I'm sure everyone has at least once had the pleasure of saving their game only to discover upon resuming play that they were just about to die from an attack they hadn't seen. And then you load your save and discover that at the moment you saved, it was too late to avoid the attack: each time you load your game, you are immediately hit and killed. Even worse, this could equally well happen in a game with automatic checkpoints instead of manual save games. For example, just as you accidentally walk off a cliff to your doom, the game decides that now is a great time to auto-save.

So, is there a term for this situation? (Or perhaps a different term for when it happens via manual saves or autosaves?) I suppose this is a type of softlock, but I'm wondering if there's a more specific term.

Note that I'm specifically asking about saving one's game immediately before the player is about to die or otherwise lose the game. I'm not asking about the more general case where a player decision results in a hidden fail state that is not revealed until much later, as is common with many point-and-click adventure games (e.g. an item that can only be obtained at the start of the game is required at the end in order to win).

  • I managed to accomplish something similar in the very last level of Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow and got spotted immediately after the game saved... Would have had to start the entire game over. – Broots Waymb Apr 19 at 18:13
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because questions asking for a term describing a situation in video games are off-topic. – Wrigglenite Apr 19 at 18:16
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    @Wrigglenite In the help center, it says that questions about "game mechanics and terminology" are allowed. Would this not fall under that? – Ryan C. Thompson Apr 19 at 18:21
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    A terminology question is usually of the format: "What does this word/phrase mean?". There are endless unanswerable questions in the form of: "What is the word that describes this?" What is the word for when you are downed and your buddy refuses to rez you? What is the word for blocking every kick of Chun Li's super attack? What is the word for a 25 size raid? – Amy B Apr 19 at 18:24
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    @AmyB Ah, I see, so asking to define a term is ok, but going the other way is not. – Ryan C. Thompson Apr 19 at 18:26

If a save can be loaded, but there is no gameplay choice which will allow a win, that is a doomed save. This can refer to the immediate loss scenario you describe, as well as one in which there just aren't enough resources, or a key item is lost.

If you are defeated with no chance to respond meaningfully (retaliate or escape), you were ganked.

If your only save is a doomed save, then you have a failed run and need to start over to play.

There's not a specific word that describes every specific concept precisely. If there were, we'd have no need of sentences.

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    Interesting last inference. – Joachim Apr 19 at 18:24

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