Nailing a good ending, be it in a movie, novel, or video game, is tough. In video games, so much is driven by the player and their efforts, making it even tougher to deliver a compelling conclusion. But when the ending hits right, it provides an incredible summation of the experience, making it even more than the sum of its parts. Let’s look at 2022’s best endings and what made them so good. Spoilers follow so be warned.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero
Trails from Zero, like the other Trails games, isn’t just about the ending. It’s about all the resolutions and developments leading up to it. So seeing Renne finally join with Estelle and Joshua after finally getting closure on her family, Lloyd learning about his brother’s fate, or the D∴G Cult finally being brought down and KeA rescued all lead to a great catharsis. The Special Support Section is celebrated, and Crossbell is seemingly at peace…until Trails to Azure, of course.
Horizon Forbidden West
The conclusion of Forbidden West had it all. A siege on the Zenith base via air, Aloy rescuing Beta, the deaths of Erik and Gerard – you name it. But perhaps the biggest surprise is that Nemesis, which the Zeniths accidentally created, was responsible for everything. The extinction signal that reactivated HADES in the first game; the destruction of the Zeniths’ colony, prompting their whole plan to steal GAIA; and so on. After Tilda betrays Aloy and is soundly defeated, everyone bands together – even Sylens – with Aloy to stop Nemesis when it arrives. Sure, it’s a cliffhanger, but it feels like one storm has already calmed and another is getting ready to rage.
Destiny 2: The Witch Queen
Say what you will about Destiny 2’s story-telling, but The Witch Queen’s story is pretty good. It starts with the implication that Savathun stole the Light, but it’s revealed that she died following the effects of Mara Sov’s ritual. The Traveller resurrected her and bestowed the Light, perhaps finding her worthy. In return, Savathun sought to seal the Traveller. Before dying (though her Ghost gets away, so who knows if she’s dead), she speaks of the Witness, and we see the Black Fleet on its way to the Solar System. There’s a lot more to unpack, like Rhulk and his role in Savathun’s creation, but the campaign and shock twist more than make the expansion worth playing.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land
The lore behind Kirby and the Forgotten Land is fascinating, whether it’s Fecto Fargo’s role in teleportation technology’s creation or the origins of those who established Planet Popstar, Kirby’s home. On top of defeating Fecto Elfilis to save the regular Elfilis, players also travel to Isolated Isles: Forgo’s Dreams to defeat Forgo Leon and ultimately save Leongar. But that’s not the end either. Upon venturing back to Forgo Land and defeating Morpho Knight, Kirby partakes in the Ultimate Cup Z to face Chaos Elfilis. Defeating it once again makes Elfilis whole, resulting in the happiest ending.
Beacon Pines is the story of Luka and his friends, Rolo and Beck, as they navigate the strange goings-on in the titular town. What makes the story so amazing is that Luka will learn specific actions and words throughout the story book-esque setting, and can apply them to different situations. This can result in different endings, like the town suddenly freezing over. On reaching the climax, learning that the entire ordeal was masterminded by Sharper Valentine is a shock, but one that makes sense. That’s one of the strengths of the story and ending: Through all the ridiculousness, it feels refreshingly grounded.
As a rogue Sleeper living on Erlin’s Eye, there are plenty of story threads to pursue through Citizen Sleeper. You could help a repair shop with some ventures, assist a captain in repairing her ship and chase after a bounty, infiltrate the network, learn what other entities exist in the Eye’s systems, and much more. Perhaps the most noteworthy is being able to leave the Eye to an unknown planet with a father and his daughter, experiencing various cycles en route to finally shutting down. Alternatively, you could stay on the Eye and continue, seeing what life has in store.
Tunic’s story revolves around freeing the Heir, a hero sealed in the Far Shore after revealing a terrible truth. If you fight the Heir in the final fight, their soul disappears, and you take their place until the next hero comes along, which could mean repeating the entire cycle. However, if you gather all 56 pages of the in-game manual and show it to the Heir, a fight doesn’t happen. After breaking down in tears, the curse binding them is also broken, and their body restored. You then explore the world together, taking in the sights. It’s a nice subversion of the traditional hero’s journey, providing that there’s more to being one than slaying “the villain.”
Now, we know what you’re thinking. Despite opening up the ancient Walled City 99 and defeating the Zurks, the cat from Stray loses its droid B-12. It doesn’t even reunite with the family it separated from at the beginning. However, someone calculated that the opening the cat leaves through is very close to where it first fell in. Even if you don’t believe it, there’s no denying that the cat seems to hear something nearby before it goes offscreen, perhaps responding to its family.
A Plague Tale: Requiem
After events that cause Hugo’s powers to rise again, Amicia travels with him to a mysterious island that could seemingly provide a cure. Throughout the journey though, it becomes clear that this isn’t the case. Eventually, after thinking that Amicia may be dead, Hugo gives in to his powers, and the only way to stop him is by killing him. It’s a somber result, for sure.
But one year later, Amicia finds the strength to continue and works with Sophia to find the next carrier to protect and guide (before tearfully bidding farewell to Hugo’s grave). The post-credits scene shows a baby’s arm before indicating the Macula within, hinting at them being the next carrier.
God of War Ragnarok
God of War Ragnarok’s final act has received some criticism, and rightfully so. But there’s no denying just how much it gets right. The turnaround in Thor’s character as he finally opposes Odin; the chaos caused by Surtr-turned-Ragnarok; Sindri’s appearance, which brings down the walls of Asgard; and seeing Kratos, Freya and Atreus trounce Odin; and much more. Freyr sacrificing himself to ensure everyone escapes is a bummer, but we finally get Aesir and Vanir at peace.
Atreus embarks with Angrboda on a journey to find the remaining Giants, Kratos sets out to bring peace to the Nine Realms, and almost everyone gets a happy ending.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 Reunion
Yes, this is technically an ending from an older game, but it’s incredible. After escaping from Shinra, Zack and Cloud are on the run, with the latter being catatonic. Eventually, they run into Shinra troops, and Zack fends them off on his lonesome to protect Cloud. Throughout the fight, memories flash through the Digital Mind Wave, as we’re essentially seeing his last moments. By the time all enemies have been eliminated, Cloud has finally come to, and a dying Zack passes on his sword – and his legacy – to him.
The Last of Us Part 1
If there’s one ending which stood the test of time, it’s The Last of Us, and it looks even better in the remake. Upon reaching Salt Lake City, Joel learns the Fireflies are attempting to create a vaccine for the Cordyceps infection using Ellie’s brain. However, the procedure will kill her, which causes Joel to go on a rampage, killing everyone in his path to saving Ellie. After leaving, he lies to her about the entire ordeal, planting the seeds for events in The Last of Us Part 2.
The overall story of Sifu centers on forgiveness and Wude, a martial mortality system. As such, players can kill each member of Yang’s gang, before taking him down, but this leads to a bad ending. The supposed “good” ending sees the protagonist sparing each member and Yang, leading to their death as they awaken in the peaceful afterlife. A mid-credits scene plays if you gather all the components of the magical talisman, which shows a seemingly reformed Yang, with his student following Wude.