heading to so they can continue the plot. Typically only when the player initiates a Private Action.
    • This breaks down later on when you're on your way to the Bonus Dungeon. An NPC sends you to a virtual reality simulation of the first planet, and the event flags are just all over the place, such that you can do private actions in all the available cities and still not peg down where you're "supposed" to be going in disc one's story.
  • Tales of Symphonia has an in-game journal that records the party's quest, including where the game last told them to go.
    • Tales of the Abyss has a journal as well, written from the main character's perspective (except when he has a Heroic BSOD), where it's done by Mieu.
    • Other Tales games, like Tales of Eternia, give you hints on what you should be doing via a button press on the world map, usually delivered by characters in your party talking to you.
    • Tales of Hearts goes for overkill; it has a journal, skits usually appear to tell you what your goal is, and a mark appears on the World Map telling you what area you should be in.
    • Tales of Graces goes a step further than all of them. In addition to the aforementioned journal, simply holding down a button on the overworld will tell you what your objective currently is.
    • Tales of Xillia is even better than Graces, giving you the same button hold to tell you your objective, as well as a journal detailing the steps/story of the quest thus far. It also has a fast travel system to let you complete sidequests quickly.
  • Phantasy Star IV had a menu option that made the party talk amongst themselves about what they needed to do next. If you had just the protagonist, you could still opt to "Mumble" your objectives.
    • Recycled with the "Consult" command in the PS2 remakes of PSI and PSII.
  • The Kingdom Hearts games have a similar journal, by none other than Jiminy Cricket.
  • Dragon Quest VIII has a pause screen variant which allows you to converse with your party members, usually resulting in a reminder of the last quest objective you've received.
    • Ironically, since the statements of fellow party members are based on where you are in the plot, and if you're in a non-standard area they'll just respond with a line of dots, it's possible to just wander into the wrong area and get no answer!
      • In addition, the characters will sometimes talk about entirely unrelated things, such as Jessica asking if her low-cut dress looks alright and is appropriate for adventuring, to which the male party members emphatically answer YES!
      • Generally speaking, the very first time you talk to the group upon loading a save game, they will auto reply with the hint to your next objective. Any conversations after that will then follow the previous examples: either non-sequiter conversation or a line of dots.
    • If you're really desperate you can also talk to the soothsayer Kalderasha (met in the first town and first quest), who'll look in his crystal ball, giving you hints about where to go next.
  • The first Xenosaga game did away with this by removing ALL overland movement (though it's theoretically possible to forget you're supposed to be going to the bridge in the first game...). The second and third games did this too, but also whenever you loaded from a save point, they'd bring up a short narration describing what came before, and what you're supposed to do now.
  • Likewise, Suikoden V provides you with an onscreen bodyguard whom you can talk to whenever you need to know the location of the next plot point.
  • EarthBound has the Hint Stall, which nudges you in the right direction... for a small fee, of course.
  • The Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale and Neverwinter Nights series all include a journal which records important information regarding quests both completed and active. This is a huge boon due to the sheer number of side-quests a PC can pick up when you Talk to Everyone. Most Bioware RPGs also feature a similar mechanism.
    • Many Black Isle/Bioware games also allow you to speak to your party-members at any time the exact same way as you speak with any other character (they're also happy to randomly start up a conversation/catfight with you or each other about random personal issues). Baldur's Gate 2 even allows you to do this with your summoned animal familiar!
    • The first two Mass Effect games and both Dragon Age games have carefully organized journals so you can separate plot-central quests from sidequests and companion quests, Origins even sorted sidequests by location.
    • However, the third Mass Effect game abandons this organized system and represents every quest with a short explanation of one or two sentences. This text never changes, regardless of what stage you are at, so you can never be sure whether you need to return to the original quest giver to hand over the Plot Coupon or whether you never actually got around to finding it in the first place.
    • Fan mods for Neverwinter Nights tend to have this problem if the designer didn't set up journal entries correctly.
    • Baldur's Gate II, however, has a bad habit of periodically forgetting your recorded sidequests when you transition between chapters.
