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Down the Drain

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Ah, Toad Town Tunnels! Visit its scenic filthy streams that lead to who-knows-where! It's spectacularly disgusting! Come stay awhile! If you're not totally grossed out the first night, you stay for free!
Goombario, Paper Mario 64

A level that takes place in the sewers or a flooded building or some sort of hydraulic plant. Common mechanics of these levels include maze-like layouts, Super Drowning Skills (or Super Not-Drowning Skills, depending on the game), narrow passages obstructed by rotating propeller blades of death, running water causing platforms to act like conveyor belts, and requiring the player to swim through sections of the level (sometimes the whole thing). Hitting switches to somehow divert the flow of water to flood or drain certain areas is also fairly common.

These traits, combined with a heightened temptation to abuse Copy-and-Paste Environments, make these kinds of levels highly receptive to becoming That One Level, especially if they are Marathon Levels. This can be aggravated in 3D games that require the player to swim freely in and under the water, usually due to the difficulty of controlling the player character in these situations, because swimming like this is a 3D movement, while most forms of input for video games are only 2D in nature.


See also Under the Sea for levels which are set in more natural aquatic environments. See also Absurdly Spacious Sewer and/or Tunnel Network for this kind of setting outside the scope of videogame levels.

Not to be confused with Down L.A. Drain. Compare Tide Level.


    open/close all folders 

  • Blaster Master's Stage 4 takes place in a very large maze of a sewer. The on-foot sections contain pools of sewer sludge (some placed around precariously narrow foot paths), and if Jason falls into one, he dies.
  • There's a level in Cave Story where you have to be thrust along with the current, through huge groups of spikes and nearly-invisible foes - right after a boss that occasionally forces you to drown if you're not careful enough, all while firing extremely damaging projectiles at you. Thankfully, you can save first. Unfortunately, if you screw up in this area or the prior boss, the best ending is Permanently Missable.
  • Castlevania:
  • The Spring in the Sky in La-Mulana is literally up the drain. And to get the item which prevents water from continuously damaging you, you have to do a little painful swimming first. You also need to buy a helmet first from a Dungeon Shop to have a chance to getting past the waterfalls, at which point, Surprise Fish! The Tower of the Goddess doesn't appear to have water at first, but partway through you have to detour back to an earlier level to raise the water level. The swimming controls are not good.
  • Shantae: the Dribble Fountain, which is some kind of aqueduct/sewer thing, is the very first dungeon.
  • The Legend of Zelda series has had its share of water dungeons that fit this trope:
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past after the first bit of castle and dungeon, Link has to escort Zelda out through the sewers. In the same game, the second dungeon of the Dark World, Swamp Palace, involves manipulating the flow and/or level of water.
    • The Great Bay Temple in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask is a huge hydroelectric plant where Link has to operate the color-coded pipes to carry water and make elevators with them. At one point, he also has to reverse the entire flow direction of the water to access previously inaccessible areas.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker has an old sewer system infested with rats and zombies underneath a private island cabana; Link must traverse this sewer system to obtain one of the Triforce charts. Perhaps that's why Mrs. Marie, the schoolteacher at Windfall Island, was more than happy to hand over her Cabana Deed to a random child (Link) who just happened to have 20 Joy Pendants.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has a literal sewer as the first level for Wolf Link. The sewer is revisited at a later point, but it's a briefer visit. There's also the Lakebed Temple, which involves changing water flow to make flywheels move, which cause platforms to move, as well as draining water into the center area to reach the boss's chamber.
