Playable Epilogue

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In the vast majority of RPGs, once you beat the game, you get to sit through the final cutscenes, maybe get an option to save your game, but when you start up the game again on the same file, you find yourself either in a New Game+, or right before the final boss again—you never get to enjoy the world after saving it. This is often because the nature of their plots means the ending goes into story cutscenes that radically change the gameplay world.

A Playable Epilogue, however, lets you continue playing after beating the final boss. In some cases this simply means that the scenes taking place during the epilogue are interactive (you can talk to NPCs at your leisure, but not go out and explore the World Map or battle monsters), and your save file still reloads the game as it looked before the final boss. In other times the epilogue is an actual bonus chapter set in the "saved" world, after the main plot has been all wrapped up, often featuring extra side quests or dungeons to explore at your leisure.

A form of Extended Gameplay. See also Mini Game Credits, where only the closing credits are interactive.

Examples of Playable Epilogue include:


  • The NES Dragon Quest games are the Trope Maker here; from the very first game, in fact.
    • Dragon Quest IX for the DS. There's an almost endless variety of randomly generate grottoes to find and explore, extra sidequests to complete, things to alchemize, a veritable army of Bonus Bosses and even a bit more backstory is revealed. Some dare say that the whole 40 hour+ main story is only the beginning of your adventures.
  • The Legend Of Zelda: Oracle of Ages/Seasons games are unique in canon in that you can continue playing after you win, to allow the strange password system that connects the games to work. After the end, everyone comments on your saving the world and (in the first game only) a bunch of new NPCs show up ready to take passwords from the other game. If you play the second game in already-beat-the-other-game mode, though, the ending is different, and you can't save afterward.
  • The original Myst allowed the player to continue wandering around the various worlds and exploring after completing the game, even though that's what the player had already spent the entire game doing.
    • The remake, "realMyst," added an additional world that could be accessed at this point: it didn't deliver any more story, but offered a nice world-builder engine and a cameo appearance by Riven.
  • In EarthBound, you can explore the world in its entirety after beating the final boss. Many NPCs in the game are given new and distinct dialogue.
  • In the Pokémon games, defeating the Elite Four doesn't end the game at all. It usually just opens up a high-level challenge, like the Battle Tower/Frontier. In Pokémon Gold and Silver, it turns out to be sort of a fake ending: even though the credits roll, you have half of the game left. It turns out there's an entire region left to explore, and you need to get another eight badges to face the protagonist of the last game to get the real ending.
    • Pokémon Black and White takes this even further. After you beat N and Ghetsis and the story has clearly ended, you still haven't even beaten the Elite Four and become Champion, which was your goal in the first place! Becoming Champion is your main goal to work for during the postgame sidequests.
    • This has gotten to the point where the plot of the games sometimes feels more like a tutorial for the Wide Open Sandbox they become. Once you've unlocked the entire map, you can work in earnest on your Pokédex, win all the contests/musicals, breed Pokémon for the metagame...
  • Strangely enough Banjo-Kazooie let's you play even after you've beaten Gruntilda just in case you may have forgotten the some notes or forgot to get the infamous stop and swop eggs. Heck, you can even visit gruntilda's grave and dance on it!
  • The Civilization games have the "Wait! Just...one...more...turn!" option to play on after you've won a victory.
  • Dark Cloud 2 took the Playable Epilogue to its logical extreme, combining it with the Infinity+1 Sword for an entire extra chapter. And once that's completed you still have a Playable Epilogue. At the end you fight none other than the Dark Genie, who was the final boss of the first game.
    • The original Dark Cloud let you do it, too; the one difference was that, as you had restored the whole world to how it was before, you no longer needed the magical blue stone on your glove. Plus there was still a Bonus Dungeon.
  • Tales of Legendia doesn't so much have a playable epilogue as a second half. The credits roll before you get there, though, so...
