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.


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    Roleplaying Games 
  • 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.
  • 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 the Mount & Blade series, you have to manage the health, morale and income of both your character and his band of companions and adventurers. Availability and variety of food, how well you handle battles or diplomacy with rivals, and how much you regularly pay your companions (the better the soldier, the higher the wage) all factors into troop morale. Additionally, there's also the matter of buying or acquiring better mounts, armour and weaponry throghout the course of the game, as you start alone and with humble equipment. Though the vanilla games and most of their mods simply use universal currency for recruitment, payments and rewards, some mods play around with making this more complex. For example, a well-regarded mod about the War of the Ring replaced the currency with "resource points", which the player had to earn separately from each of the many factions present in the mod to purchase or recruit within their territory.
  • The Deus Ex series has always involved some basic resource management, which extends not only to the items, tool and weaponry one is carrying around, but to the player's decisions which cybernetic implants to install and improve into the player character's body.
  • 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.
  • The trope is parodied in one strip of VG Cats, where Cloud will not even spend one of his inn couponsnote  to heal a badly wounded party.

    Adventure Games 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The late 1980s Japanese horror adventure game Sweet Home, described in the opening quote. Often cited as an influence on early survival horror games, including Resident Evil.
  • The central gameplay mechanic in Ice-Pick Lodge's Turgor (a.k.a. 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.

    Survival Horror 
  • 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.
  • The System Shock series offers you a lot of resource management, including food and medical items, ammunition, weapon parts, and most impressively of all, cybernetic implant modules and other software (which you can use to improve your abilities, or for accessing devices and hacking). The initial version of the second game was somewhat infamous for overdoing it with quickly-weathering firearms. Due to all the games' heavily RPG-esque approach and cyberpunk-based items, they are something of a precussor to the first Deus Ex game, which built on their ideas.
  • A staple in Frictional Games' survival horrors, but not without subversions.
    • The episodically published Penumbra series has packets of painkillers as healing items and the battery life of your flashlight (luckily, you can find replacement batteries fairly regularly, if you look around). Your other light source is a glowstick which never runs out, but it's weak for illuminating larger distances. The opening episode, Overture, also has the occassional packet of food supplies, the contents of which you can throw to lure away certain enemies. The sequel, Black Plague, was somewhat criticised for nerfing the battery life of the flashlight quite a bit, forcing you to replace batteries more often (though that also adds to the tension and loneliness).
    • Amnesia: The Dark Descent has lantern oil for your lantern (similar to Penumbra's batteries for the flashlight), and tinderboxes for lighting candles, lamps, static lanterns and other light sources strewn across the environment. Without light, your Sanity Meter drops rapidly. The healing item stand-ins for the previous painkillers are, appropriately enough for the period, vials of Laudanum.
    • SOMA is more of a subversion, due to its even greater focus on exploration and narrative than the earlier titles. While you still need to keep an eye out on replenishing your health regularly and you're frequently searching for clues and solving puzzles, you're not rationing items, always have a light source, and you have a diegetic-only inventory.
  • Ice-Pick Lodge's Pathologic has fairly extensive survival resource management. Everything from food and water (in various states of freshness), medical supplies (major items, given the story; incl. tablets, painkillers, special potions, tourniquets, bandages...), protective clothing (for medical reasons), to ammo (different bullets for each gun type), extra fuel for your lamp (not as important) and various baubles and cheap goods you can use for bartering. You have to have clothes and weapons repaired over time, due to wear and tear. Even resting and sleeping is something of a resource, as it's ill-advised to continue investigating or solving NPC quests without regularly caring for the player character's needs. The extensiveness of this management is logically justified by the premise, as the town the game takes place in is overrun with an ever-expanding mysterious plague. Even the prices of all these goods can grow and fluctuate a lot, both in official shops and while bartering with people, due to the ongoing crisis. The authorities and society as a whole are slowly crumbling, even though the player can somewhat dampen the worst of the spreading epidemic while also investigating the backstory of the town and the locals.
  • In Alien: Isolation you have to look out after the protagonist's health, her flashlight batteries, her ammunition, secondary items and the craftable resources to make more of them. She needs to balance progressing away from the xenomorph against exploring to find enough of these things to keep surviving against it, then figure out best how to apply them.
  • The Arctic setting of Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason has the player character keeping warm as a central survival mechanic. It's similar to managing one's health in other horror games. The mechanic has the player searching for any useful sources of heat aboard the game's abandoned icebreaker, and using them to fend off the omnipresent frost. Another resource to manage is ammo, which is relatively scarce, especially some particular types.

