Games have been trying to properly implement choice and consequence mechanics for ages, and it’s fair to say that we’ve seen our fair share of ups and downs on that front. More often than not, the illusion of choice is what we get instead of choices that have actual and meaningful consequences- but of course, every so often, we do get games where the decisions you make actually do end up mattering quite a lot- games where, whether because of one snap decision or a string of them, how the story ends can vary significantly. Here, we’re going to talk about a few such games.

THE QUARRY

The Quarry

By now, Supermassive Games almost has this formula down to a science. The developer has made multiple interactive horror adventure games by now, and its latest, The Quarry, once again delivers an experience where your actions throughout the story have a major impact on how things end for each and every character. All of them can die, or none of them can, and it’s all down to what you do. The knowledge that there will be actual consequences to your actions lends a great deal of weight to everything you do in the game.

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THE DARK PICTURES ANTHOLOGY: HOUSE OF ASHES

The Dark Pictures Anthology - House of Ashes

Of course, The Quarry is far from the only Supermassive title to have done what it did even in the last year or so. 2021 saw the launch of The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes, and it, too, delivered that classic choice-based branching experience that we’ve come to expect from the developer. The horror title presented players with a web of decisions both big and small that combined to determine the fate of every character in its ensemble cast, and it’s fair to say that it did that quite well- certainly better than its two predecessors.

DETROIT: BECOME HUMAN

detroit become human

Other than the fact that it’s not a horror game, Detroit: Become Human’s gameplay formula is, of course, very similar to the two Supermassive titles we’ve spoken about until now, so it’s no surprise that it achieves something very similar with its interactive adventure mechanics. Detroit: Become Human can end in one of multiple ways for each of its characters and in a much more overarching sense as well, while each of its major endings can also have several other variations, all stemming from older decisions made by the player. This is obviously something that Quantic Dream is accomplished at, so it wasn’t necessarily a surprise to see Detroit: Become Human succeeding in this area as well.

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UNDERTALE

Undertale

Indie gem and all-time classic Undertale obviously had to be there. The whole game is about player agency and consequences of actions. How you handle encounters with monsters throughout the game ultimately ends up impacting how its story plays out and ends- and boy do these endings different from each other massively. Undertale sticks the landing with every single one of its multiple endings- which, of course, just makes you want to replay the game to see them all yourself.

In these games, your actions do have consequences.

STEINS;GATE ELITE

A game like Steins;Gate Elite is essentially a poster boy for a feature such as this one. The highly acclaimed visual novel is a work of genius when it comes to giving players actual agency, and then later making the consequences of their actions emerge in unexpected ways. This is a game with multiple completely different endings and wild divergences, all of which comes down to you choosing to do something at certain critical junctures throughout the story.

Dead Space

Dead Space Box Art
Dead Space Box Art

Season: A Letter to the Future

Forspoken

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OMORI

omori

Omori is definitely the most unique game that we’ve spoken about in this feature until now, but as anyone who’s played it will tell you, it stands out in memory. Indie developer Omocat’s implementation of player choice mechanics deserves similar praise. Omori’s ending can vary wildly and in multiple ways based on the player’s actions, with the fates of characters changing radically from ending to ending. These endings are excellently executed as well, really making sure that you feel the weight of your choices.

THE STANLEY PARABLE ULTRA DELUXE

The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe

The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe is, interestingly enough, about its endings to begin with- which is to say that the whole point of the entire game is to “collect” all the endings in a sense by unlocking all of them. How these endings play out and where exactly the story ends up is based on what you do in the game, then- but also in the order that you do those things. It’s a unique way to do things, to say the very least, but that’s true of The Stanley Parable as a whole- and much like the rest of the game, how it handles the endings is very well done.

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RESIDENT EVIL 7

Resident Evil 7 very clearly isn’t a choice-based game, but at a crucial juncture towards the end, it does ask players to make a pretty major decision- will Ethan leave the Baker estate with his infected wife Mia, or with the Bakers’ daughter Zoe, who’s been helping him the entire time? Him rescuing Mia is very blatantly the canon choice, but players can pick Zoe if they choose- which has an obvious impact on the ending. Granted, things don’t change in a drastic way, but Resident Evil 7 does adjust the finer details of its final arc in some curious to ways to respond to the decision made by the player.

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PERSONA 5 ROYAL

The way Persona 5 Royal’s ending changes based on your actions is quite curious- in that you’ll miss out on a whole chunk of the game if you don’t do certain things throughout the game. The entire chunk of new content that Persona 5 Royal adds is set after the ending of the original Persona 5, and you can only access it if you’ve done certain things up until that point- which can be surprisingly easy to miss. And if you did mess them, well- hopefully you have an older save in a different slot, because you’re going to need it.

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FALLOUT 4

Well, this one is a bit of an obvious choice, but we figured we’ve gotta have at least one of those, right? Fallout 4 isn’t quite as compelling with its choices and consequences, but even in spite of those deficiencies, it does deliver some solid choice-based moments, if a little inconsistently. Deciding whether or not you want to fight the Institute and which faction you want to side with can have far-reaching consequences on a pretty wide scale, so you certainly feel the weight of those particular decisions.