WARNING: SPOILERS! We're going to discuss the shocking twist endings to several video games!
If, by the way, you didn't know video games could even have mind-bending twist endings beyond misspelling "congratulations" on the final screen, you haven't been playing very many games lately. The following games not only have endings that leave players staring agape at the credits, but have expertly woven in foreshadowing throughout.
Yeah, game storytelling has come a long way, baby ...
(Cracked's storytelling has come a long way too. Check out our Star Wars: Adventures in Jedi School trailer and see just how far.)
#6. Call of Duty: Black Ops -- Subtle Reactions and Secret Codes Reveal the Main Twist
Call of Duty: Black Ops is a heartfelt and touching look at the physical and psychological cost soldiers pay to defend their country, told while you mow down seven or eight thousand foreigners across several decades. But the plot has a clever, Shyamalan-esque twist at the end.
You play a gruff badass called Alex Mason, who early on gets captured and imprisoned in a Russian gulag alongside a man called Viktor Reznov, but (SPOILER!) it turns out Reznov is only a figment of Mason's imagination. The real guy died years earlier. See, you thought you were just shooting a bunch of dudes in the head, but it was your mind that just got blown (sorry).
Sure, astute players might have noticed that, aside from Mason, not one single person in the entire game talks to Reznov. Mason and Reznov are accompanied by several other soldiers, but none of them so much as even look at Reznov, let alone question why a freaking Russian is hanging around guys tasked with exterminating as many of his countrymen as possible, one shotgun shell at a time.
They could've at least asked him where he got that sweet-ass jacket.
But then there are the little touches. For instance, not only do they not talk to him, but on several occasions while you and Reznov are talking, the other soldiers will stare at you like you've lost you fucking mind (which you totally have). They'll interrupt the "conversation" with noises like "Huh?" "Hmm ..." and the incredibly succinct "What the fuck's wrong with you?" This is exactly how most of us would react if we witnessed one of our comrades talking to his imaginary friend during a goddamn shootout.
But the game also drops its own hints in a manner entirely appropriate for a game set in the espionage-filled Cold War era: by using code. At the beginning of each level, a small briefing appears on screen, revealing your location, your mission, the date, and a few items your wife wants you to pick up at the market on your way home.
"And don't forget ears. That necklace is almost finished."
Now, see that circled word next to "Designate"? That word changes every level. If you take the first letter of each designation ("X" in this case) and arrange them in the order they appear in throughout the game, you get XREZNOVXXISDEDX: "Reznov is dead." Or "gzreznovgkzgkzisdedix" if you're an asshole who takes everything literally.
#5. Red Dead Redemption -- A Biblical Figure Spoils the Hero's Fate Midgame
Red Dead Redemption is a great game for teaching your kids about the futility of life. You play as John Marston, a rugged ex-outlaw whose family is kidnapped by the government in order to force him into killing off his old gang. However (SPOILER!), after everybody dies, the government decides Marston is too dangerous to live and shoots him full of holes. That's certainly one way to skimp on giving a guy his paycheck.
"Congraturation, you win game! Now dead person is you, game over!"
After this, he's buried on a hill overlooking his home. A hill that might look awfully familiar to players who've done their homework.
Throughout the game, Marston completes missions for random townspeople, which is odd, since you also have the option to tie these people up and leave them to get squished under the wheels of locomotives. One such mission involves a mysterious man in a mysterious suit who seemingly knows everything about Marston and his outlaw past. It's heavily hinted that the man is God or some other supernatural being. He certainly isn't of this world -- when you shoot him in a fit of rage, he completely ignores it, like his mind was on more important matters.
Like he's almost out of mustache wax.
During the final meeting between Marston and maybe-God, he remarks that the location they're standing on will "make a fine spot." Here's the location:
If it were Halo, he'd be the Angel of Teabaggin.
Now, focus on the tree and bare patch of land, and compare that with the picture of Marston's grave from earlier. Yep, it's the same goddamn place. Marston has just been told, albeit in the vaguest of terms, that he's about to die, and that this is where he will spend eternity after being reduced to target practice by federal agents.
Oh, and if that's not creepy enough: Earlier on, the mysterious man remarks, "I hope my boy turns out just like you." You might think he's talking about Jesus (thus confirming the God thing), but guess what: It's actually more foreshadowing! The game doesn't end with Marston's death; after his funeral, his son, Jack, takes up the gun and swears revenge for his father. He does so by killing a whole bunch of people, just like dear old dad did, and just as the heavens foretold.
What? You skipped over the cowboy part of the Bible?
#4. Portal 2 -- A Random Robot Gives Away Every Plot Twist Imaginable
The makers of Portal 2 apparently decided that the only way to outdo the original was to drown the player in shocking plot twists. A psychotic robot returns to torment the hero? Turn her into a potato! The wacky robot sidekick has a quaint Cockney accent and the IQ of a bag of shit? Make him the new bad guy! The psycho potato robot needs a backstory? Make her a 1960s scientist's assistant, and somehow download her personality into an evil computer!
Amazingly, all these bizarre twists make perfect sense if you've played the game -- especially if you stumble across the one character who gives it all away.
Using Crow's line from the later season intros of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Well before anyone becomes a potato, the player comes across a bunch of defective attack drones being led down a conveyor belt to their robo-doom. One of them pleads "I'm different!" over and over again; if you pick it up and carry it around, it'll drop some dialogue that explains exactly what's about to happen.
First off, the drone makes a reference to Greek mythology, saying, "Prometheus was punished by the gods for giving the gift of knowledge to the humans. He was cast into the bowels of the earth and pecked by birds." At the time, all it means is that this drone's a goddamned egghead who should spend more time attacking and spend less time reading old-timey tall tales.
Later on, it all makes sense. You actually do get cast into the bowels of the laboratory by the Evil Cockney Robot, right after you give him a whole slew of knowledge. This is around the time that GLaDOS the psycho-bot gets turned into a potato; later on, she becomes terrified of being pecked to death by -- wait for it -- birds. And if you don't think birds would peck at a potato, you've clearly never had your fries stolen by some asshole seagull at the beach.
Then, the drone blurts out, "Her name is Caroline," its final bit of foreshadowing. Sure enough, you later learn that that's the name of the scientist's assistant, the poor girl who found herself merged with a computer:
... who turns evil, becomes a potato, and DOES get pecked by birds. Really, you just have to play it.