    Survival Games 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • This War of Mine puts you in the role of an ordinary civilian trying to survive in a besieged city in Graznavia during a devastating modern war (the setting is inspired by the siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War). You have to construct shelters in available surviving buildings, scavenge for edible supplies, fuel, materials needed for repairs, etc. You need to regularly venture outside of your (relatively safe) camp and barter or scavenge for new supplies and resources on your own. The game mechanics involve the specific group of survivors working as a team to keep a steady supply of items needed for daily survival. Though you can come across some lighter weapons and ammunition for potential self-defence, these are hard to come by and scarce.
  • UnReal World is an open-world roguelike set in a land based on prehistoric, Iron Age Finland. The primary goal is to simply survive throughout the calendar year, and one can go about it in numerous ways. The game is strongly management-focused, with the player regularly needing to eat, drink, rest and sleep, avoiding overheating, hypothermia and catching diseases. Additionally, every tool and structure needs to be built from gathered resources. Resource gathering itself can often take a while, especially if there's a need for larger quantities of building materials (e.g. for building a log cabin) or rarer, special materials (e.g. quality leather, as a tying/binding implement). Outside of exploring to find new natural resources for everyday life, the player can also barter with NPCs from established settlements and existing tribes.
  • A False Saint, An Honest Rogue is another wilderness survival roguelike. It has food and temperature as its main resources. Drop too low on either of those, and you start seeing things.

    Stealth Games 
  • In the Thief games, while some of your tools are virtually always present and available, you can run out of many items, including regular and trick arrows (the ammo), trick explosives (used mostly for stunning or stalling opponents) and helpful potions (for increasing health, breath, etc.). Replenishing these items involves either finding spares strewn around the missions themselves, or buying the items anew in secret shops in between missions. Depending on how a mission is structured and what challenges it poses, one often has to adopt his tactics to ration certain ammo and items more carefully than others. Naturally, you can handle a lot of things with just stealth alone, but certain tools are very helpful in getting to places or ensuring you won't be detected as easily (e.g. water arrows for putting our lights, rope arrows for vertical exploration).
  • Certain installments of the Splinter Cell series force the player to use his lockpicking tools wisely, as they're one-use only.
  • The first Hitman game, Codename 47, involved a pre-mission menu that also allowed the player to buy extra ammo and other smaller equipment, in addition to selecting the equipment for a mission.
  • The Death to Spies series has a similar system of careful pre-mission item and weapon selection, with additional items and weapons being scavangeable during missions.

    First Person Shooter 
  • 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.
  • In SWAT 3 and SWAT 4, outside of using your relatively small amount of ammo reasonably, you also have to ration the use of some of your items. You and even your team members can run out of stun grenades, depending on the size of a mission and how often you decide to use the grenades. The fourth game also offers tactical wedges for blocking doors, but the amount you can comfortably carry with you is fairly limited, so you have to think twice about which exact doors you'll be blocking to box in suspects.
  • Operation Flashpoint and the ARMA series have you managing your and fellow teammate's health, available weaponry and ammunition, available vehicles, etc., in their campaigns.
    • The ARMA series even added basic laying out of military camps, based on the resources you have.
    • Operation Flashpoint's expansion pack, Resistance, made the management focus even greater due to its storyline focusing on leading a resistance group in an invaded country.
  • The now fairly obscure Japanese horror shooter Extermination had your team of special operatives exploring a base overrun with a bizarre infection. Resource management consisted of considered use of ammo and paying attention to meters displaying risk of infection to the player.

  • The main resources to manage in the Europa Universalis series include finances, manpower available for recruitment, and various diplomatic statistics.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Caesar series, by the same developers as Pharaoh, has very similar resource-and-distribution management. Due to the ancient Roman setting, this includes building reservoirs and aquaducts for supplying cities with water, and so on.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Transport Tycoon and its successor Locomotion have you mostly building and managing land, water and aerial based public transport, but resource management does come into play. Your available finances allow you to build infrastructure, vehicles and manage budgets and PR, your popularity standing in a particular community affects if you can build there, and you even (indirectly) manage actual industrial resources based on how you interconnect various industries present in the game world (e.g. sending coal to powerplants, iron ore to steel mills, agricultural resources to food-processing companies, etc.). Even commuting passengers become a recource of sorts, as the more you improve the passenger and cargo transport infrastructure, the more towns and cities can grow in size, population and further develop.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • The first two Iron Grip games are a blend of first person shooter and tower defence. In Iron Grip Warlord, your primary resources are "Power" (basically finance, used for building defensive structures) and "Morale" (self-explanatory; the game's progress and outcome depends on lowering the attacking enemy's morale to zero).