    • The Ancient Cistern in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is this in the upper areas, with pipes that enable water-based elevators when the Whip is used, and a giant, golden statue raised or lowered with the help of two side waterwheels operated from a wall-placed lever (that is manipulated by the Whip as well). The lower areas of the dungeon, meanwhile, are Big Boo's Haunt type.
    • The Swamp Palace of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds resembles a big sewer in the middle of a swamp and requires you to solve elaborate water-raising/water-lowering puzzles to traverse.
    • Divine Beast Vah Ruta in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a giant mechanical elephant capable of generating a vast amount of water that it sprays out of its trunk. Its innards consist of various pumps, water wheels, and waterfalls that Link must traverse to free it from Ganon's influence. The Shrines found in watery areas have similar interiors.
  • The second half of Lud's Gate, one of the most difficult areas in Tomb Raider III, is a large underwater maze, compounded by the lack of air pockets and the clumsy controls of the UPV.
  • Star Fox Adventures has an aquatic-themed dungeon focused on pipelines, pressure, and lots of other fun stuff—the Ocean Force Point. It's not an actual sewer, being a rather pretty temple, but this is the closest place for it.
  • Ys II has a maze of subterranean canals beneath the Solomon Palace.
  • Metroid:
    • Super Metroid has Maridia, at least the areas that have an artificial base. You have to retrieve the Gravity Suit from the Wrecked Ship beforehand, as it lets you traverse the water unhindered.
    • Metroid Fusion has Sector 4, a section of the BSL station designed to hold various aquatic creatures. The first time you visit, exposed wires keep you from safely entering the water without getting electrocuted; you must lower the water level to change this.
    • In Metroid Prime, certain sections of both Tallon Overworld and Phendrana Drifts are filled with pools of water. The Tallon Overworld section in particular requires you to traverse the crashed Frigate Orpheon from the beginning of the game with the Gravity Suit.
    • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes features the very difficult (even by this setting's standards) lower levels of Torvus Bog, which is otherwise a Bubblegloop Swamp level. It's not the first underwater level in a Metroid game, but it might be the first that forces you through half of it without the Gravity Suit (or in this case, the Gravity Boost).
  • Jak II and 3 have you go into plenty of sewer sections in Haven City, often to either get around barriers or do dirty work for Krew. Even Daxter hates it when Krew sends them off down there, but mostly cause he'll be running around in a smelly sewer without pants. You also go under the Port to meet up with Sig near the end of II, the entire first section of which has you traveling through an underwater section in the resident Mini-Mecha.
  • Messiah has an entire level set in sewers with some jumping puzzles and brushes with squads of Chots who live there.
  • Hollow Knight, being a Metroidvania, follows suit with the Royal Waterways under the City of Tears. It's not huge, but the mapmaker is easy to miss, making it easy to get lost in the winding pipes. But it redeems itself with the area boss, a bouncy, rollicking fight with a hammy dung beetle that lightens up a gloomy game.
  • Overlord I. In order to bypass the closed bridge entrance into the castle city of Heaven's Peak, the player has to traverse a sewer-like network in order to enter the fortress from below. The sewer entrance is found in a nearby swamp that can only be accessed after the Overlord has obtained the aquatic Blue Minions in order to remove the piece of rubble blocking the sewer entrance. The Heaven's Peak sewers is filled with a variety of zombies that the Overlord and his Minions need to fight through to reach the city.
  • Urbanoids: Each level has a sewer system which is grey and full of robots. Stenchburg is a town that's small on the surface but has a vast network of these sewers, so the majority of the action takes place there.

