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Top Five – Worst Video Game Plot Twists

Ah, video game plot twists! They can turn an otherwise great story into a brilliant story (think of the original inFamous here for a moment). Most of the time, however, plot twists in video games are just plain bad. Sometimes so bad that they lead to a lot of hilarity. So let’s talk about the elephant in the room; this top five is about the worst plot twists in video games…

Warning: Spoilers Ahead!


5. Final Fantasy VII: “Is That Deep Enough?”

I often see Aerith’s death appearing on many “best video game twists” list, which is followed swiftly by my brain melting and dripping out of my ears. No, really! Not only is this a bad twist because it had already been done before, but it’s a bad twist because nobody should care. There, I said it! I understand the death of characters is meant to pull at the heartstrings of series fans everywhere, but it’s kind of hard to pull that off when your characters are so flat that they could slip under a door like your Monday mail. Seriously, Aerith is such a cardboard cutout character that Sephiroth didn’t even need to drop on her from the sky with an enormous sword; he could have shanked her with a butter knife and cut straight through her. Call me cruel, but I applauded when Sephiroth killed her. Why? It meant one less vapid character to deal with in a game just brimming with too many to begin with.

Not only is this a bad plot device, but it gets extra points for being remembered “fondly” by then-fourteen-year-olds everywhere who thought that most JRPGs had good story telling. So rather than continue to remember this atrocious mess of a plot device, I will now dazzle you with song and dance!

Music please!

Now DANCE! DANCE! DANCE UNTIL YOU DIE!

*Ahem*

4. God of War III: “By the Gods, I Never Expected This!”

Anybody who is familiar with Greek mythology knows the story of Pandora. Curious woman gets mystical box, is told not to open it, opens it anyway, brings all ills into the universe, then closes the box just in time to keep a single thing inside that will help humanity. Never you mind that the box inexplicably has a billion different evils and only one good thing (Who packed this box, Al Qaeda? ). Never you mind that curiosity got the better of Pandora; in patriarchal societies it is clear that if women are not making sandwiches then they are destroying the world (I’m looking at you, Eve!). So if you’re reading this article and you’re a woman, please get back to your kitchen. I don’t want you destroying the entire internet with your woman-ness. I jest, I jest!

But I digress. This isn’t about some political or social stance, this about bad story twists and God of War III’s twist with Pandora’s Box is near the top of this dishonorable list for several reasons. Let me get this straight: you drag me through three games of Kratos raging as if he just got face rolled by a Death Knight in World of Warcraft and your final plot device is hope?! Really?! Hope?! I get that this is technically correct in the Greek mythological sense, but when Kratos ended the first game by killing Ares and taking his position as The God of War, all accuracy went out the window. This plot device sucks because it’s lazy and predictable.

See, God of War is a series that doesn’t succeed in the action department and is therefore heavily reliant on good story telling to be worth playing. The series already reinterprets the entire Greek mythological canon and changes many things in order to make the story entertaining, so why not Pandora’s Box? I legitimately expected the box to have something different inside, something that would completely change my view of God of War III and make me a believer in the cleverness of its writers. But no. Bad story and bad character development in general aside, God of War III even fails miserably at creating a proper plot twists of any kind. Anybody remember how cool the plot twist of the original God of War was like? I do. This plot device is the cherry on top of this (excuse the pun) God awful mess of a game.

That up there is what I think of you and your stupid box, God of War III!

3. Metroid Other M: “This is blasphemy! This is madness! THIS. IS. STUPID!”

You remember how everyone went on and on about how bad the story elements of Metroid: Other M were? Remember how I defended the game endlessly in another article and even pointed out that the story really wasn’t that offensive? Well, here is the thing: there is ONE part that IS horribly offensive from a writing standpoint. People like to complain about Samus’ portrayal as a weak character, the random plot holes like Adam not authorizing Samus to use her suit’s abilities to protect herself from extreme heat, etc. But nothing, and I do mean absolutely nothing, compares to Adam’s death scene.

So here is this character that Samus admires and sees as a father figure she never had. There is a whole lot of back story about their relationship and how much Samus appreciates him. Apparently, this character by the name of Adam taught Samus a lot of things, which is great if you want to know how to needlessly kill yourself while trying to save the universe. In the climatic scene where Samus loses the last thing left to her in the form of human support and care we see Adam make a great sacrifice to keep the rest of existence from being consumed by Metroids. Except that he didn’t actually have to do it at all. If anyone has paid attention to that scene they would know that Adam clearly states that in order to destroy the Metroids in Sector Zero he simply needs to cause that area of the Bottle Ship enough damage for it to detach itself from the rest of the other sectors and explode. Rather than doing the logical thing and tossing all kinds of grenades into this deadly area of the ship Adam decides that the greatest course of action is to lock himself inside of it…with a gun…possibly to open tiny air holes in the ship’s reinforced metal walls and pray for the best outcome.

