Most games don’t end well, and many games take a few hours too many to end. So you can hardly be blamed for giving up before it’s over and pronouncing judgment. “It’s fun!” or “It’s boring!” There. On to the next game. But there are times you can’t do that. There are times the finale, great or otherwise, is the real payoff. There are times that you simply cannot understand a game without getting to the ending.
After the jump, these are those times
11) Gone Home
Given that it’s such a short game, I can’t imagine there’s anyone who didn’t finish Gone Home. But part of the strength — and indeed beauty — of this game is how it starts out as one thing and becomes another. The thing it becomes is unique and powerful.
10) Knights of the Old Republic
9) Bioshock Infinite
7) Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time
All of the Ratchet & Clank games supported an additional playthrough. The idea was that your first playthrough was for the story, and then you had the challenges and high-level weapon upgrades and collectibles and unlockable cheat codes. As the best of the Ratchet & Clank games, A Crack in Time is the one where you can most appreciate the content that opens up only after you’ve reached the end. In other words, the end of a Ratchet & Clank is just the beginning.
6) Diablo III
Diablo III doesn’t end when you kill Diablo, yet I’ve heard plenty of people say they “finished” it because they got through all the levels once. Yet at that point, you’ve barely seen a third of a single character. The content in Diablo III is the characters, not the levels! To really appreciate what a fine action RPG Blizzard has made, you have to get your character leveled up and slugging away at the harder content, where the combinations of powers on elite monsters finally brings the gameplay to life. Show me someone who dismisses Diablo III as a “clickfest” or “click to win” or “mindless hack-and-slash” and I’ll show you someone who’s never gotten a character higher than level 20.
5) Space Pirates and Zombies
This delightful little sci-fi ditty is the closest you can get to playing a Star Control game without playing a Star Control game. But what you may not know if you don’t stick around long enough to get to the last part of the title is that it goes from being a delightful little sci-fi ditty to being a galactic apocalypse survival game. One of the best indie action games ever made doesn’t fully reveal itself for quite some time.
4) Saints Row
3) The Last of Us
2) Red Dead Redemption
This is a classic example of Rockstar’s iconoclastic fuck-it-we’ll-do-it-our-way approach to game design and narrative. The finale and conclusion of Red Dead Redemption does something videogames simply don’t do and it casts a whole new light on everything that preceded it.
1) Bioshock 2
You can tell how much Bioshock 2 someone has played by how much he dismisses it as a clone of the first Bioshock. It’s not. The original Bioshock fell apart as it came to a conclusion. Bioshock 2 comes together as it comes to a conclusion, and its payoff is every bit as gratifying as the first Bioshock’s payoff was disappointing. In fact, I’d argue that Bioshock 2 is one of the most satisfying games ever made and a nearly perfect example of game design and storytelling, uniquely rewarding for how it ushers you through to its conclusion(s).