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Breather Level

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"With platform games, only playing the difficult parts can really take it out of you. It feels good to play parts that you can breeze through as well."

Sometimes in a video game you'll notice that the learning curve is more of a learning zigzag: you may find yourself in a level harder than you were expecting, followed by a level that is significantly easier. A logical application of the Sorting Algorithm of Evil would say that the two levels should appear the other way around.

A cynical explanation would be that the levels are out of order due to poor testing or time constraints in production. A more charitable one is that the easier level is a Breather Level, allowing the player to recover from the previous, more challenging encounter and (should they be a feature of the game) stock up on extra lives for the further challenges ahead. The aim may be to extend the tension over a larger part of the game, by opting to stretch and relax the tension rather than let it build up continually. Games from the arcade era explicitly put in bonus levels for this purpose.

This dynamic is easier on the player, too. That's because human physique and nerves work best with either a steady moderate load or (the next best thing) a series of stresses and relaxations. I.e. a Breather Level allows not only the character but also the player to recover physically and emotionally (without having to take the matter into their own hands and e.g. take a break from the game).

Sometimes, a Breather Level exists to teach the player new skills that later, non-Breather Levels will test the player on.

Compare the TV equivalent, the Breather Episode. The Breather Boss might be found in this kind of level... but on the other hand That One Boss might be there to balance out the drop in the level's overall difficulty. When there are quite a few Breather Levels between harder ones, you'll get Schizophrenic Difficulty. Contrast That One Level.


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  • Asura's Wrath has "Episode 10: Words of Wisdom," in which Augus helps Asura recuperate after his fight with Kalrow with the help of some scantily-dressed maidens.
  • Level 5 of Bugs Bunny: Rabbit Rampage (called "Level 2001" in the game) takes place on an alien world. There are only a few different enemy types, the platforming is pretty easy, the only instant-death hazards are the bottomless pits (and getting shrunk and squished by the Martians), there are several 1-Ups and plenty of checkpoints available in the level, and it's one of only two levels in the game that doesn't have even the semblance of a boss battle. Really, about the only remotely threatening things this level has to offer are the occasional moderately small platforms and the rather confusing layout of the floating platforms. This one's status as a Breather Level is especially noticeable because the game's level 4 is long and full of annoying enemy types, some of which can easily knock you right off a platform into a pit, and level 6 is That One Level, with no checkpoints, a somewhat annoying platforming segment, and a rather tricky boss.
  • In the Atari 2600 version of Frogger, the difficulty slightly zigzags (1, 2, 3, 4 increase in difficulty, 5 is a bit easier than 4 but harder than 3, and 6 is pretty tough), but following a tough Level 6 you get an easy Level 7 which is either the third or fourth easiest level in the game. By this time you're in rhythm enough that it's a breeze (the fast moving snake being the only obstacle still easy to avoid). Then comes Level 8 which makes Level 6 look like a warm-up level. Level 9 is slightly easier than Level 8, but 10 and up continue to increase in difficulty as the game wears on.
  • In The Matrix: Path of Neo has level 2, 'Office Escape' which is far easier than level 1, 'All Just a Dream' which is a difficulty setting level and level 3 'Kungfu Training' where the action really picks up.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess, the PlayStation tie-in to the TV series, has a few easy levels following difficult ones, notably the first half of Tir'Na, an easy trek through a snowy village with basic enemies after Xena escapes from the literal hell that is Hades' domain and the beginning of the Amazonian village which follows the difficult Labyrinth stage and Minotaur boss.

    Action Adventure 
  • Aquaria gives us The Veil, with beautiful, open areas and very few enemies compared to earlier levels.
  • In Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night the Bridge of Evil would be tricky, giving you only five minutes to navigate an area full of new enemy types and defeat a boss, if you didn't have Zangetsu rampaging through the train with you. He casually does 250-350 damage per attack when you're managing about 30, making it difficult to keep enemies alive long enough to kill them before he does, and he's capable of cancelling the boss's more devastating attacks, turning the battle into "mash the button for heavy damage then hide behind Zangetsu for a bit". It's a much deserved and awesome reprieve after tackling the Livre Ex Machina and before going on to the Underground Sorcery Lab.
  • Castlevania:
    • In Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, after completing all the mansions and whipping your way through countless enemies, there's Dracula's Castle. It's completely empty. If anything, it's atmospheric.
    • The Catacombs and Entrance stages in Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, mainly for being shorter and lighter on evil enemy placement. They're not completely simple, but they aren't as insane as the stages they are sandwiched between.
    • Block 5 of Super Castlevania IV is only two parts, short, and there's not even a boss. It's quite welcome after Block 4 which involves facing a series of rotating-blocks that send Simon to his death if he doesn't quickly jump across them and confronting the Sub-Boss Puwexil. Followed by a rotating room with spikes and Medusa heads. The third part of the stage involves outmaneuvering a falling floor. The last part consists of avoiding blocks that try to crush him against more spikes, and finally facing the stage boss Koranot.
    • In Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, certain rooms in the "Nest of Evil" Bonus Dungeon (usually placed before of after some of the most difficult fights, like a single Iron Golem before That One Boss, Abaddon) are obviously intended as breather for the player.
    • On the other hand, such things do not exist in the "Small Cavern" Bonus Dungeon (or Brutal Bonus Level) of Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia.
    • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has the inverted castle, which is a copy paste of the main one. The thing is, you are completely left to your own devices, and can do it in any order, which often means you find yourself struggling in some hard areas before getting to some of the easier areas later on. This is further exacerbated by how fast you level up in the inverted castle, so it often depends what level you are when you reach an area as to whether it's a Breather Level or not.
  • About halfway through Ecco: Tides of Time, there's a small level with no enemies, a bunch of friendly whales that help you through and soothing background music. It's a real breath of fresh air among the game's otherwise relentless difficulty and haunting atmosphere.
  • Pandora's Temple in the first God of War alternates between "maddeningly difficult" and "relaxingly easy"; the former describes most of the area's obstacle runs, the latter, most of the puzzles.
  • The fall chapter of The Last of Us is by far the easiest and most low-key of the game. It's mostly set in an abandoned university with plenty of supplies and no human enemies until the very end. It'll prepare you for when things go to hell in the winter chapter.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In the original The Legend of Zelda, Level 7 in the first quest, and (even more so) Level 8 in the second quest. Despite being so late in the game, these dungeons are mostly filled with Goriyas and Stalfos, an enemy who first appears in Level 1, as well as a rematch against the bosses from Levels 1 & 2. The only real challenges these dungeons present are finding the entrances, and then finding your way through them. There's also no particular reason that the levels have to be played in order, so many smart gamers will get them out of the way earlier. The fact that Level 8 contains the Magic Key (which greatly increases one's ability to progress swiftly through dungeons) adds to the incentive to do this. In fact, the only levels one has to have visited to get the Magic Key in this quest are Levels 2 and 6 (although doing the levels this way will make it impossible to complete level 6 at this point.
    • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link has the Sea Palace, which is filled with surprisingly few high-level enemy recolours, all of whom have more HP and some of whom have higher AI, even though you've been facing armies of the shield-fantastical blue Iron Knuckles in the previous dungeons. The only really nasty enemy is the fire-hurling wizard Mago (who prove to be Demonic Spiders if you do try to fight them), but you can simply vault past them with a down thrust and keep moving.
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past:
      • The Tower of Hera does have six floors, but floors 2, 4, and 5 all have one room apiece (and the top floor is the boss), the other 2 floors have only a few rooms, and the enemies are fairly easy to defeat. The only difficult part is Moldorm (the boss).
      • Blind's Dungeon (Thieves' Town), even if activating the boss is somewhat of a (simple) puzzle. Before, you have Skull Woods with a complicated layout, Wallmasters, Pikits, and Mothula. After, The Ice Palace with one of the most difficult puzzles of the game, which itself is wrapped in even more enigmas.
      • Turtle Rock is a fairly straightforward romp with few difficult enemies that is more an exercise in puzzle-solving than ardent combat (and is also one of the few dungeons in the game with a mid-level break and an opportunity to complete a Heart Container midway), topped off with a boss that's Colour-Coded for Your Convenience with regards to its initial weaknesses. It's not even designed as a regular dungeon, it's more like a bigger-than-usual cavern with only some new assets. The preceding dungeon? The aptly-named Misery Mire. The following dungeon? The last one.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time:
      • The game has the straightforward Fire Temple after the confusing Forest Temple, and straight before the even more frustrating Water Temple.
      • Once you've developed a sudden need to sleep with every light in the house on after the hell that is the Shadow Temple, there's the blessedly simple and uplifting Spirit Temple. Easy monsters (except for the Iron Knuckles, but with the Biggoron Sword only the first one as Young Link will pose any real threat), conveniently placed fairy fountain, pretty music, no creepy dead things everywhere (though Master Quest adds Gibdos, but with the weapons you'll have by then they're easy to defeat), couple tricks with a mirror to take out the witches, and bam, you're done. It's even got a nifty little shortcut that you get pretty early in the temple.
      • In Master Quest, which makes most of the dungeons three times more difficult, you may be surprised when you blow right through the Water Temple. It was made to be much easier than the original as an apology to gamers for having to endure the original one.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has the Temple of Time. The level right before it is the more difficult Snowpeak Ruins, a labyrinthine mess of an ice level with lots of annoying enemies that don't drop hearts at all and sliding block puzzles. The level after it is the City in the Sky, an even worse Marathon Level full of Bottomless Pits and bunches of Clawshot maneuvering, plus the very long Fetch Quest required to enter. The Temple of Time, however, is a very linear levelnote  with simple enemies, relatively easy puzzles, and interesting music (plus an easy boss to finish it off).note 
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has the Ancient Cistern, which is surprising for a water-themed dungeon. Water isn't even the most prominent element, as it's also shadow-themed. The puzzles found within are very simple, no enemy is too difficult, and the design of the heaven-like top has rather soothing music playing. In comparison, the dungeons before and after it are the Lanayru Mining Facility and the Sandship, which are more complex because of the Timeshift Stone puzzles.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
      • There are several shrines that consist of only a short corridor with a chest. The difficulty with these shrines is generally finding them.
      • Vah Medoh has a much more straightforward structure compared to the other Divine Beasts and the puzzles are not as complicated either. Even the boss is more straightforward compared to the others.
      • Hyrule Castle, surprisingly enough. Most of the dungeon can be skipped if you have the Zora Armour and use it to climb the various waterfalls in the area.
      • Quite a few of the Shrines have multiple ways to complete them, meaning they can become this if one method is used over another. The motion control maze in the Myahm Agana Shrine can be skipped by turning the maze over and using the underside to send the ball where it needs to go while the Rinu Honika Shrine (Block the Blaze) and Takama Shiri Shrine (Dual Purpose), from The Champion's Ballad, involving blocking fire and electricity respectively can be trivialised with the Flamebreaker and Rubber Armours if they have been upgraded twice.
  • The Entrance Hall in MediEvil, which is sandwiched between the extremely difficult Ghost Ship and Time Device levels.
  • The final area of Metroid: Zero Mission is the Space Pirate Frigate. You start off without your Power Suit and must avoid enemies, as you cannot kill them. It is the most intense, difficult part of the entire game, until, halfway through, you reacquire your Power Suit with its full upgrades, after which you are practically unstoppable. The second half of the Space Pirate Frigate is a breather level for the first half.
  • Demontower, the Nintendo Hard Game Within a Game of Night in the Woods has the Cemetery Grounds as its ninth and penultimate level; following the insanely difficult Blood Moat and Leafy Graves levels that both throw everything the game has at you alongside the two most difficult bosses in the game. Cemetery Grounds on the other hand is only filled with one major type of enemy (the slow-moving and easily killed ghosts) and no boss - Not even a Zero-Effort Boss like the first level.
  • The Imperial Palace in Ōkami is a straightforward dungeon with few enemies that also houses a very useful brush technique (Veil of Mist), which also makes the boss easy to defeat. It's placed between two long, difficult Disc One Final Dungeons (Moon Cave, home of Orochi and the climax of the East Nippon Story Arc; and Oni Island, the final destination of the West Nippon arc).
  • Prince of Persia has two, Levels 9 and 11. The even-numbered levels around them are far harder.
  • Psychonauts: Waterloo World is a fairly straightforward level centered around simple puzzle-solving. Unlike the other levels that take place inside the brains of the asylum inmates, Waterloo World lacks a boss fight too.
  • Tomb Raider:
    • After several levels of dealing with gorillas and lions, being pestered by that bastard Pierre, worming your way through the tricky Tomb of Tihocan, and facing off with a pair of monstrous centaurs, you travel to Egypt and are met with the City of Khamoon and the Obelesk of Khamoon. These two levels are much easier than the last few levels, having no recurring Boss in Mook Clothing to deal with, less enemies, no tricky platforming, and being mostly puzzle-based. The enemies are a massive step up with you dealing with black panthers and mummies, both of whom will charge at you like a bat out of hell and completely wreck your day, but you're also able to engage every single enemy save for one in each level from a safe height where they can't touch you. The ones that need to be engaged directly both appear right before a save crystal as well letting you Save Scum until you beat it, and the second one can be glitched into not "activating" by entering the room from the wrong end. Even the secrets are very easy to find and reach, all of which are in plain sight and require nothing more than a straight jump to get to. It's a very nice reprieve before heading to the Sanctuary of the Scion and discovering the enemies are flying mutants and Atlantean mutants, the former of which are mummies that can fly and the latter are mummies that shoot stuff at you. Have fun!
    • After the Sanctuary of the Scion you get stripped of your weapons and have to explore Natla's Mines. There are no enemies whatsoever outside of three Mini Bosses, no puzzle-solving save for a block puzzle that you'll solve by accident long before it gets frustrating, no traps save for a few rolling boulders you'll see coming a mile away, all the key items needed to progress are laying in plain sight, and you spend most of the time moving boxes and finding switches to open passages. Though the bosses can be a little tricky, especially the Skater Boy as he's very fast and is armed with a pair of uzis, they don't go down with much more trouble than it took to take out Pierre and the Skater Boy can be cheesed by a patient player who finds the secret in his boss room (look for water). Enjoy it while it lasts because from here you go to Atlantis: hope you like fighting crowds of Atlantean mutants and some really tricky platforming!
  • Tomb Raider II:
    • Like in the last game, the No-Gear Level where Lara is stripped of her weapons and locked on an oil rig is much easier than the previous levels. Unlike the last few levels which had brutally difficult enemies attacking in groups and some very tricky platforming, this one is primarily puzzle-based with Lara needing to find key cards to advance. Nearly all the enemies are the pipe-wielding henchmen and most of the environments are either wide and uncluttered or allow you to engage enemies from out-of-reach vantage points, enemies are extremely generous with medkits and ammo, all of the secrets are very easy to find and "hidden" in plain sight, and your reward for finding all three is your uzis and a buttload of ammo for them.
    • After dealing with the nightmarish snowmobilers of the Tibetan Foothills, Barkhang Monastery is a breeze so long as you realize the monks will only attack Lara if she attacks them first. Shooting one of them even once is all it takes to irrevocably make every monk attack you on sight for the rest of the level, but if you don't they are wholly content to patrol around and ignore you. Even better is they attack Bartoli's men on sight and are more often than not a match for them, either being able to kill them or severely wound them so you can slip up and finish them off, and said mooks still drop ammo and health packs making this one of the best levels to stock up on both.
  • The Warriors has a level taking place in the middle of a citywide blackout. All you need to do is mug people and loot several stores before leaving. The only difficult part is fleeing from the Baseball Furies at the end of the level.

