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Time Rewind Mechanic

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A gameplay mechanic where the Player Character is allowed to rewind back time at any point in-story, undoing their actions during the previous couple of seconds. Alternatively, if the mechanic isn't justified in-story, the player must be able to decide freely when to rewind to, in order to distinguish this from regular Check Points (although Justified Save Point may have "time rewinding" as its justification).

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Compare Time Master, whose power over time is much greater than simply rewinding it. Contrast Save Scumming and Check Points, which are usually extradiegetic (out-of-story) methods to reset the game to a previous state.


Examples:

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    Action Adventure 
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time gave the Prince a magical dagger that would let him reverse time if things got hairy or even if he died. The dagger was powered by magical sand, however, so it could theoretically run of charge, and it had a recharge time after each use which still made it very possible to get a true Game Over if you used it at the wrong time.

    Adventure Game 
  • In Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective, a ghost named Sissel is able to travel back four minutes before peoples' deaths, so that way he can save their lives. If things went hairy, he could rewind time back to 'Fate Changes', which serve as checkpoints as he works to save the person's life.
  • In Life Is Strange, Max's strange ability to rewind time whenever she wants is the central fantastical element of the story. Gameplay-wise, it has multiple effects. It allows the player to try out different outcomes at critical plot points before committing to a particular story branch. In some cases, it can be used to restart a conversation with the knowledge gained by the previous play-through, adding new options to the conversation, making this more than a simple Save Scumming mechanism. Also, since Max (usually) retains her position after a rewind, this can be used for "teleporting", which is required for the solution of some of the puzzles.
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    Arcade Game 
  • Time Traveler featured "Time Reversal Cubes" allowing you to rewind the game a few seconds if you screwed up.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • Tracer's main shtick in Overwatch is that she can rewind time at any point by a fixed amount. Since it is an online multiplayer game, time only flows backwards for herself, effectively placing her where she was a few seconds ago.
  • Atlas from Paladins has two abilities that do this. Setback, which makes enemies go back 4 seconds in time, and get the lowest health during that period, while Second Chance does the same for him specifically (but gets the highest health he had of the 4 second period instead).

    MMORPG 
  • Elsword: Time Tracer (one of Add's job advancements) has the buff skill "Seal of Time". If he or his teammates that gets buffed with it get killed, they'll be resurrected with the same amount of HP, MP and other resources that they had when they got the buff.
  • The "End Time" dungeon from World of Warcraft makes time rewinding a major mechanic in the final boss encounter. Players have an hourglass with limited charges which will reset player positions, cooldowns, health, and floor hazards to the point of when the boss was first encountered. This, however, does not effect damage already done to the boss.

    Platform Game 
  • Blinx: One of the five ways you can manipulate time is by rewinding it.
  • Braid has this as a core mechanic: you can rewind time at any time for free while you attempt to figure out the tricky puzzle design of the game. Later levels also introduce additional mechanics, like items and moving objects that ignore your time reversal powers.
  • The Gardens Between uses time manipulation as its central mechanic, requiring the player to reverse and speed up time in order to guide Arina and Frendt through each level.

    Racing Games 
  • In the Forza series, there's an option that allows you to rewind if you've made a mistake, until you reach a point where you can try again. Of course, you can disable this option for more game points.
  • Starting with Race Driver Grid and Colin Mc Rae Dirt 2, most of Codemasters' racing games include a "Flashback" mechanic that lets you rewind a limited amount, a limited number of times per race. Totalling your car gives you the option to Flashback instead of starting the race over again, but you can Flashback at any time if you so desire. Higher difficulties give you fewer Flashbacks.
  • Copying that option, various of the new Need for Speed games (especially seen in Rivals) also have the option of rewind part of your move if you got something wrong during the race.
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    Rhythm Games 
  • In Mad Rat Dead, the titular main character can rewind time thanks to the powers of Heart. For story purposes, he uses this to rewind time to certain events before they happened. For gameplay purposes, this allows the player to rewind time after they get hit. You can rewind up to sixty seconds before you got attacked, but the time on the counter won't rewind with it.

