Bad endings are the worst

I am so disappointed right now. Only after having spent about 12 hours into SMT: Persona did I find out there were multiple endings. Only now, after obtaining the bad ending after having spent 22 hours and 36 minutes playing the game did I find out that the one scene that decides the ending took place several hours ago in my playthrough and that, to experience the proper ending, I'd have to play through the whole thing again.

Now this could be my fault. This is a Persona game and an older RPG, so maybe I should have guessed that this would occur and taken the necessary precautions. Maybe I should have guessed that the one determining scene was much more significant than I had thought when going through it (funny thing is, I had reloaded my game after that scene to see if different dialogue options would have changed the outcome but it didn't so I just moved on). None of that changes the fact that this frustrates me so much.

I believe the true ending path adds about 6-8 hours of additional playtime, so this isn't something insignificant, either.

I do like alternate endings when I feel that they're executed properly. Taking significant decisions you made throughout the game and adjusting what happens in the end accordingly. What I don't like is endings that result from dialogue and decisions that are so arbitrary that one doesn't even realize they're doing something that could affect the ending in a major way unless they knew something like it was going to happen beforehand. This also happens in Persona 4 and I guarantee that most people who obtained the true ending did so via a guide and when the correct path is extremely important to the game's overall narrative, I believe that that's bad game design.

Guess I'm going to have to be careful when I start Persona 2: Innocent Sin.

27 Comments
27 Comments
Edited by FluxWaveZ

I am so disappointed right now. Only after having spent about 12 hours into SMT: Persona did I find out there were multiple endings. Only now, after obtaining the bad ending after having spent 22 hours and 36 minutes playing the game did I find out that the one scene that decides the ending took place several hours ago in my playthrough and that, to experience the proper ending, I'd have to play through the whole thing again.

Now this could be my fault. This is a Persona game and an older RPG, so maybe I should have guessed that this would occur and taken the necessary precautions. Maybe I should have guessed that the one determining scene was much more significant than I had thought when going through it (funny thing is, I had reloaded my game after that scene to see if different dialogue options would have changed the outcome but it didn't so I just moved on). None of that changes the fact that this frustrates me so much.

I believe the true ending path adds about 6-8 hours of additional playtime, so this isn't something insignificant, either.

I do like alternate endings when I feel that they're executed properly. Taking significant decisions you made throughout the game and adjusting what happens in the end accordingly. What I don't like is endings that result from dialogue and decisions that are so arbitrary that one doesn't even realize they're doing something that could affect the ending in a major way unless they knew something like it was going to happen beforehand. This also happens in Persona 4 and I guarantee that most people who obtained the true ending did so via a guide and when the correct path is extremely important to the game's overall narrative, I believe that that's bad game design.

Guess I'm going to have to be careful when I start Persona 2: Innocent Sin.

Posted by Hailinel

So, wait. Were you playing SEBEC or Snow Queen Quest?

Posted by Video_Game_King

@FluxWaveZ said:

Taking significant decisions you made throughout the game and adjusting what happens in the end accordingly.

From what I remember, that's exactly what the game does, though. You encounter yourself in the final dungeon, playing video games, and he says, "'Sup. I'm you. I remember when you made those decisions that were consistent with the game's themes and messages. Cool stuff back there, bro." (Don't ask why you speak like that. Just go with it.) They tone it down in the next game, though, so that making Persona-y decisions (trust me: you'll know what I'm talking about when confronted with the choices) just gets you better Personae from Philemon. Also, this.

Posted by FluxWaveZ

@Hailinel said:

So, wait. Were you playing SEBEC or Snow Queen Quest?

The SEBEC route. I just learned yesterday that the Snow Queen thing I had heard of before was a completely alternate story path.

@Video_Game_King said:

From what I remember, that's exactly what the game does, though.

Not really. From what I can tell, the only segment of dialogue that has an effect on the player's ending path takes place in the Lost Forest. Existential questions are asked and I can see how that could lead to something bigger now, but I can just say that now after learning that it affected things. I don't like when things that affect the outcome so drastically are made ambiguous. Why not just warn the player, perhaps in a subtle but not hidden way that "hey, you might want to think twice about what you do here".

Posted by AngelN7

You're crazy bad endings are the best (sometimes) and when executed right. I got one of the worst endings in 999 involing an Axe and it was awful for my character, everything went from bad to disturbing but it was so shocking that I kinda like it and haven't play the game since , plus playing it again to get a "better" happier ending would be kinda lame and 999 is just like that you may choose to say something you weren't sure about it and your reward is something really bad for someone. I kinda wish more games would do that instead of making pretty clear "this is the bad choice don't pick that!" stuff is not pretty and happy all the time and I'm tired of happy ending/there's hope stories.

Posted by Hailinel
@FluxWaveZ How would blatantly telegraphing the choice be any better?
Posted by Video_Game_King

@FluxWaveZ said:

Why not just warn the player, perhaps in a subtle but not hidden way that "hey, you might want to think twice about what you do here".

Isn't that what it does with the themes and story and such? Besides, when would "fuck Mary" be the right choice? (I remember that being the wrong choice.) Like how Persona 4 tells you the right choice by yelling, "TRUTH IS AWESOME, YOU GUYS, IT'S THE BESTEST THING IN THE WORLD"?

Posted by FluxWaveZ

@AngelN7: 999 executes endings in a way that I appreciate, primarily because the game revolves around its multiple endings as they come together to form something bigger in the true path. Plus, it's not a 20-30 hour RPG that you get invested in where you'd probably want to follow things to their true conclusion instead of having everything get cut short for throwaway blocks of text that could pretty much be replaced by "Game Over".

Another thing about that ending is that what I mean by "bad ending" isn't that "bad things happen", but really just that things are cut short. In 999, all endings feel complete, in a sense, and the game revolves around the player's decisions so whichever ending you end up with won't make you feel like you got shortchanged.

Posted by Hailinel
@Video_Game_King

@FluxWaveZ said:

Why not just warn the player, perhaps in a subtle but not hidden way that "hey, you might want to think twice about what you do here".

Isn't that what it does with the themes and story and such? Besides, when would "fuck Mary" be the right choice? (I remember that being the wrong choice.) Like how Persona 4 tells you the right choice by yelling, "TRUTH IS AWESOME, YOU GUYS, IT'S THE BESTEST THING IN THE WORLD"?

It was more complex in P4. You could get the bad ending by either fucking up the conversation in the hospital or by guessing the killer's identity incorrectly three times. Neither point could be shuttles down to "truth is awesome."
Edited by FluxWaveZ

@Hailinel said:

@FluxWaveZ How would blatantly telegraphing the choice be any better?

Because it would give the player a place to save their game and a scene to refer to when they want to go back and try for another ending.

Like I said, I don't have a problem with endings where "something bad happens", but I do have a problem where a game essentially punishes you for not making the right choices so "Game Over". If a developer is to do something like that, then they should basically make the "bad ending" path as fulfilling as the "true ending" one if they want to make it so subtle. Add the 6-8 hours in that bad ending path with a complete alternate narrative that might end catastrophically, but will at least leave the player feeling as though decisions they didn't think were significant didn't fuck them over when they were already invested into finishing the "whole" game.

@Video_Game_King said:

@FluxWaveZ said:

Why not just warn the player, perhaps in a subtle but not hidden way that "hey, you might want to think twice about what you do here".

Isn't that what it does with the themes and story and such? Besides, when would "fuck Mary" be the right choice? (I remember that being the wrong choice.) Like how Persona 4 tells you the right choice by yelling, "TRUTH IS AWESOME, YOU GUYS, IT'S THE BESTEST THING IN THE WORLD"?

Huh? The dialogue that decides the game's outcome is nowhere near "fuck Mary" so I don't know what you're talking about.

And like Hailinel stated, the method to get the ending in P4 was much more complex than that. Not only do you have to correctly get through the hospital dialogue (which would be easy if some choices didn't resemble others) and guess the killer's identity (which might be simple if you think for a bit), but you have to return to the Junes after visiting everyone even though the game has conditioned the player throughout the whole experience to listen to its prompts so when it says something like "It's time to leave" or whatever, that's probably what most decide to do.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@FluxWaveZ said:

@Video_Game_King said:

@FluxWaveZ said:

Why not just warn the player, perhaps in a subtle but not hidden way that "hey, you might want to think twice about what you do here".

