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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.)
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)
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)
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!