There used to be a point and time when I used to applaud writers, directors, video game creators, etc. for subverting expectations, even if it meant their final product came off a bit more convoluted than intended. At that point in my life, I was more appreciative of the effort, the actual ambition, and the boldness to give us the unexpected over the predictable. And in a way, I still commend that effort, but a lot of the times you just can't help but hate an ill-placed twist.
In cinema, we can look at films like Fight Club, Gone Girl, and The Sixth Sense to see a great example of a twist done right. And while early video games lacked the complexity for twists, the industry has evolved over time and the writing has improved to the point where twists in games can outdo some of the best twists in books and movies.
Twists have to feel purposeful, and it doesn't take much to spot one that was obviously forced. A recent (and honestly overused) example is the recent Star Wars film where it was evident that the filmmaker's priorities were to "subvert expectations."
Nobody likes twists and turns just for the sake of twists and turns especially when it exposes plot holes or just overly confuses the plot. All that being said, we're gonna look at 15 games that pulled off phenomenal twists and 15 games that were nearly ruined if not completely ruined by their awful twist.
30 What A Twist: BioShock
Might as well start this off the big guns, and the big guns, in this case, are BioShock and its mind-shattering twist. BioShock is not only one of the best video games in terms of atmosphere, graphics, and overall creepiness, but it’s also one of the most well-written games ever.
Any BioShock fan knows the infamy behind the words “Would you kindly?”
The twist is so devious that I still refuse to spoil it to this day, but all I’ll say is pay attention to the details, because the twist is in front of you from the very beginning.
29 In Need Of A Rewrite: Fallout 3
Fallout 3 is a fantastic game, all the way up to its ending. It sucks to see people overlook this entry in favor of its successor Fallout: New Vegas, because this game is still one of the best in the franchise.
The game was much more cinematic and offered a world and atmosphere that was much bleaker than New Vegas.
I can't even defend the ending, because it’s seriously bad. The twist here is that you must sacrifice yourself and enter a highly irradiated room... BUT the game forgets you really should just send in any of your radiation-immune companions instead.
28 What A Twist: Portal
Well, you know there’s going to be some good games on this list when Portal, Fallout 3, and BioShock end up this early. That being said, Portal joins BioShock as a game that features one awesome twist and some of the best writing in a game.
If you think Portal is just a puzzle game, then you’re in for a serious treat.
Portal gets weird, and weird really quick, as you learn you’re not just completing elaborate puzzles for fun but because a psychotic robot basically wants to toy with you until you meet your demise.
27 In Need Of A Rewrite: Bayonetta
I love Bayonetta, so it pains me to include this game here especially with all the hate she's garnered in Smash 4.
There's a lot to praise about the game, because it's just a ton of mindless fun, and the story is pretty dang good too.
The only problem, and it's a minor one, is the twist, as it's really unnecessary. Somewhere in the middle of the game, you'll find a child that has a striking resemblance to Bayonetta, only for you to later learn that it is somehow her.
26 What A Twist: Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic
Even though this game gets a lot of cred from Star Wars fans, I always get the feeling that it's still overlooked. The graphics may look a little rusty by today’s standards, but the game itself is still one of the all-time best RPGs. The twist in KOTOR is that you find out the villain you’ve been chasing the entire game is really you and that you were brainwashed by the Jedi the whole time (talk about role reversal).
25 In Need Of A Rewrite: Star Ocean: Till The End Of Time
Flicks like Spaceballs and Deadpool know how to make outstanding fourth-wall breaking content, but Star Ocean: Till the End of Time is the farthest from that.
While everyone likes a good fourth-wall break every now and then, don't make the mistake of becoming too meta.
Well, what was this terrible twist, you ask? By the end, you find out the world you've been in has been a game the whole time! Fair to say my eyes rolled dangerously far into the back of my head when it happened.
24 What A Twist: Red Dead Redemption
This feels a lot less like a true twist rather just another example of Rockstar once again playing with our expectations within one of their beautifully crafted stories. Sometimes, in a game, your character just feels invincible, and by the end of Red Dead Redemption you’ve drunk all the Kool-aid and believed this fact.
You play John Marston, a grizzly, hardened man who doesn't let anything stop him... well, that is until you're gunned down at the end of the game. This one still rips my heartstrings out but hopefully, we’ll get some “redemption” for Marston in October.
23 In Need Of A Rewrite: Resident Evil 5
The Resident Evil franchise is like a roller coaster; sometimes you dip and get some truly disappointing games, and other times you get your metaphorical highs. Well, Resident Evil 5 is somewhere around the middle of the track.
The twist in RE: 5 seems pretty obvious from the start, yet it still feels somewhat exciting, I guess.
You'll find out that the mysterious figure in the game is actually Jill from the first Resident Evil, which should be exciting, but it isn't.