    Role Playing Game 
  • Save Scumming works this way in Undertale. When you die and continue or reload a save to try again or undo a mistake, certain characters like Flowey or Sans will remember what happened before you reloaded and will even comment on it. Other characters will sometimes even get cases of Déjà Vu, say with a character you save scummed back to life after an accidental death who may comment on how they suddenly feel scared for no reason or with a character remarking that the conversation they're having with you seems familiar. Even deleting your save and restarting a fresh playthrough won't erase all the lingering effects of your last playthrough, and Flowey will even call you out as a coward if you did it to abort a run where you had killed characters. Doing a Genocide Run even permanently taints your game, making it impossible to get the Golden Ending no matter how many times you rewind time since not even time travel can undo you selling your soul to the game's Big Bad.

    Stealth-Based Game 
  • In Invisible, Inc., you are given a number of "Rewinds" per mission (how many, depends on your difficulty settings). When you activate a rewind, your game state is reset to the start of the previous turn, and there is no limit on how many rewinds you can spend one after another. While not justified in-story, this feature is intended to help players out of mission gone FUBAR.

    Strategy RPG 
  • The C.H.A.R.I.O.T. system ('Combat History and Refined Implementation of Tactics') in the PSP remake of Tactics Ogre allows the player to go back up to 50 turns in the past on any of their turns. Doing so and taking a different action creates a branch in the timeline.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia introduces Mila's Turnwheel, a divine relic that grants visions of the past and future. It can be used to rewind any number of moves and turns up to the start of the current mission. It has a limited number of uses per battle, which starts at 3, but can be increased by finding Cogs scattered throughout the world.
    • Early in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Sothis grants Byleth the Divine Pulse, a power that functions the same way as Mila's Turnwheel, providing an in-universe justification to their Combat Clairvoyance (this is also implied to be the justification for the player being shown which enemy is going to attack whom on their next turn — Byleth can "see" that much without even needing to activate Sothis' power). In a case of Gameplay and Story Integration, Byleth also uses this ability in some of the cutscenes.

    Tower Defense 
  • Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time: The Thyme Warp plant will "rewind time" when planted on the field, causing your existing plants and the zombies to get restored to full health and put all zombies at the front-most column. This plant can only be used in the Neon Mixtape Tour levels, however.

    Non-Video Game Examples 
Anime and Manga
  • This is the true power of Rebecca's Ether Gear in EDENS ZERO. Cat Leaper allows her to Mental Time Travel back whenever she or those she cares about is in life-threatening danger and use the resulting knowledge to avoid the danger, which can happen anywhere from a few seconds to a full week. She had actually been unconsciously using this power for ten years before the start of the story, first having been triggered to survive what would have been an otherwise fatal car accident, and even used it several times during the story before she finally became self-aware of it.
  • Re:Zero: This is Subaru's signature power which he dubs "Return by Death" where every time he dies, he will reset the time loop to a preset time and will have to relive the events again to try and prevent his death.

Comic Books

Film

Literature

  • This is how Rebecca Sisko's Avatar power manifests in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Relaunch. On two occasions when she was in danger and knew it was too late for anyone to save her, she instinctively rewound time to before things got that bad, and then sent out a burst of energy that attracted rescuers. On the first occasion, when the rescuers still arrived too late, she rewound time again, but this time it seemed to be localised, so the rescuers reached her "earlier".

Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons & Dragons: AD&D 2nd Edition supplement Tome of Magic. The Reverse Time spell causes time to go backwards for the caster and their party. Any damage or other loss the party members have suffered from their opponent's attacks in the last 1-4 minutes is negated.

Western Animation

  • Miraculous Ladybug: Wielders of the Snake Miraculous possess an ability called "Second Chance" - they can mark a certain moment, and then rewind to that moment as many times as necessary, so long as the rewind is done within five minutes of the initial moment. So far, both Adrien Agreste (as Aspik, and then as Snake Noir) and Luka Couffaine (aka Viperion) have used the Miraculous onscreen, with Luka being the apparent primary snake hero (as Adrien is also Chat Noir)

Other

  • The undo feature (usually the Ctrl-Z button combo) in pretty much every editing software nowadays is essentially this, allowing you to revert any changes to a document you've made recently.

 
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Life is Strange

Chloe tests Max's time rewind powers.

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