Can a bad ending ruin a good game?

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Can a bad ending ruin a good game?

Postby DaHeckIzDat » June 26th, 2022, 10:44 pm

Fair warning, I'm going to spoil basically all of Omori here. If you're at all interested in this game, go play it before reading this.

Do you guys think a bad ending can ruin an otherwise good game? I spent last week playing Omori, a retro style RPG that's reminiscent of Earthbound and Undertale. While the game itself is somewhat mid tier, the story was what really drew me in...until it ended, and now I can't help but feel like my opinion on the entire rest of the game has been soured. It's so bad that I was planning to write a guest review for it, but now I don't know if I should.

Throughout the game, hints are dropped that something horrible has happened to the main character, Sunny. Before long you find out that his sister, Mari, died four years ago. Later you find out that she committed suicide, and that Sunny somehow feels responsible for it. This fits the theme nicely, as Sunny goes through his dream world and has some very metaphorical adventures that help him to come to terms with what happened, forgive himself, and move on.

Fast forward to the end of the game, and you find out that Mari didn't kill herself, Sunny killed her. If that wasn't bad enough, Sunny and his friend Basil then stage it as a suicide by dragging her corpse into the back yard and hanging her from a tree with a noose. WHAT THE [expletive]?! This changes everything! Sunny isn't a victim anymore, he's a murderer! He needs to be severely punished for this! But the game keeps with its "forgive yourself and move on" message, and the game ends with Sunny overcoming his guilt and learning to be happy again, with no visible consequences for Sunny or Basil. If the game had treated his actions with the weight they deserved, it wouldn't have been so bad. But by giving him a happy ending, it feels like he's getting away with a VERY VERY messed up crime scott free.

Like I said, i really enjoyed the game up to that point. But once I saw the ending, everything that came before that felt tainted by association. How can I enjoy his character arc and the struggles Sunny goes through when I know it's all leading up to him shrugging off the freaking murder of his sister and the desecration of her corpse?!

I dunno. Maybe I'm overreacting. What do you guys think?

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Re: Can a bad ending ruin a good game?

Postby Stalvern » June 27th, 2022, 3:08 am

I think what you're really asking is whether or not a bad ending can ruin a good story. I agree that it can.

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Re: Can a bad ending ruin a good game?

Postby Zack Burner » June 27th, 2022, 7:19 am

I think it all depends on the game. Some games have multiple endings and some just have one ending. If a game has multiple endings then it will motivate you to do better. One example is Comix Zone, the bad ending where Sketch's mentor and girl perishes makes the hero feel down and want to do the whole adventure again. On the other hand, there's Sly Cooper Thieves in Time which only has one dreadful ending where history is restored but the protagonist is lost in time courtesy of the villain, matters aren't helped that the game didn't sell well, though thankfully I have heard some rumors that a long overdue sequel is in the works.....

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Re: Can a bad ending ruin a good game?

Postby DaHeckIzDat » June 27th, 2022, 9:00 am

Stalvern wrote:I think what you're really asking is whether or not a bad ending can ruin a good story. I agree that it can.

Actually, I meant exactly what I said. Some people can enjoy a game purely for its gameplay, even if the story doesn't provide a satisfying ending.

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Re: Can a bad ending ruin a good game?

Postby Retro STrife » June 27th, 2022, 9:50 am

I can see what Stalvern means- if you’re not drawn into the game’s story and playing the game at least partly for that reason, you probably won’t care about a bad ending. If the ending to Super Mario Odyssey sucks, well I really wasn’t there for the story anyway, so it won’t change my opinion of the game.

But to answer the question, I do think a bad ending can completely alter my opinion of a game where I’m invested in the story. Although I haven’t played Mass Effect 3 (no spoilers), that seems to be the most famous example in gaming. The entire series became controversial just over its ending. I don’t spend a lot of time reading or watching movies, so I am big on playing games for their stories. God of War on PS4 is a recent example.. it doesn’t have a bad ending, just kind of “meh”, and it can leave a sour taste in your mouth after you spend 30+ hours on a game.

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Re: Can a bad ending ruin a good game?

Postby Gleebergloben123 » June 27th, 2022, 11:27 am

Probably totally missing the point here but Skyrim: Elder Scrolls V would fit this category. I played Skyrim to death and absolutely loved it, and the game kept building to the final boss. But I remember beating the boss on the first try and that was about it. No big ending, nothing.I was so disappointed. I have really good memories of Skyrim but it always gets balanced out by the anticlimactic ending.

