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The 10 best video game endings

Even though video games prove to be much longer in length than other forms of media and entertainment, there’s still something quite cathartic about reaching one’s end. An element which seems so easy to mess up for so many, ending a game means leaving you with a feeling that is both powerful as it is unexpected. Here is our pick for 10 of the games that did just that, delivering the best endings in history.

  1. Silent Hill 2

Who Am I? (Silent Hill 2)

Oh yeah! We’re kicking off this list with a kicker, and if I’m honest the endings featured here don’t really show much sign of getting brighter. Silent Hill 2 is an interesting game in the sense that your objective to find your daughter and reasons for doing so initially seems well-founded. After all it’s paternal instinct to want to protect your child. It’s rather shocking and messed up then upon discovering that protagonist James is guilty of killing his already dying wife, manifesting the various monsters and pyramid heads as punishment for himself. Then if you’re lucky UFOs show up – True story.

  1. Final Fantasy X

Anyone who’s experienced either the finale of Doctor Who season 2 or Final Fantasy X will know that the simple act of making a character fade away as they’re saying goodbye, is a sure-fire recipe for putting a lump in your throat. The ending to one of the most underappreciated Final Fantasies doesn’t pull any punches when it is finally revealed that Tidus isn’t actually real but merely a summoning of Spira’s faith. Forced to say goodbye, how could we forget this powerful separation of such strong characters.

  1. Spec Ops: The Line

Don’t let the generic video game title fool you, once looking under the hood you’ll soon discover that there’s a lot more than initially meets the eye with Spec Ops: The Line, being a psychological rollercoaster that truly demonstrates the consequences of war. Upon finally reaching the location of what you believe to be your former military mentor gone rogue, as jaded war hero captain Martin Walker at the end of the game it’s revealed that Konrad is nothing but a fragment of your mind.

Walker distorted many events of the game to help justify his controversial actions to himself, making Konrad look responsible. Unable to live with the guilt of this realisation any longer, to put it lightly Walker puts himself out of his own misery. Charming!

  1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Playing on an ocarina

One of the greatest games ever made period and arguably one of the very first games to truly show us the potential of 3D platformers/open worlds, Ocarina of Time is full of so many memorable moments so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s ending is pretty phenomenal too. Splitting off into three timelines after the defeat of pig-like baddie Gannondorf, Link eventually returns to his young form to finally enjoy peace with princess Zelda.

  1. Red Dead Redemption

Cowboys don’t live forever (Red Dead Redemption)

Red Dead Redemption (as the title suggests) is the story of a bad man trying to make up for his mistakes by doing good, cleaning up after his past mistakes. After playing 20-40 hours of open world awesomeness, during the last couple hours the game begins to wind down letting you enjoy time with your family – the very thing you’ve been fighting for. What a bitch it is then after eventually being considered a loose end by the men who promised you freedom, being gunned down without mercy. Going out like a hero, John Marston willingly accepts his fate.

  1. Journey

For all of Journey’s subtle and subliminal meanings and mysteries, one thing that has never remained a mystery is the power of that ending, and how moving a game it is despite never using words or language. After one final struggling hiking up the wintery hill with your objective at last in site, you can almost feel the life force being drained from your traveller. After eventually reaching the mountain crevice, players are treated to the journeys of other travellers, being left with a heart-wrenching feeling of hope.

  1. Metal Gear Solid IV: Guns of the Patriots

As a franchise, Metal Gear Solid is just as known for its unexpected and controversial game endings as it is for its tactical espionage action. And while you could really opt for any entry, Metal Gear Solid IV’s unexpected appearance of legendary solider Big Boss – who had been previously thought dead – was remarkably pulled off as a post-credits scene of sorts.

After finally ridding the world of the underground organisation known as the patriots and taking down your evil twin brother’s arm (still with me?), Solid Snake attempts suicide before being greeted by his genetic clone father for the first time. After finally understanding his reason for living, learning that their presence together will finally kill Big Boss, Snake reconciles with himself to enjoy what remains of his shortened lifespan.

  1. Shadow of the Colossus

What have I done? (Shadow of the Colossus)

If ever there was an experience that could be described as melancholic as it is beautiful, it’s Shadow of the Colossus. The game already remains quite vague from the outset, thrusting you on a mission to take down multiple giant-sized colossi for a reason unbeknownst to you, and it’s only when completing this task with horns sprouting out of our ‘hero’s’ head when you truly learn what it’s like to make a deal with the devil. Yup, those harmless colossi were just minding their own business, no who’s the real monster?

  1. The Last of Us

Ellie and Joel walking around

The Last of Us’ ending – unlike the most other entries on this list – doesn’t require grandeur, scale, or a giant boss to produce a powerful impact. Instead when Ellie asks Joel the simple question of what happened back at the Fireflies’ HQ when given the chance at saving the world, there is an uneasy sense of subtlety. This makes the lie and betrayal all the more hard to swallow, as you realise that Joel has saved just one life that is important to him rather than saving many.

  1. Batman Arkham City

It’s a sad but true statement to make but a lot of games don’t take risks these days, particularly licensed ones. Batman Arkham City was the first to eventually buck this trend, having the courage to kill off Gotham’s very own clown prince of crime in a shocking upset unexpected by everyone. It signified the end of Batman and the Joker’s love story within the universe and made for some memorable scenery with the powerful image of a dead Joker in the dark knight’s arms.

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