    Action Game 
  • The sewer level in Enter the Matrix was very long, full of difficult enemies, and for some odd reason, had areas which were a several stories high underground, requiring balance and platforming in order to successfully get through.
  • The Matrix: Path of Neo has a few of these, they tend to be long, full of SWAT teams, Agents and have really high places you have to cover allies...and blow up.
  • Ninja Gaiden has the Absurdly Spacious Sewer that is The Aqueduct.
  • Killer Croc's Lair in Batman: Arkham Asylum. While it isn't overly large, the lack of your usual area map and the need to move as slowly and silently as possible make it one of the longest (and to some, most tedious) sections in the game. The sequel had a sewer level too but it was shorter.
  • X-Men Legends has you trudging through the old sewers of New York city, the level itself is fairly straightforward, but the challenge comes from fighting off dozens of Morlock mutants. As you fight further in, the Morlocks only seem to grow in number, but it gets particularly frustrating once you encounter the Morlock Goth, a mutant who can teleport and revive her fallen comrades and has a tendency to stay hidden in an entire mob of Morlocks who can easily slaughter your team without good crowd control.
  • Devil May Cry 2 had Dante go through a sewer in the third mission (Lucia had this as her second) and Lucia later got an aqueduct level.
  • The Spider-Man game for the PS1 and PC had Venom's lair be in the sewer (with lava in What If mode).
  • The Spider-Man 3 game had about three stages where Spidey tracked the Lizard through the sewers.
  • Dino Crisis 2 has one such underwater level that's actually a very fun part of the game. You wear a diving suit that gives you unlimited air and is too heavy to swim (meaning you walk around only slightly slower than normal rather than screwy swimming controls) and the suit has built in jets allowing for a moon jump ability. Adding to this is the enemies here are slow moving large targets, allowing for a ton of free experience points. It could actually be considered a mid-game Breather Level.
  • A creepy example is featured in Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, with bodies dissolving in acid pools and chilling background music.

