It's hard to say goodbye, but sometimes, it's for the best. Some of the more memorable and touching stories we've witnessed in games throughout the years have been the ones that ended tragically, or culminated in a bittersweet conclusion — there's a reason Shakespeare's most-loved plays are Hamlet and Romeo & Juliet, after all! We're just suckers for an unhappy ending.
But not all of the games on this list of best endings are tragic. Some are heartwarming, some are fitting for the characters we've come to know and love, and some are just straight-up beautiful. We've narrowed it down to Switch games only (including Nintendo Switch Online games), because there are a lot of brilliant endings out there in games, but even then, we found it hard to narrow down — so make sure to head to the comments to suggest your own.
Whether sad or happy, or somewhere in between, every game on this list has one thing in common: They make saying goodbye special.
(And in case it's not obvious: SPOILER WARNING!)
Inside (Switch eShop)
If someone offered you a million dollars to predict Inside's ending after 15 minutes of playing the game, you would not get a single cent. Even several hours in, we doubt anyone could guess how the story ends for the scrappy little protagonist. And we can't decide if the ending, where the miserable Cronenbergian experiment ends up beached on a lonely shore, is a good one or a bad one. But does it have to be so black-and-white? It's certainly thought-provoking, and that's what counts.
NieR:Automata The End of YoRHa Edition (Switch)
On the surface, NieR: Automata is a game loved for its flashy and powerful combat, serene yet desolate world and a simultaneously chaotic and classical soundtrack. However, the percentage of players who don’t jump back in after their first credit roll are truly missing out on something special.
The struggle that 2B and her comrades endure against all odds is inspiring yet heartbreaking, and once you reach the true end, we can’t guarantee you’ll be the same person you were when you first picked up that controller.
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The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (Switch)
The end of Link's Awakening is one of those bittersweet endings, in which Marin, Koholint, and the world Link had come to know all dissolve away like dreams in the dawn light.
This could have been a happy place for him, but instead he is trapped in this eternal need to solve the problems of the people, and everything in the game — from the surreal inclusion of Super Mario characters to the gigantic egg on top of the world — builds up to the ending as possibly the only time we're okay with a "it was all a dream" reveal.
When you were a kid, there’s a chance you had a feeling of invincibility. A moment where you wanted to run away from home, where you felt you could eat whatever you want or you could roam through the woods and nothing could hurt you.
EarthBound in a somewhat magical way lets you reconnect with those feelings, but then abruptly shakes you awake at the very end. This is no horror game, but if you did have nightmares after finishing that final fight (or while being stuck on it for days on end) we absolutely wouldn’t blame you.
Five Nights at Freddy’s: Pizzeria Simulator. All I’m gonna say is that you’ll have to see the true ending for yourself.
We don’t talk about Help Wanted and Security Breach.
Link's Awakening, on top of being my favorite Zelda game and among my Top 5 games of all time, remains one of the most bittersweet endings. Also because I adore Marin and the subtle romance hinted at between her and Link. Best pairing for Link, fight me.
Aside from that, because it's now on Switch: Final Fantasy IX, which still makes me cry every time I reach those credits.
Xenoblade games need a mention. Sometimes the success of an ending is dependent on the journey taken to get there.
I remember being about thirteen years old and really sad when I beat Earthbound. I hated that it had to end.
I would also beat Super Mario Bros. 2 religiously. It was always good to see Wart passed offstage and taking a righteous beating. The ending music was also wonderful and soothing.
A Link To The Past's ending always made me happy. Used to give me goosebumps.
I haven't finished Nier: Automata. I plan to finish it at some point. Just too many games and too little time.
"best endings" but doesn't include Persona 4 Golden true ending
I used to really care about endings. I remember beating Rygar on the nes when i was wee and it was a harrowing journey. The ending was a text screen that was like “Congratulations A-hole”. I was crushed.
Now i sometimes don’t even watch them. I didn’t watch Odyssey’s ending, i know that.
Also, i stopped playing Dragon’s Dogma after i beat the dragon and it seems i missed something.
Thanks for a final article, Kate. It is an oasis to me. After i beat the current two games i am playing, imma go try Ace Attorney Chronicles in honour of you.
Nier Automata has 26 endings 🤣
So The Best Endings is Kate's last article, nicely played!
For me it has to be Final Fantasy IX.
I loved the Odyssey ending - nostalgia maximised. And such fun!
I’m not ashamed to admit I got pretty teary eyed during Xenoblade 3’s bittersweet ending.
@KateGray Thanks for all your writings, they always gave me a chuckle.
I played Link’s awakening ages ago on gb, and it felt weird the whole “it was all a dream” ending. I even remember being mad about it 😂. I have quite liked many ending in games, like 999’s true ending, vice city, baten kaitos origins, tales of symphonia, abyss and berseria.
@kategray thanks for the memories!!
The best ending I ever saw on the switch is when the battery gave out, and the system powered off.
