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Top 10 Video-Game Plot-Twists

Felix Kemp

A good story needs a good twist. Mario began the trend in video-games, luring the player towards a castle in the hopes of rescuing Princess Peach, only to be informed of her relocation to another castle. Since then, the stories have evolved, with the likes of Bioshock and Half-Life setting new standards in storytelling. Here are some of the finest plot-twists to have ever graced a video-game!

10. Sheik is Zelda (Legend of Zelda)

Top 10 Video-Game Plot-Twists

In Zelda: Ocarina of Time, after sleeping for seven years and feeling a lot like Tom Hanks in Big, Link is greeted by Sheik, a mysterious agent of the Triforce. However, upon vanquishing the Temple of Time’s monster and claiming another Sage, Link discovers Sheik is in fact Zelda, the princess he fell for as a child.

It seems in his seven year absence, Zelda spent some time in prison, as she’s now muscle-bound and grim-faced.

9. Nukes Away! (Call of Duty 4)

Top 10 Video-Game Plot-Twists

A nuclear explosion is often a threat in war-games, but to actually witness one, and die from the resulting explosion and radiation, was an astounding plot-twist in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

Perched on a helicopter, your mute protagonist can only watch the mushroom cloud grow, and wonder whether he made the right career-choice.

8. Holy Flood! (Halo)

Top 10 Video-Game Plot-Twists

Who can forget first encountering the Flood in Halo: Combat Evolved? It played out in typical horror-film fashion, with fuzzy video-logs and audio-transmissions alluding to another enemy, besides the Covenant, lurking somewhere on the Halo ring.

Their arrival, chewing through doors and spewing into the room like vomit, is an iconic Halo moment.

7. Samus Is A Woman? (Metroid)

Top 10 Video-Game Plot-Twists

When Samus Aran defeated the Mother-Brain and escaped a planetary explosion in Metroid, the broad-shouldered bounty-hunter removes her armour and reveals she is actually a woman, clad in bikini and red boots.

In an age when women in video-games merely supplied male protagonists with a reason to do something, ala Mario, Samus Aran proved women could kick ass, too!

6. Metal Gear Twisted (Metal Gear Solid 2)

Top 10 Video-Game Plot-Twists

Hmm, where to begin? How about the Patriots Snake and Otacon had been searching for being dead for over a hundred years? Or Snake being an unwitting pawn of terrorism, arming a bomb to advance their cause, not his.

Metal Gear Solid 2 was rife with plot-twists, the slithering story true to its namesake. It may anger some fans, but for any Kojima-aficionados, we know it’s just the nature of the beast.

5. But You Were My Master? (Jade Empire)

Top 10 Video-Game Plot-Twists

It wasn’t an original plot-twist by any means, but Master Li’s betrayal in Jade Empire, condemning the player to the underworld and claiming the Jade Heart for himself, definitely raised a few eyebrows and dropped some jaws.

Cast in the Obi Wan mold originally, Master Li’s true, Judas-esque form was a shocking plot-twist.

4. It's S.H.O.D.A.N. (System Shock 2)

Top 10 Video-Game Plot-Twists

In System Shock 2, the soldier is guided through the ship by Dr. Janice Polito, whose reassuring voice instilled calm despite the soldier being mired in chaos and fear. Yep, I could see that twist coming, too, but it was nonetheless a jaw-dropper when Polito is discovered dead, and S.H.O.D.A.N. reveals itself as her imposter.

Seriously, why do all Artificial Intelligences seem to be evil?

3. You're Not My Mother? (F.E.A.R.)

Top 10 Video-Game Plot-Twists

Ignoring the ridiculous acronym for a title, Alma revealing herself as the Point Man’s mother was a shocking revelation in F.E.A.R. The creepy girl ripped from a Japanese horror film actually gave birth to you once?

It would be unwise to disobey Alma if she were your mother, believe me.

2. Would You Kindly? (Bioshock)

Top 10 Video-Game Plot-Twists

When Atlas, the calming voice from your radio who guided you through the decaying labyrinth of Rapture, reveals himself as the presumed-dead Frank Fontaine, gallons of oxygen disappeared around the globe as gamers uttered a collective gasp.

Bioshock’s plot-twist has become synonymous with the game itself, and like it or not, the sequel will be judged by the lofty standards set.

1. You're The Bad Guy (Star Wars: KOTOR)

Top 10 Video-Game Plot-Twists

In the Star Wars universe, if you’ve committed heinous acts and want to repent, you go to a special form of rehab, where your mind is wiped and refilled by sneaky Jedi.

In Knights of the Old Republic, the amnesiac protagonist eventually discovers he is Darth Revan, former Sith Lord and once-master of current Big Bad, Darth Malak. Imagine that?

The End... Or Is It?

Storytelling in video-games is still finding its feet. We must remember that video-games have humble roots when it comes to plot and story. Did Pong have a story? Beyond the space-ship's plight and the aliens' invasion, did Space Invaders? The primary concern in games is how they play. Developers have to juggle strong gameplay mechanics with a cohesive plot, coupling the interactive and the inanimate

If you have any fond memories of shocking or unexpected plot-twists, or feel certain plot-twists mentioned deserve to be higher or lower, feel free to leave a comment below!