  • The entire "Vivi's Funeral Salon" sequence in Brain Dead 13, in which you encounter over a minute of dialogue before an easily-avoidable death by spider. From then on it results in more dialogue and less of the "Press X to Not Die" scenes, one of which (the "deadly manicure" scene) is pretty difficult to master without noticing Vivi's clumsy finger-pointing clues. Otherwise, it's a bit of a relief in this level.
  • The first monastery in Hype: The Time Quest is significantly easier to complete than its preceding level, the dungeon.
  • The fifth mission of Police Quest: SWAT 2 involves apprehending an airport sniper. If you don't storm in right away TOC reveals more and more information, including a woman loyal to the sniper. Both can be arrested with reasonable use of force at most, the mission serving as more of how to assess a situation and tactical considerations (you lose points for authorizing a demand of money for example) rather than how to resolve heavily armed and armored suspects.
  • The Final Part in The Secret of Monkey Island, titled Guybrush Kicks Butt consists simply of using the Root Beer you acquired in the last part to kill all the ghost pirates in your way, and finally use it to take out Le Chuck. None of the brainbending puzzles that characterized the previous parts, just a chance to unwind and enjoy the ending.

    Beat'Em Up 
  • God Hand:
    • The sixth stage comes after the nigh-impossible fifth stage, which ends with one of the game's toughest bosses, Demon Elvis. While it's not easy, it is a definite breather compared to its bookending stages, and has perhaps the game's easiest boss at its conclusion (Demon Shannon).
    • One of the levels in the third stage starts with fighting the first boss that includes fighting more than two enemies at once, as well as the first boss level that doesn't conclude with beating them - you then have to board a ship, fight a few more enemies in an area rife with enemies hiding in breakable containers, take a key back to an area from a previous part of the stage, and unlock a formerly locked section. Your breather after that is an area called "Puppy Kingdom" - completely devoid of enemies, a small area full of harmless Poison Chihuahuas that sleep, wander around, or bark at the player, as well as numerous breakable containers that allow the player to stock up on health, Tension, and Roulette pips, before the Shannon Boss Fight, which could also be considered a breather, compared to the much more difficult Midget Five and second Fat Elvis bosses that preceed it.

    Eastern RPG 
  • Bloodborne has Byrgenwerth. It's not particularly easier than the Forbidden Woods that come right before it, but it is significantly shorter, consisting of just a few small areas. This comes as a massive change of pace from the long, dark, winding Forbidden Woods.
  • In BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm, Chapter 6 has relatively little combat and a much sillier overall tone compared to the others. It’s a nice breath of fresh air before Cerebus Syndrome and the Difficulty Spike hit hard in Chapter 7.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Dragon Quest II: Subverted with the last dungeon, which comes after the nightmarish Road to Rhone. In a strictly-design sense, the place is stupidly easy to navigate. Everything else about it though? Real hard.
    • Dragon Quest IV has Torneko's chapter, which comes right off the heels of Alena's chapter's Inevitable Tournament (which turns out to be a distraction used by Psaro to kill the Tsar of Zamoksva). Instead of fighting a boss at the end, Torneko has to supply the knights of Endor Castle with powerful weapons and armor, and doing so gives him enough money to build a tunnel between Endor and a neighboring continent.
    • Dragon Quest VII is a rather long game where the heroes Set Right What Once Went Wrong to save towns from being destroyed in the past. Naturally, some of these are shorter than others:
      • Regenstein. The scenario does not have any boss fights or dungeon stalking at all, and is a real downer.
      • Greenthumb Gardens is another - the boss of the scenario is fought very early, and the entirety of the scenario takes place in town surrounding the Love Dodecahedron and the relating drama. In fact, the scenario ends rather abruptly - a player might have to talk to the party to figure out that yes, you've done all you can here and that you don't have to go into a dungeon to continue. It later returns as a Breather Level where, after rescuing a town from a "Groundhog Day" Loop, you find that the bridge that just opened actually connects to Greenthumb Gardens, wherein the players finally see all the loose ends tied up from the present version of Greenthumb Gardens.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy IV, the Sealed Cave is That One Level, a very large dungeon with a confusing layout, full of Demonic Spiders named Trap Doors, and That One Boss Demon Wall. Your next dungeon is the Giant of Babil, which has only a few areas, some of which are only one screen large, has a straightforward layout, and its bosses, while not exactly easy, are a major breather after Demon Wall.
    • Final Fantasy VI has the Magitek Research Facility, which has a very confusing design, lots of powerful enemies, and four bosses to beat, one of which you have to manage with a party of only three characters. And further, the dungeon just before this one was the Dungeon Town Zozo, which had the game's first major Difficulty Spike. Your next dungeon is the Esper Cave, which has only two types of enemies that aren't very strong, and has a fairly linear layout with some simple puzzles that makes it fun to explore.
    • During the assault on Shrinra's HQ in Final Fantasy VII, after having fought and killed numerous soldiers, destroyed dozens of security robots of one variety or another, you reach a level of the skyscraper containing a gym, and can chat to the chief of security on a treadmill before taking a nap to recharge.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics features a battle where you take on five chemists, and practically all they do is heal each other. This also makes it That One Level just due to the annoyance.
    • In Final Fantasy Tactics A2, you have 'The Dig', the very next storyline mission after the one where you faced off against Illua. There are only about six mostly-average monsters to contend with, and none of them pose any significant threat.
    • Final Fantasy XIII:
      • Chapter 6, with its bright and colourful scenery, pretty music and reasonably easy enemies. (Well, with the exception of Wyverns and Scalebeasts, though you're explicitly warned to avoid the latter.) It comes after Chapter 5, which was a bit of a difficulty spike (not helped by being forced to lead with Hope) and ended with a disgustingly hard That One Boss, and before Palumpolum, which is longer than both chapters 5 and 6 combined, has random enemies very capable of killing you if you aren't careful and ends with you fighting a freaking airship.
      • Chapter 8, which follows Vanille and Sazh in Nautilus, Cocoon's biggest amusement park. The atmosphere is just that of people having good fun, watching a wonderful parade and wandering around, overall forgetting their situation for a while. The last third of the chapter does become darker and filled with battles, but the battles are easy enough to get to, until the boss and the battle against the Eidolon Brynhidlr and a Wham Episode ending off the chapter.
      • Chapter 10 is pretty short, and only the fight with Cid Raimes midway through is likely to give you trouble. It comes between the Disc-One Final Boss and Gran Pulse.
      • Chapter 11 counts as this as well, finding the party on Grand Pulse. The landscape is fairly well-lit and green, especially coming off from Chapter 9 and 10 that were lacking in plants and taking place in mechanical vessels (an airship or war-preparational Arc), with a relaxing soundtrack. And while the game does have another difficulty spike at this point, the game makes it easily clear what enemies are the ones you want to avoid at first. It even counts as a breather level in-universe, because the party has managed to flee the claustrophobic Cocoon and they feel free enough to not rush to the next location, though they do have a goal in mind.
  • The repurposed Onett map in The Halloween Hack has nothing except disturbing but harmless enemies that drop great healing items. The boss, on the other hand...
  • Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II have the Hundred Acre Wood, where Sora doesn't have to worry about fighting any Heartless and spends his time playing games and solving puzzles for the wood residents. Even the command normally labeled as "Attack" is changed to "Hit", letting the player know that they won't need to be entering any stressful battles here! The second game also has Atlantica, in which the only activities you do are musical minigames (even the battle against Ursula occurs during one).
  • RPGs in the Mario franchise:
    • In Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, the fourth Star Piece is on Star Hill, a very short dungeon with weak enemies and no platforming or puzzles. This is sandwiched in between a very long and involved side plot in which Mario rescues the Princess from Booster (itself starting after acquiring a star, which is why this one probably ends up being left unguarded), and the Sunken Ship, a lengthy dungeon filled with tough enemies and frustratingly convoluted puzzles. This is the only Star Piece you get without even fighting a boss for it. In fact, the most tense moments are when you get scolded by Mallow for eavesdropping on people's — that is to say, his — wishes (which are scattered around the dungeon in the form of little stars), and if you find the star of Mallow's parents wishing him to return home.
    • In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, most of the cave areas have no enemies. Also, Little Fungitown, a village accessible only by elevator, has no overworld enemies or other hazards, until Mario eats an Invincishroom and contracts Bean Fever.
    • Lampshaded in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door for the Excess Express, the train ride of Chapter 6.
      Professor Frankly: No fearsome monsters or dangerous dungeons, either! It's just a tourist attraction!
    Of course, it is not as easy as Frankly says. There's still a pitstop at a dungeon and the obligatory boss fight, but compared to the last chapter it's less annoying. Just be careful of the Spiked Parabuzzies.
    • In Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, the whole Ultibed Quest is this. Before it? Dreamy Driftwood Shore, the Elite Trio... and a whole bunch of somewhat difficult areas before that. Afterwards? Dreamy Wakeport take 2, Earthwake, Somnom Woods, and the Very Definitely Final Dungeon, complete with lots more tough bosses. The quest itself is just mostly exploring small parts of the overworld in already visited locations, a refight against the first boss and what's basically just a bunch of sidequests.
    • Paper Mario: Color Splash: Sandwiched between Sunglow Ridge, which is a little easy but still has a difficult dodging section and an Exact Words puzzle, and Mondo Woods, full of very powerful enemies, is Château Chanterelle. This level has no enemies, is only one room long, the puzzles are simple, and the Mini Paint Stars are very easy to find.
  • Mother series:
    • Dungeon Man in EarthBound (1994) is the most easygoing area in the second half of the game, especially coming after the cramped Pyramid. Though the enemies aren't exactly the easiest types (several of them posing quite serious threats when first pitted against a considerably weaker party in the Fourside Department Store), at least the encounter rate here is low, and there are free Healing Checkpoints.
    • Mother 3: Following a decidedly irritating dungeon and boss in chapter 5, chapter 6 is just one long Heartwarming Moment for which all you need to do is hold left. Then comes chapter 7, the longest in the game.
  • Once Ever After: The second visit to Bangville and the subsequent Cumgeon, coming after the fairly difficult Dungeon of Dreams with tough enemies and the third extra-challenge Optional Boss, consists of a brief trek through the woods and Cumgeon, both filled with enemies that are incapable of doing damage and ending in a Zero-Effort Boss.
  • Persona 5: The fourth Palace. The pyramid is a very straightforward dungeon to traverse, with no locations that the player could get lost in, and any puzzle found inside of it are very easy to solve. While the dungeon does have two mini-bosses to fight, they are at the very beginning and at the close end to the dungeon, and they are both against Mot. So, if the player managed to figure out its weakness in the first battle, the second is a cake-walk. The boss of the palace does have two phases, but the first phase is a Hopeless Boss Fight that the player simply needs to survive long enough, and the second phase starts the party off with fully-healed HP and SP. Outside of the dungeon itself, the player has a generous deadline of 26 in-game days to complete the Palace, compared to the usual affair of 14-16 in-game days. When it comes time to send the calling card, the card is delivered to the ruler and the Treasure is stolen within the same day, unlike other Palaces requiring the card to be sent and waiting the next day to infiltrate. The ony real difficulty of the dungeon comes in the form of the higher-level shadows to fight like Anubis, who has no weaknesses, and likes to use Bless and Curse skills, including their potential insta-kill attacks.
  • Pokémon:
    • In nearly every main game, the seventh gym leader is a bit of a cake walk compared the main story Big Bad, the eighth gym leader, and then the Elite 4. For example, in Red and Blue, The seventh gym leader is Blaine, who specializes in fire types. That means his pokemon are all weak to water type attacks... and to get to him, you need the move Surf, the best water attack in the game. The only notable exception is Tate and Liza in Emerald, who are probably the single most difficult battle in the game on an unsuspecting player, especially if they played Ruby or Sapphire and thought they'd be an easy battle.
    • Pokémon Diamond and Pearl may also buck the trend; while Candice herself is a Breather Boss (besides Froslass in Platinum), you have to go through her Gym to get to her, and needless to say it's That One Puzzle...
    • Subverted in Pokémon Gold and Silver, where the fifth, sixth and seventh gym leaders can be battled in any order. If you go to the town with the 7th gym and defeat Team Rocket there, the experience gained will make all 3 of the gyms much easier.
  • Sector Fornax in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, a relatively straightforward area sandwiched between Sector Eridanus and Sector Grus. For a brief few floors, the worst you'll have to deal with is dark areas and pitfalls, with nary a teleport maze in sight.

  • Dissidia Final Fantasy: In the final required story mode, Shade Impulse, chapter three is, for a normally-leveled character equipped with the best available (which isn't much, beating Shade Impulse unlocks the courses where you can get trade goods for the passable-to-good stuff), absolutely brutal. Then once the player scrapes through that, the short final chapter four is a breeze, with straightforward board/level designs and very easy-to-dispatch enemies. ...Of course, the Final Boss at the end of chapter four is a textbook SNK Boss, but you can't win them all.
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl:
    • In the second Subspace Bomb Factory stage, you'll eventually find yourself in a small room that consists of nothing but three Heart Containers and a long drop of an exit. This says nothing about the fact that the area is sandwiched between an autoscrolling area filled with hazards and enemies, and a boss fight with a timer. Of course, when you first play through this level, the Heart Containers would be redundant, since the area will be immediately followed by a movie introducing the boss, and you will have to choose a new lineup of characters, and when that happens, your health completely refills anyway.
    • The second portion of The Swamp after beating Giant Diddy Kong is somewhat of a breather. Even the music from Yoshi's Island that is played in that level seems to suggest it.
  • Them's Fightin' Herds:
    • Compared to the harsh Prairie and mountains in the first part I of chapter 1, Reine is a cozy, snowy city with very little enemies and most of the act is walking through the areas talking to NPCS.
    • After the mountain climb at the beginning of part III, Arizona doesn't fight or encounter any enemies through her trek through the High Plains until her fight with Paprika.