Clearing Link’s Awakening on gameboy as an eight year old was, oh, let’s say affecting. I was already, unfortunately, death-obsessed and that ending hit me immediately and haunted me.
When I finally escaped hell for the first time in Hades and realized I was still going to be pulled back, I had the horrible feeling of the end of Shadow of the Colossus on PS2, but I was resolved to return again and again until hopefully the end changed. I consider reuniting the lovers, Eurydice/Orpheus and Achilles/Patroclus, to count as endings as well. Especially after reading The Song of Achilles.
I would throw the beautiful and heart crushing ending of Banner Saga 1 in here as well. I thought I was saving her, and after that ending I thought, just let the world end.
If we’re cheating by using ports, Final Fantasy X and X-2 endings /still/ get me.
@RadioHedgeFund Zidane really proves to be such a true-of-heart hero in Kuja’s final moments. The sequence at the play, damn, it’s just sweet as hell.
If Super Mario Odyssey can be here, where's Kirby and the Forgotten Land? I went in blind for its finale and it was an incredible experience all around
Gris was pretty good of an ending if I remember right?
Edit: yeah it was, i remembered
@Deady I like how Shadow of Colossus portrayed the nativity of humans and the foolish things we do in the name of love.
While I sympathize with Wander's plight, I was okay by the ending because sadly, it had to be done.
So many games with good ending. Good to see this.
Resident Evil. Blow the Tyrant up with a rocket launcher, before the mansion explodes, then fly off in a helicopter as the sun rises. Perhaps not the most profound ending in a game, but iconic none the less.
Wow, amazing article and don't know how I missed that you were leaving @kategray but I am sad to see you go. Good luck on all future endeavors and thank you for being my favorite writer online, almost said favorite writer but can't lie that goes to Ray Bradbury.
Megaman 3: First game ending I can remember with that awesome protoman theme playing. Great even to this day.
Metal Gear Solid (so serene snow mobileing away after all that insanity)
Max Payne 2 good ending (didn't even know it existed just beat it on the hardest mode and was pleasantly surprised by the twist).
Super Mario World: still makes me happy to this day. amazing music, seeing every character in the game and the final the end picture was so cool at that time.
Good idea for an article list - links awakening and Nier automata both have interesting story conclusions
Danganronpa V3, come at me.
"Best endings in switch games"
Two games I will shout out at every available opportunity: Xenoblade Chronicles 1 and Skyward Sword. Both have fantastic stories right up to the ending, with the former taking me through maybe the craziest narrative rollercoaster I've ever been on, and the latter just being flat out epic and beautiful in every respect. I have to say, even though I love a lot of the games on this list, I feel like the ending was the weakest part for like half of them. Of the ones I've played, Inside, Link's Awakening, Portal 2, Bioshock Infinite, Dragon's Dogma, and potentially Witcher 3 all end with some variation of "Congratulations, everything you've done was pointless/made things worse". Plus, the choices that lead to the "good" endings for Witcher 3's main story and second DLC are often either confusingly vague or flat out bad decisions. I don't even remember anything about Bastion's story, other than finding the narrator pretty annoying. Though I will say Link's Awakening, Bioshock Infinite, and Portal 2's endings are at least beautiful presentation-wise if nothing else.
@Vexx234 You sum it up well. There was an excellent fold-out print ad in magazines back then where the cover was just Wander on a moonlit mountain path and the words, “How far will you go for love?”
I’m having all sorts of thoughts about how this and the endgame of FFX are sort of related to one another but it would be a monstrous text wall.
Best of luck with everything. Will miss your crazy articles
Any Xenoblade or Legend of Heroes game. They all have amazing endings.
Owlboy was a good one
@KateGray I think I've barely done anything but criticize most of the lists you've written, but to be clear, I do appreciate you writing them all the same. They've been good fun to read and respond to. So thanks for all the work you've done, and good luck with whatever you do in the future.
@Deady Then make it happen, and just end the wall with tl:dr. Joking there, but share your thoughts freely!
NieR: Automata is a very easy nomination. Ending E is one of the coolest things I've ever seen in a video game.
I'd also nominate Xenoblade Chronicles 3 and Torna: The Golden Country. Both had deeply affecting endings that thoroughly explored the emotional consequences of their stories.
Danganronpa 2 and Danganronpa V3 both have amazing endings as well. I know the latter is divisive, but it's still one of the ballsiest ways I've ever seen a creator wrap up a reasonably successful franchise.
Surprised INSIDE is on here. That game just sort of... ends, and is deeply unsatisfying as a result. It's possible that's the intended artistic effect, but it kind of spoiled the tail end of my experience. Not everything needs to have a definitive ending, but it's best to build up to something memorable and lasting.
To me, the best endings will always be Okami, Wind Waker, Chrono Trigger, Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Kinda unsurprising that the best endings belong to the best games of all times.
Bioshock Infinite was a major step down from the original and the B2, let's just face it, and a horrible ending with a plothole big enough for the 3:15 express to come through didn't serve it well either
Nier Automata Ending E! I have never experienced an ending quite like that one. More than worth the sort of three play through to get it!