    Beat 'em Up 

    First-Person Shooter 
  • Dark Forces, first in the Jedi Knight series, features a sewer level plagued by the Death Star trash compactor monsters (complete with conveyor belt-like currents) and a series of places where water levels (if you can call the stuff water) must be changed in the proper order. Apparently, a sewer that's convoluted enough can double as an Elaborate Underground Base.
  • Half-Life 2 features an entire chapter, Route Kanal, where the player must traverse the canals and sewers of City 17 to escape from the Combine. While the chapter is not exclusively sewer-action, a good chunk of time is spent there.
  • Redneck Rampage: the first episode's fifth level, aptly named "Sewers", is a very big, labyrinthine and dimly-lit series of identical-looking grey-brown corridors and tunnels with lots of swimming and switch hunts. A few things make it even more aggravating than the average Down The Drain level: Turd Minions are the whole cut of opposition, the layout is confusing enough to get most players turned around several times, and there's absolutely no indication of what switch messes with what lock, forcing anyone who doesn't have perfect memories of the level's layout (or a walkthrough handy) to backtrack repeatedly to check each passageway for any changes after every single switch, and the drab environment has nothing for Leonard to drop a funny quip about. Overall it's a jarring change from the straightforward and quick pace of the previous levels that seems more like padding the shareware, and to the surprise of no one, it's considered by many to be among the worst parts of the game.
  • All Serious Sam games aside from BFE feature one of these.
    • The First Encounter has a brief sewer section while moving through Karnak. It's a Breather Level before Metropolis.
    • The Second Encounter has a fairly large underwater maze near the start of the Courtyards of Gilgamesh – NETRICSA even says she (somehow) can smell water, and a lot of it. The swim through is a real test of the Oxygen Meter, especially if you're going for all the secrets, but as a small mercy, there are very few Electro-Fish to worry about, and once you find the exit, it can be entered from either side, making searching through for secrets much more comfortable.
    • 2 has a level at which Sam is forced to go through the sewer system to enter a castle. As he sees the entrance to the sewers he complaints to Netricsa about it, and she says something about there being a mandatory sewer level in every game.
  • Dead Space: Extraction, a rail shooter, features a sewer on a space ship. It's a pretty big ship, though, with a standing crew of over a thousand, plus water for the hydroponics area, so it's justified.
  • Doom and its mods:
    • MAP02 of Doom II: Hell on Earth, "Underhalls", is a sewer level, possibly the earliest one in a first-person shooter game. It's hard to notice, though, considering the "real-world" levels are incredibly abstract even before the forces of Hell start warping things, and that it's not particularly annoying compared to any of the other levels.
    • This kind of level, or at least location within a larger level, is common in Game Mods. Two examples that comes to mind is the entire second part of Eternal Doom's MAP04, "Nucleus", and the final stretch of Hellcore 2.0's MAP02, "Baron Streets".
    • Batman Doom throws you into one of these as soon as you finish the first mission and the game proper begins ("Follow Killer Croc through the sewers"). Like in most such examples, the sewers are green, drab and moist, with enemies leaping at you from under the water, and several catwalks above big water tanks.
  • Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 both have maps where you spend a brief time within a sewer:
    • Part 3 of No Mercy, aptly named "The Sewer", has an Absurdly Spacious Sewer with many passageways that lead to the hospital. Interestingly, only about a third of the level actually takes place in the sewer.
    • Death Toll gets special mention for having an entire chapter, "The Drains", take place in a sewer. Unlike most other sewers, it's accessed through a building on a cliffside rather than a manhole.
    • The Passing has the second part of the underground tour at the end of "The Underground" take place in the sewer, with a gauntlet to wrap it up. Also an Absurdly Spacious Sewer, but wide open rather than maze-like, so the only reason to go in any direction other than straight towards the exit is to dodge infected.
    • The Parish, near the end of "The Cemetery". It's basically a straight shot that only goes about twenty feet before you get back out; the real danger is that it's cramped to the point a Charger is almost a death sentence in it, and it opens up into a field of alarmed cars.
    • Cold Stream's gauntlet finale also takes you on a short romp through a sewer tunnel, right after the scripted Tank attack.
    • The Suicide Blitz custom campaign takes its sweet time taking the player through Fort Harris County's sewer system. A lot less time is spent in it in its sequel, Suicide Blitz 2.
  • The original Call of Duty has a brief one early in the Soviet campaign, but it's not too sewer-levelish and contains no puzzles.
  • The South River wastewater treatment plant (Interval 3) and part of Interval 5 in F.E.A.R.. One of the first levels in the Perseus Mandate standalone Expansion Pack takes place in a storm drain system a la Down L.A. Drain. Interestingly, they're not considered low points in the games, thanks to a combination of memorable scary setpieces and good firefights.
  • Blood, from the same developers as F.E.A.R.:
    • The first game waited until the third episode of four to have a dedicated sewer level ("Raw Sewage", which thankfully isn't too bad), though it also has several times when you have to dive in more primitive outhouse pits. One such pit connects to the aquifer leading to a lake and features an entrance to the Fire and Brimstone Hell you must pass through to get to Tchernobog.
    • Blood II, on the other Choking Hand, shoves you into one right in the fifth level of episode 1 ("Steam Tunnels"), which is an annoyingly long but not extremely difficult area. The third level of episode 2 ("Sewage Treatment Plant") is mercifully a lot shorter, but also quite a bit harder, with several spots where Cabal's Fanatics wait in ambush with hitscan weaponry.
  • The Kosovo and New York missions in Soldier of Fortune have a few sewer/drain levels.
  • The first Medal of Honor has the Sewer Chase level at the end of the first mission.
  • In Dishonored, Corvo escapes from prison via a sewer tunnel.

