Kingdom Come: Deliverance - Curious Case of Saviour Schnapps

As far as I'm concerned, there is no excuse for not having a proper saving system in your game. Multiple quick save slots, rotating autosaves, and manual saves on top of that is what every self-respecting game should have in this day and age (unless it's a roguelike). There are those who disagree, of course. For example, this Gamepressure article argues that having limited saves makes your decisions feel more impactful and that sweating over every fight is somehow more fun than being able to freely try different approaches and solutions as you learn to interact with a game's systems.

The article is mostly focused on Kingdom Come: Deliverance with its rare and precious Saviour Schnapps, but it also mentions The Witcher and Deus Ex series, as well as a number of other titles. And while I disagree with most of the article's points, at the very least it can shed some light on where the other side of the argument is coming from. An excerpt:

Much ado about saving

After breaking down to you this lengthy outline of mechanics designed to make our decisions in games more impactful, I ought to get to the point, or rather the game that inspired this whole article – Kingdom Come: Deliverance. The Czechs from Warhorse also wanted to attribute more gravity to the decisions – not only the big ones that shape the world and the story, but also (and perhaps mainly) the small ones: risky actions such as pickpocketing, for instance. In order to do that, the number of possible ways of saving the game was drastically limited to beds, bathhouses and special (rather expensive) potions, complete with checkpoints during missions.

Saviour Schnapps in Kingdom Come isn’t a new idea, as a matter of fact. Older players may recall a similar solution being utilized in PlayStation version of Tomb Raider 3 – at the beginning of each level, the player would get a few crystals that allowed to save the game. You could find a couple more further down the road, but the game was still considered to be significantly more difficult than the PC version – sometimes even to the point of absurdity, if judged by today’s standards.

The decision generated much discussion. Even though Kingdom Come has probably as many pros as cons, the discussion was mostly fixed on the game’s saving system. The solution utilized in the game was a bitter pill, mainly for the PC players, who have developed an almost compulsive quick-saving instinct over the years. I’ve seen some truly paradoxical situations, where some core players, who usually bemoan the way video games have become way too simple because of the casuals, were complaining about this system spoiling the game.

To be perfectly honest, I was sort of surprised to see the outpour of criticism caused by the solution – to say nothing of the way it increases the significance of decisions, hence improving immersion, I think it simply fits the general rules of the game, which is constantly striving to be as realistic as possible, without making sure the player is alright at every step. It’s a bit like listing high difficulty among Dark Souls’ cons.

After making more than three steps, don’t forget to save your game

The defenders of the “compulsive quick-saving syndrome”, also known as the F5ers (term coined by myself), argument that this, the most liberal, saving system allows you to spend as much time with the game as you heartily wish, enabling you to save & quit at almost any given point. And that definitely makes sense for anyone, who’s not able to spend more than an hour or so at a time with their favorite game. The question is whether playing a game such as Kingdom Come for an hour a day even makes sense – these games emphasize prolonged and thorough exploration rather than playing for a few minutes after work to relax, there’s no doubt about it.

I can tell you, from my own experience, that quicksaves make you terribly lazy, encouraging daft and risky ideas. If, before engaging an enemy, you have to consider the possibility of repeating even the last 10 minutes of the game, the fight becomes way more significant. Something like that would be a breath of fresh air after games such as Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, which I have only finished quite recently, and where I shamelessly abused the F5 button – practically after killing each enemy, which, in the end, makes the game almost pointlessly easy.