Video games haven’t always been known for telling great stories, yet the world of gaming has steadily evolved into a dominating art form which now appeals to a much wider audience. In the beginning, we had games like Pong and Super Mario Bros; although those are fantastic and timeless titles, the story just isn’t there, and for a lot of people the plot is what draws them in. When a game has a great story line, solid game play and well thought-out mechanics, the only other aspect that could make that game better is a mind-boggling plot twist.
For most people, when they think plot twist, many great movies come to mind: Se7en, The Usual Suspects, The Empire Strikes Back and so on and so forth. Video games seem to fly under the radar, which is sad really because there are so many great games out there with compelling stories to tell, some of which will stick with you even more so than a movie would. Not to mention you are the one playing through the story, which makes it more of a personal experience overall. So with that said, let’s get to the topic at hand, this is the top ten video game plot twists… spoilers ahead!
10 Red Dead Redemption
Rockstar Games is known as the company that brought us the ever popular game series Grand Theft Auto. However, their 2010 western open world gunslinger title Red Dead Redemption is arguably their best game yet. You play as the fearless outlaw John Marston who has been given a second chance at an honest life. Your main goal is to track down and turn in the remaining members of your old gang. The reward is dismissal of all illegal actions and of course being reunited with your wife and son.
The thing is, after your long perilous journey to freedom, Marston is double-crossed by the very lawmen that promised him a free life. Near the end of the game, Marston is ambushed at his home with his family and is shot dead by a barrage of bullets fired by none other than the so called officers of the law. This surprise death of the main character caught fans off guard on every level, but not to worry: redemption was carried out by Marston’s son Jack in the true ending.
Let’s continue the list with an 8-bit classic from the NES, Metroid. This game doesn’t just have a plot twist that shocked everyone, it also set the standard for side scrolling exploration and back tracking. Unlike its predecessors, Metroid doesn’t have a map to assist you with its maze of underground caverns. You play as galactic bounty hunter Samus Aran, whose mission is to rid the galaxy of the energy draining Metroids which are being bred by a group of antagonists named the Space Pirates. As you play through its five different levels, Samus unlocks new and resourceful upgrades which helps the player traverse its sometimes disorienting map.
Although the story is somewhat by the book, what threw everyone for a loop came at the very end of the game. After beating the end boss, a text comes up on the screen congratulating you and then Samus takes her helmet off - "her" being the key word. Everybody thought they were kicking alien ass as a guy, but to their surprise Samus was a girl the whole time!
8 Silent Hill 2
Silent Hill 2 is a pretty disturbing game, especially if you know the twist. Yet, either way it will freak you out more than most games. You play as James Sunderland, a mournful lonely man who recently lost his wife to a terrible disease. In the beginning of the game you receive a letter from your dead wife asking you to come see her in Silent Hill; obviously a bad idea, but James goes anyway.
After a long harrowing journey filled with demons, death and a lot of fog, you learn the truth. The sinister twist is that James actually killed his wife, and blocked out the traumatic memory for the past three years. This twist explains much of Sunderland’s eerie visions and implies he went back to Silent Hill to repent.
7 Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
The Castlevania series has been around for thirty years and has given us some amazing games. Although Lords of Shadow isn’t necessarily one of the best in the series, its twist is still worth mentioning. In this installment, you play as Gabriel as he embarks on an epic quest to reunite the heavens and bring his wife back from the dead.
The twist here is a little confusing at first and has a lot of elements to piece together. First off, a character in the game by the name of Zobek is actually the antagonist and has been using you as a pawn for his evil bidding. On top of that, in the end you find out Gabriel has become Dracula, along with the fact that centuries have past, now leaving you in modern day times.
6 Heavy Rain
This 2010 action-adventure mystery game had mixed reviews concerning its story and end twist. Although the voice acting was questionable at times, it was a solid game and the twist was cleverly unfolded by using cinematic aspects. In Heavy Rain, you play as four different characters investigating the case of the Origami Killer, one of which is Scott Shelby. Shelby is a former police officer and Marine who is working the case as a private investigator.
At the end of the game we learn that Scott Shelby is in fact the Origami Killer. Now playing as the killer isn’t an original idea in video games, but what makes this twist superior is learning the meaning of Shelby’s actions in the game. The whole time you’re playing as Shelby the game creates the illusion that he is finding evidence that puts him one step closer to finding the killer, but in turn he is actually destroying the evidence that would link him to all the murders he committed.
5 Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
If there’s any gaming company that knows how to tell a great story, it would have to be BioWare. They have given us both the Dragon Age and Mass Effect series, just to name a few. However, their twist in Knights of the Old Republic is by far their best. This is a massive Star Wars RPG where you play as a character who is given the choice to side with either the light or dark side which obviously affects the in-game story.
After countless hours of exploring and fighting across the galaxy, you learn that your character is the infamous Darth Revan, who has been subjected to memory modification, a choice made by the Jedi Council. The idea here was that if Revan wasn’t aware of his former identity, he wouldn’t join the dark side. In the end, you the player decides which path is taken, good or evil.
4 Bioshock Infinite
Bioshock Infinite is the third game in the Bioshock series, and takes place in the sky rather than underwater. Many argue that the first Bioshock was the best of the three which is for the most part undeniable, yet the twist in Infinite is mind-blowing. Now, if anyone has told you the twist is stupid or doesn’t make sense, they just couldn’t comprehend its complexity, or didn’t watch the scene after the credits.
First off, we're not going to be explaining the ending in its entirety; that would take an entire article to explain properly. So to summarize, you play as Booker Dewitt who is given the task of rescuing a girl named Elizabeth who is being held captive in a city in the sky called Columbia. Near the end of the game you learn that Elizabeth’s has a “tearing” power; think of this as a person being able to open worm holes to different worlds. This is where the plot thickens and a lot seriously a lot of things are explained, which can be overwhelming at first.
Long story short, Elizabeth is your daughter, and the main character Booker is both the antagonist and protagonist of the game who is caught in a constant loop of realities where he’s trying to save his daughter. In the end he figures out what must be done to be reunited with his daughter and kills himself at a precise moment in time. The ending is far more impactfull when you play the game and is a must see.
3 The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Not only is Ocarina of Time the greatest game of all time, but it also has a plot twist that left all its fans in awe. If you’re not aware that you play through this game as Link, the savior of Hyrule and Hero of Time, you probably shouldn’t be reading a video game article.
Now, as most people know, Link's quest in Ocarina is to obtain the three Spiritual Stones so he can enter the Sacred Realm and retrieve the Triforce otherwise known as “The Golden Power”. This task is given to him early in the game by none other than Princess Zelda. As you advance in the game, a mysterious character who calls himself Sheik appears at different times to assist Link on his quest. The plot twist here comes when you learn that Sheik has been Zelda all along. But that’s not all; Zelda created this false identity so she could both elude and spy on the main antagonist Ganondorf. All of her actions fall into place once you learn Sheik's true identity - it’s truly a brilliant twist to a timeless classic.
2 Dark Souls
This game is probably the most overlooked game of all time. It has a phenomenal fighting system, a plethora of different weapons, armor and spells, enticing game mechanics and arguably the most impressive level design to date. Yet just because it doesn’t hold your hand and proves to be one of the more difficult games ever made, people chose to not play its mastery.
In Dark Souls, you play as a Chosen Undead who is dropped into a massive open world after overcoming the trials of the Undead Asylum. From here, players must figure out how to proceed in the game with only a little help from certain NPCs who mostly speak in riddles. The story itself is a puzzle hidden in the architecture, dialog and item description.
Although a lot of people refer to the Dark Souls story as being minimal, they couldn’t be more wrong. The amount of lore in this game could make up series of books, it's rich and interesting, yet it's hidden and must be pieced together to be truly appreciated. It would take forever to explain the entire story but to summarize, you the player are being deceived the entire game and ultimately are tricked into giving your own life for the greater good. The thing is, there is no greater good: you either die for the antagonists or become the antagonist - either way, you’re doomed.
1 Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear series has been around since 1987, and the reason it’s still around is simple: they're great games. Kojima has one of those imaginations that only come around every decade or so, and even though Phantom Pain was his last Metal Gear its OK because this is a fantastic game. Now, Kojima is no stranger to plot twists; the whole Metal Gear series is full of them, and this game is no different. Because the game is still pretty new, we won’t give away the whole plot twist: it’s something Metal Gear fans should experience for themselves.
To explain this twist we have to start at the beginning. The game starts with you, Snake/Big Boss ,lying in a hospital bed after the events of Ground Zeroes. Your arm has been replaced with a robotic prosthetic and some unflattering shrapnel is stuck in the side of your head. Shortly after learning this you are attacked and have to escape the hospital with the help of an undercover agent who was posing as a patient in the hospital with you. Following this you spend hundreds of hours building an army and fighting against the Cipher organization only to find out that you’re not Snake/Big Boss, but rather an MSF medic who was subjected to hypnosis by Ocelot and underwent plastic surgery. The real Snake/Big Boss was the bandaged agent at the beginning of the game who helped you escape the hospital. Whaaaaat! You were just a pawn to keep the real Big Boss under wraps.