  • In Guild Wars: Factions, the Undercity is a massive underground sprawl of sewers. The atmosphere is dark.
  • Sewer maps appear a lot in City of Heroes and City of Villains when your character gets sent out on missions. The later game lampshaded it. There are many sewer missions where you're wading waist deep (depending on height) through toxic waste. These levels can be extremely infuriating, as some of them are remarkably easy to get lost in, plus there's the constant nagging feeling that you're wading around in the combined filth of an entire city.
    Sewer missions have always been beneath you. Hopefully someone will understand that someday.
  • Ragnarok Online has the Prontera Culverts, which can house one of the weakest (and weakness is relative) Boss fights in the game.
  • Kingdom of Loathing has the clan dungeon of Hobopolis, the fabled city of underground hobos. In order to access the dungeon, a player must first track down the city via a system of sewers.
  • Tech-based superheroes in DC Universe Online have to go down the sewers of Gotham to take out Scarecrow in their first mission.

    Platform Game 
  • In the Zelda segment of Distorted Travesty 3, there's the water temple, with all the joy of drowning over and over while raising and lowering the water level to solve puzzles. All while Goddamn Bats assault the player every moment.
  • Batman for the NES's Stages 3-1 and 3-2 (Underground Conduits I and II), part of Gotham City's Absurdly Spacious Sewer system.
  • Earthworm Jim's "Down the Tubes" is a cross between this and Under the Sea.
  • Mega Man examples:
    • Mega Man had a drain/sewer portion in the second half of Wily Stage 3 (also appears in the remake, Powered Up). Mega Man actually gets a speed boost from the rushing water, although this means that that it's impossible to pick up enemy drops again if they're passed by.
    • The third Wily stage in Mega Man 2 was also a sewer, lined with Spikes of Doom exacerbated by Mega Man's higher underwater jumping height.
    • Toad Man's stage in Mega Man 4.
    • Venus's stage in Mega Man V (Game Boy, not NES).
    • Toxic Seahorse's stage in Mega Man X3.
    • Pump Man's stage in Mega Man 10.
    • Aqua Man's stage in Mega Man 8 had areas where swimming was necessary (a skill which has not been seen since.)
    • The optional underground section of the intro stage in 8.
    • Heat Man's stage in Mega Man 2 takes place in the sewers, but with lava instead of water.
    • Mega Man Xtreme 2, aka Soul Eraser for the Game Boy, added instant death electrified water to Volt Catfish's stage.
    • Rockman 4 Minus Infinity had Toad Man's stage, but also turned Cossack Stage 3 into one as well. It had various liquids with differing gimmicks.
    • Bifrost's stage from Mega Man ZX Advent.
  • One of the most loathed sections of Conker's Bad Fur Day, "U-Bend Blues", have you swimming through a long pipe filled with spinning fans that can instantly kill you with a single hit. And you have a dwindling Oxygen Meter. And once you get out of the water there are platforms with lethal blades revolving on them. And getting killed at any point in the process sends you back to the beginning. And you must have collected enough money (namely $1000) in the previous levels to proceed, or else turn back.
  • Banjo-Kazooie, another Rare game for the Nintendo 64, has two full levels with this setting in mind:
    • Rusty Bucket Bay, where the oil-contaminated water drains your Oxygen Meter even on the surface, doing so at twice the normal rate when you are submerged. The part involving swimming past instant-kill propellers to get a Jiggy is widely recognized as That One Sidequest, even by Rare themselves.
    • Clanker's Cavern, the third level. While not as difficult as Rusty Bucket Bay, it requires you to spend quite a lot of time underwater and perform several tasks that are only hindered by the game's sub-par swimming controls.
  • Banjo-Tooie has Jolly Roger's Lagoon, which includes various mechanical underwater sections like a metal fish and pipelines leading to other levels. Luckily, Mumbo's spell gives you Super Not-Drowning Skills for the entire level, making things a bit easier.
  • The Sewer Level in Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure is quite possibly the hardest in the game, which is saying something. If the second locked-in battle room doesn't kill you, the merciless Advancing Wall of Doom directly afterward will.