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door and Super Paper Mario had these, though the first Paper Mario didn't.
  • Suikoden II has a Playable Epilogue of sorts; after beating the Final Boss, you're able to wander around the world, level up characters, and so on freely. However, certain actions will still trigger one of the Multiple Endings, and you can't return to playing after that.
  • Lunar 2 Eternal Blue Complete has a playable epilogue that could (arguably) be called the true final arc of the game; it's rather long and completes the game with a happy ending.
    • The remake of Lunar 1 game also had a playable epilogue, though all you could really do is wander around Meribia and watch all the secondary characters wrap up their story arcs.
  • The original four .hack games as well as the G.U. games have playable epilogues which let the player recruit bonus characters as well as play through a Bonus Dungeon for the epilogue.
  • Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage! had a Playable Epilogue that unlocked the world Spyro was trying to get to in the first place—an amusement park full of mini-games that unlock the Cutscene Replay Theater. Spyro: Year of the Dragon had a Playable Epilogue for seeking 100% Completion after a The End - or Is It? ending to the Final Boss, leading to the really-really final boss battle.
  • In Mega Man Legends, after defeating the Final Boss, you can run around the Cardon Forest, Apple Market, and Downtown areas one last time talking to NPCs, whose dialogues changes depending on what side quests you did. Talking to Roll will then continue the ending and roll the credits.
  • Once you finish the Final Boss in Super Mario Galaxy, you then get Purple comets, which makes more Stars to get. If you get all of these though, you still aren't finished. You can then play as Luigi. This lets you play through the whole game again, beating the final boss again, then getting all the stars again... which unlocks the Grand Finale Galaxy, which returns you to the Star Festival from the beginning of the game, and allows you to get one last star with each Mario brother and a congratulatory message from Nintendo.
  • In the "canon" ending (and the ending when you keep Crono dead) for Chrono Trigger, you visit Leene Square one last time before the credits roll. The Developer's Room ending is also playable, but it doesn't really count. The ending in which Frog marries Queen Leene and becomes the new ancestor of Marle is playable as well.
  • The Ultima games usually let you wander around and talk to people after beating the game, thus letting you see the aftereffects of your journey, much like in EarthBound. There's not much to accomplish at this point, though.
    • This isn't true for the Apple/Commodore/PC versions of any Ultima games this troper can think of, but it might be true in the console ports.
  • Phantom Brave's playable epilogue pits the player against the main characters of Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, plus a little extra background on the world itself.
  • The best ending of A Mind Forever Voyaging has you placed in a Utopic version of 2091, prepared to live your golden years in happiness. You are allowed to explore this happy world for a bit (which stands is stark contrast to the horrific simulations you've previously explored), but are eventually dragged off to a vacation transport by your wife and kids.
  • Mechwarrior 2: Mercenaries allows the player to take on random missions even after completing the last campaign, keeping all of the assets they have acquired.
  • Ecco the Dolphin 2 had a three-stage playable epilogue.
  • The first Sonic Adventure lets you keep playing in each story after you've finished it, and the NPCs reflect that you've done so. There's not much reason to do this other than to raise your Chao, though, since you can only play the levels, not redo any story. In fact, the only way to start the story over again is to start a whole new game.
    • Oddly, one of those playable characters is, well, kinda dead.
    • Mission Mode in the remake version also seems to take place after the main story.
  • Persona 3 features one of these; although you're really doing little more than advancing the plot by this stage, you can still revisit the different parts of the city between the final battle and the actual end of the game.
    • And in FES, you can talk to people you've established full relationships with to get an extra scene.
    • Subverted in Persona 4: Take the right actions in what looks like the epilogue for the normal ending, and you'll get to another dungeon, the real final boss, and the True Ending.
  • In a non-RPG version, Call of Duty 4 features a playable epilogue set on a terrorist-hijacked plane in mid-flight. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the events in the game's story and is only accessible after watching the entire credits.
