Gaming 1

Most Memorable Video Game Endings

The ending is one of the most important parts of a story. It is the last thing the reader, viewer, or in this case player experiences. The ending wraps up the story and should leave a lasting impression, preferably a good one. In this article we will look at the most memorable endings in video game history, and we mean memorable in a good way, not memorable because it was so bad or disjointed.

Unfortunately, endings are currently overemphasized by gamers, who tend to immediately discard the rest of the story upon reaching the ending. This has to do with the extremely short attention span most gamers have. So keep in mind that while we will be discussing endings primarily, the ending does not speak for the entire story arc of a game, movie, or book.

Also, this list isn’t sorted in any kind of order. Not best to worst, not worst to best, it’s quite random. We felt this subject was too subjective to be ranked.

As you may have guessed, this article contains spoilers on every single page beyond this one. The title of every game entry is on the page scroller, so if you see the name of a game you haven’t played, don’t go to that page!

 

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Everyone should have seen this entry coming. The ending of Knights of the Old Republic (often referred to as KOTOR) is one of the most talked about endings in video game history, primarily due to the twist (although this happens before the very last scene). Knights of the old Republic is a role-playing game made by BioWare. The protagonist starts off as either a soldier, scoundrel, or scout, and eventually becomes a Jedi, and you spend the game battling against an evil Sith lord called Darth Malak. Malak took over after the death of his former master, Revan. The twist is, the player was playing as Revan the entire time.

Revan was never killed, just gravely wounded during a battle with the Jedi, and the Force was used to suppress his memories and keep his identity hidden from himself (thus raising ethical questions about Jedi application of the Force). This twist is the main reason as to why the ending is remembered, but we can’t ignore that the last moments of the game are executed in a very classic Star Wars manner, reminiscent of the original movies. It’s simple but tense; you know that you’re Revan, and all you’re anticipating now are the encounters with a Jedi who betrayed you (Bastila), followed by Darth Malak himself. You know that dialogue is going to be a big part of it, especially since KOTOR is an RPG.

The twist, the sets used during the final encounters with Bastila and Malak, the dialogue, and the soundtrack all work together to make every Star Wars fan feel right at home during the ending of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and they are the reason why it makes it onto our list.

 

Dragon Age: Origins

Another BioWare RPG makes our list. This game and it’s endings are often overlooked. It does so many things right at the end, both as an RPG and as a game in general. As a game in general, it ends with a very emotional and very epic series of battles. You say goodbye to your companions whom you have spent so much time with, whom you will have developed connections with (since the game has superior character development to just about any other), and off you go, unsure of what fate has in store for all of you.

To make things even more powerful, while heading toward the ending, there’s a good chance that you will know for sure that either you or one of your close companions has to die. This is the result of a twist that happens just before the final chapter of the game. Although the twist always occurs, the dilemma is still dependent on a few choices so not all players will encounter this specific dilemma. Of course, the game leaves it up to the player to build relationships with others, so it’s possible that you won’t even like this companion who might have to die. But chances are you will like him, therefore this dilemma (should it be encountered) will probably have you torn.

As an RPG, the ending of Dragon Age: Origins does everything right. From a gameplay/mission design perspective, your decisions throughout the game strongly affect the final missions, not just the ending slides which they also affect. The player spends the bulk of the game gaining allies (powerful groups or factions), and the allies successfully gained will be available as assets during the final battles. The player can call on them for aid, and you will see them appear on the battlefield in large groups, fighting on the player’s side. Allies that weren’t gained won’t be available on this battlefield. The only other RPG in which player choice affects the gameplay of the final mission this much is Mass Effect 2.

The game also features more endings than most others, which is a direct result of how thorough it is as an RPG. All of these endings are based on choices the player made throughout the game. The ending you get is your own, and you should of course port your save game to Dragon Age 2 and continue where you left off. You should also upload your data and choices to Dragon Age keep before starting Dragon Age: Inquisition.

We can’t ask for a better finale from a game like this. The ending itself holds no surprises, it’s just pure adrenaline and emotion, and seeing your decisions actually materialize and affect not only the ending slides, but the mission itself, is very rewarding.

 

The Wolf Among Us

The Wolf Among Us is an episodic point-and-click adventure game from Telltale Games, developers of The Walking Dead. We have a review of the first season right here. The entire fifth episode (the last one of the season) was one of the most tightly crafted episodes Telltale has ever made.

It’s a detective-style mystery game, and the ending has an almost noir-ish feel, during which the mystery seemingly begins to wrap up. But as questions are answered, more questions arise. The result of the ending is that the player is left even more confused, but in a good way, since it leaves the story open for a second season. Things were never as they seemed throughout the game, and the ending exemplifies that. The tight direction, the amazing score, the distinct atmosphere, the questions raised, the suspense and mystery are why it’s so memorable to us. We simply can’t wait for more.

 

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a first-person mystery/adventure game. See our review here. During our review, we made sure not to spoil the ending, but now we have the liberty to do so! The plot involves finding Ethan Carter, a boy who vanished in the mysterious Red Creek Valley. The protagonist, Paul Prospero, is apparently a famous paranormal detective, and Ethan Carter wrote him troubling fan mail, which is what led Prospero to Red Creek Valley in search of Ethan Carter.

The ending of this game holds an emotional twist which is what makes it memorable. It was an effective way to conclude the beautiful (but not flawless) story told by the game. Throughout the journey, the player will discover bits and pieces of Ethan’s life, about his unsupportive and at times abusive family, and about Ethan’s creative imagination and fantasy writings. There is a blurry line between reality and fantasy, and through some clever foreshadowing it’s possible to guess the truth before encountering it.

At the end of the game, it is revealed that Prospero is another one of Ethan’s characters, and the journey of Paul Prospero through Red Creek Valley is yet another one of Ethan’s fictional stories, like the many found throughout the game. However, Prospero represents more than that; like Ethan’s other stories, this one was a way for him to reflect. In the other stories found throughout the game, Ethan reflects on specific events and family members, but through his tale about Paul Prospero he reflects on his whole life. His fantasy has always been a way for him to escape from his unsupportive, abusive family.

This ending gets us to pity Ethan. His family scolds his creative mindset, but he has the strength to ignore them and continue with his writings. We have seen this theme in many other works of literature, such as The House on Mango Street, in which writing is a reprieve. But his family does care about him; this is evident through monologue earlier in the game, and it’s evident at the very end where Ethan is trapped in a flaming house. The tale all comes to an end with Ethan’s death imminent, and it took this catastrophe to finally make his family come together. It can be inferred that Prospero represents death coming to claim Ethan; the story’s ambiguity works in its favor here. The discussion that can be born from it certainly helps leave a lasting impression.

Penumbra

Penumbra is an episodic horror game. There are three episodes; Overture, Black Plague, and Requiem. It is primarily Black Plague’s ending that earns this spot on our list, and it is really one of several endings to the franchise. The alternate endings are the ones offered by Requiem which we will ignore for this article.

Everybody knows about Amnesia: The Dark Descent, but what the casuals don’t know is that its formula comes from Penumbra, which is its spiritual predecessor. After all, both games are made by the same people. Amnesia is stronger in atmosphere, but Penumbra is stronger in story. You play as Philip LaFresque, a physics teacher. After receiving cryptic documents from his dead father, whom he had never met, along with instructions to destroy said documents, his curiosity causes him to have the documents deciphered. Not much is discovered other than the location of a supposedly abandoned mine somewhere in Greenland, which is where the game takes place. He is unsure of what he will find, but Philip wanted to discover what kept his father away from his family. Needless to say, the mine was not abandoned, and it turned out to be much more than just a mine.

Since it’s an episodic game, Overture has its own ending, which we might add is very memorable in its own right. Throughout Overture the player is in radio contact with a mentally unstable man called Red who was trapped in the mines for a long time. Red is the player’s only guiding hand, and so Philip almost considers him a friend. Red guided Philip onward, and promised the answers Philip was seeking. As it turns out, Red had no answers, and when the two finally meet in person, Red expresses his sympathy and apologies for lying. He also requests that the player end his misery, saying his life was nothing but torment (he lived off of rodents and insects). You never actually see Red; during this meeting he is already locked within a furnace, and you are left with no choice but to turn it on. That is all Red ever wanted, and to make this scene truly memorable, we hear Red’s agonizing screams as he is being incinerated, even yelling “Turn it off!” But it is too late, and Red is reduced to ashes.

The player then discovers (if he/she searches through Red’s “living quarters”) that Red was trapped in the mine for over 30 years (since the age of 14). In Black Plague it is revealed that the main reason Red wanted to die was because he was infected with the “black plague.” After these final moments with Red, and after exploring his extremely detailed living quarters and getting a glimpse at his life, the player unseals a mysterious, towering metal door, reminiscent of something out of Lost. Immediately it’s evident that Philip isn’t alone here, and he is then knocked unconscious, ending Overture and leading into Black Plague.

I know, I know, that’s a lot of detail about Overture when it was said that this entry is mostly about Black Plague. The truth is, both endings are remarkable. So, on with Black Plague then. To cut a long story short, Philip wakes up in a secret research facility infected with said black plague, much like the main enemies of the game, although Philip’s infection is unique and not complete. The infected enemies appear feral and have a pale appearance, with empty eyes. Philip instead develops a second voice in his mind, a separate personality, who calls himself Clarence. You will spend much of the game listening to Clarence, who has many interesting monologues of his own.

The bulk of Black Plague is pushing forward, through this mysterious research facility, finding out what happened to Philip’s father and the facility itself. Discovering what this Black Plague is. Ultimately, it’s all revealed at the end, which the game builds up to wonderfully. As it turns out, all of the regular infected are controlled by a central, sapient being, known as the Tuurngait. It is an ancient being; you read about it in archaic studies, and it was worshiped by humans thousands upon thousands of years ago. At the end of Black Plague, the player meets this Tuurngait, which is filled with interesting monologue, writing quality far better than most games.

The surprise of encountering this legendary Tuurngait creature, along with the writing quality and the hard-hitting truths of the story, are why Penumbra: Black Plague’s ending is so memorable. The ending is ambiguous; after hearing the Tuurngait speak for itself, and after proving yourself to it through simple actions that demonstrate selflessness (no cheesy boss fights here), Philip sends out an email to a trusted contact, telling him to destroy the facility, thus demonstrating his own free will. We ranked Tuurngait as the third best video game antagonist of all time, we rank the story of this game within the top 5 best in video game history (an article that has yet to be done), and both of these help make for a very memorable, chilling ending.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl

 

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl is a PC exclusive first-person sandbox survival shooter with some RPG elements. It takes place in the Chernobyl exclusion zone (simply referred to as “The Zone”), which is the site of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in which reactors at the power plant exploded. The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. franchise puts a spin on this; within the franchise lore a second inexplicable disaster occurred which caused the area to change. Deadly anomalous energy packets dot the land (called anomalies) as does radiation, and the wildlife has become mutated and very hostile, thus creating a vaguely familiar post-apocalyptic atmosphere.

During the game, the Zone is inhabited by hundreds of trespassers, most of whom are treasure hunters, poachers, thieves, thugs, mercenaries, or simple thrill-seekers called “Stalkers.” It’s also held and cordoned off by a corrupt Ukrainian military, and it’s home to several distinct factions. None of them know the origin of the Zone, nobody can explain it. This is because the center of the Zone (the Power Plant itself and the areas around it such as Pripyat) cannot be penetrated; not by infantry or vehicles, due to a special kind of radiation that melts parts of the brain. But one group of highly talented Stalkers spent all of their time trying to uncover the truths buried underneath, and they came very close. Following this, their group was hunted down by an unknown force.

The protagonist of Shadow of Chernobyl is an amnesiac stalker rescued from a “Death Truck” which is a mysterious truck that comes from the center of the Zone carrying bodies for unknown reasons. They’re seen occasionally, and often crash due to the harsh conditions within the Zone. The protagonist, dubbed “Marked One” due to a mysterious tattoo on his arm worn by other Death Truck bodies (which reads “S.T.A.L.K.E.R.”) is the only known survivor of a Death Truck crash. He also awakens with a PDA marked with the objective: “Kill the Strelok.”

It is eventually revealed that this mysterious amnesiac protagonist is in fact the leader of the aforementioned group that successfully penetrated the center of the Zone. This man is Strelok himself. After a series of very memorable battles, the player winds up in the center of the Zone, where Strelok once found himself. Depending on the player’s choices, he or she may penetrate the center of the Zone and unlock the truths within, or he/she may make a fatal mistake upon encountering the Wish Granter, a monolithic stone said to be capable of granting any wish at some terrible cost. Stopping here to make a wish ends the game prematurely, often with the death of the protagonist.

But the real memorable endings are the truthful ones, found by penetrating a secret laboratory within the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant itself (the Wish Granter is also within the power plant, just away from the lab entrance). What is revealed within this lab is completely unexpected (if you didn’t spoil it initially), and the ensuing dialogue truly stands out among its peers.

Pictured above is a representation of what created the Zone. It’s called the C-Consciousness; it is a super consciousness, the result of the combination of the minds of seven Soviet scientists (all said to have volunteered). They’re goal, it’s goal, is to penetrate the noosphere to affect the minds of all humans on the planet. It claims to want to remove negative emotions from humans, such as anger and greed. Its attempt at tinkering with the noosphere is what created the Zone, so the Zone is an accident which it is trying to remove. You can take its word for it and become one with the C-Consciousness, or you can choose to not take part, and eventually destroy it. I for one wouldn’t take the word of those with that kind of power, especially scientists from the era of the Soviet Union (Cold War era). I assume they just wanted global mind control, and some of us are well aware of the research put into the mind control field during the Cold War. But that’s just me and my interpretation.

It is also discovered that through the Wish Granter and other methods, people are indoctrinated and become agents working for the C-Consciousness, without even being aware. These special indoctrinated Stalkers are the ones transported by Death Trucks. It was the C-Consciousness that struck out against Strelok and his group.

The mind boggling, thought-provoking encounter with the C-Consciousness, combined with the amazing set leading up to it (roaming the hostile halls of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, slowly losing your mind as “psi-radiation” damages your mind causing you to hallucinate, and as the Wish Granter calls out to you, commanding you to reach it in order to indoctrinate you) are why the ending sequence is so memorable to us. It’s highly atmospheric in its own unique way, it has hallucinatory power, it’s disturbing. The C-Consciousness comes as a complete surprise and it includes the best dialogue in the game.

Mass Effect 2

 

Mass Effect 2

Yet another BioWare RPG makes out list. With Mass Effect 2 as our entry, we are speaking primarily of the entire suicide mission. The very end includes fighting a very generic, uninspired boss fight which is essentially an enormous T-800, and killing it requires the same process as nearly every other boss fight in video games. While this boss battle was disappointing, it doesn’t really detract from the sheer and utter brilliance of the suicide mission, which is not only a perfect way to begin the final journey of Mass Effect 2, it’s also one of the greatest video game missions ever made.

The game builds up to this “suicide mission” for at least 40 hours, and you spend the entire game preparing for it by building a team and improving your ship’s capabilities. So when the mission is finally launched, tension is already through the roof. It is especially tense since most players will have developed a real connection to at least some of the characters, due to the game’s industry leading dynamic character development.

The suicide mission itself involves going into uncharted territory in outer space, where nobody has ever returned from. Your mission is to go to the base of a mysterious species called the “Collectors” and kill everything inside, although you’ll probably also be compelled to save your captive crew members who are presumably kept at this base. Upon entering this territory, you and your team are immediately put into danger, as the remnants of hundreds, if not thousands of ships dot the path to your destination. It’s not long before you’re fired upon and forced to make a crash landing on the base. The amount of damage done to your ship and crew depends on how much the player upgraded the ship throughout the game.

Mass Effect 2 has an entry on this list for reasons similar to Dragon Age: Origins which we discussed earlier. This ending mission is determined so much by the player’s past decisions, even more than in Dragon Age. The fate of the player’s ship and nearly all of the crew members, as well as the player character himself/herself, is all dependent on the player’s past choices. To make things even better, the mission is quite tactical; there is a lot of interactive planning which involves assigning different members to different roles, deciding who gets the more dangerous tasks. It is a very spontaneous, divergent mission and poor decision making can cause it all to go south. The score, the action, and the emotion, heightened by the actual connections the player has with the characters (made possible only by the interactivity of a video game like this) make it such an intense experience that can never be forgotten.

Silent Hill 2

 

Silent Hill 2

When discussing great stories in video games, you can’t do so without bringing up Silent Hill 2. Undoubtedly among the top 4 best written games in the world, Silent Hill 2 has many endings, but we will focus primarily on what leads up to these endings which is constant.

In Silent Hill 2 you play as James Sunderland, a recent widower. At the beginning of the game he receives a letter from his dead wife, telling him to meet her in their “special place” in the mysterious, abandoned town known as Silent Hill. What ensues is a spiritual, psychological journey that takes the player through the depths of Sunderland’s mind. Sunderland’s wife reportedly died of disease, after being sick and living in a hospital for months. But Sunderland hadn’t moved on.

To cut a long, complex story short, leading up to the end of the game it is revealed that Sunderland’s wife didn’t quite die from disease. She was dying, but it was James himself that killed her. He did so to end his attachment to a bedridden, dying woman, who didn’t always treat him the way he desired. She didn’t send him a letter from beyond the grave, the adventure was one of self-discovery for Sunderland and a way for him to face the horrors of what he did. We have discussed it in greater detail in the past, and it’s the way the tale unfolds near its ending that makes it worthy of a spot on our list.

Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer

Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer is one of the absolute best RPGs (and thus games) ever made. It is a sibling to Planescape: Torment, having many of the same designers and similar themes. You play as the “Spirit Eater,” named after the so called “Spirit Eater Curse” which gives you the ability to devour spirits. The downside is the uncontrollable hunger you possess. The curse evolves over time, and the way it evolves depends on how the player uses the curse’s abilities. Devouring every spirit you come across increases hunger and gives it more control over you, and gives you some unique abilities.

The plot of the game involves you finding out the source of your curse, and curing it. This game tells one of the best, most complex stories in video game history so we aren’t going to delve into it here. The endings are so memorable because of how much they’re affected by player choice, how vastly they differ based on player choice, and the irony… especially the most evil ending which is wonderfully ironic. You begin the game as a weakened person suffering from a curse, and you can end the game as a normal person cured of the curse, or you can master your curse and end the game as a being more powerful than gods. See this evil ending in the video below.

The fate of the player’s companions is also memorable for similar reasons. You can see what becomes of two of my companions in that video; one of them I devour in seconds. The other serves as my loyal pet for years to come, and the others throughout the game all rose against me only to be slain and devoured like Gann in the video. It wasn’t sudden or random, it was gradual disagreement between me and my companions. It’s a truly epic tale, and the finale is amazing; travelling to the realm of Kelemvor, God of the dead, in the Fugue plane, and leading a grand scale war; one that was centuries in the making, following in the footsteps of Akachi the Betrayer, though you can deviate completely from the obvious path. This goes back to the irony we mentioned earlier; you can really do a complete 180 within the plot, doing the opposite of what’s obvious and suggested, usually leading to the ending seen above.

Let’s not forget that throughout the last few hours, you’ll be battling epic-level characters so the battles are incredible, with extremely high level spells being thrown around. Mask of the Betrayer is a 30-40 hour RPG that builds up to this climax, which is executed with perfection.

 

Planescape: Torment

Planescape: Torment is arguably the greatest RPG and greatest game ever made. It’s a D&D RPG released in 1999 by Black Isle Studios under Interplay. It is best known for its story, originality, and writing quality, which trounce that of every other video game in existence. So a high quality, memorable ending is to be expected from such a game. I personally consider its ending to be tied with The Talos Principle for strongest emotional impact, but obviously this will vary from person to person.

In Planescape: Torment you take on the role of an amnesiac, immortal human. A major part of the plot is of course discovering who you are and why you’re immortal. You can utilize your immortality in ways that help others or harm others, and the game places heavy emphasis on giving you the choice of being benevolent, neutral, manipulative, or outright chaotic evil. As expected, all of these things affect the ending, and result in multiple endings. So for this article entry we’re focusing on what’s constant, which is most of the final level of the game.

Why is Planescape’s ending so memorable? Let’s start with location; the last chapter of the game takes place in the Fortress of Regrets, a mysterious, sprawling place on the Negative Energy Plane. The game’s atmosphere and scenery is a one of a kind, no other fantasy game has such unique settings. This is a haunting place, and the soundtrack here is incredible.

You know what? Let’s take a step back. The buildup to the finale throughout the entirety of the game is masterful. It’s really the stuff of legend, it is as good as writing can get for this medium. Few other games do such a good job progressively building up to a climax. Planescape’s pacing is an absolutely perfect upward slope. The Fortress of Regrets is entered right at ground zero, where the game begins; a mortuary, where the player was delivered before reanimating at the start of the game. If you’ve played as a benevolent character attached to your companions, then the knowledge that you may be bringing your friends on yet another one way trip (spoiler, most of them have gone with you on this trip during one of your other lives, before the events depicted during the game) will trigger butterflies in your stomach. The last thing you’ll want is for your closest friends, your only friends, to die following you.

On the other hand, if you’ve played as vengeful and perhaps power hungry character, there is a different kind of intensity that’s still powerful. You’ll probably strongly desire revenge; you’ll want to meet the antagonist that awaits you in the Fortress of Regrets and destroy him. You’ll know that you’re setting foot into hell, into your hell. Either way, the climax is truly climactic. You spent the entirety of the game trying to put a face to the antagonist that hides in the shadows, sending minions out to kill you (simply to wipe your memory as he/it knows you’re immortal), and you’re finally going to meet that person.

And that’s just the start. The intensity doesn’t leave once you enter the Fortress of Regrets, it continues to climb. If you’re invested in the characters then your heart might stop when you realize your companions all disappeared after passing through the portal to the Fortress of Regrets. You’re all alone, in one of the deadliest locations in the game. The foes are challenging, and they’re ones you’ve been anticipating throughout the game (based on knowledge and flashbacks as well as other encounters with them) but given distinct shape and form before you. Not only are the foes challenging, you have to complete some simple tasks while massive numbers of these foes are all around you, constantly moving in to attack you. The challenge alone is memorable.

We’re going to go all out on spoilers from here on in. The title of the article warns you already, and so does the first page. Within the Fortress of Regrets, one by one you witness your companions get slaughtered by the forces within, and you cannot intervene (and not for any stupid cliche reason; you can’t intervene because they’re nowhere near you when they get slaughtered, their deaths are shown to the player but not the protagonist). This is obviously more effective for those who feel attachment to these characters, which most will since the game has some of the best character development in video game history. This will increase your motivation to push forward. Those who have no such attachment may not have any companions here to begin with.

Things get weird when you come across several different incarnations of the protagonist all in the same room. You can talk to each of them, and learn how different each one is. The story comes together seamlessly, and some of the most memorable conversation in video game history ensues, in which the original “incarnation” (the one who lived a life as a normal man) explains to you that he initially wished for immortality since he lived with too many regrets, seeking to atone for them and not wishing to end up on the Pillar of Skulls. You’re also left with so many choices here, before advancing to meet the antagonist (whom you don’t have to battle). Who is this antagonist, you ask? Well no, you shouldn’t ask. You should know this already if you’re reading this… if not then I will personally find you and… reprimand you? Painfully?

The antagonist is the soul of the protagonist. This is kept hidden for a very long time, but a player character with high Intelligence and especially Wisdom can deduce this earlier, although the game never spells it out for you until the very end. It makes it clear to you that the Fortress of Regrets is built from all the regrets of the protagonist’s many lives, and the vengeful shadow spirits that dwell within it are all those who died in your place, for every time you are reincarnated someone else must pay the price with their lives.

