10 Most Unexpected Video Game Plot Twists
Vader is Luke’s father! Bruce Willis is dead! You were Tyler Durden all along! Movies have tons of notable plot twists but what about video games? While storytelling in our medium is a little behind the times, we still have our fair share of M. Night Shymalan moments. Though we may not have anything on the level of revealing who Kaizer Soze is, we do have betrayals, killers, and a surprising amount of atomic bombs. Take a look at the 10 Most Unexpected Video Game Plot Twists and let us know if you saw them coming. And yes, there are spoilers if you've never played these games.
Konami keeps advertising Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 as the first time that you are able to play as Dracula, the lord of darkness. Poppycock and fiddlesticks we say! Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow pulled that plot twist on us years ago, and it was awesome. In fact, that was the cornerstone of the plot. Soma Cruz was Dracula’s reincarnation, and Dracula’s followers were trying to make the dark lord rise again. That’s why it’s on our list of the 10 Most Unexpected Video Game Plot Twists.
Scott Shelby was one of the characters you played as in Heavy Rain. He seemed to be a portly private eye who was genuinely worried about the victims of the Origami Killer. Then it turns out at the end that he was the Origami Killer all along and that his “investigation” was just him covering his tracks and removing evidence. What’s really cool, is that you get to choose whether or not Scott is a heartless maniac or a morally conflicted and mentally ill good person by your own actions.
People say that Final Fantasy 8 is one of the worst Final Fantasies out there but in our opinion it did some things right. Throughout the entire game, hints are dropped that point toward all the characters knowing each other from someplace that they just can’t put their finger on. Later on, it turns out that all the characters all grew up in the same orphanage, but the “guardian forces” that they are using are slowly wiping their memories. It's precisely because of this childhood connection that the characters have to band together to defeat a time witch. What? Hey, we said it did SOME things well, not everything.
Star Ocean 3 asked the question, “where do you go when you have explored the entire cosmos?” The answer? Another dimension! It turns out that the entire Star Ocean universe has just been a video game all along. It was designed by 4th dimensional beings as a method of recreation. They simply created a character and jumped into a whole other persona in order to play out role playing fantasies in a persistent world. However, the world’s A.I. is so sophisticated that its own creations eventually figure out how to escape the game and invade the 4th dimension. Those creations are you and your party.
This is the plot twist that kicked off a new era of first-person shooters. We were used to seeing Michael Bay moments in action games at this point. Bombs would go off and you would simply walk away as the explosion played out behind you. It looked like that was going to happen when the bomb went off in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, but then the explosion caught up with you. You crashed with only enough time to control your character as the radiation and fallout sapped the life from his body. War is truly hell.
No More Heroes gets on our list of the 10 Most Unexpected Video Game Plot Twists because of the genius way the game handled its endgame reveal. The twist was so intense that it would jack up the ESRB rating of the game. So instead, Suda 51 just fast forwards through it at high speed! In short, Travis, the main character, is Jeane, the final boss’s, half-brother. Travis’s father abandoned Jeane’s mother, which caused her to commit suicide. As a result, Jeane was taken advantage of sexually by her father. She trained to become a killer by selling her body, and then kills your parents in front of you. Phew! That really would have increased the game’s ESRB rating.
These days we make fun of the “it was all a dream” trope, but Super Mario Bros. 2 did it back when it kind of made sense. Seriously, look at the SMB2 world. Goombas and piranha plants are traded in for shy guys, snakes, and Birdo. Bowser doesn’t even show up. In the real world, this was because Super Mario Bros. 2 was a conversion of the Japanese only title Doki Doki Panic. But in the Mario world, its because Mario was having one really screwed up dream.
Speaking of old school plot twists, Samus’s gender reveal had old school NES gamers spinning in their seats. Strangely enough, the suggestion was just a one off idea by one of the Nintendo staffers at the time. Metroid co-creator Yoshio Sakamoto explained in the IGN article The Origins of Metroid:
When we were almost done with the development of Metroid, one of our staffers casually suggested, ‘Why don't we make Samus Aran a female character to surprise the player?' Back then I thought it was a nice idea, but I couldn't foresee what a huge impact this would have on the future of the franchise.
Silent Hill 1 painted Harry Mason as a good guy who simply got wrapped up in the affairs of a cult and a demonic town. Silent Hill 2 turned this concept on its head by making your protagonist, James Sunderland, the bad guy who was being punished by the town’s enchantments. James flat out murdered his wife after she got sick, and Silent Hill 2 is the story of how he comes face to face with that fact, and the perverted sexual frustrations he feels as a result. Of course, you don’t figure this out until the very end of the game.
Finally, we have Braid, our vote for the Most Unexpected Video Game Plot Twist of all time. Throughout most of the game, you aren’t particularly sure what the main character, Tim, is doing. You just know that he is chasing a “princess” of some sort and that he has a lot of regrets, enough to make him want to go back in time and erase his mistakes. We learn that Tim’s princess is running from some monster, but when you finally reach her at the end of the game (which is really the beginning of the game in chronological order) you discover that it’s not a monster that she is running from. It’s you. In fact the princess isn’t a princess at all. The princess is an ideal, a goal, specifically the goal of creating the atomic bomb. Time eventually reaches this goal and now… now we are all sons of bitches.