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Top 10 Plot Twists in Gaming
Total spoilers ahead, guys. That is obvious by the title but here’s the warning!
Ever have a moment while playing that made you put down the controller, walk away, and just say “what?”. Good writers can do that in any kind of media. Games have an increased feeling to those moments, though, because you are controlling the experience. You are the reason these events come to pass. When a story comes to a major turn of events or throws the proverbial curve ball at you, the controller shakes in your hands as you realize what you made possible. Some are more powerful than others and in my opinion these are the best in gaming going from “whoa!” reactions to “oh….my….god.”
The man who trained Solid Snake has quite the history in the series if you read into it. A solider with such great knowledge in combat and science that was around for the columbian incident and helped Big Boss. After that era, Miller adopted a new name and found his way to Solid Snake. During the Shadow Moses incident (Metal Gear Solid 1), Miller contacted Snake to give him help during his mission to stop Liquid and Revolver Ocelot. He becomes especially helpful when you finally reach the Metal Gear facility. Once Snake obtains the key cards necessary to “stop” Metal Gear REX, Miller calls and reveals himself as a decoy. It was Liquid all along. Liquid was using you to obtain everything necessary to start Metal Gear since he failed to obtain the codes from the DARPA Chief and the Armstech President. He lied the time. Throughout the whole game you were the pawn placing the pieces where the master wanted them. Liquid knew you would stop their plan and did the only thing he could: pulled at one of maybe three heart strings Snake had left; his memories of his training with Master Miller.
Castlevania has always been about storming the Vampire Lord’s keep and ending Dracula’s reign of tyranny for good. Of course, he never ceases to be resurrected in some way. There have been plenty of ups and downs in this series but quite possibly one of the best story lines came from Aria of Sorrow. You spend the whole game seeking to bind all of the demonic creatures in the castle. As the story progresses you learn more and more about a reincarnation for the dark lord. You meet a man named Graham who acts as your friend but attempts to become Dracula. After you defeat him, you take his soul and realize that you, Soma Cruz, are the reincarnation of Dracula. You will come become the dark lord and inherit the castle.
A horrible tragedy brings James to Silent Hill after receiving a letter from his dead wife. James goes through the accursed town and all the terrible things that come packaged with it. James also comes face-to-face with a terrifying monster called Pyramid Head that is chasing him through the town. His new found friends that he encounters in Silent Hill all come to gruesome ends and James feels more loss in his life. Finally, James finds a tape which shows him what really happened to his wife. He killed her. The choices that occur after that revelation are very deep and disturbing. The letter that James got in the beginning of the game was fake. In fact, it never existed. James was drawn to Silent Hill by his own conscience. Pyramid Head was the manifestation of all his emotions and his conscience himself trying to get the best of him. Finally, James succumbs to the horrible things he’s done as we find out in Silent Hill 4: The Room that he is still missing.
A freakish explosion devastates a few blocks in Empire City. The main character, Cole MacGrath, is at the center of it and because of this is granted power over electricity and the ability to conduct it. Cole is able to use his powers for both good or bad but when gangs rise up to take control of the city, Cole winds up in the middle of it. One gang, the Reapers, gain crazy weapons and abilities thanks to the event earlier in the game. Cole is also periodically challenged by a madman named Kessler whose sole purpose seems to be ruining Cole’s life. Cole’s love interest Trish falls to her death because of Kessler. When you finally confront Kessler at the point where the explosion occurred, you find out that Kessler is someone you know. In fact, its you. From the future. Sound a bit cliche? Well, hold on. Your future self comes back and activates the explosion that grants you these powers earlier than it is supposed to happen. Why? Because in the future there is a horrific and extremely powerful being known simply as “The Beast”. Kessler comes back in time and orchestrates all of the events that you go through in the game just so you will come to terms with your new life and powers faster than he did. You will fight this Beast and you will die. Unless, you heed the warning that Kessler (your future self that you kill in the final battle) gives you.
