I’m honestly astonished by how satisfied I was with the ending of Slime Rancher.
For one, I didn’t think this game had an ending. When the credits started rolling, I was like, “WAIT I WASN’T DONE RANCHING!!”
Luckily the developers knew that, and I woke up at my completely intact ranch afterwards. Whew.
So I continued my quest to fill my whole ranch with honey/mosaic mixes, expecting the ending to fade into the background—this is an experiential game, after all, fun because the process and animations of collecting slimes is fun, not because it’s got a particularly engaging story or anything.
But I finished the game months ago, and I still think about the ending every so often.
It’s nothing new, it’s all about the continuing effects irreversible choices have on your life, and I’ve certainly seen this take before, but something about the way it was presented stuck with me.
The way the segment before the final area is filled with quantum slimes, there-and-not-there at once.
The way you have to go through a kind of maze, pushing buttons to open-and-close sets of doors which can never both be open at once.
The way the entrance to the place where the final message is stored is a gigantic building only accessible through another set of absolutely massive open-one-close-the-other doors, which you can see from a great distance away, but you can’t really tell what’s behind them until you’re through.
That’s how you use environment to make your thematic point, my friends. Even without the recorded messages explicitly telling you the point, I think it would have gotten through.
I’m still playing occasionally—collecting slimes is fun, and I like absolutely bloating an area with Slime A, introducing Slime B, and then sitting down to watch the show.
(The show is that the two types combine to make a bigger, cuter slime, and I haven’t found one yet that wasn’t my new favorite after I mixed it with the tabby slime.)
I just thought the story would be a lot more forgettable than this, and it’s pleasantly surprising that I kind of want to start over just to uncover all the messages again, even though they’re available in a menu any time I like. I want to go hunting for them, and find them in context.
And collect an absolutely absurd number of slimes in the process.