Follow TV Tropes


Grid Inventory

Go To

An alternative to the Hyperspace Arsenal. Instead of having an infinite amount of generic space to store things, or a simple numerical weight limit, you have a grid to store them in. The size and shape of objects varies; a key may fit into a single grid section, while a box of ammunition takes up a larger square of sections, and a rifle needs a long rectangle. Usually an object must always take up at least one section, no matter how small the object, so one's inventory can quickly become filled up with small things like keys and scrolls.

Weight is generally ignored in these systems. A gold ingot and a sheet of paper will take the same percentage of carrying capacity, even though the ingot is thousands of times heavier.

Prepare to spend a lot of time playing Inventory Tetris to fit everything. A few games have a button that automatically tidies up the inventory, but that's far from universal.

A Sub-Trope of Reduced-Downtime Features.


    open/close all folders 

    Fighting Games 
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl uses a similar system for its sticker power-ups: you can only use as many oddly-shaped stickers as you can fit on the round base of a trophy.

    First-Person Shooters 
  • Chrome makes this even worse than usual, because the inventory is not one large rectangle - it's a medium rectangle, two small ones and a square (or thereabouts). This makes it virtually impossible to carry anything more than two weapons (and even that becomes a problem if you have to wield a rocket launcher) and some ammo.
  • Deus Ex uses this system (although ammo was mysteriously stored elsewhere), while Deus Ex: Invisible War switched to a list inventory. A bug in the first game allows one to exploit a glitch and stack inventory items on top of each other.
    • Deus Ex: Human Revolution brings back the grid inventory, and even allows you to upgrade inventory space, but now makes ammo take up space. The game will automatically reposition items for the best fit, though.
  • Perfect Dark Zero's Limited Loadout works as a form of this, with weapons and gadgets getting separate sets of four slots to fit in. Weapons take up anywhere from one (pistols, grenades and the like) to three (heavy weapons like the sniper rifle and rocket launcher), while the gadgets are universally two slots each, meaning you only get one per-mission gadget and one of the three optional, more universal ones.
  • In the first Soldier of Fortune the number of inventory slots is inversely proportional to the difficulty level, and weapons occupy from one to three slots depending on their size.
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R. technically has a grid inventory, but it is purely an aesthetic element, as the weight of the objects in your inventory will surpass what you're able to carry long before you run out of room.
  • System Shock 2, with the variation that the size of the grid varies with your character's strength.

