Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- #1. Epilogue [Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe]
- #2. Dig Even Deeper [Shovel Knight Dig]
- #3. Spare Everyone [Sifu]
- #4. The Best Ending [Live A Live]
- #5. Making All The Perfect Choices [Triangle Strategy]
- #6. Joining Forces [Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes]
- #7. The Final Puzzle [Tunic]
- #8. Cliffhanger Ending [High On Life]
- #9. Complete The Ritual [Signalis]
- #10. Frenzied Flame [Elden Ring]
Secret Endings are still going strong in 2022. We’ve been writing about our favorite secret endings for the last couple of years now, and it still surprises me how many new games continue the secret ending tradition. Secret Endings add so much mystery to a game. That excitement for discovery players felt experiencing the earliest video games continues today, and everyone from indie developers to triple-AAA publishers are trying to recapture that magical feeling.
We absolutely adore secret endings in video games — from the completely obscure to the not-so-secret — and we’re here to share our 10 favorites from 2022. There’s a lot we missed, but can you blame us? These endings are secret for a reason. They’re really hard to find! Most secret endings are so obscure you’ll need a guide. And we wrote a lot of guides in 2022.
The Best of 2021:
#1. Epilogue [Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe]
The Stanley Parable is a game all about endings. You don’t fight enemies. You don’t solve puzzles. All you do is follow different paths in search of different endings — different choices lead to different endings, and some of them are pretty obscure. All of them are noncanonical. They’re just amusing asides you can discover. The endings in the base game don’t build up to anything. You continue to find endings until there are no more endings to discover. The end.
Until the Ultra Deluxe DLC. The expansion includes new endings, new paths to choose, and new variations on old favorites. You’ll get a very special Bucket that changes all the normal endings into something new. That’s a lot more content, but the real revelation of Ultra Deluxe is the epilogue ending. To get this ending, you have to do everything and continue to do everything. Eventually, you’ll reach a point where you can reset the timer at the start of the game. You need to reset the timer to the correct time, then the other random times without skipping the process by just selecting 12:00. It all leads to the most elaborate ending sequence in the game.
And it is well worth the effort. You’ll reach a museum dedicated to the original Stanley Parable, explore a convention exhibit built specifically to hype up Stanley Parable 2, then get lost in time and revisit that same museum in the far, far future. After everything has turned to dust and ruin, you’ll still have the Stanley Parable, and the narrator. Even the narrator goes away for awhile here.
#2. Dig Even Deeper [Shovel Knight Dig]
You can’t have a rogue-like without a true ending. It just isn’t done. Dead Cells has a true ending. Rogue Legacy 2 has a true ending. Spelunky 2 has a doozy of a true ending. Shovel Knight Dig just happens to be my personal favorite this year — mostly thanks to the steady difficulty that allows even novices to beat it — and of course there’s a true ending path. By swatting a friendly owl at the entrance, you’ll gather clues to unlock the true treasure trove at the bottom of the pit. After attacking the owl, it will appear over critical steps, and you can complete each step separately on subsequent runs, so even players like me can unlock the final area.
There’s a whole new biome to explore at the very bottom of the dig and for once you can actually figure out this Easter egg solo. The owl shows you all the clues, meaning this is one true ending you don’t need a guide to solve. We’ve got a guide anyway if you’re curious.
#3. Spare Everyone [Sifu]
Sifu is a brutal challenge. To defeat your rival and get revenge, you must fight former students of your kung fu school — but you don’t reset when you die. Whenever you’re defeated in combat, you lose years of your life. The more you die, the more years are taken from you. Your death counter multiplies with each subsequent death, until you’re too old to continue fighting. To truly overcome Sifu, you have to complete all five levels before growing too old. Luckily, you can replay levels to keep your age under control.
Why am I explaining all this? Because most players will barely have any years left once they reach the final boss. This grueling challenge is next-level difficult, making you use all the skills you’ve learned to eke out a victory. You’ll have white hair once your hated rival is brought down — and that isn’t good enough. Getting revenge isn’t what your teacher (Sifu) would’ve wanted. To break the cycle, you have to spare every boss. There is a true ending in Sifu, and it requires perfection.
To avoid killing bosses, you need to deal structure damage. By countering and performing other tricky moves, you can drain the structure meter (kind of like stamina) from a boss. Structure regenerates very quickly, forcing you to completely change your play style and truly master the boss fights. You can’t just pummel bosses and take their health down while dying multiple times. If you’re too slow, the bosses will recover their structure. This is especially difficult against the late-game fights. And especially the final boss. If you’re looking for the good ending of Sifu, you really have to work for it.