    First Person Shooter 
  • The second episode of Blood (1997) is a lot easier than the first one. It has a larger variety of weapons, including the Voodoo Doll, and its final boss, Shial, is just a big spider that can only spawn lesser ones and cannot attack on her own, and is nothing comparing to the first episode's Cheogh the Stone Gargoyle, which does heavy damage and is unbelievably hard to kill with the first six weapons. Sure, there are Stone Gargoyles in episode 2, but the Voodoo Doll chews them up and spits them out. In turn, the episode has a breather level, namely Level 5 (The Haunting), which is long but quite easy; unlike the level before, it doesn't feature any kind of Cultist or (in the case of the secret level) Stone Gargoyles.
  • Brothers in Arms has "Tom and Jerry" from Road to Hill 30, which takes place between two of the most notoriously difficult late game missions. Compared to the former, this mission gives you a Sniper Rifle capable of performing a One-Hit Kill on enemies, bottomless ammo reserves in the form of resupply crates, and providing the player with a bazooka to use against those pesky enemy tanks rather than the single shot Panzerfaust. What's more, the majority of the enemy infantry encountered in this level are armed with only bolt-action rifles rather than any automatic weapons.
  • Stylish first-person shooter The Darkness has a level around the middle of the game where you visit your girlfriend's apartment and sit around watching old black-and-white movies on the couch with her until she falls asleep or you leave.
  • Dark Forces features the "Fuel Station" level in between the levels "Imperial City" and "The Executor." Imperial City is a brutal slug fest against multiple Dark Troopers, hordes of Imperial troops and droids, as well as Boba Fett himself, a lightning-fast jetpack-wearing rocket spammer. The Executor is a pitched fight against even more Imperial troops, lots of Dark Troopers, and some unpleasant puzzles. By contrast, "Fuel Station" has lots of ammo, relatively weak enemies (again, save for the one or two Dark Troopers on the station), lots of Exploding Barrels to shoot to wipe out enemy squads, and no particularly cruel instant-death puzzles.
  • Deus Ex:
    • Between the early missions you would go back to base, where there were (usually) no enemies, though you could get yourself killed pretty fast by trying to kill your comrades. There are similar areas later on, but they get more and more infrequent as your character becomes more badass (having started out with almost no special powers, skills, or equipment). Though occuring at the mid-later stages of the game, the Du Claire mansion is almost entirely deserted, bar a few soldiers near the end of the level. Even the music is too peaceful to cause a Nothing Is Scarier effect.
    • Everett's hideout also qualifies, although the shady nature of Everett and the MJ 12 mechanic at the end of the level make it not quite as what it seems.
    • The Hong Kong level is somewhat less devoid of action, but plays this role in another way. After all the sneaking and shooting during your narrow escape from Majestic 12 clutches, you find yourself on a lively Hong Kong street, a step away from freedom. The change in the background music cements the effect.
  • Doom II:
    • MAP19, "The Citadel" is this, since the level's difficulty contrasts its style and music ("Shawn's Got the Shotgun", the same BGM used in MAP07). The enemies are generally limited to light sprinklings of lower-level Mooks, and when hordes of them are thrown at you, it's always in areas where you have an environmental advantage. It does help the player absorb the overall atmosphere, though, and is a preparation for the downright Nintendo Hard MAP20.
    • The player created WAD Hell Revealed has MAP12: Great Halls of Fire, which is ever so slightly easier than the levels either side of it.
  • DUSK-12 have the truck level halfway through, where instead of walking around while battling mutants and terrorists, you get to ride an armored truck whose Car Fu takes down most of your enemies instead. The whole stage have you taking potshots at enemies while enjoying the ride.
  • Half-Life:
    • In the original, Residue Processing is a breather level, coming just after your first encounters with the Ichthyosaur and the assassins in Apprehension. This level consists mainly of platforming (which is admittedly somewhat challenging in the Gold SRC engine), without many enemies other than a few headcrabs. The remake Black Mesa features (in addition to the aforementioned Residue Processing) Xen, which comes after the gauntlet of alien controllers in Lambda core. Here, there is a much greater focus on exploration and puzzle solving, with no human enemies, alien grunts, controllers, or even vortigaunts; and ichthyosaurs being fairly easy to spot and deal with without having to even go into the water.
    • In Half-Life: Opposing Force Opposing Force, Crush Depth comes after Friendly Fire, which features your first encounters with the Black Ops units. In contrast, here you will only really face Pit Drones and the occasional Ichthyosaur.
    • The enemy-less chapter "Black Mesa East" in Half-Life 2 comes right after you've fought your way through lengthy canals and down a river before facing down the hyper-persistent Hunter-Chopper. This comes right before Ravenholm, a zombie-infested chapter with very little in the way of conventional combat supplies that comes right before you start facing regular grenade-tossing Combine soldiers. Valve games do this on purpose and this is discussed in the commentary tracks in the subsequent episodes. After the player has just made it through one of the game's larger action sequences, they will typically come up against a complex jumping or physics puzzle with no combat as a change of pace. This is to prevent the player becoming fatigued. Valve optimise their games endlessly through playtesting before release to find places where the player was getting tired and giving them a different challenge.
  • Halo: Combat Evolved gives us the first half of "343 Guilty Spark". The preceding level, "Assault On The Control Room", was a long affair with lots of shifts between close quarters combat and open vehicle sections that at one point or another tests the player on almost every mechanic in the game. "343 Guilty Spark" by contrast starts off quiet and atmospheric, with the only enemies faced being cowardly and weak Jackals and Grunts in between entire rooms with no one in sight. This all builds up to the discovery of the Flood, and a Genre Shift that returns the game to its previous difficulty.
  • Following seven extremely long and challenging levels where the game plays like a standard first-person shooter set in the Star Wars universe, Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast gives us two consecutive breather levels. In the first one, you do absolutely nothing, just walk from point A to point B, watch a cutscene, then walk from point B to point C. In the second (Force training), you need to use the Force to solve a few puzzles. You need to try really hard to even die at this point, before leading on to the first Nar Shaddaa level, where you need to try really hard to not die to snipers.
  • Left 4 Dead:
    • The AI Director was intended to do this in theory—it would send nastier hordes at you if you were doing well and ease up (while giving extra items) if you were getting thrashed. In practice, it's hard to notice a difference, but there are almost always sufficient lulls between attacks by hordes and special zombies to get your bearings and heal up (except during finales and setpieces).
    • The elevator ride in the 4th map of "No Mercy" is a mini breather level. As you ride up, no infected will come in to attack you, regardless of the hole in the elevator's ceiling. In VS mode however, this luxury is kind of taken away since actual people are controlling the special infected and could choose to jump through the hole and attack.
    • Any area where a crescendo event takes place will be devoid of zombies no matter how long you hang around until you start the event, including the finales. This is to give the players some breathing space and come up with defense plans as they recover.
  • Marathon had you teleporting from the eponymous human colony ship to the evil aliens' ship in later levels, since there was only one kind of alien weapon you could wield, this necessitated occasional trips back to the Marathon in order to load up on ammo for your man-made Hyperspace Arsenal.
  • In Serious Sam - The First Encounter, Sewers is one such example. It's a fairly short level with relatively few enemies.
  • TimeSplitters 2:
    • The Wild West level is a very simple, straightforward shootout level that comes directly after the Unexpected Gameplay Change Stealth-Based Mission in Neo-Tokyo, often considered the most frustrating level in the game, and is followed by the hair-pulling Timed Mission in Atom Smasher, the annoying puzzle-heavy level in Aztec Temple, and finally the Robot Factory, which is considered the hardest level in the game.
    • Much of the Honorary League in Arcade League is this, especially after the Virus series and the Men in Grey mission, at least until the Outnumbered But Never Outpunned series, where it becomes difficult again.
  • Similarly, in TimeSplitters Future Perfect, the mission "You Take the High Road" takes place after Something to Crow About, which involved tough robots, two bosses (and the one at the end is especially nasty), Rolling Robots, and many high stakes obstacles. The former involves the same Mooks from Scotland The Brave plus more, so the threat is much more sedated.
  • Unreal
  • Wolfenstein 3-D: In the prequel episode Spear of Destiny, Floor 17 (the Ramparts) is a breather. The preceding floor has a very complex design with a heavy concentration of Nazi soldiers and has the difficult, unpredictable Übermutant as its boss; but this one has the simplest design in the episode. Despite the large number of enemies (especially on higher difficulty levels), the wide space allows you to dodge their shots more easily. All you have to do is collect the two keys (located respectively in the west and east sides) and then sprint into the southernmost doors to make your way to the exit; you can even surpass the PAR time and collect a large amount of points for doing so. The following level is Floor 18, which is the last in the game and is not only very difficult, but is also divided into two phases (with the second one taking place in Hell, and each phase having its own boss).

    Hack and Slash 
  • Storming the enemy's doom-fortress in Drakengard is one of the harder levels of the game, as it requires a relentless assault on a well-defended stronghold out at sea on dragonback which happens to be reinforced with a fleet of battleships. When you finally break into the fortress, there's no one in it. Ominous as this is, it's the easiest level in the game; all you have to do is run to the end.
  • The Mountain Realm in Gauntlet: Dark Legacy, but there's a reason for it: Dark Legacy is more or less an expanded re-release of Gauntlet Legends, with more characters and extra worlds added on to the beginning and end of the game. The Mountain Realm was the first world in Legends and got bumped up to world 2 to make way for the new Town Realm, but little else about it was unchanged; hence why it has some of the shortest and breeziest levels, and the easiest boss, in the game.
  • No More Heroes:
    • The first game as the Rank 5 stage, pertaining Letz Shake. The level is the world's longest hallway, with about six dual-lightsaber wielding Darth Vader ripoffs scattered far in-between, a health pack or battery recharge at almost every enemy, all the trading cards are in plain sight, and the boss gets killed right before the battle starts. The only actual challenge is that the enemies are a little spammy.
    • In No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, both rank 3 and rank 10. Rank 3 consisting only of a motorcycle drive with no enemies and no obstacles, while rank 10 is hyped up as a battle royal of assassins but instead consists only of a single battle. With Letz Shake, no less.
    • Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes has Killer Marathon, the fifth Death Ball game. Which isn't a fully-functioning game at all, but an unfinished empty void with a few catwalk platforms, a ramen stand, an empty conference table and easily-acquired collectible items. The game's only objective is to play the original Death Drive, a space shooter that doesn't need to be cleared for progression. There isn't even a boss fight!
    • No More Heroes III: In the absence of a Rank 2 fight (doe to FU killing him due to trust issues), Travis has instead a personal fight against Henry that is a Boss-Only Level in every sense, not requiring any mob fight or fee payment. It is followed up by a Retraux stage, but it's not overly difficult either.
  • Shade: Wrath of Angels: The second half of "Shadowland", one of the last campaigns, where you obtain the Claw, a ranged, enchanted, flail-like weapon with the greatest reach and deals the highest damage. Said weapon snaps the game like a twig and allows you to rip up the forces of evil, far better than your default sword or pistol.

  • If it's possible for something to be simultaneously a Breather Level and That One Level, level 6 in Temple of Kroz might qualify. It contains no enemies or anything else that can deplete your gems (the breather part), but it is also composed almost entirely of invisible walls (the annoying part).
  • An older example is Pac-Man and its spinoffs. The amount of "blue time", where monsters can be eaten, decreases as you progress through the game. But it occasionally ticks back up: in both the original Pac-Man, and Ms. Pac-Man, this happens after levels 6, 10, and 14 (and also 18 in Pac-Man). Most of these levels are immediately after a cutscene.

  • World of Warcraft:
    • Mount Hyjal and the first parts of the Black Temple after those two bosses, Lady Vashj and Kael'thas Sunstrider. Similarly, Sunwell had The War Sequence after a gauntlet of three bosses fought in rapid succession. There's also the Chess event in the middle of Karazhan, and the Gunship Battle in Icecrown Citadel (not that the bosses before Gunship were particularly difficult, but Gunship was almost impossible to lose, giving it the name Lootship).
    • The sections in between each boss can be considered this as well, with the enemies fought on the way (usually called "trash") being generally a breeze to get through.

