Back in the days of the first video-game consoles, the stories were cut and dry: get from point A to B, defeat the Boss, and save the day. Simple, right? Nowadays, video-game plots rival that of movies and books! And as with movies and books, a good plot twist here or there is nothing to shy away from. With a plot twist, the screenwriter can recapture the attention of the audience or even save the story when it’s hitting a low point. Even terrible plot twists are enough to change the story forever. Take The Sixth Sense by M. Night Shyamalan — the protagonist in that turns out to be dead the whole time (I would say spoiler alert, but it’s so commonly referenced that there’s no point in warning people anymore).
Some plot twists are about the protagonists themselves. They could turn out to be the villain or even not be who they say they are. Other times, it’s when a buddy who’s been following you the whole game turns evil and you have to fight him or her. It can even be where the entire plot turns out to be fake. And it’s not restricted to modern-day games — some of the classics even have twists that made players scratch their heads.
Some creators, like Hideo Kojima or the publishing company of Bioware, are known for their convoluted plots in their games. It’s what makes them so great. Even if the controls are mediocre, the game still has you captivated by the story it tells.
Hold on to the edge of your seats because here are 15 Video Game Plot Twists that’ll blow your mind.
(Warning: Beware of Spoilers)
15. Bioshock- Would you Kindly?
After surviving a plane crash, survivor Jack finds himself in the underwater dystopia of Rapture. Bioshock offers players a beautiful-yet terrifying environment filled with monsters, powers called “Plasmids,” and diving-suit badasses called “Big Daddies.” Your only friend is Atlas, the freedom fighter wishing to overthrow the tyrant known as “Andrew Ryan.”
Throughout the game, Atlas repeats the phrase “Would you kindly?” whenever giving the player instructions. Now, players might think that it’s just a catchphrase, but there’s much, much more to it. Later on, it’s revealed that Atlas is actually the villain Frank Fontaine and that his seemingly innocent catch phrase “Would you kindly?” was actually a mind control trigger. The player has no control at all: Fontaine does. Now, you’ll never hear that phrase the same way again.
14. Mass Effect 2- The Protheans’ True fate
Throughout the events of Mass Effect 2, Commander Shepard and crew face the wrath of the terrible Collectors. The Collectors, a race of insectoid-like aliens, are highly advanced and working for the Reapers. Not much is known about them, other than that they pass through the Omega 4 Relay and abduct humans.
Throughout the series, the race known as “Protheans” is mentioned. The Protheans were wiped out by the Reapers 50,000 years before the game takes place — though this isn’t the case. While investigating a Collector Shuttle, Shepard learns a terrible truth: the Protheans were turned into the Collectors. It changes the entire history of the game because the Protheans were just repurposed into Collector tools, making it a fate worse than death.
13. Knights of the Old Republic- Darth Revan
Knights of the Old Republic, a game that takes place thousands of years before the events of the first movie, revolutionized the RPG genre by making choice and morality matter. As a Jedi Knight, the player must fight through the forces of the Sith Empire and defeat Darth Malak before he can control the galaxy.
One part about your character is that he/she has amnesia. Throughout the game, players find out more about their character’s past up until they face Malak himself for the first time. That’s when Malak reveals the truth: your character was once Darth Revan, the most feared Sith in the galaxy. Throughout the game, Revan is constantly mentioned, but it’s never implied — even by Bastila Shan, who fought you as Revan — that you were really an all-powerful Sith Lord.
12. Red Dead Redemption- A Final Stand
Red Dead Redemption takes place during the transition from the gritty Wild West to the “modern” 1900’s society. The player controls John Marston, an outlaw who’s trying to redeem himself by rounding up his old gang.
Once Marston’s gang is taken care of, he’s pardoned by Edgar Ross, a crooked lawman. For a while, it seems like everything is going well. That is, until Ross sends a small army of lawmen to your farm, and they attack. Things look dire as you lock yourself in a horse barn. Marston makes a desperate decision: he sends his wife and son off on a horse and goes out front to confront the men sent to kill him. Surely, something will save him, right? Wrong. John Marston is gunned down where he stands. His son, Jack, then becomes the playable character and is able to exact vengeance upon his father’s killer.
11. Bionic Commando (2009)- I’ll always be by your side
The remake of the platformer Bionic Commando was… weird. Nathan Spencer went from an ’80s pornstache-wearing goofball to a dread-rocking, moody soldier. And the perspective went from 2-d to 3-d. Not that it was bad; it was just weird.
The premise of this remake is that Nathan “Rad” Spencer becomes cybernetically advanced in order to find his wife. Well, as it turns out, cybernetics works more efficiently with the host if the catalyst is comprised of someone they know. Do you see it now? The entire time Nathan’s been swinging, shooting, and smashing through hell and back to find his wife has all been for naught: she’s been with him the entire time. She’s his arm! It’s more of a WTF plot twist than a jaw-dropping one, but it changes the entire game forever.
10. Spec Ops: The Line- There are no heroes or villains
Spec Ops: The Line is a superb and very dark game developed by Darkside Game Studios. In this game, you play as Captain Martin Walker as you lead your squad into a ruined Dubai in order to detain rogue Colonel John Konrad. Throughout the game, Walker must make difficult decisions, one of which is bombarding a group with white phosphorus, only to find out they were just women and children.
At the end of the game, you find the tower that Konrad is hiding in. When you approach him, you realize one thing: he’s been dead for weeks. He had killed himself out of guilt, and the ‘Konrad’ you were hearing and seeing throughout the game was a hallucination created by Walker’s tired psyche. As videogame plot twists go, no one saw this coming.
9. Fallout 4- Blind Betrayal
Fallout 4, although criticized for not staying true to the lore and the birth of the ‘Creation Club’, is a solid game. It has a decent story and great features such as weapon modification and settlement building. Along with great gameplay, it features awesome companions like Noir-Synth Nick Valentine and Buzz Lightyear-esque Paladin Danse.
You meet Danse during the Brotherhood of Steel questline. He’s a level-headed typical soldier who hates the Institute Synths as much as his brethren. Synths, like the replicants from Blade Runner, look just like humans but are completely robotic. The Brotherhood of Steel considers them an abomination, so imagine the shock of the player when halfway through the B.O.S. questline, it’s discovered that Danse is a synth. And what’s worse is that the player is tasked to kill Danse in the quest ‘Blind Betrayal.’
8. Dragon Age: Origins- You’ve been betrayed
Dragon Age: Origins is another EA title that revolutionized the RPG genre. Much like its gun-toting cousin, Mass Effect. Dragon Age: Origins, it explores the fight against the Darkspawn. Your character, the Grey Warden, is introduced into this group of warriors during the beginning of the apocalyptic Blight. You also meet Teyrn Loghain Mac Tir.
Loghain is an a-hole, plain and simple. He’s condescending to the King (whom his daughter is married to), condescending to the Grey Wardens, and condescending to you. One thing that you probably weren’t expecting, however, is for him to tell his entire army to turn and walk away. This act of betrayal ultimately results in the King’s death, the death of your mentor, and the near extinction of the Grey Wardens from Ferelden. His one act of arrogance almost causes a mass extinction of all good in the land.
7. Resident Evil- Don’t trust a guy who wears sunglasses indoors
One of the games to revolutionize the Zombie Horror genre is Resident Evil. This game is filled with monsters, mutants, evil zombie dogs, and terrible dialogue (well… the original did, but the remake fixed it). You play as both Chris Redfield and Jill Valantine, members of S.T.A.R.S., along with Barry and Albert Wesker.
Wesker appears to be your typical level-headed leader. It isn’t until the discovery of the mutant Tyrant that it’s revealed that he was the villain all along. Even when Tyrant impales him, he doesn’t go down, even getting stronger in the process. He appears in almost every entry of the game up until Resident Evil 5, and his ruthless attitude never falters.
6. Assassins Creed 3- You are a Templar
The Assassin’s Creed franchise explores history through the eyes of an Assassin trying to defeat the Templars and prevent the end of the world. In Assassin’s Creed 3, it’s advertised that you’ll be playing as Ratonhnhake: ton, a.k.a. Connor Kenway. Imagine the player’s surprise when he starts the game as his father, Haytham.
Sure, this may not be a bad thing. It could just be the origin story of our tomahawk-wielding warrior. What’s a bad thing is that you were never playing as an assassin while as Haytham. You were a Templar, the sworn enemy of the Assassins. You even recruit Charles Lee and Assassin Shay Cormac into the ranks of the Templars, though the latter is during an entirely different game.
5. Modern Warfare 2- No shortage of volunteers
Back during the beginning of first-person shooters, you’d be forgiven if you thought that these games would have a plot thicker than oatmeal. The Modern Warfare series changed the game, giving your character more personality than ‘a guy with a gun.’
During Modern Warfare 2, you meet General Shepherd (not Commander Shepard). He’s your typical hard-ass leader who helps Ghost and Roach. After the aforementioned duo raid a compound to gain intel, they reach Shepherd. All he says is “Good, that’s one loose end to worry about” before shooting you and Ghost. He becomes the main antagonist for the rest of the game, right up until Soap throws a knife between his eyes.
4. Metal Gear Solid 5- Change of character
Hideo Kojima’s final production with Konami, Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain is considered one of the best next-gen launch titles around. Using the unique Fox Engine, players take control of Punished ‘Venom’ Snake as they seek vengeance against the attack on the original Mother Base.
Now, storywise, Venom Snake is supposed to be Big Boss — or so you think. At the end of the game, it’s revealed that the real Big Boss is off doing his own thing. Venom Snake was surgically and mentally altered to act like the Boss when, in fact, he was a medic from Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeros. You’re essentially the final boss of the very first Metal Gear.
3. Braid- You’re no hero
The platformer Braid had an explosive theory involving The Manhattan Project. Even without that detail, the game itself is amazing with its time-traveling concepts. You play as Tim trying to save a damsel in distress.
However, not everything is as it seems. During the final level, Tim and the Princess must solve puzzles in order to escape the knight at the end. It’s actually in reverse, and when you play it regularly, it’s revealed that you, not the knight, are the villain trying to save the princess.
2. Metroid- Samus is a woman
Now, just because a game doesn’t have high-definition graphics doesn’t mean that it can’t have a good plot twist. Take the very first Metroid, for example. You play as the seemingly faceless bounty hunter Samus as you blast away aliens with your arm cannon.
Now, during this time, a lot of the video protagonists were male (Mario, Sonic, etc.). Imagine everyone’s surprise when your badass mercenary actually turns out to be female! It’s an excellent plot twist that shows that you don’t need to tell an in-depth story to blow everyone’s mind.
1. Portal 2- Wheatley’s Heel Turn
Portal 2 was more or less the same as its prequel, but it was a hit nevertheless. Completing portal-based challenges in order to escape the evil AI GLaDOS is challenging yet fun. This time, you get a friend! Wheatley — the bumbling, goofy eyebot — helps Chell (the player) out as best as he can.
At the climax of the game, Wheatley takes control of GLaDOS’s systems. You’d think after all you’ve gone through together that he’d let you out, no problem, right? Nope, he tries to kill you. Mad with power, he basically becomes a male GLaDOS. Speaking of her, she gets turned into a potato and becomes your friend.
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