NIER is a game every RPG fan should play. It is extremely underrated and has some of the best music in gaming history. That being said, the story can be kind of hard to follow. You play as Nier who is the father of a very sick child named Yonah. You dedicate your life to finding a cure for her and will do any kind of job to get help from people. During the game, Nier comes in possession of a talking book called Grimoire Weiss. You and Weiss team up to find a cure for Yonah’s illness, The Black Scrawl. Yonah is captured by a monster called the Shadowlord who controls the terrifying creatures called Shades that roam the world. The Shadowlord has his own book, Grimoire Noir. When you go to defeat the Shadowlord, Nier and Weiss are brought into a conflict with two characters that have helped you earlier in the game. They reveal that they’ve been giving you so much to do in the village to keep you from completing your quest. Why? Because you’ve been killing Shades. They reveal that a long, long time ago the world was being ravaged by the Black Scrawl sickness. The human body couldn’t fight it off or find a cure. So everyone’s souls were extracted from their bodies to be preserved and brought back when the cure was found. The Shades are the souls of humans that have gone aggressive due to their time away from their bodies. The Shadowlord is actually Nier’s soul from the past trying to save his daughter. Finally, Nier and Yonah are truly reuinited after Nier saves her soul from the Shade. Crazy, crazy stuff.
Star Ocean 3 is a wonderful RPG with plenty of content and hidden things to do. The characters are very likable and the story is gripping. During the story, an extremely powerful race from deep space called Executioners attack and begin destroying armadas left and right. On the Moonbase, the party is attacked by an Executioner called the Proclaimer noting that they must be destroyed. You find out that the Executioners go after anyone who tries and researches these strange symbols that are all over the galaxy. Apparently those who research them anger the Creator and the Executioners destroy them. Upon reaching the Time Gate, the party is transported into “4D” space and find out that their entire galaxy is actually a video game played by those in this realm. “Eternal Sphere” is an MMO and the party is a part of it. The Executioners were summoned because the Creator, a developer named Luther, believes that the characters in the game are becoming too smart for their own good. You meet the Creator’s sister Blair who wants to help you and find Luther. Blair tries to convince Luther that these characters have transcended their programming and achieved consciousness making them real. Luther deemed them just data and if they rebel like this then the game must be deleted. The party fights the Creator and destroys him but cannot stop the deletion process. The characters believe in their own progress and how far they’ve come and they transcend into 4D space which cancels out the deletion as the galaxy is now real.
KOTOR is an amazing experience. Everything from the gameplay from the exciting story just screams an authentic Star Wars experience. As a person aboard the Endar Spire, your character is charged with making sure their prized cargo, the Jedi Knight Bastila is safe when the ship is attacked by forces of the Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Malak. As you finally make your way through the story, you learn about the Jedi Civil War and what happened during the Mandalorian Wars. Two Jedi Knights, Revan and Malak, went against the Council’s orders, banded together a bunch of Jedi, and helped the Republic against the Mandalorians. Something happened during the war that turned Revan and Malak and they disappeared. When they resurfaced, Revan had become the Dark Lord of the Sith with Malak as his apprentice. The two waged war on the Republic and killed many people. Malak eventually betrayed his master and left Revan for dead. Bastila and other Jedi found Revan and brought him to the Jedi Council. The Council deemed Revan too dangerous but they wouldn’t just kill him. They “reprogrammed” Revan’s mind and hid all the things he had done. Your character goes through many hardships in the fight against Malak and the ultra powerful Star Forge weapon. You are Revan. You are the one who the Council “reprogrammed”. With your memories seeping in every now and then, you personally take the quest in your hands to undone the terrible things you’ve done. You attempt to clear your name by stopping the enemy you helped create.
BioShock is a unique vision that includes a massive underwater metropolis and a terrible tragedy that has brought it to its knees. Andrew Ryan, the creator of this wondrous place also has helped create a biological miracle called Plasmids that augment humans to let them do the craziest of things. When the citizens go crazy with power, Rapture is nearly destroyed. As a crash survivor, you explore Rapture and come in contact with a man named Atlas. Atlas is guiding you to him in order to get out of there alive. Throughout the game, Atlas asks you if you would kindly perform some acts around Rapture in able to ensure their escape. Towards the end of the game you run into Andrew Ryan who reveals that you are his illegitimate child who was taken from him at an early age by Fontaine. Fontaine contacts you and “asks you kindly” to kill your father. You kill Andrew Ryan and Atlas reveals himself as Fontaine who had conditioned you to react to that phrase and do whatever was asked. Fontaine leave you to die with the corpse of your father. If you chose to save the Little Sisters, they came to your rescue and saved you from Rapture. Throughout the entire game, you were doing the bidding of the man trying to undo everything your father did. An illegitimate son used to take down the father.