  • In The Adventures of Lomax, the space levels can feel like this after The Wild West levels. The enemies are back to being destroyed after a single hit, as opposed to the cowboy enemies, who take two hits and shoot walking bullet enemies, which explode on contact and are the only enemy immune to your spin attack. Also, no Obstructive Foreground.
  • Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg has 'After The Blizzard', the third mission in Blizzard Castle. It's a fairly simple mission in a small area with few enemies, and consists of building a head for a snowman. It comes right after Blizzard Castle's boss, Moles, who can be a right sod to beat.
  • Crash Bandicoot:
    • Hog Wild is a contender despite having the annoying shield natives because the auto-run of the boar simplifies a lot of the jumps, plus the music is so damg fun you can't help but have a massive smile on your face. It's followed by Native Fortress, which is the first truly hard and long level in the game with many traps, falls and enemies in dense amounts.
    • The second island in the original game seems to alternate Breather Levels with That One Levels:
      • Up The Creek, the first level on second island, follows the aforementioned Native Fortress. It is followed by the showdown with the Ripper Roo who is likely the second hardest boss in the game, and the following level is The Lost City, with sparse Checkpoints. By conparison, Up The Creek is pretty straighforward without any complicated jumps and is pretty short.
      • The Lost City is followed by Temple Ruins, which, unlike The Lost City has easy and predictable enemies and hazards, is relatively short and has reasonable distance between Checkpoints. The only thing preventing you from getting a clear gem right away is an invisible path to some boxes. The next level is Road to Nowhere, which is basically one giant Bottomless Pit with things like invincible boars and Goomba Springboard being necessary to advance. Once you learn these mechanics however, Road to Nowhere can become a breather level thanks to the Guitar Hero-like timing for jumping over the wooden planks.
      • After Road to Nowhere, the next level is Boulder Dash, which, despite Event-Obscuring Camera by virtue of being chased by giant boulder, is pretty easy due to having sufficient number of checkpoints and straightforward jumps (again, it's rather Guitar Hero-like). This is followed by an infamous Marathon Level, Sunset Vista, which is the first spot you can get a Key from the Cortex Tokens, but only towards the end of the level.
    • Special mention goes to The Great Hall. It follows The Lab, one of the hardest levels in the game with many timing-based obstacles and only a single Checkpoint to speak of. The Great Hall is the penultimate level before the final boss, so many players braced for the worst... only to find that the entire level is a single jump to the exit.
    • Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back:
      • Of the final 5 stages before the final boss only Piston It Away and Spaced Out will give you any trouble, and even then only because they're a new type of stage where it's easy to die until you figure out their unique enemies and hazards. Rock It and Pack Attack exist only to teach you the jet pack, and though it's a bit dodgy at first the levels can easily be steamrolled, Box Gem and all, with minimal effort, and Night Fight is a very easy level where the darkness mechanic isn't nearly enough to stop you from easily running through the whole thing and getting the Box Gem on your first try. Presumably this is to give you a bit of a break before going back and attempting to get some of the more difficult hidden gems like the Yellow Gem in Plant Food or the Secret Gem in Ruination, or because the preceding five levels were actually quite difficult.
      • ALL the Bonus Levels are this. You can attempt them as many times as you want with zero consequences for dying until you complete them, and even if you die after completing one but before a checkpoint it will still be counted as completed. Typically they exist to throw some extra lives at you, give you a break from the level, and often to teach you new mechanics in a risk-free environment (things like the Slide Jump are used in Bonus Levels LONG before ever needing it in a real level).
    • Continuing the trend, Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped has Bug Lite, the final level before you face Cortex. The level is not only very easy to steamroll, Box Gem and all (save for the bonus level which is a bit tricky, but you have unlimited retries), and not only has a very easy Multicolor Gem Path, but it gives you three Aku Aku masks at once part way through for a very satisfying invincible charge through a good portion of the level. It's a nice break after the honestly difficult Mad Bombers and before you face the big guy himself.
    • Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time:
      • The first two levels of The 11th Dimension come right after Run it Bayou, which is a jetboard level mixed with some tough platforming and a very difficult Hidden Gem, and the Difficulty Spike of Tranquillity Falls. "Snow Way Out" is mainly an introduction to Kapuna-Wa and is one of the levels featured the game's demo, while "Stay Frosty" is a short and relatively simple level, with only the grind rail segment and a few mid-air boxes afterwards being tricky. After them, comes Bears Repeating, which has a brutal section where the player is forced to ride on Polar, who is hard to control and has a wonky hit box (at least until the next-gen patch, but is still a lengthy stage).
      • The entire Eggipus Dimension, to some players, which comes right after the aforementioned Bears Repeating. Dino Dash, the world's final level, was another level considered fit for the game's demo in spite of being a chase level. The dimension after is Bermugula's Orbit, an even more severe Difficulty Spike due to levels becoming extremely long, enemies becoming tougher and some very challenging puzzles with the masks.
      • Coming after the rather tricky Out to Launch and it’s incredibly difficult Cortex timeline, Stowing Away is a rather short and straightforward level. Then comes Crash Landed, which is easily the longest level in the game and has very difficult jumps, hazards and several ride sections that are just as hard as the one with Polar, if not more so.
      • While the Sn@xx Dimension's levels are still appropriately difficult for their placement in the game, their N. Verted versions fall into this trope, as the addition of underwater physics actually makes their trickier platforming segments (especially the end of "The Crate Escape") easier: you move and fall more slowly and thus are able to make micro-adjustements or back out of a jump you realize you're not going to make.
  • Croc: Legend of the Gobbos has Hard Levels, Easy Bosses, but the boss stages can get fairly brutal as they're not Boss Only. But in between the hell that is the last half of the third island and the first levels of the final island, there is Cactus Jack's Ranch. In addition to an easy boss, the stage is the easiest since the first island, with only two stage rooms involving some very easy jumps, a grand total of three non-threatening enemies, and two free lives. Breather indeed.
  • Donkey Kong:
    • Given the Nintendo Hard difficulty of the sixth world in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, Clapper's Cavern (6-4) is a relatively easy stage with a fairly low enemy count and very few Platform Hell moments. Plus, it has the adorable Clapper The Seal to help you out.
    • Donkey Kong Country Returns:
      • Nintendo Hard is the phrase of the day throughout most of the game, but the level where you first get Rambi is not only a cakewalk, it's an empowering one; Rambi Took a Level in Badass since his last calling, and is now more or less an unstoppable horn-tank of pain, including being able to destroy spikes by touching them. But after having a breezy level with Rambi, it's back to the fiery pit of borderline Platform Hell.
      • World 5, Forest, is this after the very difficult World 4 (which consists of fast-paced, stressful Minecart Madness and Rocket Ride levels). It only gets difficult through the end, with the level Muncher Marathon (5-8) and then the boss fight.
    • In Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze:
      • Jelly Jamboree (5-5) is this, especially considering that it comes after Fruity Factory (5-3) and Panicky Paddles (5-4).
      • There's 4-5, Sea Stack Attack, especially if you don't like the underwater levels. After 4-3 (Amiss Abyss) and 4-4 (Irate Eight) through the default route, as well as 4-B (Shoal Atoll) through the alternate route, 4-5 is a very welcome breather both figuratively and literally, being the only level in the world (aside from the mine cart level) not to feature any swimming. Checkpoints and buddy barrels are fairly plentiful as well. Even the music is more upbeat and relaxed, as opposed to the somber theme of Amiss Abyss or the frantic "Lockjaw's Saga" remix in Irate Eight. Enjoy it while you can, as it also precedes the tricky level 4-6 (Current Capers) and later the infamous boss level housing Fugu.
  • Dynamite Headdy follows Stage 6 with "Headdy Wonderland", a surreal but peaceful area full of cows and birds with no threats whatsoever until you reach the boss. Even the boss is a relaxing matter, as Heather shows up and attacks the boss from above while you distract it. Then the sky falls away to reveal The Very Definitely Final Dungeon and the boss comes back for a much harder round-two.
  • While The Goonies II has zones instead of levels, the level of difficulty of the game gradually increases until you reach the utter hell of the Volcano. The remainder of the game after this turns into The Maze. The first section of the maze, the Attic, is massively easier than the Volcano, though it still does contain threatening Samurai Armor and the sole appearance of Ma Fratelli. The rest of the maze consists of standard House and Basement levels, with a higher rate of spawning Fratellis but only very minor enemies — it's nothing but exhaustively searching each section for the warp zone that will take you to the next.
  • Hanaby's Summer Festival: Pastel Parasols is Played for Laughs. It has all the makings of a tutorial level, complete with signs listing the game controls, weak enemies, no boss, and a complete absence of Bottomless Pits and Spikes of Doom, but it's the penultimate level in the game. When you check the Hanafuda challenge, Hanaby will actually complain about its easiest challenge only appearing when she's almost done with her quest.
  • Played with quite a bit in the Battle Of The Birds chapter of A Hat in Time:
    • Murder on the Owl Express and The Big Parade. You expect the former to be difficult when it's surprisingly easy, not actually timed, has no difficult platforming or battles, and basically exists to dip you in its atmosphere rather than be challenging. The Big Parade on the other hand is just that, you lead a parade, and yet happens to be the first genuinely challenging acts with some tricky platforming, not being allowed to stop even once, and will likely be the first level to actually kill you a few times.
    • Subverted with Award Ceremony where... you attend an award ceremony. That's it. You stroll in, get thanked for your part in it, given a Time Piece, and the level ends. Good job, and on to the next chapter! Except when you return to your ship: que a mysterious phone call telling you to go check out the basement of Dead Bird Studios...
  • Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures has the maze at Pankot Palace in the "Temple of Doom" portion, with its slow pace, relative lack of tough enemies and abundance of easy-to-get power ups and extra lives. And considering it's followed by some of the hardest levels in the game, you'll need all the lives you can get.
  • I Wanna Be the Guy, of all games, has one: The Castle of The Guy is, if not easy, at least fair (by IWTBTG standards). Then comes The Guy.
  • Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards has the first level of the final world which is a literal reskin of the first level, with even the same crystal shards in the same places, except redone to look like Care-A-Lot with some slightly harder enemies and a slightly harder Mini-Boss. Notably this comes after the Factory Tour and the Shiver Star boss fight, so not only does it give you a break but also lulls you into a false sense of security: from here on out you find out what Dark Matter has done to the place and realize it's nothing but Nightmare Fuel from here on out.
  • Kirby Mass Attack has the first four stages of Level 3, Dedede Resort, which are essentially just mini-games that give away fruit to hog, and offer very few chances to lose Kirbies. In particular, Stage 3-2 is completely impossible to lose, as five Kirbies are required to enter, but it's only possible to lose a single Kirby during the pachinko mini-game that makes up the majority of the stage.
  • The Lion King did this deliberately, alternating relatively easy levels with harder ones. This not only allowed the player to relax a bit, but also made the game feel like less of a gruelling slog due to the game's infamous difficulty.
  • Most Mega Man (Classic) games contain at least one part in the final castle where you can just stock up on health and weapon energy, often before going after the 8 previous bosses. Special mention must go to Wily Stage 1 in Mega Man 3. It may be the first of the fortress stages, but it comes after four successive stages that are revamped, harder versions of one of the original eight stages and each contain two fights with Doc Robot, who mimics the Robot Masters from the previous game. The stage has relatively low danger and the boss is quite easy, unlike some of Doc Robot's forms (good luck with Spark Man's revisited stage, which finishes with Doc Robot mimicking Quick Man with a larger hitbox and a higher rate of shooting projectiles than the original Robot Master). Probably all of the fortress stages in this game are easier than most of the Doc Robot ones, in fact.
  • The Lake in Monster Party is monumentally easier than the Castle Ruins preceding it. There's only two bosses instead of the usual three, one being a Zero Effort Puzzle Boss who you only have to stand by and watch them dance rather than actually fight and the other being a large stationary entity who can be fairly easily defeated without taking a hit by a patient player (or one who grabbed a magic pill). The enemies are all either easy to avoid or not very aggressive, and even the scenery itself is a break from the typical monstrous settings by being bright and cheerful. Likely this was done to soften you up and lull you into a false sense of security for what comes next: The goddamned Haunted Mansion.
  • In Portal 2, after navigating the quite arduous trek to escape the underground condemned old testing areas you are faced with Wheatley's tests. Wheatley, being the absolute moron he is, can only manage to make either laughably easy tests or swipe some of GLaDOS's leftover tests and cobble them together. Unsurprisingly they're none-too-difficult and serve to let you have a break and some laughs at Wheatley's expense until The Part Where He Kills You where the difficulty picks back up and remains steady until the Final Boss.
  • Ratchet & Clank:
    • Pokitaru from Ratchet & Clank (2002) is pretty relaxing level with a simple enemy roster that can be easily handled by Suck Cannon, and has the easiest Jet Fighter mission in the game that is essentially a tutorial.
    • The single obligatory mission on Gorn in Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando is easy to complete if you performed at least minimum upgrading of your ship and is sandwidched between Aranos with difficult Clank sections and frustrating Snivelak that is capped by a Marathon Boss. And the levels after that are even more difficult.
  • Episode 6 from Sly 2: Band of Thieves: The three previous episodes took place in the Indian jungle, which was a complete maze to navigate, and Prague, which featured a confusing prison compound followed by The Contessa's ancestral home; the whole city is so dark and grimy that you can hardly tell the instant-death water from the dry land. Episode 6 sends the action to Canada, in which the map is not only much smaller and more straightforward, but also takes place in virtually broad daylight.
  • Very common in games in the Sonic the Hedgehog series, which were/are typically easier than their Nintendo Hard cousins to begin with.
    • Star Light Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog. Sandwiched between the grueling Labyrinth Zone and nasty Scrap Brain Zone, Star Light has lots of speed, loops, fun trampolines, and very easy platforming. Robotnik also has a fun battle, mainly because you can cleverly hit him with the bombs he drops.
    • Casino Night Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog 2. The fourth level in the game, it has relatively few enemies, no Bottomless Pits whatsoever, many opportunities for extra lives and a series of slot machines that would have bankrupted any sensible casino. The presence of the challenging Chemical Plant Zone as the second level heightens the feeling of being a Breather Level. The boss, on the other hand, is pretty difficult.
    • The Casinopolis action stage from Sonic Adventure takes this a stage further: Because the player is forced to collect 400 rings to complete the level, gaining at least four extra lives becomes almost mandatory. This is less of a Breather Level than some because the two preceding stages are not very difficult either, but it is most definitely a compulsory bonus stage. Of course, this only applies to Sonic's story; Tails is run through the Dilapidated Way section, and Knuckles is focused on Master Emerald shard collection.
    • Casino Park in Sonic Heroes (Team Chaotix missions) is another similar compulsory ring collectors.
    • Other zones are not necessarily extra life buffets, but still provide a breather aspect by falling between two more difficult levels. Such zones include Star Light Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog and Sky Chase Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog 2. To many players, Spring Yard Zone is the breather level between the exhausting Marble Zone and the frustrating Labyrinth Zone.
    • Sonic Rush:
      • Huge Crisis during Blaze's game, sandwiched between Altitude Limit (and its) boss and the first act of Dead Line. Huge Crisis isn't hard, throws lives at you, and has an easy (if annoying) boss to trounce. As Sonc, Altitude Limit is after but Night Carnival before it is harder. Similarly, Act 2 of Dead Line is somewhat overstocked for rings, considering its placement as the final playable act in the game, making it almost impossible not to rack up a few lives in preparation for the final bosses.
      • Considering Blaze starts at the obnoxious Night Carnival Zone, Leaf Storm as the second stage is much simpler. Makes sense, considering Leaf Storm is the first zone as Sonic while Night Carnival is the fourth, and Blaze's run is simply the same levels but in a different order.
      • Rush Adventure has Blizzard Peaks, where it's almost impossible to die and the acts are really short. It's actually possible to visit this stage after Sky Babylon, which you're supposed to do afterwards, making Blizzard Peaks seem even more pathetic by comparison.
    • Sonic 3 & Knuckles:
      • The Hidden Palace Zone has no enemies, a simple design, and a relatively easy boss (Knuckles). It exists mainly as the setting for a cutscene. Its Breather Level nature is especially obvious if you're playing as Knuckles, in which case it has no boss and in fact consists of a single room that contains no hazards of any kind (and it immediately precedes Knuckles's final boss fight).
      • Mushroom Hill Zone. Since Sonic 3 & Knuckles is the combined game created by adding Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles together, Mushroom Hill Zone is the first level to Sonic & Knuckles and is thus a bit of a Green Hill Zone, while in the combined game it comes right after Launch Base Zone, the significantly harder final level of Sonic the Hedgehog 3.
      • Carnival Night Zone is difficult for Sonic/Tails due to the length and the numerous obstacles meant to waste your time. However, Knuckles' run through of the same zone is actually a lot shorter and easier with less hazards to deal with and Knuckles doesn't even fight a boss in act 2!
      • Ice Cap in Sonic and Tails playthroughs compared to Carnival Night above. Ice Cap is easier and a heck of a lot shorter. It's more difficult that Knuckles' Carnival Night though.
    • Sonic CD:
      • Stardust Speedway is the penultimate level of the game, but tosses few enemies at you, the Acts are relatively short, and it is basically a level to let Sonic "roll around at the speed of sound". Then it caps it all off with the one of the most memorable sequences in Sonic history, the race to Amy between Sonic and his metal doppelganger.
      • Quartz Quadrant, the fourth level, is mostly straightforward and short. It comes between the Underwater Ruins and the level where the floor bounces you high into the air while you try to jump on platforms and avoid lasers.
    • Sonic the Hedgehog 4 has the 2nd act of Casino Street Zone (console only). House of Cards is full of extra lives. It is not unusual to get 10 or more in a single run. The iOS version is also simple as it's just a pinball machine in which you need to get points to complete the level with no actual way to die.
    • The main courses for Rooftop Run in Sonic Generations are explicitly noted to be "a quick breather" in the associated achievement. The Modern Sonic level in particular is much easier than the levels it's sandwiched between.
    • In the 8-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog, Scrap Brain Zone, of all Zones, is a Breather Level. Positioned between Labyrinth Zone and Sky Base Zone, it has few badniks and very easily avoidable obstacles, its main gimmick being that it's supposed to be a maze. Its status as a breather level is cemented by its first act, which is nothing more than a short walkway with a couple of easily avoidable bottomless pits, and its third act, which is the only third act in the game to have rings... and no boss battle at all.
    • The 8-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 has Green Hills. It appears oddly late, being stage 4 of 7, and comes immediately after the Underwater Ruins. It's pretty short, simple, and allows you to rack up lives. The breather aspect doesn't last though: act 3 consists of blind jumps over spikes and you have no rings.
    • Sonic Advance 3 has two instances. The first is Ocean Base, which has two long and grueling acts and then a significantly shorter third act. The second is Twinkle Snow, which is lighter on getting crushed and obstacles in general compared to Toy Kingdom before it. However, the boss is probably the most difficult part of the entire game.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom has Sand Mountain, the sixth main level in the game. The previous two levels, Rock Bottom and Mermalair, are long, difficult, and are filled to the brim with tricky puzzles and hazards, along with Mermalair containing the dreaded Rolling Ball Room. Sand Mountain, meanwhile, is a fun and simple series of slides that aren't much trouble, and there's plenty of shortcuts and alternate paths to take for the time trial challenges.
  • Platformers in the Super Mario Bros. franchise:
    • Super Mario Bros.:
      • Level 3-2 is significantly easier than Level 3-1, allowing you to use the Koopa shells to easily plow through several enemies. Level 3-1 also has Hammer Brothers, which Level 3-2 goes blissfully without.
      • Level 6-2. Whereas, 6-1 is a sparsely designed level with no enemies other than good ole Lakitu, 6-2 is an incredibly fun level with pipes galore, three hidden bonus rooms and a coin heaven vine.
    • Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels has 7-3, a very large chasm level where the only thing required is to jump very high from spot to spot, and the wind currents help Mario do this. The same can't be said about the similar level C-3, as a Lakitu is included in the area and makes things much harder.
    • Super Mario Bros. 2:
      • 4-1 is this after the Difficulty Spike that was world 3, and before the platforming nightmare that is 4-2. Except for the part at the end with all the enemies, but when you go up the hill at the end preparing to fight Birdo, the crystal that opens the exit is already there unprotected as an Anti-Frustration Feature.
      • 6-3 is the third-to-last level in the game and the second-to-last castle stage, and it is probably one of the easier castles in the game. After 3-3, 4-3, and 5-3, you'd expect 6-3 to be pretty tough, especially seeing that huge intimidating-looking gate you enter. You'd be wrong, unless you are stymied by a few Bob-ombs, a very mild bomb "maze", or a bit of vine-climbing and Hoopster-dodging. Except for the trickier Birdo and Triclyde fights, it plays out like a normal level. It doesn't hurt that you can actually bypass the entire level with a hidden shortcut.
      • 7-1 comes right before the final level, 7-2, which is The Maze and a Marathon Level by SMB2's standards. 7-1, for the most part, is fairly straightforward.
    • Super Mario Bros. 3:
      • The game has World 4, Big Island. Coming between World 3 and World 5, it has noticeably fewer levels than the worlds that bookend it, pits you against comically oversized versions of the standard Mario enemies (no harder to kill than the standard ones), and along the way gives you two P-Wings and a Lakitu's Cloud. The closest thing this world has to That One Level is 4-3 with the giant Hammer Bros. In addition, the World 4 airship is one of the easiest in the game (as well as one of the only two to feature two power-ups, the other being World 7's).
      • 7-3 is very similar to 3-4, and by this point in the game, anything from world 3 feels easy in comparison to the Nintendo Hard Pipe Land. But it's surrounded by a maze level in 7-2 and a Platform Hell underwater scrolling stage that throws everything you hate about water levels at you in 7-4.
      • Level wise, 3-9 is this, coming in between Boss Bass hell of 3-8 and the ring-wielding Wendy O. Koopa on the airship.
      • World 6-8 is the only non-ice level in the entirety of World 6. A grassland level with many throwable blocks and the only major enemies are Nippers, Spikes, and Buster Beetles which can throw blocks at you. A lone Koopa Troopa at the start of the level can be kicked to take out most of the Nippers and Spikes towards the halfway point. The level itself is fairly short, which is a nice change of pace to the previously longer levels that had their ice gimmicks.
      • The Hand Traps in World 8 are a row of three short levels that are significantly easier than what came before them and especially what comes afterwards. The first one is a gauntlet of every type of Bronote  in the game, the second is a series of platforms above a lava pit with Podoboos coming out of it, and the last is a bridge with Cheep-Cheeps jumping up from below. Each Hand Trap has a 50% probability of forcing Mario into it, but it's highly recommended to enter them voluntarily as each one rewards a Super Leaf, which you will need on the airship level afterwards.
    • Super Mario World:
      • Zigzagged with the various Ghost Houses scattered across the game, as they're designed like puzzles you need to figure out rather than levels that test your platforming jumping skills. On one hand they can be rather tricky and overwhelming, but that's only until you find the exit: once you know how to get through they are short, quite easy, give you the opportunity to save your game upon completion, and often give you access to an extra life or two and some easy powerups for players who don't feel like backtracking all the way to the Top Secret Area to restock.
      • The first Special World level, Gnarly, is much easier than the Nintendo Hard Star World 5 and That One Level Tubular that follows it. It's very short, with only five easy-to-handle enemies (the only ones that might be a little challenging don't get to stay on screen for very long).
      • The secret level Groovy is it, preceded by Tubular, Way Cool and Awesome. Groovy itself is an easy grass land level which is even featured on the title screen with the only hazards being the baseball-throwing Chargin' Chucks and Pokeys, which Yoshi can eat. This is the reason why the level was chosen to serve as the main title's demo.
      • The Star World itself is a friendly world compared to the regular worlds it's connected to, as all of the levels except for Star World 5 are reasonably easy, with secret exits that aren't too difficult to reach. This, of course, leads to the Special World.
    • Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island:
      • The game has the World 6 Extra level as this. Only the platform-over-thorns section is reasonably difficult; the rest of the level feels more like a celebration for the player having beat the game (and done so while earning 100% Completion in the levels of the last World). It's also the Extra level with the most checkpoints.
      • World 4 is this in comparison to the ever-annoying monkeys of World 3, and the Platform Hell in the ice and clouds of World 5. Even the extra stage is easier, provided you figure out the maze.
      • Level 6-6, "The Deep, Underground Maze", is a light, refreshing puzzle segment that takes place inbetween the autoscrolling hell of 6-5, "The Very Loooooong Cave" and the accuracy-heavy 6-7, "KEEP MOVING!!!!".
    • New Super Mario Bros.:
      • 2-3 only has ten enemies, of which half are killed easily by Mario sliding down the first hill, and only the single Giant Piranha Plant and the single Swooper pose much of a threat to Mario at all.
      • 7-3, also known as the giant Wiggler level. True, there are no checkpoints, but it's very linear and straightforward, has few enemies, and even gives you a Starman halfway through (which you can chain to last for the rest of the level). And for a World 7 level, there is very little danger of falling into a bottomless pit.
      • 7-4 contains one enemy. One single red Koopa Troopa, which is far from a huge threat. And the Bottomless Pit at the bottom of the stage is covered up by platforms in all but two single-tile-wide places. The level is also very short, and even then, the timer is probably more of a threat than anything else.
    • New Super Mario Bros. Wii:
      • 8-7 may take some time in locating, but compared to the rest of World 8, it is a breeze. It introduces a new kind of platform called the spine coaster which is equally as fun as it sounds, complete with screeching at just the right time.
      • 7-5 is surprisingly easy, as despite the setting of its levels, it's a fairly straightforward and grounded level with the only real gimmick being essentially harmless enemies that blow clouds to momentarily obscure your vision.
    • Super Mario 64: Even the hardest levels have Power Stars that are a breeze to collect.
      • Lethal Lava Land's "8-Coin Puzzle with 15 Pieces". The puzzle is super close to the level's beginning, there's no wonky platforming to get there and every red coin is right next to each other. A breath of fresh air considering how literally hellish the level is in general.
      • Dire Dire Docks' "Collect the Caps". You just need to wear both the Vanish and Metal Caps, then walk into a nearby cage. No hazards or tricks whatsoever.
      • "In the Deep Freeze" at Snowman's Land. The Star is right next to the level's beginning, and navigating the ice block that guards it is no less trivial than just finding your way to its entrance with a well-timed Triple Jump.
      • "Stop Time for 8 Red Coins" in Tick Tock Clock. Like in Lethal Lava Land, the coins are all grouped together and right beside you. The spinning platforms aren't a problem either since you need to freeze them in place anyway (before entering the level).
      • For a general level, there's Wet-Dry World, for the single fact that it's almost impossible to die here no matter how many mistakes you commit, thanks to Mario recovering health just by swimming above the water's surface. Plus, there are no environmental hazards besides drowning and many of the stars can become trivial to collect through the portrait jump trick, which allows the player to manipulate the water levels before entering the stage proper.
    • Super Mario Sunshine:
      • The special obstacle course found in Gelato Beach is the easiest in the game, as the player simply has to run fast through a road of sand. The red coin mission related to this course is even easier.
      • The grass-themed special course found in Delfino Plaza (which is accessed with the help of the Rocket Nozzle), is merely a square-shaped savanna with weak enemies and a simple red coin hunt, thus distancing itself from the devious Pachinko and Lily Pad special courses.
      • Il Piantissimo's Surf Swim of Noki Bay is among the easiest levels in the entire game. All you do is run and hover straight to the goal, which is below the starting point, so you don't have to do any platforming at all. There's also no enemies, no obstacles, and even if you don't run you'll beat your opponent by a solid 10 seconds or so. This one was definitely deliberate, since it comes after the maddening Eely Mouth's Dentist and before the resident F.L.U.D.D.-less level of the world.
    • In Super Mario Galaxy, this is the case with both beach-themed levels. Beach Bowl Galaxy has no boss fights or tricky platforming and some ludicrously easy missions like passing the swim test, and Sea Slide Galaxy has mainly racing and item collecting missions with no real platforming or combat. Especially a breather considering the former comes before Ghostly Galaxy and Bouldergeist and the latter after the tricky Toy Time Galaxy.
    • In Super Mario Galaxy 2, there's Starshine Beach, which minus an annoying green star is again a sedate level with few tough enemies or jumps and a collectathon focus to it; meanwhile, Slime Spring Galaxy is not much more than a subterranean river with few enemies and relaxing music, ending with a stunningly beautiful hill at sunset. Just make sure to keep that Oxygen Meter full.
    • Super Mario 3D World:
      • Some of the more open-ended levels in the game, where the only concern is to find the Stars and the Stamp instead of having to sort multiple obstacles. Examples of this are Sprawling Savanna (5-4) and Spiky Mount Beanpole (M-2).
      • 8-2 (Plessie's Dune Downhill), to a shocking degree. It's the third Plessie level in the game (second if you don't count 5-1), in the same world as tricky levels like Spiky Spike Bridge and Grumblump Inferno, and it's easier than 1-4.
    • Super Mario Odyssey has a few examples:
      • There's the Lake Kingdom, which is much smaller than both the kingdom preceding it (Sand Kingdom) and the alternative choice at the same point in the game (Wooded Kingdom) and far easier in terms of platforming (because it has literally no bottomless pits outside of the bonus levels). The fact its missions are based on exploration, the boss is simple and the bonus levels themselves have minimal platforming before the postgame helps too.
      • The Metro Kingdom can be another example, since outside of the intro mission (with the Mecha Wiggler boss), the kingdom has no enemies in the main level and the lack of fall damage means you'll only have trouble in the odd bonus area.
      • As well as both the Snow Kingdom and Seaside Kingdom later on. Both are far more exploration focused than the tricky kingdoms after them, and the latter is also really small and easy to navigate.
    • Subverted by Ruka's Beach in Super Mario TKO, a ROM Hack of Super Mario World. It seems like a Breather Level, on a calm beach, with the occasional multi-coin block. Then the timer hits zero and Mario dies. If Mario hits all those multi-coin blocks, he will not reach the goal in time. The level is too long, or the timer is too short.
  • Super Monkey Ball
    • The first game is heavy with difficult levels, and sandwiched between two of them is one of the easier levels in the game: Skeleton (in Deluxe, it's Expert 8 in the first game), who is extremely merciful in stark contrast to its two surrounding levels.
    • Swing Bridges in Super Monkey Ball 2 is the second stage in the Master set, the very last part of a very hard game. It is also by far the easiest stage in Master, with plenty of room for error and some pretty large, slow-moving platforms, though you can still lose a few lives if you're careless. Striker, from Master Extra, could also count, since unlike any of the other Master Extra stages, you are asked to do only one thing, and again, you have a bunch of room for error—the difficulty lies more in the camera unintentionally obstructing your line of sight than the stage itself.
  • Levels 5-7 in Syobon Action are mostly just straightforward platforming, with few of the usual Everything Is Trying to Kill You traps present.

