How many times have you been playing an amazing game or watching a fantastic movie, only for it to fizzle out into an unsatisfying climax? Games in particular can struggle to execute a rewarding ending because not only do they have to wrap up a story that's lasted for potentially hundreds of hours, but they have to do it in a way that still feels good to play.
However, sometimes developers can get this balance just right, leading to many final acts that manage to leave you completely speechless. These best examples transcend the sum of their parts to deliver something that can have you thinking over what you've just played for days and weeks afterwards, potentially staying with you for the rest of your life.
The greatest games can feel like complete gut-punches when you come to the end, because unlike movies, books, or TV shows which are passive experiences, actually being in control of characters and their actions makes the drama unfolding on screen even more intense.
A lot of games have interesting stories or engrossing gameplay, but only the very best can bring those elements together to leave you truly breathless.
One of the most underrated titles of this year, Bethesda's reboot of the Prey franchise is also home to one of the best sci-fi stories in years.
Trapping you on a space station that's been taken over by a mysterious alien entity, the beginning of the game turns out to be nothing more than a simulation, giving you your first clue that you shouldn't trust everything you see.
With your character forced to repeat the same day over and over again (losing their memory after every 24 hours), Prey begins properly when you break out of this cycle and attempt to get to the bottom of what happened on the space station - and why you were spending your life as a human guinea pig.
But the title uses the same simulation trick at the very end too, and it turns out that not only was everything you just played happening inside a simulation (and therefore the opening was a simulation inside a simulation), but it was one designed to test your humanity, ultimately assessing mankind's chances of survival on the whole.
Every choice you make and even how you upgraded your character impacts how you're evaluated in this final scene, and it completely re-frames every second that came before it.