I'm developing a 2d platformer game where your character can travel to and from sites as he pleases. To travel to and from these sites the character must travel along a path between his current location and his destination (see illustration below).enter image description here

And of course the idea is that you can travel through the level backwards if you wish to return to Site One. But as you probably realize, doing this may provoke some serious problems, and will put limitations on the level design (no cliffs or long drops because then your character wouldn't be able to overcome them on the way back). I've come up with multiple ways to overcome this (such as designing two levels for the same path etc), but I was wondering if anyone else has any creative work-arounds for this problem. Any help and advice is appreciated.


There are multiple ways to solve this.

If you want to include said long drops and other one-way obstacles, that should be factored in possibly as a feature. The Legend of Zelda series often uses these to prevent the player from missing or giving up on important rooms of the dungeon. A simple solution is to allow the player to use an item they obtain later in the game to allow them to backtrack. This method helps to avoid the player getting "lost" in the world.

If that is not an option, implement some machinery. Obviously a long drop isn't an issue if there is an elevator to help you back up. After the player conquers the hill above and drops down, they find a lever or button that activates the elevator back up, allowing regression.

Lastly, the most expensive method is to make a second level facing backwards. The level would have an entirely different layout but add to the overall substance of the game.

  • \$\begingroup\$ thank you newton1212 and @Ali.S for your insight on this matter. These are great ways to overcome this problem \$\endgroup\$ – DrakeSwartzy May 24 '15 at 19:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ There could also be plot points that manipulate the level. You could help a mining town get newer tools and they could help build something to get the player back up the cliff. Event driven world manipulation can also help the player feel more involved. This is an alternative to an item that would enable the player. \$\endgroup\$ – Corey Ogburn May 25 '15 at 1:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Totally agree with @newton1212. One additional way is to make one-way paths that aren't accessible in the initial direction: after going over a cliff, you see a cave at the bottom that leads to a way back up. The exit from this path at the top is either hidden or not enterable from that direction. A mix of all of these proposed solutions would be pretty cool! \$\endgroup\$ – Rob Craig May 27 '15 at 19:00

Here is an idea:

You can create one-way paths, with a little tweak. If the player enters the path from "Site 2" he should see everything mirrored. This way, if he starts from Site 1 he can go to Site 2 as level was designed, but he can't change his mind mid way and return to Site 1. Of course when he reaches Side 2, he can come all the way back to Site 1, since the path (and everything in it) has been mirrored.

Another Idea:

Again with one-way paths. if your design gives you the permission, you can change how the ground looks. So that instead of firm earthy thing in the bottom of the page, it looks more like a curve mid screen. Now, you design the path, in a way that player can start from the left, and go forth till the very end in the right. In his way back though, he should start from right, but this time he should be under the that Curve shape, with gravity affecting towards top of screen. This way, if for example, there is a long jump in the end of way to Site 2, there will be a long jump right at the beginning of the way to Site 1.


In addition to the other answers, you could let the player be stranded on the far side of the trip temporarily: if they try to go back, they will start at the cliff to make it clear that they can't. Then let them find a different way back via plot or exploration, and/or let them find/earn jump boots or jetpack or whatever to get back the way they came (e.g. metroidvania character development.)

This isn't going to be appropriate in the majority of cases, but using geographic "set pieces" that fit the plot or mood or gameflow when appropriate is a good idea.

  • \$\begingroup\$ thank you for your input as well, I'll take not of these ideas @StarWeaver \$\endgroup\$ – DrakeSwartzy May 25 '15 at 19:24

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