    Physics Game 
  • Besiege:
    • The second world is more or less when the challenges get real, requiring you have a more intimate understanding of what you can do with the siege engines to perform more deliberate tasks, as opposed to the first world where you could effectively brute-force your way through with spinning things on wheels. Then you get to Surrounded where you're surrounded by a ring of cannons that will almost immediately open fire on you. All it takes to win is to make the biggest square you can make out of basic wood blocks and put as many bombs as you possibly can down. The literal second you hit play they fall off, detonate, take out all the cannons, and even get the A Swift Siege achievement for winning in under 2 seconds.
    • In Krolmar the final world, after the fickle Ambush and the finicky Strange Artifact, two levels which require a good amount of very detailed builds and careful movement to pass, you get Kahraz Village. All you have to do is lay waste to the village, no more no less. All it has guarding it are a handful of villagers with melee weapons, there are no environmental hazards, and, unlike the previous two levels which expected you to very thoroughly kill everyone and do everything perfectly, this one only expects you to just inflict sufficient damage to the town. Honestly this level is easier than some of the Ipsilon challenges, and a very nice way to blow off some steam before taking on the tricky Stock Tower and the final challenge.

  • Catherine
    • The Inquisition is without a doubt one of the shortest nightmare stages there is. There are only two levels, and the first is very simple compared to the rest of the game, using no special or challenging blocks that result in death. Afterwards comes The Child, who is quite simple compared to Immoral Beast before him. After this is the far more annoying Quadrangle.
    • The Cathedral. Despite having cracked blocks and being an Escort Mission, your escortee is pretty mobile and will move around, to avoid being in the player's way too much, and the player doesn't even have to make it completely to the exit door, as a scene will begin to play several rows down, if the player manages it up there. It's also the only section of the game's puzzle tower that is one stage long and includes one of the most heartwarming scenes in the game.
  • In Dilbert's Desktop Games, one of the mini-games required you to climb up to the top of the corporate headquarters skyscraper. To complete a level, you had to collect donuts, while avoiding the boss and other obstacles. The various levels were named after departments such as "Marketing", "R&D", "Software Engineering", etc. When you got to the level named "Employee Benefits", it was totally empty, except for a single donut that you had to collect, and the sound of wind echoing through the deserted halls.
  • Dynomite!:
    • The game has the level "Honeycomb", level 26 or 16 (depending on whether you're playing the deluxe version or the online version) in Stomped mode. It's not super easy, but it's easier than the last 3 to 7 levels in the game and definitely easier than the levels after it. Large groups of matching eggs, not much in the way of awkward angles, a high eggs-per-stomp counter...this one isn't much of a threat for being so far into the game (there are only 4 levels after it).
    • Level 18 in the deluxe version, "Big Money" (the title is a Shout-Out to another Pop Cap puzzle game) also qualifies to a lesser extent. You can clear a huge cluster of eggs out of the middle of the puzzle, and it is the last level in the game before reaching the starting point of Hard Mode and level 19, where things start to become "Not so Easy". The previous level (17 in Deluxe, 12 in the original), "Temptation", is also very easy if you resist the "temptation" and just drop the middle part of the hanging structure right at the start. (In fact, the level before that in the Deluxe version has the same feature...seems to be a common theme.)
  • None of Portal is insanely difficult, but testchamber 16 features the first appearance of enemies that are actively trying to kill you. It's kind of nice to go back to combat-free gameplay in chamber 17.
  • Portal 2 plays this for laughs: near the end Wheatley, having replaced GLaDOS, starts putting you through test chambers again. The first one requires you to push a button to win, and that's it.
  • "The kraken", the last level of Repton, is a calm level with no monsters, and other than requiring two uses of the Repton shuffle, its rock puzzles are not very hard either. It comes directly after the most notorious level in the game.
  • Retro Game Challenge has one during the Rally King SP set of challenges; the second challenge is a moderately difficult time trial on the hazard-ridden desert stage. The third challenge, on the other hand, is simply to get a turbo boost off the starting line of the first stage. Lampshaded by Game Master Arino in that he claims he just gave you that challenge to stall for time because he couldn't think of anything.
  • Tetris: The Grand Master has your drop speed decrease once you clear level 200, but from that point onwards, your speed will increase all the way to what Tetris fans call 20G—that is, blocks will fall 20 lines per 1/60th of a second—that is, they hit the bottom of the stack instantly.
  • In TwoDots, as a rule, highly difficult, come-on-spend-real-money-on-bonuses-already levels are followed by significantly easier ones.
  • As per usual in the series, microgames in WarioWare: Smooth Moves get faster as you progress. During Dribble and Spitz's microgames, the speed will not increase when you're playing for the first time so that your successes or screw ups are timed with the music. The games will speed up as normal when you're playing the stage in endless mode.

