As games continue to evolve, their capacity to tell great stories expands. Over the last decade or so we’ve seen some of the absolute greatest stories told in the history of the gaming industry.
While a game with a crazy twist is not a prerequisite for a great story, it’s hard to deny that mind-blowing plot developments that come out of nowhere leave a significant lasting impression, and go a long way in keeping a game stuck in one’s mind long after the credits roll.
There have been plenty of plot twists in countless video games over the years, but these 10 twists stand out as the most surprising, shocking, and significant. Before reading on, please be warned that this list will contain substantial SPOILERS for the following games, so proceed with caution:
- Metal Gear Solid 2
- Heavy Rain
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
- Final Fantasy 7
- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
- Red Dead Redemption
- Batman: Arkham City
10. Raiden is the Main Character – Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
The Metal Gear Solid franchise has a multitude of twists to choose from, but the staggering controversy over this one helps it stand out. After a brief prologue mission in which the player controls usual hero Solid Snake, the rest of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty has the player in control of Raiden, a completely new character that is absolutely nothing like Solid Snake. The story twist took most everyone by surprise, and while it certainly doesn’t detract from the overall quality of Metal Gear Solid 2, it certainly rubbed many people the wrong way.
Due to stunts like this, fans have come to expect the unexpected as it pertains to Metal Gear Solid. In fact, there’s already plenty of rumors and speculation surrounding possible twists that could occur in the upcoming Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, including a rather intriguing theory about head transplants.
9. Origami Killer Revealed – Heavy Rain
Quantic Dream’s Heavy Rain is a thriller through and through, following the lives of numerous characters as they coexist in the midst of a series of child murders. The player is given control of many of these people, allowing for the opportunity to see things through their eyes and better piece together the mystery.
The murderer in question is named the Origami Killer, and his true identity comes as a complete jaw-dropper. As it turns out, the entire time investigator Scott Shelby was investigating the Origami Killer, he was the Origami Killer! This mind-bending twist comes complete with a harrowing final showdown that has a variety of outcomes based on the way the player went through the game, and while plenty may change in one playthrough of Heavy Rain to the next, Scott Shelby is always the terrifying Origami Killer.
8. Shepherd’s Betrayal – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
While shooters nowadays are filled with stories that mainly consist of cookie cutter characters and a random betrayal, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was one of the first to shock gamers with an out of nowhere turn, courtesy of the game’s supposed leader, General Shepherd.
After fan favorite characters Ghost and Roach manage to successfully raid a compound, they are set to make their escape via helicopter. But before the two make can reach safety their commander, General Shepherd, mercilessly guns them down as the player watches on helplessly. This event shakes the foundation of the game’s plot and drives the characters towards Modern Warfare 2‘s memorable and satisfying finale.
7. Tim the Monster – Braid
Braid is a game that can be interpreted in an exhausting number of ways. There are many theories regarding the game’s plot and what it’s really about, but regardless of how one interprets Braid‘s story, the ending is pretty clear.
Throughout the whole game, players are led to believe that primary protagonist Tim is really trying to save the captured princess from an evil knight, but the game’s trademark time-traveling mechanics are then used to make the mind-boggling reveal: Tim is the villain the whole time. That’s right, the princess was actually fleeing from Tim, and the evil knight was actually trying to save the princess from Tim throughout the game’s story.
6. Aerith’s Death – Final Fantasy 7
One of the most iconic scenes in gaming history is the death of Aerith (or Aeris) in Final Fantasy 7. While every gamer is likely aware of Aerith’s death at this point, at the time it came as a significant emotional blow. Gamers were forced to watch as one of the game’s most popular and likable characters was stabbed in the back and murdered without remorse by Sephiroth.
While Aerith’s death can’t be considered a surprise again in the upcoming Final Fantasy 7 remake, there may actually be a new twist, such as Aerith not biting the dust at all. Square Enix has promised that the Final Fantasy 7 remake will have plot and gameplay changes, which could very well include alternate story paths wherein Aerith lives to heal another day.