The article contains some game clips with graphic representations of violence.
Storytelling in video games has evolved over the decades, with ones like the ones to come God of War: Ragnarok show how cinematic they can be, but many games have now also been able to demonstrate how clever plot twists can be in this medium. Plot twists don’t inherently make or break a game’s story, but they can make it much more impactful if executed well.
Several games have proved over the years that they stick in the minds of fans in part thanks to them. The classic Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is an iconic example of the early 2000s, but more recent titles like Outer Wilds did an excellent job of surprising players.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Considered one of the greatest RPGs and war of stars games, Knights of the Old Republic remains a beloved classic for genre and franchise fans alike. In hindsight, the big twist Knights of the Old Republic It’s not quite as shocking, but it was a brave decision for the time.
Redditor The__Relentless vouched for the reveal of this story, saying, “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was awesome. The game begins with the player taking on the role of an amnesiac Jedi (or Sith) before revealing himself as Darth Revan, one of the greatest dark side figures in the current Jedi-Sith War.
Spec Ops: The Line
Military shooters were a dime a dozen during the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 generation of consoles, but Spec Ops: The Line has managed to become one of the most memorable games from that era due to its story. Gameplay was solid, if unspectacular, but its grim take on PTSD and the morale of war itself was celebrated.
Redditor SatinWalrus highly praised his twist, saying, “It’s sure to confuse you. What the game is like at the beginning versus the end is drastically different and amazing.” Captain Walker and his team of soldiers in a devastated Dubai blamed insurgent troops, the 33rd Infantry and Lt. Col. Konrad for the war crimes against 47 civilians, but then becomes revealed that Konrad has been dead for some time and that Walker has hallucinated and painted him as a villain to ease his guilty conscience.
Sabotage Studios The messenger is a 2D action platformer that pays homage to the 8- and 16-bit era of gaming and games like the Ninja Gaiden Series. The game actually consists of several plot twists, some of which alter the gameplay. Redditor Cloudy-Water highly recommended the game, stating, “This game actually blew me into tiny little pieces. If you like 2D platformers, I strongly recommend you to play it completely blind.
The game’s “past” story is presented in 8-bit style, but then dramatically jumps the protagonist into a 16-bit environment. Likewise, the ninja protagonist eventually takes on the roles of the various supporting characters who initially helped him as NPCs in the past.
Mobius Digitals Outer Wilds is one of the most critically acclaimed and inspired indie games of recent years when it comes to imaginative storytelling. It’s an immersive sci-fi adventure game punctuated by clever puzzle-solving mechanics that many fans will agree are best engaged in unconsciously. Redditor waterfromthecrowtrap amusingly commented that “there are very good reasons why r/OuterWilds makes heavy use of spoiler tagging.”
The astronaut protagonist discovers why the universe is stuck in an end-of-the-world time warp, with the ending revealing that the eye of the universe has called them to solve these mysteries, to accept the end of the universe (and their lives) to giving birth to a new world takes its place and continues the cycle of life.
Shadow of the Colossus
Even before it was relaunched on PlayStation 4, Shadow of the Colossus was one of the most celebrated games of the PS2 era and one of the earliest examples of what video games can achieve as an art form. The writing was thoughtful and deeply emotional, and the twist towards the end of this melancholic journey is considered one of the most heartbreaking events in gaming.
Redditor PewRose didn’t think it was one of the most unpredictable plot twists, but said so anyway Shadow of the Colossus was “definitely worth it”. Wander has traveled to forbidden lands to slay the game’s titular behemoths in order to save his love, but is later revealed to have carried out the bidding of an evil shaman he released to wreak havoc on the world.
That BioShock series has spawned some of the most popular and imaginative horror games ever made, and they’ve also had some of the most compelling reveals in history. These games always dealt with themes of philosophy and morality, with the final act of the original turning what the players believed on its head. Redditor Kiryu8805 opined, “The original BioShock has an iconic plot twist towards the end.”
Jack had explored the dark underwater city of Rapture, seemingly with the guiding hand of the kind Atlas. However, the game’s antagonist, Andrew Ryan, reveals to Jack that he was a mind slave of Jack Fontaine – Atlas – throughout the game, simply using the hypnotic phrase “would you kindly…”. It’s a brilliant narrative, as this plot device uses the medium to build and suggest this twist; The game lets the player do literally nothing against Atlas’ wishes.
Although Rockstar is understandably best known for his Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption Series, LA Noire was an ambitious experiment for its technical achievements and refreshing gameplay loop. LA Noire sees Detective Cole Phelps rise in the ranks of the police force, tackling increasingly gruesome cases as a larger conspiracy unfolds in the background.
Redditor walkaflocka11 thought “LA Noire has a pretty good story with a slowly developing twist that I didn’t see coming” as it connected Phelps and the supporting cast’s past to the present. Phelps is eventually exposed as a self-righteous hypocrite and indirectly served as a catalyst for the story’s broader conspiracy. In addition, the game suddenly switches the player role from Phelps to the real hero: Jack Kelso.
BioShock has earned a high place in video game history, and infinity received similar praise for its unique departure from the first two games. Unlike the underwater biopunk worlds of BioShock and BioShock 2, infinity takes place in a steampunk city in the sky that looks like a colorful utopia on the surface, but is steeped in class warfare and xenophobia.
Players take on the role of Booker DeWitt, who is hired to go to the flying city to rescue the captive Elizabeth from the evil Comstock. As it turns out, she is Booker’s daughter and Comstock is a different version of Booker from a different timeline. It was a heartbreaking revelation, and one that Redditor listed SocraticQuestioner as one of their favorites for his character development contributions.
Hideo Kojima’s spy thriller series is a collective legacy of gaming, and the original still stands among the best Solid metal gear games. Similar to Knights of the Old Republicthe big twist Solid metal gear is pretty telegraphed in hindsight, but it was a showstopper for many fans in the ’90s.
Redditor badateverything420 noted, “I can’t believe how far I had to scroll down to see MGS. MGS left so these other games could run.” Solid Snake is sent to take down a terrorist threat from villains known as FOXHOUND, where it is revealed that not only does its leader share a codename with the protagonist, but Liquid Snake also shares their genetic counterpart is.
Developed by Frictional Games, soma is one of several great examples of the creativity of the indie gaming scene in the survival horror genre. It’s a post-apocalyptic sci-fi game made by the likes of BioShock with its underwater scenery.
Redditor the____can said, “The reveal of the after-end credits was still the best. I’ve been playing for over 30 years and it’s without a doubt one of the most thought-provoking ones.” Confused, Simon is desperately trying to escape an underwater facility that survived an above-ground extinction event, but the AI helping him reveals to him that he’s been dead for 100 years, and this was his consciousness digitally built into a dead woman’s body.
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