Final Fantasy VI is a wild ride that deals with our characters trying to overthrow a dictatorship spearheaded by a madman. The war against the empire brings in the Espers, god-like creatures. The Empire attempted to negotiate a peace with the characters and the Espers. One of the Empire’s generals, Kefka, attacked the Espers and kills them. He then steals all of the magical essence that was held within them. Kefka kills the Emperor and ruins the balance of the magical powers of the world which causes massive destruction to the entire planet. The apocalypse-like event leaves the characters stranded until they finally reunite a year later and form a new offensive against Kefka. The party eventually destroyed Kefka and spreads the magical powers back out. You end the game by watching the world slowly rebuild itself. The thing is, you feel a strong sense of failure in this game. Final Fantasy VI makes you lose. Kefka, the main bad guy, gets what he wants: power and destruction.
The Metal Gear franchise is one for the books. It is extremely amazing to witness and the story is second-to-none. Once you realize everything that unfolds and piece together events, you realize just how amazing Metal Gear is. Unfortunately, a lot of people dismiss these games as they can be hard to follow. I’m going to try my best and explain the story of Solid Snake and show you just why this is not only the best story ever told in gaming history but also contains the best plot twist ever.
Solid Snake, the series’ main protagonist, is originally sent in to Outer Haven to stop a plan by the war criminal Big Boss. After that, you successful stop Big Boss by seemingly killing him on Zanzibar Island. Fast forward to the Shadow Moses incident (Metal Gear Solid 1) where Snake is brought back into action for the Foxhound Unit to stop a terrorist cell trying to take control of a walking nuclear tank called Metal Gear REX. The cell is headed by your brother, codenamed Liquid Snake. Liquid reveals that he and Solid Snake are genetic clones of Big Boss. Every soldier under the employ of Liquid were also clones but Liquid and Solid were the most like Big Boss, making him their father. At the end of MGS1, you stop Metal Gear and Liquid succumbs to the Foxdie virus after you defeat him twice. Foxdie is a virus that was placed inside every clone of Big Boss to ensure no clone could follow in their daddy’s footsteps and repeat the events of Outer Haven and Zanzibar.
In Metal Gear Solid 2, Snake and his close friend Ocaton are a part of a shadow group spearheaded by the UN to track and disable an Metal Gear prototypes around the world. Metal Gear Ray is taken by Revolver Ocelot, who escaped Shadow Moses. Ocelor now also has an arm of Liquid Snake grafted onto his body where Ocelot lost his arm back in the first game.. Ocelot is working with the Russians and a terrorist cell called Dead Cell who eventually take over a huge oil platform called Big Shell off the coast of Manhattan. A new Foxhound agent codenamed Raiden infiltrates Big Shell and meets up with a survivor of the Seal Teams brought in, Iroquois Pliskin. Raiden also comes in contact with Solidus Snake who claims to be another deep-gene clone like Liquid and Solid. Pliskin reveals himself to be Solid Snake (easily seen if you play the game) and both him and Raiden fight Solidus. Solidus proves too difficult and he succeeds with the destruction of Big Shell. The thing is, Big Shell was just a front for a massive project. There was no oil in the platform. Big Shell was just a surface house for a gigantic evolution of the Metal Gear project called Arsenal Gear. Solidus takes control of Arsenal and sends the armies of Metal Gear Ray’s after Raiden and Snake. When it comes down to the finale, Raiden finds out that Solidus is his father and they were both used to by the Patriots, a political super group that control the media and information networks. Raiden was conditioned since a little boy to be the perfect soldier. The entire Big Shell incident was actually planned by the Patriots in order to train Raiden to be strong enough to defeat Solid Snake, Ocelot, and Solidus. Raiden is forced to kill his father and stop Arsenal Gear. The Patriots contact Raiden and tell him that the S3 Initiative (Solid Snake Simulation) was to ensure they had a controlled solider at the tier of Solid Snake for the future. Raiden rejects them and begins his life anew knowing that Snake would take care of the Patriots. After all this, Otacon finds out some disturbing news: the Patriots have all been dead for almost 100 years.
