7 Awesome Indie Games that Don't Have a Happy Ending

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Endings can be hard to handle. We spend so much time in these other worlds getting to know various characters and experiencing all the game has to offer only to be sent down a cycle of indignation. It's all over, your journey complete and you're left with a hole in your heart. 

What's even harder to handle is when the worlds you have spent so much time in end on a sour or sad note. Several triple-A titles have included morose or melancholic endings that tug on our heartstrings. However, Indies are no stranger to these narrative archs, so we present our top 7 Indie titles that broke our hearts.  

Night in the Woods

Price: $19.99

Buy it on: Steam

Night in the Woods is an adventure game that allows you to explore a colorful world that is filled with interesting characters and conflicts that will require you to make friends with people throughout the town. 

Night in the Woods centers around Mae Borowski: a college drop out who returns home and has to sort through issues that arise in her hometown. Throughout Night in the Woods the protagonist begins to form bonds and starts building close relations with many of the characters in the story, despite this towards the end of the game you end up feeling unsatisfied with the resolution. Especially since some of the issues are left unresolved, therefore creating a sense of indignance from the player. However, Mae does learn to face her problems and learns to move on from past events instead of focusing on them; which brings a somewhat neutral ending to a fantastic story and gaming experience. 

 

Gone Home

Price: $14.99

Buy it on: Steam

Gone Home is a mystery game reliant on puzzles which help the protagonist figure out what happened to their family. The disappearance of the protagonists family leaves him in disarray and he must figure out what has caused them to leave.

Going home can form mixed emotions depending on an individuals situation, whether you feel jubilation or dread at the thought of returning home depends on your home life. In the case of Gone Home its a sorrowful affair for the protagonist. You come home to find everyone has left unexpectedly and with no explanation, therefore forcing you to explore your home to solve the mystery. Towards the end of Gone Home it is clear that everyone left for their own reasons and in time you understand that when you left your family moved on.

The ending feels resolved, however you are left to wonder about the fate of some family members. It appears as though they may have left for good reasons, but there is a prevailing sense of dread throughout the entirety of the game.

Oxenfree

Price: $19.99

Buy it on: Steam

Oxenfree is a supernatural thriller that follows a group of friends who go out to have a good time, however it doesn't all go to plan. You accidentally stumble on a rift between worlds that traps you and your friends on the island. Alex (the protagonist) must find a way for him and his friends to escape the dreaded island before it is too late. 

Oxenfree contains supernatural elements that will chill you to the bone and by the end of the game you must face an almost impossible choice. Oxenfree has several endings depending on who you help and who you end up leaving behind, but every choice you make has a consequence. 

 

Papers, Please

Price: $8.99

Buy it on: Steam

In Papers, Please you decide who crosses the border between Grestin and Arstotzka while implementing government laws and policies that will bring glory to the Arstotzkan government and keep your homeland safe. However, Arstotzka is not all it appears; behind simply controlling immigration at the borders there is government corruption and revolution at hand.

Behind Papers, Please lies a truly depressing story about a man who has been chosen to work for the Arstotzkan government through a lottery and must work in order to keep his family alive. In Papers, Please you will work as an immigration inspector on the borders of the Arstotzkan side of Grestin. The game takes a twist when the government you are working for becomes more hostile towards immigrants. Slowly, more and more policies are implemented to prevent suspicious people gaining entry into Arstotzka.

One example of the depth of the story in Papers, Please is when a revolutionary group tries to convert you to their cause. You will have to make a choice between the safety of government or the radical freedoms of a revolutionary movement. However, you're not alone. Your family depend on you and every action you take can affect them and the outcome of your story. 

There are multiple endings in Papers, Please and over 20 involve sad outcomes for you and your family. The naunce and thought gone into Papers, Please cannot be understated and it is well worth checking out.

Undertale

Price: From $9.99

Buy it on: Steam, PS4 & PS Vita

In Undertale you will play as a human who falls into an underground world full of monsters. But, are all these creatures monsters? Are they as wicked as they may seem? Either way you have to find your way out, or chance being forever trapped in darkness.  Will you choose to play as a pacifist, or maybe you will choose a darker path and take the monster out of the picture?   

Undertale is considered one of the best Indie titles of recent years, mainly because its story and pacifist playthrough options. Most of the interactions in Undertale deal with a variety of emotions and make you question the choices you have made throughout the game. As a pacifist the ending can be pretty satisfying, but will leave an emotional imprint on your mind. However, if you decide to choose the genocidal path the ending can be gruesome and unforgiving to the main character. As for the rest of the underground world it is left in a state of disarray from what you have done.

Silence: The Whispered World 2

Price: $29.99

Buy it on: PC & Xbox One

Silence: The Whispered World 2 is a story-driven game that allows you to experience what life is about for two kids named Noah and his younger sister Renie. The danger of war and the choices you must make for your family are an integral part of this fantasy world called 'The Silence.'

What would you do if your brother was in danger? What choices would you make in the name of family? In Silence: The Whispered World 2 you will experience a fantasy world unlike any that have come before it, however there's a catch. Toward the end of Silence: The Whispered World 2 you will have to make a difficult decision that will have massive consequences for your character and their family.   

To the Moon 

Price: $4.99-$9.99

Buy it on: Steam, Android & Apple

To the Moon is a 16-bit story-driven game about two doctors who travel through a dying man's memories to accomplish his last dream to go to the moon. You will experience some of life's saddest moments; love, hate and the joy that this dying man went through in his life. 

When it comes to sad endings To the Moon holds that title proudly. In To the Moon you play as two doctors who were hired to send an old man to the moon, but to do so you need to figure out why he wants to go. You end up exploring the old mans entire life through his memories and ultimately find out why he wants to go into space. 

Not only do you start thinking about the beauty of To the Moon, but also about the futility of life and the fickle nature of memories. The ending is joyful in its way, however it is a bittersweet feeling. The idea that it was so close to being satisfactory and so close to being a happy occasion.

 

Stories have a way of teaching us about life. They teach us that not everything ends on a happy note. Sometimes the tragic and morally questionable aspects of a stories ending serve as a caution about how we live our lives and how to improve our own story. 

Despite all that these games told great stories and I, for one, can't wait to see what else Indie developers will show us in the future. 

Did you feel this list did a good job of showing some of the unhappy endings of Indies? Were you disappointed that certain games didn't make the list?Comment below what sad tales you would have put and what you felt about these endings.

Published Jan. 31st 2018

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