Whether you’re a casual gamer or a completionist, you won’t discover a lot of video game endings alone. Developers hide alternate endings throughout games, which players either lucky enough to stumble upon or patient enough to discover. Many alternate endings involve such complicated processes that only the most dedicated players find them. Those players share their experiences online, revealing alternate endings that most players know nothing about.
While half the games on this list have one normal ending and one secret ending, the other games possess multiple endings. Gamers sometimes settle for a single ending and sometimes search for every possible ending, yet even completionists can miss hidden endings. Developers create obvious endings through clear choices and hide endings in unclear choices. Even though developers present options, you won’t realize such options exist. Hidden endings are designed as challenges: most involve unintuitive actions, extensive exploration, and complicated passcodes. Some require several minutes of doing absolutely nothing—which defies everything video games have taught us.
Whether you’re exploring or sitting still, you must think outside the box and be patient if you want to unlock the endings on this list. You may recognize a few, but we guarantee no player has independently discovered all 15 of these alternate game endings.
15 Joining Min — Far Cry 4
Most players follow a linear storyline in Far Cry 4 with multiple endings. You choose whether Sabal or Amita leads the Golden Path, a group which resists Pagan Min and successfully overthrows his rule of Kyrat. Sabal and Amita end up being more tyrannical than Min, so you have the option to kill the leader of the Golden Path or spare them.
What most players don’t realize is that you can end the game almost as soon as you start it. When Min asks you to wait at his dinner table, the player-character stands as if to leave. Most players do leave; after all, Min is a homicidal maniac who will probably torture you. However, he treats you as a friend if you follow his order. After waiting several minutes, you’re rewarded with an ending in which Min explains his relationship to you, helps you scatter your mother’s ashes, and readies a helicopter for a “grand adventure” with you.
14 Meryl Dies — Metal Gear Solid
Many games include non-canonical endings that accomplish nothing for the franchise, including Metal Gear Solid. Most players in Metal Gear Solid defend themselves to prevent a Game Over, but those who submit to Ocelot’s torture (or those who can’t mash the Circle button quickly enough to resist Ocelot) experience an alternate, non-canonical ending. The game disguises the alternate ending brilliantly: Ocelot states that if you give into his torture, “the game is over. There are no continues.” You continue no matter what, but the ending changes depending on this one moment.
If Snake gives up, Meryl dies while he’s imprisoned. Snake recognizes his failure, creating an emotional ending that will leave you feeling guilty—particularly if you chose to let Meryl die.
13 Resurrecting Tidus — Final Fantasy X-2
This may be the most canonical and well-known ending to Final Fantasy X-2, but new players miss this ending by a long shot. In order to resurrect Tidus, you need to complete a certain percentage of the game and hit buttons during cutscenes. The game never tells you when to hit those buttons, so you’re guaranteed to miss the alternate ending unless a friend or the Internet tells you about it.
Square Enix should have simply awarded players who earned higher completion percentages. Instead, they hide the game’s greatest ending in cutscenes—moments which most players watch without interaction. Final Fantasy X ends by teasing Tidus’s resurrection, so fans widely anticipated his return and were disappointed with the game’s normal ending.
12 Left To Burn — Firewatch
A helicopter arrives at the end of Firewatch to evacuate you from a burning forest. After spending the entire game in the beautiful forest, you might stop and enjoy the view one last time. Don’t wait too long, though—if you do, the helicopter will leave without you.
This ending feels a little misplaced because you can play the rest of the game at your own pace. Before the helicopter arrives, you can spend hours or days wandering the forest without any sign of the wildfire spreading. Still, the alternate ending adds a fun touch where other characters fear for their safety. The evacuation team ought to try harder to save you, though—they fly off without a word of warning.
11 Shutting Down The Lab — INSIDE
In order to unlock the secret ending to INSIDE, you must find the fourteen hidden, glowing orbs spread throughout the game, shut them down, and restart the game. A new door appears next to the second orb (hidden beneath an invisible trapdoor in a cornfield), which you unlock through a direction-based code. You discover a lab with one of the many mind-controlling machines found in the factory, as well as a mysterious plug. When you pull out the plug, the lab loses electricity—and the game ends.