  • The Game Boy Advance remakes of Pokémon Red and Blue - Fire Red/Leaf Green - add in an automatic "Previously On your quest" message when you load up your saved game, which even includes replays of you running around.
    • In Diamond and Pearl, you have a journal that lists what you've done in the last few days, and automatically pops up when you load the game if you haven't played for a while.
      • However, this feature doesn't seem to have anticipated the ramifications of the DS's feature of pausing the game when closed. For example, if you play the game from May to July without turning it off (even if you save the game frequently), the journal considers it a single "day" in May, and will tell you just ten things that you did during that period. It also gives routine activities such as capturing common Pokemon the same weight as story-important events such as beating gym leaders.
    • In Black 2 and White 2 there is a new feature. A player can call several characters any time for information and advice. The rival says what task is there to be done, like gym challenges. He really helps when the player loses track.
  • Excelsior Phase One Lysandia was made before journal systems became popular, so it behooves the player to take careful notes. If you're lucky, you might be able to figure out your next task based on certain items in your inventory.
  • The Mega Man Battle Network series allows you to press L at any time to speak to Mega Man (if you are in the real world) or to his human counterpart Lan (if you are in the Cyberworld as Mega Man) to receive a short hint of what should be done. If you are revisiting a boss stage or in a secret area, the message will change to a comment about the area.
  • The Witcher also has a very detailed log of quests, both main and side ones.
    • The second game takes it even further, disguising your progress as stylish in-game narrative where a chronicler recounts your exploits from future.
  • Most of the Breath of Fire games feature the Camp option, which lets you pitch a tent on the World Map, primarily used for resting and saving your game, and a few other options. While camping, you can speak with your fellow party members, which will usually give you a good idea of what you're supposed to be doing.
  • The Playstation 2 RPG Rogue Galaxy recaps the recently completed parts of the plot when loading a saved game, with a hint as to what the heroes are supposed to be doing now. Still comes out to be occasionally less than useful during parts of the game where there are two or more equally important tasks that need to be completed.
  • The Gundam based RPG MS Saga is a perfect example of a game that does NOT give you ONE SINGLE HINT as to where you are supposed to be going if you save and quit for too long a period of time late in the game. The game features no actual log of any kind, and only by walking around every town you can and talking to everyone can you even HOPE to figure out what you are supposed to do next. Then again, this is one of the easier problems in the game to deal with overall.
  • Skies of Arcadia has both a journal and the option to stop the Global Airship you're flying to talk to the other party members.
  • The Map Screen in Final Fantasy XII displays your next objective at the bottom as a short sentence in Vaan's perspective... sometimes. If you just so happen to leave a dungeon or similar location for whatever reason and forget that it's the place you're supposed to be in, God help you.
  • Shin Megami Tensei II has fortune tellers in various places, who will, for 100 makka, tell you where you must go to further the plot.
    >Ask the Fortune teller in Holytown where to go. "Go to Holytown"
  • The nameless hero's journal in Gothic is organised by quest, and helpfully moves completed quests to different sections depending on whether the player succeeded or failed. The hero's comments can be very helpful hints about what to do next.
  • Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga for GBA featured a shop with speech bubbles on display. It sells hints and gossip to the player.
  • The World Ends with You lets you ask your partner for hints and reminders as to what to do next.
    • And there's also an envelope which you can check, in case you forget your mission for the day.
  • Final Fantasy IV for DS lets you see your characters thoughts' on the situation at hand when on the menu, which more often than not reminds what you were doing or drops a hint of where to go.
  • Final Fantasy II for the NES is infamous for not having this. There's practically no clue where you're supposed to be going, no in-game hint system, and going to the wrong area at any given time tends to be instantly deadly.
  • Persona and Persona 2 allow you to talk to party members by entering basically any shop. Not every comment will get you back on track... unless you go to the omnipresent Velvet Room, where they're all about what happened and where you're going.
    • Persona 3 simplifies this by making your (permanent) objective "Level Grind until you're ready for the next full moon", and Persona 4 reminds you of your current objective (or lack thereof) every day after school.
