There’s one big advantage video games have comparing with other types of media when it comes to storytelling. They are able to put you in the middle of the experience like no other medium can. Hollywood can throw bigger screens, bigger speakers, 3D, moving seats and every other gimmick, but they’re not going to reach the level of interactivity that video games offer. Naturally, gaming is capable of dishing out some truly surprising moments, and nothing like a good video game twist can pull the rug from under you so effectively. With that in mind, we made a list of the video game moments that left gamers worldwide stunned, shocked, baffled, jaw-dropped, shell-shocked and all other forms of extremely surprised.
Psycho Mantis’ Mind Games
Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid is considered one of the best games in the series, and one of the most influential games of the modern generation. MGS is brim full with Kojima’s unique elements and the most apparent example of that is the fight with Psycho Mantis, a floating, leather suited, gas mask wearing psychic. It starts when your colleague Meryl suddenly pulls a gun on you, and you start to get suspicious. It turns out she was under Psycho Mantis’ control, and soon you two face each other. To demonstrate his abilities, Mantis starts to make assumptions about you based on your play style, reads your memory card and moves your controller with his mind. It’s an unconventional and ingenious bit that blew collective the minds of children and adults alike back in 1998. It took a while to realize the only way to beat him was to unplug the controller from the port and plugging it in the player two slots. Despite all the incredible advances in technology, there’s still not been a boss fight as unique and memorable since.
The Last Laugh
Rocksteady put Batman back on the map with great Arkham Asylum and made even greater follow up with Arkham City, giving players a whole walled-off section of Gotham to glide around and beat up thugs in. Batman has to find Joker to discover what was Hugo Strange’s Protocol 10 about. He finds Joker badly deteriorated due to illness, but still determined to poison Gotham, starting with Batman. Now Batman has to find a cure and the clock is ticking.
After confronting a slew of his enemies and destroying Lazarus Pit, ultimately thwarting Joker’s plan, Batman is left with the last vial of the antidote. Using the Batman’s moment of hesitation, Joker stabs Batman, causing him to drop the vial and shatter it into pieces. Batman admits he would save Joker nevertheless, on which Joker has a laugh and dies. It was a truly unexpected turn of events, especially considering the love of the status quo both comics and video games share. Joker did return in Arkham Knight, but as a figment of Batman’s mind distorted by the fear toxin. Real Joker was still very dead, which was emphasized by the scene of Joker’s cremation.
At the first glance Spec Ops: The Line looks like any other military video game trying to cash in on the popularity of Call of Duty. It’s a cover-based third-person shooter, seemingly as generic as they get. It even has Nolan North, one of the most popular voice actors in the business. All this was a deliberate lead on to make you think you play the usual run of the mill military action game. And then there comes the scene in which your character, Captain Martin Walker, and his team come up against a large enemy encampment. Walker orders white phosphorus mortar strikes on the area. The view switches to an infrared camera and the player must aim and fire on targets. Once the area is cleared, you’re then forced to walk through what you’ve just wrought and face up to the nasty consequences — including the 47 civilian deaths you just caused, you monster. The intentional Call of Duty style lulls us into a false sense of familiarity, before striking us painfully with the message that war is hell and there are no heroes but murderers with all those taken lives burdening their soul.
Would you kindly?
When it came out eleven years ago (time flies, we’re old, et cetera), the first BioShock made quite a stir. That was a period when game developers seemed to be moving away from single player experiences to focus on online multiplayer. Suddenly, out came BioShock to prove that well-crafted personal stories weren’t going anywhere. You lead a guy without a name or face who ends up in the underwater Art Deco Objectivist haven, led by a man named Andrew Ryan. Things soon go hard south in Rapture, and society kind of imploded, leaving most of the denizens either dead or violently insane. Even worse, there are also lumbering monstrous figures in diving suits called Big Daddies roaming the city. While you explore Rapture and kill the remnant of Rapture’s population, you start to realize you’re not a stranger to this place and that mind control techniques you learned about during the game were used on you to manipulate you into dealing with the rest of the Rapture’s denizens. The moment of realization you’ve been controlled was one brilliant shock, throwing the idea of player’s free will and agency out of the window. You killed people without thinking twice just because the game told you so, being played like a gullible accordion. A man chooses, a slave obeys.
Don’t level Aerith
Honestly, you expected this one, didn’t you? This is one of the most famous moments in video games, a total sucker punch in form of death of the most loving character in the game thus far. The main character is Cloud Strife, a mercenary who finds himself in Midgar’s slums after a reactor explosion. There he meets Aerith, a charming and sweet flower girl, and agrees to be her guardian. Being a conflicted character, Cloud starts to develop a feeling of purpose as he grows fond of his party, especially Aerith. Meanwhile, a fallen hero Sephiroth is trying his best to corrupt the planet and become a god. Cloud and Co. manage to temporarily stop him, but Aerith decides to confront him herself and ends up being impaled on Sephiroth’s Masamune. Everything about this scene is a kick to the soul, especially Sephiroth’s smug, self-satisfied smile after. Hope you’re all ready to do some high-definition sobbing in your next-gen tissues when the FF VII Remake hits in the next few years.
Video games have a great advantage over the other media when it comes to the immersion of players. They put people in the middle of the story with their own acts deciding their own destiny. Therefore, whenever something shocking happens in a game, it’s felt more profoundly and deeper than in the movie, comic book or any other form of story-driven entertainment. We collected five of the most shocking revelations, twists, and happenings that bent our minds during the decades of gaming.