Picture yourself playing a game that you’ve thoroughly enjoyed up until now – a game you believe has the potential to become your new all-time favorite. You’re so anxious to see its ending you stay up until 5 a.m. finishing it. When you finally beat the last boss and see the ending, you realize that it’s one of the worst endings to a game you’ve ever experienced.
The next day, a friend asks whether you would recommend it to him. Your knee-jerk reaction is likely to tell him how terrible the ending was and how it’s quite possibly the worst game you’ve ever played, all while neglecting to tell him everything else about the game that you loved.
A game’s ending is a powerful thing, because it’s usually the last impression the game leaves in the player’s mind. It’s not easy for developers to pull off an ending to a game, as some recent games have proven. The fact that a video game’s ending is bad can really impact how you feel about that game, but should a game’s ending be the deciding factor when determining whether the game is worth the time investment?
A recent game comes to mind when people judge the game based on its ending: Mass Effect 3. Mass Effect 3’s ending stirred up a lot of controversy about how Bioware dealt with player choices. The decisions you made throughout the trilogy seemed to have little impact on the ending of the series. The player’s choices, such as paragon and renegade dialogue options and the ability to save characters, seemed meaningless because the choices at the end remained the same and the differences between the different endings were minimal.
This made people furious because the game essentially had a deus ex machina ending. When people talk about Mass Effect 3, they usually talk about how bad the ending is without even mentioning how everything else prior to the ending was actually very enjoyable.