Isn't that what it does with the themes and story and such? Besides, when would "fuck Mary" be the right choice? (I remember that being the wrong choice.) Like how Persona 4 tells you the right choice by yelling, "TRUTH IS AWESOME, YOU GUYS, IT'S THE BESTEST THING IN THE WORLD"?

Huh? The dialogue that decides the game's outcome is nowhere near "fuck Mary" so I don't know what you're talking about.

It was in the garden, right? Where she didn't have a face?

@Hailinel said:

It was more complex in P4. You could get the bad ending by either fucking up the conversation in the hospital or by guessing the killer's identity incorrectly three times. Neither point could be shuttles down to "truth is awesome."

I forgot about the wrong guess one, but the hospital's pointing to the truth, since the options have to be level-headed and go toward pursuit of truth. Not caught up in the moment and whatnot.

Posted by Hailinel

Whittled down, rather. I want to murder autocorrect's inventor.

Posted by FluxWaveZ

@Video_Game_King said:

It was in the garden, right? Where she didn't have a face?

No?

Posted by Video_Game_King

@FluxWaveZ said:

@Video_Game_King said:

It was in the garden, right? Where she didn't have a face?

No?

I know there's a scene where she doesn't have a face (because she's a dream, now), and you have to convince her not to kill herself. Then again, it's been a few years since I've played the game.

Edited by TooWalrus

@FluxWaveZ: I finished Persona 4 Golden yesterday. I've got the same feeling I got after finishing Persona 3 FES- it's a state of depression, I hate that the game is over, that I've seen it all, that there's none left, and that there's none coming in the foreseeable future... Anyway, I'm taking this back to the beginning:

What do I need to know!?

Posted by FluxWaveZ

@TooWalrus: At one point, you will face one of the game's main antagonists after going through a forest that likes to change the player's direction of movement. If the confrontation with the main antagonists ends with you facing a giant toy, you are going to be lead down the path of the bad ending and I recommend reloading to the save right before this encounter so you can attempt to choose a dialogue path where there is no boss battle.

Posted by TooWalrus

@FluxWaveZ: Thanks, I'll start making a double save (if this game allows it) when I notice I'm in a forest. For now, I'm stuck on the character name screen. I like to stick with the canon, I named my P4 character Yu, my P3 character Minato, I nicknamed my Nocturne character "Hito" (even though I'm well aware that isn't his name)... But apparently this guy's never been named (according to the SMT Wiki, anyway). You know, I like the name Souji Seta... Yeah, it's got nothing to do with anything, but I'm gonna go with that. He looks like a Souji.

Posted by Nightriff

Just out of curiosity, how are the bad endings in P4? Are they satisfying in at least it feels like you "solved" everything or the Investigation Team will hold doubt over their decision?

Posted by neoepoch

@TooWalrus said:

@FluxWaveZ: Thanks, I'll start making a double save (if this game allows it) when I notice I'm in a forest. For now, I'm stuck on the character name screen. I like to stick with the canon, I named my P4 character Yu, my P3 character Minato, I nicknamed my Nocturne character "Hito" (even though I'm well aware that isn't his name)... But apparently this guy's never been named (according to the SMT Wiki, anyway). You know, I like the name Souji Seta... Yeah, it's got nothing to do with anything, but I'm gonna go with that. He looks like a Souji.

Basically choose the sympathetic and honest choices. That should lead you to the good ending, and getting everyone's ultimate persona (which are super helpful). I think those are the keywords really. Also, if you can get Reiji do it because he gets spell cards easier. For a "canon" name there isn't really any, but in the manga they call him Naoya Tudou I think.

Edited by FluxWaveZ

@Nightriff: In Persona 4 Golden or in Persona 4? In P4G, there's an added "bad ending" that is known as the "Accomplice Ending" and. in the original, there were three endings. One of these ends with bad things happening such as the death of a main character, not resolving the case and the main protagonist leaving the town with everyone being deeply unhappy.

Edited by Nightriff

@FluxWaveZ said:

@Nightriff: In Persona 4 Golden or in Persona 4? In P4G, there's an added "bad ending" that is known as the "Accomplice Ending" and. in the original, there were three endings. One of these ends with bad things happening such as the death of a main character and the main protagonist leaveing the town with everyone being deeply unhappy.

I'll go basic P4 since I know that one better but god damn, now I'm going to question everything I do in my P4G playthrough, shit.

Wait, which one does the main character die in?

