While compelling video game endings weren't invented on the original PlayStation, it was one of the first places where games could be truly cinematic, and therefore game endings got a lot more elaborate and complex during that era. From Final Fantasy VII to Metal Gear Solid and beyond, PS1 games got what we thought was as close as video games were going to get to "being like movies." Sure, that notion may seem silly now, but the storytelling and cinematography on some PS1 games has aged remarkably well for how dated the visuals have become.
In the decades since, the PlayStation brand has remained a gold standard for strong cinematic elements in gaming, with recent releases like The Last of Us and Uncharted 4 serving as a high water mark for what the medium can accomplish in terms of storytelling. Those games are also among the best of all time when it comes to video game endings, which is often an overlooked aspect of games as many adults either don't find the time to finish most games, or are too busy playing multiplayer online to even bother with a game's story mode at all.
For this list, we tried to stick as closely as possible to games that can be—or at least were at one time—defined primarily as "PlayStation games." In order to make for a more interesting lineup of games and one that is true to this list's title, we have come up with 30 games that are either 100% PlayStation-exclusive, were exclusive for a time, or at least are most commonly associated with the PlayStation brand for one reason or another.
30 BEST: Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
What initially just seemed like an Indiana Jones rip-off and/or "Tomb Raider with a dude" has evolved into one of the best-selling and most acclaimed video game franchises of the modern era.
The gameplay is part of the reason for Uncharted's popularity, but most of it is the series' great storytelling and excellent character progression.
Uncharted 4 wraps things up beautifully by not only bringing the story to a satisfying close, but does a wonderful time jump where we see—and get to play as—the next generation of two of the game's characters.
29 HURT: Heavy Rain
One of the biggest problems with choice-based games that let you guide the story is that they typically still only have one main ending that you have little to no control over, and that lessens the impact of all of the decisions you made.
It's definitely a surprise to find out who the villain is in Heavy Rain, but it also makes it feel disingenuous that you played the game a certain way only to find out you were making choices for a murderer who knew who he was but you didn't.
28 BEST: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has a convoluted an unsatisfying ending, made all the worse when faced with the reality that it's to be the last MGS game Hideo Kojima will ever work on.
MGSV's finale is extra disappointing when you know just how great a Metal Gear ending can be, as evidenced by the flawless climax of MGS3.
Snake Eater's brilliant finale says complex things about loyalty and sacrifice, making you actually sympathize with Big Boss' eventual turn to a life of crime and world domination.
27 HURT: Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty
Most people's knee-jerk reaction to the mention of Metal Gear Solid 2 is that the game was a huge disappointment. In reality, the game itself is excellent—at least, the first three-fourths of it are.
It's only when the game turns into a weird, confusing lecture on reality and free will that the whole thing falls apart, leading to an ending so exhaustingly obtuse that it made gamers forget that most of what they just played was actually really great.
26 BEST: Persona 3
As the Final Fantasy franchise has struggled to maintain its quality and identity in the last few console generations, another JRPG series has quietly risen through the ranks to take its place as the go-to series in the genre for PlayStation owners.
Persona 3 remains the best of the series, and much of that has to do with its ending.
Touching on the struggle between choosing a life of blissful ignorance over actually facing the many evils of the world, it's an ending that demands to be pondered long after you've put down the controller.
25 HURT: Xenogears
Xenogears is an unfortunate victim of corporate politics that its developer had no control over and were forced to make the best of a limiting situation.
As development of the game hit the home stretch, the Xenogears team had their budget cut and were given an impossible deadline with which to have the game finished by, leading to the final third of the game essentially playing out via screens of text rather than actual gameplay or even cutscenes. Not the exciting climax that such an ambitious game deserved.
24 BEST: Silent Hill 2
Over 15 years since its release, Silent Hill 2 remains not only one of the most acclaimed horror games of all time, but also having one of the best stories in video game history.
And the game's utterly dark and depressing plot has an equally dismal ending.
However, it's one that doesn't take the easy way out or give into crazy supernatural elements, the latter of which every other Silent Hill game is unfortunately guilty of. Well, that's assuming you got the real ending, and not the silly dog one...
23 HURT: Killzone 3
It's pretty obvious that the Killzone series was created to be PlayStation's answer to Halo—but unfortunately for PlayStation owners, it never quite got there, especially not in terms of story.
From a gameplay perspective, Killzone 2 and Killzone 3 are both fantastic FPSs.
But their plots leave much to be desired, particularly the ending of Killzone 3, which essentially sees an entire enemy planet blow up but the main antagonist frustratingly still get to live to see another day.
22 BEST: God Of War (2018)
The God of War series really got away from itself for a few years there, still fun to play but with a plot that got more absurd and less nuanced as the entries progressed.
If any series needed a refresh, it was God of War.
And that's exactly what it got with 2018's God of War, which not only retooled the gameplay but remembered that the franchise was once actually about telling a compelling story that wasn't just an excuse to hack away at demons. That sucker-punch of an ending, where the surprising truth about Kratos' son is revealed, left millions of gamers stunned.
21 HURT: God Of War 2
Many God of War fans still point to the second game as being the best in the series—and from a gameplay perspective, there is a lot to support that stance. But the game's weak story definitely takes God of War 2 down a few pegs, and its ending doesn't help.
Such an epic game deserved an epic ending—not just a glorified teaser trailer for how the next game was going to start. It literally felt like the game ended in the middle of the cutscene that was meant to start the next installment.
20 BEST: Shadow Of The Colossus
There is a lot to unpack in any Fumito Ueda game, and you can play through any of them multiple times and still feel like you haven't fully "gotten it" yet.
That isn't always a bad thing—games, just like movies, books, etc, shouldn't always have a nice, obvious, tidy wrap-up at the end.
It becomes pretty clear fairly early on in Shadow of the Colossus that your actions are far less noble than they seem, but by the time you topple the last beast and return to the temple, those who can figure out what the haunting scenes are conveying will be blown away by what is revealed.
19 HURT: Bloodborne
The Dark Souls series is notorious for putting gamers' skills to the test, and chewing up and spitting out anyone who dares to underestimate them. Unfortunately, your reward for all that hard work needs to just be the accomplishment itself, as Dark Souls games don't pay off very well story-wise.
There was some hope that Bloodborne, from the makers of Dark Souls, would take that formula and apply it to a better story and characters.
This proved to not be the case, and if you play Bloodborne for a good plot and satisfying ending, you're going to have a bad time.
18 BEST: Journey
You'll either love Journey, or you'll think it's boring and pointless. There is no dialogue, no enemies, and not much in the way of an actual goal—like the title implies, it's all about the journey itself, and nothing more.
It's impossible to put Journey's ending into words, but it's something that everyone should experience at least once—ideally, with a co-op partner. It'll truly move you if you let it, and though this is a tired cliche, it is one of the rare video games that can be defined as art.
17 HURT: Kingdom Hearts II
Even if you love the Kingdom Hearts games—and you should, since they're mostly awesome—there is no denying that the story has become an incomprehensible mess.
It would take no less than 50 pages written by a genuine scholar to adequately explain what's happening.
And all of that started with the second game, when the series' creators got past just making a fun Final Fantasy/Disney hybrid and started to believe their own hype. KH2's ending makes zero sense, and was the kickoff to the entire KH series making zero sense.
16 BEST: InFAMOUS 2
It's too bad that inFAMOUS has never gotten the recognition that it deserves, as it is one of the best, most consistent franchises of the last two console generations and can stand up to almost any action and/or open world game.
In particular, the inFAMOUS series has a far better story than most open-world games—even rivaling Rockstar's best work—and nowhere is that more evident than inFAMOUS 2's dynamite endings. It's the rare game where the good and evil endings are both equally incredible, and make it worth beating it twice just to see them both.
15 HURT: Legacy Of Kain: Soul Reaver
Those of us who remember being excited for Soul Reaver also remember that the game experienced numerous delays before it finally hit the PS1.
Anticipation was extremely high as a result, but miraculously, the game was still amazing and few felt it wasn't worth the wait.
Unfortunately, the ending soured things a bit, taking the all-too-common "to be continued" non-ending approach that ends up feeling more like a cop-out to coming up with a real ending than whetting our appetites for the sequel. And it would be the last Legacy of Kain game that was universally praised.
14 BEST: Final Fantasy X
While a lot of longtime Final Fantasy fans had bounced off the series during the PS1 era, those that stuck around for its PS2 debut saw that the series had finally found is storytelling groove again for the first time since the SNES days.
FFX's story and characters are still considered among the best—if not THE best—of the series.
And against all odds, it managed to have a perfect ending that paid off the adventure in a beautiful and heartbreaking way. It was especially satisfying since great endings had been eluding the series in its previous few installments...
13 HURT: Final Fantasy VIII
Keep in mind the title of this list when you see FFVIII show up, because it means that we aren't hating on the game overall. FFVIII is an excellent, underappreciated entry in the series that actually does a lot of things better than either of its PS1 counterparts.
Until that muddled mess of an ending, that is.
Throwing every RPG cliche in the book into FFVIII's overlong ending—including, yawn, amnesia—made for a lazy, uneventful conclusion to an otherwise awesome story. All the worse since FFVIII's opening is still one of the best in video game history.
12 BEST: Um Jammer Lammy
Nobody quite knew what to make of Parappa the Rapper when it was first released, but it ended up becoming a surprise hit and made its titular pup one of the mascots of the entire PlayStation brand.
Tragically, follow-up Um Jammer Lammy got overlooked, probably because the game seemed to have left Parappa out completely.
But those who took a chance on the game anyway not only found it better than Parappa in a lot of ways, but also discovered that beating the game with Lammy unlocks an entire separate quest starring Parappa with remixes of all the songs!
11 HURT: Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy
When arcades began to falter at the turn of the millennium, so did arcade juggernaut Midway, who struggled to maintain their relevance as a console-only company.
One of the brights spots of Midway's 2000s decline was the inventive Psi-Ops, a game starring a character who could move things with his mind. Sadly, like many Midway titles on the PS2, it struggled to find an audience and didn't sell well—which meant that the sequel that was teased at the end of the first game in lieu of an actual ending never came to be. Stop doing that, game companies!
