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Can you think of any games where you like a 'bad' ending as much or more than the best ending?

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This is a question that's been bothering me so I want to try to crowdsource it and see if you guys can help me out.

I'm trying to think of a game with multiple possible endings where I was okay with getting the 'bad' ending. By 'bad' ending I mean an ending in which things turn out poorly compared to another possible ending. You don't get exactly what you want, but for whatever reason this ending resonates with you more than the perfect ending would. Now the important thing I'm looking for is that it is possible for you to get a better ending, and this bad outcome is just not mandated by the plot. For example, maybe you defeat the evil bad guy but he escapes or kills your plucky sidekick or something because you didn't collect all 100 magic crystals or make the right dialogue choices or whatever.

I'm having trouble thinking of examples but one that comes to mind is in Dragon Age 2. There's a party member that will steal from you and bail halfway through the game if you don't build up their friendship/rivalry meter enough. I would call this a 'bad' ending in a sense because that party member never comes back and it does change the ultimate end state of the world. BUT, I was strangely okay with this even though I seriously thought about reloading a save and trying to fix it. I ending up just leaving it. Even though I didn't talk to the character that much, I let them join my little crew and gave them a fair deal, so they should trust me a little and not make my life more difficult. If they do anyway, then like, screw you too, jerk. I don't need youuu. And that's how I played through the rest of DA2 with an empty slot in my party screen.

So why is this important? Say you take a tragedy, like Hamlet. In the end, Sephiroth kills Ophelia and everybody gets into a big fight and dies. It had to happen. You cry, you get your catharsis, and then you maybe go get some chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream and sad eat while awkwardly resting your head on the shoulder of the kid that works at the grocery store or something. You know?

BUT in some video games, you don't get to have that experience. Why? Because you know that you could have done it better. That it didn't have to end this way. So you don't get that satisfying emotional release. You just get that burning feeling of "ugh, if I reload a save, I can fix this." Like you didn't get the real ending and you have to go back and fix it. That's my frustration. How do we model sad endings - deaths, breakups, whatever - and have them remain satisfying and viable endings even if there's less tragic endings possible? How do we make all endings feel like "true" endings?

(half life 2 doesn't count because it doesn't have multiple endings, lollllll)

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I cannot think of any examples off hand, but every time I see them, I do thoroughly think of all the endings and decide for myself which makes the most sense with the story as I see it.

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Oddworld gives you bad endings if you don't save enough slaves.

you die horribly in the endings!

Haha, Oddworld games were the first thing I thought of on reading this thread's title.

Also, while I haven't played Bloodborne myself, I have watched a full playthrough and seen all of the endings, and while I didn't particularly LIKE any of them, it seemed like the harder you have to strive to get an ending the WORSE, comparatively, that ending is.

Full spoilers below:

Let the 'final' boss murder you instead of fighting him: Wake up in an idyllic countryside with all of the horrors gone. Everyone lives happily ever after. Fight and defeat the 'final' boss: Take his place. It doesn't look like a very rewarding job. Go to the extra trouble of getting the umbilical cords, beat the 'final' boss, and then the second final boss after that: you get turned into a slug, I guess????

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Princess Maker 2, when you get to marry the young dragon.

...you're supposed to try and get her to marry the prince, but I liked the dragon ending better. Even if it was a creepy arranged marriage :)

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Oddworld gives you bad endings if you don't save enough slaves.

you die horribly in the endings!

Haha, Oddworld games were the first thing I thought of on reading this thread's title.

Also, while I haven't played Bloodborne myself, I have watched a full playthrough and seen all of the endings, and while I didn't particularly LIKE any of them, it seemed like the harder you have to strive to get an ending the WORSE, comparatively, that ending is.

Full spoilers below:

Let the 'final' boss murder you instead of fighting him: Wake up in an idyllic countryside with all of the horrors gone. Everyone lives happily ever after. Fight and defeat the 'final' boss: Take his place. It doesn't look like a very rewarding job. Go to the extra trouble of getting the umbilical cords, beat the 'final' boss, and then the second final boss after that: you get turned into a slug, I guess????

Weeeeeellllll, not exactly. It's more like

Let the final boss murder you, wake up and repeat the cycle next hunters moon. Ending two is definitely the worst ending, IMO, but ending three sees The Great Ones (specifically the moon presence) adopting you after you prove you're strong enough to transcend. That's why they're regularly creating a massive shared nightmare, they're trying to reproduce. I'm pretty certain nobody except you in that ending dies in the waking world, even the kin you kill; you just wake them up or force them to leave.

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interesting examples so far. i just remembered a good example of what i'm looking for from the legend of zelda: spirit tracks.

(some spoilers) So, towards the end of that game you are given a big choice. Zelda asks you what you want to do after the adventure is over. You can say that you want to be a swordsman, you can say you want to be a train engineer, or you can just say "I dunno." The three endings, respectively, depict Zelda waving out her castle window while you are training with the guardsmen, her waving at you while you go by on a train, or her wistfully looking at the sky. Option three is obviously the most melancholy one, since Link is off doing "I dunno" somewhere and Zelda is all alone. It's the first ending I got and I kind of didn't like it, but then I watched the other ones and it grew on me. Why?

1) It doesn't feel like it's telling you that you made a bad decision. I'll admit, it's less upbeat, and Link's status is left ambiguous. However, Link could just be off on another wild adventure. The price of adventure is that sometimes you have to leave people behind. Maybe Link didn't make a 'bad' decision, maybe he just prioritized risk and adventure over comfort and stability. He made a value judgment, and it's not one everyone would make, but that doesn't instantly mean it's bad. There's still room for optimism. Maybe one day Link will come back. Maybe his life is better now...

2) It is a full ending. Oftentimes 'bad' endings will be shorter and more abrupt than other endings, but this one is as long as the other endings.

3) It has high production quality. Compared to the happier endings, this one has unique cinematography and animations that distinguish it.

4) It continues the tradition seen in some other Zelda games, in having a bittersweet sort of ending where Link rides away into the sunset like a cowboy.

Anyway I felt like they made this melancholy ending feel special and sweet. Sure, I could have had the conventionally happy ending where Link and Zelda hang out every day, but I don't feel like the game is arguing that that's the only valid outcome. That's cool.

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