Good Games, Bad Endings


#1

A great ending to a game is an elusive thing. There are more than a few times where I’ve played something for hours on end only to be met by an underwhelming final act. Bioshock is one of my favorite games of all time, but I’ll be the first to admit it wraps up quite poorly, with a lackluster final boss fight giving way to a deeply unsatisfying and extremely short final cut scene. Has anyone ever had a similar experience with a game? How much does the ending impact your overall opinion of a piece of media? Has the need for bigger developers to prepare for potential sequels had a negative impact on game endings?


#2

Mass Effect 3 is going to get brought up a lot here. I for one was less pissed at that game’s ending than most folks, sure, but that doesn’t stop it from falling flat–a classic case of the developer biting off more than they can chew and trying to muddle through the ending. I like to tell people “well, if you just turned off the game after that touching scene with Anderson, while Shepard is rising into the light on an elevator, 10 minutes before the actual end of the game…”

A lazy ending was also certainly the complaint leveled at Deus Ex: Human Revolution. For all the talk of open-ended choice, in the final boss room you… choose one of 4 buttons to press.


#3

Absolutely, overall the AAA market shift to all sequels all the time has driven me harder to the indie scene because a big reason I come to games is to find that final resonating thought that a complete ending leaves you with.

It doesn’t have to be a short experience but I appreciate a complete thought and a solid end that leaves me with an idea to contemplate. I love finishing up a game experience and not wanting to start another because I have something to digest, something that makes me reflect back on the rest of the game.


#4

Less of a fault of the game itself, but boy does MGSV The Phantom Pain just. End.

Watching bits of the cut content from that game just upset me that it wasn’t really allowed to finish


#5

If Kojima had completed his “vision” for MGSV, I don’t know if I would be currently touting Breath of the Wild as the greatest game of all time. As great as that game is, it had so much untapped potential. A tragedy, I say…

Speaking of Breath of the Wild, man does the ending of that game suck. A pretty standard two-phase boss fight in a generic setting, followed by a challenge-free “shoot the thing with the light arrow a bunch” section that grinds the game to a boring slog just in time for it come to an end.


#6

It’s not really the “ending,” but Persona 3 FES has an epilogue story called The Answer that takes place after the end of the main game, and to this day I wish I could forget its existence. The Answer does everything it can to wreck the character growth and relationships built over the course of P3 and is otherwise just a long, painful slog that’s all of P3’s dungeon-crawling with none of the social interaction elements that balanced the game out.


#7

God I cleared like one door in The Answer and said “it’s gonna be like this the whole way through, huh.”

Also p3 protag gets it the roughest and am still sad about it


#8

In with the scoop on Life is Strange.

Like, as I’ve said on here it’s my favorite game, but the ending really kinda feels inconsistent with the events before it, I didn’t really buy the way it was framed. I went Bae>Bay, because I felt that it seemed more internally consistent for “destiny” to be going with her and accepting your powers, but that’s a weird long discussion for another time.


#9

It depends on how much the game depends on the ending to tell a story.

Take something like Okami, for example. The ending was uninspiring, making you redo (and depending on what you’ve done in the game, re- redo) the same boss fights. But the game was so much more (in both time and quality) than entering that ark and killing whatever was inside it that it did not bother me that much, making it a good game with a bad ending.

If a game bets all its chips on its ending - like a mystery you’ve been trying to solve since your first minutes playing it - and that isn’t as good as the game was selling me, it’s worse than a good game with a bad ending: it’s a bad game.


Zero Time Dilemma.

This is a game that was only made because Zero Escape (series of adventure games with 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward as its first two installments) fans were pleading in any way possible, over many months, for a sequel to VLR, which had ended on as big of a cliffhanger as you could get.

Not only ZTD retcons/avoids mentioning a lot of the unresolved plot points (that were the only reason some people wanted the game in the first place), the antagonist’s (which is revealed in the ending) goals and means to achieve them were… very hard to believe, almost as if they were a caricature of a lame supervillain.

