GDScript Return Tutorial – Complete Guide

Welcome to an exciting journey into the world of Godot Game Development with GDScript! In this tutorial, we are diving deep into the nuances of the GDScript return statement. By the end of this article, you will gain a solid understanding of GDScript return, enabling you to effectively use it in your game development projects.

Understanding GDScript Return

GDScript, the primary scripting language used in the Godot Game Engine, shares similarities with Python and is therefore quite beginner-friendly. A powerful tool within GDScript is the ‘return’ statement. It’s a fundamental concept that’s central to the functioning of any GDScript program.

The Role of GDScript Return

The ‘return’ statement in GDScript serves the purpose of concluding a function and passing back a value to where the function was initially called. Essentially, it facilitates communication between different parts of your code and significantly improves your script’s reusability and readability.

Why Master the GDScript Return?

Mastering the use of the GDScript ‘return’ statement is a critical step in your journey as a game developer. Not only does it enable you to bring efficiency and effectiveness into your code, but it also sets a strong foundation for understanding more complex game programming concepts. Undoubtedly, becoming proficient in using the GDScript ‘return’ statement will provide you a valuable advantage in your game development journey.

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Basic Use of GDScript Return

We’ll start by demonstrating a simple use of the GDScript return. Consider this function which takes two numbers and returns their sum:

func add_numbers(num1, num2):
  return num1 + num2

This function will return the sum of the two numbers provided when called. Here’s an example of how we can call this function:

print(add_numbers(5, 10))  # prints 15

Return with Conditional Statements

You can use the GDScript return statement in conjunction with conditional statements to control the flow of your program. Let’s look at a function that uses an ‘if’ condition to decide what value to return:

func evaluate_score(score):
  if score > 70:
    return "Passed"
    return "Failed"

We could test this function like this:

print(evaluate_score(85))  # prints "Passed"
print(evaluate_score(60))  # prints "Failed"

Returning Multiple Values

GDScript return can also pass multiple values at once. Here’s an example of a function that returns several values simulating a player’s stats in a game:

func player_stats():
  return "John Doe", 100, 5  # returns player's name, score, and level

And here’s how we can unpack these values:

var player_name, player_score, player_level = player_stats()
print(player_name)  # prints "John Doe"
print(player_score)  # prints 100
print(player_level)  # prints 5

Return in Godot Signals

Signals in Godot are a way to handle different events. The value returned from a signal handler function can also help us control the flow of these events. Here is an example:

signal interaction_signal

func _ready():
  connect("interaction_signal", self, "_on_interaction")

func _on_interaction(choice):
  if choice == "help":
    return "You selected to help."
    return "You decided not to help."

We can emit this signal with different choices and test the return values:

print(emit_signal("interaction_signal", "help"))  
# prints "You selected to help."

print(emit_signal("interaction_signal", "ignore"))  
# prints "You decided not to help."

The Power of GDScript Return in Recursive Functions

Now, let’s dive into more complex usage scenarios of GDScript return statements. One important use case is in recursive functions – functions called within itself. Quite often in game development, there might be scenarios such as game levels, character interactions, etc., where each instance depends on the previous one. Recursive functions can be an elegant solution for such cases.

Consider a function recursing over ‘n’ levels in a game, returning the total score in each level:

func add_scores(n):
  if n == 0:
    return 0
    return n + add_scores(n -1)

By calling this function with an argument of 5, for instance, the function will add together the scores from levels 1 to 5:

print(add_scores(5))  # prints 15

Using Return in Loops

Depending on the logic of game development, you might need to exit a loop prematurely when a certain condition is met. This is where the ‘return’ statement comes in handy. For example, consider a function that checks for any negative values in an array representing inventory items:

func check_inventory(inventory):
  for item in inventory:
    if item < 0:
      return "Invalid inventory item detected."
  return "All inventory items are valid."

With an inventory array that includes a negative item:

var inventory = [10, 5, -3, 8]

# prints "Invalid inventory item detected."

And an inventory array with all positive items:

var inventory = [10, 5, 3, 8]

# prints "All inventory items are valid."

Multiple Return Paths

There can be multiple return paths in a function to accommodate complex logic. A classic use case is validating inputs:

func validate_character(character):
  if character == "":
    return "Character name cannot be empty."
  elif character.length() < 3:
    return "Character name must be at least 3 characters long."
  return "Character name is valid."

