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Path of Greatest Resistance
Well, seeing as this is the most dangerous thing I've ever seen in my life, I must be going the right way.
Gordon Freeman, Freeman's Mind

In many video games where there is more than one direction to go, it is possible to become lost, or unsure which way to go next. Almost invariably, the way to go is the way the enemies are coming from.

Relatedly, the area with dead enemies strewn around is backtracking. The opposite is when a monster breaks open a door, crashes through the floor or knocks down a wall to allow you access to the next stage, assuming you survive.

Examples:

  • In Clive Barker's Jericho there are a number of places where there is no obvious direction until something tries to kill you.
  • Common in Final Fantasy games too. If you get stuck, pick a direction and if the enemies are challenging, you're going in the right direction.
  • Dead Space is trying to reduce this through the guide lines, but you pretty much have to kill everything that gets in your way anyways.
  • In Half-Life some areas can be very confusing, but the path forward is usually the most difficult and enemy-filled. Even the bosses exist only to block the path forward.
  • In Dune II the enemy units were created at (and came from) the enemy base. You could follow the trail of enemies back to their base and attack it.
  • Both Wolfenstein 3D and Doom were like this: if a room is filled with bodies, you've already been there.
  • Ever since Sonic Adventure introduced the Homing Attack, nearly all Sonic games since then have had paths identifiable (and accessible) only by finding a trail of stationary midair enemies. This is most commonly used to begin an expert path or for a shortcut; very rarely is it actually required.
    • In games before or without the Homing Attack, faster routes are either accessed through advanced platforming techniques or involve a more challenging gauntlet of traps and enemies.
  • In Real Life, this is the reason that Genre Savvy military pilots, particularly those operating from Aircraft Carriers, try to avoid flying directly between their mothership and the target. Instead, they fly a more roundabout path, so as to avoid showing the enemy which direction their ship is in.
  • In the Civilization games, this is very useful to determine the point of origin of an enemy whose camp or cities you haven't found yet.
  • Occasionally in the Silent Hill games it can be easy to get turned around or unsure of which direction to go. When you are attacked by one of those damned nurses when you open a door, you know that yep, this is the way.
  • Related to one item from The Grand List Of Console RPG Clichés, #82:
    When you are confronted by two doors, the closer one will be locked and its key will be hidden behind the farther-away one.
  • Especially prevalent in Golden Sun. Whenever there's a fork in the road, the path that seems shorter will be blocked off later on, forcing you to take the other path around.
  • The Resident Evil series seems to use respawned (or replaced) enemies as shorthand for "this is where you're supposed to be going now."

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