  • Seen in Crash Bandicoot quite a bit. Crash 2 has the "Sewer Or Later" levels which feature electric eels, sentient electromagnets and scientists with flamethrowers. Crash WARPED has the underwater levels, where Crash can swim safely unlike in all other levels, though there are rotating spiky pieces that are harmful; the game also has the 'Tomb Wader' level set in a nilemeter where the water level constantly shifts. Wrath Of Cortex has underwater sewers as well.
  • Ratchet & Clank:
    • Story-critical path on Rilgar on Ratchet & Clank (2002) takes place in a city sewers. The first part is easy as only it includes a few Hydrodisplacer puzzles and no enemies. However, the hard part starts once you slide down a sewer pipe since when you step on suspicious button on the ground, the water starts to pour in. You can't outrun the water, the idea is to get as much of a head start as you can so you can swim through the rest before you drown.
    • Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal: The snot-like Amoeboids are everywhere, sometimes spawning right behind and in front of you at once, the camera is awkward and won't turn unless Ratchet does, certain passages are blocked until you approach them from the proper side, the tunnels all look the same while the crystal locations are initially hidden, and best of all? If you want to find all of them, you have to find a special piece of equipment later in the game to explore the second half of the area...which is as lengthy as the first half. The sewers are rarely part of the major plot, but only for level grinding.
  • The first chapter in Gish, called Sewers of Dross. However, this is one of the easiest chapters.
  • SNES game Mr. Nutz had the character go through a witch's cabin, only to find a shrink potion, fall off the top shelf in the kitchen and then finding himself literally having to go down the drain.
  • The pipe levels in Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! provided quite a bit of variation. "Dingy Drainpipe" was your standard "swim through the sewers" level, but "Demolition Drainpipe" and "Surf's Up" removed the water and combined the sewer levels with Minecart Madness, having you speed through the pipeline in a metal toboggan. "Low-G Labyrinth", another water-free level, added Gravity Screw to a drainpipe level, while "Poisonous Pipeline" rather sadistically added the water back and reversed your left-right controls.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • "The Impossible Maze" from Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, which provides the page image, involves no swimming, but has currents that can push you to other parts of the pipeline. Getting through it requires pushing crates into position to get to pipes that are normally out of reach, and falling down the wrong path or losing your crate means starting over. It also has shades of Blackout Basement, as one half of the level is totally in the dark.
    • Also in Yoshi's Island, Naval Piranha's Castle also seems to be in a sewer or storm drain.
    • World 2-3 of New Super Mario Bros. is one of these, in a desert.
    • Super Mario 64 has Wet-Dry World, where it's possible to control the water level.
    • Slimy Spring Galaxy from Super Mario Galaxy 2 takes place inside a giant underwater cave. Due to the lacking number of bubbles and coins, the galaxy is a race against the Oxygen Meter.
  • Stages 2-2 and 5-4 in Purple take place in sewer systems complete with fish and mines (that are out there to kill you). 4-2 has two with a strange background consisting of moving cherries (and creepy music to boot).
  • Stage 3 in the arcade version of Bionic Commando, and Stage 2 in the NES / XBLA version.
  • "Trial by Water," the fourth stage of the Wolverine game for the NES, involved swimming through narrow underwater passages lined with spinning blades.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has the dam level, the second half of which has Down the Drain mechanics. It's not as hard as Memetic Mutation would have you believe, but that still doesn't mean it's fun.
  • Turrican II's second level is like this, until you jump in the water and it becomes Under the Sea.
  • Parts of the colonial levels in Jazz Jackrabbit 2 take place in the sewers.
  • The level Wishy Washy in The Cat in the Hat is a very sewer-like environment.
  • "Browntown" in The Angry Video Game Nerd II: ASSimilation is a very large sewer where, apparently, the Nerd is swimming not through water but through raw shit! He also finds himself facing electric kelp like the TMNT game on NES.
  • Giana Sisters DS: Many Castle levels take place in the strongholds' storm drains, which are home to large numbers of enemies.


