Most stories follow a similar pattern. Certain rules are rarely broken. One such rule is that the good guys don’t usually die. It happens, but most of the time when our heroes are in danger, there is no real need for concern because we know the main characters typically have a way of surviving their problems no matter the odds. Video games behave in much the same way, but in this case, the main character takes on a special meaning. They are the player. And in most circumstances, the player’s character is supposed to win in the end. That’s just how it is.
Most of the time, anyway.
Every once in a while, however, you find a game that breaks the rules. One such game is Halo: Reach. I admit that I’m not terribly familiar with the story behind the Halo series. I’ve played the games. I know the general details concerning the Spartans, and the Covenant, and the Flood. I know that Reach, the planet this particular game is named after, is supposed to fall to the Covenant forces. And it’s all a rather strange concept for a game, when you get to thinking about it. So, let me get something straight here…the good guys are supposed to fail? Am I getting that right?
I could announce a spoiler alert here, but if you ever intended on playing this game, you probably have already done so by now. If not, spoilers ahead. Ye be warned. Reach’s unfortunate fate, as you might expect, has some pretty severe connotations for our heroes. Whether or not your allies are going to die is not the question. It’s all a matter of when. Until, inevitably, you’re the only one left.
And here’s where things get scary.
At the very end of the game, you are alone on the fallen planet of Reach and faced with an endless wave of enemies, your only objective: survive. I knew my character was going to die by the end of the game. And yet, when I was finally faced with my final moments, I wasn’t as prepared as I thought I would be. I remember a hopeless sort of feeling, as I knew I couldn’t last forever, and yet, at the same time, I had this strange determination. I wanted desperately to hold on, as if it might be possible to beat the odds and survive, after all. That first crack in my helmet struck the finishing blow for me long before the Covenant themselves had a chance to do so. My mortality confirmed with brutal efficiency, I don’t recall lasting much longer after that.
Video by Youtube User: Grants Mod No Commentary Walkthroughs
I will never forget the ending of Halo: Reach, nor can I ever completely erase the feeling it gave me. Game or no, there was just something very personal about facing one’s own death, and it struck something deep within me that no other game has ever been able to touch. While it’s been years since I first played this game, to this day, I can still recall a very odd feeling once it was all over and done with. I felt…different. A peculiar, solemn sort of feeling washed over me, and I sat in silence for a moment, reliving my character’s final moments over and over again. Watching those alien ships coming down through the foggy sky, I felt a terrible loneliness more than anything. Not fear. Not anger. Just…loneliness.
The ending of Halo: Reach has always been a very unique moment for me because it breaks all the rules and presents me with a situation no other game has. Your only choice is how you will meet your end. Will you give in to despair or will you go down fighting? Now that, dear readers, is truly unforgettable.
Reaching for a Duck
Image from Flickr User: JohnnyWest91