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.