Game Development Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional and independent game developers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm working on a 2.5D platformer prototype that aims for an open feel while maintaining familiar core mechanics.

Now, there's some obvious challenges with creating a non constricted feel in a spatially constricted environment. What I'm interested in, is examples of how game designers deal with the "here's a level, beat the bad guys/puzzles to get to the next level" design that seems so natural to most platformers (eg. Mario/Braid/Pid/Meat Boy to name a few).

Some ideas for achieving openness I've come across include:

  • One obvious successful example is Terraria, which achieves openness simply through complexity and flexibility of the game-system
  • Another example that comes to mind is Cave Story. Game is non-linear, offers multiple choices and side-stories
  • Mario, Rayman and some other 'classics' with a top-down level selection. I actually really dislike this as it never did anything for me emotionally and just seems like a bit of a lazy way to do things.

Note: I've not actually had much experience with most of the 'classical' console platformers, apart from the obvious Marios/Zeldas/Metroids, since I've grown up on adventure games. By that I mean, it's entirely possible that I simply missed some games that solve the problem really well and are by some considered obvious 'classics'.

share|improve this question
Check out Metroid Zero Mission, if you can. The game has a linear "default" path, but also was designed to include paths for much more advanced players (including dramatically changing the boss order), so-called, "Sequence Breaking". – Raven Dreamer Nov 6 '12 at 1:47

You mentioned Metroid in your last paragraph, but I would point to that game as the best example of an open-feeling 2D side scroller. Castlevania II also did this well (the others were more linear).

share|improve this answer
Why is this an answer and not a comment? You didn't explain how this game achieved its "open-feeling", nor did you give any references to people/blogs that explain it. Would I have to play the whole game to understand your answer? – kurtzbot Nov 6 '12 at 0:51
The question asks "give me examples". You can argue that the initial question is kinda poor, but this is certainly an answer to that question. I did in fact make this a comment at first, but switched it to an answer when I reflected on what the question asks. I also set my answer to "community wiki" because of what you said, it's just listing examples without any explanation. Is there a way to set the entire thread to community wiki? – jhocking Nov 6 '12 at 14:04

One of the best platformers I've ever played, Shadow Complex. They built a giant 2.5D environment, and put in events that advance a plot. But the player is utterly free to explore. A player receives "experience" perks from playing the game enough, such as unlimited special weapons and tools. And those allow a player even more freedom on subsequent playthroughs.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.