Point of no return (video games)

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The point of no return is a concept in computer games.

In computer games, there are two main forms of scripting events that move the plot forward. In linear games, the player must perform one specific task after another, such as jumping a series of barrels floating in a pool, defeating an intermediate villain before the head villain, or opening a series of stairway doors, floor after floor, that have puzzle locks. Nonlinear games permit the player to wander around an area, finding another passage that doesn't involve jumping, defeating the boss one already has the weapons and spells for first, or solving each puzzle as it comes to mind.

More complicated games have some periods of linear play and some of nonlinear play. In these, one has a nonlinear playing field to wander around, but the game will eventually have to revert to a linear script to enable the player to execute a series of ever harder movements, ever powerful bosses, or ever difficult puzzles after another, so as to get a feeling of mounting accomplishment. So at some point in the game design script, the player cannot go back to the period of nonlinear play.

This is the point of no return for computer games. Its importance lies in the possibility that the player might reach it without fully exploring the nonlinear playing field to get items which would be necessary to completing the game, which would result in an unwinnable game state.