Video games have come a long way since it's earlier entries in the form of Pac-Man, Asteroids, and Centipede. And like the winding paths mazes of Pac-Man or the titular Centipede, video games have since evolved to have even more twists and turns, especially in plot. Here are our top 10 picks for the craziest plot twists in video game history. Spoilers ahead:
10. Shovel Knight
Maybe it was obvious, or it was foreshadowed, but right before the final fight with the Enchantress, the evil witch who has plagued the land with evil and her order of dastardly knights, is in fact, Shovel Knight's lost love, Shield Knight. The opening of the game shows Shovel Knight and Shield Knight storming the Tower of Fate together and the game telling us that Shield Knight was gone after the ensuing encounter with a cursed amulet.
Though the fact was unbeknownst to the player, Shovel Knight himself knew it all along and he himself revealed it in the end. The very last battle with the Enchantress' true form with a revived Shield Knight, makes for a much sweeter ending, harkening to the simpler NES games that this game emulates.
Samus revealed to be a girl, one of the oldest twists in this list. Though it is common knowledge these days, gamers in the 80s had no idea, especially due to the fact that the revealed only happened if you finished the campaign under a certain amount of time. By completing the original Metroid game in under an hour, would show that beneath the heavy armor, was not a rough and gruff male bounty hunter, but instead a nimble and athletic woman.
This was a well-hidden secret if you weren't up to date with the latest gaming news and was just a playground rumor for most. It has since become a tradition in the games to have a secret end game congratulatory screen with Samus without her armor, even appearing in the latest entry, Samus Returns.
Rapture is full of secrets and intrigue, it is symbolic to the story as it shows that nothing is all it seems beneath the surface, a simple metaphor for the game's overall theme. This twist also happens at the end, right before the major fight between the player character, Jack, and Andrew Ryan, the main bad guy in the game. It turns out Jack is the illegitimate son of the game's main antagonists, experimented on and had his growth accelerated by Atlas, the rival of Andrew Ryan, to be a weapon, bent on destroying everything that Andrew Ryan built in Rapture.
Atlas instructs the player to do his bidding throughout the game with the phrase "Would you kindly..." and it turns out that you've been a pawn this whole time. Andrew Ryan is aware of the phrase and instructs you to kill him as Atlas proceeds with his plans and leaves you to ponder your free will in the game.
7. Kingdom Hearts 2
Kingdom Hearts is a series that started out innocently enough, but soon evolved into a cacophony of numerous convoluted plot twists and turns that delays Kingdom Hearts III whenever one is revealed. The biggest revelation from Kingdom Hearts II was that Ansem, the previous antagonist of the first game, wasn't Ansem at all. The real Ansem was a kind-hearted researcher that studied hearts and the Heartless.
The fake Ansem was in fact, the Heartless of the real Ansem's apprentice, Xehanort, who himself, is a whole string of plot twists we won't get in to. Basically, you find out that this red mummy looking guy, DiZ, was the real Ansem and has been helping you this whole time. While fake Ansem has been destroyed, his Nobody Xemnas is running an entire organization to unlock Kingdom Hearts. This was also the point many people stopped paying attention to Kingdom Heart's plot altogether.
6. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
One of the earlier twists to happen and was probably the source of a lot of frustration for people when this first came out, Metal Gear Solid 2 turns out did not feature Solid Snake as the main playable protagonist, but instead a brand new character named Raiden. Outside of the first mission, Solid Snake goes into hiding and secretly helps Raiden under an alias, before revealing himself later in the game.
Hideo Kojima himself said that he wanted more women to play Metal Gear, so he created Raiden to cater to women. He even made his real name Jack and his girlfriend Rose, a reference to Titanic. What's puzzling is that Raiden wasn't heavily promoted when the game came out, so how would women know anyway? Kojima works in weird ways indeed.
An indie game by Johnathan Blow and is a throwback to 2D platformers of old, complete with a main protagonist and princess to be saved from a "horrible and evil monster". As Tim, you must platform your way through 6 worlds to find the princess, complete with all kinds of time-based abilities to help you in accomplishing your mission. But...
As you play the game, there are traces that indicate that the story is not what it seems. As you approach the princess, it seems that she is running away from a knight. She helps you avoid traps and spikes as she makes her way back to her room, with you climbing up to her balcony. However, you'll soon discover that the level is in reverse, and she is running towards the knight's arms and leaving obstacles to escape her captor, Tim. You were the horrible and evil monster the whole time.
4. Final Fantasy X
The first Final Fantasy with voice acting had some questionable sequences sometimes, but nonetheless, was the first game in the franchise that elevated the storytelling of the series to new heights. With main character Tidus being swept away from his home of Zanarkand and comes to aid Yuna on her pilgrimage to hopefully return to his home, the plot twist comes when you reach Zanarkand, the final level of the game.
The twist takes a page from the Sixth Sense, with the character Auron revealing that he was dead the entire time and the Zanarkand that Tidus is from never existed in the first place. Which in turn means that Tidus himself never existed either. He was just a "dream" and as soon as you finish the game, he starts to fade away and Auron goes back to the afterlife. It is a tragic ending and left most gamers in tears as Tidus gives Yuna her final embrace on his disappearing body.
Earthbound (or Mother 2 in Japan) starts out simply enough, one night, you wake up to find an asteroid crashed near your home. You venture out with your neighborhood friend, Pokey to check out what's going on. You fight a couple of enemies along the way and usually, in battle, Porky would use you as a shield or just refuse to fight. As you reach the comet you meet a talking bee from the future that tells you of your upcoming quest.
You don't hear much from Pokey again as you go on your quest to fight the evil alien Giygas. After all you've been through, you and your friends reach Giygas' chamber only to find Pokey to be Giygas' right-hand man, armed in a spider mech, ready to take you out. What started out as your slightly annoying neighborhood pal, Pokey's descent to evil is even continued in Mother 3, as he becomes the evil ruler of the free world.
Valve's experimental puzzle game is infamous for its ending and has become a meme since its big reveal. Players assume control of Chell, armed with the portal gun in an abandoned facility by Aperture Science. Guiding you through all the experiments is GLaDOS, similar to Atlas in Bioshock, she'll deliver exposition and the promise of cake at the end of all the various test chambers Chell has to go through.
At the final act of the game, you realize that GLaDOS is an evil AI that is bent on killing you. As you approach the final levels of the game, you see "the cake is a lie" sprawled all across the walls. This experiment has been done before and it didn't end well. You beat her in a final showdown and Chell is taken away forever, with GLaDOS is presumably defeated. Until the very end, turns out there really was a cake at the end and GLaDOS is still alive as she mocks you in song.
1. Final Fantasy VII
The plot twist to end all plot twists, the shocker of the 90s, Final Fantasy VII's twist doesn't even come halfway through the game. It happens right at the end of the first disc, the first of 3, as the party approaches Sephiroth at Cetra Temple. As Cloud approaches Aerith while she is praying, a familiar blade descends from the sky, piercing right through Aerith. After meeting her in the church, making you dress up as a girl, the innocent flower girl is taken away from you, in familiar FMV fashion.
Final Fantasy VII is etched into the minds of gamers forever because of this scene, a major change in the status quo of video games where the hero must sacrifice himself to save his girl, instead the girl takes a major blow for the party and is not available for the rest of the game. A second revelation that may or may not be considered to be a twist is the fact that Cloud was never a SOLDIER and was projecting his mentor, Zack's memories into his own past. But Aerith's death will always be a momentous event and has shaped the story-telling capabilities of video games forever.