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Tactical Door Use

Nearly all video game protagonists stand in awe, fear and wonder at the nigh-indestructible nature of the common wooden door. But what few of them realize is that their enemies also hold the same feelings of alien terror and incomprehension for them. In fact, most of them are even more afraid of these doors than the heroes are, because while it may be a pain in the neck for a hero to get one of them open, for the enemies such a feat is nearly impossible, even if said door has already been unlocked. Many of them lie awake at night in fear that they may have to face a hero who has actually figured that out, because such a hero will inevitably make use of Tactical Door Use.

When the player is able to close and open doors at will, he or she has complete control over where his or her enemies can and cannot go. When chased by a massive mob of foes, all you have to do to get out of it is hide out in a closet until they give up. Additionally, clever door configurations can make you turn an attack on all sides into a bottleneck assault you can easily deal with.

Needless to say, the games in which this trope appears tend to be Nintendo Hard or at least approaching it, as it takes a truly outmatched and desperate individual to see doors for the brilliant tactical instruments that they are.

A form of Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence from the AI's perspective, and usually a Hit-And-Run Tactic

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Action Adventures 
  • Metroid:
    • You can often escape enemies chasing you by exiting through the door. They will not follow between rooms but sometimes might hit you a few times inside the door before you get the next one. Backing in-and-out of them is not so useful because walking through the doorway resets each room. The exception, however, is Space Pirates in Zero Mission, who can still follow you from room to room, keeping up the chase.
    • The SA-X in Metroid Fusion will chase the player between rooms as well. SA-X encounters are scripted events, however.
    • In the Metroid Prime series, Tallon IV metroids will explode if you trick them into colliding with a door.

    Action Games 
  • In the arcade game Mappy, pictured above, your only defense against the cats chasing you is to open and close doors. For some reason, the cats knock themselves out if they open the door on the side of the knob, so the player can use doors strategically. Rainbow doors, which only the player and not the cats can open, unleashes a one-time shockwave that picks up any cat in its path and clears them off the screen temporarily.
  • The Intellivision game Lock N' Chase was all over this one. The maze setup was a Pac-Man knock-off, but the player character locked the police (enemy) characters into corners or otherwise trapped them to buy some safety and score points.
  • Hotline Miami makes judicious use of this trope, as opening a door into an enemy will stun the enemy. Given that the nature of the game is a Nintendo Hard instant-death fast-paced mixed melee/ranged deathmatch where you are frequently outgunned and always outnumbered, and killing enemies unstealthily will frequently cause more mooks than you can reasonably handle to rush the room, you *will* use this to your advantage.
    • There is also a mask in the game that will make a door hitting an enemy instantly lethal.
  • Downplayed in Pac-Man, where ghosts are slowed down when they try to cross the Wrap Around tunnels.

    First-Person Shooters 
  • This is a key tactic to surviving the levels in the Left 4 Dead series. If you happen to wait too long in the safe house before venturing out into the new area, eventually the AI director will send a horde after you, but they can't get past the door, and lets you kill them off through the barred window. A good way to rack up kill points for achievements or what-have-you. Elsewhere in the levels, you can close doors to temporarily prevent the zombies from attacking you, but this forces them to either seek out another entrance or eventually break the door down.
  • Quite often in Halo one can back in and back out of the doorway, letting it take the enemies' shots.
  • The Half-Life mod Cry of Fear uses the Resident Evil model... except on occasion, an enemy will simply break down the door, causing a pretty big Jump Scare and incidentally connecting two sections of the level together.
  • While monsters can open many doors in Doom, there are several ones they cannot (particularly ones requiring keycards or opened by switches, although these are not the only examples). Similarly, players can quickly open a door, shoot into the next room and close the door again as a means of slowly picking off opposition from behind cover (or inducing monster infighting as the monsters end up accidentally hitting their buddies with fireballs).
  • SWAT 4 has literal tactical door use: you have items called tactical wedges that can hold a door shut. Very useful for preventing suspects from roaming around and sneaking up on you.
  • The Pelagic II in Perfect Dark is made simple by standing in front of doors and sniping guards through the portholes. Although enemies can normally open doors, the AI doesn't understand how to shoot through small openings, and the guards become confused when they take damage from a room not immediately accessible to them.
  • In Duke Nukem 3D, it is possible to take out the self-destructing Sentry Drones by closing a door in their "face" as they activate and approach you—it triggers their proximity sensors and makes them go boom.
  • In Killing Floor a lot of the maps have an abundance of doors to weld shut. This is usually used to channel a horde of enemies down a select number of paths so they won't all swarm the player, though sealing yourself in so that the enemies spend time battering the doors down is also an option. You can also lay a pipe bomb on the inside so that a large group gathers at the doorway before breaking through.
  • None of the zombies in Dead Island know how to open doors. If there is a workbench and vending machine on one side, and a horde on the other, it can be easy to kill off the entire horde via a battle of attrition.

    Platform Games 

    Real Time Strategy 
  • It's not actually used in the game, but many custom maps for Warcraft III give you the ability to open and close gates at your convenience.
  • Zigzagged in StarCraft II. Many natural obstacles are present that can be used this way, but the AI will now attack them as well to open up units for attack. The Terran's Supply Depot building can be sunk into the ground and walked on, allowing for a variant of this trope (if the enemy is stupid enough to let his troops get separated).