  • In Crash Team Racing has some very easy levels, particularly two in Citadel City, the last area of the game:
    • Oxide Station, where you race the Final Boss of the game, manages to be one of the easiest races in the game due to the abundance of curves for Power Sliding and dodging projectiles, plenty of turbos to overtake your opponents, tons of Wumpa Fruit crates, and countless choke points where it's nearly impossible for the other racers to dodge a Nitro Crate or Potion. Unlike levels like Cortex Castle or Hot Air Skyway where you'll struggle to hold the lead for long, you'll likely win Oxide Station on your first try with a lead of about 10 full seconds.
    • Nitro Court, the final of the crystal time trials is also the easiest of all of them. It's a flat easy-to-navigate arena with low walls where you can easily spot every crystal from a far distance. The idea is you need to keep grabbing bombs to blast Nitro crates out of your path, but there's no real consequence to just crash into them, take the hit, and get the crystal. It's probably the only crystal time trial you'll beat on your first try.
    • Slide Colosseum and the Turbo Track are by and far the easiest relic challenges in the game, as they're both short simple flat levels with no obstacles or tricky shortcuts with all of the Time Crates easy to spot and reach. Since they're so twisty, so much so that you'll spend most of the track riding the brake to make turns, the timer is incredibly lenient as well. The levels might as well have been called "Free Platinum Relic 1 and 2".
    • The Purple Gem Cup is considerably easier than the rest, despite racing against all the bosses on their tracks, as this time they're driving fair without their massively inflated boss stats or infinite item usage and, because you're only racing 4 opponents instead of 7, there's less chances to get beaned by an errant bomb or missile. Furthermore, while Hot Air Skyway is a tricky win, the other three tracks are easy and short and getting 1st on the other three will give you enough points to win overall no matter how bad you do on the skyway. It's a very nice break after the Yellow Gem Cup and before challenging the True Final Boss.
  • F-Zero:
  • In Rage Racer, once you unlock Class 3, you gain access to the Extreme Oval course, which unlike the other three courses is a simple three-turn oval course with an emphasis on speed. Once you purchase one of the Assoluto cars, a victory on this course shouldn't be too difficult compared to doing the same feat on the other courses. It's also the highest-paying course of the four, so you can grind this course again and again to rack up tons of money. It's still the highest-prize course in Class 4, but once you get to Class 5, it becomes the least paying course out of the four.
  • The Twisted Metal 2 battlefield difficulty curve: easy -> moderate -> very easy -> moderate -> very easy -> hard -> INSANE -> moderate.
  • Any Story Mode stage in Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 3 set on Hakone. How easy are they? You can set your horsepower to the lowest possible setting (beyond stage 40, that's 600 horsepower out of the maximum of at least 800). and still win by at least 100 meters. Ironically, Hakone is That One Level in all other modes.
  • In many Wipeout games the hardest track is right near the end, but not the last one, and the last track is usually a lot easier if you got through the previous tracks. In every game with 8 tracks, the hardest track is either number 4 or 7.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • Age of Empires I has The Caravan, a quick Baseless Mission involving escorting an artifact across a rather small map. This comes after The Great Hunt, a Marathon Level to retrieve said artifact and the game's most infamous example of That One Level.
  • The Battle for Middle-earth has two examples, one in each campaign:
    • Isengard in the Good campaign, which is essentially the game telling the player "You have survived Helm's Deep, now take these Ents and go ham on Isengard, since from this point, things become harder."
    • Near Harad in the Evil campaign, which follows Helm's Deep (again) and is mostly a leisurly walk of a level where you barely get attacked, and if you choose to bribe the Haradrim instead of subjugating by force them, you will end the mission with a massive army of Haradrim. You are going to need said army, since it's immediately followed by Southern Ithilien.
    • Evil version of Helm's Deep is only a little more difficult. Enemy turtles inside the keep and generally doesn't move much away from it, allowing the player to just spam ballistae to take down the defenders from safe distance.
    • For all the game hyping it up, Evil version of Minas Tirith is an absolute breather in terms of difficulty. Enemy does not attack you at all, allowing the player to take over pretty much all the resourses on the map, the Rohan reinforcements are easily dealt with with the usage of pikemen, and when Aragorn comes with the Army of the Damned, said army will vanish way before it can hurt you much at all. Sadly Minas Tirith is also the final level of the campaign.
    • The finale of Good campaign of the sequel, Dol Guldur, is yet another fortress siege level that is an absolute letdown in terms of difficulty. You don't even need to build much, as the game gives you an absolutely massive army for free, along with a ton of heroes - all you need to lay bare the pits of Dul Guldur is some Ents to smash the gates.
  • GDI mission 14 of Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn. It's the mission just before the final mission and all you have to do is kill a bunch of NOD troops passing through. The map might be a challenge to inexperienced players, but someone who got up to this point should have no trouble.
  • Empire Earth: The Russian campaign has a ridiculously easy third level after the Nintendo Hard second mission: the player must go to each garrison on the map to get forces and release them on the enemy fortress in the center in the map. Did anyone mention you have a Humongous Mecha at your side that fires both rockets and lasers and has ridiculous damage resistance?
  • GrimGrimoire has 4-1. After 3-5 forced you to use nothing but Alchemy and a handful of Faeries against a powerful Sorcery force (thus forcing you to play on the losing side of Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors), 4-1 takes things down several notches. Advocat sends only sporadic assaults consisting of small numbers of imps and the ocasional demon, with phantoms appearing later on. He does spawn one dragon, but he waits until you've destroyed his first Rune for that, giving you plenty of time to prepare for it.
  • Mental Omega: the third Epsilon co-op mission consists of defending Rashidi's prototype MCV from Terror Drones for three minutes. You have Gatling Tanks, which eat Terror Drones for breakfast. This makes the level ridiculously easy, since the rest of the levels are Nintendo Hard. The devs themselves acknowledge this in their playthrough.
  • Most of Paradox Interactive's grand strategy games are based on historical accuracy instead of balance. As a result, after a war with a superpower and before a war with a large coalition, it's fully possible to have a war with a helpless country the size of a broom closet.
  • Pikmin 2
    • The Glutton's Kitchen cavern is one of the few caverns during that point of the game to not have any dangerous hazards like Bomb Rocks, explosions and falling boulders; it does have electricity (which is an instant-kill hazard for non-yellow Pikmin), but the cave's entrance warns you about this so you can come here with an army of electric-proof Yellow Pikmin and nothing else. It's especially noticeable for players who come here after having played the later, more difficult caves of Awakening Wood and Valley of Repose (and fully paying the Poko debt in the process). The boss is also very easy, as it's a King Mook version of a harmless enemy whose only annoying factor is stealing treasure/corpses. In fact, you can kill it by tug-of-war. However, if you are indeed playing the caves in order, the next one after Glutton's Kitchen will be the difficult Submerged Castle (home of the dreaded Waterwraith), followed by all of Wistful Wild and its murderous caves (including the last one in the game).
    • Among the hardest challenge mode levels is Hidden Garden, which is the easiest one of them all. There are no hazards and the only enemies are the harmless Skitter Leaves and Spectralids, so getting a pink flower is pretty much a freebie.
  • Rebel Inc.:
    • Distant Steppe, the fifth map, has fewer dirt road regions than Pistachio Forest, so it's much easier to move your army units to deal with threats. Also, all of the urban centers are very close to each other, so it's easy to bring them under your control early.
    • Getting certain modifiers through Weekly or Campaign challenges can make even harder levels much easier. For example, having no Corruption (ignoring the reputation loss, and saving money from costly anti-corruption endeavors), no Inflation (everything is significantly cheaper), Funded initiatives (particularly if those initiatives are expensive like roads or electricity), or destroying Insurgent Camps turning into Garrisons (Basically having a free, if stationary, soldier).
  • StarCraft II has a few breather levels:
    • The mission "The Devil's Playground" is a joke even on Brutal difficulty; you can collect the required 8000 minerals and simply build troops to defend your base from light Zerg offenses, or you can go and trump the enemy's buildings, only to find adversity within the last base, which contains a Brood Lord and an Infestor as well as standard defenses. In fact, at that point you can collect the minerals and keep your units near the last base so you can fend off the attacks easily.
    • The mission "Breakout". You only control one unit, and do relatively little micro-ing, even on Brutal difficulty. Only sheer recklessness is the way to fail the mission, as with Tosh you can consume an infantry unit to regain energy and stand next to Medics constantly to heal yourself.
    • Media Blitz, which concludes the main storyline of the Rebellion branch, is also very easy compared to the missions that precede it.
  • Starcraft I had at least one with Brood War's Terran Mission 6. The previous mission had you facing a nuclear barrage or a massive Battlecruiser armada at the outset, before fighting your way through a sprawling, heavily-defended Terran base. The following mission is a tactical scenario with limited units in a maze-like, trap-filled installation where you race against the clock while fighting hordes of enemies. But Mission 6? You get a substantial starting force, access to plenty of resources, numerous initial buildings and free upgrades, an incredible defensive position surrounded by fortifiable ridges, and Protoss and Zerg opponents who attack each other as much or more than they attack you. You can take things slow and enjoy a leisurely campaign, or finish the objective in less than a minute if you know the right trick to use.
  • In the last level of Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance, after getting a defence that can overcome the Tech 2 raids, you can basically build tons of experimental units from all 3 playable factions (plus the Serraphim themselves if you capture an engineer or factory) and buildings before finishing the first objective. Once you've got enough, you can wipe everything off the map each time it expands with them, most notably with the T3 aeon rapid-fire artillery and the experimental UED artillery (which can both bombard anything on the entire map).

  • beatmania IIDX has the song "Elisha" on Single Hyper difficulty. It is rated a 10 out of 12, but most players agree that it's either a low 9 or a high 8 at best. While this could be chalked up to the song being introduced in the version that introduced Charge Notes and that the developers overestimating how hard charts with Charge Notes, those of "Elisha" included, would be, the song has continued to appear in every IIDX version since its debut and this particular chart has never been re-rated to reflect its commonly-perceived difficulty.
  • DJMAX Portable Black Square's Club Tour mode has missions that gradually become more difficult with each passing area. By the 5th area, Kingdom of Rock, many of the missions you face demand extremely high scores while chaining Fevers, or large combos. However, one mission in Kingdom of Rock, held by DJ EGGBIN, offers some relief: the objective is to clear "Sweet Shining Shooting Star" on 5-Button Normal with at least 95% accuracy. If you've been able to make it this far in Club Tour, this mission is a complete walk in the park. It helps that SSSS is one of the more relaxing songs in the game.
  • In DJMAX Portable Clazziquai Edition's Club Tour mode, after about an hour of two of grinding songs just to have a high enough rank to challenge and defeat enough opponents in the 6th area's last club, the final club, Clazziquai, is an easy Music Club with 6 songs, all of which are Awesome Music composed by the band Clazziquai. Upon completing all 6, you are presented with the ending movie.
  • Elite Beat Agents has Episode 12: A Christmas Gift. Though it's still a challenge, it is quite a fair bit easier than the levels right before it and right after it. In terms of gameplay, at least.
  • Rhythm Heaven
    • Ringside may have four different cues to pay attention to, but they are all lengthy and given to you well in advance. It's made even easier by it becoming memetic; anyone playing Rhythm Heaven Fever is likely to have seen one of the many videos and parodies on YouTube, most of which are perfect runs. Ringside comes right after the exhausting Remix 3, which combines mechanics from multiple stages together and requires single-frame timing; and right before Packing Pests, a stage that moves way faster than the ones before it and will overwhelm you if you don't concentrate. Ringside is even more of a breather level when it returns in Rhythm Heaven Megamix, as it's sandwiched much further into the game, between the infamous Frog Hop and Tangotronic 5000 which, while not particularly difficult, is still more demanding than Ringside.
    • The entire first half of the fourth set in the original Game Boy Advance game, Rhythm Tengoku, consists of stages that go pretty easy on you, each in a different way. They consist of Quiz Show, a stage where you don't need any rhythm and all you do is count the number of times the host presses the buttons on his podium (and you don't even have to press the same ones); Night Walk, where you just continuously tap the A button to the rhythm with no variation whatsoever; and Power Calligraphy, whose cues are telegraphed so elaborately and far in advance, and the timing window so lenient, that there is greater challenge in anticipating when to press A than getting the timing right.

  • In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon's second installments we have Mystifying Forest. A very easy forest themed level that the player must go through in order to graduate from Wigglytuff's Guild after the main story. It's chock full of low-leveled bugs, Rattata, and other such Com Mons (aside from the occasional Torterra), and comes right after the Demonic Spider infested Temporal Spire. The battle at the end isn't as easy as the rest of the dungeon, though.
  • Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon has the Calm Craggy Area, which comes right after the somewhat infuriating Cave of the Deep. It's only seven floors, and gives you an absurd seven party members to work with when most dungeons give you a maximum of three. It makes a nice breather before Reverse Mountain, which shakes up your party and has you fight a Wolfpack Boss.
  • In the freeware Rogue Like Transcendence, they give you St. Katherine's Star. It's a peaceful place, with only a few small enemy bases scattered throughout the encircling Asteroid Thicket. There's a cluster of Corporate Enclaves and even a fully stocked Commonwealth Station. The one that came right beforehand was the incredibly manic Charon system, and it is the point at which the game goes from playing fair to adding such favorites as the Sung, the Marauders, the Sapients, the Dwarg and the Ferian Miner Colonies.

