Yes, we’re talking plot twists; those moments that completely blindside us, shock us to the core, and make varying degrees of sense. Whether someone is actually alive, dead, or somewhere in between, we all love those moments that make us sit back and drop our jaws.
So here are my personal favourite plot twists in gaming. From the obscure to the obvious, these are the titles that genuinely surprised me, had fantastic stories, and somehow managed to not be spoilt by the wonderful people of the internet. Speaking of which, if you hadn’t already guessed it, there will be spoilers from here on out.
To The Moon
To The Moon is a masterful piece of storytelling, which not only features a huge plot twist, but is both heart-breaking and bittersweet. While I can hardly do the game justice in such a short summary, it definitely deserves recognition.
The basic premise of To The Moon is that there is a new technology that can change your memories. While this can be done to anyone, it is a service only provided to those on their deathbed to prevent memories becoming confused and to provide the dying with one last happy thought.
One man who wishes to have his memories changed is Johnny, who wants to complete his dream of going to the moon. There is one little problem however; he doesn’t know why. It is the scientists’ job to travel back through Johnny’s history to find the root of his life-long goal, and then make the necessary changes so his dream becomes a reality.
After struggling to find the moment at which Johnny’s dream was sparked, it is discovered that a large chunk of the old man’s memories have been locked away. It is once the scientists manage to break through these mind barriers that the huge twist is revealed. The reason Johnny can’t remember why he wants to go to the moon is because his mother gave him Beta blockers to forget a tragic event that happened when Johnny was just a child; his twin brother was killed.
As a direct result, Johnny forgot his first meeting with his future wife, River, in which the two of them decided to meet on the moon should they ever lose one another. This was why Johnny’s wife would constantly obsess over the events of that one night until her own death, fruitlessly trying to get her husband to remember their first meeting and their promise.
Eventually the scientists work their magic and decide to completely remove River from Johnny’s life, so that the couple both end up at NASA, become astronauts, and fly to the moon together. Finally Johnny can rest in peace having achieved his dream and making River happy, but the bittersweet truth is that while Johnny’s memories are good ones, River still led a sorrowful life as she tried to make her love remember their buried past.
Ghost Trick was a little DS title that kind of went under the radar in the west, but told a fantastic story with one of the most amusing game twists I’ve seen in a long time. In the game, you take on the role of a spirit who is trying to work out just how they died. You also only have until morning to do it, because after that you will leave the world completely. Sounds simple enough, but things get weird real fast.
At the beginning of the game, your spirit awakens next to a body, which you decide is yours as there are no other dead people in sight. After a talking lamp teaches you about being a ghost and tells you to find your murderer, you zap off along phone lines on a little detective adventure.
After travelling around to discover the truth of your death under the belief you are a young man named Sessil, it is eventually revealed that that body wasn’t yours at all. Turns out that beside that dead body was a bag, and inside that bag was a cat. A dead cat. It makes a lot of sense in hindsight, as during the game you can’t do simple things like read, recognise everyday objects, or generally understand how the human world works. While you assume you have amnesia, it’s just a case of not having the knowledge in the first place, because you’re ghost cat not a ghost man.
Throughout the game you also bump into a little Pomeranian called Missile, who you have to save from death on more than one occasion and acts as a little bit of comic relief. If it wasn’t enough to discover that you’re a cat, you then find out that the lamp who taught you how to use your powers at the beginning of the game is actually the ghost of future Missile. That little yappy dog who you thought was amusing is actually the mastermind behind, well, everything.
To top it all off, just to blow everyone’s minds a little more, at the end of your journey you become immortal. So Ghost Trick is essentially a story of a cat and a dog travelling through time and gaining eternal life. What’s not to love?
Baten Kaitos is a bit of a cult classic JRPG that, again, never really made waves in Europe. None the less, it is a huge, beautiful and fantastic game that everyone should experience.
At the beginning of Baten Kaitos you take on the role of a guardian spirit who is bonded to Kalas, a young man who is missing parts of his memories. Upon meeting a girl named Xelha, you discover that the Empire is trying to resurrect an evil god called Malpercio. It then becomes your job to stop them.
A few dozen hours of saving the world later, things start to get a bit weird. Kalas begins to behave strangely and frequently breaks the fourth wall in a different way to how he has before, which completely throws you. It is then suddenly revealed that Kalas didn’t lose his memory at the beginning of the game at all, but you, the guardian spirit, did.
Secretly the villain all along, Kalas had been working with the Empire to bring Malpercio back to life two years prior to the games’ events, when you really first met him. However, because you wouldn’t go along with his malicious plans, your memory was wiped and you were manipulated into believing you were helping the good guys. After Kalas reveals his true dark intentions, he fights your party, who had also been fooled, and runs off to destroy the world.
However, in yet another twist, it turns out that Xelha was actually aware of Kalas’ betrayal and your missing memories the whole time, and was silently observing both of you to try and gauge how best to deal with the situation. After Kalas leaves the party, you instead bond with Xelha, who becomes the true hero of the story. In the game’s epic conclusion, Xelha reveals herself to be the Ice Queen, and the only one who can restore the long-lost ocean to the floating world in the sky.
Final Fantasy X
There are both major and minor plot twists found at every turn in the Final Fantasy X, and while surprising on different levels they are all worth a little mention.
The first minor shake-up of the game happens when our hero, Tidus, discovers the truth about the monster, Sin, which has destroyed his hometown and threatens the world. To put it as bluntly as Auron does; ‘Sin is Jecht,’ Tidus’ father. While not exactly a twist as it is revealed within the first few of hours, it is the first of many surprises in the game and sets up a lot of what’s to come.
After revealing the truth about Sin, Auron convinces Tidus’ to come along on the journey to defeat his father. Along the way, Tidus’ finds a love interest in Summoner, Yuna, who is one of the few people can defeat the destructive monster. While Tidus, with his happy-go-lucky attitude encourages Yuna onwards, a little while down the line it is suddenly revealed that to defeat Sin, Yuna must also die. Instantly the tone changes, as both you and Tidus realise this journey is a lot darker than you were originally led to believe.
After reaching the ruins of Tidus’ hometown where Yuna is set to destroy Sin, the party decide to go against the system to save Yuna’s life and prevent Sin from being reborn. However, through an elaborate series of events, it turns out that Tidus is just a dream which will cease to exist once Sin has been put down for good. At the price of saving Yuna, Tidus has instead signed his own death warrant. As if things weren’t bad enough for our hero.
With still not enough twists in the tale, it then revealed Auron has been dead the whole time. Years before the events of the game, he made a promise to Tidus and Yuna’s parents that he would watch over and protect their children, but died soon after. Auron refused to pass on to the afterlife until his promises were fulfilled, and so wanders the earth as an unsent spirit. That is until the game’s conclusion, when he vanishes along with Tidus.
So altogether the main character isn’t real but sacrifices himself anyway, the best fighter on your team is a ghost, your love interest cheats death and your dad is a monster. It doesn’t get twistier than that.