Twist endings certainly aren’t a must. Many classic video games have ended as expected — with the hero rescuing the princess from the clutches of an evil villain. But then there are those games that go wildly against the grain and seek to reinvent the very genre that they exist in.
When these games can pull off their surprise endings, they can make the player rethink the dozens of hours they just sunken into the game, causing in them want to immediately go back and play it again. So which games did this the best?
10 Facing Your Rival — Pokémon Red and Blue
After defeating the Gym Leaders and climbing your way up to the Elite Four — the supposed final challenge in this Game Boy classic — many players were shocked to discover that there was still one more enemy that needed to be taken down afterward: your rival.
It may be old news now, but back in the '90s players were certainly thrown for a loop when they thought they had completed the game, only to be thrown headfirst into their toughest challenge of all.
9 The Marker — Dead Space
In this survival horror game, the player takes on the role of Isaac, an engineer trapped aboard an abandoned ship that’s crawling with monsters. Throughout the game, Isaac receives numerous messages from his girlfriend, Nicole, which helps him recover “the Marker” that’s needed to stop the alien necromorphs from wreaking havoc.
However, these visions of Nicole are shown to be nothing more than hallucinations caused by “the Marker,” which the necromorphs need to continue their destruction. Of course, with reality not as it seems, whose to say what is and isn't real in this mind-bending game?
8 Brainwashed —BioShock
In BioShock, the player takes on the role of Jack, a plane crash survivor who stumbles onto the underwater city of Rapture, which has fallen into chaos after the plans of its developer, Andrew Ryan, spiral wildly out of control. Throughout the game, Jack is instructed via radio by a man named Atlas to complete various objectives. Since Atlas helps keep Jack alive, the player naturally follows his commands.
But at the end of BioShock, it's revealed that Jack has been brainwashed, and every time Atlas begins a command with "Would you kindly," Jack is forced to follow his commands. And you thought you were willingly playing the game this whole time.
7 Covered Tracks — Heavy Rain
A divisive ending if there ever was one, Heavy Rain follows the story of a father desperately trying to save his son before he falls victim to the Origami Killer. Throughout the game, you take on multiple roles, including that of the private investigator Scott Shelby.
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But while Scott is one of the more likable characters in the game, he is ultimately revealed to be the heinous criminal — one who has a particularly heartbreaking backstory. This kind of twist has certainly been done before, but rarely has it been quite as gut-wrenching as it is in Heavy Rain.
6 Stalker-Mode — Braid
In most games, you want to assume that the protagonist is also the hero. That assumption is even easier to make in Mario-esque platforming games, such as Braid. In the game, the player takes on the role of Tim, who is on a quest to save the princess from a monster. Sounds pretty familiar, right?
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But by the end, it’s ultimately revealed that the princess is actually trying to escape from Tim, who is the real monster of the game. Playing Braid a second time will drop even more clues as to what's actually going on in this genre-bending masterpiece.
5 Dormin and Wander — Shadow of the Colossus
In Shadow of the Colossus, the player takes on the role of Wander, a man who is on a quest to defeat 16 beasts in order to bring his girlfriend back to life. But as the player progresses, each “victory” begins to take its toll on Wander, to the point of where it’s slowly becoming apparent that these beasts aren’t the real enemy of the game.
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Instead, Wander is being somewhat manipulated by Dormin, an evil entity that’s been using Wander for his own personal gain. When this — and many other elements of the story — are revealed, they act as a massive gut-punch to the player.
4 Darth Revan — Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
When the Star Wars prequel series told the story of Anakin — a young Jedi who would go on to become a member of the Sith — the character arc wasn’t very surprising, to say the least. But this 2003 Star Wars game managed to tell a similar story that was far more effective.
Knights of the Old Republic allowed players to choose between the light and dark side throughout the game. But when it's revealed that their character is Darth Raven — a Sith who was brain-washed by the Jedi — the twist is shocking no matter what side of the Force players had chosen to align themselves with.
3 Double-Crossed — Red Dead Redemption
The plot of Red Dead Redemption begins simply enough. Former outlaw John Marston is brought in by the Bureau of Investigation and instructed to dispatch the remaining members of his old gang if he has any hope of ever returning to his family. So Marston starts picking off his old outlaw buddies one by one.
When he succeeded, he ultimately does make it back to his family, which is when the Bureau sweeps in and finishes the job by double-crossing Marston. With the protagonist new deceased, the player takes up the story as John’s son, who heads out on a mission to avenge his father.
2 Mad By Guilt — Silent Hill 2
After playing the 1999 original, many players might have thought they knew where Silent Hill 2 was heading. However, despite taking place in the same creepy town, Silent Hill 2 was not a direct sequel of the first game.
Instead, it followed James Sutherland, a man who ventures to the shadowy town after receiving a letter from his late wife. The monsters in the game may seem very much alive, but by the story's end, you realize that they’re actually a manifestation of James’s guilt, as he was the one primarily responsible for his wife's demise.
1 The Cure — The Last of Us
In The Last of Us, the player takes on the role of Joel, who — after losing his own daughter years before at the start of the apocalypse — must traveling cross-country with a teenager girl named Ellie. Ellie is thought to be the cure for the infection that has ravaged the land, and Joel must deliver her to the scientist that can save the world.
However, when Joel finds out that unlocking the cure will cost Ellie her life, he can’t bear the idea of losing someone else. He lies to Ellie to keep her by his side, and he ends up destroying the world's last hope in the process.