    Real-Time Strategy 
  • Pikmin 2:
    • One of the underground levels, the Submerged Castle, is more similar to the sewer level; which you can only enter with blue Pikmin. It's also a bit more difficult than other underground areas thanks to the invincible Waterwraith that chases you down if you dawdle around on one level for too long.
    • The Shower Room is a bunch of shower floors and drainpipes. Unlike the Submerged Castle, all types of Pikmin are welcome here.

  • The Binding of Isaac:
    • The Afterbirth expansion added the Flooded Caves, a version of the Caves that is completely flooded.
    • Antibirth has the Downpour as the first floor of the mod's new path. It's a massive storm drain. Repentance, in addition to canonizing the Downpour, also added the Dross (an outright Absurdly Spacious Sewer) as an alternate version of the floor.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Baldur's Gate:
  • Child of Light has the Capilli Village Well, which contains the sacred Water of Lethe necessary to lift the curse on the village.
  • Chrono Cross has the sewers under Viper Manor. Despite a somewhat annoying quantity of enemy encounters (which are usually difficult to avoid due to the cramped passageways), the area itself is mercifully short.
  • Chrono Trigger has the Sewer Access. Although it is accessible when you first visit 2300 A.D., it is entirely optional at that point. By the time you're actually required to go through it, you're likely to be significantly over-leveled compared to the enemies there.
  • Dark Souls is home to the Depths. The area is a disgusting, pus covered sewer filled with giant evil rats, dangerous slimes, cannibals, the Gaping Dragon, and most dangerous of all, the basilisks.
  • Dead Island has the player need to go through the sewers to reach first the Town Hall, and then the Supermarket, and then back out the same way in the second act. In Ryder's Campaign, you need to use the sewers to get into the prison.
  • EarthBound has the sewers of Fourside. Ness and his friends have to go through here to find one of Ness's "Your Sanctuary" locations, but not before having to fight the Plauge Rat of Doom.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Morrowind:
      • Vivec has plenty of Absurdly Spacious Sewers (though they are justified due to Vivec being a City of Canals). They are fairly wide-open, but have most of the annoying properties of sewer levels (diseased creatures, water that's hard or impossible to get out of, drab colors).
      • Mournhold in the Tribunal expansion also has plenty of sewers, though they are once again justified by the city being built atop the ruins of "Old Mournhold", which was destroyed a few thousand years in the past. Although you could spend a lot of time in Mournhold's sewers, they are well-lit and feel like just another dungeon. Plus, they lead to the cavernous ruins under the city, which, while not underwater, are certainly something worth seeing.
    • Oblivion has the Imperial City sewers. Much like Mournhold above, they are parts of the ruined Ayleid city on which the current city was built. You're forced through them several times, including several times in the main quest alone.
    • Skyrim has the town of Riften, which has extensive sewers which double as the lair of the Thieves' Guild.
  • Final Fantasy VIII has an incredibly frustrating sewer maze in which Quistis, Zell, and Selphie get stuck and all the areas look exactly the same. Plus, you have to go all the way back to the start if you make a mistake. On the plus side, the maze doesn't have any layers, so always taking a left (or a right) where possible will get you to the exit eventually.
  • Might and Magic VI has the Free Haven Sewers, X has the Karthal Sewers — both need to be passed as part of the main quest. VII has the Erathia Sewers, but they only play a part in sidequests (although if you have a Thief in the party, it is almost obligatory, as their class promoter is in the sewers).
  • The Moaning Well level in Napple Tale does not have any smelly sewage (it's a well; that would be unsanitary,) but it does involve a number of water level switches and a water slide sequence.
  • Neverwinter Nights features several contenders, the most obvious being the sewer labyrinth within the city Docks District, which players must run through to collect the fourth reagent needed to cure the plague in the first chapter.
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 takes you into the Castelia City Sewers, complete with Grimer, Rattata and Goddamn Zubats. At least if you find the small above ground abandoned lot area, you get a shot at wild Eevee for the first time in history (not counting Gen IV's trophy garden).
    • In Pokémon Ranger, the player must explore a dungeon called the Waterworks. It's exactly what it sounds like... except it's infested with poisonous gunk Pokémon called Grimer and Muk, which are polluting the water for the entire city. These Pokémon create slippery slime literally everywhere they go. So not only do we have the usual sewer level fare, but we also get Frictionless Slime. The trope was Lampshaded as well; multiple characters complained about how bad it smelled down there, and one Red Shirt was close to vomiting every time you spoke to him (which is often). Granted, the abundance of living pollution Pokémon didn't help the smell any.
  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic has a level where you sneak into the Vulkar base via the Taris sewers. They were quite spacious too since they could fit a rancor down there.
  • Summoner: The sewer you have to enter in the big city is moderately well lit, plausibly plotted (most exits line up with the city above), and it's actually kind of fun as they're the size of the old Roman aqueducts. You mostly fight golems here, instead of the expected rats, bats or insects.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga: The castle basement, where the brothers have to fix the plumbing (they are plumbers, after all) while dodging giant flies.
    • Paper Mario:
      • Paper Mario 64: The Toad Town Tunnels are the sewer system beneath Toad Town proper, and contain — besides the typical unrealistically spacious and empty sewer tunnels interspersed with flooded areas — a network of pipes that can take you to most areas in the game.
      • Paper Mario: The Origami King: The Graffiti Underground, a sewer area connecting Toad Town proper with Peach's Castle, consists of several levels of Absurdly Spacious Sewers and their associated maintenance tunnels, incorporating some basic puzzles themed around lowering and raising water levels and inhabited by bats and rats. They also overlap with Blackout Basement, as several sections are pitch black until Mario hits a light switch.
      • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door: The Rogueport Sewers are a combination of a sewer system and a maze of buried ruins beneath the eponymous port town.
    • Super Mario RPG: Kero Sewers. Mario comes through here with Mallow in search of a star piece only to be flushed out and sent down the river.
  • TS!Underswap adds a small sewer level to the first area. There's only one real puzzle to be solved and no random encounters with monsters, but you do get chased by the Mad Dummy through it, forcing you to avoid their attacks as well as the leaks in the pipes their attacks cause. Optionally, you can backtrack into it afterwards as part of a sidequest for extra G.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines had a sewer level which was incredibly long and was full of high-level enemies around nearly every corner. It's even more difficult for the Ventrue class, as they cannot feed on the rats for health. Playing a Nosferatu requires you to stick to sewers for the majority of the game, because you're so hideous looking that people seeing you is a violation of the Masquerade. Plus there's the absolutely insane amount of terror in that level—here's a hint: the first sub-boss, who then becomes a regular enemy, is a huge, spiderlike centaur-thing created by grafting three women together, who bounds after you.
  • The Kislev Sewer in Xenogears is often considered That One Level due to a complicated maze-like layout, a high random encounter rate, and That One Boss at the end.

