Top 10 Revelations in Gaming

A good twist can cement a piece of media in the pantheons of history. Look at Star Wars: Episode V or M. Night Shymalan’s early career. These things stick with us years after their initial release and continue to convince us that their later stuff is any good. 

Twists are powerful so it’s no wonder that we love a great surprise reveal in a video game. From character reveals to McGuffins, there are dozens of ways that a story can take you by surprise. Without further ado, here are the biggest revelations in video game history (spoilers ahead).

Batman: Arkham City

10. He’s Joker, You’re Joker? – Batman: Arkham City

Following the events of Arkham Asylum, we know that the Joker has been struggling with the side effects of the Titan Serum. However, we don’t have a clear picture of just how bad it is. There are a couple of scenes where we get glimpses of a Joker with skin lesions and a terrible cough but not much else until the climactic reveal. 

After Batman confronts Joker at the theater, it’s revealed that Clayface had actually been helping Joker “keep up appearances.” After Clayface is stabbed, Joker finally confesses and we see that he is further along in his demise than we were led to believe. He’s desperate and not thinking clearly and this will ultimately lead the Joker to his final moments.

Shadow of the Colossus

9. The Nature of the Colossi –  Shadow of the Colossus

Shadow of the Colossus portrays itself like any other game. Your objective is to slay these giant monsters and help to bring peace to the land. However, as each Colossus falls and the countryside looks more and more empty, you are only bringing calamity closer and closer. That’s because the Colossi are actually serving as walking prisons for the spirit of Dormin who Wander slowly releases as he kills each giant. 

By the end of the game, Wander is taking on a demonic appearance and has effectively released Dormin from his prison. Wander had been taken advantage of in his time of need and the player didn’t think twice about the circumstances, at least at the time. It’s a tragedy that had many gamers rethinking their understanding of game narratives for years to come.

Halo: Combat Evolved

8. “Contact! Lots of Contact!” – Halo Combat Evolved

By the time that players had arrived on the level “343 Guilty Spark,” they might have been under the impression that they had this game completely figured out. That is until they are greeted by the swamp fog present in this level. The entire area is a complete tonal shift from the rest of the game and has some of the best pacing of the entire series. 

By the time you realize you have walked into a dangerous environment, you are already in the heart of it. Finally, when the stress has hit its peak, a new danger is revealed in the Flood. The Flood’s reveal feels out of nowhere in the best way possible and will have you desperately looking for a way off this accursed ring.

Heavy Rain

7. The Origami Killer – Heavy Rain

Heavy Rain gets a lot of flack for its narrative delivery, but there can be no denying the impact of the hearing that one of the most likable characters, Scott Shelby, was actually the main villain all along. Heavy Rain uses a split narrative where you take on the role of multiple characters as their stories interweave with one another. 

The main thread that connects them is these killings being carried by the “Origami Killer.” It’s finally revealed that Scott was behind the murders and that he has been emotionally damaged since losing his twin brother. It’s heartbreaking because we thought we could trust this man who seemed like the moral compass of the cast, but it turns out he was manipulating us from the start.

The Last of Us

6. No, Not This Time – The Last of Us

The last of Us’ final moments are surprising, but the more that you think about it, the more you realize the game has been building this from the start, literally. Sarah was taken from Joel right at the beginning of the game, and we see how much that caused Joel to shrink inside of himself. It was hard to see, but we understood where Joel was coming from. 

There was guilt, sadness, and trauma swirling around inside of Joel as a result of that night. So when Joel finally starts to warm up and become attached to Ellie, that’s right when the world tries to take another daughter from Joel. However, this time Joel wasn’t having it and potentially dooms the entire world in the process. It’s the trolley problem in the shape of society vs. a little girl, and we understand Joel’s choice. This time someone else can sacrifice themselves but not Ellie.

Portal 2

5. GLaDOS Is Caroline – Portal 2

The first Portal introduced us to GLaDOS. She was this intelligent and mean robot that was in charge of Aperture Science. We aren’t given too much besides that, but Portal 2 shows us just how more tragic the origins really were. While exploring the old lab, Chell will hear Cave Johson talk about his research, illness and wish for his assistant Caroline to continue his passion. 

The tech to preserve him wouldn’t be ready until after he was dead, so Caroline takes up the role of becoming an AI and running Aperture Science. GLaDOS is Caroline, a passionate scientist who has slowly gone a little loopy from years of solitary testing. I never expected Portal 2 to make me like GLaDOS, but I really feel for her after our shared time together. 

Dead Space

4. Nicole Is Dead – Dead Space

Isaac’s ongoing quest to rescue his girlfriend from the clutches of the USG Ishimura was one of his main motivators for going on the mission at all. However, at the end of the game, Kendra reveals to Isaac that the message that he has been obsessively watching is actually Nicole’s suicide note. The message reveals how dire things were on the Ishimura from the beginning and that Nicole had chosen to end her life long ago. 

Isaac had repressed the knowledge and, in his denial, went on this excursion. Kendra, meanwhile, must have seen the footage and kept it on the down-low from the rest of the crew so they wouldn’t know how bad things truly were. It’s terrifying, and this reveal will be one that haunts Isaac’s psyche for the next few games. 

Metroid

3. Samus Is a Woman – Metroid

One of the first twists in gaming, no one saw this coming. Through the entire first Metroid game, you are jumping around and killing aliens as this person in a cool suit of armor. That is until you complete the game fast enough and it’s revealed that Samus is indeed a woman. 

There are several endings that, depending on the pace of completion, will reveal Samus is a woman. For a game of the ‘80s, this was a pretty big deal because there were no games like it where the main character was a woman, let alone one that was so influential in game design. It really was a reveal ahead of its time.  

BioShock

2. “Would You Kindly” – BioShock

BioShock is one of the most influential games of the 2000s. It was the next step in narrative delivery in video games with a huge emphasis on societal commentary and world-building. It was the nail in the coffin for many people in the “are games art?” debate. It was revolutionary, and part of that is due to the masterful delivery of its twist. 

BioShock hints at mind control, Ryan’s child, and Fontaine throughout the game through environmental storytelling and audio logs. Then all at once, it’s revealed that the player is actually Ryan’s kid who has undergone the cognitive conditioning, and Atlas, who is actually Fontaine, was the mastermind behind it all. That’s three twists wrapped up into one glorious reveal and will have you questioning every choice you made during the course of the story.

Red Dead Redemption 2

1. An Apple a Day – Red Dead Redemption 2 

Arthur Morgan has skyrocketed into the hall of fame for iconic characters, and part of that is due to his tragic tale in Red Dead Redemption 2. Contracting a disease in chapter 2, the player won’t know Arthur is sick until chapter 5. Before that, Arthur is seen slower and less agile than before, but it never seems like it’s going to be a serious problem for him. 

However, in the end, tuberculosis ends up killing Arthur. Even after you know that Arthur is sick, it’s easy to think that he will get better. I mean, what main character gets killed off by tuberculosis? Except, he does die, and we are left to think about how cruel and unfair this life really is no matter how much screen time you get.

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