See? This is why I don’t even blink when Adam doesn’t tell Samus to use her suit abilities to protect herself from the heat. It’s because Adam is a f***ing moron and the writers for this game share the same mentality as this character. What gets me is that Other M, gameplay wise, is one of the absolute best games of this generation, but my God if the writing isn’t bad…

2. Kingdom Hearts: Everything.

Everything. Yes, I said it. Everything about Kingdom Hearts is a bad plot device. The light and dark themes that have nothing to do with one another, the inclusion of the Nobodies, the lack of cohesive reasons for the separate worlds existing, the inclusion of a billion new characters that are unrelated until it’s conveniently necessary that they are, etc. Here’s the thing about Kingdom Hearts: the original had a bad story, but it was enjoyable for what it was. It was fun because it didn’t take itself too seriously and we all knew that everything was just an excuse to get to play alongside our favorite Disney and Final Fantasy characters. But Square-Enix is just never content with a series until it crashes and burns in spectacular fashion, preferably by the inclusion of obtuse gameplay mechanics that are the real life equivalent of running an airplane with bicycle pedals (I’m looking at you, Final Fantasy XIV!).

Fast forward to Kingdom Hearts 2, when Square-Enix decided to try to make a cohesive plot out of an existing story that has more holes than a piece of Swiss cheese. I could go into detail on how bad the series started to become at this point, but I think it’s easier to show you. Visual aid time!

The first two front flips are Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. The third front flip is the rest of the entire f***ing series.

I swear to God, it’s like Square-Enix hired fifty different writers for all the seven hundred different Kingdom Hearts games and kept them all separated in sound proof glass cubicles. Having the writers mime to each other the overall plot points of the Kingdom Hearts series seems about the only logical explanation for such a cluster f**k of a story. Once in a while, Square-Enix would probably forget to add air holes to one cubicle, which is as good of an explanation as any for the rest of the brain damaged writing that permeates Kingdom Hearts as a whole.

1. Mass Effect 2: “Space Jesus Died for Your Sin-gularities!”

Stop it, Bioware! Just plain stop it! You’re better than this!

Here’s the thing: I adore Bioware. I’m a late comer to the Bioware fandom, having only started my love for the company with Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. But I still love them for pretty much everything they have made since then, not the least being the Mass Effect series. The first Mass Effect is my absolute favorite game this generation for more reason than I can enumerate and, although lagging behind Dragon Age II and Deus Ex: Human Revolution, I very much love Mass Effect 2 to death. Which is why this plot device is the absolute most offensive on the list: it’s not simply bad, it’s a skid mark in the collective underwear that is Bioware’s awesome story telling. If there is one thing that can be said about Bioware is that they have some of the best writers in the industry and that, aside from Irrational Games, nobody can come even remotely close to creating such good stories, three dimensional characters, plot twists, worlds, etc. Bioware is just king in this department.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t falter, and Shepard’s death and resurrection in Mass Effect 2 is probably the worst written and implemented plot device in any game to date. It’s not simply that Shepard’s death was an unnecessary and contrived form of letting new players create a Shepard and change his or her appearance, it is the magnitude of his or her death and the subsequent handling of the million and one questions it brings. Not only is it annoying that Shepard’s former team mates react to his return with as much apathy as the Zoloft ball shows for everything, but the writers create the cardinal sin of simply sweeping the entire ordeal under the rug. Shepard never seems to care that he or she has died and returned to life, there is never a question of what he or she experiences during “death” or even if he or she remembers. Furthermore, Shepard doesn’t seem even slightly traumatized. Even when removing the question of an afterlife (because this is, after all, science-fiction), the writers never go out of their way to explain how Shepard feels about everything that has happened.

Shepard may be the savior of the galaxy, but he or she is still human. I’m sure he or she must have had some thoughts when he or she was spaced and knew death was imminent. Moments of guilt, memories of loved ones, past mistakes revisited, etc. It’s ridiculous that this gets neglected, especially considering that Bioware even went out of its way to provide a psychologist for the Normandy crew during the events of Mass Effect 2 (Kelly Chambers). Was it really that difficult to give Shepard a line or two about his or her take on the entire thing? What really kills everything is that this plot twist and how it was handled really cheapens Shepard as a character. Shepard’s humanity falters here and it is never displayed for the player to be able to identify with him or her. Some people might argue this doesn’t matter but one of the most important points of good science-fiction is to place characters in extreme situations that test their ability to be human. This line is clearly drawn and the ME team failed miserably here. Hell, now that I think about it, Shepard doesn’t display his or her humanity much in the entire series thus far. It’s a little frustrating…

…and now it becomes a lot more clear why I have always felt that Hawke is a superior protagonist to Shepard in every way imaginable.

14 Responses to “Top Five – Worst Video Game Plot Twists”

  1. vary bad says:

    go back to russia

  2. Not American says:

    Go back to Russia…!!

  3. [...] Why Video Games should not be considered a sport The Angry Birds Rio guide Ten things that must happen in the next Mortal Kombat movie Dark Souls starters guide Top five worst video game plot twists [...]

  4. Omar says:

    totally disagree with your ff7 point about graphics, thats like saying, how can you be invested in a books plot as its just words on paper! its the story not the graphics

  5. dakan45 says:

    The entire mass effect 1 story is terrible.

    “the council wont listen to me, why?”

    “saren is brainwashed by the ai ships”

    Seriously?

    “i am a big bad ai villian and i explain my master plan to you but i dont explain you why we destroyed the universe a bazzilion times over, you wouldnt understand”

    More like bioware developed the story as they go and messed up.

  6. Apples29 says:

    Omar wtf are you talking about where was FF7’s graphics ever mentioned in any of this? learn to read.

  7. Matt says:

    Nice article. The Mass Effect 2 one has always bothered me.

  8. Liadz says:

    Thank you gods of video games for finally sending someone to this Earth that also thinks that Kingdom Hearts series plot is as deep as a water puddle.

  9. Alan Tryth says:

    A list of the worst video game plot twists, and you didn’t include the one from Bionic Commando? I mean … his missing wife was his friggin arm? I’m sorry, but that kind of stupidity is worse than anything else on this list.

    As for Final Fantasy, I think I’d have gone with FFX’s reveal of Yevon, the evil force responsible for Sin, being nothing more than a floating tick who it’s impossible to not kill.

    Oh, just thought of another one; Wild Arms 2, where it turns out the head of your organization was responsible for the big bads you had been fighting for most of the game. Irving’s reasoning? He wanted to make sure the team was strong enough for the real threat, of which no sign had previously been given (or as we in the Elsewhere call it, a Sigma.)

    Speaking of Sigma, how about Sigma always being behind everything in the Megaman X games? I don’t mind repeat villains, but SIgma always seems to pop out just after you kill what you think is the last boss and gives the usual ‘I was behind everything Mwahaha’ speech.

    Definitely agree on God of War, other M, and Kingdom Hearts though; as much as I enjoy tearing up Heartless, the story is a muddled mess.

  10. HunterVanguard says:

    You’re full of it on FF7 by your own admission. You don’t Aeris as a character, or any of the other characters apparently, but that doesn’t have anything to do with the plot twist which was good and almost completely hidden.

    The rest are all good points especially the one about one of my favorite games, Mass Effect 2.

  11. HunterVanguard says:

    You’re full of it on FF7 by your own admission. You don’t like Aeris as a character, or any of the other characters apparently, but that doesn’t have anything to do with the plot twist which was good and almost completely hidden.

    The rest are all good points especially the one about one of my favorite games, Mass Effect 2.

  12. Kharlo says:

    Alan: I haven’t had the displeasure (pleasure?) of playing many of those games. The Bionic Commando twist has me in stitches though! I can’t believe they would actually use that as any of sort of cohesive plot point! BAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Thanks for your reply! Much appreciated!

  13. Kharlo says:

    Time to reply…

    The entire mass effect 1 story is terrible.

    “the council wont listen to me, why?”

    – Why WOULD the council listen to Shepard? The Reapers were unknown until Shepard’s encounter and the council needs to consider an entire galaxy and its inhabitants when making decisions. Even within a science-fiction setting there are still limits to what can be considered truth and acceptable. The Reapers cross that line for the conventional characters because they don’t have the knowledge or even suspicion of their existence.

    Mass Effect 2 on the other hand does it wrong: the council witnessed Sovereign firsthand and STILL refuses to acknowledge its existence. THAT is stretching it a little too far, although I guess you could borderline justify it if you REALLY tried.

    “saren is brainwashed by the ai ships”

    Seriously?

    – Why not? This isn’t an issue at all. It would only be an issue if the team never explains HOW indoctrination by the Reapers happens. If they don’t explain that in the third game THEN it can be considered stupid.

    “i am a big bad ai villian and i explain my master plan to you but i dont explain you why we destroyed the universe a bazzilion times over, you wouldnt understand”

    – Sovereign sees himself and his species as unbeatable and I’m sure his message to Shepard was less of a warning and more of an offer. He is only repeating to Shepard what Saren already said without actually outright asking Shepard to join the Reapers in their cause. The thing is that there isn’t a dialogue option to join Sovereign and in the end you have to basically tell him to fuck himself, which leads him to become increasingly antagonistic in the conversation. Makes sense to me.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Shepard, like any other bioware protagonist, is supposed to be a representation of you in the game. They don’t show humanity if you don’t have any. As one who critiques writers’ intelligence, you should probably be aware of this.

  15. baloo says:

    God man, you had me right untill you put Mass Effect 2 behind Dragon Age 2. Dragon Age 2 deserves to be ahead of no game. It’s, without a doubt, one of the worst games I’ve ever played with one of the worst stories I’ve ever endured. It’s on par with any Call of Duty game’s story, that’s how bad it was. Yes, it had an interesting idea with the dwarf telling the story and the game being kind of a flashback, but the entire cast was one dimensional characters which totally ruined the compelling storytelling method.

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