Who doesn’t like a nice happy ending? Given the choice, most people would probably opt to end a good story on a high note, saving the day and unlocking everything possible. However, many game developers know the power of morbid curiosity and allow their players to see what happens when they take the path of the dark side.
These “bad” endings aren’t low-quality or unsatisfying; they must show the player what happens when they let their morale slip or if their resolve falters in the face of temptation or hard times. When compared to a selfless act of heroism, these endings may sound less than ideal, but in reality, they totally kick ass – especially compared to the game’s “true” ending.
This list contains spoilers8 Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
In video games, the “good” ending is usually presented to players who manage to defeat the big bad in the end. However, as Star Wars: The Force Unleashed takes place just 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 key plot allies time to escape results in his untimely death. However, his noble sacrifice continues to inspire rebels to take up arms against the empire.
However, choosing to end Vader creates a crazy alternate timeline in which Starkiller lives, albeit in the mechanical body of a claw-handed cyborg. Through some canon-shattering DLC, players follow their new adventures by eliminating iconic Star Wars characters in the most brutal ways imaginable, including forcing Obi-Wan into the incinerating end of the Millennium Falcon and corrupting Luke to the dark side after throwing him into the nose of an X-Wing.7 Catherine
Ruler of Hell or the quiet life… a pretty complicated choice. Players of Catherine’s climbing/horror/dating simulator puzzler will find themselves at the top of the demonic hierarchy if they choose to pursue chaotic freedom at the expense of doing what society expects of them, as the fun blonde of their dreams was actually a spawn of Satan (who turns out to be a really nice guy in the end).
Of course, in another of the game’s many endings, doing the “sensible thing” will ensure that Vincent, the lamb-like protagonist, lives a long, meaningless, but respectable life with his longtime girlfriend, Katherine. While that sounds nice and all, reigning over Hell with demonic powers seems like the sweetest deal.6 Rayman 2: The Great Escape
A little less than halfway through The Great Escape, Rayman is faced with a choice: claim ownership of an unfathomable amount of gold coins just by sitting in a room, or grab a magical elixir that he can use to save his friends. The limbless heroic marvel will always resist temptation and do anything to save his loved ones. Right?
Choosing “I want a treasure!” triggers a secret ending in which Rayman is (for some reason) magically transported to a secluded desert island alongside his new pile of riches, where he is able to live out his days in the sun and put on weight (presumably the gold turned out to be chocolate coins). Doesn’t he deserve a good break, considering he’s already saved the world from evil once before?5 Blood Omen: Kain’s Legacy
At the end of Blood Omen, Kain is given the choice of either sacrificing himself to restore balance to the world or rejecting his role, dooming the planet and embracing ultimate power. Given that vampires aren’t exactly known for their altruistic natures, it’s easy to imagine that most players trying to play the character well would choose the latter.
Blood Omen’s “bad” ending was so cool that the developers decided to stick with it, making it the canonical ending for the rest of the games in the series. Plus, it’s a lot harder to come up with a story for a game where everything is great, 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 make it to the top of Mr. X, the man responsible for “raging” the streets, player one is offered an offer: defeat a friend and join the ranks as a lieutenant in the crime syndicate.
For some reason, in single-player mode, this offer is not put on the table. However, if the player successfully beats their friend (at the mere cost of a lifelong friendship), they will be pitted against Mr. X. If the player wins, they take their place, effectively becoming the new crime boss. Alternatively, the “good” ending simply has the main character end his vigilante shift watching the sunset with a cup of joe, which is… nice.3 Far Cry 6
After having survived a series of deadly gunfights, fiery explosions, machete slashes and a bunch of climbable radio towers, Far Cry 6 protagonist Dani Rojas is finally given a set of keys to a boat that will get her safely to Miami. Of course, the player is expected to turn around and get back into the fight. But if they jump on the boat, they get an early ending where she gets to have a drink on the beach while the distant news of her friends’ deaths can be heard on the radio.
Since the fourth entry in the series, Far Cry has become infamous for its false endings, in which the player can simply choose to turn his back on violence and start a new life in some other corner of the world. Far Cry 6 is no different, though 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 of what would happen if Spider-Man stopped throwing punches and gave in to the black goo. With the symbiote suit carrying out its 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 broke up with MJ and was left with the symbiote-corrupted black cat. The game ends with Spider-Man taking over New York City with an army of symbiotes while proudly wearing the beloved black suit. Given the amount of complaints Spidey endures from New Yorkers and the media, plus the number of times MJ broke up with him, it doesn’t seem that bad.1 Solid Metal Gear
The super-detective stealth masters who finished PS1’s all-time classic Metal Gear Solid with the game’s “good ending”, having withstood the torture and saved the girl with an excessive amount of button presses, received a bonus item upon completing the game: a headband that grants Snake infinite ammo on his New Game+ playthrough, and a scene where Snake and the aforementioned girl, Meryl, share a romantic moment together.
However, this item is pretty much useless when you consider that weapons are noisy, silence-breaking items. That victory becomes bittersweet by the time of Metal Gear Solid 4, given the state of their relationship at the end of the game. If Snake gives in to the torture minigame, Meryl will die, and Snake will instead be joined by everyone’s favorite Japanese man, Otacon, aka Hal Emerich, who will gift Snake the Stealth Gear for his next stint in Shadow Moses.