    Roguelikes 
  • In Dungeons of Dredmor, doors separate every room from every other room. And with the exception of the locked ones you chose to kick down rather than unlock, all of them can be closed again with ease. Since this is a Roguelike game we're talking about, erecting an indestructible barrier between you and your enemies will very often save your life, especially if you encounter a dreaded Monster Zoo.
  • Many creatures in Ancient Domains of Mystery are incapable of opening doors. If the randomly generated dungeon is kind to you, you might find a room that you can run to, close the door, and heal up. Opening up the door again gives you the benefit of fighting the monsters one on one as they come at you. With all the numerous items in the game, sometimes you can come across wands of door summoning, which creates a door for you. Doors can be destroyed, but most monsters don't have the capabilities to do so. Sentient creatures would sooner open the door than destroy it. However, whether enemies can eat through the walls surrounding the door is another matter altogether.
  • In Angband, many low-level enemies, including notorious Explosive Breeders, can be trapped behind doors. Most later enemies can just bash down doors, though one can jam them with iron spikes to make that harder.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Geneforge starts using this trope in the second game. The enemies you face are incapable of interacting with doors in any way, and what with doors being, well, doors, they're extremely plentiful, and on the higher difficulties they can be exceedingly useful.
  • Subverted in The Elder Scrolls. Though the doors are indestructible, humanoid enemies are typically smart enough to turn the knob. Double Subverted in Morrowind, where casting a Lock spell fixes that problem. PC players in Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim can also use console cheats to do the same thing.
  • While the enemies in the isometric Fallout games can open doors, they cannot unlock them. Which means if you are going to be initiating a fight where the enemies are divided into different rooms, you can use your lockpicks to isolate them into neat little cells where you can brutally dispatch them at your leisure. You can also use this with undamaged force fields, and in the first game, at least, to protect your woefully fragile and suicidal companions from powerful enemies.
  • In the Retaliation add-on for Mass Effect 3 multiplayer, this option was added to the Firebase Reactor map. The players can now trap enemies inside the eponymous reactor by sealing its doors just as it is about to overheat, killing everyone still inside.
  • Completely averted in Dark Souls. Either the enemies can just walk straight through after you, or it's a boss door and something worse is on the other side. If you're really unlucky, both.
  • In Legend of Grimrock, a viable tactic to defeat powerful monsters is to open the door they are behind, attack once, and then immediately close the door again before they can strike. Monsters can't open doors, so it's just rinse and repeat.
  • Very effective version in Diablo I: closing doors will stop certain demons in their tracks. Combine this with a grate nearby that allows you to shoot through to the other side of the door, and soon you've got a pile of dead demons lying on the other side of said door.

    Simulation Games 

    Survival Horror 
  • Resident Evil's early installments used this, with loading screens between rooms.
  • This is a key survival tactic in Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Though the enemies can and will batter the doors down, blocking doors can give you crucial time to escape or find a good hiding place.
  • Call Of Cthulhu: Dark Corners Of The Earth has you do this in an early sequence of the game, desperately locking doors behind you and trying to find a way out.
  • Averted in Silent Hill 4. Walter isn't balked by silly things such as doors—in fact, he even chases you across screen transitions!

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • X-Com played with it. The doors cannot be locked, and both your men and aliens can get through them. You also need a special trick (walking through the door) to slam it shut. However, doors can be used to hide or set up ambushes.
  • Jagged Alliance series also in the same boat. Doors can closed after you open it, and can hide you from enemies. However, keep in mind all enemies (as well as guards/militias and civilians) can open just about any door even if it is locked, and they seem to close the door immediately after opening it unless they are interrupted right after opening.

    Unsorted 
  • Empire Of The Overmind. Monsters can open doors but not unlock them. Certain locations have doors which can be closed and locked. If you can lure a monster into the location, you can go outside and close and lock the door, trapping the monster inside the area. One such location has a respawn point where monster re-appear after being killed. If you close and lock the door, you can kill the monsters and they'll respawn inside the room.
  • Door Door, one of Enix's first games, was entirely about trapping enemies behind doors. Enemies would march right inside if a door was opened in the right direction, and any door they were trapped behind would never reopen.
  • In Meritous, enemies cannot shoot at you if you are in another room. By taking advantage of the doors that separate rooms, you can either offensively use the barrier of a door to hit-and-run, or you can defensively retreat and evade from enemy attacks when they get too dense to dodge properly. It becomes a must in the lategame when enemies become more deadly.
  • Similar to the Dwarf Fortress example above, dynamic Tower Defense games can be played this way. Players have to leave an opening so the oncoming creeps have a path from the start to the exit, but players can build the towers in a maze pattern with two exits, and by building and demolishing towers, can alternate which exit is open; this forces the creeps who were heading towards one exit, having to go back through the maze to reach the other exit, while being whittled down by the towers' cannons.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • Minecraft zigzags this one. Wooden doors cannot be locked, while iron ones have one built in because they need power to open or close. Villagers can go through wooden doors at their leisure, sometimes making them Too Dumb to Live. Zombies alone of the hostile mobs can use doors... as in, they'll break down wooden doors given enough time (and only on the highest difficulty at that).

    Non-Video Game Examples 
  • Used against the aliens\demons in Signs.
  • A real life example: if there's a fire inside a home or building, it is usually a good idea to close the doors behind you as you get out to safety. Closed doors can significantly slow down the spread of the fire since the fire has to eat through the door first before it can spread to other rooms. If a door is open, then there's nothing stopping the fire from spreading.
    • Moreover, closing the door creates one less opening to vent new oxygen in to fuel the fire.
  • In Sonic the Comic When the Metallix Mark 3 pursues Sonic, Tails pressed the switch to close the door and Metallix was crushed beneath it.
  • Subverted in Jurassic Park.
    We should be okay... Unless they figure out how to open doors. *click* Oh Crap.

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