Sometimes, because gamers these days expect higher amounts of realism, video game designers try to justify standard game mechanics. This is easier with some functions than others; game mechanics may be explained by story easily, but save points
, not so much. Many times, this is an Acceptable Break From Reality
, because hey, you have to be able to save, yes?
However, some games try to go a step further. Phrases like, "Why don't you record the progress of your journey?" and "If you gaze upon this mirror, it preserves your memories forever" tend to pop up a lot.
Doesn't count when a video game explains to you straight, and usually outside of the story in a tutorial, that you need to save your game or you'll lose all progress
Related to Diegetic Interface
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- The Metroid series generally doesn't even attempt to explain away its save points, but Metroid Prime 3: Corruption did, by several times having various NPCs tell you to "perform suit maintenance and data backup" before heading off on important objectives. Also in Metroid: Other M, the announcer refers to using a Healing Checkpoint as a "Data recording and shield restoration sequence".
- The Metal Gear series, having No Fourth Wall, gives control of saving the game to the Voice with an Internet Connection. Hilarity Ensues in Metal Gear Solid 2 if you piss off Rose enough—she doesn't allow you to save the game until you apologize to her.
- Outcast has the Gaamsaav, a large diamond-shaped jewel that imprints your essence on the world, allowing it to be restored later. You have to stand still and hold it in your hand for several seconds whereupon it emits a lot of light and noise, so you have to be far enough from your enemies or it'll alert them.
- In Soul Reaver 2, the player character Raziel can "preserve his soul" when he reaches particular shrines. However, the shrines are very far apart and it is often necessary to dedicate several hours to completing a phase of the story, because you cannot save until you return to one of these shrines.
- Grand Theft Auto II had save points in churches, but you had to pay 50000 dollars to save your game. The preacher would declare "HALLELUJAH! Another soul saved!" if you had the money, or "DAMNATION! No donation, no salvation!" if you didn't.
- GTA 3 had a more sensible way: you walked the nameless characternote into the hideout-crashpad where you could see a bed, a fridge and a microwave oven and the door closed behind him. You saved the game, and when he came out it was six hours later. In later games, you could buy more well-appointed property, so your save-points were more luxurious and more befitting a man who probably owned half the city.
- GTAIV and GTAV also had hideouts that you could sleep in to save. Presumably, any time you restarted the game, anything you lost without saving was assumed to be just a dream.
- Modern Castlevanias usually have their save points in front of a statue of an angel or the Virgin Mary. Justified since it'd have to be sanctified ground and thus repel the monsters away. What sanctified ground is doing in Dracula's castle, on the other hand, is anyone's guess.
- In Symphony Of The Night, it's a coffin because Alucard is half-vampire.
- In Aria Of Sorrow, you can clearly see Alucard's save coffin collapsed behind Soma's save Virgin Mary statue. It has a reason for being there, possibly because Genya Arikado is Alucard and is also traversing the castle or because Soma is the reincarnation of Dracula but hasn't given in, giving symbolism to the Virgin Mary being in place of the collapsed vampire coffin.
- Before the coffin pops up, a floating, decorated, 3D polyhedron appears. In Harmony Of Dissonance, Juste uses the same thing without thecoffin, with no justification for why a Belmont is using a half-vampire's save point.
- And in Curse Of Darkness, it's a Cool Chair because why not?
- Parodied in No More Heroes where there's No Fourth Wall. Travis saves by going to toilet to drop a save.
- So does the protagonist of Chulip. In the areas beyond Long Life Town, the bathrooms are too dirty, and so you can't save until you've completed a subquest for a specific NPC to clean things up.
- In the Mega Man Legends games, you save by talking to Data, Mega Man's pet robot-monkey. He's also Mega Man's "peripheral memory storage device", and keeps a backup of Mega Man's original memories.
- In Aquaria, save points are crystals that store Naija's memories, allowing an outsider (you, the player) to experience them.
- Yume Nikki is titled after its save mechanic: it's Japanese for "dream diary," which the protagonist can wake up to record her adventures in.
First Person Shooter
- Marathon has "pattern buffers" into which you upload yourself.
- Although they aren't save points, the revival checkpoints in BioShock 1 are similarly justified. They're even a plot point: they work for you and not the Splicers because they're coded to Andrew Ryan's DNA, and you play as his son. Also note that when you kill Ryan, the Vita-Chamber in his office is deactivated.
