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Some games eschew character interaction to tell story, and instead leave scraps of information lying around the game world for the lonely player to find and pick up, or ignore at one's leisure. These are Story Breadcrumbs.

This, of course, means you might occasionally miss one that's important.

When a video game has an Apocalyptic Log, it's almost always split up to be pieced together non-linearly. Compare the non-videogame Scrapbook Story.

Contrast Exposition Break, Dialogue Tree and All There in the Manual.

Examples of Story Breadcrumbs include:

  • In Left 4 Dead, you can piece together what happens, somewhat, by various messages written on the walls.
  • In Pokémon Red/Blue, the abandoned, wild-Pokémon-overrun Pokémon Mansion on Cinnabar Island holds a scattered number of journal entries describing the capture of Mew and the mysterious birth of its child Mewtwo, whose "vicious tendencies" apparently cannot be curbed. Well, not without a Poké Ball...
  • The System Shock and Bioshock series both have often-eerie audio recordings from before and after the disasters happened that you can easily listen to while still walking around.
  • The Metroid Prime series has you scan computers and equipment to find logs from the Space Pirate villains, the Federation, and various alien races.
  • World of Goo tells much of its story through the Sign Painter's... signs, which just as often contain gameplay advice. Then there are the occasional messages found on other signs.
  • Doom 3 has the PDA recordings.
  • In Kingdom Hearts, the Ansem Reports and the Secret Ansem Reports detail the creation of the Big Bad and the game's enemies. They can be found in various places in the first game and various plot milestones in the second
  • Unreal told its story through messages from the various races involved.
  • Marathon tells its story by means of computer terminals that give text-based infodumps. Certain terminals are required to progress, but others are secondary ones which simply give more information about The Verse and what is going on.
  • Gears of War 2 has little trinkets you can find that tell the stories of dead soldiers.
  • Myst and its sequels. As a series about magic books, mundane journals fill in a lot of story padded by background information.
  • The post-apocalyptic Fallout series features various audio recordings and computer diaries.
  • Resident Evil, not known for complex plotting, has plenty of completely optional story in journals left lying around. They actually make for an engaging back story.
  • The Secret Reports from The World Ends With You.
  • The enemy logs in Iji, unusual in that the player's actions can influence the contents.
  • Dead Space, of course.
  • Alien vs. Predator 2 (the game, not the movie)
  • La-Mulana
  • Tyrian does this. Since game is a scrolling shooter with branching levels, and the plot cubes drop from enemies in particular levels, it is pretty easy to miss a cube somewhere. Unless, that is, the hot-dog ninja was supposed to come out of left field.
  • The PC version of Mario Is Missing has all of the Excuse Plot set up for you in the opening, but during the actual gameplay, you can check newspapers for developments on things like what is currently happening with the penguins, as well as Mario himself keeping in contact with you on how he's doing and how the Koopas are reacting toward your efforts to stop the funding of their "melt the South Pole with hairdryers" plot.
  • The Conduit uses secret messages and radio and television broadcasts in-game to provide background information and updates on events throughout the game.
  • Common in Interactive Fiction. A good example is Theatre, which has scraps from a character's diary lying around the titular theater.
  • In Famous has "Dead Drops", recordings left by the agent you've agreed to rescue that help flesh out the backstory.
  • Halo 3: ODST features audio recordings scattered around New Mombasa, telling the story of a girl trying to rescue her father during the Covenant invasion of the city. The thirty of them can be collected from certain pay phones, ATMs, and other kiosks; no matter where you find them, though, you'll always get them in order.
  • In Secret of Monkey Island, the titular island is littered with notes from Herman and the Cannibals addressing each other, and sometimes Lechuck, which were used as their communication methods, and varied from things such as that the catapult was very dangerous and should be dismantled to complaining that the Monkey head makes too much noise at night.
  • The first Diablo had a setup like this. Books placed on pedestals throughout the catacombs under Tristram would tell you the story how Diablo came to be buried under Tristram, along with other events that precede the game. That said, the game's manual contained all the same story elements in more detail.
  • The Nintendo DS shooter Video Game/Moon has at least two separate sets of logs the player can find on computer consoles throughout the facility. The problem was that these logs contain shocking information that will later be relayed to the characters in the normal course of the story. Basically, the game spoils its own plot twists.
  • The plot behind the Soul Series of Fighting Games is given almost entirely through character, weapon, and stage profiles. Further complicating the plot is that these profiles generally only say what the relevant character knows; If the character doesn't know his opponent's name, that opponent is just called a "mysterious swordsman/monk/bandit/soldier/etc," and figuring out which character that is (if it is a named character at all) requires context work.
  • In Shadow Complex guards that don't immediately see you will often talk to one another, dropping hints on what's going on with the plot.
  • An Untitled Story has some story breadcrumbs hidden in The Secret Library. Some of them are provided by Ghosts, the Sky Town citizens and three birds who are found outside of Sky Town.
  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords is like that. Important backstory is hidden in obscure dialogue options, which may or may now show up depending on your gender, Force alignment, influence with each particular companion and even the number of previous walkthroughs. It takes at least two of them to get even a vague idea of what's going on and even more of those, combined with lurking through the dialogue files, to get all subtleties.
  • Hunted: The Demon's Forge has corpses you can question for bits of backstory and enemy descriptions.
  • Many background events in Prototype are explained only in optional Web of Intrigue nodes.
  • Neverwinter Nights is prone to this with "book" items that you can read using the "Examine" command, which tell brief stories about the history of the Forgotten Realms, which is where the games take place. None of these stories are ever really useful to the plot, but the books are worth a couple gold if you sell them.
  • Tron 2.0: Jet, like the player, knows very little about the "off the books" experiments and dirty politics involved at Encom, or the even dirtier plans and experiments of rival company F-Con. It's through in-game emails the player downloads and reads that reveal what's going on in the analog world.
  • The backstories for both Demons Souls and Dark Souls are told through the descriptions for all the assorted spells and items you find.
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