Posted by FluxWaveZ

@Nightriff: As far as I know, there are four distinct endings in P4G. The main character in question probably dies in the worst of these.

Also, you shouldn't question everything you do in Persona 4 to lead you up to an ending. I maintain that the path to obtain the true ending in P4 is far too convoluted for its own good, but all of the deciding events are pretty clear and relatively far into the game, so there's no need to be paranoid about it. If you mess up, you can simply reload a save as P4G straight up warns you about branching paths.

From my experience, Persona 3 is the game in the series that has handled different endings the best by just having a single and clear dialogue choice deciding where the game goes. I'm interested in games taking into account all of the player's actions to culminate into a specific conclusion (I loved Alpha Protocol for this), but I'm not a fan of the way they did it in P1 and P4.

Edited by Nightriff

@FluxWaveZ: But isn't P4 straight foreword? Basically don't throw Namatame into the TV and always question the "final" killer Basically always doubt Yosuke. I didn't like P3 because it was pick THIS or THAT. I have no idea who would pick to kill the guy (name has slipped from my mind at the moment).

Edited by FluxWaveZ

@Nightriff: Try to mark your spoilers for Persona 4 because this blog isn't related to that game. And no, Persona 4's method to reach the true ending is not straightforward.

Persona 4 spoilers:

  1. Nail 3-4 dialogue choices with Yosuke in the hospital. Things are not as simple as "Don't throw Namatame inside the television." There's a lot of room for interpretation to some of those choices, however there is no room for error. Example: just check the Endurance Run episode where Vinny was trying to determine what to say and Jeff had to quickly tell him not to say what he was thinking because it would lead to an ending different than the one they wanted.
  2. Identify the killer. Pretty simple and I think most would at least come to suspect this character, eventually. I also believe the game gives you three chances to make the correct decision.
  3. After saying farewell to all of the max S. Links in town, the game prompts you to return home to get ready for your trip. The player has to consciously decide to say "No" and, for some reason, guess that they should return to Junes. This unlocks the path to the true ending.

This, in my opinion, is not an intuitive way to obtain a game's true ending. At least in P4G, there are prompts that tell you when event #1 is coming, so you can always reload right before then.

Posted by blackichigo

@FluxWaveZ: It might not the super obvious, but I remember playing the game FAQ-less the first time back when I was in highschool (2008) and getting the true ending without knowing there were other endings.

Posted by Undeadpool

@Video_Game_King said:

@FluxWaveZ said:

Why not just warn the player, perhaps in a subtle but not hidden way that "hey, you might want to think twice about what you do here".

Isn't that what it does with the themes and story and such? Besides, when would "fuck Mary" be the right choice? (I remember that being the wrong choice.) Like how Persona 4 tells you the right choice by yelling, "TRUTH IS AWESOME, YOU GUYS, IT'S THE BESTEST THING IN THE WORLD"?

That isn't ENTIRELY valid, to get the TRUE ending in P4 is...kind of ridiculous. Particularly when the game keeps asking you if you want to go home. I missed the hospital questions by one because I chose a SLIGHTLY differently worded option. I don't mind some subtlety in how games deal with gameplay, but when it's a lengthy RPG, and particularly when dealing with endings, it gets a little infuriating that more than a few JRPGs lean on weird "You either have to be insane or using a walkthrough to find this"-style gameplay.

Edited by neoepoch

@FluxWaveZ said:

@Nightriff: As far as I know, there are four distinct endings in P4G. The main character in question probably dies in the worst of these.

Also, you shouldn't question everything you do in Persona 4 to lead you up to an ending. I maintain that the path to obtain the true ending in P4 is far too convoluted for its own good, but all of the deciding events are pretty clear and relatively far into the game, so there's no need to be paranoid about it. If you mess up, you can simply reload a save as P4G straight up warns you about branching paths.

From my experience, Persona 3 is the game in the series that has handled different endings the best by just having a single and clear dialogue choice deciding where the game goes. I'm interested in games taking into account all of the player's actions to culminate into a specific conclusion (I loved Alpha Protocol for this), but I'm not a fan of the way they did it in P1 and P4.

P2 doesn't have a bad end per se. There are story choices that alter fates of certain characters in Innocent Sin, but it doesn't affect the ending if I recall. Doesn't matter, IS is the bad end while EP is the good (bittersweet) ending.