Join us on a magical adventure to explore some of the sourest moments in gaming with our list of top 10 worst plot twists in video games history.
As with any form of media, plot twists may either make or break a video game. Poorly foreshadowed twists may appear forced and cheapen the entire experience. While the best ones improve and add another juicy layer to usually already interesting narrative and story.
I mean, everyone by now knows the twist to BioShock 1. And while I think it introduced certain plotholes it was breadcrumbed to the player so beautifully. It was so good in fact, that it’s talked about and referenced to this very day. The same is true about some of these games, but for totally opposite reasons… find out our picks for 10 worst plot twists in video games just below!
Spoiler Alert! Feel free to look ahead and check out which games’ twists we will be taking apart, and skip parts where a game you have an interest in playing appears!
Video Version Of This Top List!
10. Zero Time Dilemma (2016)
Zero Time Dilemma is the third and final act of one of my favorite stories in gaming. It also has a twist so stupid that it soured the entire experience for me.
The game follows 3 teams made up of 3 characters. They are pitted against each other in a Saw-style death trap and forced to kill the other teams if they want to leave. Each team occupies a separate ward that makes up the whole building. They are infected with a virus that makes them forget stuff every 90 minutes, and at precisely that time they get knocked out and wake up only when the next game begins.
A bunch of stuff happens and then the twist hits. A blind, deaf, mute, wheelchair-bound old guy who has psychic superpowers was following one of the teams, just out of your FOV the whole time doing Kansai drifts all around the rooms. The game really expects us to believe, that he was actively moving the 3 unconscious people around after each puzzle room, messing with the puzzles and releasing mechanisms and stuff.
The worst part about this twist, other than how out of the left field it is, is that it doesn’t bring anything new to the table! This guy has alien technology capable of traveling through space and time, and robots! He could have sat in a room somewhere and did all that remotely, and the end result would be the same, except WAY less dumb. Instead it lands the bottom spot on our worst plot twists in video games history list!
9. Dark Pictures: Little Hope (2020)
Dark Pictures is either hit or miss with each installment. It’s a game from Until Dawn devs. You usually control a bunch of characters and make decisions that can get them killed if you are not careful. So the goal of the game quickly becomes to keep all your characters alive.
A bunch of sorta interesting stuff happens in the Little Hope episode. With some really cool scenes. And then…
It was all a schizophrenio-hallucinogenic episode one character had. All that time you spent keeping your favorites alive? Fuck you, doesn’t matter. ‘Twas all a dream.
8. The Vanishing Of Ethan Carter (2014)
This is a game about a detective who tries to solve a vanishing of a 12-year-old boy in a small mining village. It’s a walking simulator, and I hate those, but this one is really good actually. You do some puzzles, you search for clues, and look at the beautiful scenery.
And the game slowly captivates you for a while with paranormal imagery. Aliens make an appearance, you uncover a cult. It feels like something CRAZY lies at the bottom of this mystery, and then…
It’s all a dream baby! Again! The titular Ethan Carter is slowly being poisoned by smoke inside his burning house, and he makes up this story in his final moments.
7. Final Fantasy XV (2016)
This one doesn’t deserve NEARLY as much flak as anything you have seen up to now for one simple reason. It’s nothing game or narrative ruining, you can experience this terrible moment and still walk away loving everything else in FFXV. But in isolation, as a stand-alone component, this is one of the worst executions of a plot twist in recent memory.
The game follows the prince of a kingdom and his entourage of three retainers as they complete a series of tasks to save the world. Throughout the game, you fight a rival kingdom’s army of daemonic robots called MTs.
In Chapter 13 you infiltrate their kingdom but get stopped dead in your track because of a door that you or your party cannot get to open. Except… one of your followers, Prompto, casually walks up to the door, scans his hand, and gets it open. He then proceeds to comment that he’s “one of them”.
Implying that he’s either a robot… or a clone… or something, created but not currently affiliated with the bad guys of the story. This is foreshadowed NOT A SINGLE TIME during the 28-HOUR LONG game.
The party tells him the generic “doesn’t matter where you are from, you are part of the crew”, and they never talk or comment or explain ANYTHING about it further in the main story ever again. Leaving a lot of players confused about what this guy even is at the end of the day.
So why even bother!? It adds nothing to the story but confusion!
6. Bionic Commando (2009)
In Bionic Commando, your character has a bionic arm, which allows him to accomplish incredible things. Impossible strength, durability, better aim, you name it. The plot of Bionic Commando is… not great, and I have no idea how to present it in a simple manner.
So let’s just say this: mid-way through the game our protagonist is blackmailed to do something for the government on the promise that they will tell him what happened to his missing wife. This is his only motivation to do the majority of the things in the game, simply to find his wife.
In a shocking turn of events, we find out that his wife is actually the arm’s “brain.” However, the circumstances around how this occurred and what it means are not explained super well. Making this poorly telegraphed twist just confusing as all hell.
Seriously, why the hell does a robotic, metallic, arm need a human brain to power it!?
5. Heavy Rain (2010)
David Cage’s Heavy Rain is… in my humble opinion, the least shit of David Cage games. And this says a lot about his other games because Heavy Rain features a really unoriginal plot twist that you can guess based on topes. But you cannot guess it based on in-game clues, BECAUSE THE GAME LIES TO YOU.
The game revolves around a serial child killer mystery. Ethan Mars, one of the several playable characters, and his son fall prey to said killer. And Ethan has to go through a variety of “Saw-Esque” scenarios to prove that he really wants to save his son.
