364/366 – The End Not Being The End In Games
I’ve come to like a part of games that’s become a bit more visible in recent years, and that’s the fact that when the end shows up, sometimes it’s not really the end at all. Whether it’s a post-credits scene or a dialogue spoken during the credits or a full blown epilogue playable, it’s served as a way to provide a little bit of a bonus or in some cases a little addition to the story.
I think part of the reason why I like these little easter egg additions is that they’re typically surprises. If you get a little tidbit at the end of a game once you’ve been done feeling the satisfaction of actually playing it all the way through, it’s a little bit more of a reward for getting to the end and actually beating that last battle or boss or stage that is meant to be the pinnacle of challenge for the game. It might also answer some questions or tie up some loops that you thought were going to be left open, and show you a preview of something that might end up being in a future sequel, or if it’s the end, definitely display an ending that is supposed to help deliver on the sense of closure that a game wants to create for itself (and in some cases, for its franchise).
When it comes to preference for what form these post-ending bits take, I don’t really have one, although it is a nice little bonus if it’s something that’s actually playable. There’ve been a handful of games that have actually allowed me to pick the controller back up and actually play through a last little bit of the game just to see what’s happened after the main plot is over, and while some of them end up with you being deposited back into the world with all of your endgame skills and powers intact, I personally prefer to play through something that’s limited and which reaches an actual end. That way there’s no open-endedness or open world ideas – just a definite end that tells you it’s time to move on from the game and have that post-game thought process that inevitably happens when it’s all over.
Ultimately this is why little ending bits like these are appreciated by a lot of people. As long as they aren’t shoehorned in or added after the fact as an afterthought, they serve as a nice little bookend to the game. I like them a lot, and not just for the fact that there’s an idea of “happily ever after” attached to many of them (or in some cases, more to come in future games). I think they’ve shown up more often than not as bonuses instead of acquired through some kind of meeting of conditions during the main game because there’s been a shift that such epilogue-like segments are deserved by everyone who gets through the main game’s action, and not just for those that excelled in some manner that might have been missed by the average player. It’s probably why we’ll see more of these in the future, and why they’re likely to elicit the same level of satisfaction that finishing the normal game gives to players.