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Re: Can a bad ending ruin a good game?

Postby Alucard1191 » June 27th, 2022, 11:34 am

I'll actually echo the 'Mass Effect 3' bit here. I played all the way through the first one when it was new, and it's a series that really interested me. Then I famously heard how part 3 has one of the worst endings to a franchise ever made, and I don't care to play through 2 more games to see it.

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Re: Can a bad ending ruin a good game?

Postby Stalvern » June 27th, 2022, 12:42 pm

Retro STrife wrote:I can see what Stalvern means-

Yes, that is what I meant, but I apologize to the OP for being so glib and dismissive about it, especially when Gleebergloben123 offers an example of gameplay being recontextualized by an anticlimactic ending.

I'll contribute with an example of a bad story ending that also recontextualizes gameplay. In Myst, you solve puzzles in various Ages (levels) to retrieve pages from books that the brothers Sirrus and Achenar are imprisoned in. When I played it for the first time, it quickly became clear that both brothers were bad guys who shouldn't be released, but I kept collecting pages to see how everything would play out. Spoiler alert: They're bad guys who shouldn't be released. More than that, though, the character who should be released is right there on the main island, and so is the page needed to free him! There's no reason to enter a single Age except to get closer to losing the game. (Well, I could go into them to look at the pretty graphics and play around with the complicated puzzles, but the fun of that is undercut when they're explicitly a dead-end waste of time in the game I'm already playing to waste time.) If I at least had to complete the Ages to finish the game, the weak and obvious "twist" at the end wouldn't affect my enjoyment in playing them, but when it makes the whole game into pointless busywork, it just feels insulting, and it removes any tension that could have been had between the choices at the end.

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Re: Can a bad ending ruin a good game?

Postby icepeople » June 28th, 2022, 4:13 am

Since we're talking "good" (not "great") games and all of Infocom's text adventures during the company's early years certainly met that standard, here's a revisit to the the infamous "win" for the relatively tough pyramid explorer Infidel:

>open sarcophagus
You lift the cover with great care, and in an instant you see all your dreams come true. The interior of the sarcophagus is lined with gold, inset with jewels, glistening in your torchlight. The riches and their dazzling beauty overwhelm you. You take a deep breath, amazed that all of this is yours. You tremble with excitement, then realize the ground beneath your feet is trembling, too.

As a knife cuts through butter, this realization cuts through your mind, makes your hands shake and cold sweat appear on your forehead. The Burial Chamber is collapsing, the walls closing in. You will never get out of this pyramid alive. You earned this treasure. But it cost you your life.

And as you sit there, gazing into the glistening wealth of the inner sarcophagus, you can't help but feel a little empty, a little foolish. If someone were on the other side of the quickly-collapsing wall, they could have dug you out. If only you'd treated the workers better. If only you'd cut Craige in on the find. If only you'd hired a reliable guide.

Well, someday, someone will discover your bones here. And then you will get your fame.

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Re: Can a bad ending ruin a good game?

Postby ThePixelatedGenocide » June 28th, 2022, 4:44 am

DaHeckIzDat wrote:I dunno. Maybe I'm overreacting. What do you guys think?

Before I read your post. I was thinking of Virtua Fighter and I was about to insist an ending doesn't matter.

After, I had to do some research to make sure the developer of Omori wasn't a complete psychopath.

So, from what I understand now, the story's about a kid who doesn't mean to kill anyone. And it's no wonder why the guilt is eating him alive.

But it also requires the kid to be the kind of violent, brain damaged idiot who'd push his sister down the stairs, without intending for the "down the stairs" part to happen. Is that right?

It reminds me of Kratos accidentally killing his family because he was innocently button mashing his way through a level, except even dumber.

I lost IQ points watching some very smart people attempt to mine some meaning from this nonsense. And who knows, maybe it'll even help someone who needs help overcoming guilt they don't deserve. But as for the game itself?

Fortunately, there's another ending where the hero gives up and kills himself. So that at least makes sense and is more narratively satisfying, even if it has a terrible message.But what else can you expect from a story idea this terrible to begin with, before a single word was even typed?

Anyways, yes, an ending can absolutely ruin a game. Even one you've never played.

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