->"If you see a fork in the road inside a cave, most likely one way is right and the other leads to a dead end. But people can't help trying both. Do you want to go up the ladder or go down the ladder?"
-->-[[LampshadeHanging An NPC]] in ''[[VideoGame/PokemonGoldAndSilver Pokémon HeartGold/SoulSilver]]''

In VideoGames, especially [=RPG=]s and {{Platformer}}s, if you come across a fork in a dungeon or similar environment, you will usually be provided with clues as to which way to go to advance the plot or find the next boss. Naturally, you'll want to go the other way whenever possible.

Why? There might be cool stuff down there. The game developers [[TheLawOfConservationOfDetail wouldn't go through the trouble of creating a corridor with nothing at the end of it]]... [[EmptyRoomPsych usually]]. Most of the time you'll find an interesting and useful item that will come in handy when you go back down the right path. At the very least, you'll probably find an interesting monster to fight.

Sometimes you'll get a weak consolation prize, such as a healing item that can be gotten in a hundred other places. Often you'll find an item, especially a weapon, which is particularly effective against the monsters and/or boss prevalent in the area. And sometimes you'll get what seems to be a dead end until you do some careful searching (that is, bump against [[ConspicuouslyLightPatch conspicuous areas]] whilst pressing the A button repeatedly).

Of course, some games and dungeons avert this, and all you accomplish is slogging through a DeathCourse with no payoff and wasting a lot more of your HP than you needed to. Many a dead end becomes an EmptyRoomPsych, to the annoyance of players. But it was worth a try, wasn't it?

This can turn into GuideDangIt under a couple of circumstances: if which way is the "wrong" way isn't explicitly clear and the game prevents you from returning to try the other path, and/or if the boss at the end of the "correct" path is almost impossible without the shield at the end of the "wrong" path that negates his status effects.

See also OnlyIdiotsMayPass, where the correct path is indicated but you ''have'' to go the wrong way in order to access it. Also compare with a specific type of BackTracking where a new weapon or ability allows you to acquire a treasure or powerup that was previously out of reach. Failing to go the wrong way first may lead to certain items being [[PermanentlyMissableContent lost forever]]. Usually the sidetrack is a PathOfMostResistance.


* This is very noticeable in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSkywardSword''. The game's dowsing feature makes it easy to tell which of a set of paths leads to plot advancement, so you can explore the alternatives if you want. Though most of the time you'll run into a DoorToBefore.
* The Yoshpet forest area in ''VideoGame/{{Okami}}'' is notable because you have a time limit, and there's always a character pointing the correct way. But if you take the wrong path, you'll always find a treasure chest, some of which you'll need if you want OneHundredPercentCompletion.
* Very common in the ''Franchise/RatchetAndClank'' series. Nearly all planets have at least two 'missions'. One is obviously what you came there to do, but the other will most likely net you a new gadget or weapon. (or co-ordinates to a new planet... [[DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment where you'll most likely find a new gadget or weapon]]) But if you only do the first, then leave, you'll eventually run into an obstacle on a later planet that, surprise, is only passable if you have the Sidetrack Bonus from before, forcing you to backtrack. Long-time players of the series know to always save plot-vital objectives for last.
* The ''Franchise/TombRaider'' series is generally linear with items strewn along the path, but each level usually has a side room or area that is hidden, difficult to reach, or the area itself contains traps. The hidden areas, usually called secrets, contain extra ammo, health kits, or even weapons. Finding every single secret area isn't required to finish the game, but the bonus items they provide can help. Finding secret areas is almost a must in the console version of ''VideoGame/TombRaiderIII'' since most of the game's [[SaveToken Save Crystals]] are found in secret areas.

[[folder:Action RPG]]
* In the Blue Cave in ''VideoGame/{{Quest 64}}'', there are actual arrows pointing to the right way on most crossroads. Naturally, more often than not, the other way gets you a chest and/or a spirit.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Torchlight}}'', you need to cover every square inch of a level to be sure you've gained the maximum experience, fame and loot from that area. Same applies, of course, to the ''VideoGame/{{Diablo}}'' series it apes/improves on.

