A great videogame ending

in Design

A PS3 recently arrived in the house, and I took the chance to catch up on the Prince of Persia series, which I hadn’t had a chance to try out since its 2D days. The version I ended up with was the 2008 plainly-titled Prince of Persia. While not a perfect game by many accounts (there’s only so much fun to be had in an action game where you cannot die), I did enjoy its combination of action and storytelling. (See my previous article about that here.)

Prince of Persia (2008) starts off great, but sags in the middle when all you do is conquer one dungeon after another, all of which are similar in structure and length. I only went through the twenty odd hours to beat the game because I was hoping for a plot twist at the end.

And I got it.

To not spoil the ending, here are some factors that made it great. And by great I mean on the level of a great movie ending:

  • It brought together everything I had worked for: The mindless hours I spent on the semi-repetitive dungeons were actually brought into play.
  • I experienced the illusion of free will: The credits roll, and I was free to quit the game as it is, and not trigger the plot twist. However, the plot so far and all of the dialogue between the game’s characters led me to trigger the ending. I knew that’s what the character I played would have done, without doubt. In other words, like a good novel, under the mask of free will lay the inevitable tough choice for the protagonist.
  • It ended when it ended: It ends abruptly, not a moment too soon, not a moment too late. The studio actually made a downloadable (not free) epilogue that extends the gameplay for another three hours. But the ending I saw for that (I cheated and watched it on Youtube) is neither as powerful nor as conclusive as that of the original game. Some fans complained that the epilogue forced a cliffhanger to create interest for a sequel.

Is this ending worth getting the game for?


By Jason Li

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