Metal Gear Solid 3 shows the backstory of Big Boss. It is based back during the Cold War. Big Boss, then just codenamed Naked Snake, infiltrators the jungles of the USSR to retrieve a brilliant scientist. The mission is deemed a failure when Naked Snake’s mentor, The Boss, defects and joins a rogue group headed by USSR Colonel Volgin. Volgin, The Boss, and this splinter group seize the Shagohod, a Metal Gear-like protoype and two nuclear missiles. Volgin detonates one of the missles to cover up his plot and the United States blames The Boss for it. This is when the mission changes for Naked Snake. As the US comes into a secret negotiation with the USSR to stop Volgin, Snake becomes their only agent in the field to do the job. Snake teams up with another American defector who is actually trying to stop Volgin, EVA. Together they do what they can to stop the Shagohod and Volgin. Snake eventually learns of an Illuminati-like super group made of American, Russian, and Chinese leaders called The Philosophers. The group eventually broke apart at the end of World War II and their vast, vast amount of money was stolen by Volgin. This is why the US originally wanted to go into the USSR, to retrieve the money. Snake meets up with Volgin, takes out the Shagohod and kills the colonel. He and EVA retreat to a lake house where they try and escape. Snake encounters The Boss there and manages to kill her. They get to escape and retreat to Alaska. Snake finds out that EVA is a Chinese spy sent to try and take the Phiosphers’ Legacy (their giant cash stash) and that The Boss didn’t actually defect from America. She was went by the US to try and get the Legacy back. Naked Snake makes it back to the US and is awarded the title of Big Boss and a bunch of medals. However, Big Boss is so distraught from everything that happens, he eventually defects himself and plans to create a haven for all soldiers.
In Metal Gear Solid 4, we are back to the close future and Solid Snake is affected by a process of the cloning that created him. He is rapidly aging and does not have long to live. Roy Campbell, one of Snake’s closest friends returns to ask Snake for one more favor: stop Liquid Snake once and for all. Liquid has apparently taken full control of Ocelot’s mind and body. He is staging a large coup against the various Private Military Companies that are being deployed all around the world in a bunch of wars. Liquid takes control of every soldier who has a certain set of nanomachines in them and amasses a large force in which he calls the Guns of the Patriots. We learn that the Patriots, the group who eventually came in possession of the Philosopher’s Legacy now control all of the PMC’s which is why Liquid went after them.
We also find out that the list of the Patriots that Otacon came in possession of back in MGS2 was a list of the Philosopher’s and that the Patriots were commissioned AI cores that each have a purpose. One core controls the media, one controls information, etc. etc. All together, the Patriots AI is the most powerful entity on the planet and Ocelot is attempting to destroy them and regain the freedom the world had lost because of them. Big Boss’ old comrades, Major Zero and the others were the ones who obtained the Philosopher’s Legacy and they built the Patriots to control. We learn that throughout this entire series, Solid Snake was just a tool of the Patriots. The perfect soldier to combat Ocelot’s grand coup against them. Snake eventually kills Ocelot and finds himself in the main server room for the Patriots. He deactivates them using a new virus called FoxAlive. With the Patriots gone, the war economy stops and freedom is regained. The tool of the Patriots still manages to overcome them.
At the end of the game, we are treated to an hour long cinematic which ties up the relationships and stories of the series. Snake is standing at a grave alone and is visited by Big Boss. Still alive after all this time, they have a conversation in which Big Boss explains that MGS4’s Drebin was put place by him to hand out a new strain of Foxdie that would cancel out the entire virus. Snake would be safe but still wouldn’t live long due to the cloning. Big Boss sets things straight wit his son before dying in his arms. Snake lives out the rest of his life in peace.
That. That, my dear friends, is why Metal Gear is the best franchise in gaming history. The emotion, the suspense, and the pure scale of the entire story is unparalleled. If you don’t believe me, play the series out. Just do it. Do it and tell me that you weren’t on the edge of your seat pushing Solid Snake on and screaming at your TV as he inched forward bit-by-bit trying to finally right his wrongs and end the Patriots. I have never felt that kind of suspense from a game before. I’m also not ashamed to admit that at the end of it all, a series that I had started playing back in the NES era, I shed a tear for one simply phrase. “Snake… had a hard life.” Whew.
Why is that the best plot twist of all time, though? You are the perfect soldier. Fighting for what’s right. Or so you thought. A twist not seen until the finale of the story. You were a tool of the enemy doing what they wanted. Yet you fought and struck back at the hand that fed you in the ultimate test of survival and endurance. You ended the Patriots. You freed the world when you were meant to deliver it. You were Solid Snake. The perfect soldier. The perfect character.
Ed. Note: I apparently need to re-play Metal Gear Solid 4 again. Please look to the comments for correction to certain aspects of that game’s story. While the main point of adding MGS4 to this list stays intact, I do feel embaressed for not remembering the full plot for one of my favorite games. Thank you for the corrections!