      • They also have a handy Calendar which marks important dates, such as exams and dates/meetings with Social Links, so the player can plan for them in advance and remember them if needed.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion has so much to do that most players forget the plot entirely. Luckily, the character automatically keeps a log of everything he/she's done and should do, for each quest he/she is currently undertaking. "Thank god I have a split personality who always knows exactly what I need to do!"
    • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, on the other hand, has no such feature. The closest it comes is logging what your last journal entry was. People have gone mad from trying to understand the contents of their journals, and that's before the stuff about Daedra worshipping. The Tribunal and Bloodmoon expansions upgraded the journal to sort entries into active and finished quests. This is an incredible boon for keeping track of your goals, and makes level-appropriate progression through multiple factions at once infinitely more practical. Doesn't do anything about the crashing, though.
      • Even when you knew which quest you were supposed to be doing it was often extremely difficult to actually find your target as there were no quest indicators in Morrowind. Many quests gave instructions along the lines of "head east from here until you come to a fork in the road. Go right and follow the path for a long time until you reach a large boulder. There should be an entrance to the cave nearby". You could spend hours investigating variously sized boulders and still never find the correct cave. It was often necessary to resort to scouring the printed map that came with the game in an attempt to pick out some tiny detail.
      • Or, in extreme cases, opening up the level editor, finding the map you're trying to get to, then looking around the map trying to find some kind of clue as to the location.
    • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is even worse, because the game is SO huge it's ridiculously easy to just wander off into the wilderness and after going through three forts, four bandit caves, two barrows, and a couple of Dwemer ruins, remember wait... didn't I have a quest I wanted to complete? And if the quest takes place somewhere you haven't been before, and therefore cannot fast-travel to, the temptation to stop at numerous places along the way is hard to resist.
  • Ultima IX has a fairly decent journal. In fact, the Avatar is so good at keeping one he can sometimes write down information he was never given. In at least one instance this is the only way to get critical information on your objective.
    • The earlier Ultimas, however, were so open ended it was frequently pretty easy to lose track of what you were in the middle of. Fortunately you can almost always find something worth doing.
  • You have a quest log for all sidequests in The Last Remnant but you can always go to Athlum Castle to find out where to go to advance the main story.
  • If you've forgotten where you were when you last left off in Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army, going back to the Narumi Detective Agency and listening to Narumi's comment can help you remember what you're supposed to do. Also, since there are points in the game when he isn't there, he also keeps a case file, one page per episode, though this isn't as helpful.
  • God help you (even if you're not Messian), if you put down Shin Megami Tensei I for any significant length of time. It's hard enough trying to figure out what to do while playing normally sometimes.
  • All the Fallout games contain some form of quest-log inside your handy-dandy Pipboy unit, with Fallout 3 also showing it as one of the many random messages you see during a loading screen.
    • It's still possible to miss crucial details that aren't automatically listed in your quest log. For example, the location of Vault 112 in Fallout 3 is never revealed in the "Scientific Pursuits" info; you have to listen to the very end of one of the "Project Purity" logs for it. (You can get a quest marker pointing to the area if you set "Scientific Purisits" as your "Active Quest", but it's not very obvious.)
  • Wasteland precedes all such amenities, and since there's no railroading, you can literally go anywhere.
  • Given that Legend of Mana consists of about a hundred quests, only some of which are related, it's often impossible to say what you should be doing "next". However, trying to unlock or finish these quests is extremely frustrating since there's often no indication whatsoever of where you need to go next to do so. There is a fortune-teller in Domina who purportedly helps in this, but often her fortunes are nonsensical or too vague to be of help.
    • Well, part of the draw of the game is that there's never really anything to do "next". You have things to do, it's just that most of them are optional and nearly all of them can essentially be done whenever.
  • The Nintendo DS remakes of Dragon Quest V and Dragon Quest VI have a "Talk" option similar to the one used in the seventh and eighth games, should you forget where you're supposed to go. The fourth one's remake also had one... which was only in the Japanese version of said remake.
    • Dragon Quest IX, also on the DS, has an entire button dedicated to bringing up a "The Story So Far..." screen, which summarizes the previous plot point and usually hints at where to go next. For example, after being told to go to Zere (a small village north of Stornway) to learn the location of Brigandoom, The Story So Far straight-up tells you, "You were told that someone in Zere knows where Brigandoom is. Zere is located north of Stornway."
  • Brave Story lets you recall your current objective with the push of a button. However, if your (mostly mute) hero is the only one in the party, it won't work.
  • In Chrono Cross, you can get vague hints of where you're supposed to be going by looking at the description in your save file.
    • Its predecessor Chrono Trigger had Gaspar (the old man at the End of Time) remind you what needed doing if you talked to him. Before that, and once you were wherever you needed to be, events usually conspired to keep you moving in the right direction.
  • Betrayal at Krondor had no mercy towards the player in this department - pen down those interesting bits about tasks, quests and hints yourself lest you forget everything. The only thing that the game would keep track of and tell you was the overarching objective of the current chapter.
  • The Famicom (and only playable as a Rom outside Japan) The Adventures of Musashi has a fortune teller who, with a "little fee", will tell you a hint for the plot. The problem here is his vague hints are about the plot, not the way to the objective. Certain events are not very clear, and the Daimyo of the villages (your save point), it's not a great help. Plus, the world is VERY HUGE.
  • Some reviews note a flaw of Infinite Space is because of this trope. There's no journal log, so if you put down the game for a while, it's easy to get lost. Even if you play the game constantly, finding where to go next can still be a problem since sometimes the game barely tells you where to go next, or that you need to perform some other, possibly unrelated actions to trigger the next story event.
  • Darklands is horrible about this. You can get random quests from any of a thousand leaders in various cities, and unless you personally write each quest down in its entirety you will have no idea what you're doing an hour down the road.
  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura allows you to ask Virgil about what you should do next. When he eventually leaves the party to pursue personal matters, you're left up a particular creek sans paddle.
  • Touhou Mother suffers from this; it can be very difficult to figure out where Reimu and her party are meant to go next.
  • The Inazuma Eleven games display a one-line message below the top screen's mini-map telling you what you're supposed to do next. If the exact location was previously mentioned in the story (for example, "meet character X at location Y"), there will also be a flag on the mini-map at that location if you're nearby, or an arrow to point you in the right direction if the flag isn't on-screen. On top of that, Aki keeps a blog which you can read from the menu at any time. Between the massive amounts of optional content and the fact that the games let you roam freely around places you've already been (except in rare situations, primarily when the characters' presence somewhere would open up a gigantic plothole), you WILL need some of these features unless you have a photographic memory.
  • Radiant Historia actually integrates this into gameplay. Because the whole point of the game is mercilessly abusing the timeline, everything that happens gets recorded so you can Time Travel back to it. So, when in doubt, you can just go into the "Story" section on the menu to refresh your memory about what you're supposed to be doing.
  • Final Fantasy XIII keeps a detailed log your actions and an marks your next destination on the map screen. When you load a save, it automatically shows you the latest log entry in the loading screen. All that makes it easier to remember what happens in the plot, if you're interested. You won't need it for the gameplay because, except for one open area mid-game, there is No Sidepaths, No Exploration, No Freedom. And that one open area? You just need to walk from one side to the other, everything you can actually do there is optional and not part of the plot guidance.
    • The sequel tends to have Serah and Noel explain exactly what they're on their way to do to each other whenever you approach a new time gate. Helpful if you've been away for a long time, doing side-quests, level grinding or catching Mons. A tad annoying if you've run straight to the gate from their last location.
  • All the conversations in Bloodnet are recorded and can be played back at any time. Unfortunately, this also includes every single irrelevant conversation with non-critical NPCs, which means your log can get truly chaotic.
  • At any save point in Ar tonelico, there is a "current objective" option where a character will tell you what to do next.
  • Bravely Default has your Fairy Companion Airy pop up on the touch screen when you're on the menu. She reminds you of your next destination, which is also clearly indicated by an orange arrow on the map,

