Resources Management Gameplay
But what if you're bleeding to death moreso later?

Itís important that you grind. But with no Inns, how are you supposed to heal? Tonics are found through the mansion, and automatically heal everyone in your party 100% regardless of your levels. That may sound too convenient, but remember, you canít buy tonics. Youíve to ration the handful littered throughout the whole mansion.
The Happy Video Game Nerd, during his review of Sweet Home [1]

There is a vital gameplay element — perhaps fuel, or money or air or healing — which is finite and unreplaceable; if it runs out, you're done for. Therefore, the whole game begins to revolve around managing your supply. If you upset the Unstable Equilibrium by failing to scrimp resources, the game can become Unwinnable.

Strongly related to Too Awesome to Use, and Unstable Equilibrium. Also see Wizard Needs Food Badly, Anti-Grinding and Min Max.


  • Most Roguelike RPG work like this. The reason behind it is that Player Characters usually need food (well, so do players, but most human beings find it difficult to consume digital food), and food is limited for each floor, so you will be forced to ration and go to the next floor when you run out of it.
  • Fire Emblem games. You can't repeat battles, and the items you have are the ones you'll use in next battle, so not wasting your equipment is crucial for progress.
    • Many of the games tend to give heaps of gold on an irregular and unpredictable basis, so you can end up with no gold for several chapters if you spend it all too early.
  • Monster Rancher. Since monsters have a life-span ranging from 1 year to 11 years, you have to be very cautious of what you make your monster do, and when. In general, the money in this game could be considered as no Economy Management.
  • Dragon Slayer II: Xanadu counts as the Ur-Example of this. There is a limited number of enemy encounters, some of which boost your Karma stat to a point where you can't get any experience points (you have to acquire a cursed potion to reduce your Karma, which in turn will cost you some hit points). And the icing on the cake? All slain enemies stay slain for good. That, and you also have to keep a healthy supply of food, and properly make decisions on when to upgrade your equipment.
  • You're going to have a very tough time in Dark Souls if you don't learn to how ration your spells and healing items between bonfires. Even combat is a challenge of resource management since each attack/roll you make will deplete your stamina meter, as well as attacks you block or parry. To make matters worse, keeping your shield up drastically cuts the recovery rate of stamina, meaning that if you don't do things right, you'll either try regenerating stamina and get killed, or keep your shield up and get knocked over. Then killed.
  • In Wild ARMs 3 and Alter Code F, healing items are not available in shops for any price, because the world is a dying wasteland where plants like Heal Berries just don't grow anymore. Later in the game you can grow your own healing items in a garden, but you're still limited in the number of slots for plants and how many can be produced per time period passed.
  • As denoted by the quote above, Sweet Home.
  • In the original Alone In The Dark 1992, you have a limited amount of oil for your lamp. Keeping your lamp lit is necessary in some dark rooms. If you run out of oil, you're screwed because you won't be able to get past some rooms or find important stuff in them. Same applies to healing items: you only find two throughout the entire game. Not to mention weapons, which break or run out of ammo rapidly, and are also finite in number.
  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent has lantern oil (for your lantern) and tinderboxes, used to light candles in the environment. Without light, your Sanity Meter drops rapidly. Penumbra (by the same developers) has battery life for your flashlight.
  • Part of many Adventure Games (including the original) usually in the form of food, lighting, or ammunition. Some even offer a bit of sucker's bargain where you can sacrifice some treasure in exchange for more supplies.
  • The central gameplay mechanic in Turgor, otherwise known as The Void. This is further complicated by the fact that there is one resource to manage that does everything (health, ammo, currency, etc). A limited amount appears in each time cycle, and it's alarmingly easy to render the game unwinnable through clumsy or reckless spending of color.
  • S.W.I.N.E.'s campaigns have this trope, despite the game being a tactical RTS. This is because everything is limited - you only earn Strategic Points at the start of every mission, which you use to field your units, upgrade them and keep them supplied with fuel, ammunition and armor repairs. The number of units you can field is finite, and all three kinds of supplies are finite - in longer missions the supply trailers used to replenish your combat units will themselves run dry. Hence the conservation of the supplies you have, or Points with which to airlift more in, becomes and important strategic factor.
  • Spore has the Staff of Life, which can only be obtained once and only used 42 times.
  • In Mech Commander, salvage is everything. The credits you're paid for each mission don't cover all the repairs and upgrades you need, and some items can't be bought in stores, so you'll have to constantly gather salvage to upgrade your mechs. Also, on each mission, you're given very limited supplies of SupportPowers, such as artillery and sensor probes.
  • In Receiver, bullets are only found by threes and fours (or even ones and twos) scattered widely over the map, and you have no Emergency Weapon. Make every shot count, in other words.
  • Sir, You Are Being Hunted makes being tracked by mustachioed, tweed-clad robots that much harder by limiting you to whatever you can scavenge and fit inside your grid. Rifles and shotguns in particular can really mess up your tetris game.
