Tugging at the heartstrings of players is a sly skill that video game developers love to toy with. And what better way is there than to end a storyline so abruptly that you’re left hanging off a cliff? Cliffhangers, at best, serve to create buzz for a sequel or additional games in a series. From theorizing what the ending might have been to the seemingly endless wait for resolution, all of these are positive outcomes that developers use to start generating interest in future games.
Regardless of their intended goal, most games are terrible at delivering great cliffhangers. Either gamers are overly disappointed because they put so many hours into a game only to have it end without a solid conclusion, or it’s done so poorly that the game flops, and with it, any hopes for a clear resolution to the story. Because great cliffhangers are so hard to come by, we’ve compiled a list of the top five best cliffhangers in video games, ranked, so buckle up and get ready for some of the wildest cliffhangers of all time!
5. The Walking Dead
At the end of Telltale’s The Walking Dead, emotions run high in what is possibly the most difficult emotional dilemma a character has had to face. Up to this point, players have grown to love Clementine, a young girl struggling to find her way in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. Lee, her closest ally and guardian, fights by her side. Anyone would probably be curious as to what happens when your closest ally is bitten by a zombie. Do you bid time in the hopes that they will be friendly and not turn on you? Do you abandon them and flee for your life? Or do you shoot them down, saving yourself and ridding your friend of a life of misery?
If you’re curious about what your survival instincts will do, The Walking Dead depicts a scenario in which Clementine may have to shoot down her guardian, essentially her “father,” to save her own life! While your emotions are still raw from losing Lee, and you’re now stranded in the countryside, Clementine sees two people in the distance and begins to feel hopeful, until she realizes the two people could be zombies out for blood! Clementine had Lee with her the entire time, guiding her through the zombie apocalypse. However, as the game comes to a close, it’s unclear what will happen to her. Will she be able to survive on her own? Is Lee ever going to return to her life? Luckily, there is a sequel to find out!
4. Batman: Arkham City
Batman and the Joker are a recurring duo that has kept both Batman movies and video games exciting! Sure, there are enough other villains in Gotham City to keep Batman busy at night. But there’s something about the Joker that completely throws Batman off guard, making him appear to be a vulnerable character like any other.
If you’ve ever wondered what happens if the Joker disappears—by disappears, I mean dies—Batman: Arkham City is the place to be. Toward the end, the Joker stabs Batman in the back, causing him to drop the only serum that could have cured the Joker of Titan Disease. Batman then carries the Joker’s lifeless body out of the city, where the game comes to an end! While this ending seems like the right resolution for any other superhero game; For Batman, life without the Joker seems so out of place that we’re left wondering what the Joker’s death means for Batman’s future.
3. Half-Life 2
Yes, we know. We all can’t wait for Half-Life 3 if it ever comes out! Half-Life 2 is one of the most popular cliffhangers of all time and is definitely among the top five best cliffhangers in video games, ranked. Regardless of the agonizingly long 10 years we’ve been waiting for the sequel, with tons of memes scouring the internet to keep fans busy, it’s no secret that Half-Life 2 mastered cliffhangers to garner such intense traction over the years.
Toward the end, old Eli Vance dies in a dramatic scene leaving his daughter, Alyx, helplessly cradling his lifeless body. So, what happens to Alyx and Gordon Freeman from here? Not to mention the G-Man’s mysterious time and reality-altering abilities, as well as the fact that he’d be taking away Gordon’s freedom of choice! At this point, waiting for Half-Life 3 seems like a fool’s errand, but that still doesn’t lessen the overwhelming desire for closure.
2. God of War
God of War is well-known for its intricate storylines that leave you craving more. Add a cliffhanger to it, and you’ve got tons of intriguing points to mull over before the sequel. In God of War, Kratos is portrayed as this all-powerful god who remains undefeated. So, it’s interesting when he discovers a foretelling of his death and then, shortly after, finds out that Atreus, his son and companion’s real name, is Loki!
While you’re still pondering over that, Kratos and Atreus return home, where Atreus has a vision of Thor knocking at his door in all the glory of a violent storm. Perhaps Thor will be the god that finally challenges Kratos in combat? We’ll probably find out in God of War: Ragnarok.
1. The Last of Us
The Last of Us is a popular action-adventure game known for its captivating storyline and, particularly, its dramatic ending. Joel is has to keep Ellie safe in a post-apocalyptic America. They face difficult situations along the way and grow closer, trusting each other with their lives.
So, what’s your take? Do you agree with our five best cliffhangers in video games, ranked? Are there other great cliffhangers we should know about? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.