Doesn't it feel like games are becoming more and more "open-ended" nowadays? Everything must be a set-up for a sequel or a franchise. Nothing really has an ending anymore...at least from what I have seen.
When you have a game that has an epic ending, it's one that leaves you satisfied, if a little sad. Once it's all over, it is one of the best feelings of accomplishment that you will probably ever have. You saw the story all the way through to the end and completed a journey. You feel like a hardened trooper who trudged through hellfire and brimstone and now, you actually reach the light at the end of the tunnel. It's an amazing feeling.
So, before I get into this list of games that managed to do this (for me at least and hopefully for the rest of you), I will say that when I mean "ending", I mean the entire final build-up to the closing scenes, not just the final cutscenes themselves. So, without further ado, here are my top 5 games with epic endings.
So I'll go ahead and get this one out of the way, since you have already seen the image at the top. I absolutely love BioShock Infinite. It is true that it has few connections to the first two games, thus not making it feel like a real "BioShock" game. What I really love the most about it is that it's a self-contained game: having its own, unique story and world that don't rely on the franchise to explain its lore. This can backfire though. If you stray too far from the source, a game can feel too alien to fans of the franchise. Very few games can pull this off. So that's why BioShock Infinite is refreshing and enjoyable to me.
Its ending moments were executed with a level of skill that I have seen in only a few other games. The fight on Comstock's Zeppelin combined with the huge revelations of who Booker DeWitt actually is, and his connections to Father Comstock did not feel like a bait-and-switch or a deception to players of the game. Everything felt like it was in place and made sense, albeit rather insane sense. The action-oriented final fight coalesced perfectly with the slower final cutscenes of the narrative. It just works. BioShock Infinite is the perfect mix of action and storytelling.
You might notice that most of the games on this list have "reveal endings." What I mean by that is games which have a big reveal or plot twist at the end that totally changes everything. It is a big gamble but if it pays off, then it can propel the ending of a game into the stratosphere. Shadow of the Colossus definitely does this.
The great thing about this game is that it's a story that is not told through extensive dialogue. This, too, can be a double-edged sword. Without dialogue, it becomes harder to tell a story. At that point, it would have to be done visually. Shadow of the Colossus, to me, is how video games can truly be seen as art.
It is revealed slowly but surely, but after that final epic fight with the sixteenth Colossus, the final cutscenes and the reveal of what's really going on and what Wander's place is in all of it makes the ending to this game satisfying. To those who played the game, I bring you a gift of nostalgia:
This is my favorite game of all time for various reasons, but one of them is just how this game ended. I knew it was going to be epic. I could feel it as I was completing the final stages of Guns of the Patriots. It was just perfect. Everything from the previous games built up to the final moments of Kojima's masterpiece. It all fell into place in the gigantic and beautiful puzzle that is the Metal Gear Solid franchise. Sure, a lot of people who played the game like to complain about the length of the cutscenes. But I mean, c'mon, this is Hideo Kojima we are talking about here! What did you expect from the god of game-writing?
The return to Shadow Moses was not only an amazing moment for us Metal Gear nerds to geek out on, but also it was an allegory for how everything must end where it all began. Also, the epic fight between Snake and Ocelot brought everything full circle as well. I really can't do this game justice in a couple of paragraphs -- but fans of Metal Gear, you know what I'm talking about. To everyone else who hasn't played, you SHOULD. And you will see why I have put the MGSIV: Guns of the Patriots on this list.
My God. What an ending this game had. Well, at least my version did. Telltale has given us games that allow us to make our own choices and decide the progression of the story/what happens to certain characters. I love these kinds of games. I don't mind games without a ton of action as long as I can influence the story or interact with it in some way. Telltale is the master of this craft.
The end to the first season of The Walking Dead Telltale games was more than just a tearjerker to say the least. It left with you with a sense of dread: What will happen to Clementine? Where will the story go next? The end leaves you certainly wanting more, but as the first game in the series, it doesn't do too much to set-up for the sequels, which is something I really enjoy.
I really want to put all the main Telltale games in this entry, but I feel that the first Walking Dead game followed the Telltale formula the best. I kind of wished that they had some of the characters from the games appear in the show because they were done so well. Very few games have had an impact on me like The Walking Dead. But with how it told its story and how it finished it, I will never ever forget the experience it gave me.
Surprise! Most of you reading this might not even of heard of this game. But this was the game that really got me invested into the stories of video games, rather than just hitting the A and B buttons over and over again. To those who don't know The Shining Force, it is a tactical turn-based RPG similar in style to Final Fantasy Tactics. However, the thing I remember most from this game is the long and incredible adventure you embark upon. You meet countless characters and have them join you, each with their own unique personalities. There are side-plots and side-quests galore.
And most of all, the ending to the game is fantastic. You fight against The Dark Dragon, and entity that is literally trying to consume the universe. I don't want to spoil it all for you, but a big sacrifice has to be made. It was a really sad moment, because I became really invested in the other characters and my relationships to them. And, of course, I'm a sucker for altruism in my stories.
If you haven't played a single game in this series, I highly recommend it. Each entry is unique and has a beautiful story to tell, each with its own epic endings. I promise you won't regret playing them. Starting from the first game, The Shining Force series only continued to go up and up. Please, check out this game series if you are any sort of RPG enthusiast.
Do you agree with this list? Let me know in the comments! Also, check out my other article on this subject: Top 5 Good Games With The Worst Endings!