  • In Mabinogi, gold only stacks up to 1,000 per square. However, there are items called Gold Bags which occupy four squares each, and can hold up to 50,000 gold each. Also, your bank account can hold up to six million gold per character, and any of the characters can access it (useful for kitting out a new character with no money of their own).
  • RuneScape has an inventory of 28 spaces, no more, no less. However, some small things like coins or feather stack (meaning you can have a large amount of them only taking up one inventory space), but other small things you think would stack (herbs and other items), don't.
  • World of Warcraft. You start off with a 4x4 backpack. You also have 4 slots for bags, which each add anywhere from 4 to 22 additional inventory spaces. There are also specialized bags which can hold even more items (up to 32), but only of certain type. (These originally included quivers and soul shard pouches, at least before Blizzard phased out the systems of "Ranged Weapons Use Ammo" and "Soul Shards Take Up Inventory Space". Now the only specialized bags are for crafting supplies.) Items stack depending on type; some as few as 5, others over 200, and weapons and armor do not stack. Keys used to have their own bag ("keyring") that would grow indefinitely, but it has been removed from the game along with the vast majority of the keys themselves - the ones that are left have to fit in the normal inventory.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura does this with both weight and space, but you never really seem to run out - until you have to haul buttloads of treasure back. That's why God invented party members. Also, it features a defragment button which neatly tidies your inventory. There's also something of a cheat: in order to assign an object to a hotkey, you need to place it in one of the ten slots at the bottom of the screen, thus removing it from the grid. These slots ignore the dimensions of the item, and you can assign any item to them, which means that you can save a lot of space by assigning armor and weapons to them.
  • Arx Fatalis, with the size of the grid increasing as you find backpacks scattered throughout the game. Also has a sort button.
  • In Baldur's Gate all items take up the same amount of space, so a character with maximum strength could carry sixteen suits of full plate, but they still couldn't hold more than sixteen pearls (unless you get a jewel bag). Most mods, particularly mods developed by one of the game designers fix this by allowing identical items to be stacked. Additional mods (of even the same ones) can allow items to be stacked infinitely, making the game much less annoying for inventory management.
  • The Dark Sun games had an inventory system similar to Baldur's Gate (which owes Dark Sun a lot in terms of UI), where each item took one slot and there was also a weight limit. However Dark Sun had a lot of chests and bags which you could use to multiply inventory size several times.
  • The game Darkstone is annoying in this, as you have a comparatively small inventory grid and are required, among other things, to collect seven magical MacGuffins with which to defeat the Big Bad. It becomes forgivable, however, once you learn that you can place an object anywhere in the game and it will stay there until you come back for it; thus, all those conveniently abandoned houses back in the starting village become handy places to store the crystal shards, weapons you're not strong enough to use, books of spells you can't master yet, and other things you want to keep but don't want to be lugging around.
  • In Dex it covers 56 slots, with multiple items of the same type fitting into one slot, and quest-specific items marked in red to prevent the player from accidentally throwing them out. Unlike games such as Deus Ex, ammo clips take up slots like any other item.
  • The Diablo series:
    • The first also had the rather painful restriction that gold (in stacks of up to 5,000, though double this with the right and otherwise useless amulet in the unofficial expansion pack) took up precious inventory space. Few items were actually worth more than their gold worth, which made them that much more precious.
    • Diablo II also had a plot-necessary item (the Horadric Cube) that contained several inventory slots. It was actually used for transmuting various items together, but doing that is rare enough that it usually got used just for extra inventory space. The Horadric cube took a 2x2 spot in your inventory but could carry 3x4 worth of items inside.
    • As Spiritual Successors to the series, Mythos and Hellgate: London also utilize this.
  • The Dungeon Siege series features this, but refreshingly includes a feature to sort it all into the most continuous space possible. Your mileage may vary. Fortunately, if you run out of inventory space, you can get a mule at almost every city to carry your stuff.
  • Fate featured this in all its irritating glory. In a grid that's ten blocks wide and four blocks high, there was a distressingly high frequency of items that took up 2x3 grid space and a distressingly low number of items that occupied 1x1 or 2x1. Items couldn't be rotated, so you couldn't fit another short sword in side ways to make room. There was nothing more fun than warping home with an inventory "full" of six double-bladed axes, and about 33% of your grid actually empty.
  • Each playable spaceship in Infinite Space has a unique (and frequently oddly shaped) grid for equipping modules that improve accuracy, durability, etc. Engine and bridge modules are mandatory and must be placed in designated squares. Carriers cannot launch fighters unless hangers are installed adjacent to the catapult(s).
  • The main gameplay mechanic in Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days everything, including weapons, spells, skills, items, accessories, backpacks (the amount of mission-found items you can carry) and even levels take the form of panels, which you need to place into an ever-expanding grid to make use of them. There's also multiplier panels that multiply the effect of all panels of given type by up to 4 and a lot of skills can be enhanced a variety of ways in the same manner. The varied shapes and sizes of panels creates a far more literal form of Inventory Management Puzzle than most games.