- Borderlands introduces "New U"-Stations provided by the in-game manufacturer "Hyperion" where you can save your game by creating digital copies of yourself that will be recreated as clones in case you die. In the sequel Borderlands 2 this gets ironically subverted on various occasions, most noticeable on a mission where the main antagonist offers you the option to kill yourself and getting paid in return. If you do it he will mock you after you respawn for selling your pride, showing him completely aware of the fact that the player characters cannot actually die because of the respawn-system.
- In Fire Warrior, your suit's telemetry sensors (read: cameras and motion-capture thingamabobs) record everything you do, and after about 15 minutes it has to upload the data to The Mothership. While doing so, it locks Kais in place and blacks out his armor's face camera, leaving Kais stuck in place and staring at an actual in-universe loading screen.
- The Dot Hack games give a rather obvious explanation: you're playing a person who is playing a video game. When you save the game and log off for a while, that's what the character is doing in-game as well.
- Anachronox has the frog-like creatures called "Time Minders". Touching one lets the player save the game, with the justification that the Time Minders experience the entire continuum of their lives simultaneously, and thus touching it makes you part of their entire life. Exactly how this relates to saving the game is left unclear, but touching one is supposed to bring good luck — that is to say, the person who touched it probably reloaded the game and tried again.
- You could save almost anywhere in the Mega Man Battle Network series, except in the area where you fought the Big Bad. Usually, some sort of justification would be given. In 2, a random program will tell you that the radiation levels will overwhelm your PET, and prevent you from saving.
- Celestial mirrors in Ōkami.
- Mirrors serve a similar purpose, with a similar justification, in Onimusha.
- In EarthBound, you save by calling Ness's dad and telling him about your journey.
- And in MOTHER 3, you have the Save Frogs, who describe themselves as recording your memories. Then they subvert it:
"A story is a series of memories. Memories are remembered with other memories, and in turn become memories themselves. If you don't take care to preserve your memories, you'll forget them. So, please tell us frogs your memories of everything so far... That is what people refer to as "saving". Now, then... *hop* Save your game?
- In Dragon View, a priest will heal you and record your journey, so if you fail the gods can return your lost soul.
- In Xenogears, the "Memory Cube" is largely handwaved, until you get to Solaris and find out that they're mind control devices.
- In Chrono Cross, the save points are "Records of Fate", and in one town, several NPCs can be seen using one. They are later revealed to be the objects that FATE uses to keep tabs on and control humanity. As Chrono Cross had the same core team as Xenogears, you can see they like this one.
- In Final Fantasy IX, all of the save points (except the ones in the final dungeon) were moogles, who would chronicle your journey in a giant journal. The final dungeon, meanwhile, had a running theme of storing people's memories, thus handily explaining why the non-moogle save points existed there.
- In Final Fantasy X the save points were recording spheres; theoretically someone recounted what happened since the last save.
- The save points in Breath of Fire 3 are usually journals. One is a dragon statue that is said to be a local shrine, where you pray for safety.
- That shrine is a callback to the first two games, where praying at a Dragon Shrine or St. Eva Church was the only way to save.
- In Phantasy Star 2, you save your game by having your memories backed up in a computer. On the same token, dead party members are resurrected at a cloning facility.
- Throughout the Dragon Quest series, you save your game by having records made of your journey. The king served this purpose in the first three games, and in later games, this was done by the priests at churches of whomever the Supreme Deity Of The Week is. This even applies in spin-offs.
- Because Brave Fencer Musashi only allows you to save your game at the castle, there are Memory Boxes in the more distant regions of the game world that serve as a temporary save point (more like a checkpoint; if you reset or power off the console, it's lost). The in-game explanation of these is that they preserve Musashi's memories.
- The Harvest Moon series has your character's diary as the save point. Some later games let you save anywhere, but keep the diary because "some people liked it", other later games add completely non-justified save points at convenient locations.
- The latest DS title, Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar, does away with diaries OR Save Anywhere, only letting you save when you go to sleep. It also doesn't mention writing in your diary when you pick it - you just save your game and go to sleep, thus averting justification.
- Costume Quest's DLC, Grubbins On Ice, has spots where you can speak into a speaker to alert the "Trowbog Historical Society" that history has been made. Your character will occasionally lampshade the saving by remarking "We just walked around some more. You'll probably want to write that down."
- Pokémon Colosseum has the protagonist save their progress on PCs found around Orre. Pokémon XD had you save like in the handheld games though.
- Meanwhile, in some games of the main series, progress is saved by the protagonist writing down their journey in a journal. This is even called 'Report' in the Japanese versions.
- Faxanadu for the original NES had save codes, presented in the game as "mantras"; you went into a temple to obtain the mantra for your particular save point.
- Persona series
- In the original Persona, the save points are the Agastya Trees which appear to be sentient and asks if the protagonist would like to record their journey so far on them. An earier comment from an NPC encourages you to talk to the new tree she put in the school hospital, stating that it is is good for you. Considering that there is an entire forest of them in Maki's Dream World, its implied to be a product of Maki's mind.
- In Persona 3, the save point is one of the contraptions built into Tartarus. There's also the one in the dorm lobby, which is a check-in book.
- Persona 4 had the Blue Butterflies, which are all Philemon, the big good from the first and second games.
- In I Miss the Sunrise, the Typelog database that functions as a save system is a key element of the setting; it's part of what allows immortal society to function properly.
- Dark Souls has the Bonfires that act as checkpoints. An explicitly spelled-out part of the Darksign curse is that an Undead will revive at the last Bonfire they visited if they are killed.
- In most World of Mana, saving is handled as a function of innkeepers, Neko the travelling salesman, or statues of the Mana Goddess; in Seiken Densetsu 3, these statues are made of gold and usually placed in the vicinity of Mana Stones to ward off outsiders. There are one or two statues in the final villain's lair, but they're made of stone and headless, placed there in direct mockery of the Goddess. They also don't refill your energy.
- The X-Universe series allows you to buy salvage insurance, whose Flavor Text says it "allows a recoverable programme to be put into operation that will enable the pilot to retrieve vital data and credits they have amassed so far." What this means is, you can save your game in flight at the cost of one unit of salvage insurance.
- Silent Hill 1 justifies its save points as Harry's notes of the bizarre goings on around him (said save points are even designed as notepads). This gets a nice Continuity Nod in Silent Hill 3 when Heather comes across one of said notes. (The other games' save points are less justified, but the playable characters still do note that being near one does strange things to their heads.)
- Silent Hill 4 has the best example, in that there is literally only one save point, a journal Henry keeps in his living room. You have to go back there every time you want to save.
- Resident Evil had typewriters. It also had (exhaustible) ink ribbons, because it was just that mean of a game. With Resident Evil 4, the ribbons went away.
- Parasite Eve: Being a Police officer, Aya often calls into her superiors back at the station to report on what's happened. Who she's calling when the station is under attack and everyone's dead or unconscious, is left unexplained.
- Tuurngait artifacts in Penumbra, which only vaguely hint themselves as save points when touched. I feel like I left a part of me inside. They also serve the purpose of spreading the Tuurngait infection in the game storyline.
- The Bucket Knight of Rule of Rose is just one of many pieces of overt symbolism throughout the game. The whole game is essentially Jennifer recovering her lost memories, and she 'saves' her progress by telling him her tale so far.
- In Fatal Frame, the player utilizes a fixed camera to "record" the game.
- Fiona from Haunting Ground can save the game through any of the grandfather clocks spread through Belli Castle.
- Richard uses phones in Echo Night to save the game. Begging the question who's on the other side of the line when he calls in...
- In Kuon, Utsuki, Sakuya and Abe no Seimei can save the game within the confines of hallowed ground - which are always found by small streams of water - by setting afloat paper Vessels, as an omnyodo form of blessing. On a disturbing note, the player later finds rivers of blood running underground... and all the paper Vessels used to save the game are found drowned in it.
- The kids from ObsCure have "Save Discs", which weirdly enough are integrated into the narrative without ever getting a proper explanation as to how exactly they're supposed to work.
- It's never stated outright, but since The Cat from The Witch's House is a powerful demon, working in favour of 'Viola', it makes sense he could return the player character from the grave.
- The Evil Within's Mirror Room, a strange and out-of-place pocket dimension, acts as a breather episode between waves of fighting obsessed undead from the pits of hell. You can save, talk to the receptionist, upgrade your abilities, the good stuff. The characters in the room lampshade on how such a merciful place exists in a world where everything and their mother wants to kill you, which alternate dimension is the 'real' one, and whether or not the save room will one day get infected / betray the residents and become just another hellhole in this alternate dimension.