* Bearing in mind that the main point of the ''VideoGame/MonkeyIsland'' games is to [[RuleOfFunny access as many jokes as possible]], it's usually more rewarding to try dialogue options and item combinations that you ''know'' aren't going to work, just to see [[HilarityEnsues what happens]], especially since almost nothing you do can get you killed or render the game {{Unwinnable}}.
* ''VideoGame/DayOfTheTentacle'' is another Creator/LucasArts game with plenty of humor that you'll miss if you only do what you're "supposed" to do. Unlike its predecessor, ''VideoGame/ManiacMansion'', there's no way you can lose the game, so go nuts!

[[folder:Eastern RPG]]
* This makes up the majority of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII'''s exploration. Thanks to the game telling you where you're supposed to go and generous automapping, it's very easy to tell which paths are likely to have treasure (though not all do).
** Almost every ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'' has some variant of this--typically, the paths keep splitting in two, with one path leading to a dead end that may or may not have a treasure chest, and the other leading further into the dungeon. Usually, there's no way to tell which path will be a dead end, and if the paths get more complicated than a two-way split, it can be impossible to tell whether you're going the wrong way and will hit a dead end soon, or you're going the right way and should head back immediately to check for treasure. And you ''will'' want to check for treasure, because the weapons and armor in those chests are often significantly more powerful than anything you can buy in stores at that point in the game. ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyII'' is one of the worst offenders here, since going through some doors teleports you to the center of an empty room in which the random encounter rate is significantly increased, forcing you to fight two or three battles just to get back out and try the next door in the hopes that this time you'll get a room with a treasure chest. ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII'', on the other hand, mostly avoids this both through linear dungeon design, and through not having any treasure chests (when the game does give a sidetrack bonus, it's generally a spell.)
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' manages to have a very notable one where you have the choice to take an elevator or the stairs on a tall skyscraper. Naturally the elevator is quite fast but if you take the stairs you'll pick up a few nice items and some interesting dialogue to boot.
** A particularly nasty example in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIX'': in the ice cave, an early game dungeon, go the correct way and find... the boss! And you must face him with only Zidane, the rest of your party being incapacitated, with no chance to save. Where's the savepoint? It's the sidetrack bonus on the other path. Even worse: it's frozen and Vivi has to melt it with fire for you to use it, so if you decide to backtrack after every party member has passed out, you'll find a savepoint you can't use. Better beat the boss first try.
* From ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfDragoon'', backtracking to Lohan after picking up one character lets you buy their Dragoon Spirit about two discs earlier than they would normally get it.
* In ''VideoGame/GrandiaIII'', returning to the area where your boat used to be at an island will reward you with a pair of shoes which increase female character's speed when equipped. There's also a RareCandy hidden at the east end of the beach where you met Alonso for the first time.
* In ''VideoGame/SagaFrontier'', during the quest for the Shield card, exploring the caverns in Mosperiburg a bit leads to a BonusBoss fight with a red and black dragon duo, guarding a hoard of treasures and items.

[[folder:First Person Shooter]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Borderlands}}'' featured a LOT of this. In one area, there were literally even some giant neon arrows pointing you through certain doorways. And yes, these doors usually led to the next story-advancement area. But if you zigged when the game was trying to get you to zag? Your payoff was often gun chests, items and/or ammo.
* ''VideoGame/CliveBarkersJericho'' is an aversion only notable for having so many forks in the road leading [[EmptyRoomPsych nowhere]]. No pickups, no plot coupons, no clues that you're heading into another gratuitously added dead end.
* ''VideoGame/HalfLife1'' subverts this trope. With the developers having stated that when they had multiple paths they would find players would get through one path, turn around and search the other, even thought they ended up in the same place.
* ''VideoGame/Left4Dead'' is quite linear, but there is usually a small side room or the like that may contain weapons or healing items if you take the time to explore. Since the game randomizes where and what items will spawn, you'll never find goodies in the same room twice in a row.

