While the good endings stick with us and are remembered fondly, the bad endings, the truly bad endings, even several years later, can set us off into a furious rant. While I have written about how I thought the ending to Mass Effect 3 was bad, it sparked debate amongst gamers as not everyone agreed (most did) and everyone took something different away from it. Others, however, have ending so bad that there is no debate, just competitions to see who hated it the most. To me, there are two games that standout, above all others when it comes to terrible endings. The funny, or ironic, thing is, one of them is the sequel to the other.
The games I am referring to are the Soul Reaver games, both Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver and Soul Reaver 2. Both of the Soul Reaver games offered fantastic storylines and amazing game play. I spent countless hours in college playing these games, getting enthralled with the story and lore. Each step closer to Kain brought me closer and closer to the edge of my seat; they were just that good. And then, the ending happened and my spirit was completely crushed. How is it possible that such an awesome game can have such a terrible ending? How was is possible that the sequel, a game which I thought would make up for the terrible ending in the previous game, would instead try to top that terribleness?
To this day, several years later, I still just don’t understand what the developers were thinking.
Soul Reaver introduced us to Raziel, one of Kain’s lieutenants. Through a fit a jealousy, Kain throws Raziel into the Lake of the Dead. There, several centuries later, the Elder God resurrects Raziel and sets him out on a quest to kill Kain and his brothers in order to restore the land of Nosgoth. Kain and his ilk, through their eternal life, have devastated the land. So, not only is your quest one of revenge but also salvation. It was truly an interesting premise. And the gameplay was superb. The world was just fantastic. Your sword, the Soul Reaver, was incredibly interesting and awesome. The lore you pick up throughout the game kept you intrigued and wanting more.
Then you confront Kain and suddenly, the awe-inspiring world you were in reveals itself as a thin shell that shatters all around you. After struggling through the game (especially the spider level, which was crazy difficult and super creepy) you strike Kain down only to see him flee. At first glance, you’re thinking “I’m going to chase him down.” And you do, kind of. After you jump into the portal Kain escaped through you are greeted with a wall of text. Yes, a literal wall of text. It is about a full page long and it is the ending. That’s it, a wall of text ending. Just writing those last couple lines got my blood boiling again.
Soul Reaver 2 sends you back to the past to a time when the Sarafan were a powerful order whose sole mission was to kill vampires (from the first game, you know that Kain killed the Sarafan and turned them all into his lieutenants, i.e. you). Again, you go on an epic journey discovering even more lore and falling in love with it yet again. You find an ancient vampire named Janos who not only looks like you (very unlike other vampires) but also was expecting you. At this point, I was thinking “Ok, that’s fine, it’s still interesting.” Then you find out the Sarafan named Raziel (yep, you) was the one that tracked down Janos and killed him.
At this point, I just couldn’t believe it. Circle after circle you have traversed, and now everything makes absolutely less sense than before, which I didn’t think was possible. However, this game had one more screw to put to you; you were the one that killed all the Sarafan. The final battle pits you against your younger Sarafan self.
Thankfully Janos gave you a physical Soul Reaver before your younger self killed him, as this sword heals you are you do damage. Once you kill yourself (confused yet?) Kain comes out of hiding and stabs you with the physical Soul Reaver. This puts you back into the shadow realm with the spiritual Soul Reaver jammed through your body and a big “What the hell!?” moment. In a nut shell, Soul Reaver 2 answered two out of the dozens of “huh?” questions you had because of the first game’s ending only to create another dozen more.
Where Final Fantasy 6 and Skies of Arcadia show us what endings should be, the Soul Reaver games show us how terrible they can be and how that terribleness can set us off on a rant several years later.
Have you ever played an awesome game only to be sent off with a terrible ending? Which game was it (I would like to avoid them)? Please leave a comment and/or share on Twitter.