There are tons of great video game stories, but as a medium, we still have a long way to go to match that of films. It's a lot harder to pace a game compared to a movie. This is especially true when it comes to open-world games with side quests. Imagine if a movie was forty hours long. Yeah, not a pretty picture is it? That's not really the point of this article though, but it is somewhat related. In order to make a story stick out, plot twists are implemented — for better or worse. Most of the games below have great narratives, but the related plot twists ruin part of the experience for me. There is definitely a pattern in some of these, including misdirecting players through false information, or making a protagonist the villain. That latter one, in particular, bothers me and keeps popping up every now and again.
Now I could have easily picked on just a few franchises, but I limited myself to just one game per series. Final Fantasy is a good example, as you’ll see below. I should also mention that: Beyond this point is a SPOILER zone. The headlines alone give away plot details so if you’re wary of SPOILERS in popular video games, get outta here! I'm delaying the inevitable — let's get that blood boiling.
15 Final Fantasy VIII: Everyone Has amnesia
Three Final Fantasy games immediately came to mind when I took on this article. For example, there's Cloud being a clone in Final Fantasy VII, and Tidus being dead the entire time in Final Fantasy X. Nothing compares to Squall and the other party members suffering from group amnesia though. Summons in this game can be equipped to characters as guardians. While it makes the user stronger it also apparently erases their memories. It turns out almost everyone knew each other as kids, and the evil Edea was actually their caretaker. It’s almost like the writers had a group meeting just about how to top Cloud’s memory loss. Oh yes, let’s make the entire cast suffer from amnesia. Brilliant! It’s a little detail that’s so dumb to me.
14 Bionic Commando (2009): Your Arm Is Your Wife
That headline isn't being hyperbolic. Your mechanical arm, in the 2009 reboot of Bionic Commando, is your wife. Why in dear God's name did they have to give backstory to a cybernetic arm? Can’t it just be a cool arm? Someone watched too much Neon Genesis Evangelion, (I acknowledge most of you will not get this joke). Anyway, the story goes that cybernetics attach better to a host when there is some sort of familiar catalyst. So in order to make the protagonist, Nathan Spencer, into a super soldier the company he works for kidnapped his wife, killed her, then put her brain in his arm. All this time he was looking for her too, but he didn’t have far to go. It’s ridiculous, but I’m not that mad about it because this game sucks overall.
13 Bioshock Infinite: Booker Is Comstock
I already alluded to this earlier, but I hate when video games make you into the bad guy. Being an anti-hero is fine. Take all of the Grand Theft Auto games for instance. I mean this literally. Booker, your character, is actually the main antagonist, Comstock, in the future. Actually, to be more precise it's a future in an alternate timeline. Why did Booker have to be Comstock? Can't he just be a terrible person without this twist? It just doesn't make any sense, but neither does any plot relating to time travel, or alternate dimensions. Logic is tossed aside for a quick succession of cheap jump twists by the end. What’s a jump twist? It’s like a jump scare, but with a twist. Easy, right? They’re fun at first, but when you stop to think about everything nothing makes sense anymore.
12 Metal Gear Solid 2: Raiden Replaces Snake
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was the first game I ever played in the franchise Transitioning from Snake to Raiden wasn't that big of a shock to me as it was to longtime fans of the series. While it wasn't initially painful my mind changed slowly over time. Raiden just sucks as a character. He’s full of himself, and a whiner at the same time. In particular listening to his conversations with his girlfriend, Rose, is like having hundreds of mosquitoes fly inside your head. Thankfully he got better in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. He was redeemed into a complete badass, but he will still forever suck as the hero of Sons of Liberty.
