Warning! There will be spoilers.
I asked for “Far Cry 5” for my 25th birthday present. The story of a cult takeover in Hope County, Montana and the one deputy who was fueling a resistance fascinated me even though I had never touched any game in the Far Cry series before. I can see why people love the series.
The good guy characters were interesting and memorable. The villains were tragic and compelling. The landscape and cinematography were gorgeous. The gameplay was not too hard for my ineptitude either. The biggest issues I had with the game were the difficult controls on the vehicles and the animals that would either attack me or completely ignore me (one time, I was killed by a turkey). This game was an immersive and thought-provoking work of art, and I had no problems with it…until that ending…the one that was supposed to be good.
To clarify, there are three endings you can get in this game. There’s one you can get in the beginning by refusing to act. There’s one you get in the end by leaving with your police squad instead of fighting Joseph Seed. Then, there’s the one I got when I decided to fight Joseph Seed to save my many new friends and allies.
That final boss fight was one of the most disappointing boss fights I’ve ever seen in a videogame. To beat Joseph Seed, you have to turn all your drugged friends back to normal while defending yourself from them and from Joseph as they all try to shoot you or your allies. That’s it.
It’s disappointing because the other three boss fights were much more difficult and interesting. To fight Faith Seed, you have to keep shooting her at the peak of her bliss powers. To fight Jacob Seed, you have to fight your brainwashing and his militia before you get to him. To fight John Seed, you have to shoot down his airplane and have an air fight. In comparison to these fights, Joseph Seed’s fight was downright boring and lazy.
Then, there’s what comes after his boss fight. I kid you not. You are arresting Joseph Seed when a nuclear bomb comes out of nowhere. Then, you try to drive your squad away from the oncoming blast and into the nearest bunker, but everyone in the car dies, except Joseph and you, of course. You wake up chained to a bed like you did at the beginning of the game, but this time, Joseph has killed the resident doomsday prepper who’s been your biggest ally and announces that you are now his only family.
Wow. Just wow. That twist came out of nowhere and made no sense, but that’s not my biggest problem with it. It gets worse.
When the credits were rolling, I wasn’t dismayed, not yet. I knew “Far Cry 5” had multiple endings, so I believed that just like the best games with multiple endings there was a better ending I could get that didn’t end with everyone dying. So, out of curiosity, I checked on YouTube for all the endings and nope. It turns out there are no good endings.
No matter what you do, everyone dies, and you are doomed. There’s no point in trying to be a good person and stop evil because no matter what you do everything will go wrong. So, what’s the point in even playing the game in the first place?
That ending is messed up with an unbelievably lazy execution, and I have so many problems with it.
First, it’s morally messed up. The ending teaches people that doing the right thing is pointless and that even if you have the power to stop evil from happening, you shouldn’t do it because it’s pointless. To make matters worse, there are people who praise the game for this ending.
To make something clear, I have problems with nihilistic and existential philosophy and don’t espouse them, but I’m not against those ideas being portrayed in a videogame. We’re a nation of free speech. That means we should allow ideas to be expressed even if those ideas are wrong. I agree with that, so that’s not my problem.
My problem with it is that this game punishes the instinct to do the right thing in the first place. In this game, you get attached to the people you’re saving. It feels rewarding to save them and help them with even the weirdest side quests.
So, when you get the ending you do, it feels like this game’s giving you and these characters the middle finger. There’s nothing you can do to make their circumstances any better. It’s as if it’s saying you should kill your helpful instincts so that you survive, or you’ll be screwed. That’s unbelievably messed up, and to make things worse, it gives you no other choice but to choose that route like there’s no other way to be.
Which brings me to my second problem with this ending. It’s lazy storytelling. This game claims to give you the freedom of choice, but it limits what you can choose. It’s only possible to choose the bad endings because this game will kill you if you decide to do something else, like kill Joseph Seed before you flee in the car.
There are no other missions in the gameplay you can do to alter these endings in any way, shape, or form either, making it impossible to choose anything else. That’s not how life is, and that choice doesn’t make sense for the type of game it is. It’s an open world game, the type of game conducive to offering choices on how you want to play, but it gives you only three bad choices in determining the outcome of your journey. From both a moral and storytelling perspective, it makes no sense and leaves the players with an unsatisfying experience.
In conclusion, “Far Cry 5” falls flat in its ending because it gives you the illusion of having a choice without there actually being any other choice. Playing the game is an empowering experience until it strips the players of any power they felt that had. The result is an immersive and intriguing story that ultimately leaves the players unsatisfied.