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Video Game / End Roll

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End Roll is a freeware RPGMaker 2000 game published in the summer of 2016 by a developer named Segawa. Described as a "regretful adventure RPG", it follows a fourteen-year-old murderer named Russell on his journey of depressing self-discovery in the world of his dreams with the help of an experimental drug called Happy Dream. Normally, Russell would have been given the death penalty for his crimes, but, in order to perfect their drug - which has never successfully worked before - and to try to reform Russell, the creators of Happy Dream managed to get him into their program. Now, he must inject himself with Happy Dream every morning to see if he, a boy described as emotionless, is capable of figuring out what guilt and remorse are and whether he can feel guilty about the horrible crimes he's committed by interacting with the ghosts of his past in his dreams.

He only has seven days to complete the task the Happy Dream Project has challenged him with, and if he succeeds, he'll be spared the death penalty and walk out of jail a free boy. Of course, if he fails, he dies. Not that he really cares one way or another. It's all the same to him. Life or death, he's miserable either way.

At least, initially.

In his dreams, Russell finds the community and friends he'd always wished for in the waking world and starts feeling and discovering new, painful things, which seem to point to success for the experiment. But how much guilt can a person handle, especially if they've killed multiple people?

The game, in its original Japanese, can be downloaded here.

An English-translated version of this game with a handy list of content warnings can be downloaded here.

End Roll contains examples of:

  • All Just a Dream: It's made very clear that the environment is a dream, but it's far from just any old dream.
  • And You Were There: People in the dreams are based on people Russell knew in the waking world. Often, people he either killed or felt he killed.
  • Awful Truth: The entire game consists of uncovering these - although it's unclear whether Russell recognizes the people in the town at first, it's quickly revealed that they're all people whose deaths Russell feels he is responsible for, whether he actually killed them or not. The Awful Truth aspect comes from Russell reliving in great detail what he did to each individual person, and having to accept the guilt that comes from his understanding.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: If you manage to beat the informant and access the bonus room where you can talk to every character and BE any main recruitable character, the informant will be very worried about you going into the bath next door (where the monster representing Russell's father resides) if you talk to him as Yumi and will advise you to be careful. As a character who has been a Jerkass through the entire game, it's really nice to see he genuinely cares about some denizens in the dream world.
  • Big Bad: The Indecent One is the source of the monsters in Russell’s dream, and his biggest tormentor. She represents Russell’s abusive mother, who - along with his father - made him the Serial Killer he grew up to be.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Russell's family. His father is an abusive drunk, his mother is either a sex worker or is constantly sleeping with other people - either way, she vastly prefers and prioritizes sex over caring for her son emotionally or financially - and Russell was an unwanted, battered and neglected child, thus he was deprived of the love of a family in his formative years. This is how Russell developed what is very likely antisocial personality disorder, and was never taught how to cope with it and how to care for others, so he went through life, growing more and more callous and violent towards his peers.
  • Bonus Dungeon: Requires a certain password on a certain door to get in, and is full of abandoned books in what appears to be Russell's old home. Working through the dungeon also gets you a fight with the Informant.
  • Cats Are Mean: There are a species of Cats that can talk and walk like humans called the Catties. Books and characters in the game state that while not every Catty is like this, as a species, they are greedy merchants and abuse the Pengi to do their work for them. Nearly every Catty has proven this to be true.
    • Subverted slightly by the Catties in Snow Village who overthrow their mob boss so that they don't have to put up with his ridiculous orders anymore. While they can't leave the village, they seem more than happy and determined to work hard with and for the Pengis in the village, and, while some are still suspicious of them, most of them are happy that the Catties have turned over a new leaf.
    • Played straight by The Jealous One, the fifth One and boss of Day 5.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The Happy Dream is this by design; Russell's actively encouraged to peel back the sugary facade and see what lies beneath it.
  • Creepy Child: Russell.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Russell's abusive childhood.
  • Died on Their Birthday: Gardenia is killed by Russell on their shared birthday.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: The Jealous One is fought as the last boss if you have less than 20 Guilt by then. Story-wise, The Toxic One seems to be the main threat to Nameless Town, and is brought up repeatedly, but is just The Dragon.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Happens fairly often within the game, but in particular, the implications regarding Russell's mother/The Indecent One fall into this category. The most glaring example is the game's final dungeon, which is the "nest" of the monster representing Russell's dad. The "nest" comes in the form of a woman's naked abdomen with hands gripping it everywhere, and the entrance to the nest is at pelvis level.
  • Downer Ending: All of the endings. In one, the experiment fails, so Russell will most likely be executed. In the first True Ending, the experiment succeeds, but Russell is so overcome with guilt at his actions that he kills himself with the empty syringe. In the second True Ending, Russell chooses to remain in the Happy Dream and never wakes up in the real world.
  • Draconic Humanoid: The Draken are a species of this. They vary from mostly human-looking with horns to being a walking dragon.
  • Driven to Suicide: Russell in both True Ends, though in the second it was more of a choice to let himself fall into a coma and die in happiness with the rest of the dream, as opposed to going back to the real world and facing reality. The first True End is far more explicit. Kantera and Mireille also count, though their suicides were assisted by Russell himself.
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: As the world grows more disturbed, eyes start showing up on trees.
  • Fan Disservice: The Big Bad would be an example of Ms. Fanservice, were it not for her disgusting face, creepy obsession with sex, and awful treatment of her own son.
  • Fantastic Catholicism: Despite all the crosses and talk of the lord, Dogma's church apparently worships a "goddess", which doubles as a symbol of his and Cody's mother. According to Segawa, this is because Russell doesn't actually know much about Christianity, and since the church is a part of his dream, it's a slightly warped version of a Real Life church. Russell apparently does know about the significance of the sign of the cross, though, since Dogma performs one in his ending.
  • Fantastic Drug: Catnip for the Catties. While it doesn't affect humans, for them it's heavily addictive to the point that nearly every Catty is hooked.
  • Fisher King: Considering the setting is just Russell's dream, it's not surprising. But as Russell gets more and more regretful, the happy setting grows more and more disturbed.
  • Foreshadowing: When you visit Russell's memories of the moment after killing his parents, you can see Yumi's cowboy hat on the ground, hinting at her sexual assault by the hands of Russell’s dad.
  • Glamour Failure: Occasionally occurs with some characters as Russell's guilt increases.