11 Silent Hill 2: James Killed His Wife
Coincidentally I played Silent Hill 2 immediately after Metal Gear Solid 2. That’s a tale for another day. Anyway, the story follows James Sunderland who travels to a decrepit town after he receives a letter from his dead wife, Mary. James is met by other characters with problems worse than his own along with hordes of creepy monsters. The worst of which is the manikin rapist, Pyramid Head. This all leads to the revelation that James killed his wife and everything that encompassed the town was of his inner guilt. That’s pretty messed up! I thought I was going to play a game like Resident Evil, but Silent Hill 2 makes that series look like Sesame Street comparatively. In this instance, you are actually the bad guy. Worse yet I got the ending where James kills himself upon finding out. It left me feeling unclean. Just think back to it now is unsettling. At least there was no time travel involved.
10 Metroid: Samus Is A woman
Don't immediately take that out of context. I'm not upset that Samus is a woman. I'm upset that it was framed as a twist at all. In the original North American manual for Metroid, Samus is referred to as a man. That's not just a mistranslation either. In both the Japanese text and the localized version Samus is referred to as "he" as a misdirect so that the credits scene is a twist. But why? It doesn't change the game. For instance, say Samus had a girlfriend she interacted with throughout the game. If it was later revealed she was a woman that'd be more of an impact. Samus is a lesbian? No way! As it stands now, it’s just kind of lame. She’s also treated like a sexual prize too with that skimpy suit. This whole thing feels sleazy.
9 Heavy Rain: Scott Shelby Is The Origami Killer
In Heavy Rain you can control four characters that are somehow all interwoven into a murder mystery involving someone known as the Origami Killer. The game misdirects you into thinking Ethan Mars, a father looking for his kidnapped son, is the killer. He blacks out periodically to find an origami figure in his hand afterward. My theory was that he had a split personality. Nope. Turns out Shelby was the killer making every action he makes questionable. Sure it's a good twist if it made sense, but it doesn't. Believing he's the killer takes a Grand Canyon leap of logic. Scott Shelby is just the tip of the iceberg of this plot hole filled disaster too. For what it's worth I still like this game — plot holes, bad voice acting, clunky controls, and all.
8 The Last Guardian: Trico Isn't The Last One
It was hard narrowing down exactly what I wanted to complain about regarding The Last Guardian. My first inclination was to call out that Trico and the boy not dying a twist as the general populous guessed someone was going to die. So that in itself is a twist, but it's also combined with my main issue in that there are other Trico beasts around. Not one either as was teased in a trailer. There are actually dozens flying around the tower by the end of the game. My annoyance with this twist comes from disappointment. Not that there had to be only one beast. That's a clever misdirection. No, my problem comes from why. Why are there so many still coming to this tower? What's their purpose? Why is Trico chained up? What's with the guardian soldiers? I mean this place is in ruins, and yet it still functions. For who? There's no resolve other than the boy explaining how he escaped. I'm sure perhaps I missed something, but seriously those flocks of bird cats make no sense. It’s such a gimmicky twist. We have not one, not two, but dozens of guardians. What a twist!
7 Spec Ops The Line: Everything Is An illusion
Spec Ops: The Line was the first game I played in the franchise. I thought I was in for a Call of Duty-like ride through a terrorist-infested landscape. Most of the game is just that until you’re greeted by the ending twist. The villainous army colonel, John Konrad, has been dead this whole time. The Walkie Talkie transmissions the protagonist, Martin Walker, received was all in his head along with other illusions. Stress created this warp in his brain. If he had been alone, I would have bought this revelation hook line and sinker, but he wasn’t. Walker had two squad mates with him that could have easily said something to negate any misguided thoughts. That would make too much sense though — and it would have ruined the twist. Can’t have that.
6 Uncharted 4: Sam's Lies
Despite what I said in my adventure games better than Uncharted 4 list, I still like it a lot. There’s one striking thing I didn’t like about it though and that’s Sam. It’s one of those plot points I hate in any medium where a family member is introduced way late in a series. "What? I didn’t tell you I had a long lost brother? Must have slipped my mind!" If he was a likable character maybe I wouldn’t mind, but Sam sucks. Sam is the scum of the Earth. He lies to Drake several times throughout the adventure, but the worst lie of all is that no one is making him get the treasure. He was simply released from jail, got information on this treasure, and lied to Drake in order to get him involved. My biggest disappointment with this whole thing is that he didn’t die. He lies, all is forgiven, and that’s that. Bros will be bros I guess.