The ending is ambiguous and mysterious. Perhaps you shut down the entire factory and thus made the rest of the game unplayable. Perhaps we’ll never know Playdead’s true intentions. INSIDE allows players to interpret all its events, including its alternate ending.
10 Demichev Shoots You — Singularity
Singularity ends with a choice: two men stand in front of you, and you must shoot one or the other. If you shoot Barisov, you and Demichev conquer the world together and eventually end up as leaders of two opposing world powers. If you shoot Demichev, Barisov convinces you to go back in time and kill yourself (because even though you kill Demichev in the present, you need to stop your past self from saving Demichev).
Since the game so clearly establishes two choices, most players don’t realize there are two additional endings. In the third ending, you shoot both men and watch the world fall apart. The fourth ending is even less intuitive: if you do nothing, Demichev grabs his gun from the floor and shoots both you and Barisov. Singularity rewards patience with this wonderfully realistic, dynamic ending. Unfortunately, no cutscene follows the fourth ending, but we can imagine Demichev taking over the world with nobody left to stop him.
9 Shepard Dies — Mass Effect 2
Your decisions throughout Mass Effect 2 determine how many teammates survive in the final mission—and they also determine whether Shepard lives or dies. If none or one of your teammates survive, Shepard falls to his/her death because nobody’s left to pull him/her aboard the Normandy. The ending is devastating: sad music plays as Shepard tells Joker to protect the galaxy, with a heart-wrenching reaction from Joker.
You need a strategy to fully protect your squad, but you also need a strategy to destroy them. In order to kill Shepard, you must purposefully lose teammates’ loyalty, and you have to abandon your weakest teammates in the final battle.
Shepard can also die in the epilogue. If you romanced Morinth and survive the final mission with her, you can take the next step in your relationship—which causes Shepard to die like all of Morinth’s sexual partners.
8 Dog Ending — Silent Hill 2
You can earn a variety of endings in Silent Hill 2, but none are as ridiculous and hilarious as the Dog Ending. This alternate ending is surprisingly difficult to attain: you must complete the game at least two times before the Dog Key appears in a doghouse. You use the Dog Key to unlock a door within the Nightmare Lakeview Hotel. A dog (named Mira) awaits inside, playing with colorful controls while listening to upbeat music. James falls to his knees, agonizing over his realization that Mira has controlled the events of the game, and Mira licks his face. The credits include a compilation of dog sounds and bizarre images, such as dancing characters, flying pizzas, and shirtless men and women.
7 The Empire Wins — Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader
The main campaign of Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader ends where the original trilogy ends, so most players accept that as the game’s conclusion. If you’re a completionist, however, you’ll discover two secret levels in which you play as Darth Vader and destroy the Rebel Alliance. In the first mission, “Triumph of the Empire,” you protect the first Death Star and kill the invading Rebels, including Luke. The Empire destroys the Rebel base in the second level, “Revenge on Yavin”—so we can safely assume Leia dies in the invasion.
If you want to witness this devastating, non-canonical ending, you need to save enough points to purchase the secret missions—or you can unlock them via complex passwords.
6 Ethan Hangs Himself — Heavy Rain
Seven possible endings exist for Ethan, the protagonist of Heavy Rain. Three endings involve Ethan killing himself because of the death of his son, Shaun. While Ethan shoots himself in two endings, he only hangs himself in “Helpless,” the worst and most depressing ending of the game. You only “earn” this ending if the police arrest Ethan multiple times and all the protagonists fail to locate Shaun. The Origami Killer murders Shaun and gets away with it: Ethan is framed as the Origami Killer and is permanently imprisoned.
Even if you’re searching for alternate endings in Heavy Rain, you’ll have a hard time finding “Helpless.” In a mystery game about saving Shaun and keep Ethan safe, you have to put both Shaun and Ethan in danger to see this ending. You sit still and let bad things happen, making Heavy Rain more of a depressing movie than an interactive game.