Let’s test this function with different character names:

# prints "Character name cannot be empty."

# prints "Character name must be at least 3 characters long."

# prints "Character name is valid."

In conclusion, the GDScript return statement is a powerful feature that should be in every Godot developer’s toolkit. It aids in managing the flow of your program, validates inputs, communicates between functions, and handles complex logic with ease.

Combine GDScript Return with the Pass Statement

The ‘pass’ statement is an excellent companion to the ‘return’ statement when scripting in GDScript. ‘pass’ is simply a placeholder and allows the function or loop to execute without any operations until more instructions are added.

Consider a function that is yet to be implemented:

func yet_to_define():

This function will not return any value or produce any result yet, allowing you to proceed with your game development without interruption.

Returning Arrays

We also use return statements to output arrays, very handy when we need to provide a list of values or objects. Consider a function that returns an array of enemy statuses in a game:

func enemy_status():
  return ["enemy1_alive", "enemy2_alive", "enemy3_dead"]

On calling this function, we’ll receive a list of statuses:

print(enemy_status())  # prints ["enemy1_alive", "enemy2_alive", "enemy3_dead"]

Returning Dictionaries

Beyond arrays, GDScript return can also be used to return dictionaries. This can be exceptionally useful when you need to return pairs of related data. Let’s look at a function that returns a dictionary of game characters and their respective scores:

func game_scores():
  return {"John": 100, "Mary": 120, "Alex": 90}

Calling this function will produce a dictionary:

print(game_scores())  # prints {"John": 100, "Mary": 120, "Alex": 90}

GDScript Return in Closures

GDScript supports closures, a concept that enables functions to be assigned to variables. Like any other function, closures also return values. Take a look at this implementation:

var add_numbers = func(num1, num2):
  return num1 + num2
print(add_numbers(5, 10))  # prints 15

In this example, the closure ‘add_numbers’ behaves exactly like a function and provides the sum of the two numbers when called.

Returning Instances

Finally, GDScript can return instances of a class. This ability forms the backbone of object-oriented programming within the Godot Engine.

class Player:
  var name
  var score

func create_player(player_name, player_score):
  var new_player = = player_name
  new_player.score = player_score
  return new_player

Using this function to create a new player will return an instance of the Player class:

var player = create_player("John", 100)
print(  # prints "John"
print(player.score)  # prints 100

With these practical examples covering various aspects of GDScript return statement, you should now have a comprehensive understanding of its functions and applications in Godot game development. Embrace the power of return statements and elevate your game designs to new levels!

Keep Cultivating Your Skills

Congratulations on taking the initial steps towards enhancing your game development skills! Utilizing GDScript return commands is an excellent way to start building complex and intriguing games in Godot. But the journey doesn’t stop here—there’s always more to learn.

For those who aim to dig deeper and plunge into the world of game development using Godot, we invite you to explore our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree. Gain comprehensive knowledge on how to build cross-platform games incorporating 2D and 3D assets, gameplay control flow, enemy combat, and much more using the Godot 4 engine. This flexible, powerful, and easy-to-use engine is free and open-source, fitting perfectly with different levels of learners, from beginners to advanced developers.

Feel free to browse our broad collection of Godot Courses at Zenva Academy for more diversified topics. Unearth your hidden potential. With Zenva, you can go from beginner to professional, demystifying the world of game development at your own pace.


The GDScript return statement is undeniably one of the indispensable tools of the trade in Godot game development. Its sophisticated control and flexibility streamline the process of crafting intuitive and reactive games. This comprehensive guide illuminates various aspects and applications of GDScript return, setting strong foundations for your game development skills.

Are you curious to explore more about Godot development? Our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree is waiting for you. It is a treasure trove of carefully curated content that will expand your game development horizons, touching upon all the integral aspects of Godot programming. Dive in today with Zenva and get ready to transform your game development dreams into reality!

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