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Abandoned Laboratory

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The Abandoned Laboratory is a common setting in Speculative Fiction. But when you place it into a video game, it becomes quite the tour of science gone horribly wrong.

Usually a task set out after finding rumors about a Mad Scientist. You decide to head to the Abandoned Laboratory, where you are greeted by hostile security units who do not want you to enter the deeper parts of the lab. They are often however no match for whatever lies below, whether it be discarded Super Soldier projects, sentient robots who plan to exterminate all life, or horrible masses of biological life which smell dinner. Often they are an evolutionary sort, starting out with rejected lifeforms and ending up as deadly beings which have exceeded the creator's ambitions and can more than easily kill the hero in a heartbeat. Card Keys are a common staple of these wretched labs. Often, logs will lie about, speaking of first pride and then terror of their author's scientific pursuits.


Along the way, as you travel across the lab, you will go from a relatively sanitary environment to one where it feels disgusting just stepping on the ground. Vats full of the specimens lie dormant or are deceased due to being failures (however, if they are less than human, expect them to break free to start munching on something), bits of Techno Wreckage lie about as you realize you are near the scientist or his ultimate creation, which will grant the following...

  1. A Girl in a Box or a Sealed Good in a Can, both of which obviously join you.
  2. The place becomes a Collapsing Lair, forcing you to get the hell out of Dodge.
  3. You recover a biological MacGuffin.
  4. A massive organic blob awakens, planning to turn you to genetic material.
  5. Motive Rant (You better get comfortable).

See also Mad Scientist, For Science!. Also overlaps with Abandoned Hospital in some cases, with the hospital residents being used as test subjects.


Video Game Examples:

    open/close all folders 

  • Shandor Island in Ghostbusters: The Video Game, which overlaps with a Haunted Castle. It's abandoned, all right; it's loaded with black slime and filled with all manner of ghosts and ghoulies; there's untold amounts of weird occult science going on; and an imprisoned Juvenile Giant Sloar serves as the icing on this very nasty cake.
  • This is common in the Metroid games, with the earliest example being Tourian in the first game. Tourian would appear again in Super Metroid and Metroid: Zero Mission, the latter of which is a remake of the first game; both of these later games make clear that the reason Tourian is abandoned is that the Metroids escaped and killed off the Space Pirates.
  • Tomb Raider: Legend has Lara visit an abandoned Soviet laboratory in Kazakhstan. Well, the frozen bodies of the scientists who worked there are still lying around, so it counts as a tomb, yes?

    Action Game 
  • NieR has the Underground Research Lab underneath Emil's Mansion, which is where the game temporarily undergoes a Genre Shift to an isometric hack-and-slash.
  • Pinky and the Brain: The Master Plan appears to consist entirely of this, level-wise.
  • Shinobi III featured the third stage: "Body Weapon", where Joe battles robots, guards, and unleashed bioweapons. It culminates in a fight against a giant in a room full of Meat Moss.

    Adventure Game/Visual Novel 

    Beat 'em Up 
  • The Splatterhouse series often takes place in such a level. Mainly because the mansion is/was used by Dr. West as a lab, and now is filled with monsters and demons.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • The Ur-First-Person Shooter The Colony is set in an abandoned scientific outpost.
  • F.E.A.R. loves this trope. There's the Armacham Labs and Origin Facility in the first game, the Perseus Compound in Perseus Mandate, and several others in Project Origin.
  • Half-Life's Black Mesa Research Facility, or at least some of the older and disused parts; most areas are still in the process of becoming abandoned.
  • All the BioShock games have them, given the sheer setting (an Underwater City in the 50s and a Floating city in the late 19th century) implies there will be anachronistic science - and along with making the locations possible, the scientists also created the mutagenics that give both the player character and the enemies powers and some scary biomechanical mooks such as the Big Daddy and the Handyman.
  • The UAC levels in Doom 64 have this aesthetic compared to the techbase levels in the earlier Doom games. The color palettes are darker, the lighting is dim if not absent, and computers are either barely functioning or completely dark.
  • Halo:
    • The Forerunners' Flood research labs are the most common type found in the series.
    • In the second level of Halo 5: Guardians, Blue Team investigates a lost ONI research station. As it turns out, the Covenant squatters aren't the ones who killed the original occupants; instead, audio logs reveal that they accidentally killed themselves when a bioweapon test went horribly wrong.
  • Killing Floor with the Biotic Labs, Biohazard, and the Bedlam map bunker. And there's more, like an abandoned underground complex in Wyre and a secret laboratory under a subway station in Transit.
  • The X-labs in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.. They are far and wide the scariest places in the series.