10 BEST: Twisted Metal: Black
It's too bad that the Twisted Metal franchise has basically disappeared, as it was once one of PlayStation's most prominent brands, with each installment able to be counted among the best games for its respective platform. Well, besides the disappointing PS3 version.
Twisted Metal: Black remains the high point of the series, in large part due to how well it develops and maintains its amazing atmosphere. It also has the best endings in TM history, each one more deliciously tragic than the last and proceeded by a brilliant use of the Rolling Stones classic "Paint It Black" over the credits.
9 HURT: Fear Effect 2: Retro Helix
Fear Effect 2 is one of the best adventure games for PS1. If you doubt that statement, it's probably because you let yourself be turned off of the game by its unfortunate and embarrassing ad campaign, which made puns about the body part contained within the word "assassin" next to pictures that looked like magazine covers.
Or maybe you just felt burnt by the trope-filled ending, which is also understandable. A surprisingly complex and mature story was capped off with a stupid "here's an evil twin out of nowhere!" twist and going off the deep end on the supernatural monster stuff.
8 BEST: Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee
It's one of the great tragedies of video game history that the Oddworld series had to end because the games weren't selling well enough. Especially because, around the same time, the world seemingly couldn't get enough dumb Army Men games...
Beyond the gorgeous visuals and delightfully difficult puzzles, the Oddworld franchise's best feature is its world, wrapped around a plot that says powerful things about consumerism and corporate greed. But the first Oddworld in particular has an ending so good that they had to make another Abe-based game even though that wasn't part of the original plan.
7 HURT: Resistance 2
It's kind of weird how the Resistance series has completely fallen off the radar, with the first game being a big PS3 launch title and the franchise once being popular enough to spawn two core sequels and a PSP spin-off.
On the other hand, all three Resistance games were pretty divisive, and none of them received universal acclaim. The second one in particular seemed to experience the dreaded sophomore slump, and its lackluster ending definitely played a big part in that. Resistance 3 was a step back in the right direction, but not enough to save the series.
6 BEST: Tenchu: Stealth Assassins
Hitting store shelves just a month before Metal Gear Solid ensured that Tenchu: Stealth Assassins wasn't going to get the attention that it deserved—which is a shame, because it's a great stealth game that would've made a much bigger splash had it not been stuck in the shadow of one of the biggest games of all time.
Tenchu also tells an interesting story, which is capped off by a brilliant ending—told in stylized black-and-white made to look like an old Akira Kurosawa film—that sees protagonist Rikimaru meeting a more honorable end than most ninja are afforded.
5 HURT: Jak 3
It's too bad that Naughty Dog has seemingly given up on the kinds of games that made them famous, as there can never be enough great platform games—especially on non-Nintendo systems.
The Jak series might not have been as consistent as Ratchet & Clank, but it still offered some of the best gaming on the PS2.
After the disappointing Jak II, the third installment in the series was doing everything right as the ending to a trilogy—until it got to the actual ending, that is. Oh well—you don't really play platform games for great endings, right? Well...
4 BEST: Klonoa: Door To Phantomile
Legend has it that Sony had a strict "no 2D" policy for PS1 games, which, true or not, was spurred on by the seeming push to have as many games be 3D as possible.
One comprise was the so-called "2.5D" games, which played like 2D games but had 3D backgrounds. The best of these games was Klonoa, a sleeper hit that didn't sell as well as it should've but is still beloved among platform fans. And that ending...wow. If you doubt that the ending to a cute platform game can make you cry, you haven't beaten Klonoa.
3 HURT: Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night
Maybe Sony frowned on 2D on the PS1, but they at least knew when they had something amazing on their hands, smartly allowing Konami to release the very 2D Castlevania: Symphony of the Night on the platform. Perhaps they saw a prototype of what became Castlevania 64 and decided to let Nintendo have that one.
Symphony of the Night is as close to perfect as video games get.
But alas, no game is without flaw—and SotN's biggest one is probably its ending, not particularly terrible but just completely forgettable, hardly befitting of what is otherwise a masterpiece.
2 BEST: The Last Of Us
It only takes about ten minutes of playing The Last of Us to make you realize that you are about to have one of the most incredible—if emotionally draining—video game experiences you're ever going to have, at least from a cinematic perspective. And from there, the game rarely lets up, all the way to its heart-wrenching finale.
If you've somehow never played TLOU, you know Ellie survives because she's the star of the sequel. But don't let that stop you from playing this game for yourself, and don't think that its ending won't still knock you flat.
1 HURT: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
As great as Grand Theft Auto's stories have gotten, it's easy to forget that storytelling wasn't always the franchise's strong suit. Sure, Vice City has great individual scenes, but like most of the series before San Andreas, the overall story itself was formulaic and not particularly interesting.
Don't get us wrong—Vice City's place as a fan-favorite GTA game is well-deserved.
But just like GTAIII before it, we put dozens—f not hundreds—of hours into it only to be met with a final scene and ending that didn't come close to paying off all that effort.