In the 19th Crystal Habit Podcast, Community Manager Meagan Marie interviewed several of the developers about their favorite scenes from the game, Easter eggs, and more. At one point, Creative Director Noah Hughes described an alternate ending that didn't survive to the final cut. In this earlier ending, Sam didn't make it off the island alive. Rather than rescuing her friend, Lara chose to sacrifice her so the rest of the crew could escape. Quite a change from the heartwarming finale we all saw. According to Hughes,
"[The original ending] was a much bolder choice.... But where it felt unfair to the player was, they didn't ever have any chance of succeeding. It was basically a forced failure ending. We sacrificed the sense of victory for that impact. In the end, it was more impactful for the player to feel victorious than to have a darker closure to Lara's sacrifice lesson. I think enough people had died, on some level.... She had gone through everything she needed to, to move on to the next chapter.... Sam didn't need to die to get us what we wanted out of the story. The players felt better being able to 'win.' It's an interesting lesson in the rules of storytelling as they apply to the interactive medium. We really do have to be careful about the sense of winning and losing and making sure that we're not forcing failure upon the player in ways that don't feel unfair."
What do you think? Was this the right choice, allowing players to rescue Sam rather than sacrifice her? Which ending do you prefer, or would you rather have seen a different ending altogether? What about a choice within the game: rescue Sam or sacrifice her, with alternate finales based on the player's decision? Please comment below.
Follow this link to listen to the podcast or download a transcript. The section about the alternate ending starts at around 53:00.
Sam and Lara. Screenshot courtesy of Katie's Tomb Raider Site.