  • The Grand Theft Auto games featured this, especially the GTA 3 story arc games. In San Andreas, CJ even mentions he just wants to go around. This is useful for those who are looking for 100% Completion and figure the first step is to finish those annoying storyline missions...or for those who just like the game for its more cathartic qualities.
    • Of course in "San Andreas" beating the last storyline missions ends the riots in Los Santos, something a lot of players really ENJOYED, so they would leave the last mission unfinished rather than blemish their completion rating (prior to 100%) by using a cheat code to achieve the same result or save to a different file.
  • Fallout 2. You get the obligatory "congratulations" round in most cities, and a free max level/skills item.
    • It was originally averted in Fallout 3, leading to massive fan outcry. It wasn't until the Broken Steel expansion that the player was allowed to continue.
  • Knights of Xentar. No more monsters or quests, just new lines of dialogue for almost everyone.
  • All the Might and Magic RPGs (except 2 and 3) let you wonder around the world and complete any unfinished side quests after you've beaten the main game; you can also save at any point after the ending. World of Xeen was a special subtype because after completing each of the two main quests (one for Clouds of Xeen, one for Darkside of Xeen) the game would save then send you back to the main menu. Restoring the game would then let you continue on to the next main quest.
  • The Dark Sun games from SSI let you keep playing after completing the game. In the first game in particular you could revisit the villages who helped you in the final battle and they would all acknowledge your efforts.
  • Fable and the expansion/upgrade The Lost Chapters lets you run around and finish up anything else you want once you beat Jack of Blades. It's actually kind of pointless, since you don't get any new quests.
    • Not totally pointless. In the original Fable, you could finally put the Infinity+1 Sword to use, while in the addon, if you choose the evil ending, you could run around as Jack of Blades possessing your hero
      • Fable 2 promises that there are quests available only after defeating the Big Bad. These quests amount to very little: the only quest that's truly only available after finishing the story is exploring a castle to find a Gender Bender potion, as well as the option to finish any quest you haven't already done.
      • Fable 3 was better in this regard, several quests only becoming available after you've driven off the Final Boss.
  • Wasteland let you wander around after killing off the Big Bad. Then again, the world was still saved but crawling with dangerous creatures.
  • Street Fighter EX2 Alpha (or was it EX3?) let you do this, mowing down Mooks with whomever you won the game with.
    • It was EX3. IIRC, it was just for fun; it didn't do anything. One of the flunkies was a Hugo-esque bruiser who grew bigger every time you decked him.
  • Toejam and Earl and its sequel have epilogue levels where you just walk around and talk to the colorful alien characters.
  • While getting married in some Harvest Moon games will make the credits run, this is very rarely the end of the game. (If you're playing Harvest Moon: Back To Nature For Girl, it is.) In fact, there's quite a bit more to do after getting married, aside from eventually getting a child, there's new events to see, sometimes new villagers to befriend, 100% Completion to achieve—some items and events are even cut off from you until you get married.
    • It also ends at marriage when you play as Sara in the third Game Boy game, and get married.
    • In Harvest Moon DS, however, the game ends after marriage. Fortunately, it's only if you marry a Mineral Town girl.
      • This was fixed in Cute, where marrying a Mineral Town boy doesn't end the game.
  • Chocobo's Dungeon for the Wii lets you wander around the city and access several bonus dungeons after the final boss is defeated.
  • The 2008 Prince of Persia has a playable Downer Ending epilogue where you free Ahriman, the Big Bad you've just spent the entire game trying to stop, to bring Elika back to life. Confusingly, the Downloadable Content is called the Epilogue, but it's actually an Expansion Pack.
  • Wario Land 4 has an odd aversion of this, the game sends you back to the main area, but the bosses have been revived while the areas are still cleared (and the end 'dungeon' sealed off until you beat the four bosses again). What's truly quite strange is that after seeing the ending, the game actually tells you this: 'If you continue with this saved data, every boss will be revived! Start over and try and get all twelve treasures! - Wario.'