22 What A Twist: Silent Hill 2
Believe the hype when it comes to Silent Hill 2, because it's seriously spooky and seriously good despite being almost 20 years old. Throughout the game, you'll fight hideously deformed monsters in this empty, completely sinister world only to find out that this entire messed up journey is your character's way of coping with ending his wife. And the best part is that you originally came to Silent Hill to meet his wife, who your character delusionally thought was alive... hello, irony, my sweet and twisted friend.
21 In Need Of A Rewrite: Mirror’s Edge
Truthfully, I’m not even the biggest fan of Mirror’s Edge in the first place. The parkour-inspired gameplay did blow me away like everyone else when I first tried it, but its story always felt inexcusably bad.
Most of the characters seem ignorable, and you’ll be hard-pressed to remember anyone's name by the end of the game.
And the twist is that your good friend and fellow runner Celeste is actually the person you’ve been chasing the whole time; 5 bucks goes to the person who actually cared when it happened.
20 What A Twist: The Last Of Us
The Last of Us is a masterpiece or as I like to say, “it’s a masterpiece, oh so I hear.” I’ve still never taken the time to play it, but it sure does feel like I have played through most of it with all the gameplay I’ve seen.
The twist comes through at the end where our main protagonist Joel finds out he’s been escorting Ellie to her end unknowingly for the entire game. Unfortunately, to find a cure, Ellie must be sacrificed, but Joel ain't having none of it once he finds out.
19 In Need Of A Rewrite: Final Fantasy X
There are so many Final Fantasy games that we could probably fill this list with the franchise’s entries. But we’ll stick to one game taking up each section.
FFX opens up to the antagonist Sin destroying the city of Zanarkand and even ending off the main character Tidus.
While the game tries to make it seem like this actually didn’t happen, it did, and we find out by the end just to undermine the entire game. Any game that takes the “it was all a dream” approach is sure to find its way into this section.
18 What A Twist: Specs Ops The Line
Even though I just said that any game that uses the “it was all a dream” approach would be punished, well, I was kind of lying. Spec Ops: The Line kind of breaks this rule, as you find out by the end of the game that everything you’ve done isn’t quite real.
But even though the twist is more or less the same as FFX, it’s handled so much more maturely. We find out the protagonist actually suffers from dissociative disorder and is hallucinating people you see throughout the game. We recommend you pick it up and see it all play out for yourself.
17 In Need Of A Rewrite: God Of War 3
It’s not an unpopular opinion that God of War 3’s ending pales in comparison to the rest of the game. You’re pursuing Pandora’s Box for the entire game, and after you brutally hack-and-slash your way through all the gods of Olympus you find the coveted box contains… hope?
Oh, did I laugh when I saw this; it actually made me question why the game was receiving flawless 10s because this seemed to be such a glaring issue. But the game was so good that I’m sure many were willing to overlook this, just not me.
16 What A Twist: Braid
I never finished Braid as a kid; it was just too hard. And even into my adult age, I found it hard to finish Braid due to its frustratingly clever puzzles.
But trust us, there’s a reason why this game is regarded as one of the best indie games ever created.
Throughout the whole game, you're pursuing a distressed princess, and you’ll figure everything else is pretty black and white from there. Nope, all the nopes, because you find out you're actually the villain and the princess was running away from you the whole time.
15 In Need Of A Rewrite: Metal Gear Solid 2
Metal Gear Solid 2 is still a great game in the franchise, but man, I can only imagine the disappointment that gamers felt when most of the game was predominantly played through Raiden, not Snake.
This game had to live up to the hype set by the first game, but to be fair that's a goal not easily achieved. The twist feels more like a troll because you play the first mission as Snake and then you just play Raiden for the rest of the game, proving yet again that Kojima is one weird dude.
14 What A Twist: Fallout 4
Fallout 4 gets a lot of hate, and trust me I’m one of the first to jump on that hate bandwagon. Even though I’ve sunk 200 hours in the game, I just can’t get over that dialogue system or those “okay” graphics.
And even though the story is subpar for the most part, the twist incorporated at the end was truly surprising.
You’re searching for your son the entire time and you're conditioned to expect him to still be young, or at least youngish. When you find him, he’s not only older than you but getting ready to pass on.
13 In Need Of A Rewrite: Infamous
The Infamous games are some of the most underrated on the PlayStation consoles. They offer some of the most fun in a game that sees you controlling a superhero-esque character, and yet you play a completely original character that doesn't stem from a Marvel or DC comic.
I kind of hate the twist as it feels a bit too cliché for my taste. You find out the antagonist is actually you the whole time and went back in time to create these events to shape you. Time travel plots like this confuse the heck out of me.
12 What A Twist: Metroid
Some would probably hate us for including this one, but this is an essential twist to gaming. Yes, when it boils down to it this twist is just subverting the expectations we all had of Samus being a guy.
But this twist was crazy progressive at the time and gave us the first female in gaming that solved her own problems.
One of the most important moments in gaming will forever be when Samus takes off her helmet showing off her long, pixelated hair and revealing she was a woman the whole time.