    Platform Game 

  • The Pinball of the Dead has the "Movement" table, which is set in a desolate laboratory filled with rusty implements.

    Puzzle Game 
  • The Aperture Science labs in Portal.
    • In the original Portal, this is somewhat misleading, as GLaDOS is still maintaining the test area (where the player spends the majority of his/her time in) where everything is as white and shiny as an iPod. It's a little weird that you never see people behind those frosted observation windows, but other than that the place seems to be in good shape. Then the player finally reaches the last chamber where GLaDOS tries to kill you, and during your escape through the unmaintained area, you finally get a sense of how long this place has been abandoned.
    • Even more so in Portal 2 where GLaDOS is dead, it's "nine-nine-nine-nine-nine-nine-nine" days later, and the science facility is run-down and overgrown by plants in some places. And then you find the original labs beneath the modern facility, which really takes the cake. By the look of things, those were used in the 1950s and abandoned much later.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • Bug Fables has the Upper Snakemouth area, where the roaches conducted horrible experiments involving cordyceps fungi before one of their creations broke out and killed them.
  • The Ocean Lab in Deus Ex, where an act of sabotage has released plenty of genetic experiments and thrown the electronic security systems out of whack. The staff is dead to a man.
  • Fallout has plenty of Vaults that turned out like this when whatever mad science experiment they were running wiped out the inhabitants. Of course, most Vaults qualify in a way since nearly all of them were twisted social experiments disguised as bomb shelters.
    • Fallout 3 has Project Purity when you first come upon it as a heroic example, since it's where the player character's parents were trying to set up a water purification system.
    • In Fallout 4, a sealed section of Vault 81 was used for virus experiments on Mole Rats, overseen by the Miss Nanny robot Curie, and they continued breeding in there after it was abandoned. In the quest "Hole in the Wall", a kid named Austin discovers the lab and gets infected, so you have to venture into the lair yourself to obtain the cure from Curie, who then becomes a companion.
  • The Geneforge series has quite a number of these, as experiments Gone Horribly Wrong or Gone Horribly Right are major drivers of the plot.
  • Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga has Woohoo Hooniversity, a half school, half laboratory area which has been attacked by Cackletta and Fawful. Enemies include students mutated into mad doctors and viruses.
  • During Mass Effect 2's Jack's loyalty mission, you go to one to blow it up, so she can forget her past.
  • Mother:
    • In the fangame midquel Mother: Cognitive Dissonance, there is one that is used to craft Starmen (who are actually Martians).
    • Pictured above is the chimera lab from Mother 3, it's only mildly creepy at first... then the ultimate chimera gets loose.
  • Most of Parasite Eve 2 takes place there.
  • The BioSytems lab in Phantasy Star II. Birth Valley in Phantasy Star IV is hinted to be the same location. In both games, it's the birthplace of the cute Cat Girl in your party.
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon Red and Blue and their remakes have the Pokémon Mansion, where the experiments to clone Mew to create Mewtwo took place (before it had Gone Horribly Right), and which is now filled with assorted Fire and Poison-types and the scientists' logs of their experiments.
    • Pokémon Colosseum has the Shadow Pokémon Lab, which has only recently been cleared out when you arrive.
    • The Shadow Pokémon Lab returns in Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness, though it's considerably less abandoned this time around, having been reclaimed by its former owners during the five years since Colosseum.
    • Pokémon Black and White has the nearly-abandoned lab where Genesect was created. It's not a dungeon per se, but you will be able to battle the lone scientist still there for two of Genesect's Drives (the other two are in the other version) if you bring it with you to the lab.
  • Ragnarok Online features multiple.
    • The first one is Biolab dungeon, the most famous of all abandoned lab dungeon in the game, due to its status as endgame dungeon. Many clones of spirits belonging to past human experiments roam the area, and the ones on deeper floors are so powerful, that the final floor cannot be accessed through a simple warp point like the previous floors, instead it has a separate entry point via an NPC outside the dungeon, to prevent unprepared players from accidentally walking into it.
    • The second one is the lab OPTATIO in the wreckage of Verus, which is a highly advanced civilization from hundreds of years ago, doomed by their own technology malfunctioning and causing a huge explosion. Verus was so advanced that the explosion was caused by their computers overheating and malfunctioning in their attempt to connect into another dimension, 500 years before the medieval-like era that the game is set in. And yet, despite the explosion, their robots not only survived, but also still actively the area to this day, although most of them malfunctioned and attacked everyone.
    • The third one is Werner's Laboratory. Which is actually not entirely abandoned, at least until you finished the quest and Werner fled from the place. After that, the only ones in the lab are lots of cloned monsters implied to be past experiments, and few agents trying to secure the place, with you in the role of helping them.
  • The Secret World has a couple of these as dungeons. Both are examples of Soviet Superscience with a magical flavor, and both involve projects that were officially abandoned, but with research in fact continuing until closer to the present day.
  • The True Lab from Undertale, is not technically abandoned (Alphys still goes there from time to time) but is still worn down, dark and dirty and has been left unused for a long time, and is full of creepy-looking machines, logs about Alphys' experiments with Determination, and the Amalgamates, the terrifying (but largely harmless) results of those experiments.
  • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind has Kagrenac's Workshop and Kagrenac's Library, located within two different Dwemer ruins around the Red Mountain volcano. Kagrenac was the Dwemer master crafter who devised a means to tap into the Heart of Lorkhan, the still-beating heart of the "dead" creator god. Whatever he did, it caused the entire Dwemer race to blink out of existence in a single instance all across Tamriel. Given that the game takes place some 4000 years after these events, these ruins aren't full of any nasties that Kagrenac created...but are populated by Big Bad Dagoth Ur's twisted ash creatures. You'll need to visit each if you are completing the main quest via the "backpath" method in order to acquire Kagrenac's notes.
  • In Horizon Zero Dawn, Aloy explores a few of those in her quest to find out who she is and what happened to the Old Ones' civilization. The titular Zero Dawn facility is the largest and most impressive example, but also the most dangerous because a small army of Eclipse fanatics followed her in after she gained access. Most of the other Old World labs really are abandoned and devoid of life (except for some rats), and have been for almost a thousand years.