5 Every Ending — Chrono Trigger
You’re obviously going to discover at least one ending by playing through Chrono Trigger, but the game has such an abundant number of strange endings that few players discover them all. Since you can battle the final boss, Lavos, at any time in a game about time travel, you can produce a variety of timelines. Some of the most bizarre endings include every character redesigned as a Reptite (a dinosaur-human species who you normally defeat in prehistoric times), Marle redesigned as a frog-human hybrid (because Frog marries her ancestor), and the heroes turning into medieval villains.
In the most difficult ending, you defeat Lavos at the beginning of the game without teammates (or halfway through the game when Lavos is twice as strong as normal). The creators of the game congratulate you in this ending: the creators wrote themselves into the game, referring to themselves as “the Dream Team.”
4 Secret Level — Slender: The Arrival
If you collect three missing child posters of Charlie Matheson Jr., you’ll be forced into the secret level of Slender: The Arrival. In this level, you enter Charlie’s house as you do in the prologue—except the house and world are completely different. The world shifts as if stuck in an unchanging glitch, and you teleport every time you enter a room. An unknown voice says: “I like you, I want to play a game.” Slender continuously kills you and returns you to the menu, where you reenter the house by clicking “Start Game.” You eventually end up trapped in a fire which Slender approaches, and his face mixes with the poster of Charlie. If you continue clicking “Start Game,” you see the same ending over and over; you have to restart the game to escape the secret level.
Even though a number of theories revolve around the secret level (Slender’s turned you into his proxy, Charlie is Slender, etc.), the secret level is probably an Easter egg rather than a story-based ending.
3 Shooting The Overseer — Fallout
Fallout has plenty of interesting endings, including joining the Master’s army and convincing the Master to kill himself. However, these endings don’t particularly affect the game: joining the army is more like a Game Over than a true ending, and the Master destroys himself with the nuke you would have used to kill him. The most significant alternate ending in Fallout is shooting the Overseer.
After the Master’s death, you return to Vault 13—where the Overseer exiles you from Vault 13. He thanks you for your help but claims you’d only endanger the vault. He walks toward the vault, and the credits roll. If you played the game with the Bloody Mess trait, however, your character pulls out a gun and shoots the Overseer in the back.
You can also try engaging the Overseer in combat, but you have very little time to defeat him. Regardless of how you murder him, the Overseer’s death shrouds the future of Vault 13 in mystery.
2 The “Good” Ending — Cave Story
In order to attain the “true” ending to Cave Story, you must complete a series of unintuitive steps. When you see Professor Booster fall several stories in front of you, you must abandon him. He normally gives you the Booster v0.8 (a jetpack) and dies; if you don’t talk to him, he strangely survives. The professor upgrades the jetpack, giving you the Booster v2.0.
By completing this first step, you unlock additional requirements where you have to find the hidden Tow Rope, use the Rope to save Curly, and complete a sidequest to restore Curly’s memory. After fighting the “final” boss, you slip into a door (which is normally locked) and discover the final dungeon and boss.
Alternate endings are often challenging to attain, but Cave Story’s is ridiculous. Because they have to perform strange, challenging tasks, most players miss out on the game’s happiest ending.
1 Endings F-Z — NieR: Automata
Many games include short, “bad” endings for certain situations, particularly final battles. If you fail to protect the world, you watch the world’s destruction. PlatinumGames takes this concept to a whole new degree by spreading 21 bad endings throughout NieR: Automata. Whether you murder harmless robots, fail an important battle, or walk away in the middle of a mission, you earn short endings with depressing (but often amusing) narration.
Endings A-E take a lot of time but are intuitive: you simply replay NieR: Automata until you’ve acquired each ending. Endings F-Z are less simple and much more challenging. Instead of following a linear story, you must experiment to discover every possible ending. NieR: Automata rewards players who think outside the box with extra endings and an achievement for finding them all.