    Shoot'Em Up 
  • Level 7 of Air Fortress is considerably easier than level 6—the approach has only two squads of moving enemies; all others are stationary and don't fight back. Navigating the fortress itself is also much easier in level 7 than level 6.
  • Darius Gaiden has a notorious subversion in Zone M, which opens with a few waves of very weak enemies but is actually mostly dedicated to Titanic Lance, one of the hardest bosses in the game.
  • Galaga: The "Challenging Stages" of the arcade classic feature non-firing aliens. Also, the sixth and certain other regular stages are just like the first level, with the enemy swarms simply flying into formation at the beginning of the stage (without extras trying to crash into the ship) and not firing upon the player until after all the formations are set.
  • The arcade version of Gradius III is famous for being brutally Nintendo Hard, but Stages 6 (Bio) and 8 (Plant) are considerably easier than the rest. Tellingly, the plant stage was originally planned to be Stage 3, which might explain its situation.
  • Lampshaded in Hydorah. The level description for the third and seventh levels is "Upgrade your weapons." Both consist of a couple of waves of pathetic Mooks and the easiest boss in the game. Notable in that both come directly after a big Difficulty Spike.
  • Ikaruga Chapter 5, which is substantially easier than the previous two chapters and has extremely simple chaining. Even the Bosses in Mook Clothing that show up at the end of the pre-boss section that fire massive bullet storms only fire in one color, allowing you to absorb these bullets easily to charge up your homing attack. But then you fight Tageri.
  • It's based on score, not on levels, but Star Castle inexplicably slows to a crawl after scoring a specific (and very large) number of points. One way to learn the game is to have an expert player get you to that point, allowing you to play against stupidly easy enemies with, most likely, hundreds of lives to spare. Just be sure to pass the controls back before it snaps back to normal ...
  • Stage 6 of most Touhou Project games. Generally short, low danger, and filled with resources. Which is good, since it's right before the Final Boss (and, with the conditions met, the Brutal Bonus Level housing the Superboss).
  • Thunder Force:
    • Stage 5 of IV is a fairly short stage, with a somewhat easy midboss, a brief and easy Battleship Raid part, and an Anticlimax Boss where your allies help you defeat it. Afterwards, in a cutscene, you get a Mid Game Upgrade. Then you go on to Stage 6 and the game continues being Nintendo Hard.
    • In Thunder Force III, Haides, a stage full of moving terrain, several guaranteed ways to die (or lose shield), and a speed section, is followed by Ellis, a sparsely-populated stage with few sudden hazards. Or if you started on Ellis (which makes Haides the last of the first five stages), Haides is instead followed by the Cerberus, which is even more fair than Ellis.

  • Mission 11: Escort in Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies: After the previous mission involving taking down several well defended enemy bases while an untouchable superweapon is firing at you periodically, you're tasked with taking down ten planes, all of which come in one at a time or in pairs.
  • Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War features mission 19, where you are required to fly weaponless subsonic training jets and must follow behind an ally who guides you through some fairly spacious tunnels to avoid getting shot down by the enemy. The catch is: you never actually get fired upon by the enemy, so long as you follow the path, and they give up halfway into the mission anyway. This comes immediately after a mission where you're making a mad dash to get to safety while dozens of planes come at you and your missile warning systems almost never shut off.
  • PowerWash Simulator has long, tedious (but satisfying) levels where you have to clean a whole building or facility. There are also much shorter and easier levels where you only have to hose down a vehicle.
  • The mission "Devil" in Trauma Center; you only have to kill a few bugs to pass it. The previous mission introduces Paraskevi, one of the hardest strains of GUILT, and the next mission introduces Savato, the hardest strain of GUILT. There's also the "nanomachine" puzzles. You're given a few hexagon-made shapes and have to fit them all into a certain area. You get this twice. Even before that, you have the "master the Healing Touch" level.
  • If you complete daily tasks in War Thunder, you might get challenges like winning a number of battles ending in the top 3 players, or really easy goals like dropping a certain amount of bombs. While daily tasks are random, they are designed to be an alternance of harder and easier ones. The same applies for the special tasks in the warbond shop, only with both ends being more demanding than in daily tasks, but still you might end up being required to do hard things like winning a required number of battles destroying one enemy vehicle by at least 1.0 battle rating higher than yours in every battle, or just destroying some helpless ground targets.

  • The Ultimate Skatepark Skate Station Alpha in Backyard Skateboarding, the final level, is a Breather Level because there are no Pro Challenges and the level is small compared to the preceding one (the Medieval Castle).

    Strategy RPG 
  • Fire Emblem:
    • The chapter "Training" from Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance takes place before the most annoying chapter in the game, the desert chapter, where you have to try and kill as few enemies as possible, while your own units have shit for movement. It is a fairly easy chapter with plenty of XP.
    • The Feral Frontier (the desert chapter from the same game) can also be another breather level- an EXP bonanza if you want to take it (forgoing the BEXP) with a boss who has no ranged attacks and doesn't move, allowing anyone with a ranged weapon to easily farm experience off of him, immediately following a Fog of War chapter (at least on Hard ode) and two chapters before the four-part swamp slog (even worse movement than desert, and your magic-wielders are affected as well) that is Day Breaks.
    • Radiant Dawn has 4-5, the most XP rich chapter in the entire series, right before the "endgame" levels.
    • Chapter 29x/31x in Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade came directly after a huge castle defense map, and was basically a shopping trip for which you were given 30,000 gold. Granted, it was optional and had a five-turn time limit.
    • Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light's Gaiden chapters are all this; since they can only be accessed if you have lost either most of your units (6x, 12x, 17x, 20x) or the tools you need to beat the final boss (24x), it is likely that this was intentional on the developer's part. You always get an above-average unit to join you, and on the hard difficulties, all of the enemies have weapons that are a grade weaker than what the enemies are currently using.
    • Fire Emblem Engage: Chapter 12, "The Sentinels", is a welcome reprieve from the previous chapter where you had to run from the Four Hounds, who had stolen all of your Emblem Rings, leaving you with just the two new ones Ivy and her retainers give to you when they come to your rescue. You get a few new units in this chapter—Fogado and his retainers Pandreo and Bunet, both of the latter of whom are promoted units—and the enemies are fairly easy to defeat, with no boss in sight.
  • Super Robot Wars: Original Generation has a climactic battle in which both Maier and Julia are fought for the final time and Sanger is also fought, and like most such levels, the following cutscene has a major reveal. Then the following level is just a rush of enemies that most of your units can probably one-shot.
  • Super Robot Wars V has a fairly easy to unlock late game mission, “Supporting a Long Journey” that comes after a trio of really tough missions, including a Timed Mission and a battle with Shin Getter Dragon. “Supporting” frames the mission as a much needed supply run in enemy territory, and boy is it ever. You’re up against a group of battleships with pitiful accuracy against smaller units and each dropping Gold Bar 50000s or 100000s. Overall a wonderful mission to level up smaller units with Ignore Size, and rack up ridiculous amounts of cash for upgrades.

  • Metal Gear:
    • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty has two "chapters", Tanker and Plant. They can be played separately, but when playing the game straight through the first few objectives of the Plant chapter function as a breather level—they're essentially tutorials on controller functions which the player has already been using throughout the Tanker chapter. The game recommends the player play through the Plant level without having played the Tanker level if the player hasn't played the original Metal Gear Solid, so the Plant level necessarily has to be somewhat self-contained in terms of game mechanics and tutorializing thereof.
    • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, if you make sure to remove the transmitter implanted into Snake by Ocelot after the torture sequence, none of the latter's elite Units will appear in Tikhogomyj (the forest river Snake appears stranded after making a forced escape from the Groznyj Grad's sewers and confronting The Sorrow in what seemed to be the anteroom to the afterlife), so that whole area of the game will be a tranquil ride. If you didn't remove the transmitter, however, you'll be out of luck (though treated to a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment of a joke cutscene where Eva removes it for your troubles).
    • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots has the Surface Tunnel. After fighting your way through hordes of cyborgs, hundreds of scout robots and a complicated boss, you get to use a Metal Gear to destroy enemies which give you massive amounts of points, with a very lenient time limit and little chance of dying on most difficulty levels.
  • Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory has the final level, Kokubo Sosho. In comparison to the previous three levels, Battery, Seoul and Bathhouse, Kokubo Sosho is MUCH easier to complete with 100% stealth, much more straightforward and much shorter in length.
    • It also features Hokkaido, which comes between Displace, where you are prohibited from killing anyone and is bristling with security cameras and lasers, and the aforementioned Battery. Hokkaido features no keypads or cameras to hack, and the player is not prohibited from killing enemies (and in fact is required to kill one). Whilst it is a breather in terms of gameplay, it features arguably the most significant twist in the game's plot.

    Survival Horror 
  • Alien: Isolation has mission 8, which is short and only shows an armed scavenger and an android (which can kill the former) as enemies. Both can be easily avoided or even disposed of if you have the equipment. The alien won't show up. This is just a brief breath after the nightmarish hell of the hospital section and before "The Trap".
  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent has an emotional breather level. After the heart-stopping panic of the water demon in the cellar Daniel arrives at a peaceful (if slightly bizarre) chapel-like room. Then it turns From Bad to Worse. So much worse. Also main Cistern area and where you meet Agrippa in the Nave, which works as a breather room
  • BioShock
    • BioShock Infinite, after the action-packed first level, sends the player to Monument Island — which has no enemies to fight and no obstacles at all, but lots of Scenery Porn and a proper buildup for meeting the deuteragonist.
    • Before that, in BioShock 2, you leave Rapture at a few points and walk across the ocean floor to another part of the city. Your enemies can't breathe underwater, so you get some time to relax and look at the Scenery Porn before resuming combat.
  • The Flash horror platformer The Bright in the Screen has the "Red Freaks Museum" level and a level where you lose control of the player character, and they easily finish the level on their own, leaving you free to read the screens.
  • Chiyo's level in Calling is brightly lit and almost serene. Ghost won't attack you unless you ignore the black cat's warnings, and there's none of the oppressive, paranoia-inducing atmosphere of the previous levels.
  • Clive Barker's Undying: The Monastery. Non-threatening human enemies MUCH less dangerous than the fast, monstrous Howlers AND tons of health and ammo.
  • Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water gives the player the Interlude chapter. It's a very short chapter that lacks hostile ghosts, and mostly gives the player a break to just find some notes and spectral echoes to photograph, after the previous chapter ended with Ren fighting a ghost to prevent it from forcing Rui to commit suicide and ends when Yuuri heads back to Mt Hikami, intent on finding the missing Haruka and Hisoka.
  • Fear Effect 2: Retro Helix has the first time playing as Deke. After the hell that is the Wing Chun Tower, you go up against a bunch of slow moving, weak hitting mutants. Meanwhile, Deke has his trademark shot pistols, an actual shotgun, a grenade and rocket launcher, and an assault rifle.
  • Parasite Eve has one. In day 2, you spend most of the day in Central Park, which is a huge "dungeon" with save points pretty spread apart. In the start of day 3, you're in Soho where you get to stock up on guns, armor, ammo, tools for tune ups, stat boosting items, curing items, and recovery items (although some of the really good stuff are practically invisible). You then go the museum to advance the plot. Why such a generous break? The NYPD precinct is under attack by Eve's minions after you come back to from the museum. The monsters have beefed up considerably (and you'll be dealing with monsters that can either lower your defense or cut your HP in half per hit) compared to the monsters you fought in day 2 at Central Park, due to being in a small building.
  • Resident Evil:
    • Resident Evil:
      • The Residence is quite a bit easier than the actual mansion. It's a smaller and much more straightforward to navigate area with many rooms only being visited once, making it easy to figure out which rooms you should rout enemies and which ones you should just dodge. On top of that, most of the enemies are giant spiders (which are very easy to run past) and giant bees (which are very easy to run from), and the two bosses are both dispatched by solving puzzles rather than combat (though fighting Plant 42 head-on is an option, particularly for Chris, who has to at least fight its second phase; if you make the right choices as Jill, Barry will kill it for her in a cutscene). This was likely done intentionally by the developers not only so you could can focus on the several major plot points that are revealed here, but also to give you a reprieve before returning to the mansion and finding out it's been infested with Hunters.
      • Despite being the final area, the laboratory is rather barren on threats compared to the mansion revisit and the caverns. The Hunters are gone for good and the only enemies left are zombies, which aren't even that numerousnote , and Chimeras, which can be dangerous but are limited to a couple rooms. It's even easier if you ignore certain sidequests and already know the passwords that were hidden behind puzzles; this causes the lab to be over in mere minutes, and end with a "final boss" that gets defeated by 12 shots from the handgun in the original game. The remake also removes the threat of Crimson Heads that plagued the player for most of the game; the naked zombies can't turn into them, and you're given plenty of lighter fluid to burn the few clothed zombies that can.
    • You'd think the segment in Resident Evil 2 where you have to play as the helpless little Sherry Birkin would be difficult but you'd be wrong. She has tons of health, the only enemies she faces are the occasional zombie or zombified dog, and because she's so short zombies can't grab her and have to resort to using their vomit attack instead which does Scratch Damage to the little Damage Sponge. There's not even any real puzzles to contend with: it's effectively just a Fetch Quest. Note that this only applies to the original game; in the Remake the part where you play as Sherry is much more difficult and utter Nightmare Fuel.
    • The Raccoon City Hospital in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis has you playing as Carlos rather than Jill. He only has to face zombies and the occasional Hunter and he takes far less damage from attacks than Jill does. It's fairly easy to just brute-force your way through the hospital without even firing a bullet just by quick-dodging or taking the occasional hit, and if it comes down to it his assault rifle will make quick work of offenders. However once you actually finish the hospital and head back to the Clock Tower you're forced to fight Nemesis who, because of Carlos' limited load-out, is That One Boss...
    • The raid in the Militia Camp Resident Evil 4 (the first half of Chapter 5-4) is this, as it comes after the climactic and timed battle with Krauser, and you have Mike's helicopter do most of the dirty work, leaving you free to loot ammunition and treasure without fighting many enemies.
    • Resident Evil 5: Part of the ancient city is a series of Light and Mirrors Puzzles with a small number of weak enemies. A pleasant change from fighting off waves of nightmares of genetic engineering.
  • Silent Hill:
    • Silent Hill 2 finishes with the Lakeview Hotel as its final area. Though it ends with two moderately difficult boss encounters, the Hotel itself is bright and sparsely-populated with monsters. The areas immediately preceding it, the Prison and Catacombs, are full of monsters, difficult puzzles, violations of space-time, and are definitely the most frightening and depressing locations in the game.
    • The outside streets in all games tend to be this too. Indoors spaces, the "levels" of the game, all tend to be claustrophobic death traps loaded with puzzles and monsters. The streets inbetween, while still loaded with monsters, are spacious and let you run from A to B with tons of room to dodge the monsters (this holds especially true for the second game, where the enemies you find outside are all slow-moving and bipedal). Plus, if you feel like exploring, there's treasure troves' worth of items to be found.
    • Silent Hill 3 starts off with a terrifying dream and then gives you a rest when your character visits the bathroom to escape from the local detective. The rest of the game? Not so much as a cigarette break.

