My Beautiful, Perfect Child Deleted My 40-Hour Persona 5 Save

One minute my five-year-old was giggling along with the playful antics of Yooka-Laylee on the PlayStation 4. The next he was in Persona 5, erasing over 35 hours of Phantom thievery in the blink of an eye. It's the closest I've come to crying over a video game in years.

When you write about keyboards, toys, snacks and sometimes video games for a living, there's not a lot of time to put dozens of hours into a game your aren't playing specifically for work. It's why being assigned a lengthy Japanese role-playing game for review at Kotaku often involves gladiatorial combat (Schreier is a beast with a battle axe). The fact that I managed to rack up nearly 30 hours in Persona 5 prior to last week's holiday is a testament to how much I love being a crime-fighting anime teenager.

Last week was spring break for my twin five-year-old sons, Seamus and Archer, so I took the week off to sit in my living room and play more Persona 5. There were other, more kid-friendly activities planned for the week as well, but playing Persona 5 was right up there. I moved the PlayStation 4 into the living room, ordered irresponsible food delivery and settled in for an epic multi-day marathon of shadow battles and social links.

The Perp.

Yeah, too old for that. Between kids' activities, kid interruptions, napping and actually doing things as a family, I only logged about 10 more hours in the game over the course of seven days. They were a really good 10 hours though.

Everything was going swimmingly until Yooka-Laylee came along.

Yooka-Laylee: The Kotaku Review

Yooka-Laylee is a bright and enthusiastic throwback to classic 3D platforming. It is adventurous and full of discoveries. It is silly and irreverent, never taking itself seriously. But it also wears out its welcome fast, spiraling players into a ceaseless collectathon full of frustrating puzzles, technical difficulties, and aimlessness. It has brought back the best of 3D platforming, but also the worst.

Read more

This past Saturday morning I loaded up Playtonic Games' tribute to the Nintendo 64 3D adventures of old, and my children were instantly smitten. The colourful characters, the gibberish voices and the silly noises made while falling into pits (my kids are big fans of falling) delighted the boys to no end. Eventually Seamus asked if he could play, so I handed him the controller, left him in the care of his mother and wandered off into my office for an impromptu nap.

"Seamus, no!" my wife shouted from the living room, waking me from chair sleep. It's a common phrase in our house, shouted regularly at varying levels of intensity, so I didn't pay it much heed. "Seamus, do not... your father will..." came next, followed by silence. Well, not exactly silence. I also heard a familiar song.

Oh no. Oh no no no.

I rushed into the living room just in time to see Seamus popping out of the Persona 5 save menu.

"Give me the controller, Seamus," I said with a quavering voice.

"I tried to stop him," my wife said as I opened the save menu. My knees grew weak. My heart sank. It was gone. It was all gone. Where there had been a game with nearly 40 hours of play time, there was now one with 15 minutes.

"He only saved over the second one," my wife offered. Yes, Seamus had helpfully skipped over the first save, created after only 10 hours. Good lad.

I could have wept. I could feel that lump in the back of my throat just waiting to burst. I sat on the couch, staring at the screen for what felt like forever. Then I handed Seamus the controller, stood up and returned to my office.

I told Twitter about what had just happened, and several folks suggested I check for cloud saves. Unfortunately I had recently transferred data from a regular PlayStation 4 to a PlayStation 4 Pro, and despite auto cloud saving being enabled, nothing had been uploaded since before the move. All was lost.

My chances of finishing Persona 5 any time soon are incredibly slim. As much as I loved (yes, loved) forming a crack team of heart thieves, falling in love with a punk rock doctor, eating massive hamburgers for fabulous stats and prizes, and watching films about baked goods superheroes, I just can't see myself finding that much time to do it all over again. I'll just have to live vicariously through just about everyone else on the site.

Persona 5: The Kotaku Review

Imagine your old high school. Picture the doors you'd pass through at the start of each day. See if you can recall the awkward conversations you had with your friends, or the smell of the cafeteria at lunchtime. Now throw all that in the garbage and replace it with something impossibly cooler, impossibly more stylish, impossibly better. That's Persona 5.

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I don't blame Seamus, really. I mean, he totally did it, but he didn't know what he was doing. He was just having fun with something he knew brought his daddy much joy, as inappropriate for children as that thing might have been. It was a very sweet way to tear my heart out of my chest.