11 In Need Of A Rewrite: Call Of Duty: Black Ops
I wrestled with this one for a while because I was pretty blown away by this twist as a kid, confused yet blown away. But looking back on it this ending feels more like a discount version of the twist in Spec Ops: The Line.
You’ll find out towards the end of the game that your companion Viktor Reznoz has actually been gone the whole time.
It might feel crazy at the time, but by the end, it’ll feel really pointless and there just for the sake of being there.
10 What A Twist: Shadow Of Colossus
Any time I get the opportunity to talk about endings I always have to bring up Shadow Of Colossus. The ending is one of the most jarring ever, as your “simple” adventure of climbing rock titan dudes is turned completely on its head.
You find out that you’ve actually been helping the bad guy the entire time by slaying the beasts, and you're betrayed by this villain as he goes on to possess your body. Fortunately you save your beloved, but before she even wakes up to see you, you’re ended, only for her to never know your heroics.
9 In Need Of A Rewrite: Mass Effect 3
Well, I guess we just have to have this one on here, now don’t we? Even though it’s a meme at this point, the original ending was a little trite for a series that featured such complex writing.
The twist ending here being that really nothing matters in the Mass Effect universe.
Honestly, I didn't hate the original because it felt dark, bleak, and a little realistic. But it was changed almost immediately and BioWare's integrity was thrown out the window, along with their ability to make good games.
8 What A Twist: BioShock Infinite
I’ll have no problem defending this game to my grave, because it not only lived up to the hype but surpassed it in my opinion. By the end of the game, you’ll find out that you're actually your companion Elizabeth’s father and you’re also the villain you’ve been chasing. But what I love is that these aren’t even the main twists; you also find out that the entire BioShock universe is a series of vastly different worlds that coincidentally always contain the same three elements: a man, a city, and a lighthouse.
7 In Need Of A Rewrite: Outlast
Outlast is one of my favorite horror games of the past decade; I can’t even count the number of times I jumped from my chair or aggressively slammed on my keyboard out of fear.
What sucks about the game, though, is how unnecessarily convoluted the game gets by its final act. It was enthralling to find out deranged experiments were taking place in the asylum, but the game tried to explain so much that the ambiguity and the fun took a major hit.
6 What A Twist: Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy VII is the entry that most people have at least tried. And that’s for a very good reason, as it’s one of the best games in the series.
Aeris, a major character in the game who also feels like Cloud’s love interest, is suddenly ended by the main villain Sephiroth. This is just such a crazy unexpected way to deal with a main character in the middle of the game that we just have to praise Final Fantasy VII.
5 In Need Of A Rewrite: Bionic Commando
There were some weird games on the last gen consoles, games that felt like they just took up their own genre of being okay, but kind of terrible too. Well, Bionic Commando is the perfect example of one of those games.
The voice acting features several cringe-worthy moments, but the gameplay feels fun enough where you’ll definitely find some enjoyment out of the game.
Just don’t get too invested in the story, because the major twist and plot point in this story is finding out your bionic arm is really your wife. No, really.
4 What A Twist: Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Just like Final Fantasy VII’s twist, the first Modern Warfare shattered our expectations by getting rid of most of the main characters halfway through the game. You play as two different protagonists, but out of nowhere one of those characters is taken out, and not in a one on one gunfight or an ultimate shootout. He gets nuked.
One second you're taking out baddies, and the next you're spiraling out of a helicopter after a nuclear bomb goes off. And they don’t sugarcoat anything in this scene. You watch your character wander around aimlessly, just to perish.
3 In Need Of A Rewrite: Super Mario Bros. 2
This is what started it, this is what caused Biggie to write those lyrics about it “all being a dream.” Super Mario Bros. 2 is one of the strangest in the franchise, as it’s really just a reskin of another platforming game.
That being said, the game is still a crazy good time and it defined the characteristics of Peach, Mario, Luigi, and Toad.
But as you finish the game you realize it was all just going on in Mario’s head the whole time. It makes sense, since the game is really weird, but it still feels kind of lame regardless.
2 What A Twist: Batman: Arkham City
Not only is this one of the greatest twists in gaming, but it might be one of the best setups to an ending. Batman is back and this time even more villains are running around making the stakes much higher.
Once again, you take on the Joker in the end, but you find out the Joker you’ve been chasing is actually Clayface and you’re forced to fight him first. After defeating Clayface, the real Joker actually stabs you, making you drop the cure to his illness. Batman says "You want to know something funny? Even after everything you've done... I would have saved you."
1 In Need Of A Rewrite: Heavy Rain
I know all of you expected to see this game on here, and many if not all of you probably didn’t expect to see it in this section. Well, this twist is historic, and definitely one of the most cinematic in any game, but it's pretty plot-holey.
You find out detective Scott Shelby is the Origami villain, but that would put Shelby in a few impossible situations in the game as he can’t be in two places at once. Call it a nitpick, but know that this twist is still one of the big ones.