    Stealth-Based Game 
  • The sewer level in Metal Gear: Ghost Babel is generally considered to be pretty good, although mostly because the music is cool. The sewer/swimming level in Metal Gear 2 was also reasonably inoffensive, since it helped you get between the Zanzibar Building and the Tower Building without having to get through Maze Wood and the deeply annoying Nariko Sand stage - but if your finger slipped, you could find yourself washing up on the wrong bank and having to backtrack a good half of the game with next to no health and a face full of mines. There's also Big Boss' escape from Groznjy Grad in Metal Gear Solid 3. This was fairly short and the challenge mainly came from the lack of equipment as opposed to typical sewer level mechanics.
  • The New York Sewers in Syphon Filter 2, and the Warehouse District sewers in The Omega Strain.
  • The Cloaca Maxima Romulus Lair from Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood.
  • The Thieves' Guild level from Thief Gold consists mostly of navigating through a series of sewers in order to reach different locations where treasure is stashed. Problem is, not only are the sewer treks long-winded and many, the tunnels are usually stuffed with bad guys that it can be tricky to overcome because of the level design. And because of the game's extremely minimalistic map system, it can be very hard to tell which way you're going, let alone which way you're supposed to go. It's so bad that fans often label it as the worst level of the entire series.
  • Vattic and Jayne escape from the insane asylum through the sewers in Second Sight.

    Survival Horror 
  • Silent Hill:
    • Silent Hill is a rare example of having all the problems associated with this trope, but actually making it work. The sewer level is repetitive, dark, filled with annoying enemies and removes your monster detector to boot. All of this combines to make for one hell of a claustrophobic and eerie run, exactly what the game is aiming for.
    • As a direct sequel to the first game, Silent Hill 3 recycles several locales as Shout Outs. The sewer level is one of them.
    • Silent Hill 2 has the Labyrinth and the flooded Dark World hotel basement.
    • Subverted, though, in the Silent Hill: Shattered Memories re-imagining: the sewer level comes across as the next big scenario, but turns out to be a minor, brief, uneventful sequence lasting a short stretch and holding no encounters with anything or anybody.
  • Any Resident Evil games set in Raccoon City will have one of these, such as the shark-infested flooded basement of the guest house in the first game. Resident Evil 4, which is set in Spain, has a regular urban-ish sewer level underneath an ancient castle that also introduces an invisible enemy type armed with a One-Hit Kill attack.
  • Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare has a sewer level early on in Edward's scenario. Though not very long, Edward's speed is halved by being partly submerged in water, and the place houses a particularly nasty Eldritch Abomination that will pop from beneath to One-Hit Kill him if he takes too long to reach the exit. Except trying to speed up catches the creature's attention. You spend the level alternating between slow/fast pacing and trying to hold off the creature with all your ammo, which can knock it back unconscious for a few seconds AT BEST.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • Inverted in Gears of War where you are required to go through a sewer, and you make the other people in your group go through it while your character laughs at them at every opportunity.

Non-video game examples:

    Comic Books 
  • Parodied in the Jhonen Vasquez comic Everything Can Be Beaten.

  • In The Shawshank Redemption, Andy makes his escape by tunneling into the jail's sewer system and using it to both get away from the jail and mask himself from the bloodhounds used to track him.
  • Cyborg (1989) has a scene where a pair of protagonists try to escape from a post-apocalyptic gang of marauders by traveling through a sewer. The water in the sewer comes up to the characters' thighs, and at one point an unconscious character has to be set down in a place where her head is just barely above water. It's probably best to not think too much about what might be floating around in that water.
  • Much of the Polish film Kanał takes place in the sewers of Warsaw during the late stages of the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, as the last survivors of the uprising try to get away via the sewers.
  • The climactic chase in The Third Man takes place in the Absurdly Spacious Sewer system of Vienna.
  • Ant-Man discovers that the good 'ole Air Vent Infiltration won't work as the Properly Paranoid Big Bad has put micromesh across the ventilators. But he realises that they won't have covered the water pipes.


    Live-Action Series 


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Sewer Level


Luigis Mansion 3 Boilerworks

Clem flooded the Boilerworks, resulting in Luigi having to ride a duck to get further.

How well does it match the trope?

4.5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / DownTheDrain

Media sources:

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