    • This is there for the sake of the game's Multiple Endings. Each boss guards three high-valued treasures, and taking too long to beat a boss will make the treasures start to disappear- the ones you get end up at the final boss room, which works the same way. If you missed a treasure before, you would have to fight the boss again after beating the game.
  • After completing each episode of Strong Bads Cool Game for Attractive People, you can access Extended Play via the Save/Load menu, which gives you an opportunity to access any unlockables you might have missed, and talk to all the characters. Episode 4 ("Dangeresque 3: The Criminal Projective") has the most in-depth Extended Play; Since the episode itself was a movie that the characters were filming, its Extended Play has some extra "Making Of"-style cutscenes.
  • The Elder Scrolls games (At least Morrowind and Oblivion) let you keep going after you finish the main quest, often with a handful of added side quests that are only available once you beat the main quest and awarding you special items. The NPCs will often recognize you as the hero and react accordingly.
  • Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia has one of these. After you start up your save file, you're promoted to the highest Ranger Rank (in honor of Saving the World and all that), and your rewards are access to your player records and the hidden Capture Arena, as well as additional sidequests.
  • Shadow of the Colossus had two short playable sections in its epilogue.
  • The Marathon mod Rubicon had three playable epilogue levels. Two that reveals the historical effects of the players actions, and one where you revive Durandal after you just had killed him.
  • Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice has more than half the game after you finish the story mode and defeat the final boss. And that's not counting the DLC.
    • True to a lesser extent for Disgaea's 1 and 2 where you can do all the optional sidequests and endless grinding before you finish the game, but there's little point.
  • I Wanna Be the Guy, to a degree. After the credits and the ending sequence, the game decides to give you one more "screw you" moment. A piece of fruit starts falling, and you have to dodge it or die. In the epilogue. Did I mention this was I Wanna Be the Guy?
    • In an uncharacteristic motion of generosity, however, the fruit falls at about a quarter of the speed of all the other fruit in the game, making it very easy to dodge, and even if you do die, your win against the final boss will be recorded on your save file. In the end, this is more like a choice the player can make depending on how sadistic they feel by the end of the game.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum lets you continue playing after beating the final boss so that you can finish up The Riddler's challenges. Or go for a couple Achievements/Trophies.
    • Arkham City is much the same, but it also has side-quests on top of the Riddler Challenges.
  • Hitman: Blood Money has an interesting variant. The entire game leads up to the supposed death of Mr. 47, and if you sit through the ending credits you will see his funeral. However you will notice that his health meter is on the screen during the credits, with just a pulsing sliver of health, and if you mash the controls enough he will revive from his death-like coma and the ending credits are interrupted while you play the truly final mission of the game.
  • Endless Summer from Bully.
  • Kameo Elements Of Power lets you run around as much as you want after you beat the Big Bad.
  • Terranigma gives us a playable Tear Jerker.
  • "Heaven" in in the Harvest Moon Wonderful Life games.
  • Brutal Legend has the "get 100% completion" version of the playable ending, though you can also look up your surviving allies and find out how they're doing.
  • Assassin's Creed II has this. Once the storyline is completed, you can traipse around Renaissance Italy to your hearts content, gather up trophies and complete side missions and whatnot. Of course, there's one single trophy that's missable - Fly Swatter can only ever be gotten during the mission with the flying machine. If you don't have that, well, it's 98% trophy completion for you, buddy!
    • Luckily you can start a separate file to get it (albeit the flying machine is about two-thirds of the way through the story), or purchase the Battle of Forli DLC which adds a side mission where you can use the flying machine around the Wetlands and kick guards as much as you like.
    • The first game left Desmond alone in the lab, giving him an opportunity to poke around and find all the plot hooks as well as go back into the Animus and replay the missions. Annoyingly, the only new bit of the lab that becomes available at the end is useless if you didn't steal Vidic's USB pen earlier in the game, and once the NPCs leave there's no way to get it.
