10 Beautiful Video Game Endings That Made Us Cry

Let me hug Professor Layton, you monsters!

professor layton and the unwound future claire

Few things can so easily bring an audience to tears like the closing moments of a story. Even if you know in the back of your mind there will be more sequels or spinoffs or what have you, a good ending can make you forget all of that.

The finale, ideally speaking, is the storyteller's final word on the matter. Everything they can say has been said, and all that's left to do is put up the chairs and get the lights as they close the door.

There are many ways for an ending to leave its audience utterly devastated at the fact that it's over. From ending on the saddest possible note to even the happiest. What matters is how every plot beat is resolved. Whether the characters' journey ended on a high note, or perhaps more accurately, the correct note; the kind where, looking back, you realize it could only have gone this way.

These endings, whether for the good guys riding into the sunset or crying over the deaths of everything they ever loved, wrapped everything up so perfectly, so exactly right, you had no choice but to shed a few tears.

10. Halo Reach

professor layton and the unwound future claire

Prequels are, by nature, predictable; we know what's going to happen going in. The best prequels work this awareness into the narrative, either finding some new information to show that the audience wasn't aware of, or in the case of Halo Reach, leaning into the tragedy.

The destruction of planet Reach is the opening tragedy of the Halo saga, and Halo Reach is the story of six Spartans - Noble Team - who did everything in their power to stop it and failed. You keep holding out hope throughout the story that something will go right, that ONE of them will make it out. And every time the game hammers the point home.

In the end, it's just you, Noble Six. Against an entire planet of Covenant forces. And one objective: Survive.

You can fight and fight and fight until the cows come home and then fight the cows for good measure. But the Covenant will beat you, overpowering Noble Six and skewering him on a laser sword before the Covenant glasses the planet.

The solace comes as Cortana narrates a memorial for you and Noble team, telling them, and you, that it wasn't for nothing. Many others got off Reach, got to the Halo rings, and eventually won the war, leaving Noble Team to be remembered forever as heroes.


John Tibbetts is a novelist in theory, a Whatculture contributor in practice, and a nerd all around who loves talking about movies, TV, anime, and video games more than he loves breathing. Which might be a problem in the long term, but eh, who can think that far ahead?