  • Legend of Mana: The Logic Blocks that go up into making your Robot Buddy are arranged on a grid, with more powerful Blocks taking up more space. Where they are arranged also affects the behavior of said robot.
  • Basically every single game made by Level-5:
    • Dark Cloud: You have a finite amount of space on each of your inventory grids (items, weapons, weapon attachments, Georama parts, warehouse). The maximum amount of items you can carry can be increased with "Pocket" items obtained as rewards for completing Georama events; unfortunately, you STILL run out of room quite often because like items don't stack—if you have ten Premium Chickens, that's ten slots on your grid filled up.
    • Dark Cloud 2 was quite a bit more generous with grid space, as it's extremely difficult to completely max out your inventory grid. Helpfully, like items stack this time around. However, it only has ONE inventory grid, unlike the previous game, so everything you have—recovery items, key items, weapons, outfits, weapon upgrade items, robot parts, Georama elements, fishing stuff—all of it goes on one huge-ass grid.
    • Rogue Galaxy has a grid inventory which is divided into 7 pages, six of which hold 40 items each, the seventh of which is designed specifically to hold the game's rarest items. The warehouse is also gridded. Like items stack, like in DC2. It's still possible to cram most of your inventory panels completely full of the ridiculous amounts of crap you collect in this game.
  • While most items in LBX: Little Battlers eXperience use a traditional menu-style inventory, each LBX has its own Core Unit that houses things like CPU's, motors, and batteries. Its grid starts off relatively small, but expands at certain character levels.
  • The Mega Man Battle Network series features something similar with the Navi Customizer. While not literally an "inventory," the Navi Customizer offers power-ups for Megaman such as increased HP. The catch is that each power-up takes up a certain number of slots on a grid, and if the grid overflows, Megaman starts to glitch out.
  • Might and Magic 6-8 had a Grid Inventory for each character in the party.
  • The Neverwinter Nights and Neverwinter Nights 2 series have both a grid system and a weight system, although in NWN 2 you almost never run out of grid space. They don't have a size limit, so as long as you can carry items to the weight of ten full-plate suits of armour, you can carry ten full-plate suits of armour, even though any one of these is almost as big as you. And NWN 2 does have a defragmenting button (?Arrange Inventory?). The key difference between both games is that Neverwinter Nights takes different sizes into account: An armor set requires much more space then a potion although you are still given enough grid space to carry around several sets of full plate armor. In Neverwinter Nights 2, every single item takes up exactly one space on the grid and containers such as bags can hold an absurd amount of items, rendering this trope fairly pointless.
  • MS Saga: A New Dawn gives its various Mobile Suits a grid-based system for equipment. This includes weapons, armor, and optional gear. Interestingly, grid size represents both unit quality and unit specialization. The larger a unit's grid, the more advanced its technology, from a piddly handful of squares for generally mundane Mook Mobile units like the GM all the way up to enormous chessboard-sized grids for super-powered Ace Custom units like the Wing Zero. The shape of the grid also matters, due to the nature of equipment. Melee weapons are taller than they are long, while ranged weapons are longer than they are tall. Since the game does not allow you to rotate equipment, the challenge is understanding and optimizing what your Suit can equip. A Suit with a long, narrow grid is therefore expected to be a ranged fighter, one with a tall grid is a melee specialist, and units with nearly square layouts are balanced.
  • Paper Mario: Sticker Star uses a sticker album with several 5x3 pages to hold stickers (the game's inventory); most stickers are 1x1 but some are 1.5x1.5 or even 2x2, and sometimes the in-game sorting function (Start button) doesn't optimally sort the stickers, so that you need to manually move some around to fit that last sticker in.
  • Phantasy Star Nova uses this to let the player use their wide arsenal of skills. All your skills are compiled in a handy list, and can be installed on the grid to obtain their effects. This allows the player to equip skills from other classes to gain their effects, and some skills, when installed next to each other on the grid, can create a Combo Skill Effect that applies an additional skill on top of the skills already on the grid.
  • In Siege of Avalon, even treasure chests have grid inventory. To take this even further, the main reason for taking any two of your friends with you was for their inventory grid space.
  • Solatorobo allows the Dahak to be upgraded with modules slotted into a grid, but the entire grid isn't available at first. Finding Power Crystals to unlock new slots is one of the main reasons to search areas thoroughly! The modules come in all shapes and sizes, including some of the classic Tetris blocks. Once you get the Mk 2, the total unlockable space increases as well, allowing for further enhancement.
  • Titan Quest also sport a grid inventory, plus extra grids in the form three magic bags. The expansion add a sort button and has a much smarter inventory auto-management.
  • Playable tanks in Valkyria Chronicles have a grid for equipping optional parts, such as extra ammo storage or tread defense. Later games in the series do away with this in favour of a system more akin to traditional RPG equipment slots where only one of each type of upgrade can be equipped, and equipment must be within the chassis' weight limit.