    • Assassin's Creed Brotherhood follows in the same vein as AC2, although the side missions' flavor text don't take your story progress into account, i.e. descriptions remaining as if the Borgia Regime were still in power. However, a post-credits voiceover suggests that this post-story "free play" is actually an attempt to keep the now comatose-Desmond alive by putting him back into the Animus, and the last memories of the Da Vinci Disappearance DLC were actually experienced during this coma. (The opening dialogue of the DLC differs depending on whether you start its first memory before or after clearing the story.)
  • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance allows Marche and his party to continue to explore Ivalice after defeating the Final Boss, and some of the newly recruitable story characters will mention the absence of Mewt.
  • The movie's plotline for The Godfather: The Game ends with the assassination of the four Dons. After your promotion to Underboss by Michael, though, you're still able to take over the remaining enemy businesses, bomb the other four Family Compounds and collect stuff. You get to rise to Don with the bombing of all the enemy Family Compounds and Don of NYC by getting 90-something percent completion, and maybe fight parts of The Remnant after that with your Bragging Rights Reward of Bottomless Magazines.
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series have these, especially adding some new missions that tie up loose ends (Such as in the first, explaining that Gengar was the human who got Gardevoir cursed by accident, and you have to bring him to Gardevoir's resting place in the hopes of bringing her back, and you can later visit the meteor that threatened the world, which contains Deoxys as a Bonus Boss), number two gives even more to the story, but darker and edgier. You find out that it was DARKRAI who set up the Evil Plan to destroy Temporal Tower and plunge the world into darkness, and he's the reason you and Grovyle got separated and you got transformed in the first place. The sister game, Explorers of Sky, adds Shaymin as a recruit should you finish the Sky's Peak.
  • Mass Effect 2 allows you to continue playing after you complete the final mission. You can talk to your surviving party members about your endgame decisions, continue to mine ore, complete any sidequests you have left over, or just explore for any anomalies you missed. Any DLC you did not complete is also still available.
    • Mass Effect 1 lacked this, meaning that if you play the two games back to back, you go directly from Saving the Entire Universe to the destruction of the Normandy and your character's death by asphyxiation (with kersplat from high orbit thrown in gratis).
    • The ability to complete sidequests and the DLC's with Mass Effect 2 leads to the Hilarious in Hindsight moments where the Illusive Man helpfully points you toward these missions after you've quite possibly destroyed the Collector Base he wanted, transferred the loyalty of the Cerberus crew of the Normandy 2 from Cerberus to you, made one his his senior lieutenants quit Cerberus to also join you, have basically stolen the massive investment that was the Normandy 2, (which EDI reveals makes up a rather significant chunk of Cerberus personnel and capacity), and probably told him to go fuck himself.
  • Dragon Age: Origins has a brief moment after the final boss and subsequent cutscene where you get to walk around and speak to your party members and related NPC folk about what happened, ask them what they're going to do, and generally sort of fill out the epilogue before the final FINAL cutscene of the game.
    • Dragon Age II does a variation similar to Mass Effect 2: after the credits, you will find a "Post-Game Save" among your saved games, which contains the state of your party immediately after the Final Battle. If you load it, you'll find that the regular locations from the game have become unavailable and you can only access the Hawke mansion and the DLC content (which was probably the whole point of this).
  • SaGa Frontier was speculated to have an extreme example in Blue's storyline. When you beat the final boss in his quest the game ... fades to the title screen. There is no epilogue, no ending theme, no "a winner is you," nothing. This caused many confused fans to theorize what happened. Since the whole purpose of Blue's quest was to master magic and defeat his brother, and since you were shown the credits after doing so, a popular fan theory was that everything that happened after you defeated your brother was an interactive ending. Developers later admitted they simply ran out of time and money, and described the ending Blue's campaign would have had if they finished it.
  • Just Cause 2 calls it Mercenary Mode. Not much really changes after you finish the last story mission, except that each time you load the game or respawn, it shows MERCENARY MODE in big red lettering, and whenever you find an item, complete a challenge or mission or destroy a piece of government property it shows your increasing completion percentage.
  • A variant of this happens in Red Dead Redemption. After John Marston dies and the "final cutscene" plays, you will have control over Jack Marston, and you can continue on in freeplay mode. However, the end credits won't play until you head to Blackwater, talk to a random bystander and complete the "Remember My Family" mission, where Jack finds and kills former Blackwater Agent Edgar Ross - achieving his revenge.
    • Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare, a What Could Have Been DLC, plays this trope too; following the credits, the non-DLC normal story ending comes about (wherein John is killed), only with the twist that Seth steals the treasure that caused the dead to rise before when taken, thus bringing the dead (including John) back to life, allowing the player to finish side quests and to free roam.
  • In Dragonball Z The Legacy of Goku II and Buu's Fury, once you defeat Cell/Kid Buu you can continue playing for as long as you like before speaking to Dende/going to Bulma's party to activate the final cutscenes. In fact, in the former game, it's only in the Playable Epilogue that you can unlock the Secret Character Joke Character Hercule, which allows you to choose an alternate ending cutscene if you max out his level; in the latter, Gogeta can be unlocked during the epilogue.
  • If you complete Demons Crest with a 100% Completion, you're given a password after the credits. Enter it in, and you can continue the game with the Crest of Heaven Firebrand gained from Phalanx, as well as a new end boss.
  • In the Metroid games, Samus has a penchant for blowing up the planet/space station you just spent hours exploring. Not so in Metroid: Other M, where she returns to the Bottle Ship to find the late Adam Malkovich's helmet, various missed items, and a Bonus Boss, among other things.
    • Though the Bottle Ship does explode anyway after Samus finds what she was looking for.
  • In Indiana Jones And His Desktop Adventures, once you fulfill your quest you can walk around the entire gameworld and talk to people, though only two or three people have new lines.
  • In the newest Halo game, Reach, you get to fight on a part of Reach that is getting glassed by the Covenant after the credits at the end of the Pillar of Autumn. You see randomly generated Spartan bodies, and no matter how well you perform, the end is always your death due to numerous Elites. However, this is a mild spoiler because the opening cutscene is one of your player character's helmet with a bullet hole through the visor.
  • Grandia II had an epilogue where you took control of Roan who, some time after the Final Battle, goes King Incognito again to visit his friends now living all across the land.
  • Sword of Vermillion had a minor one. After defeating the Final Boss and obtaining the last of the Plot Coupons, there are no more Random Encounters and you can freely visit all towns and talk with the NPCs, which complimented you with your achievements. But there is little else left to do except taking the Plot Coupons to their rightful place and watching the credits roll.
  • Rule of Rose features a very elaborate one, where you play as child Jennifer, walking around the orphanage to say farewell to the precious memories she had about the place despite of all the bad that happened. It culminates the storyline masterfully and provides some of the strongest Tear Jerker fuel in video game history.
  • Fossil Fighters gives you access to a huge number of new things after beating the main game. Not only do you gain access to two new areas (which you will need to visit in order to find every viviosaur), nearly every storyline character you've fought throughout the entire game becomes a Bonus Boss! Beating these lets you earn access to previously ungettable 'saurs, and you can even face the ultimate Bonus Boss, consisting of the three most powerful characters in the game.
  • Every single game in the Mega Man Battle Network series bar the sixth game has these, usually revolving around fighting the extraordinarily powerful Navis that reside in the Undernet. You may get a few glimpses of them in the main storyline, particularly in Battle Network 3.
  • In the last few issues before its demise, City of Heroes started including story arcs that ended with an optional "mission" in which you played a different character and got to see what happened to them after your part of the story finished.