The Wiki of the Dead
The Wiki of the Dead

A path selection option in The House of the Dead III. Players can enter the EFI Research Facility either through the front entrance or the parking garage.

Branching paths are a gameplay mechanic which involves nonlinear level designs that are affected by player actions. They appear in the main House of the Dead series, Sega Golden Gun, and Vampire Night.


As the player(s) defeat enemies in rail shooter games, the camera traverses a predefined path. The main House of the Dead series and Vampire Night, however, have moments where player decisions can alter the route.

Events that influence paths have included:

Paths can vary in set pieces, difficulty, score potential, enemies that appear, and even where bosses can be fought. However, they all lead to the same point in the game's story.

During the second chapter of the House of the Dead-like game Sega Golden Gun, the player can select one of the three main stages to play through; the other two stages will be traversed automatically in a set order. The stages themselves are linear.

Route maps

AMS special agent James Taylor traversing The House of the Dead 2's route map.

Upon game over (and game completion, in the case of House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn), a map of all branching paths is shown. The routes taken are highlighted, with the player characters traversing the map; upon reaching the spot where the game ended, they fall over and die.

The exceptions to this are Vampire Night and The House of the Dead III, the latter of which uses circular icons to mark the player's position; they shed their color when they reach the spot where the player died.


The House of the Dead developer Sega AM1 wanted the branching paths to add replay value and encourage players to discover their preferred routes. The mechanic was originally more complex and influential on the story, with the player able to choose routes when the game began. Ultimately, the mechanic was simplified due to time constraints and the Sega Model 2 arcade hardware's limited data space. Rough maps were designed to plan out the routes.[1]


  • On the top left-hand corner of The House of the Dead 2's route map texture, there is a hidden message: a red fingerprint accompanied by the text "Dream?"
  • The House of the Dead 4's route map has several misspellings ("Constraction elevator", "Station attended room", etc).
  • House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn is to-date the most linear game in the main series; unlike The House of the Dead III, the order in which the middle three levels are selected does not alter the paths taken, with only the Annex and the Elevator Lobby levels offering actual branching paths.



  1. "Interview: The House of the Dead", Sega Saturn Magazine, issue 23, September 1997, page 62.
veThe House of the Dead games
Main series The House of the Dead (Remake)2 (Remake)III4 (Special)Scarlet Dawn
Spin-offs Zombie RevengeThe Typing of the Dead (2Overkill)The Pinball of the DeadEnglish of the DeadEX slot machineThe House of the Dead: Overkill (Extended Cut)Loving DeadsDarts of the DeadScarlet Dawn (Battle GenesisOn ReelsTHE ATTRACTION)Reels
Prototypes The House of the Dead (arcade prototypeSega Saturn prototype)2 (Original Sin prototype)Scarlet Dawn (location test builds)
Compilations 2 & 3 Return
Mobile games MobileNightmareZombie Utsu: Flick of the DeadOverkill: The Lost Reels
Non-HOD games Vampire NightSega Golden GunSonic & Sega All-Stars Racing
Gameplay mechanics Bonus itemsBranching pathsCiviliansHealthWeak points
Developers SegaSega AM1NamcoForever EntertainmentMegaPixel StudioTA Publishing
Staff Takashi OdaRikiya NakagawaBenjamin Anseaume
Other content Hiiro SumomoReferences in popular cultureUnused content