    Simulation Games 
  • The furniture in the Animal Crossing series turns into leaves for easy transportation when picked up, so every item from a tissue box to a UFO will fit equally in your inventory. Furniture can also fall out of shaken trees as leaves and fall down slowly just as a leaf would no matter what it is. Possibly justified by the fact that the furniture is from a tanuki, a creature that, in Japanese mythology, can create illusions with leaves, and, in some variations, magically transform the leaves into real objects. In other words, a tanuki did it.

    Stealth Based Games 
  • Gloomwood: The Doctor's bag contains a gridded rotating panel for storing items. Similar to Arx Fatalis, items can be dragged between the inventory and the gameworld in real time.

    Survival Horror 
  • Dead Space and its sequel have a simple system of inventory with most things taking up on square but ammo and stasis refills stack. Weapons have their only separate section, as do plot items. Getting better suits increases you storage space. Though in Dead Space 2 weapons go into the same inventory as the rest of the items, and only take up one space like everything else.
  • The Resident Evil series has a grid inventory in most games, although in the earlier games there's at most one or two items that take up more than a single space, usually the most powerful weapons, like rocket launchers.
    • Resident Evil 4 included a version of this trope. Not only did it include it for just about every item you could acquire (including the special final-boss-ass-kicking-gun), but you were able to purchase new cases of increased size. Now, how a rocket launcher takes up as much space as a few handguns is a WHOLE other issue... It at least granted the player the mercy of being able to rotate items. A 1x2 item could fit in a 2x1 slot with a single rotation, whereas other games (notoriously, Diablo and its successors, as mentioned above) provided no such option. Another great thing about the Resident Evil 4 inventory grid is that while organizing one's inventory, a separate grid would appear to the side for you to temporarily store tiny items while you rearranged the more cumbersome ones, instead of forcing you to move everything around with what little free space was available. By the end of the game, it was trivially easy to store a handgun, a shotgun, a rifle, a submachine gun, a rocket launcher, a mine thrower, and a revolver. It almost qualifies as Hammerspace. That's one hell of an attache case.
    • Resident Evil 5 has a variation on this where all items were shrunk to a single grid square, but you only had 9 squares. Basically, it didn't matter what items you were carrying; you could only carry nine types of items: some objects stack together into one inventory space while others don't, so in Resident Evil 5, 81 incendiary grenades take up as much room as 9 smallish herbs.
  • Sir, You Are Being Hunted makes escaping from mustachioed robots that much trickier by limiting you to whatever gear you can fit inside your inventory by virtue of this trope.

    Survival Sandbox 
  • Minecraft has a grid system for your character's inventory. 40 slots, including 4 for crafting and armor as well as 9 available for use/hotkeyed. One slot can hold up to 64, 16, or one of an item, depending on the type. You can also build chests, which have 27 slots or 54 for the big chests. While there are no objects larger than one slot, one often has to rearrange inventory just to put what you need in the use row, to be able to find things in it, or to combine multiple stacks into one 64-stack to free up slots.
  • Planet Explorers has a fairly typical grid inventory, except with much greater capacity than normal.
  • Subnautica features an automatically-organized grid inventory. There's no stacking of items, which makes inventory management an important part of your strategy, even with the larger-than-average grid.
  • Terraria has a grid inventory that functions similarly to Minecraft's. Along with four slots to hold coins, ditto for ammo, three slots for armor and ditto for vanity sets, as well as 5 slots for accessories, the player also has access to two personal storage objects, a piggy bank and a safe for keeping coins safe from being lost when dying.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Car Wars like boardgame Battlecars used this. Each car had several weapon bays, usually 2x4 squares. You could carry 8 volleys of machinegun ammo (1x1), four 1x2 artillery shells, or two 1x4 missiles, of increasing power, mixing and matching as you wish.
  • BattleTech (as well as its computer equivalent, MechWarrior), did this for 'Mech construction and outfitting. Each part of your 'Mech's chassis had a finite number of slots that you could plug stuff into, each item taking up a varying number of slots. Being that this included weapons, armor, heatsinks (to keep the 'Mech running in battle), sensors, etc. this made fitting out a 'Mech almost a minigame in itself. Where you put things actually mattered in combat, as different areas have different armor, and all of it is tracked. If you put all your guns in your arms, and that arm gets blown off, no more guns.
    • MechWarrior 3 and Pirate's Moon all had the same limitations in each section of a 'mech despite the size and there were no hardpoint limitations meaning that the arms of the Annihilator intended to boat ballistic weapons could fire missiles or the missile point of the Thor/Summoner (treated as the Left Torso) could fire large lasers.
    • MechWarrior 4: Vengeance, Black Knight and Mercenaries featured a more reasonable system in which each 'mech had specific hardpoints for weapons to be mounted and a limited number of slots on those points along with weight restrictions, some 'mechs had gray omni-points denoting any weapon could be mounted. The MekTek pack introduced 'mechs with ammo consuming (ballistic and/or missiles), heat generating (energy and/or missiles) and direct fire (energy and/or ballistic) points.
    • MechWarrior: Online used the limited space per section of the third game along with hardpoint restrictions of the fourth and introduced a limit of how many of each weapon could be mounted in that section. For example, each arm of the Jagermech only holds two ballistic weapons which can either be taken up by two autocannons to take up all of the slots available or by two machine guns and no more ballistic weapons could be mounted despite the remaining space.
    • Although the strategy game MechCommander only had weight restrictions for adding weapons and components, the sequel played this completely straight- each 'Mech had a grid inventory the represented both size and weight of the weapons added, as well as extra armour and heatsinks (the other limit on components) This system was used somewhat creatively, however, since smaller 'Mechs could have a lot of space but the grid would be made tall and narrow, preventing the addition of heavy weapons.
    • The BattleTech turn based tactical game by Harebrained Schemes features a three-level arrangement similar to Mechwarrior Online. Equipment on a 'Mech is limited by the slot type (split between energy, ballistic, missile, and anti-personnel), the size (ranging from small 1-slot gear to enormous 4-slot equipment) and weight limit (as low as .5 tons for things like small lasers all the way up to the whopping 14-ton AC/20). For instance, this keeps Locusts from carrying ballistic weapons as they're just too heavy for it. It prevents players from stuffing 12 lasers onto an Atlas along with lots of heat sinks and just trying to cheese their way through the combat.
  • The Car Wars like boardgame Battlecars used this. Each car had several weapon bays, usually 2x4 squares. You could carry 8 volleys of machinegun ammo (1x1), four 1x2 artillery shells, or two 1x4 missiles, of increasing power, mixing and matching as you wish.
  • Mausritter: Items and Conditions are represented by printed cards placed onto a grid on your character sheet. Most items take up one slot on the grid, and some larger or heavier items take up two. You become encumbered and act at a disadvantage when all of the slots are full.

    Third-Person Shooters 

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • Silent Storm has a grid inventory, but due to the shapes of some items it is very prone to Inventory Management Puzzle syndrome despite its auto-sort feature. And to survive properly you pretty much have to loot every battle map before leaving for home, making things even more difficult. And yeah, weight is meaningless.
  • The UFO series does this starting with its second game Aftershock. Certain units had larger or smaller inventory grids (humans had the largest, with cyborgs slightly smaller and psychics the smallest). In the third game, Afterlight, the type of environmental suit worn by the soldier determines the carrying capacity, with more protective armors resulting in smaller inventory grids (usually).
  • The XCOM games made heavy use of this, even giving the characters separate grids for each body location (and separate Time Unit costs to move things from place to place). Most slots were never used. A gun in hand, ammo and grenades on the belt, and maybe an additional gun and ammo in the backpack. That still left shoulder and leg spots available, but, considering the fact that there was nothing useful to put there, and the fact that the weight of equipment is an important factor in how far your soldiers can move, they were almost always left blank. However, it's marginally faster to move grenades (and high explosive) to the hands from the shoulders, rather than the default belt slot.
    • The 2012 remake does away with inventory entirely, letting you choose a main weapon, backup weapon, armor and supplementary equipment. However, they do give a shout-out to the original game, as changing your weapon from bullet to laser to plasma will change the soldier's shoulder pads and knee pads to accommodate the ammunition of the weapon.

  • 7.62 High Caliber uses a grid inventory, but divides it between various carrying methods. All characters have 8 inventory slots (divided into two four-slot pockets) on their clothing no matter what uniform they wear, while various backpacks, tactical vests, and belts provide slots of different size and configuration; all carrying equipment uses bold lines to divide inventory slots and represent smaller spaces, so a particular backpack may eschew a large central space for more small pockets suitable for holding a single rifle magazine or grenade. Only the character's main pockets, tactical vest, and belt can have their items accessed without going into the inventory screen; an important part of preparing for combat is loading your ready pockets with magazines, first aid kits, spare ammo boxes, grenades, and other important items so you don't have to go scrounging through your backpack. It also subverts the usual caveat that weight doesn't matter, and even includes gradual slowdown over a certain load.
    • The one downside to the method in terms of realism is that items cannot be rotated; a pouch with two horizontal slots will fit a first aid kit or cleaning kit perfectly (as it's a horizontal item that takes up two slots), but a vertical two-slot pouch can't fit it at all. The very popular Blue Sun mod was unable to code rotation into the inventory, so they tried to compensate by making copies of a handful of items (like first aid kits and cleaning kits) that were vertical rather than horizontal. It ends up creating an even odder situation where you may have a choice of only horizontal cleaning kits and no horizontal slots to fit them!
  • Backpack Hero is Grid Inventory: The Game. In addition to fitting oddly shaped items into a misshapen bag, the positioning of those items can strengthen or weaken your gear. Are you willing to hold onto an epic Halloween sword that grows stronger when you eat candy if it clutters your inventory for space you could hold precious healing items in and gets in the way of your gem synergies?
  • There is a tongue-in-cheek Flash game called Help The Hero! with this as the primary element - you play as the put-upon squire to a larger-than-life adventurer knight, and have to play inventory Tetris with the loot from his adventuring to equip him for the fight with the Monster of the Week.
  • Loch Ness: The items you can hold are stored in one. You have to hold the click for a bit to bring them out.
  • Save Room: The whole point of the game is to organize all the items in your inventory so it can all fit. This includes doing things like combining items, restoring health to use up healing items, loading weapons etc.


Video Example(s):


Barricade the Windows

Glass windows are not enough to keep zombies out; however, a limited supply of wooden board can be found to hastily board up windows to prevent more coming in.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / BerserkBoardBarricade

Media sources: