If you’ve been playing videogames long enough, you can probably name a few games with twists that changed the way you thought about everything. From BioShock’s incredibly drawn-out motivational change-up, to the reveal of Samus Aran’s sex in the final moments of Metroid, to the appearance of a surprise enemy in Halo: Combat Evolved, there are so many fantastic videogame plot twists to consider.
BioShock has an absolutely mind-numbing twist that could only be pulled off by a videogame. The player controls the mysterious Jack, a plane crash survivor who must venture through a terrifying underwater city overrun with lunatics. The city’s leader is Andrew Ryan, who is fighting a bloody civil war against the enigmatic Atlas. Atlas directs Jack through many perilous situations, with the ultimate goal of taking Ryan down for good.
Whenever Atlas requests something of Jack, he begins his sentence with the phrase “would you kindly.” While at first, this pattern can easily go unnoticed, it is eventually revealed in a shocking twist that Jack has been brainwashed before the start of the game to comply with any instruction that begins with those words.
Knights of the Old Republic is regarded by many as the greatest Star Wars story ever told, and for good reason. Throughout the adventure, the player hears stories of Darth Revan, the Jedi hero who traveled beyond known space, only to return with a mighty Sith invasion force, as well as Malak, his apprentice.
Much of the story involves retracing Revan and Malak’s steps in order to figure out why the Jedi turned to the dark side. What the player ultimately discovers is horrifying: you’ve been controlling Revan all along. His memory has been wiped by the Jedi, who are using him to reveal the secret behind the Sith’s power.
Red Dead Redemption features one of the most tragic twists in videogame history. After plenty of trials and tribulations, former outlaw John Marston manages to take down every member of his old gang in order to save his wife and son from a corrupt Bureau of Investigation.
Once the shooting and killing is done, Marston retires to his ranch to live a simpler life. Little does he know that the Bureau of Investigation plans to kill him once he’s completed his mission. The player is forced to take on a line of heavily armed agents, a standoff that Marston has zero chance of surviving.
In an epilogue chapter, Marston’s son Jack hunts down and kills the crooked agent that orchestrated the murder of his dad.
The Last of Us’s big twist comes in the last hour of the game. The protagonist Joel has been escorting young Ellie to a medical facility in order to find the cure to a virus she’s seemingly immune to. Once they arrive, it is revealed by the facility’s leader that Ellie will have to die in order for the scientists to synthesize a cure for the virus. Basically, Joel was escorting Ellie to her death the entire time!
Who is the Origami Killer? That’s the question at the center of Quantic Dream’s Heavy Rain. Several investigators set out to find the serial killer who is stalking their city. Eventually, it is revealed that one of the investigators, a PI named Scott Shelby, is actually the killer, and that he’s been destroying evidence all along to cover his tracks. It’s an unfortunate twist because Shelby is one of the more likable characters in the game.
Silent Hill 2 is a horrifying trip through guilt, regret, pain, and suffering. At the center of the story is James Sunderland, who arrives in Silent Hill after receiving a letter from his dead wife saying that she’s waiting in their “special place.” What begins as a nightmarish mission to rescue his wife soon becomes a masochistic tale of redemption, as it’s revealed late in the game that James killed his wife, and that the letter is actually a blank piece of paper.
James has been driven mad by his guilt, and everything he experiences in Silent Hill is a physical manifestation of his repressed emotions. The whole thing makes you think a little differently about the hyper-sexualized monsters you’ve been killing…
Assassin’s Creed III is another example of the “good guy is actually the bad guy” trope. While most of the game is about assassin Connor Kenway and his fight to liberate the thirteen colonies from British rule, the first part stars Haytham Kenway. The player is lead to believe that Haytham is an assassin, as he completes several tasks while searching for a Templar temple in the colonies. Suddenly, it’s revealed that Haytham is actually a Templar himself, and not just any Templar. He’s actually the main antagonist of the game!
The biggest shock in Final Fantasy VII comes around halfway through the game when Aerith, one of the main characters in the story, is killed by Sephiroth. One of the most heroic characters in the game, Aerith may hold the secret to saving her planet, but she’s cut down by the villain before she can get the job done. Although she’s teased as a potential love interest for protagonist Cloud Strife, their relationship never comes to fruition due to Aerith’s sudden death.
You expect casualties in war games, but not on the scale of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare’s big twist. While on a mission to topple a dangerous tyrant in the Middle East, you witness the detonation of a nuclear device, which destroys most of the city you were fighting in and kills you. If that weren’t enough, you’re allowed to crawl around the ruined city for several minutes before the plot abruptly shifts focus to another character.
Back in the 1980s, it was uncommon to see a videogame feature a female protagonist. For this reason, it was shocking when the true identity of the heroic Samus Aran was revealed at the end of Metroid. You play through the game as an armored bad*ss, only to discover that it is a woman wielding the iconic power suit. This reveal shocked nerds back in the day, but it’s pretty cool that Nintendo decided to subvert gender roles by making Samus a woman.
The first twist in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty comes about a third of the way into the game, when the story jumps in time and introduces a new protagonist named Raiden. Players who thought that they’d be playing as the iconic Solid Snake were taken for a ride, as Raiden infiltrates an enemy base in order to save the President of the United States.
To make things even crazier, it is revealed that Raiden’s entire mission is a simulation orchestrated by shadowy forces, meant to recreate Solid Snake’s mission in the first Metal Gear Solid.
While Portal starts off as a series of tests being run at the Aperture Science research facility, it soon becomes apparent that something way more sinister is afoot. GLaDOS, the artificial intelligence that runs the facility, takes Chell through several obstacle courses, promising a big reward if she completes all of the levels.
Chell’s reward? GLaDOS tries to drop her into an incinerator! It is revealed that GLaDOS became corrupt prior to Chell waking up, and killed all of the other people in the facility, leaving only Chell to play her game.
No one could have seen the Flood coming. Midway through Halo: Combat Evolved, the Chief discovers the purpose of the enigmatic “Halo” ring that floats in space: it is meant to contain and eradicate a parasitic alien species known as the Flood, which can infect and take control of any sentient being. All of a sudden, both the humans and the aliens are fighting for their lives against this new, scarier enemy.
A second twist arrives later in the game, as Master Chief works alongside an AI known as 343 Guilty Spark. The AI instructs him on how to turn on the Halo ring and destroy the Flood, but it is revealed that the weapon actually kills the Flood’s food source: every living thing in the galaxy, including humans!
It’s not uncommon for game characters to flip sides before the conclusion of the story, but Braid features one of the creepiest takes on the trope. The game has the player navigating through a weird, Mario-style platformer in order to save a princess who allegedly needs help. Then, in the final level (which takes place before the start of the game, and explains why the story begins in a burning city) it is revealed that you’re the monster she’s been running from all along, evading the traps she’s set for you. Creepy!
The first Resident Evil game tells the story of a commando unit sent to investigate a series of grisly murders reported in the outskirts of Raccoon City. What the team discovers is an experiment gone wrong that causes corpses to rise from the dead.
The Umbrella Corporation is behind this conspiracy, and wants to cover it up. While Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, and Barry Burton work to expose Umbrella and stop the undead from invading Raccoon City, it’s revealed in a climactic twist that Albert Wesker, the team’s leader, has been working for Umbrella the entire time and plans to use the virus for his own gains.