There’s nothing better than a game, movie, or book which has you hooked and completely engrossed all the way throughout only to, at the end, flip the script and totally surprise you in the last little bit. Surprise endings are one of the most exciting ways of keeping a story going as long as they are done well (and there are definitely some surprise endings out there which just fall flat.) Surprise endings can be terrifying, hilarious, and anywhere in-between, but one thing is for sure; if done properly, they are an amazing way to absolutely mess with your mind. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the top five video games with an amazing surprise of an ending.
Spoiler Warning: There will be spoilers for the surprise endings of these games. If you haven’t played these games yet and would like to maintain the mystery, wait to read this only after you’ve played!
Coming in at number five is Braid from Jonathan Blow. Braid is a beautifully designed puzzle game which combines many classic video game qualities with some very interesting narrative elements and elements of time-manipulation. It follows Tim, the main character, as he attempts to rescue a princess from a terrible monster. The game hooks you in and keeps you invested the entire time, and then, at the end, it is revealed that Tim is actually the monster the princess has been trying to escape from. Braid keeps you guessing and working to understand the game throughout the entire time spent playing it, and when you get to the end, while you end up understanding, there are still plenty of things to leave you wondering. Braid has been hailed as one of the most unique games of all time, and with such a great twist ending and intrigue all the way through, it’s no surprise that this game has gathered such a huge following.
In fourth place is Heavy Rain from Quantic Dream. This game is twisted and dark from the beginning as you follow the hunt for the murderer known as the Origami Killer. The game follows four characters who are all working to catch the killer for a number of different reasons and with different methods. Heavy Rain is a shocking adventure from the beginning, with horrifying sequences and many different possible endings depending on what each character does. However, the biggest shock comes when we learn that the Origami Killer is none other than Scott Shelby, a private investigator who had been working to solve the killings, or so it was assumed. In reality, he was going along and destroying evidence as he pretended to work on the case. The whole game is rather gruesome and grim all along, but the surprise ending takes the cake for completely shocking anyone who plays this game.
In the third spot is Red Dead Redemption from Rockstar San Diego. This installment of the Red Dead series follows John Marston, a once-upon-a-time criminal who gave up his outlaw ways only to be pulled back in by agents of the FBI who want his help in capturing his old criminal connections. John goes along with it after the FBI agents threaten him with never seeing his family again, and he helps them hunt down everyone on their list. In the end, he is reunited with his family, but it’s not to last with the surprise waiting in store. The agents return to tie up loose ends, and they end up killing John. Red Dead Redemption follows the age-old tale of a double-crosser being double-crossed, but it is still definitely a twist at the end. It gets to a point where it seems like John has made it out, but he never really does escape his past.
In second place is BioShock from 2K Games. BioShock follows the main character, Jack, as he lives through a plane crash and survives by going to a lighthouse and finding that it is an entrance to the underwater world of Rapture, which was built by Andrew Ryan, a man who wanted to create a utopia but ultimately failed due to many outside factors and other people. Jack is guided through Rapture by someone named Atlas, who communicates with Jack by radio. Atlas directs Jack to kill Ryan, and Jack follows along with the plan, and only at the end does he discover that he has been manipulated the entire time. The twist comes when, during the confrontation between Ryan and Jack, Atlas asks Jack with the phrasing of “would you kindly” to kill Ryan, and Jack obliges. It is only after this that Jack realizes he has been brainwashed by Atlas, who is actually Frank Fontaine, a longtime enemy of Ryan. The story is even more twisted in the discovery that Jack is actually Ryan’s son. Overall, BioShock is a twisting brain-warping adventure that will leave you absolutely entranced and in complete shock at the end of the game.
And coming in at number one is The Last of Us from Naughty Dog. The story of The Last of Us follows the main character, Joel, as he is tasked with safely transporting Ellie, a girl with perceived immunity to the zombie outbreak which has wreaked havoc on the world, to a place where members of the Fireflies (a group of rebels) are waiting to try and discover a cure through Ellie’s immunity. Joel and Ellie make it through zombie hordes and government agents to the meeting space, but when they get there, Joel learns that the true plan to find the cure involves killing Ellie. Joel makes the decision to save Ellie and kills the rebels who try to stop him, and he and Ellie end up escaping. The Last of Us is intense all the way through, with death and destruction filling the gameplay, but the final decision of Joel saving Ellie is one of the most dramatic moments of the game.
There’s nothing quite like a game that keeps you on the edge of your gaming chair throughout its duration and then flips the script at the end to make it even more exciting. When done properly, a surprise ending can be the best way to make the end of a game completely satisfying, and there’s no doubt about it, these five games were done absolutely masterfully, with endings that make the entirety of the game even better.