Skip to the end and surprise! The detective solving this case on his own, who was also playable for portions of the game is the killer. The game tries to lie to you in the stupidest way possible to make you believe that it’s totally not him.
Including a scene where it’s implied that the overweight Detective ran to the back of the shop, killed a shopkeeper, and came back to the front in the span of literally 20 seconds. While making NO NOISE, or doing anything that will alert his partner!
Or the fact that the game has a neat mechanic that lets you hear what your character is currently thinking. Scott here never, not even once thinks to himself about his murders or elaborate plans, going so far as to comment “we need to catch the killer”. As if he knew someone is spying on his god damn thoughts.
I could go on for half an hour about the stupid implications of this twist, but I’m kinda writing a list here.
4. Arkham Knight (2015)
Batman: Arkham Knight. Look, this is the third game in an overarching storyline, no plot summary that I try to conjure will stick. Just know that you are Batman, and you beat people up. And there is this evil Batman guy called “Arkham Knight”.
So every single person who knows anything about the Batman universe immediately went, “oh that’s 100% either Jason Todd, a.k.a one of the Robins, or just Hush, one of the minor villains from previous games”.
And then you play the game and Batman, the world’s greatest detective struggles to imagine who could be hiding under that mask. I mean, he asks everyone for information every gosh darn 30 minutes of gameplay. Who could it b- It’s Jason Todd, a.k.a one of the Robins.
What’s so dumb that it becomes unintentionally hilarious, is that you hallucinate him being captured by Joker fairly early into the story. Oh yeah, I’m sure the lengthy section where Jason Todd makes an appearance has nothing to do with the rest of the story guys. It’s a red herring for sure!
Also, Rocksteady tried to very poorly deflect these accusations prior to game’s release, instead of just keeping their mouth shut. And stated that “Arkham Knight is a completely new and original character” a million times.
I think the in-game Batman is the only person on the planet who was surprised that it was Todd under that mask.
3. Silent Hill Homecoming (2008)
So you play as Alex Blandman in this “Silent Hill” game. Who from the very beginning to the very end chases after his little brother Josh. And wouldn’t you know, he was dead the whole time. A twist that caught literally not a single person ever off guard.
Where some games on this list gave no foreshadowing for their twists, Homecoming feeds you a spoonful of scenes that just make you go. “Oh yeah, that’s definitely a dead kid”.
Then it gets even stupider, as each ending in the game tries to be its own “GOTCHA” twist, instead of any actual end of Alex’s story arc. One is, that you were also dead the whole time. Another is, that you were training to become Pyramid Head. Other is you are crazy and undergoing therapy. None of them make sense, and none of them are interesting.
For the truly amateurish way they were implemented, Homecoming deservedly lands in third place of our top 10 worst plot twists in video games history.
2. Star Ocean: Till The End of Time A.K.A Star Ocean 3 (2003)
Ah, possibly the worst plot twist in videogame history. I’m going to level with you, this probably should be number one. But I don’t like Star Ocean that much, so the first position on this list is there out of my personal disappointment.
Star Ocean is an action RPG. Although it might as well just be a visual novel, since every fight ends in 30 seconds, and everything in between is just watching characters talk. The plot follows our rag-tag band of generic anime protagonists in their quest to defeat “executioners”, beings wreaking havoc all over the galaxy.
A bunch of stuff happens, the group reaches what is dubbed the “time gate”, and upon going through it, a little bratty kid reveals that the entire universe of Star Ocean is just a videogame that the kid and other “4D citizens” play. And the “executioners” are an anti-virus.
Do you hear that? That’s the sound of 3 games worth of world and character building being flushed down the toilet for a cheap twist. What I love about it, is that it ruined the franchise forever. Because you cannot know that it’s all a videogame in-universe and care about the plot from now on, ever!
And then the writers are also screwed! Because how do you write a sequel around the fact that your property is a reverse Matrix and make it interesting. All that on top of the fact that the Star Ocean franchise was written without this premise in mind.
1. Twelve Minutes (2021)
And here we are. Number one of the worst plot twists in video games history.
Like I said. Nothing is going to beat flushing 3 games worth of worldbuilding down the toilet. But I know one game that flushed its entire interesting premise, worldbuilding, and characters down the toilet with a couple of lines of dialogue. And this one, unlike Star Ocean is more recent. End of 2021/beginning of 2022 type recent.
So this game, Twelve Minutes, has you repeat, you guessed it, twelve minutes in your apartment before you die at the hand of a man claiming to be a cop and you begin again. You need to uncover new information to hopefully understand and break the time loop.
The game goes from an intense and intriguing murder mystery to trying to prove the protagonist’s wife’s innocence. And along the way, it goes on to have some really amazing scenes, like this one about just sitting down and talking to your would-be assassin. Knowing full well, that he killed you a bunch of times up to now.
And then out of nowhere comes the stinkiest, and dirties curveball that the married couple are half-siblings. Then the game goes on to have another twist that is, of course, none of it is real. It’s a vivid imagining of the protagonist’s future, with the cop representing his father, who will get in between him and his sister’s relationship.
So they essentially go from the cheapest form of plot twist, the pure shock value twist, to the most disappointing form of plot twist. The “it was all a dream” twist. Shame on me for being hooked for some slightly paranormal murder mystery adventures.
And this is pretty much all she wrote for our top 10 worst plot twists in video games history! Feel free to share your thoughts down below, and if you are interested check out some more of my content: