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Save Scumming
aka: Save Scum

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"I'll get you during my next save game."

Old, old method of playing games. Basically, you save the game whenever you get a result you like (or before you face a risk), and restore the saved game whenever you get a result you don't like. It could be because the game demands Trial-and-Error Gameplay, or perhaps you have a limited number of tries to get the Random Number God to get a favorable result. Although sometimes, it might be the only way to even win a Luck-Based Mission, no matter how good you are, or it could be the only way to get a very rare item. And woe betide you if you save the game after a seemingly minor error that ends up making the game Unwinnable, or makes you miss some Permanently Missable Content. Seasoned savescummers will make multiple saves throughout the game so they can go back to the part that they messed up on. Hardcore savescummers will go as far as committing their savegame files to a Version Control System that allows the user to create a sophisticated tree of rollbacks and what-ifs.

In a somewhat less depressing way, this might still be practiced if a game has Multiple Endings with identifiable branching points. Not all games with several endings have New Game Plus as an option, and even if they do, sometimes you just don't want to run through the entire game for the sake of another ending. Saving before the branching point(s) lets you go back through from where it twisted at your convenience.

Some games modify this having Save-Game Limits, such as a limited number, maybe even Only One Save File, or bonuses for low numbers of saves, or immediately erasing/saving a game whenever you die or do something important (Iron Man mode). Another method of circumventing this is to set the RNGs for various events at the start of a new file with nothing else but said events affecting them, resulting in outcomes that are random but cannot be changed by reloading. Some games actually detect whether you cheated by Save-Swapping, trying to obfuscate the game which deletes a saved game by manually putting back a copy of said save file right after deletion by the game into its save folder. Even worse, wiser games will even call you out for actually trying to feed it an invalid saved file or rewrite the game program into autosave mode which disabled loading from savefile.note 

The term "Save Scumming" comes from the roguelike community, which has long frowned on the practice (most roguelike games prevent this by erasing a save file as soon as you load it; however, this puts the player's entire game at risk in the event of a crash) and thus categorized save/reload as one of the many forms of "scummy" behavior honorable players eschew. This is not to be confused with LucasArts' SCUMM game engine, when LucasArts' games are generally much more forgiving than their Sierra counterparts.

Other games, however, especially Japanese-made games designed with the "maniacs" in mind, not only validate it as a tactic, but make it utterly mandatory for 100% Completion. The Infinity +1 Sword is not only dropped only by the ultra-difficult Superboss, but it only has a 1% chance of dropping it, and there is only one of that boss in the game. Beating the boss once after a theoretically infinite number of save scummings may just be a fluke, but beating a difficult boss 50 to 500 times in a row shows not only mastery of the game, but also superhuman patience. Likewise, the Trophy system for the PS3 and PS4 and the Achievements system for the Xbox brand consoles starting with Xbox 360 require multiple playthroughs unless you utilize this.

Much easier (and more tempting) to do with emulators, which often have save state features that allow the player to instantly backtrack anywhere, anytime, making the lives system pointless. This and other emulator features are used to put together or practice for "perfect" runs of pattern-based video games, especially 2D shooters. Platform Hell games are made with this in mind (with horrifying results), and Speed Run players use this to get the exact sequence of events required to make the absolute fastest time. These are called "tool-assisted speedruns", and the divide between savescummed and classic speedruns is vast. The gamers on both sides defend their position vehemently. In addition, emulator save states have one major downfall: the ability to save yourself into a corner. Without limits on when you can save, it becomes possible to save the game in situations that make the game Unwinnable, such as saving at the Game Over screen. Smarter players will use multiple saves in case this happens by accident, but a newcomer to the art of save state scumming can easily find himself trapped. Thankfully, more modern emulators often include the ability to undo the last created save state.

Sometimes known as "Saveweaseling," using "Wand of Save/Load," or "The Mystical Quicksave/load Key." Amusingly enough, some (dubiously metaphysical) interpretations of quantum mechanics suggest that a similar phenomenon may occur in real life, through a process known as "quantum immortality."

A Sub-Trope of Not the Intended Use and Reset Button. See also: Save-Game Limits, which attempt to curtail this, and Trial-and-Error Gameplay. Compare Brain Uploading. Autosave may be implemented to prevent this. Has nothing to do with collecting slime or saving 'scum'.

If a non-videogame example explicitly involves a Time Travel trope rather than reloading a game, see Reset Button.

In-Universe Examples Only

    open/close all folders 

    Action Adventure 
  • Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis action game fully expects and requires you to do this. The manual mentions that the roulette tables in Monte Carlo are rigged, and hints that you need to do something to "beat the system". The solution is that for some reason the tables always go for the same numbers. Save, try betting at a table, reload, and then bet on whatever number came up on that previous attempt.
    • A similar (optional) puzzle requires the player to save and reload when playing as Sophia in order to emulate her psychic powers: guess the answer, be told the correct one and then load.
  • Katana ZERO at one point uses a save-maker and rewinder at a casino to gather enough tokens at the roulette table to proceed into the backroom. This also comes with The Reveal of Zero and others were injected with a distillation time drug called "Chronos", that makes them go back to a point when they are killed, to evade their obstacles to survive.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask contains an in-universe example. By playing the Song of Time, Link can rewind time to the start of the game's three-day cycle. As a player, this means you can go back knowing information that you normally wouldn't be able to learn until later, such as the code for the Bomber's Hideout and the winning numbers for the Lottery Shop.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: The game encourages open-ended Trial-and-Error Gameplay, including through this method, by granting the player five autosave slots for them to fall back on if the current situation isn't going so well or they accidentally activated a story encounter earlier than they preferred. Inversely, Master Mode only gives you one autosave slot to restrict save scumming.
  • Iron Danger practically makes this tendency into a gameplay mechanic - the player is liberally able to rewind time up to five seconds ago to freely try out their options and possibilities in its real-time-with-pause combat.

    Adventure Game 
  • Sierra's classic adventure games seem to have been designed with this practice in mind. Their manuals actually encouraged this behavior by telling players up front, "Save early, save often, and don't overwrite your saves.":
    • Wandering opponents, monsters, zombies, etc. could appear in two or three set unique locations in King's Quest I (but not in any other Sierra game), requiring the player to evade them using the same keyboard controls used for normal exploration. This is trivial if you keep to the edge of the screen. On the other hand, Quest for Glory has actual wandering monsters, but allows the player to fight back.
    • In Codename: ICEMAN, attempting to reload a save during an entirely Luck-Based Mission of a dice game will cause the person you're playing against to accuse you of cheating and refuse to play with you.
    • This is basically the standard approach to the blackjack game in Leisure Suit Larry, which is necessary to accumulate sufficient finances but is a Luck-Based Mission. The game even lampshades that you need to do this at one part where, after being robbed, the narration remarks "with your consummate gambling skills you should be back on your feet at no time!" Similarly, the slots-o-death machine in Space Quest I: The Sarien Encounter more or less requires the exact same approach.
    • Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge assumes you're already doing this. If you use a lighter in one of the bathrooms and cause an explosion, the message will end with "Since you're dead you'd best get to restoring."
    • Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers teaches you to save scum very early on with the Unstable Ordinance. You find it very early in the game, as one of the very first items you can acquire, and if you enter the sewers with it it explodes. Its only in-game purpose is to pick it up for a point, and then put it back for another, but picking up an item that can then uncontrollably kill you makes a very clear message: you will need to save scum, and often, to beat this game.
  • Life Is Strange is an in-universe example of this. Max can rewind time, which enables you to choose different outcomes and is even needed for some puzzles.
  • Parodied in The Secret of Monkey Island. There's a bit where if you walk too close to a cliff you fall, and a Sierra-style save/load screen appears. The main character then rebounds back onto the cliff with two words of explanation: "Rubber tree."
  • Lampshaded in Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People: 8-Bit Is Enough. If Strong Bad is attacked by the scorpion monster in the Peasant's Quest realm, the game presents a Sierra-style game over screen, while Strong Bad simply picks himself up off the ground and remarks about how he "never reads those things".
  • This was deliberately parodied in Infocom's Planetfall; whenever you saved the game with your robot sidekick Floyd around, he would ask "Oh boy! Are we going to try something dangerous now?"
  • Zork required this as the two fights in-game (the thief and the troll) were Luck Based Missions, and a revive made the game unwinnable. There is a case of Good Bad Bugs where careful use of save scum and a "do it again" shortcut can make the thief fight far easier then it should be, and it is necessary for a speed run.
  • In Heroine's Quest, stealing a certain item (Andvari's ring) will curse you so that everybody hates you and avoids talking with you. If you try to get out of this by restoring your game... it doesn't work! The item is a Clingy McGuffin; there is a way to get rid of it, but until you do, if you restore or restart your game, you still have it.
  • A few of the bad endings in Riven: A Sequel to MYST requires having knowledge you can only have by learning it then reloading a save.
    • Catherine's journal gives you the code to the Star Fissure, but if you reload you can open it right after linking to Riven. Unlike all the other endings, Atrus doesn't even bother coming if you destroy the age right after he sent you there.
    • Rescuing Catherine requires you to capture Gehn so you can learn the code to her cell. However, if you learn the code, then reload a save before you capture him, you can free Catherine and initiate the Golden Ending cutscene, only for Atrus and Catherine's reunion to be cut short by Gehn and his henchmen killing them and you.

    First Person Shooter 
  • Tron 2.0 actually encourages this practice just before a Race Against the Clock section. A character says: "Quick! Save yourself!" and "I auto save every 30 seconds. I suggest you do the same."

    Four X 
  • The Civilization II manual actually recommends save scumming before entering the tribal villages that provide random bonuses (and sometimes unleash barbarian hordes).
  • Eador builds this into the story and mechanics: your character can reverse time, returning to the previous turn or undoing his entire attempt to conquer the current shard, for minor penalties. Interestingly, the game autosaves, so it's impossible to save scum normally without copying and pasting save folders from outside the game.
  • Lampshaded in the instruction manual of Rome: Total War, which mentions returning to an earlier save when something goes wrong, "not that you'd ever do that, of course". Incidentally, it comes with a form of the aforementioned RNG saving, with the interesting twist that occasionally, you actually end up getting worse results when you reload.

  • In Little Big Planet 3, the creator popit powerup allows you to pause and rewind your game progress, each savepoint is created when you close your popit. Although you cannot save your game this way, it's more than enough to wrap reality and undo failures before you take damage.
  • In Mario Must Die 3, Mario's use of savestates rips a hole in space-time that can only be fixed by playing the whole trilogy without savestates.
  • The core conceit of Outer Wilds is a 22-minute long "Groundhog Day" Loop, which turns out to have been an in-universe example of this set up by the Nomai. They wanted to find a location in space that was eluding their most sophisticated sensors, but firing probes on random trajectories until they found it could take an impractical amount of time. Instead, the Nomai figured out a way to send information back in time, which let them go through millions of iterations of firing the same probe, having its launch computer (the only part of the project that would remember the time loops) send the results back to the start of the next loop and choose a new heading each time. The Nomai were so committed to this project that they were willing to power the loop by triggering their sun to go supernova, secure in the knowledge that once their probe system found what it was looking for, it would end the nova-powered time loop and their deaths would never have happened.

    Puzzle Game 
  • Hack 'N' Slash actually encourages this. It's justified in-game by the protagonist being given a magical amulet that enables her to travel through time, though it doesn't really need much justification given the theme of the game. In addition to being able to load old saves (which are automatically created every time a new area is entered or re-entered) the interface even keeps track of which saves came from which, enabling the player to view the branching "timelines". After experimenting a lot, this interface can quickly become cluttered.
  • Sutte Hakkun encourages quick-saving, where it's featured as an option on the pause menu. However, you've got only one slot, and every save jacks 20 points from your score, meaning that, if you want a high score on the stage, you're better off not using them in general.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • Dune II: The Harkonnen Death Hand missile can destroy nearly anything, but its accuracy is absolutely atrocious — save scumming is pretty much the only way to make any practical use of it.
  • While save scumming does help tremendously with Paradox Games' recent historical simulations, Crusader Kings and Europa Universalis, you're practically barred from doing so if you want to win any achievements.
  • Lampshaded in the ending of Perimeter, when The Infernals inform the player that their Evil Plan required the participation of an extra-dimensional being with the ability to travel back in time at will in order to correct his or her past mistakes.
  • In Warcraft, Nozdormu is the leader of the Bronze Dragonflight, responsible for overseeing time. Fighting him is a bit futile, since if even if you win against the titanic superpowerful dragon he'll just rewind time and fight you again, this time knowing exactly what you're going to do.
  • In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm you get to use the same tactic against his Evil Twin Murozond in a dungeon. You get an hourglass with 5 charges, that reset everyone and everything's status in the fight... except the damage done so far to Murozond.

  • In the Chainsaw Warrior video game versions, what you start with is randomized with the degree determined by the difficulty. Additionally even on easier difficulty setting, the Darkness has stats so high that beating it is a lotto draw. Saving after a good event or before a risky one and then reloading a failed game from there, saves on the frustration. This is especially true for the 2nd game as it takes multiple playthroughs and victories to unlock everything.
  • The sole control scheme for Save Scummer, a game that is essentially about playing a roguelike. The only moves are backwards in time and forwards in time, with the RNG resetting to let the player influence the choice that the randomly rolled character randomly makes at each moment in time. Beat it, and the player character gets berated for save scumming on the in-game internet.
  • If you exit the game in Slay the Spire and reload, you'll start over at the start of the fight. However, it still uses the same seed, so if you try the exact same actions as before, it'll have the same outcome. However, you can still manipulate the seed by changing the order of card draw or killing monsters and such.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • Baldur's Gate:
    • In the sequel, Shadows of Amn, most of the characters were too high-level to be rolling HP for much longer, and non-player-generated characters had predetermined results for when they did roll.
    • Spoofed in Baldur's Gate: Throne of Bhaal: a party of "noobs" assaults your group while flinging insults, resulting in their complete extermination. After a fake "reload" screen, the same party of adventurers encounters you again, greets you nicely and walks away.
    • The Baldur's Gate engine does at least warn you — one of the hints on the ever-present loading screens is, "Hit Q to quicksave the game. Do this often."
  • BioWare is generally friendly towards this strategy:
    • The only reason no one calls out the NPCs that blatantly cheat at pazaak in Knights of the Old Republic is the fact most players are save scumming when they lose a game.
    • In Jade Empire, there is an NPC that you can gamble with. If you reload too many times to win against him, he will eventually explode into bloody chunks.
    • In Dragon Age: Inquisition, a few NPCs can do this:
      • Cole has the ability to "make someone forget", and he uses it to get a second try at a conversation if he messes up or makes someone upset.
      • Magister Alexius, the Arc Villain of In Hushed Whispers, managed to secure an "alliance" with the rebel mages (read: enslave them all) by using time magic to manipulate Grand Enchanter Fiona into thinking he was her only option.
    • Even their MMO, Star Wars: The Old Republic has a form of this. In the middle of a conversation, hitting ESC aborts it and allows you to do it over again. This is useful for testing companion responses or if the dialogue's printed option doesn't match what the character actually says (a neutral-appearing response option generating an unexpectedly rude response, for example).
  • Possible for most Souls games by backing up your save file to the cloud or a different folder, even though the game's constant auto-saving (and the community) obviously discourages it. This is the simplest way to see all the endings in Bloodborne and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice without committing to multiple full playthroughs.
    • In-universe, the bonfires are a subversion. No matter how many times the Undead protagonist dies, they always wake up at the nearest bonfire-shrine, and all the mooks respawn as if nothing happened. However, all their actions prior to death (especially murder) are permanent, and if they don't find a way to return to the spot where they died without getting killed again, they lose all their precious experience points. For Undead in particular, the resurrection is lossy.
  • In Disgaea, you can steal items and weapons from enemies using hand items. Most items come in three rarity types, Common, Rare and Legendary. The rarity of the enemy items is randomized, so players save-scum to get Legendary items, especially the Rank 40 Weapons from Item Gods
  • The Elder Scrolls series has the in-universe concept of "CHIM", essentially an ascended state where one becomes aware of the nature of Anu's Dream but exists as one with it and maintains a sense of individuality. Dunmeri Tribunal deity Vivec claims to have achieved this state, and (cryptically and metaphorically) explains in his Morrowind dialogue and his 36 Lessons series what this means - essentially, his "godhood" comes from realizing that he is in a video game and uses that knowledge to edit the situation around him. He makes vague references to things like the Player Character ("The ruling king who only he can address as an equal"), pausing the game, console commands, and the Construction Set Level Editor. His explanation on what happens if he should "die" also sounds, in line with this trope, a lot like reloading a saved game:
    Vivec: When I die in the world of time, then I'm completely asleep. I'm very much aware that all I have to do is choose to wake. And I'm alive again. Many times I have very deliberately tried to wait patiently, a very long, long time before choosing to wake up. And no matter how long it feels like I wait, it always appears, when I wake up, that no time has passed at all.
  • The Eye of the Beholder games can easily be abused through save scumming, beyond just resetting an encounter that went badly.
    • First, since it is a game based on Dungeons & Dragons, gaining a level bring a random amount of Hit Points. By keeping a close eye on the characters' experience score, you can save right before a fight that will bring enough XP to level up; if the HP "roll" is not high enough, you can reload and retry until getting the maximum.
    • This can also be used to identify unknown magic items. You can taste a potion or fire a charge from a wand to see what it does, and then (especially if a potion proves to be Poison) reload the game, thus not having wasted a dose or wand charge.
  • Fallout 2 has the above quote, and the description of the player's ear bitten off by The Masticator adds, "If you're reading this, you're probably reloading your last save."
    • Also, in one secret encounter, the log displays the player character thinking "…I should save my game in a brand new slot."
    • In Fallout: New Vegas, save scumming is possible to win big at the casino games, but there are two catches. Firstly, each casino has a limit on how much you can win before they either ban you from gambling or straight up kick you out. Secondly, reloading a save from within a casino starts a countdown on all gambling games (slots, blackjack, and roulette). You can't gamble until one minute after loading the save. Obviously, Obsidian was one step ahead of us.
  • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates. When you beat the final boss, he will try to go to another reality to defeat you, but gets trapped in a stable time loop. He's stuck Save Scumming the rest of his life! Fridge Horror: YIKES.
  • In Lost Dimension, while the game saves automatically when proceeding to Judgement or if using Deep Vision, this can be used as a strategy to always select the traitor (one of the game's primary mechanics) if you save a backup using PlayStation Plus or if you use a USB device.
  • In Nightmare Of Druaga, the save file is marked "Do Not Copy." And if you close the game by any means other than a save and quit, it subjects you to a rant about mucking with the flow of time, and if you answer even ONE question the wrong way, it inflicts you with the death penalty. and the rant gets longer each time, with new questions. Heaven help you if the power goes out while playing.
  • Octopath Traveler: As an homage to classic RPGs, the Rogue abilities and their percentage-based success rates can be overcome if the player is willing to invest enough time and resets until they succeed.
  • Pokémon:
    • There are incredibly rare alternate color palettes of all or most Pokémon called shinies. Some people use Save Scumming on the starter Pokémon or legendary Pokémon to get shiny versions of them. This is one of the most time consuming save scumming schemes out there because it may take thousands of tries to get a shiny. Legendary Pokémon cannot be shiny hunted in any other way, but starter Pokémon can be bred just (like most other non-legendary Pokémon) for a much higher chance that it's shiny while also getting better stats if you use the right techniquenote .
    • Most people save in front of legendary Pokémon so they can try again if they KO it accidentally or if they run out of Pokéballs.
    • If you save in front of a difficult battle (Gym Leader or Pokémon League), you can save scum to prevent losing money.
    • Notably defied in Pokémon Sword and Shield with regards to using a Wishing Piece to create a Max Raid and going treasure hunting with the Digging Duo; both of these require you to save the game before they start, forcing you to accept the outcome you got. However, for the former, there's an easy way to negate this measure: Just set your game text speed to slow, save in front of the Den you wish to activate, then put in the Wishing Piece, Due to the beam showing before the game is saved, there is a fraction of time in which you can see whether the beam will be rare (purple) or common (red). If it is not the color you want, you can simply close out and reopen the game to try again.
  • The entire premise of Radiant Historia is that the hero, Starke, has access to a magical history book that acts like a "Choose your own Adventure!" novel. By sticking bookmarks in the relevant parts, he can find the one path that can Save The World. It was reputedly inspired by how everyone reads CYOA books with a finger on a couple descisions in case they end up dying hilariously.
  • In Sands of Salzaar, your reward for exploring a location is randomized within a set of possibilities. Unfortunately you can only return to a location after a lot of time has passed (most places are a week but some are much longer). This is especially frustrating if you're trying to recruit a specific monster team from dungeons. That's because some monster units with enough experience can immediately upgrade from a decent Tier 3 to the mighty Tier 5 (Tier 6 is ultimate and a party can only have 2 of those). Sadly this can only happen if the unit has a full roster, and since dungeons only get you a pair you'll have to find another group of that specific monster and combine them. Too bad the most common monster is the Gold Frogman who are mediocre units that can only upgrade to Tier 4. So save before entering a dungeon, if you're trying to find something specific.
  • Shadow Hearts series:
    • The lottery minigame, where you can spend tickets to obtain rare items by hitting the jackpot. As there is a limited number of lottery tickets per game, players would save the game before interacting with a member, and reset the game if they fail to get the desired prize.
    • From the New World has the Pagoda Battles, a sidequest where Mao uses Cat Coins (obtained by defeating enemies with her "Cat Touch" Skill) to pay an actor to fight her. Losing the battle against said actor means that you have to collect more coins to challenge him again, so players just save before the fight, reset and try again if they lose.
  • In Undertale, Photoshop Flowey weaponises this trope and uses it against the player. Using the Six Human Souls, He carries out a save state just before unleashing an attack, then will load the state should the player successfully avoid it to provide another chance at getting struck. Then at the end of the fight, he pretends to have a Villainous Breakdown before rewinding all the way to the beginning of the fight, but with a troll face, before using it to kill the player 32 times in quick succession.
    • In general, the trope gets deconstructed throughout the game, as multiple characters are aware that the player character can do this and will call you out on abusing it. The Final Boss of the No Mercy Route, Sans, even acts as an SNK Boss specifically to get around this; he knows that you'll just reset if he defeats you, so the only way for him to win is to make you Rage Quit by fighting as unfairly as possible.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles series:
    • The first game practically doesn't even give you a choice when it comes to getting the Advanced Art Books needed to fully level up your characters' skills. They can only be obtained from boss-level monsters that are all level seventy or higher, and some of them have very difficult spawn conditions. And just to add insult to injury, some of these Art Books have a drop rate of less than one percent. So your choices for getting these books are to either go through the pains to repeatedly respawn these boss-level enemies, then fight them and beat them, and then rinse and repeat until you get the item, or just spawn and beat them once, save, and then open the chest that they drop. Since the contents of the chest aren't determined until after you open them, you can just keep reloading your save until you get the item you want.
    • The first game has side quests with multiple outcomes. Not only are there different rewards depending on the outcome, the outcome will have some effect on NPCs' relationships on the Affinity Chart. The general rule is the better the outcome, the better the reward. However, some of the outcomes are collectible item-based and if you already have all the needed collectibles for the bad option, the game immediately locks you on the path for it without really giving you a choice. Save scumming is necessary if you're already set for the bad outcome, as you'll know which items to dump from your inventory to prevent a damaged relationship before trying again. A notable example of this happening is the side quest "Ingredients for a Brew", where the ingredients for the bad option are an incredibly common item from an early game area in comparison to the ingredients for the good option.note 
    • In Xenoblade Chronicles X, the player is only given one save file per account. Like the first game, a good number of the side quests have multiple outcomes depending on your choices (and some of them affect connected future side quests). The rewards stay the same regardless of outcome this time, but unless you know ahead of time, you're not going to get the favorable outcome on the first attempt every time. If the "bad choice" doesn't lead to damaged NPC relationships, it usually leads to one or more friendly NPCs getting killed.
    • Xenoblade Chronicles 2 also only has one save file per account. However, this is averted with awakening Blades. With the exception of the first Core Crystal given to you, the game auto-saves every time you awaken a Blade. This is to prevent players from unlocking all the Rare Blades without using up many Core Crystals, as Rare Blades have a slight chance of being awakened even from Common Core Crystals.

    Simulation Game 

    Sports Games 
  • Blood Bowl has constant dice rolls for each of your players' actions. The results can mean the difference between scoring a touchdown or slipping to your death because you sprinted too much. Additionally players leveling up will net them with a random result in what new skill or stat improvement you get. Having a Big Guy unit like a Minotaur getting an extra arm which improves his ball catching is useless, when he's clusmy and prone to bloodlust, as well as designed purely to smash people. Cyanide studios does restrict effective save scumming to game saves before the start of a half, otherwise replaying a saved game from anywhere else results in the same outcome all the time.

    Stealth-Based Games 
  • Every Hitman game has save points to some degree. Hitman: Blood Money lets you have up to seven slots, while Hitman: Absolution is checkpoint-based (meaning save scumming is actually enforced). Hitman (2016), Hitman 2 and Hitman 3 all use identical save systems, and allows you to manually save in eight separate slots, and combines this with an auto-save, which itself also has eight separate slots. Even Master Mode allows one save slot as a fallback.
  • Splinter Cell: Double Agent for Wii, GameCube, and Playstation 2 actually encourages it. Not only can you restart the mission whenever you like, making it impossible to save yourself into a no-win situation, but if you keep save reminders on they will remind you to save all the frigging time. Presumably, as the game suffers some bugs such as a framerate issue, guards sometimes managing to spot you through walls, and their habit of abruptly turning around for no reason while you're sneaking up on them, the devs wanted you to know it was an option in the face of Fake Difficulty.

    Survival Horror 
  • Averted in 2Dark. The only way to save through smoking a cigarette, which requires the player to combine them with a lighter and so takes a few seconds and can only be done in a safe place. Moreover, Smith's lungs will give out if they smoke too many.

    Third-Person Shooter 

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • This style of play is seen as an inherent part of the Fire Emblem series. Until Mystery of the Emblem introduced "Casual Mode"note , every installment had players dealing with Permadeath at every difficulty level. Any character that falls in battle is unable to be used again and is even removed from the game entirely depending on their plot importance. As a result, most players quickly restart whenever someone is killed to prevent their death.
    • The GBA games made this practice quite a bit trickier. Each time the game autosaves, it saves the RNG roll at the time of the save - so resetting and resuming the turn gives you the exact same results. In order to save a unit from death, you have to restart the chapter.
  • Phantom Doctrine: During missions the save/load menu gains the option "Restart", and loadable games include autosaves of the last three turns.
  • Abused as a highly-popular strategy among seasoned veterans of the XCOM series. Because a single, sometimes seemingly insignificant unit placement mistake or missed shot can cause someone to have their face melted off with alien plasma weapons at best or a ruined campaign state at worst, it would be wise to make and keep many, many saves as the player progresses through the missions in case something goes wrong.
    • XCOM: Enemy Unknown has the ironically named "Save Scum" option in the Second Wave difficulty modifiers, which resets the random number seed every time you load a game so your actions play out differently and save scumming no longer becomes a viable strategy. However while this was optional in Enemy Unknown/Within, XCOM 2 has this by default and it can't be disabled (though loading a save for the start of the battle and an entirely clean slate is still possible).
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories: Since a single loss will trigger a game over, it behooves players to save after each victory and restart the game whenever defeat is certain.

    Visual Novel 
  • Angels with Scaly Wings features this in an especially unusual in-universe sense: each new game after the first one ends is you jumping into a new Alternate Universe timeline, since the way to stop a double The End of the World as We Know It—i.e., to get the Golden Ending—can only be obtained through clues gotten in multiple endings, and your foreknowledge from previous attempts allows you to change and prevent certain things. Actively defied at one point, though, where the save system refuses to let you reload if you screw up.
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony has this when the player suffers a "Bad Ending" at the game's climax. Then the game pops a normal "Save Screen" in which the player must select the "Don't Save" option. The save screen flashes many times, and the player has to press "Save" once more to turn the game over screen into a Continue Your Mission, Dammit! message. It is revealed to be a code to continue the last trial, and control switches to K1-B0.
  • Doki Doki Literature Club! encourages the use of this, with Monika giving a fourth-wall-breaking tip on "saving and loading at important decisions". However, this begins to fall apart when the game starts corrupting and erasing the player's save data, with a few instances having the save/load function outright fail to work. However, the Golden Ending is awarded to players who save scum enough to unlock all the CGs while the function is still intact.
  • In Fate/stay night, the Tiger Dojo exists to Lampshade and excuse it with a wink.
  • In her tears were my light, the player character Time can "warp" to any moment she has already experienced (either the start of the game or a save point) while retaining her memories. The player is required to do this repeatedly to make progress.
  • Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors has this in universe. The player's ability to restart after obtaining a bad ending, while retaining information obtained in said ending, is an early indicator that young Akane (the true player character) is doing this with Junpei.
    • Its sequel, Virtue's Last Reward takes this up a notch, with information from different routes eventually becoming vital to progress down others. The player loading from different points in the story is illustrated as Sigma traveling to different timelines, taking some already known information with him. And he's not the only one who can do that.
    • As per series tradition, Zero Time Dilemma mandates this, using perceived "bad ends" to unlock continuations past certain plot endings in other routes. Some minigames are randomized, forcing the player to retry until they get the outcome needed to proceed. Just like in Virtue's Last Reward, the act of reloading is the cast utilizing their ability to Shift, swapping their selves to another timeline and carrying the knowledge with them.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • Punished in Assassin's Creed: Odyssey with the Orchalcum merchant. If you buy a random item, then try to reload an earlier save, the Orchalcum is deleted from your inventory in the earlier save and the item you received is deleted from your inventory in the latest save. Naturally, the game doesn't warn you that this will happen beforehand.
  • Grand Theft Auto Online accidentally facilitates this thanks to Rockstar's periodic cloud saves, making this a rare instance of Save Scumming on an online game. It's possible for a player to roll back their progress up to a few minutes by forcing the game to close abruptly or forcing a disconnection, which is most notoriously used by griefers to "refund" Orbital Cannon payments (which are at least GTA$500,000 apiece).
  • AI Dungeon 2 allows the player to reverse any decision on-the-fly with the /revert command. This trope is more prevalent in the offline version of the game, which allows players to save at any time.
  • Kerbal Space Program allows you to revert flights to the Vehicle Assembly Building or SpacePlane Hangar (Depending on where you launched it). Averted in Hardcore Career Mode (which doesn’t allow reverting flights, by the way).

Non-Video Game Examples

    Anime & Manga 
  • Natsuki Subaru from Re:Zero has the ability that he calls "Return by Death" which allows him to go back in time to a "save point", with only himself remembering what happened. However, he has no control over when a "save point" occurs, and can only return to it by dying, so it's not an ability he uses lightly.
  • In UQ Holder!, this is Kirie's form of immortality: she can set a "save point", and if she dies, she returns to that point in time. She can use this to dodge the attacks of far more powerful opponents by repeatedly dying to them and learning how they fight. If she doesn't set up a "save point", then she'll reset back to the moment she received her immortality... which was some sixty to seventy years ago, so she'd rather avoid that.

    Comic Books 
  • Disney Mouse and Duck Comics: One Mickey Mouse story had the Phantom Blot invent a device that literally allows him to save the timeline at a point and then reload from there, with the guy owning the device remembering everything—allowing him to commit thefts by just walking in at the right moment the police were distracted from his target by something else and snatching it and run circles around Mickey and the police. However, the device allows for a single save point at any one time, deleting the previous ones as it generates the newest one, so once Goofy (who was doing the same with an actual video game) figured out what he was doing, it was just a matter of jumping him right after he saved, because at that point no matter how many times he reloaded he'd still get jumped.
  • Immortal X-Men: Moira McTaggart is an immensely powerful mutant who reincarnates when she dies, resetting the whole timeline to the day she's born in a "Groundhog Day" Loop where she retains all memories of the previous loops. Villainous geneticist Mister Sinister gets a tissue sample, clones Moira multiple times (keeping them imprisoned in his secret lab), and exploits this as a save scumming technique. If a decision leads to a future he dislikes, he uploads the details to a Moira clone, kills her, and resets the timeline. The new timeline's version of Sinister then downloads the future history from the newly created clone's brain. It's implied that he's already done this 25 times, with the current Sinister being version 26.
  • Attempted in Scott Pilgrim: as part of the extreme use of video games tropes, at one point Scott spots a save point and tries to reach it, but he's prevented from doing so just long enough it disappears.

    Fan Works 
  • In Harry Potter and the Munchkins, Harry's Chosen One status manifests as him being the only empowered protagonist alive, meaning he has Mental Time Travel abilities. He can load anytime, anywhere, but owls are his justified save points. He spends months and years worth of virtual time on getting certain things 'just right.'
  • In Tabula Avatar, the hero of Baldur's Gate unknowingly describes what it feels like to be loaded from a previous save.
    Sorkatani: Sometimes I dream of dying. Those dreams make no sense at the time but later I will find myself in a situation that I recognize. I make sure that I do not do what I did in the dream, and I live. It scared me at first but now those prophetic dreams are almost a comfort.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Edge of Tomorrow, Cage is essentially doing this whenever he does the live-die-repeat loops. Rita also had this power once, but a blood transfusion she was given removed it from her. Additionally, the Omega does this whenever an Alpha dies in battle, allowing it to adapt to anything the humans try.

  • In Anathem, the Quantum Immortality version of this, or something close to it, is implied to be a part of the Praxisnote  of the Thousanders, those Avoutnote  who live in Mathsnote  that only experience apertnote  every thousand years.
  • The Perfect Run: Ryan's main superpower is the ability to create a 'save point', and whenever he dies he can go back to the point of time where he last 'saved' - essentially giving him functional immortality via time-travel.
  • In the Discworld book Thief of Time, Yetis have learned to do this via a limited control of time. They can and will periodically save their lives before doing a dangerous task so that if they get killed, they'll go back in time and not be such a fool next time. It's mentioned that the species has gone extinct on three separate occasions. The Old Master time monk Lu-Tze later uses this trick himself to delay the Big Bad without needing to pull a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • In You (2013), Simon designed the WAFFLE game engine to make this impossible. The game saves automatically when you quit, and you can't load up a previous save in-game. The idea was to make player choice more meaningful, but it was a divisive feature that apparently turned off a lot of would-be consumers.

    Live-Action TV 
  • When part of the crew gets stuck in turn-based time in season 2 of Raumschiff GameStar, Captain Langer, instead of coming up with a clever way to get the out, just suggests reloading an older save-game—and thwarted immediately by Darth Mopp deleting all of their saved games. After beating him back, the Captain turns to a hex editor instead.

  • Anyone used to working on memory-heavy programs, such as the Adobe Creative Suite, will soon develop the nervous tic of using the "save" keyboard shortcut every couple of minutes, or face the possibility of losing a huge amount of work the next time Flash or Premiere crashes. And more to the point, will equally find their fingers hovering constantly over the "undo" shortcut keys. Bonus points if this becomes so internalized you find yourself twitching to "undo" real, non-computer errors.
  • Version control systems are a form of this. Every change you make to your files is recorded for all posterity (or at least until you change systems...), so that you can revert a change that has gone horribly wrong, research a series of changes that led to a current predicament, or even reach way back in time to resurrect something that had been deleted long ago.
  • Virtual machines (sort of a computer-within-a-computer) are often used this way. Set up your VM, take a snapshot of its current state, and then you're free to do all kinds of horrible things to it and just reset to the snapshot when you're done. Very useful for both software developers/testers and malware researchers.
  • Some programs include the option of automatically saving files every so often, limiting the amount of work that gets lost if something goes wrong.

  • In Bob and George, Mega Man X goes berserk and starts assimilating the mind of every robot in the lab. George and Bass decide the only viable option is to wipe out his memory, but this might also wipe out the memory of the others, too. When George goes back, he tells him he's now linked into the lab's computer system, and heard their conversation, then he asks George if he's willing to risk wiping out everybody's minds. George's response: "Can I save my game before I decide?"
  • Specifically noted as one of the Gamemaster's powers in Captain SNES: The Game Masta, as unlike the normal characters, he remembers stuff after a reload, rather than getting intuition and Déjà Vu from it. Also noted as having limitations — he can only reload if he's still in the same world where he saved.
  • In City of Reality, a character gets a device from an enemy he was fighting that allows him to rewind time a few seconds, allowing him to take advantage of this trope. He then uses this to get the high score in a videogame...
  • In the commentary of this El Goonish Shive strip, Dan credits the ability to do this in Fallout 3 as the inspiration for Sarah's simulated time stop spell.
  • Grrl Power: In one instance while scouting out a possible Bad Guy Hangout, Krona, the reality hacker, sets a "Checkpoint" program on Sydney in case anything happens. Unfortunately, Krona learns that she can only affect local time, so that although the save scum triggers and resets everyone nearby to their previous position, the Bad Guy is alerted when time rewrites itself. It's revealed that time outside the local area continued normally, and Krona ended up shelving the program out of fear of breaking time and/or reality.
  • Homestuck: This is the function of Time players within Sburb, which every session has at least one of. Their job is to preserve the Prime Timeline by going back and resetting things when something goes wrong.
  • Paranatural: Agent Stix has the power to rewind herself, allowing her to avoid lethal attacks even if her closest safe spot was hours ago. Unfortunately, it also rewinds her mind; as far as she knows, she never uses her power and never makes mistakes, so she's a bit arrogant and annoyed that her coworkers tend to stop her right before she does anything interesting.
  • Schlock Mercenary uses it as a metaphor for using time travel to change history.
  • Skin Horse: Jonah Yu got this power while in the headquarters of Anasigma, with a fixed savepoint that he couldn't update, the reason being rather unclear at the time, as is how long it would keep working.


    Web Videos 
  • This CalebCity video shows what happens to your party members when you're the one quicksaving.
  • Let's Player raocow doesn't does save states, he does "demos" to showcase various ways you can die, or he conveniently stumbles onto a secret midpoint hidden by the developer. Though in recent times he's cut back on demos as well to try and beat the ROM Hacks he plays legit.
  • Retsupurae did a hilarious take on the concept of riffing: One guy uploaded a playthrough of Kaizo Mario World that was almost unbearable since he reloaded his save states and every single time he did so was kept in the final product. Needless to say, there were many many many such times. Slowbeef chose to not riff it in the traditional way; rather, he read from John Stuart Mill's On Liberty and started his last incomplete sentence over along with saying the name of the guy's emulator every time the guy reloaded a save state. Naturally, he had to do this many, many times.
  • is the King of Save Scumming, and trying for the best everything without actually editing the ram/rom memory. While editing ram using an external editor is grounds to have a submission disqualified, simply watching the RAM is perfectly fine (and is expected in a handful of cases) and using the game itself to manipulate RAM is also fair game. Most of these cases require specific, precise input on specific, precise frames and loads and loads of trial-and-error.
  • Two Best Friends Play: Pat reminds you to always rotate your saves.

    Western Animation 
  • The Batman: A one-off antagonist gained the ability to travel back in time twenty seconds at a time through sheer force of will, allowing him to get away with crimes completely unimpeded by undoing mistakes and even beats Batman in a fight by memorizing his moves over multiple resets. In the end, he even manages to reset his life back seventeen years to before he ever started his life-altering crime, chooses not to go down that route this time, and subsequently avoids the events that led him to gain said powers in the first place.
  • Johnny Test: Johnny does this in the form of a "Saturday Repeater Machine" to try and stop Sissy from coming over and ruining his weekend. When his latest idea results in him and her suddenly falling for each other, he resets the day again and breaks the machine due to his dad pointing out his not-so-happy moments he went through as a result of falling for Johnny's mom.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: The Snake Miraculous grants the power of Second Chance, which allows the user to rewind time to a specific point up to five minutes. In battle, this is used to undo events that lead to other heroes getting incapacitated in some form.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Save Scum


Morty's Time Remote

With a new gadget from Rick, Morty uses it to save/load his actions and goes on a consequence-free spree.

How well does it match the trope?

4.94 (18 votes)

Example of:

Main / SaveScumming

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