     Simulation Game  

  • Most Harvest Moon games only have one save point, the diary on your dresser. Because every time you turn on the game, you're in the exact same place, it can be quite disorienting to a casual player. Though, the fact that the game is a Wide Open Sandbox helps, so it's nearly impossible to do something that will completely ruin your game.

     Stealth Based Game  

  • The original Metal Gear Solid had a mission log which recounted the last few story events and what you were supposed to be doing. Later MGS games dropped this in favour of making you call up your Codec contacts and demanding they explain.
  • Assassin's Creed II (and every subsequent game in the series) keeps the plot-related objectives permanently displayed on the minimap. If the player is in the wrong city, the nearest exit towards the correct city is highlighted instead.

     Survival Horror  

  • Alan Wake has a "previously on Alan Wake" recap at the beginning of each Episode, akin to many dramatic serial TV shows. Especially egregious when you just finished an Episode and are heading into the next one immediately.
    • Deadly Premonition does the same thing at the end of each chapter, as well as every time you load your game.
  • The various S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games all display your currently selected mission's next objective location, but since many missions aren't time-sensitive, it's very possible you were heading to a trader to unload some looted gear or artifacts or stock up on ammo and medkits before heading out with the objective just open in the background. This can lead to a rather serious faux paus where you charge into an enemy encampment and find out that you used up most of your ammo artifact hunting and taking down groups of bandits, leaving you with enough bullets to worry maybe half a squad.
  • The Resident Evil series tend to leave you on your own when it comes to where to go next. The early games didn't completely restrict the player on where to go, but it also didn't keep a checklist on what puzzles were solved. The 2nd game eases the trope slightly by marking locked doors on the map, which is a good sign that progression is behind it.

     Third Person Shooter  

  • Dead Space has an actual light that signals you the exact path towards the next objective if you push a button in the controller.
    • The trick, of course, is that blindly following the light will cause you to miss items, plot exposition, and in at least one case, will lead you directly into the path of an nigh unstoppable monster.
      • Although some players use it creatively by always heading in the opposite direction first then following it when done exploring.
    • The second game averts this at one point. After you send your Voice with an Internet Connection away from the station, using the guide won't work. At least, until your dead girlfriend activates it again...
  • Averted in Odd World Stranger's Wrath. Press the 'talk' button with nobody else around, and Stranger mutters a reminder to himself of his current objective.

     Turn Based Strategy  

  • Star Control 2 is horrible about this. Not only is it an apparent Wide Open Sandbox, but all of the plot important information is only given out once, often in an obscure hint. Like in many computer games of that era, writing down notes on paper is essential for beating this game.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics lets you rewatch any cutscene from your main menu as a quick way to catch up on the story. It also helps that your current objective usually appears colored in red on the map.
    • It also gives access to at least three cutscenes that don't appear anywhere else.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance avoided this in a bit of an obtuse way. At any point on the main map, you can check what missions you have to do at any given location. It's not the most perfect system, but it's better than nothing. Final Fantasy Tactics A2 changed things up by placing a marker on the world map when you accept a storyline mission or have completed one and need to advance the plot before doing the next mission.


No Stat AtrophyAcceptable Breaks from RealityNPC Amnesia
MetagameFake DifficultySelective Memory
No Stat AtrophyRole-Playing GameNPC Roadblock
No Plot? No Problem!Video Game TropesOmnicidal Neutral

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