  • Gone Horribly Right: In the True Ending, the experiment works, and Russell finally understands and experiences guilt. Unfortunately, he understands it so intimately that, after waking, the first thing he does is commit suicide by stabbing himself to death with the empty syringe.
  • Hate Sink: While Russell himself is a sympathetic character despite being a Serial Killer, the same cannot be said for his Abusive Parents, who, uncaring of anything beyond their own hedonistic pleasures, are the reason he grew up to be the twisted boy he is:
  • Heel–Face Turn: All of the Ones, with the exception of The Indecent One, can be found in the bonus room, hanging around and not harming anyone.
  • I Choose to Stay: Russell in the second True Ending. Not a positive example of this trope at all.
  • Identical Stranger: Russell and the Informant look almost identical, save for the Informant's green eyes instead of Russell's blue.
  • Karmic Death: To reach the True End, Russell has to confess to someone in town about the dream and that he killed them and allow them to kill him in the exact same way he killed them. Considering who made the drug, this was probably intentional.
  • Lord British Postulate: The Nightmares start their first turn with an AOE attack that never misses and usually does 999 damage, meaning that the party is usually wiped out in the first turn. Despite having extremely low speed, allowing you to attack it first, it also has extremely high defense. But if your whole party has 999 HP and has an extremely high attack and/or mind stat, then if one party member survives its attack, he can use a Higan Manjuu to revive the rest of the party. From the second turn, the Nightmare uses a strong but inaccurate physical attack, meaning that the party can simply attack it until it runs out of HP.
  • The Ludovico Technique: Essentially what the Happy Dream Rehabilitation Program boils down to; the experimenters use a drug on a person who is on death row, and the drug creates dreams intended to induce guilt in the dreamer.
  • Magic Compass: You find several different compasses throughout the game, and using them opens up a new area.
  • Multiple Endings: 3 endings, with 7 variations depending on who your partner is during day 6.
    • Normal Ending: If your guilt level isn't 20 by Day 5, the Happy Dream experiment is canceled and you are put in another cell. It's reported that Russell has auditory hallucinations as a result of the experiment.
    • True End 2: After defeating the Indecent One, Russell is given two choices. You can either end the dream world or stay in it. To reach this ending, you decide to stay in the dream world. In the real world, Russell never wakes up again.
    • True End: To reach this ending, you decide to end the dream world. You must then go to someone in town and tell them the truth and let them kill you. After waking up in the real world, Russell commits suicide out of guilt.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: If you get to a high enough guilt level, Russell begins to feel this way, to the point that the dream begins to break down due to his sudden and overwhelming feelings of guilt.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Every main boss is some variation of The Adjective One. In order: Witnessing, Lamenting, Burying, Jealous, Toxic, and Indecent.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Gardenia is a chef. Might also be the case for Dogma, whose attitude doesn't really live up to his name's occasional negative connotation.
  • Ominous Visual Glitch: The game throws these in every once in a while the more your guilt increases.
  • Orientalism: The Drakken and their village have shades of this. This is done on purpose as Russell has no real knowledge of any Asian culture outside of the stories he heard from Kantera.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: The seven main bosses seem to correspond to these:
    • Witnessing One is Wrath, representing Russell’s hatred of the "annoying monkeys" and possibly the beginning of his self-hatred.
    • Lamenting One is Greed, representing Russell’s desire to kill Gardenia just to have all the cake and presents and birthday fun to himself.
    • Buried One is Pride, since Russell’s burning of the church could be seen as a prideful blasphemy against God.
    • Aged One is Sloth, representing Kantera’s desire to murder his grandpa just so he won’t have to deal with the burden of taking care of him and seeing him suffer.
    • Jealous One is Envy, obviously, representing Mirielle’s desire to have the married Saxon for herself.
    • Toxic One is Gluttony, a literal big, fat, drunken monster.
    • Indecent One is Lust, as she loves sex more than her own son. A rare example of the Big Bad symbolizing lust as opposed to Pride.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Intentional with The Tower from the Guide-Selling Old Lady's house. It's the longest sidequest in the game, and appears to be building up to something big — and then abruptly ends, with the implication Russell can't keep distracting himself for much longer.
  • Shout-Out: A few to Segawa's previous game, Farethere City.
    • A Cacten in Dragons' Peak mentioned playing Minoniyoku City (the Japanese title of Farethere City) the other day.
    • You can buy Pigula dolls from a vendor during the festival on day 6.
    • The Yama-Basho guilt event is a reference to a sidequest, in which the main character Pigula picks an Umi-Basho flower and starts hallucinating. note 
  • Stalker with a Crush: It's implied that Russell's dad was one for Yumi. The monster that represents him, the Toxic One, is undeniably one for Yumi.
  • Tested on Humans: Happy Dream is meant to create a sense of empathy in criminals, but it's stated that the drugs have a lot of dangerous side effects. As such, the drug is only tested on criminals on death row.
  • There Are No Therapists: Not for Russell, evidently.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: What finally caused Russell to kill his parents was when his father had murdered Yumi, and his mother simply sat and watched.
  • Translate The Loan Words Too: "End Roll" is a Japanese loan word for "end credits," referenced in the line "the end credits won't stop rolling."
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The entire game is this, in order to make Russell feel guilty for his crimes.
  • World of Symbolism: The whole point of the Happy Dream Rehabilitation Program is to use this trope to their advantage.