10 absurd but essential video game cliches we couldn’t live without

The best video game clichés are the ones we couldn’t live without, no matter how much they cringe. If you’ve spent any length of time in virtual worlds large or small, chances are you’ve encountered many, if not all, of the classic video game clichés listed below. Whether it’s features that keep popping up in adventures, mechanics that you just expect, or aspects that would never work in reality or make any sense but somehow in games, there’s no shortage of examples. However, games probably wouldn’t be the same without them. Join us as we lovingly take a look at some of the most ridiculous and beloved video game clichés that we just can’t help but appreciate.

Exploding barrels

half-life 2

(Image credit: Valve)

Ah, the infamous red barrel. What would video games be without them anyway? If you find a group of enemies peering out from defensive positions, chances are you’ll find some kind of red barrel nearby, ready to explode with a well-placed shot. You must be wondering why enemies are so willing to settle near something that is clearly so dangerous? Perhaps in the canon state of games, the purpose of these barrels is totally lost to everyone but the player character. The red color immediately draws attention, and more often than not you feel compelled to create a big ol’ blast just because you can. From wiping out a group of enemies, to using it in boss fights, to unsuspecting guardians being considered overkill, red barrels have a long history in games. Featuring everything from Doom to Resident Evil 4 and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wildthere are countless examples of adventures that have featured these crimson, explosive wonders, and it’s a cliche that’s likely to stay here.

bottomless pockets


(Image credit: Bethesda)

Love it or hate it, inventory management has come into play in so many games over the years. But have you ever thought about what we adventurers can actually wear in virtual worlds? Take Skyrim, for example. What kind of bag could hold giant two-handed axes, books, ingredients, and lots and lots of sweet buns? As a Dragonborn, you sure can lug around a lot of stuff. Sure, there’s a limit to how much you can hold at once, and you’ll get overloaded if you loot too much, but it’s really impressive when you think about it. I mean, imagine trying to put a giant sword in your backpack. There are so many games that have seemingly magical, bottomless, Tardis-like bags that can hold just about anything – regardless of size, shape, or weight. But let’s face it, who wants a bag that can’t carry so much when there’s so much loot to be had. It’s a cliché we’re happy to accept forever, and thankfully, protagonists in games never seem to suffer from back pain.

audio logs


(Image credit: 2K)

It is quite fortunate that the inhabitants of the game worlds tend to record secret passwords. Finally, it allows future adventurers like us to overcome blocked paths or get valuable loot. Audio logs have become one of the most common features in games, usually there to tell us more about the world we’re exploring, give us useful information to help us progress, or add a bit of flavor. Open-world games are particularly fond of using audio protocols, with Horizon forbidden west It’s one of the newest sprawling RPGs that has its own equivalent of audio logs for Aloy to find. From cassette tapes in Metal Gear Solid 5 and Fallout to audio diaries in BioShock, they might not be for everyone, but they certainly add a ton of extra dialogue to virtual adventures of all shapes and sizes.

Enemies who forget you

Assassin's Creed Valhalla

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Do you technically exist in a video game when an enemy can’t see you? Even if you get in their line of sight, once they lose sight of you, it’s like you were never there. You could argue that your run-of-the-mill enemy tasked with guarding an area doesn’t have the best memory, but it’s generally accepted that that’s the way things go. To be honest we’re pretty happy it works like this. In Assassin’s Creed ValhallaFor example, by dangling over the edge of a building or hiding safely in tall grass (making you virtually invisible) you can escape the attention of any guards you alert. Once they give up the chase and get back to business as usual, you have a chance to overtake a bit. It’s definitely a welcome way to reset things if you screw something up… but it does call into question how effective guards really are.

Color coded bars

Unknown 4

(Image credit: Naughty Dog)

Certain recurring features in video games have a practical purpose that’s really helpful. As game worlds grew, so did our means of transportation and climbing became an integral part of more and more adventures. Conveniently, all climbable ledges and cliffs are historically color-coded (usually with a shade of yellow) so that we as players know we can interact with them. From Assassin’s Creed to Tomb Raider, Uncharted and even God of War, you can always tell what you can climb and which ledges are right for you thanks to the way they contrast with the terrain. There are of course some exceptions to this rule, such as The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild (where you can climb pretty much anything). But as clichés go, it makes perfect sense from a design standpoint.

Rest stops of the pre-bosses

Dark Souls

(Image credit: FromSoftware)

Every now and then you’ll come across a zone full of ammo, potions, and other helpful items. Well, it’s always great to come across a lot of loot, but that almost always means the same thing in the video game world: you’re going to have a fight in the near future. Yes, pre-boss rest stops have become something of a staple in RPGs and action-packed adventures over the years. Some are more obvious than others, with designated areas for you to rest before engaging in more combat, or rooms filled to the brim with goodies to prepare you for a fight. Final Fantasy 7 Remake, for example, has benches scattered around an area where you can take a breather to heal and stock up on items from a nearby vending machine. Final Fantasy 15 always uses a similar feature with safe rooms in different locations. Over the years, the Zelda series has also often dressed you up for a big fight with vases full of hearts. While they are always a dead sign of what lies ahead, they are truly a blessing.

Enemies waiting their turn

Final Fantasy 7

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Turn-based combat offers us the opportunity to put our strategic skills to the test and play around with different skills and powers to turn the tide of battle. But if you take it at face value, it’s kind of funny when you think about it. Each enemy lines up and quietly waits their turn to strike, as if they are queuing to issue an order. So many adventures allow us to play around with a turn-based combat format, such as: B. a number of Final Fantasy titles, Fire Emblem: Three Housesand the newer ones triangle strategy. In games like these, it’s often a satisfying and downright fun way to engage in combat. But when you think about how it would work in reality, it’s probably not the most competent way to ensure your own survival.

detective vision

The witcher 3

(Image credit: CD Projekt Red)

Detective Vision is one of those features that has found its way into many, many games over the years. Need to follow someone’s trail? Or find a ladder hidden in the landscape? Well, it’s fortunate that many of the game’s protagonists are endowed with a second type of vision, allowing them to pick out small details or notable landmarks. While this vision has a different name or works in slightly different ways depending on the game, you can usually use this feature to search a location for clues, highlight features in an area that will help you progress, or discover notable items. Whether it’s Eagle Vision in Assassin’s Creed that can highlight enemies, the focus in Horizon Forbidden West that allows you to interact with the world through a different lens, or the detective eye in The witcher 3 This will help you hunt, it’s certainly an effective way to delve deeper. One cannot help but wonder what we might see if we all actually had detective vision.

health kits

Joel teaches Ellie to use a sniper rifle in The Last of Us

(Image credit: Naughty Dog)

While we certainly envy the game’s protagonists for the number of cool powers and nifty tricks they master, they can often find themselves in very dangerous situations that you wouldn’t wish on anyone. Luckily, if adventurers get hurt in the process, they can tinker a bit to concoct a handy health kit. Yes, Health Kits are a tried-and-true way to fix very large Boo-Boos in games, and luckily we can often craft them. While we don’t want to go through a horror game in real life, it sure would be great if we could just combine leaves and create a spray when we’re injured, like Leon in Resident Evil 4, or first pour out a bottle of Strong Auxiliary Medicine on our arm like Ethan in Resident Evil 7 to make everything better. From concocting health potions in Skyrim to making bandages in survival games like Green Hell to using a stimpack in Fallout 4, health kits come in a variety of forms, but we literally couldn’t live without them.

Infinite ammo holsters

Devil May Cry 5

(Image credit: Capcom)

Not unlike the bottomless game bags, it’s also pretty impressive that we can carry so much ammo. In fact, there are some instances where you just have infinite ammo without having to loot more, which might only really make sense in games. Feature-wise, infinite ammo can make things a whole lot easier and more action-packed. Take Devil May Cry 5, for example. Dante can shoot it up endlessly with an infinite supply of ammo. Granted, there’s probably a demonic reason for this, but it effectively delivers a nifty, quick action. Destiny 2’s primary weapons also have the magic that is infinite ammo. Honestly, who wants to worry about how much ammo you’re packing when you’re faced with a lot of enemies?

How many of the best games ever contain at least one of the clichés mentioned above?

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