Mario Odysseys ending was pretty damn epic and I wouldn’t even consider myself a huge 3d Mario fan. Just pure spectacle and enjoyment.
The ending level to the Octo expansion for Splatoon 2 was probably the only single player content in the Splatoon series I actually loved.
The twist with how Little Nightmares II ends I thought was chilling. Really helped make that game my GOTY for that year.
What Remains of Edith Finch had a real gut puncher- and Citizen Sleepers was quite memorable too.
@ComfyAko Wind Waker to me is tied with with Link's awakening for best ending in the entire series.
Ganondorf is actually given a bit of depth here. More so than all his other incarnations combined into a somewhat sympathetic villain.
For me, it has to be Mother 3.
@KateGray Thank you for bringing Madeline Miller into my life. “In the darkness, two shadows, reaching through the hopeless, heavy dusk. Their hands meet, and light spills in a flood like a hundred golden urns pouring out of the sun.”
!!!Spoilers abound for shadow of the colossus and final fantasy X!!!
@Vexx234 Here we gooooo. Well in Shadow, Wander’s beloved was sacrificed to prevent some sort of foul curse from taking hold. He goes to summon a supposed demon to bring her back, which may or may not destroy the world. In the end he succeeds in reviving her, but the church destroys him and the demon, though the curse may live in the horned children. Wander is sacrificed, unwillingly and with only sorrow and regret in his heart, never knowing he succeeded in reviving Mono.
In FFX, we find out in order to slay (for simplicity’s sake) a demon, we have to sacrifice our love interest and probably ourself in the process. We deny the church, destroy the only thing that could have stopped the demon, and still somehow manage to slay it, and save Yuna, but only by sacrificing ourself. Tidus would die either way, and chose to go forward into oblivion with an abundance of joy and love in his heart, knowing the cycle had ended and no one would ever have to make that choice again.
I love Yuna’s “I don’t like your plan” speech in FFX-2. It’s a strong commentary on the terrible things people can do when they lose hope, or convince themselves there is no other choice.
The fact that this is likely @KateGray 's last article on this site has made me actually and literally get teary eyed 🥺
I didn't realize Kate was reading! They make such good Back Page articles! Ahh well, all good things must come to an end eventually...
On the topic at hand though, yea, Celeste's ending is pretty good. So is the ending for its final chapter, Farewell... if you can beat it, of course!
Removed - trolling
@Deady Very well written! I enjoyed it!
@CharlieGirl Her articles were always interesting. Not to say I agree with everything (like trying to connect Celeste with lgbt topics) but she is a really talented and witty person, I wish her all the best.
@Fangleman32 ok but make that article a page shorter and I'm revoking your license.
I can't express how much I love Celeste. This game is so well done on every level!
@ComfyAko the Celeste team include some of my close friends, many of whom are gay, bi, and/or trans. The lead designer is trans too 😊
@CharlieGirl Charlie I have to be honest, I meant this to be my final article but I have a couple more things scheduled that are still good (but less perfectly fitting!) soooo be ready for that 😅 We can say this is my final article though, since it was the last thing I wrote
Super Mario World is the gold standard for endings for me. The jaunty music, the cast credits, the thank you. I love it when a game thanks me for playing. No, no, thank you. Finishing a game always feels hollow but being thanked for it... it's just nice to feel appreciated.
More importantly, KateGray is leaving? That's such sad news. I really enjoy your sense of humour and the games you covered. Thank you, Kate! We'll miss you.
Can't believe all of you forgot fire emblem three houses. We got 3 good endings. Actually felt rewarding putting all the time in and seeing where the stories went. And they did it 3 times! Also Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask had great endings too.
Not reading the article because of spoilers, but what a great idea for your final article (even if not the actual last one released according to what you said in your comment, less fitting but honestly glad that's the case) here on Nintendo Life @KateGray, thanks again for everything and wish you the best with whatever you're doing next!
@KateGray oh I didn't know that. I meant that the game itself doesn't really address nor hint at those topics. It's nice that the designers represent the community, though. I guess that would make the game somewhat relevant to the topic. On a sidenote, Meeting people who made Celeste must be super neat.
Kate's are the only ones I fully read.
I mean... I, uh... no, that was the truth.
You'll be missed
Wait, how is this list missing Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons? For shame!
Huuuh?! No BLAZBLUE CENTRALFICTION Special Edition on this list?! Oh yeah, NL staff usually don't play fighting games, so that shouldn't be surprising for me... BLAZBLUE CENTRALFICTION Special Edition's ending is sad, cool, and amazing. Rest in peace, Ragna the Bloodedge... And CHAOS CODE -NEW SIGN OF CATASTROPHE- have a few cool and interesting endings.
@KateGray Wait, what, you're leaving?? Well that's a bummer... I love your sense of humor and lists of things I didn't know I needed lists of, and I will miss your articles dearly. Good luck in the future!
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