Just like many of you are probably going to do tonight or sometime this weekend, I just got home from watching Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War
And I’m super buzzed from watching what must be one of my Top 5 movies of 2018. While I’m definitely not going to spoil anything for those who haven’t seen it yet, however I do want to bring up the ending. Many people knew early on that IW was set to be a two parter, and if it’s unknown to you just know that things are left at kind of an odd place. Things up in the air and nothing set in stone ( muahahaha), the whole MCU is resting on a cliffhanger, making us wait for another year before we get a full blown wrap up.
When trying to come up with a topic after a long work week and now 2 hours invested in Infinity War, I thought it would be a great idea to talk cliffhangers in video games, intentional or otherwise, and just how much it affects the experience of the industry as a whole.
The idea of a game, or any other form of media for that matter, ending in such a way as to resolve nothing or even worse create more questions than we started the game with is enough to just make you mad as hell. I know it does for me, but it always creates the idea that possibly a sequel is in order, but many people know that isn’t always the case. Moments after beating the final boss, watching the scene play out, we usually think the next step is watching the 25 minutes worth of cutscenes afterward spelling out everything we’ve been speculating for upwards of 8 hours plus. And just as quickly, the rug is pulled out from under you and the last words the boss utters trip you up, or they may truly be dead but it is revealed that they are not the one who masterminded everything, but someone else. Someone who isn’t given a name, and maybe we see a silhouette with zero defining features so you can’t even guess who it might be.
Hours and hours of struggle, of lore diving, and just like that, the whole story is flipped on it’s head without so much of a inkling that things could go south. It makes things so more frustrating than it would be if the resolution was something so lame that it makes you groan out loud. The satisfaction on the moment things wrap up is now gone and you’re left question whether or not the time and money spent were worth it.
And if your anything like me, and you play games later than initial releases, you google if there is a sequel in the works so that maybe, just maybe, you can feel some sense of a continued journey if the game comes out soon enough.
One of the most infamous cliffhanger endings is Half-Life 2, many a meme has been made about “Half-Life 3 confirmed”, which has been going on since I graduated high school. It ends leaving tons of loose ends, putting you in a weird place, with *spoilers ahead for an old ass game* a famous character taken out, another missing, and the next steps to follow are clear as day but never explored. While the speculated ending from one of the writers explaining the way things “should have ended” has tied up loose ends and made things pretty clear, yet we never had an official resolution and it still eats at so many people.
Sure cliffhangers have upsides, creating creative thought processes on how the game should play out, and it gives hope for a sequel but that’s about the end of the upsides, the rest of it is a roller-coaster of insanity and overthinking about what could have been but will never be. Cliffhangers do some serious damage to people, or at least that’s how I see it. Usually I am the one who tries to play both sides but honestly I can’t see many great things from cliffhangers while I sit here and questioning if a sequel or tie in book will be coming along soon.
While I know a sequel for Infinity War is primed for 2019 but games and other media like Half Life 2 that you can never know for sure, it kills any good from the questions we’re hanging onto till the next installment. But I’m willing to hear from the rest of you on this, what do you think of cliffhangers? Just let me-
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