5 Red Dead Redemption: John Dies, Replaced By His Son
Red Dead Redemption is Rockstar’s best game and quite possibly the best Western game ever made. It follows the exploits of John Marston, a former outlaw trying to do good from his evil past. I thought the ending was going to involve him dying, but only after he got revenge. Nope. This revenge was passed onto his son, Jack, who was an innocent in all of this. It was cool to play as Jack as an adult, but my problem is that he became a killer. Yes, you could argue for the greater good, but it was still for revenge. I wanted better for Jack. It’s like the message is: you can’t change your past not only for yourself, but your family as well. Maybe this is just a critique on the Westerns in general.
4 Infamous: You're fighting Against Yourself
The Infamous games are some of the best superhero titles around, and they’re not even based on licensed characters. Despite this, Infamous still manages to crawl up its own ass into convoluted plot lines reminiscent of both DC and Marvel arcs. Our narrative follows a delivery boy named Cole MacGrath. One day he took the wrong package, which caused an explosion in the city and also gave him electrified supernatural powers. The man behind this attack and the incidents that follow is Kessler. In the final fight, Kessler reveals that he’s actually Cole from another timeline. To prevent future events from happening he traveled back in time and became a villain in order to shape Cole’s ambition. Oh, the twisted logic of bad guys. By this point, you know my stance on the hero being the villain via time travel. It’s lame. It’s lazy. It’s lamzy.
3 Mass Effect 3: In The End Nothing Really Matters
Mass Effect’s ending isn’t the worst in the world. I was more upset that BioWare didn’t stick to their guns and instead caved to change the outcome based on fan outcry. It wasn’t even a good change either. No matter how much you prepared, all you do is walk down one of three colored pathways. Wow, how creative. As lame as this was it doesn’t really effect how I feel about the stories and paths I created before this final confrontation. For me, it was all about the journey. Plus I choose to believe in the Indoctrination Theory anyway. If you haven’t seen it and are still mad about the ending take a look at this video. You’ll feel better and worse all at the same time.
2 Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance: Sora Is In A Nightmare
Kingdom Hearts is seriously one of the most confusing franchises of all time. The narrative has been stretched to its limits with spinoffs all in order to keep fans preoccupied before the third major release. Dream Drop Distance is the pinnacle of what the *BLANK* is going. So it begins with Sora and Riku being tasked with awakening Sleeping Keyholes in a dream world. Whoever prevails will be honored as a Keyblade Master. It turns out Organization XIII put Sora to sleep so everything he’s been doing was a dream, but also Riku has been going through Sora’s mind this whole time. Er, something like that. It still doesn’t make any sense to me let alone somehow Xehanort can travel through time. Couldn’t this just be a simple plot for once? Convoluted Hearts is what this series should really be called. Call Sheldon over here. We have a Bazinga!
1 Resident Evil VII: Your Wife Is A Soldier For A Bio-Weapon Company
Resident Evil VII has its problems, name included, but I loved its new take on the franchise, while still keeping elements of the games before it. That is up until you switch perspectives from Ethan to Mia. Aboard a dilapidated ship, Mia remembers that she’s part of some origination trying to keep a bio-weapon at bay. It’s never revealed who this company is, but regardless of which, she’s deeply involved. Maybe if her background were properly explained I’d be less upset. Who does she work for? Why did she keep it from Ethan? How long has this been going on? You get the idea. For now, it’s a cliffhanger that will hopefully be explored in Chris’ DLC campaign. I’m hoping for satisfying answers, but am preparing for the worst. At least it’ll be free.