* ''VideoGame/ABoyAndHisBlob'' for Wii is a major offender. (Although a lot of levels do provide you with [[NoticeThis fireflies]] pointing out the path for treasure.) In fact, one level in world 2 is extremely straightforward if you're just going for the exit... and almost ''maddening'' if you go through it looking for the treasure.
* One of the new bonus levels in the UsefulNotes/GameBoyAdvance version of ''VideoGame/YoshisIsland'' is a simple, straight, effortless path to the goal, if you don't mind getting 10/100 points. You want HundredPercentCompletion? Better take a detour.
* ''VideoGame/CrashBandicoot2CortexStrikesBack'' has a few of these scattered through levels. Jumping off boxes over instakill water or navigating a room packed with nitro that will kill you just by brushing against it or even [[ViolationOfCommonSense jumping up a staircase of nitro]] will often send the player to a bonus warp room allowing them to get missing boxes or gems from earlier levels.
* Be sure to search every nook and cranny in the ''VideoGame/LittleBigPlanet'' story levels, so you can find Prize Bubbles. They contain new costumes and objects for use in the LevelEditor.

[[folder:Real-Time Strategy]]
* In ''VideoGame/DungeonKeeper'', completing certain objectives will almost invariably either a) unlock new, harder objectives (objectives that will in all likelihood [[GuideDangIt thoroughly kick your ass]]), or b) result in your missing out on certain spells that are nigh-essential for completing the game (especially Transfer Creature or Locate Hidden Level).
* In ''VideoGame/WarcraftIII'', when you meet up with Jaina for the first time you are to proceed toward a town. If you backtrack the way Jaina came from there is an artifact for you.

[[folder: Roguelike]]
* Because of its randomised dungeons, moving forward in the ''VideoGame/{{Diablo}}'' series is largely a matter of luck, with the player as likely to find an empty dead end as anything else, but exploring a whole area before going on will naturally yield some treasure and some unique monsters. ''VideoGame/DiabloIII'' seems to have taken this trope to heart, as every nook and cranny is almost guaranteed to have a little something at the end, if only a pittance of gold or a worthless item. And that's not speaking of the optional dungeons dotted about at random, each of which has a huge, glowing chest at the bottom.

[[folder:Third-Person Shooter]]
* This is a good way to find Power Nodes, ammo, and [[ShmuckBait sudden Necromorphs]] in ''VideoGame/DeadSpace2''
* ''VideoGame/KidIcarusUprising'' has an arrow that shows you where the next objective is. Almost always, extra treasure chests, hearts, or hot springs can be found by going everywhere but where the arrow points when you get into an open room.

[[folder:Western RPG]]
* Happens a few times in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins''. In the Ruined Temple, for instance, you can make the right turn and skip going straight. You'll also lose out on one of the best swords in the game, and the only one geared specifically for Arcane Warriors. (It's also usable only by Arcane Warriors, and is thus useless if nobody in your party took that specialization.) The game warns you you're entering a boss area by doing an auto-save...usually a good time to check and see if there are other rooms you should investigate before proceeding.
** Overlaps with GuideDangIt. Taking certain dialogue options with the Gatekeeper will drag you past a possible sidetrack with ''several'' bonuses. You will have to backtrack for it. Woe betide you if you take the dialogue options with the Lady that take you directly to the elven camp...
* Often averted in ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}}'' and ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas''. While you can find a lot of valuable stuff if you take the time to look around the WideOpenSandbox, most of the time locations are just stuffed with mundane items or VendorTrash, certainly nothing that could be considered particularly worthwhile to have detoured for. Played straight in major cities and other quest-heavy areas, where it's often to your benefit to look around and break into every locked room in search of equipment, since they're better-stocked than the average wasteland shack.

[[folder:Survival Horror]]
* ''VideoGame/SilentHillHomecoming'' gives us the appropriately named "Hell Descent" stage. Although it's clear that you're supposed to go down, how many players could resist that one little side passage? All you get is a doll that, when you approach it, it whispers [[NightmareFuel "Behind You..."]]. Then you turn around in time to find a monster from nowhere lunging ''right at you''.