As a game, a sequel to VLR, and the end of a trilogy, ZTD fails to deliver on its ending.


Also No Man’s Sky, but that has been talked to death already.


#10

Must be gut-wrenching to stick with a series for years like that and have it end poorly. No investment in Mass Effect myself, but I really felt for the people who got burned by it back then.


#11

if anyone in this thread says Firewatch i’m gonna flip my shit

Seriously though, I honestly think Persona 4 fits this pretty well. (spoilers for both Persona 3 and Persona 4) The game works pretty well up until you beat Namatame, then you have to go through a big long dialogue tree where if you mess up even once you get a bad ending,
then the real ending isn’t even very good, it’s just revealed that Adachi is a murderer for… some reason… and he has some big evil villain speech setting him up as like the foil to the lessons you’ve learned about the importance of friendship,
then you fight a big eyeball, then after that the real true ending is that the gas station attendant you shook hands with at the beginning of the game was actually a god and bestowed upon you the power to enter the TV in the first place.
It’s all trash, especially when compared to the very good Persona 3 ending, which ends with a really cool fight against Nyx and culminates in the protagonist sacrificing themselves using the power of friendship to destroy the boss.
It’s cool and thematic and doesn’t feel like a total ass-pull.


#12

The length of many JRPG’s probably makes something like this sting even more after investing so many hours. What an insane way to throw player’s goodwill in the trash


#13

I was not happy with Firewatches ending. I’m accepting, but not happy.


#14

I feel you 100%. With all of the craziness that goes on over the course of MGSV I think I had a realization at some point that the chances of tying up loose ends was slim to none. If that game didn’t feature a knife-wielding dog with an eyepatch I might not be so quick to forgive the developers


#15

Perhaps the only time the power of friendship was used in a well-written way.


#16

To be fair, iirc those problems were publisherside, wanting to push the game out and of course the big event of Konami pushing Kojima out

Also, as cliche as it is, after spending so long in a game, I don’t care how power of friendship would be poorly written, it still feels good in my heart


#17

This topic wouldn’t be complete without mentioning that game from a few years ago that just faded to black in a hallway with a message saying their Kickstarter didn’t get enough funding to finish the game. I can’t remember its name right now and I’m having trouble finding it on google though. Turns out you get a lot of hits when you have video game and kickstarter in your search.

I really didn’t like the end of Beyond Good and Evil. It turns out Jade is some sort of The Chosen One who has the power to bring people (and Pigs) back to life, even though she (and by extension, the player) didn’t know she had that power. The aliens that are invading earth know it though, and are exporting slaves to the moon in an attempt to lure Jade out of hiding.

Vice City Stories has a lot of technical issues and one of the biggest is that the audio in the cutscene at the climax of the game doesn’t load (at least on the PSP version). I hope you’ve got subtitles on.

Prince of Persia 2008’s real ending is in the DLC.

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future’s ending really irked me. The first two games were mysteries about unexplainable phenomena. So is the third. The first two games come up this semi reasonable explanations for the inexplainable. Unwound Future’s ending is explained by a rich orphan building a replica of London underneath London, building a giant robot to destroy the real London, and also some time travel happens.


#18

Star Fox Adventures wasn’t a masterpiece by any stretch, but it was an alright zelda-esque adventure game. right up until the final boss when suddenly it becomes a more traditional Star Fox style space shooter. the last challenge of the game comes down to a mechanic that is used briefly like four other times in the game. a good game should train you for the final encounter not suddenly become a different game. not to mention it kind of sweeps the big boss it had been building up till that point under the rug.


#19

Was the Kickstarter game Dark Matter?


#20

Firewatch was a weird one for me. It took me longer than usual to digest before coming to the conclusion that the ending fit the tone and narrative of it perfectly. Happy is definitely not the word I would use either though.