Consider this a cautionary tale. Enable cloud saves. Back up your data. Never trust my children.


    First thing I thought was cant you just go through the cloud saves?? Too bad nothing was uploading!!! I feel your pain - they havent done anything this bad yet but theyre not 5 yet either ;)

    I feel your pain.

    My son has previously deleted my Diablo 3 and Guild Wars 2 characters when he was 5.

    Must be the ideal age.

    I'd like to see a locking mechanism or something similar (like the NES Mini's save state options) implemented, maybe it can be set up at the console level instead of game-by-game.

      Yet another advantage to physical media, I guess.

    Don't let the innocent smile and burbling kid speak fool you. He knew what he was doing. Kids are evil.

    Note he didn't just delete the first save he came too, he specifically deleted your current save. Thats no coincidence, that's sending a stone cold message. Thats what you get for thinking you can have any sort of life except in servitude to your pint sized master.

    On seeing just the title, definitely thought this would be a Serrels piece.

    Kids are why we can't have nice things! My empathy.

      Nice things are why I don't have kids! :D

        I'm in the goldilocks zone myself - two kids of 7 and 9 years - they are old enough not to do stupid shit that is likely to enrage me, yet young enough not to do stupid shit that is likely to enrage me.

        One of us, one of us, one of us.

        *hi five*

    I feel your pain my toddler deleted my titan fall haven't really been that motivated to play it again and start from scratch ... now he has his own profile and mine is password protected

      This is the lesson I'm taking away from this story

    As Mr. Cartmenez would say "How do I reach these keeeds?"

    My daughter used to play with the PS4 controller while I played Xbox. Like, here - play with this one.

    ... until she managed to purchase a three month PSN membership. Without seeing the screen. Not even once.

    I wasn't even mad lol

      Lol. Talk about user-friendly interfaces.

    I can't believe anyone playing a JRPG made only TWO save files in 35 hours. Must be fake gamer boy.

      I usually use only one save slot myself. But then, I don't have Seamuses...I mean kids.

        I usually limit myself to about 20 save files even if the game allows more. For me, having only one save file would be a terrifying experience. I'm also saving every five minutes or so.

      In seriousness, is that actually a thing? I've finished both Persona 3 and 4 now, and for both I only had my main save and my "alternate save", where i did something risky and wanted a restore point just in case I put myself in a corner.

      The persona games are the only JRPGs I can really get into, as it never really makes you grind for the sake of grinding. Am I actually playing a bit too fast and loose with my saves (or, lack thereof)?

        Having two saves is twice as good as having a single save, although instead of using one as an ad hoc 'alternate' save, I would use them both regularly. When I save, I cycle through however many save files I have, writing over the oldest one unless I know that there is a 'fork in the road' save that I may want to come back to. I'll then isolate that save file and only cycle through the others. I'm a bit fastidious about saving, come to think of it :-)

    eck kids are terrible soul stripping little monster that make evil game characters look like puppies and kittens, glad i went the step child route so i could try and definitely not buy, power to you for not throwing him up on ebay

    Classic. Walked into the lounge room (2008?) to find my 18 month old chewing on my imported US copy of Demon's Souls. Teeth marks on the disc - the whole deal. I have never been more thankful for the durability of the blu-ray protective coating.

    I'd be making them a separate profile on the ps4 that they can go nuts on and your saves wouldn't show up. If that's already how it is and he just decided to login as you there's not much you can do though.

    It must've been hard putting him up for adoption for this, but you were clearly left with no option.

    My co workers tell me horror stories about their kids almost daily, and I always have the same response.

    Should've got a robot.

      Yep. Kids exist only to make the ones who care for them suffer. Not like Aegis. The only thing she would ever do to hurt you is burn your bread, and even then she'd be so sorry about ruining your toast.

    Absolutely shocked that this isn't a Mark Serrels article.

    That's what inevitably happens when the thrill of only having one (meaningful) save, and the thrill of danger that comes with it, comes to bite you in the ass.

    My nephew just deleted my 100+ hour zelda breath of the wild save. I was about an hour or two from finishing it and had done and gotten just about every shrine side quest and upgrade in the game. Zelda is my whole world when it comes to games. I've been excited about it right back since 2013 looking it up everyday to see how it was going, and now it has been royal effed! Not letting him near the consoles for a couple months. It really does suck. I'm glad I can see my sorrows echoed in the small community in this comment section

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