Total RecallTotal RecallTotal Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends.

Death or defeat in a video game is normally something to be glossed over, brushed aside as you continue (or repeat) a stage on your way to inevitable victory. A quick "GAME OVER" screen, maybe a prompt or two, then you're back into the action.

Where's the realism in that? The sense of consequence? Life doesn't give you instantaneous do-overs. If you make a shitty bed you gotta lie in it, so I always appreciate when a video game does the same.


2012's XCOM, above, had a good "game over" sequence that really revelled in your failure, but these days such sadomasochism is rare. And that's a shame.

It used to be much more prevalent in games to really see the results of your failure, show you the things you were trying to save/protect burn to the ground. Maybe it was the stick behind the "happy" ending's carrot, maybe it was just a form of punishment for sucky gamers, but it really helped to lend your actions more weight when your losses were as celebrated (at least in terms of production value and cutscene length) as your victories.

The masters at this were probably Chris Roberts' Origin flight games, whose emphasis on story and player choice meant that each game's story had to be seen to the end, even if that story had an unhappy ending. Witness Wing Commander III's "bad" ending, below, which came about if you failed too many missions. It's about as far from a basic GAME OVER screen as you can get (go to 6:05).

What's your favourite game over screen or sequence? One that actually gave you a proper end sequence?

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