About games and gaming thereof!

Quicksaving: Part 2!

Awhile ago I said that every PC game should have quicksaving. To be honest I’m not sure why I said that, when what I meant to say is that every game should have quicksaving. Console games can have quicksaving, and quite a few of them already do. Every console game developed by Bioware or Bethesda has quicksaving. The only difference between the console and PC games in that regard is that since consoles don’t have 50 different buttons, they can’t pick two buttons to devote to quicksaving and quickloading, so you have to open the menu and choose to save.

However, I’ve been playing a game lately that’s forced me to rethink the whole concept of quicksaving. That game is Amnesia: The Dark Descent.

In Amnesia, you don’t ever have to save. There are no save points, there is no save function in the menu (unless you count “Save and Exit”). All the saving is handled for you via checkpoints.

This can really get on my nerves if it’s not implemented well (like in Velvet Assassin) but in this game it’s done very nicely. There are no sudden surprise deaths, and there are long sequences in which you aren’t encountering any monsters at all. When you do encounter monsters you have to run and hide from them or else you’ll be torn to pieces. The whole effect creates a strong sense of immersion and vulnerability. This has to be the best horror experience I’ve ever had in a game.

This is a game where I actually think that quicksaving would have a bad effect on the gameplay, in that it would be detrimental to the atmosphere. When I hear the sound of a monster growling from inside the next room, my first instinct is to hit the quicksave key and then run inside to see where the monster is, so that once I quickload I’ll know how I can evade it. That’s how I always did it in Deus Ex, and there’s nothing wrong with that in a stealth/action game. But in Amnesia, you’re very clearly supposed to fear the monster. And since there’s no quicksave feature to exploit, the game can actually pull that off.

The other reason the lack of quicksaving works in this game is because the checkpoint system is actually well implemented. If you do die, you won’t be sent back in time to half an hour ago and be left to traverse the last five rooms over again. I’ve only died a few times, but every time I died I was only sent back a minute or so.

I still think quicksaving is an important feature to have in games. But now that I’ve played Amnesia, I’m willing to acknowledge that it’s not appropriate for every game. So this raises the question of which games should have quicksaving and which games shouldn’t.

I’m not about to go through the list of every game genre ever and decide which ones need quicksaving, but at the moment I think that most action games should have it. Most games that have long levels should probably have it, because some people don’t have time to sit down and play a game for two hours straight, or even one hour straight.

It could just be that Amnesia is one of those rare exceptions to the rule that all games should have quicksaving. I’m not entirely sure. I suppose the addition of quicksaving becomes less and less necessary depending on how well the checkpoint system works. I don’t have to quicksave very often in Half-Life 2 and Portal because those games seem to autosave about every ten seconds.

I’m probably going to have to come back to this topic again later once I’ve played another game that gives me more insight into it. It’s an interesting topic, and one that I never really see brought up nowadays.


3 responses

  1. Kevin

    MAN I LOVED AMNESIA! that was one of the best horror games ever! i normally hate horror games because they typically are really just startle games of FPS’s with mutated monsters for enemies…. Amnesia really knew how to give you the horror experience, something that i think has been lost even in films for a long time. nowadays people seem to think that if a movie or game or whatever can make you jump a few times, has some dark scenes with shaky camera shots, has some monster in it, or has something to do with ghost, undead, or hell, then it is a great example of the horror genre. it think yahtzee summed up this point really well in his Amnesia “review” saying: ” there are three types of horror games, the first is where you are in a dark room and a guy in a mask jumps out of a cuboard and yells ‘ABLOOGYWOOGYEWOO!’… then theres the kind where the guy isnt in the cuboard, he behind you and you know hes just about to yell ‘ABLOOGYWOOGYEWOO!’ but he doesnt and things get really tense but you want to turn around because he might stick his c^&k in your eye….and then there are the guy in the mask yells ‘ABLOOGYWOOGYEWOO!’ on the far side of the brightly light room then walks slowly towards you while plucking a violin and then slaps yoou in the face with a T-bone steak…see the SECOND one is best because your imagination is doing all the work!”
    that might have been a bit paraphrased but still he made a great point!

    April 3, 2011 at 1:04 AM

  2. Rayzn

    I think that without exception, the genre of games most in need of a quicksave feature are fighting games. Just imagine how much more intense a one-on-one fight becomes when someone or other can reload to five seconds ago without the other person’s consent or acknowledgement! It would be, without a doubt, the single greatest thing to ever happen in the history of games!!!!!1!elevety-three!

    April 4, 2011 at 11:06 AM

    • JPH

      That certainly would be a game-changer. I think we need to design a fighting game of our own so we can incorporate that!

      April 4, 2011 at 12:59 PM

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