  • Survival mode in Advance Wars: Dual Strike tasks you with completing several maps in a row with a limited amount of money, turns, or time. The goal is not merely to win, but to win as quickly and efficiently as possible so that you don't run out of that resource later.
  • Sieges in Stronghold require you to make effective use of the troops, traps and structures you're given throughout the whole scenario. You can't replenish your forces, so a mistake early on can make things very difficult later.
  • Hyperspeed is a game of fuel economy. You are exploring a distant galaxy, and once you travel out of range of your home base, the only ways to replenish fuel are to barter it from aliens (unreliable, costly, and often requires entangling yourself in byzantine alien politics) or through destroying alien starbases (of which there are a limited supply, and is guaranteed to make the offended species and its allies declare war on you.) Becoming stranded between stars is a constant peril; if you do become stranded, the only recourse is to bail out and lose all progress you made on your starship, effectively beginning over at level 1.
  • Parodied in one strip of VG Cats, where Cloud will not even spend one of his inn couponsnote  to heal a badly wounded party.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's has electricity. You start at 99%, and it drains constantly throughout the night, although it drains faster when you have the lights on or the doors closed. You need to make it from midnight to 6AM. If the power runs out, the robots kill you. If you run out of power between 5 and 6AM, you might be able to survive by Playing Possum - Freddy always shows up in person for power outages, and spends nearly a minute (an in-game hour) celebrating with a creepy song.
  • Dwarf Fortress derives most of its challenge from this trope, once you get past the controls and other complexities. Every single resource has to be accounted for, whether you produce it yourself, acquire (or "acquire") it from caravans, or loot it from invaders.
  • A False Saint, An Honest Rogue has food and temperature. Drop too low on either of those, and you start seeing things.
  • Pharaoh: While resources are infinite, the rate of collection is not, and depends on many factors (building placement, workforce, distance from the raw materials, availability of raw materials if imported, having enough storage space, the weather for floodplain farming...). And if maintaining a suitable balance between having enough of a particular product both to export and satisfy your citizens' needs wasn't enough, you often get demands for ridiculous quantities that almost require you to set up dedicated storage facilities. Juggling them all is the defining aspect of the game, even with the considerable Acceptable Breaks from Reality and Anti-Frustration Features.
  • Homeworld could easily turn into a game of resource management, especially early on. Unlike most RTS games you carried your units and remaining resources from one mission to the next, and you didn't always have the luxury of vast resources available to replenish your forces on every map. Suffering too many loses or being forced to abandon parts of your fleet in a hasty retreat could easily lead to an Unwinnable situation. Using cheap workers to capture powerful enemy ships quickly became a go-to favorite for veteran players.
  • Early Resident Evil games could definitely qualify. Between having limited ammo, limited healing herbs, and limited inventory space; they often became games of deciding just when to fight and when to find a way to avoid that newest pack of zombies and save your ammo, or risk reaching a point where you're screwed with nothing but a knife to defend yourself.
  • It is possible to run out of starship fuel in Mass Effect 2. It's not instantly fatal, as you can expend other resources to get you to the nearest star port. But if you run out of fuel and resources you can't move and the game is over. Fortunately, this is so hard to do you basically have to try to do it in order to pull it off.
  • Matches are used in ENIGMA: An Illusion Named Family to reveal plot-vital items and keep Minhyuk's fear of the dark under control. There's only a limited amount of them to be found, they each last only five seconds each, and don't count as 'plot-important', meaning you'll have to hunt for them. And randomly checking objects can make noise, attracting the killer's attention...
  • The Long Dark, being a survival game, involves collecting and preserving sustenance, supplies, tools, and shelter in the midst of the harsh Canadian winter. The map has a finite amount of food, medicine, bullets and matches on the map, and the game is set up so gaining one resource will mean expending another (for example, you'll need to eat and drink after a long day gather firewood, and melting snow and cooking food will require starting a fire, etc.) so you need to carefully consider your every action. You will run out of something and die eventually, though - the point of the game is how long you can last.
  • Mercenary Force is a Shoot 'em Up but unlike others of its genre, it involves resource management via money. You have a limited supply of money to buy mercenaries at the start of the game and you must use that money to buy replacements between levels and Power-Up Food at shops to keep them high in hit points. Enemies do drop coins but they are not generous in dropping them when killed. Strategy involves not only getting money when you can but using it wisely and managing your own mercenaries by keeping them alive.
  • Wick has candles to keep the Weaver children away. The candle slowly depletes through the night and need to be replaced. New candles can be lit with old candles. Matches can be used if the character runs out of candles, but once they run out, there is no opportunity for new light sources.