When it comes to storytelling, there’s no doubt that video games still lag behind film and television, as the majority of games still feel like levels stitched together by cutscenes rather than a cohesive whole. That being said, games are starting to catch up. Some developers have started to realize that because of their interactive nature, games can deliver different kinds of stories that just aren’t possible in movies, TV, or even books, as you’re never actually in control of the characters in any of those mediums.
Of course, no matter what medium you’re telling a story in, it’s difficult to write a good ending and this is true in gaming, where the majority of players never even get to the finale to see whether it’s any good or not. Still, there are some endings that just stick with you and stand out from the crowd, with the following 15 games concluding their stories with some of the best endings in the medium.
If you want to avoid having any endings SPOILED for yourself, proceed with caution as I discuss each game’s ending in full.
One of the most recent entries on this list, Playdead’s sophomore effort Inside was one of the best games to come out in 2016 and its ending in particular prompted some intense debate and discussion. When I say that Inside has one of the best endings in gaming, I’m not just talking about its ambiguous final moments but rather it’s entire last act, which has to be one of the most shocking switch-ups I’ve ever experienced in a game.
For most of the game, you play as a vulnerable young boy who constantly has to evade attacks from all sorts of threats, adding up to a gameplay experience that feels like a more refined and ambitious version of Playdead’s first game, Limbo. Then, out of nowhere, the tables turn and you’re rampaging through a facility as a huge, grotesque blob, which not only switches up the gameplay in an interesting way, but also helps bring home some of the the game’s running themes and motifs like oppression, control, and body horror. And the final shot is beautifully haunting.
There’s also an alternate ending that can be unlocked if you find all the hidden light orbs in the game, but I feel like the original ending is ultimately stronger because of how open to interpretation it is.