Who doesn’t love a nice happy ending? Given the choice, most people would probably opt to finish a good story on a high note, having saved the day and unlocked everything possible. However, many game developers know the power of morbid curiosity and let their players see what happens when they follow the path of the dark side.
These “bad” endings aren’t low-quality or unsatisfying; they’re meant to show the player what happens when they let their morals slip or if their resolve falters in the face of temptation or hard times. When compared to a selfless act of heroism, these finales might sound less than ideal, but in reality, they totally rock — especially in comparison to the game’s “true” ending.
This list contains spoilers
8 Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
In video games, the “good” ending is usually presented to players who successfully manage to defeat the big bad at the end. However, as Star Wars: The Force Unleashed takes place a little while before A New Hope, it seems that the game’s protagonist, Galan Merek, AKA Starkiller, was doomed from the start. Sparing Darth Vader and giving his plot-important allies time to escape results in his untimely demise. However, his noble sacrifice goes on to inspire the Rebels to take up arms against the empire.
However, choosing to end Vader creates a crazy alternative timeline in which Starkiller lives, albeit in the mechanical body of a claw-handed cyborg. Through some canon-breaking DLC, players get to follow his new adventures taking out iconic Star Wars characters in the most brutal fashion imaginable, including force-pushing Obi-Wan into the incinerating end of the Millennium Falcon and corrupting Luke to the dark side after slamming him into the nose of an X-Wing.
Ruler of Hell or quiet life… quite the tricky choice. Players of the block-climber/horror/dating sim puzzler Catherine will find themselves on top of the demon hierarchy if they choose to pursue chaotic freedom at the expense of doing what society expects of them, as it turns out that the fun-loving blonde of their dreams was actually a spawn of Satan (who turns out to be a pretty chill guy in the end).
Of course, in another of the game’s many endings, doing the “sensible thing” will ensure Vincent, the game’s lamb-like protagonist, lives a long, meaningless but respectable life with his long-term girlfriend, Katherine. While that sounds nice and all, reigning over Hell with demonic powers sounds like the sweeter deal.
6 Rayman 2: The Great Escape
A little less than halfway through The Great Escape, Rayman is presented with a choice: claim ownership of an unfathomable amount of gold coins just sitting in a room or take a magical elixir that he can use to save his friends. Tthe heroic limbless wonder will always resist temptation and go to any length to save his loved ones. Right?
Choosing “I want treasure!” triggers a secret ending in which Rayman is (for some reason) magically transported to a secluded desert island beside his new pile of riches, where he is able to live out his days under the sun and grow fat (presumably the gold turned out to be chocolate coins). Doesn’t he deserve a nice break considering that he’s already saved the world from evil once before?
5 Blood Omen: Legacy Of Kain
At the end of Blood Omen, Kain is given the choice to sacrifice himself to restore balance to the world or reject his role, dooming the planet and embracing ultimate power. Given that vampires aren’t exactly well-known for their altruistic natures, it’s easy to imagine that most players trying to role-play the character well would choose the latter.
The “bad” ending to Blood Omen was so cool the developers decided to run with it, making it the canonical ending for the rest of the games in the series. Besides, it’s much harder to come up with a story for a game in which everything is hunky-dory, thanks to the terminal sacrifice of the previous game’s protagonist.
4 Streets Of Rage
The “bad ending” in Streets of Rage is only available if the player is able and willing to betray a real-life friend. If player one and player two are able to successfully make it all the way to the top of Mr. X’s tower, the man responsible for “enraging” the streets, player one is offered a deal: defeat a friend and join the ranks as a top lieutenant in the crime syndicate.
For some reason, in single-player mode, this offer is not put on the table. However, if player one successfully beats up their friend (at the mere cost of a lifelong friendship), they are then pitted against Mr. X himself. If the player wins out, they take his place, effectively becoming the new crime kingpin. Alternatively, the “good” ending simply has the main character end their vigilante shift by watching the sunset with a cup o’ Joe, which is… nice.
3 Far Cry 6
After having survived a series of deadly gunfights, fiery explosions, machete swings, and a bunch of climbable radio towers, Far Cry 6 protagonist Dani Rojas is finally offered a set of keys to a boat that will take her away to Miami to safety. Of course, the player is expected to turn around and rejoin the fight. But if they do hop in the boat, they are treated to an early ending in which she gets to sip a drink on the beach while the distant news of her friends’ demise can be heard on the radio.
Since the fourth entry in the series, Far Cry has become famous for its false endings, in which the player can simply choose to turn their backs on violence and start a new life in some other corner of the world. Far Cry 6 is no different, although the ending does attempt a little guilt trip on the player before the credits roll.
2 Spider-Man: Web Of Shadows
2008’s Spider-Man: Web of Shadows gave players a glimpse into what would happen if Spider-Man stopped pulling his punches and gave in to the black goo. With the symbiote suit effecting his judgment, it’s up to the player to help Peter Parker wield his power responsibly. Or not.
At the end of the game, after enough “bad choices,” Peter has broken up with MJ and hooked up with the symbiote-corrupted Black Cat. The game ends with Spider-Man lording over New York CIty with a symbiote army while he proudly dons the much-beloved black suit. Given the amount of heckling Spidey puts up with from New Yorkers and the media, plus the number of times MJ has broken up with him, it doesn’t sound all that bad.
Super-sleuth sneak masters who finished the PS1 all-time classic Metal Gear Solid with the game’s “good ending,” having resisted torture and saved the girl with an excessive amount of button mashing, were treated to a bonus item upon completing the game: a bandana that grants Snake infinite ammunition on their New Game+ playthrough, and a cut-scene in which Snake and the aforementioned girl, Meryl, get to share a romantic moment together.
However, this item is largely useless when considering that guns are loud, silence-breaking items. This victory becomes bittersweet by the time of Metal Gear Solid 4, given the state of their relationship by the end of the game. Should Snake give in to the torture mini-game, Meryl will die, and Snake will instead be joined by everyone’s favorite Japanophile, Otacon, AKA Hal Emerich, who will gift Snake the game-busting Stealth Gear for his next run through Shadow Moses.
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