A look back at some of the best ways games capped off their narratives last year.
If you take a look at your Trophies or Achievements for your games, you will likely see that, in many of them, around half or less than half of people who played that game completed it and saw their endings. This is perhaps one of the greatest problems in gaming, as so many of the best games are regarded as such, because of their endings. Many of the games in 2020 are no different, and as a result have fantastic endings. So without further delay, let’s talk about the 10 best endings of 2020.
Of course, as with all “top 10” lists of any sort, the choices are ultimately subjective, and obviously will differ from person to person. I’ll also do my best to avoid gratuitously spoiling anything but, as the topic at hand is endings, naturally you’ll want to avoid it if you’re worried about that sort of thing.
Streets of Rage 4
Streets of Rage 4 went out of its way to preserve what made the original three games so great and take a very conservative approach to improving upon them. It ended up being the right call and the game ended up with a perfect balance of both concepts. As a result, like the previous three games, Streets of Rage 4 has a fun final boss with Mr. and Ms. Y after a solid Boss Rush that ultimately results in a massive fight with a giant robot. Not something that I expected to see and it was all the more fun for it. I definitely would have liked to have seen some sort of cutscene that wraps things up narratively, but as far as gameplay goes it was an extremely satisfying way to end what ended up being one of the best beat ‘em ups of all time.
Nioh 2, in some ways, arguably has an overall weaker story than the first game. While it’s certainly no slouch in that department and still more than earned its place on this list, the first half or so of the game’s story is just not as compelling that’s the first game might have led you to believe a sequel would be. Thankfully, things really pick up towards the end, and the final battle with Otakemaru Kicks off what is a really superb ending that wraps things up for William, Mumyo, and Maria while still clearly leaving room for more DLC and a potential third game down the road.
While Half-Life: Alyx spends much of the first half of its campaign reminding us of things in previous Half-Life games, it spends a lot of its ending half setting things up for the future of the series, which is of course extremely encouraging for people that have been waiting so long for a real Half-Life game like this. Throughout many of the games narrative rabbit holes and revelations are Alyx saving her father, some interesting character development with Eli and G-Man, and all while avoiding stepping on the toes of the stories of the previous games in a stupendous display of excellent writing and a deep understanding of Half-Life lore.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Those who enjoyed Ori and the Blind Forest, knew there was plenty to expect from its equal Will of the Wisps. Thankfully it delivered on that promise with an outstanding story that has an even more outstanding ending. Ori learning how to harness the power of the light and ultimately becoming one with it all while bringing Ku back to life and contributing to this beautiful cycle of life are all things that make this one of the best endings of the year and one of the better endings I’ve seen in a long time.
Persona 5 Royal
Let’s assume for a second the Persona 5 wasn’t a big enough experience for you. The game already requires well over a hundred hours of your life in order to see everything it has in store but let’s say you need more. Well, Persona 5 Royal is here and with all of the extra content it adds is an extra 10-15 hours of epilogue that trails the original endings on top of what was already there. That alone is the length of many entire games, and makes Persona 5 Royal one of the more notable endings of the year. While some would argue that Royal’s “true” ending isn’t quite as impactful as the original, the sheer amount of content alone makes this an expansion more than worth checking out for fans of Persona 5 and makes P5 Royal the definitive way to play the game.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake
While Final Fantasy 7 Remake isn’t really an ending as much as it is an invitation to play the follow ups that will inevitably come, it’s still a satisfying journey into this alternate version of the story of Final Fantasy 7, that, by the end, feels more like a reimagining than it does a remake. If you’re looking for authenticity, you might be disappointed, but I thought it added up to an interesting version of the story with more surprises than I expected.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
While Spider-Man: Miles Morales did little to deviate from the first game in terms of its style of storytelling, it did execute that style story in a compelling way with a villain that felt more and more like a hero with a different cause than a traditional villain as the story went on. This is the mark of good writing and a good ending that isn’t quite as simple as it lets on despite sort of being a comic book movie trope at this point. But while the Marvel Universe has long given up on innovation in story-telling and instead embraced spotless execution, Miles Morales is a shining example with an ending that more than sets up the next Spider-Man game while also wrapping up its own contained story in a satisfying way.
Resident Evil 3
RE3’s campaign was certainly lacking in a few ways. It was missing many of the key locations that made the original Resident Evil 3 so fun and it was generally just shorter than it probably should have been, but the last couple of hours or so of the game are some of the best from 2020. A couple of final boss battles that more than eclipse the finale of the RE2 remake, a satisfying showdown with Nicholai, and a solid thematic lesson about what can happen when greed and secrecy combine and go too far all make RE3’s ending one of the best in the series, and easily one of the best of the year.
The Last of Us Part 2
The Last of Us Part 2’s story is and will probably continue to be hotly debated by gamers of different persuasions for some time to come. Whether you personally enjoy how the game undercuts itself and so violently subverts your expectations to such an extreme degree is obviously up to your personal tastes, but you can’t deny how effectively a does execute what it intends to do at every level. As such, with the ending that spends a lot of time leading up to the final showdown between Ellie and Abby, it doesn’t wrap up the way you might think it would or should. but that ultimately is one of the main points of The Last of Us Part 2. That real life, and real mortal conflicts, are always going to be more complex and harder to predict than anything you’ll ever see in a normal video game.
While some may see Ellie deciding to let Abby go at the end as a letdown of sorts, it was also an excellent way to show Ellie grow one more time before it all ended. As she brings Abby within an inch of her life, she can’t help but think about Joel being alive and happy, rather than how she spent much of the game before thinking about him dying and in pain. Letting Abby go was an opportunity for Ellie to break the cycle of violence that led the two of them to that point, and let Abby have the type of relationship with Lev that she had lost with Joel, despite Abby being the one that took it from her. It was an act of true inner- bravery and indescribable growth on the part of Ellie to let her go. She might have ruined a big part of her life by abandoning her new life to pursue revenge on Abby, but she was at least able to step away from it before letting her misery end another life, and perpetuate the cycle of revenge for another generation.
Ghost of Tsushima
While Ghost of Tsushima definitely takes its time to get going on the narrative front, the last half manages to pick up steam early on and it just keeps going until the end. It ultimately delivers a truly memorable samurai story that would make Akira Kurosawa proud. I was a little disappointed to see him so quickly and easily abandon his own moral code at the beginning of the game. But as the game went on, I realized that the real conflict would be between Jin and his uncle, and it was… in a big way. Even though Jin’s tactics led Tsushima to victory against the Khan and his army of invaders, it also led to a permanent end between the relationship between Jin and his uncle and the legacy that they seemed destined to share.
It all culminates into a challenging duel between the two that I couldn’t help getting a little choked up while finishing. The relationship between Jin and his uncle was such a genuinely affectionate one up until this point that to see them come to blows was absolutely dispiriting. It was just as heart-wrenching as anything in The Last of Us Part 2, except it was told here in a much more concise, focused way that didn’t undercut itself or get overly distracted with other tangential messages. For that, in my opinion, Ghost of Tsushima decisively has the best ending of 2020.