#4. The Best Ending [Live A Live]
Live A Live is one of the weirdest JRPGs ever made, and a remake was released on the Nintendo Switch this year. Instead of playing one long adventure with the same party, you’ll play multiple mini-adventures set in different time periods throughout history. During each episode, you’ll confront an enemy with the name “Odio” in some configuration. This all builds up to the final confrontation — after completing the episodes, all the characters will be transported to a spectral realm. You’ll have to collect everyone and take on the Lord of Dark in an epic battle.
The remake introduces remixed graphics and sprites, turning a SNES RPG into a beautiful pop-up book of pixels. Most of the changes are cosmetic, but there’s one new change that everyone needs to experience. In the end-game, it is possible to redeem the knight Oersted from the Middle Ages chapter. Normally, Oersted meets a dark end as he succumbs to the power of the Lord of Dark, but if join forces with all characters and defeat the different forms of the Dark Lord together, you’ll unlock a special final boss battle and Oersted will break free long enough to score the killing blow. The heroes are sent back to their own times victorious, finally rectifying a 20+ year old game’s sad ending. Now you can earn the happiest ending possible.
#5. Making All The Perfect Choices [Triangle Strategy]
Being a king means making all the hard choices. Appropriately, there are three major endings to Triangle Strategy — a turn-based tactics game where your choices change the fate of the continent tremendously. Depending on who you side with near the end of the story, you’ll lose allies, face betrayals, and win an imperfect victory. The countries and the characters have rifts too deep to cross. This is a spiritual successor to Tactics Ogre, so naturally there is no happy ending in this tale of war and court intrigue.
Or is there? Throughout Triangle Strategy, you can make choices both obvious and incremental — by voting with your party of characters, you’ll make major choices on how to proceed the story. You can also make choices by performing specific actions on the battlefield — refusing to burn your own kingdom to fend off invaders, for example. There are many choices, and if you’re a true tactical genius, it is possible to make all the correct choices. Seriously, your tiny retinue can defeat all three nations and bring an end to the war. But you have to make some seemingly imperfect decisions on the way to the true ending.
This ending path — called the Golden Route — is spectacular. You’ll split into three groups, making this by far one of the most difficult challenges in a turn-based tactics game. With your split party, you’ll have to make do and defeat each of your enemies, culminating in a dramatic battle against a foe more powerful than anything you’ve ever faced before. The true final boss is far more impressive — and more JRPG — than anything else in the game. A massive, insane sorcerer unleashes all of his hate while summoning an army of unstoppable killer golems. If you’ve played Triangle Strategy, this is an ending you need to experience for yourself.
#6. Joining Forces [Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes]
Unlike Triangle Strategy, to get the best ending in Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes, you only have to make one specific correct decision. In this musou twist on the Fire Emblem formula, you’ll replay the story of Fire Emblem: Three Houses with a new mercenary main character. The original MC, Byleth, is your enemy. Fighting and defeating Byleth is the normal route through the story, and leads to a depressing finale that doesn’t resolve any of the conflicts and doesn’t reveal the truth behind your character’s mysterious resurrection. If you want to truly experience the story of Three Hopes you have to convince Byleth to join you.
And that can be surprisingly difficult. Most of your decisions don’t matter — all that matters is keeping one specific character alive. During one mission, which the game does warn you is important, you must force a character to surrender. This changes the circumstances of the battlefield in such a way that you can quickly claim victory without encountering Byleth and leading to the death of an important NPC. If this NPC dies, Byleth can never be convinced to join you. Same goes for other characters — some would rather die than join you. If you manage to perform a perfect (and secret) set of steps on a very specific chapter, you’ll eventually get a chance to recruit Byleth later in the story. Joining forces, you’ll defeat the true villain of the story and even resolve differences between the warring factions.
#7. The Final Puzzle [Tunic]
Tunic is a mind-bending meta puzzle game in the skin of Legend of Zelda. To progress, you need to learn how your virtual world works — and to do that, you have an in-game instruction manual that’s also written in a fictional language. If you want to reach the end of Tunic, you have to interpret the visual clues in the instruction manual. Eventually, with enough clues, you can actually translate the fictional language. And that isn’t even the final puzzle.
