Returnal Doesn’t Know How To Solve Its Lack Of Saves Yet

Returnal Doesn’t Know How To Solve Its Lack Of Saves Yet
Image: Kotaku Australia

Not being able to save in Returnal is still the game’s biggest problem, and even using the PS5’s rest mode hasn’t stopped players from getting screwed. But in a new interview, the studio has revealed that they’re still not really sure how to fix the problem.

Implementing saves in Returnal, clearly, isn’t as easy as flipping a switch or just copying a simple save state. Developers Housemarque have said repeatedly that they had “no further plans to announce at this time”, but in a chat with Axios Gaming’s newsletter (headed up by Kotaku alumni Stephen Totilo), the Finnish studio’s marketing director was speaking a different tune.

“We understand that there are some systems in place that are currently a hindering factor,” Mikael Havari, marketing and business development director of Housemarque, said. When asked about a possible solution, Havari simply replied “But currently, we just don’t know exactly what it is.”

“So it’s very difficult to announce anything, because I think there’s a lot of different people looking for different things,” he was quoted as saying.

It’s hard for the studio, given their arcade roots and the obvious intent to ensure Returnal‘s sense of accomplishment is well and truly earned. And while there’s absolutely a sense of achievement in going on a mammoth Returnal run, it’s also deeply unfair to have runs ruined by things out of the player’s control — like system updates you forgot to disable. Or because someone else in the household wanted to watch Disney+ or Netflix or something over dinner.

As others pointed out, busy people need save states. And at the time, Housemarque said they had heard the criticism from the community. The problem, then, seems to be a technical one. If Returnal was never designed to support room-to-room saves or a proper pause functionality in the first place (like many other roguelikes do), implementing it post-launch could be vastly more difficult.

As for the rest of Returnal, we’ve got plenty of advice to help you get the most out of each run. Our full guide here is a great place to start, but also: grab the rocket launcher. Always grab the rocket launcher.


  • Is implementing a suspend and resume save system really that hard for them? Seems more like they’re being obtuse. ADOM had this as a DOS game, what’s their excuse?

    • I love how you immediate think they are useless, I wonder if some gamers ever get over their sofa bound sense of superiority.

      • If a DOS game can do it, then a modern AAA can too if the team is competent. Them not anticipating this being a problem when most of their target audience are adults (and therefore likely have children and other commitments), is entirely on them. They screwed up and the solution would’ve been relatively simple if their game was implemented properly.

        It’s not hard to be “superior” when the itself studio is saying “we have no idea how to fix this critical design flaw that shouldn’t have made it into our AAA game”.

  • On the one hand, the people losing their minds over the lack of saves would be apopletic on playing the originators of the genre like Moria. The genre just isn’t for them.

    On the other hand, roguelikes need to be released in as perfect a state as possible, and not prone to crashing or corrupting save files. When you remove variability in systems from the equation by having it as an exclusive console release, you lose a lot of the excuses.

    • What are you talking about? ‘The genre isn’t for them?’ Most roguelikes do save-states. The originator of the genre – Rogue, you know, where the name ‘roguelike’ comes from, they’re not morialikes – lets you save. In that originating era and ever since, roguelikes which don’t have save states are the exception, not the rule. The genre has done save states as the norm since it was created and it remains standard for the biggest and most popular titles in the genre. The games that can make the decision to eschew it and have it actually work out usually only manage it when their runs aren’t expected to last for several uninterrupted hours.

      • ADOM (1994) and Nethack (1987) all had the ability to save, but you had one slot and you could only save on exit as a type of suspend and resume. It feels more like these developers didn’t implement enough into their game manager to actually reload the levels in the same state they were when they were saved (enemy spawns/locations, powers etc, not being static) and therefore it’d result in everything repopulating with the load of the save as though a death had occurred.

        I can’t think of any other reason as to why there’d be so much difficulty in implementing a “save and exit” option. I’m sure more competent programmers can correct me.

        • Yeah, ‘save and exit’ is the save state I’m talking about that’s so ubiquitous. That’s all anyone wants that Returnal isn’t doing: the ability to quit and do something else/let someone else use the machine, and come back to pick up the run, or to return to the game after an unexpected crash.

  • That’s a shame, I was hoping something was imminent. I’ve had to shelve my Returnal campaign for the time-being because there’s a lot of other stuff I want to hop between, and I’m just not good enough to down boss 4 without fully exploring every room in the biome. I really have to commit several hours at once, or lose it all with very little to no permanent progress as soon as I want to use the machine for anything else.

  • Personally I am loving the game, but unlike other roguelites or likes where even a failure is normally either a learning run or you end with something more than what you began with, I find every death in Returnal is just a kick in the teeth. Honestly I normally die more due to one ‘bad’ room that anything in terms of a failure of skills.

    I don’t need a save, as such, if we either we start back at the beginning of each biome or if we had some form of predictable health flasks like Dark Souls. They don’t make the game easier it just means you have a margin of error.

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