The Point of No Return

You’re playing an RPG and don’t think twice about keeping more than one save file, instead constantly overwriting the same file whenever you save your hard-earned progress in the game. However, you ultimately reach a point, maybe in a long dungeon, when you wish to turn back and level up a little or purchase better equipment for your party, except you can’t. Congrats, you’ve just encountered a point of no return.

Points of no return, frankly, are an element that simply should not exist in RPGs, alongside the potential to not be able to win a game at all. One particularly notable offender in this aspect is the Squaresoft (now Square-Enix) RPG Saga Frontier, which in this writer’s experience was king of this trope, and one of the main reasons he couldn’t beat the game in over seven years after acquiring it as a present, the thought not having crossed his mind of grinding and/or learning and using a secret skill that was literally the difference between victory and defeat in that particular title.

There are, however, RPGs that actually do the point of no return decently, such as Final Fantasy XII, which actually warns you that you may not be able to back out of certain areas and thus suggests that you save your game in a secondary slot. Arc the Lad III also features a point of no return towards the end, although you can still shop for better equipment and items, grind as desired, and heal if necessary. Although this reviewer believes that points of no return shouldn’t exist in any game, they can at times be less frustrating than normal.

Ultimately, points of no return are generally a negative element in role-playing games and perhaps other genres, although there are things developers can accomplish to reduce the negativity, such as giving players the chance to buy better equipment and items, grind to make characters more powerful, fully recover all playable characters, maybe change the party lineup if necessary. Developers simply need to be extremely cautious before they introduce this potential game-breaking element into their titles.

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