In the early days of gaming, the idea of a title featuring any kind of narrative was unthinkable. Even after text adventures showcased the medium’s storytelling possibilities, technical limitations forced developers to choose between compelling gameplay or stories. However, as the hardware evolved, developers could provide more sophisticated prose than “all your base are belong to us.“
Not every great story has to have a happy ending, as classics such as La bohème and Othello can attest. However, an occasional happily ever after can provide the perfect cap to a tale. These are the games that reward players for their efforts with endings that leave them with a song in their hearts.
10/10 Sir Dan Earns His Place Among The Heroes In MediEvil
MediEvil puts players in control of the resurrected knight Sir Daniel Fortesque who fell at the first slings of arrows against the army of Zarok. After being erroneously hailed as a hero, Sir Dan is given a chance to redeem himself when his old foe unwittingly resurrects him. Once the wannabe hero defeats the evil wizard, he returns to the sweet embrace of the crypt.
However, players who managed to collect all the chalices get to see Sir Dan take his rightful place among his fallen comrades in the Hall of Heroes. While his lack of a lower jaw prevents him from enjoying any libations, Sir Dan is content.
9/10 Journey Provides An Emotionally Resonant End
Thatgamecompany’s Journey provided players with an unforgettable pilgrimage through a visually stimulating and majestic desert landscape. The game eschewed dialogue and exposition to provide an emotionally resonant interactive tale. The vibrant and distinct art direction mixed with Austin Wintory’s score bolstered the game’s minimalist narrative.
As the player finally makes it to the looming mountain, the cold weather proves too much for them. Eventually, they collapse, seemingly dead. Then, the robed figures appear to grant the player the energy needed to reach the top. At the end, players are shown the usernames of the other travelers.
8/10 Paragons Tell The Illusive Man To Shut Up In Mass Effect 2
Bioware seemed to reach its peak with the second installment of the Mass Effect series. In the aptly named suicide mission, players are tasked with assigning their crew mates specific jobs in taking down the Collector base. Whether Shepherd’s crew manages to survive is entirely dependent on the players’ choices.
Players who manage to maintain the ethos of the Paragon are rewarded with an immensely gratifying ending. There’s no greater feeling than having the chance to tell the smug Illusive Man to stuff it. It’s very much a fulfilling and cathartic end that its follow-up would utterly fail to deliver.
7/10 Grim Fandango Is A Wonderful Swan Song
Tim Schafer’s calaca 3D graphic adventure proved to be a phenomenal swan song to the genre that helped launch his career. While the final puzzle proves anti-climactic, the ending cinematic does a great job of tugging those heartstrings. Manny gives a tearful farewell to Glottis – the demon who stuck with him through thick and thin in their 4-year journey.
As Manny and Meche board the train to their ultimate destiny, she asks if they’ll be together. Manny responds that nobody knows what will happen at the end of the line, so it’s better just to enjoy the trip.
6/10 Final Fantasy VI Felt Like The End Of An Era
The sixth Final Fantasy installment felt like an end of an era, as it was the last cartridge-based numerical installment. This parallels perfectly with the game’s themes of death and rebirth. While every prior installment had the heroes successfully thwart the big bad, Kefka actually manages to cause an apocalypse and take countless lives.
After the heroes successfully reform and vanquish him, the young couple in the village that Terra was taking care of is in the process of giving birth. It serves as a reminder that while the world may not be as it once was, life will go on as long as there are people who care.
5/10 Prince Of Persia The Sands Of Time Is One Of Gaming’s Greatest Love Stories
During the events of Sands of Time, The Prince and Farah gradually form feelings for each other. Unfortunately, the Prince’s mistrust gets the better of him, leading Farah to steal the dagger and die in an attempt to stop the sands. Overcome with grief, the Prince performs a grand rewind to warn Farah about the Vizer’s plans.
In a vain attempt to rekindle some memories of their relationship, the Prince kisses Farah. When she rebukes him, he rewinds time and tells her that it was all just a story. While the Farah the Prince loved is now gone, this experience has left him a wiser and more compassionate soul.
4/10 Earthbound Lets Players Say Goodbye
Shigesato Itoi’s Mother series is well-known for making players bust a gut one moment and then bawl their eyes out the next. The second entry, Earthbound, climaxes in an emotionally powerful confrontation with the game’s final boss. Once the threat of Gyigas is stopped, Ness and his pals are transferred back to their physical bodies and say their farewells.
The game then allows players to say goodbye to all the friends they’ve made on their journey. As the credits roll, the cameraman appears once again to show players all the photos taken throughout the adventure before Shigesato Itoi’s voice says, “I’ll miss you.“
3/10 Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Gives Nate A Definitive Closure
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End succeeded in providing a wonderful send-off for wisecracking adventurer Nathan Drake and his merry gang. Once again, Nate and his friends discover a long-lost treasure only to let it slip through their grips with nothing to show for it but their lives intact.
Sam, however, realizes that the domesticated lifestyle suits his little brother before the two part amicably. Years later, Nate and Elena’s daughter unwittingly stumbles into photos of their adventuring past. The saga concludes with the three words that started it all: sic parvas magna (from small beginnings.)
2/10 Night In The Woods Shows That Growing Up Is Different For Everyone
The game climaxes with Mae and her friends discovering the hidden cult responsible for all the disappearances. Mea and the gang accidentally cause them to become trapped underground, and contemplate the ethics of what they’ve done. A few days later, things look a bit more optimistic. The character who players choose to confide with sits next to Mae as they prepare for another band session.
All the while, the group reflects on the past few months and what the future holds in store for them. It serves as a reminder that the transition to adulthood isn’t the same for everyone, and sometimes others need a little empathy.
1/10 Undertale Proves Both Heart-Wrenching And Uplifting
Those who manage to appeal to the underground’s better angels will reach the game’s pacifism route. It turns out that Flowey’s been waiting for players to gather all their friends in one room in order to get their souls. He reveals his true form as Asriel Dreemur before attempting to take the player’s soul and pitting them against their friends.
However, with certain gestures and actions, players can rekindle their companions’ memories. By clinging to the virtues of forgiveness and mercy, players can even redeem Asriel and break the barrier. It’s a conclusion that manages to prove both heart-wrenching and uplifting.