If you want to earn the true ending of Tunic, you’ll need to find the first page of the instruction manual. At the top of the mountain, there is a sealed door you can only enter by inputting a secret code. To figure out the hidden code, you have to check every page for clues. Each page contains a clue for the code — and each clue is essentially a direction. The clue comes in many forms. It can be a line on the page, or it can be an image pointing out a location in the world.
One of the trickiest clues is a code you can input that leads to a strange passage with winding twists and turns. This is also one of the clues — the winding path is part of that original line you’ll see in the instruction manual. To solve the final puzzle, you need to connect all of these clues together to form one big line, and this line tells you what directions you need to solve the puzzle. For being one of the most complicated puzzles in any video game, this true ending belongs on our list.
#8. Cliffhanger Ending [High On Life]
Can a game with a joke story truly have a cliffhanger ending? High On Life attempts to answer that question by revealing one of the major mysteries of the game and answering some of our biggest questions in a secret ending. Without this cliffhanger ending, you might not realize the darker implications of the alien world — which is, honestly, completely ridiculous and packed with goofy humor. This is also one of the easier secret endings to discover on your own. If you’re playing High On Life, go get it for yourself. At the end of the game check in the Magistrate’s Office.
Spoilers begin now. If you’re exploring thoroughly, you can find clues about a strange doctor — the evil cartel captains have correspondence with Dr. Gurgula, and you can find graffiti messages mentioning this unseen character in the major hub city. As you discover clues, new forums posts will appear explaining that Dr. Gurgula, the inventor of translator microbes, is actually very evil. You can confirm that for yourself by travelling to the Human Haven and jetpacking to the top floor. With the Magistrate’s Keycard, you can access a grisly human experimentation lab where you’ll finally meet Dr. Gurgula in person. It seems he’s actually responsible for far more of the story — he poisoned Kenny (your gun’s) planet and is helping the G3 Cartel study the human genome for his own nefarious purposes, all with the Magistrate’s help. This is one story thread that won’t be addressed until a (possible) sequel. It’s both a joke and deadly serious story-telling.
#9. Complete The Ritual [Signalis]
Signalis wears its influences proudly. This is survival horror with a heavy dose of Silent Hill, and like Silent Hill 2, your ending is determined by a number of invisible factors you can’t easily track — kills, how damaged you are, how many NPCs you talk to, etc. And like Silent Hill 2, you can skip all those secret endings to earn an even bigger, even more secret ending by completing a ritual.
The ritual ending requires finding hidden keys. By investigating bookshelves and other locations with your radio set to a specific frequency, you can discover key items that are critical for completing the ritual. Like everything in Signalis, I really can’t explain what happens in the ritual ending. I can barely explain what happens in the normal endings. This one belongs on our list simply because it is so incredibly secretive. I don’t know what happened — I don’t know if it was good or bad — but I do know you have to go to a lot of effort to get it.
#10. Frenzied Flame [Elden Ring]
Elden Ring has some of the best secret endings of 2022 — choosing just one for this list wasn’t easy. You can follow a long and complicated path through the vast underground of the Lands Between to begin the Age of the Stars, or you can help a poop man collect poop to begin the Age of Poop. We’re going with the weirdest and most destructive ending for our list. If you’re feeling truly mad, you can go for the Frenzied Flame ending.
Deep in the lowest sewers of the capitol city, inquisitive players can follow the clues and discover a truly terrifying dungeon filled with thousands of corpses, piled high on top of each other in twisted agony. This dungeon can only be discovered by attacking an illusory wall in the deepest shrine — a location that itself is difficult to find in the labyrinthine sewers of the city. In the chambers, there’s a seemingly bottomless pit you can carefully drop down by jumping onto coffins. Reaching the bottom, you’ll only find a mysterious door that does nothing.
It does nothing — until you take off your clothes. Seriously, the creepy Three Fingers will only embrace you if you approach its dungeon naked. After receiving the burning touch of the Frenzied Flame, a terrifying power that causes madness to anything that looks upon the fire, you can choose to burn all of creation and the Erdtree after defeating the final boss. This might not be the most complex ending path, but it is one of the most mysterious. Strange secrets like that are what make video games magical — when you’re exploring the darkest corners of your favorite game, you just might find a hidden path to a one-of-a-kind mystery. This is the kind of secret that keeps us up at night.
Those are 10 of our favorite secret endings in games. What are your favorites? Let us know! We’re also looking for more mysteries to solve.