This antagonist is an extraordinarily powerful being within the Fortress, though not so much outside it. It represents the consequence of the protagonist’s decision to choose immortality. It seeks to exist separate from the protagonist, which is where the conflict lies. It becomes more evident that the game is deeply rooted in morality, and the earlier question of, “What can change the nature of a man?” is still the question at large in the end. The game wonderfully lets you answer this question yourself, rather than forcing one down your throat, and lets you act on your personal answer.

Confrontation with this “Transcendent One” can go many ways, depending on what the player wills. The final conversation with him can go so many different ways, not all of which immediately apparent. Most players will remember their choices, because of how much role-playing Planescape: Torment offers (significantly more than any modern RPG, objectively speaking). The ending of Planescape: Torment marks the completion of your story, one that was defined by your choices, like every RPG should be made. The complexity of the story and all of the implications will linger in your mind long after completion.

 

The Walking Dead: Season Two

The season finale for The Walking Dead: Season Two is the second to last entry on our list. It has several ending variations, but what makes the list is the gut wrenching decision you have to make at the end, right before the ending branches out.

Telltale’s The Walking Dead is known for its character development, which is some of the best there is in gaming. At the end of Season 2, two companion characters engage in a fight to the death, while the player, in the role of a little girl, has to watch and intervene. One of the characters fighting, Kenny, is one you’ve been with since the first episode of the entire franchise, but he has clearly degraded mentally. The other character, Jane, is a relatively new character introduced during Season 2. The circumstances are horrible; Jane seems to be responsible for the death of an infant, returning after a close call with a walker horde without the baby. Either she ditched the baby to bait the walkers in order to escape, or the baby simply perished during the chaos. But Kenny doesn’t even try to find out, he doesn’t give her a chance to explain, he just lunges at her and tries to kill her. Kenny is no longer a man of reason. The two battle to the death and one will always die – the choice of who dies is up to you.

It can be a very difficult decision for some, as it was for me. I didn’t want either one of them to die. For others, such as staff member Enad, it’s an easy choice. Either way, it’s a very emotional, memorable ending, loosely following in the footsteps of season 1. What makes it even more memorable is the twist; after one of the characters dies, it is revealed that the baby is not dead. Jane was merely pretending, just to reveal that Kenny is unstable, feral, and dangerous. Jane thought that the two of you were safer without him.

 

The Walking Dead: Season One

The ending of the first season of The Walking Dead is without doubt one of the most emotionally intense endings in video game history. The only alternatives we can see are Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect 2, both of which are already on the list. Telltale is all about unforgettable endings, and they outdid themselves here. The ending is simple but wonderfully executed. The protagonist, Lee, is infected and will undoubtedly become a walker in due time, and you have to rescue your closest companion, a little girl named Clementine, despite your infection.

During all this you meet an antagonist of sorts, one who causes you to reflect upon every choice you’ve made, suggesting that the choices you make have unforeseen consequences that affect others. He’s not an intriguing character at all and he’s not why the ending is so memorable, he’s merely a plot device, so that’s all we’ll say about him. Needless to say, after disposing of him and rescuing Clementine, the two of you have to escape from a heavily overrun city, with the player’s condition worsening. Lee slowly succumbs to the infection, telling Clementine to handcuff him for safety measures. While handcuffed, you help her to escape, sharing your final words, perhaps telling her to end your suffering if you wish. This doesn’t seem like much on paper, but playing as a slowly dying Lee doing one last heroic thing, before saying goodbye to who would eventually become the protagonist of the franchise, is something to behold.

Had this ending been in less skilled hands, it could have been unremarkable. But Telltale pulled it off. We can’t even imagine what Season 3 will have in store for us.

 

The Talos Principle

This is a game with three endings. Without spoiling it, we are referring to the Tower ending. Now the spoilers shall follow just below.

It involves doing something as forbidden as Adam and Eve eating fruit from the forbidden tree. Ascending the top of the tower is one of the most memorable moments in video game history, as it is the ultimate tale of free will. The payoff is a somewhat expected revelation, but executed in such a way that perfectly compliments the entirety of the story. The result is an incredibly moving finale that is both one of the most hopeful, and one of the most hopeless.

So that’s our list of the most memorable endings in video game history. Do you think we missed any? Feel free to add to the discussion below.

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