    Simulation Game 
  • The first Trauma Center game and its remake have the protagonists visit an abandoned Delphi research lab. They comment on how creepy it is, but it was long since picked clean and they're in and out within the space of a cutscene.

    Survival Horror 
  • 6 AM at The Chum Bucket: The Chum Bucket serves as this, though it is more of a robotics lab than the chemistry ones this trope normally entails.
  • The Blackpine Outbreak: There appears to be one located underneath the farm. It's accessible by an elevator in the barn, and you need to go there to get Alsulin.
  • The Resident Evil series is utterly in love with this: almost every game has at least one. The Underground Laboratory, first explored in Resident Evil 2, appears in three games and possibly Resident Evil 0 as wellnote .

    Rail Shooter 
  • House of the Dead uses this in most of the games in the series, notably the 2nd and 3rd games.

    Wide-Open Sandbox 

Other Examples:

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: In "The Ghost Monument", the Doctor and company find one in the underground tunnels. It was where the weapons that devastated the planet were created.
  • The Silent Sea: The Balhae Station moon base was abandoned five years ago after a radiation leak killed almost everyone there. The astronauts who return there five years later quickly learn that the radiation leak story was a cover-up.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • One of these plays a significant role in Us. For a given value of "abandoned."
  • The PCL in Pokémon Detective Pikachu, a genetics lab experimenting on Pokémon, left abandoned after Mewtwo wrecked the place when he escaped.
  • The Lost World: Jurassic Park reveals that InGen has one on Isla Sorna, aka "Site B". It gets revisited in more detail in Jurassic Park III.
    Amanda Kirby: This is how you make dinosaurs?
    Alan Grant: No. This is how you play God.
  • Resident Evil (2002) takes place in the Hive, one of these built in secret underneath Raccoon City.


  • In the video-game-esque world of Zanshin, the monsters known as Regrets that the main characters are fighting originate from the laboratory where the MES worldwide mind-linking technology was first created. The main characters are transferred to the front line, meaning the area around this laboratory, and they must try to reach it and destroy the MES.


Video Example(s):



Exploring an abandoned Cerberus research facility on Horizon, Shepard finds the place was studying a means of controlling the Reapers, even converting innocent refugees into Husks. Unfortunately, it turns out the place was abandoned with very good reason...

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