Add a comment27 comments
Dan Petersen  Jul. 22, 2009 at 20:36

I was really hoping to see Uncharted on the list. That twist with the curse literally had me thinking, "What the fuck?" Good article, though.

Lukas  Jul. 22, 2009 at 20:43

Come on. Where's Silent Hill 2? Otherwise, very good list!

Harry  Jul. 22, 2009 at 21:08

inFamous should be on here. There was a huge twist in there.
Oh and Portal!

marius  Jul. 22, 2009 at 21:10

I have just started playing Bioshock and knew there was something dodgey about that Irish dude!

WATCH OUT FOR SPOILERS  Jul. 22, 2009 at 21:41

Are you retarded? No warnings for spoilers? :S

Njitram2000  Jul. 22, 2009 at 23:34

When I clicked this link, I said to myself: "I'll kill him if he leaves out Kotor" so I'm really happy to see it made first place! "Would you kindy" is also a very good choice for second place.

darthLegion  Jul. 23, 2009 at 02:26

I don't believe video game stories have any more 'maturing' to do. Games like MGS3 and especially the aformentioned KotOR and Jade Empire prove that. It's simply a matter of there being so few amazing stories to play.

Davey Jay  Jul. 23, 2009 at 05:03

Oh god, KotOR's twist was the greatest. It caught me so off guard, and actually caused me to change my ways (no longer good, I be bad!).
Bioshock's was sweet as shit too.

psn:gamesnskate  Jul. 23, 2009 at 06:22

HOW WAS MGS2 NOT NUMBA 1!?!?!???!??!!?!?!?!?! lol, sorry im just a HUGE MG fan :D

j  Jul. 23, 2009 at 07:15

Dead Space! How you are betrayed by Kendra, who, all the while makes you think it's Zach that's the bad guy.

Oh and the fact that your girlfriend Nicole has been dead all along.

Willy  Jul. 23, 2009 at 13:19

Just spoiled Dead Space on me f*cker =P

mt  Jul. 23, 2009 at 13:34




aquaman839  Jul. 23, 2009 at 14:10

In god of war 2 at the end you learn Zeus is your father. Kind of lame but i think it should be up there. Or in MGS4 where naiomi was trying to destroy the patriots the whole time and she was just using Snake and Liquid to get it done. Going way back to the Mark of Kri for the ps2 you work for some dude collecting sacred seals then it turns out your little sister bears the final seal. So she gets kidnapped and you fight your way and save her. And you got Valkyria Chronicles where one of the main players learns half way through the game she has super powers. There are more but I like the point of the article the story line in games is getting better its gone from being an in house thing to casting big names to write the scripts and even bigger names to voice act. Never played KOTOR but the plot twist seems like the best to me.

Guy  Jul. 23, 2009 at 16:26

Great article and great choices.
I usually don't tend to agree with rankings, but this is one of the few exceptions.

Perhaps another worthy mention would be the classic double dragon, where when playing with 2 players, at the end of the game the girl you came to rescue makes you fight each other and goes with the winner.

Mastershredder  Jul. 23, 2009 at 16:43

One lesser known title I liked for its story and serious plot twist was Cold Winter by Swordfish studios. You work with a female counterpart (Kim) throughout the entire game. There is a great relationship between the characters and they save each other's necks throughout the game. Then towards the end, the villain captures and executes your partner. Leaving you alone on the mission fealing isolated and the interaction you had with Kim totally severed. It really helped build up the revenge scenario. It was an amazing WTF moment.

Black played just like this game and somehow it became the better known title.

dev  Jul. 23, 2009 at 17:01

Someone was seriously offended by there being no playstation exclusives? Come on dude, grow up.

Kyle  Jul. 23, 2009 at 17:42

what about saints row? He was betrayed, and Lin was killed

Danny  Jul. 23, 2009 at 17:52

I think prototype had a shocking plot twist.

Garric Bates  Jul. 23, 2009 at 19:43

MGS4 when you find out Big Boss is alive, when Liquid's arm is not attached to Ocelot and he is just playing it up the whole time. Eva is Liquid and Solid's mother.

asdf  Jul. 23, 2009 at 20:53

lol at fear for ripping off everything from games to movies to anime
yay for jade empire for a really unpredictable twist at the end
and snoozes to bioshock for being unoriginal, pretentious and so damn predictable

Biff  Jul. 24, 2009 at 14:13

How can Aeris dying in final fantay vii not be in the list?

Eagle  Jul. 27, 2009 at 07:32

speaking of nuclear explosions, I prety sure no one oxpected Solano to nuke the chinese/allied base in Mercs 2

Kevin  Aug. 16, 2009 at 01:10

hows is chrono trigger not on here?

Lisa  Oct. 2, 2009 at 10:48

Alright, where are Silent Hill 2 and Portal? Also, Halo's flood and COD 4's bomb are *iconic* moments, not necessarily twists (which I can say the same about Half-Life 2: Ep 2).

Michael Beck  Jan. 1, 2010 at 12:37

Original Mario Bros.
Princess in another castle

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