    Third Person Shooter 
  • Jet Force Gemini has the Water Ruin area, which has no enemies in sight; the only intelligent life on it are Tribals that you need to collect and a bear who has you go on a Fetch Quest. There are two Ship Parts to collect here as well (the only other level that has more than one is Mizar's Palace), making it a very profitable level overall. Gem Quarry is also free of enemies, but there is a gem-scooping Mini-Game to do there.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising:
  • In Max Payne 2, you have a tourist attraction; Chapter 6 'A Linear Sequence of Scares' was just a stroll through a funhouse ending in a shower scene with The Dame. Oh, and a batch of goodies. It's mainly there to serve as character development, and actually stands out as one of the most memorable levels in the game. It also serves as an opportunity for the player to familiarize themselves with the layout of the map, as he or she will have to return to the location twice - once while fighting enemies, and once while the building is on fire. As the funhouse has the most complex and disorienting level design in the game, this level serves as a dry run before the player has to overcome challenges inside it. All of the dream sequences in the game also function as breather levels, in contrast to the two dream sequences in the original game, which were That One Level.
  • Level 8 in P.N.03 is the shortest and easiest level in the game, with only 5 rooms and a pushover boss.

    Tower Defense 
  • Bloons Tower Defense:
    • In Bloons TD 6, Round 97 is considered the easiest of the final rounds of the Impoppable and CHIMPS modes. The two fortified ZOMGs come alone, with no Zerg Rush BFB escort like on the next round, Round 98, or even Round 96 before them. The lone ZOMGs move very slowly, have virtually no immunities (unlike those DDTs appearing on rounds 90, 93, 95, and 99), and are easy pickings once their bulky outer layers are gone.
    • Tunnels is by far the easiest Expert map in Bloons TD 5. The map is copiously long, has only one path, and blimps, tough as they are, are easily isolated and shot down since the titular tunnels only protect regular bloons, not blimps.

    Turn Based Strategy 
  • These are frequently featured in campaigns of Battle for Wesnoth to allow the player to build up gold and experience for their units in between scenarios with loads of casualties.
  • It's a staple of the Disgaea series to include at least one level in each game consisting mostly or entirely of Prinnys, who may or may not be arranged in a fashion that allows you to detonate every single one of them in a single throw. It's baseball in the first game, and bowling in the second. There will also be at least a couple of levels with easy enemies sanding around on XP/Mana/Money boosting Geo-Panels for no other reason then to provide you with an easy Level Grinding spot, often before a Difficulty Spike.

  • Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden: "The World Ender" is a short level with no combat, good loot, and a significant cutscene.
  • Nintendo Wars:
    • Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising:
      • "Two-Week Test", a Hold the Line style mission where you must protect your HQ from a vastly superior force for 14 turns as Colin, seems threatening at first but is much easier than the missions preceding and following it owing to your HQ being on a peninsula with a 2 square-wide chokepoint that connects it to the mainland. Plop some tanks on it, put some indirects behind it, and clog the rest of that penninsula with infantry, and your opponent will never break through since Colin's cheaper units allow him to easily make up for the losses while chipping away at the enemy's stronger units. It's basically impossible to lose if you don't attempt move forward. All of this is also ignoring an amazing Cheese Strategy where, if you don't build any units, your enemy will move their tanks in and park them all over your properties which prevents their own infantry from winning by capture and basically solves your problem for you while you Win By Doing Absolutely Nothing.
      • The penultimate campaign level Hot Pursuit is typically regarded as a breather level between Great Sea Battle (where The Dragon is confronted) and Final Front (the final showdown with the Big Bad). Other, similar levels exist throughout the series. In this case, it is revealed that the level is intentionally easier as bait for the Big Bad's trap. In hard campaign however, Hot Pursuit is generally considered the hardest level in the game (along with Show Stopper, Sinking Feeling and Great Sea Battle).
    • Advance Wars: Dual Strike has Muck Amok, a one-screen wide-open map with no obstacles and nothing to battle but Oozium 238 and a single missile unit guarding the enemy HQ. You'd have to be really careless to get overwhelmed since Oozium are so limited in mobility and such a predictable threat, making the level a very nice reprieve from the much more difficult Omens And Signs and Into The Woods that came before, and the downright savage Healing Touch and Crystal Calamity that come after. Adding to that is the mission offers comms towers and almost all vehicle-type units giving you a massive advantage if you team up Jess with Javier, you're facing Koal on his own whose abilities aren't usable on this mapnote , and you'll get a cool 680 points for wiping out all the Oozium units (equal to the reward you get for two S-ranked missions), making this mission worth 1000 points total if you S-rank it.
    • Advance Wars: Days of Ruin:
      • Salvation, the 19th mission. After several rather difficult battles rife with Interface Screw and one hell of a Player Punch, you suddenly get a mission where you face a ragtag group of fanatics. They have only foot soldiers and two tanks, both suffering damage at the start of the level, a war tank with low fuel and no ammo, and no CO, while you have missile silos to tear them apart.
      • Crash Landing, a straight forward battle that is opened and closed by the Unusual Euphemisms and antics (such as being the only one to care about the altimeter) of an unnamed IDS agent. In Dark Conflict, the battle is still easy, but without the dialog.
    • Battalion Wars has Black Gold, which has pitiful defenses because the enemy units that are scattered all over the place, which this takes advantage of.
  • Chapter 12 of Valkyria Chronicles, "The Fight for Bruhl". Plotwise it takes place between the death of an important character and when the game really starts ramping up for the final third, and you've just gone through a bunch of maps that are highly involved (either because they're huge, or involve extremely specific strategies and objectives). It takes you back to one of the first places in the game, so you're already familiar with how to move around the layout, and can easily be completed by a scout in one phase without even breaking a sweat. Even in the story, the end of the mission gives Welkin and Alicia a sense of hope and a newfound drive after all they've been through.

    Western RPG 
  • Baldur's Gate II has the optional Sahuagin city, provided you have enough experience and gear at this point of the game, which is the norm unless you rushed through chapter 3 and 4 leaving many quests incomplete. After the asylum and before the Underdark, this map sets an interlude not only in game difficulty (nothing too much complex for quests, and moderate enemies that do not pose a serious threat unless you don't control your party) but also in atmosphere and tone, being more of a traditional action-oriented scenario with political intrigues rather than the nightmarish contexts of the other two maps.
  • In Drakensang after some pretty hard times of stealth and hard fights in the castle ruins in the Blood Mountains and the siege of Grimtooth castle, Tallon feels like this. Except for the hidden Linnworm Optional Boss and the Dragon Jafgur near the end.
  • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind's Tribunal expansion is packed with high-level foes who can dish out damage as easily as they can take it, including enhanced versions of common enemies from Vvardenfell such as "Greater" Ancestor Ghosts and "Advanced" Dwemer Centurions. It comes as a relief then, when you must visit the ancient Daedric ruin of Norenen-dur deep beneath the city, that it is full of the same basic Daedric enemies as the base game who will go down much more easily in comparison. Immediately after this quest is the Very Definitely Final Dungeon of the expansion and a notorious difficult Big Bad boss fight at the end.
  • Fallout 3 has one quest that is incredibly simple. You just have to follow Dad's orders, which mainly consist of "go here and press button". Just before this was Vault 112 which was simple but annoying to complete. And straight after this quest the Enclave attack.
  • Knights of the Old Republic - First game has Dantooine, second game has Citadel Station. In the first case, you spent a lot of the time at the Enclave first. When leave the Enclave, you've leveled up enough to take on most of the local wildlife without much trouble. In the second game, Citadel has VERY minimal combat until you cross the Exchange. Furthermore, Dantooine is a beautiful environment; all grasslands and rivers, set to a permanent sunset. Compare with Taris, which was all dilapidated Durasteel from the Upper City down, and generally a festering pit of corruption and hatred. Bastilla even invokes this trope, calling Dantooine a place of "physical and spiritual healing".
  • Mass Effect 3 has the Geth Fighter Base, where Shepard is sent into the Geth Consensus to destroy the Reaper code controlling a squad of Geth. There's no real combat, and it mostly serves to give some insight into the events of the Morning War. Then there's the Citadel DLC, the second half of which - outside of a game within a game - is mostly comedy and watching your teammates interact.
  • Might and Magic:
    • In VI the second part of the game starts with four quests to fetch memory crystals to reactivate The Oracle. Three of them are located in places that are absolutely infuriating to navigate and are full of local Demonic Spiders. The fourth? The one, located in Supreme Temple of Baa, is rather easy to find and the place contains enemies that you had to fight before already and in bigger numbers.
    • Some promotion quests are very easy to complete, especially when compared to some aggravating ones:
      • 3D games have Cleric promotion quests rather easy most of time, but VIII really takes the cake, as the required promotion item is in Noob Cave. While it is in optional part of the dungeon, the enemies here are not even on Ravenshore's enemy level, which is your next destination.
      • Ranger's first promotion quest in VII amounts to getting to the entrance of one specific dungeon. That's it.
  • Starfield: Late in the main quest line, you visit ruined NASA bases on the Moon and Earth, and spend most of your time exploring the bases and learning about the backstory of the game world. There is some combat, but it takes a long time to appear, and isn't very intense.
  • In TaskMaker, a Fetch Quest RPG for the Macintosh, the seventh task is one of the easier ones. You have to navigate through a bunch of force fields in Fierce Fold, and even those are easily thwarted with the right spell. Then once you get to Dripstone, where the item in said fetch quest is located, the town is very small (about the size of the town that holds the first task), so finding all the switches to unlock the path is easy.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • The first Destroy All Humans! game has a couple of missions focused solely on destroying as much as possible, which usually come after some of the more difficult missions which typically involve stealth and tricky maneuvering or are escort missions. Most notable is the level where you get the Quantum Deconstructor, the most powerful weapon in the game; the mission simply consists of leveling an entire town using it. It comes directly after Furon Down!, which is one of the largest and most involved missions in the game, wherein you have to bust out of containment, regain all your weapons, sneak onto a secluded island, and collect a bunch of things to fix your saucer.
  • Far Cry 6 has Our Right To Party. The goal of the mission is simply to go to an island, listen to some backstory, light up a bbq, grill some food, set off some fireworks, and party. There are no enemy soldiers, and worst-case scenario you might get nipped by a shark while getting the grill. This comes nestled between two rather intense missions: after Harpoon where you invade Fontana Fort and kill Admiral Benitez, and before Lion's Roar where Castillo's Army retaliates for killing Admiral Benitez by driving you out of your base and killing El Tigre, Jonròn, and a bunch of your allies.
  • Terraria: Ironically enough, the two most dangerous and unwieldy places in pre-Hardmode, the Dungeon and Underworld, become this upon the initial transition into Hardmode, as they do not convert into Hardmode themselves until certain event flags have been reached (one Mechanical Boss defeated for the Underworld and Plantera defeated for the Dungeon). The armored skeletons and fire imps that previously resulted in a lot of pain and anguish suddenly pale in comparison to the regular Hardmode enemies lying around in the underground caverns or even right outside your own home. And the Underworld is still this even after, as while the Dungeon becomes the hardest biome to traverse in the game after its conversion, the Underworld only gains three new enemies and doesn't change much at all otherwise, considering it also isn't affected by the streaks of Underground Corruption/Crimson or Hallow that plague all the other biomes.

    Web Original 
  • Ross of Game Grumps and Steam Train delights in using Super Mario Maker and its sequel as torture chambers for Arin and Danny, but then there's Very Simple. It's a wide, flat level with no cliffs and only one enemy, with the trick being there is a row of invisible coin blocks along the entire thing save for one space at the very beginning. You need to slowly walk and meticulously hit every one across the entire level, then run all then way back to start, and then run all the way to the end. While it is designed to piss people off, it does so with annoying monotony rather than difficulty and Arin and Dan are thoroughly unimpressed. Keep in mind this came between YOU ARE A MONSTER and Ross's now infamous trademark stage Boss Rush.

    Non-Video Game Examples 

Fan Works

  • The Moonstone Cup: In-universe, Twilight thinks that the dispelling part of the Cup's preliminary competition is this, due to finding the process of removing an enchantment to be very simple. All other contestants, however, struggle significantly with this task, and the ease with which Twilight does it scares the crap out of Najstariot.

Films — Live-Action

  • Escape Room (2019): The second room lacks any immediate danger that we get to see in the brief time it takes the protagonists to solve it, being protected by two very simple lock puzzles. The first part is a cozy cabin with no observable time limit, although the second part is a frozen landscape where the real danger is catching hypothermia if they stay too long. There is a trap in the room in the form of landmines rigged to the ice, but these are only activated after they find the exit, or if they try to cheat.


Live-Action TV

  • On the Pyramid game show franchise, there are two examples of this.
    • Each game features a team consisting of a celebrity and a contestant, who alternate in conveying to each other sets of seven words in 30 seconds; they may use nearly any other means except the word itself. Each set of seven words has a common theme which is disclosed by the host (e.g., "Describe to your partner these types of shoes"). The Breather Level comes into play if the category is one that can easily be done physically; for example, if the subject is something like "Things that you do with your hands", the clue giver may simply do things like point, snap their fingers, etc. to convey the words "point" and "snap".
    • The Bonus Round, known as the Winner's Circle, features a board with six subjects on it. Each subject is revealed individually, and whoever is giving the clues has sixty seconds to convey each subject by giving a list of things that fit it. Giving an illegal clue (part of the subject or a direct synonym; a description of the subject instead of an item that fits it; or an item that does not fit at all) invalidates the category immediately. For example, if the box is "Things That Are Red", the person giving the clue may say things like "a rose", "a fire engine", or even "Clifford" or "Cabernet Sauvignon", whereas "Clifford the Big Red Dog", "Crimson", or "This is the color of a rose" would be illegal. Breather Levels come into play on the second category, which often takes the form "Why You ____" or "What ____ Might Say", where a more verbose clue may be given without invalidating the rules of the game. (For example, a box reading "What Dick Clark Might Say" could be conveyed with nearly any sentence that accurately describes him, such as "I'm the host of Pyramid and American Bandstand" or "I'm America's oldest teenager".)


  • There are a few staple modes in pinball that are significantly easier on the player than others:
    • Multiball modes are seen as a safety net because not only are the extra balls insurance against a loss if you've drained one or more, as multiball modes keep going until you drain every ball except one, but standard multiball modes also begin with a ball saver, a mechanic that provides you with another ball immediately after you lose one. In other words, for the first few moments in a multiball, you cannot lose. Since most modern machines let you play two or more modes simultaneously, these attributes actually help make other modes easier too, and a staple of playing competitively involves taking a risky and/or difficult mode and combining it with multiball to make it safer.
    • Pinball machines made by Sega will usually have one mode called "Extra Ball," which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. It's not so much a goal to complete as much as an extra ball will be activated somewhere at a fixed location on the playfield, and getting the ball there awards you with one more to play with. It's the video game equivalent of a stage in which you search for an extra life and that's it. Getting this extra ball also counts toward reaching the Wizard Mode.

Tabletop Games

  • Bliss Stage: After flying a mission, the player characters are granted Interlude Actions, giving the players a chance to heal and roleplay. This is the main mechanism by which the characters Level-Up at Intimacy 5.