Has there ever been a point when you’re playing a game and think “Wow, didn’t see that coming.” There are so many great things about gaming that make it interesting and dynamic for players. Plot twists, game changers and, of course, the infamous ‘bait and switch.’ For those who aren’t sure, the bait and switch character technique is one that is not lost to gaming history. It’s main premise is that it allows for a game to take an existing protagonist within the story (one that you’re playing as) and change him/her out for another. This can be done for varying reasons such as building up intrigue or story relevance. With that being said, these are the Top Ten times video games decided to pull the wool over our eyes.
10. Sam Caldwell and Nathan McNeill (Dead Space: Extraction)
Dead Space: Extraction is one of those hardcore titles that the Wii desperately needed. It was also one of those titles that managed to pull off the settle ‘bait and switch’ effectively. During the opening sequence in-game. The player starts off as a miner named Sam Caldwell who begins his day by removing the red marker of Aegis VII. Sam quickly starts seeing hallucinations after the removal and starts to gun everyone and everything down. The only thing that stops him from continuing his bloodthirsty rampage is the actual main protagonist, Nathan McNeill, who proceeds to shoot and kill Sam. This wouldn’t be the only time a bait and switch would appear in a Dead Space game, but it was certainly the one used to full effectiveness.
9. Initial Protagonist to Real Protagonist (Fate/Extra)
Imagine you’re an average high school student living out your day-to-day life. Things are a bit mundane, but your teachers are kooky and your classmates are friendly. Life’s good. Then, a transfer student joins your class. No biggie, it happens all the time. At the same time, however, students begin disappearing into thin air, and your teachers suddenly go from stern but caring to downright murderous. After that, the routine of day to day life ends up feeling just plain wrong. The world around you starts tearing apart at the seams, and you start losing your memories and sense of identity. You eventually stumble upon a battlefield made up of countless effigies, duking it out for supremacy. Throwing your hat into the ring, you’re ready to find out the truth. Then, you lose. You don’t learn the truth. You don’t remember who you are. You die alone, weak, powerless, and forgotten. Meanwhile, the real hero gets to fight with cool historical figures with magical superpowers. Some people have all the luck.
8. Kalos to Xellha and Back Again (Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean)
You’d be forgiven for forgetting about Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean, as it’s a rather obscure JRPG. Its obscurity, however, masks one of the biggest twists in JRPG history. For most the game, you play as a spirit guide to the protagonist, Kalos, as he leads his party to stop an evil God and its followers. While it is a bit strange to not actually directly control the hero, it could easily be written off as adding a bit of individuality to Kalos. It’s not as simple as that, however: our hero is a double agent, working for the main villain to take revenge on the world for his family’s murder since the start of the game. After he goes mad with power and tries to kill you, you switch over to protecting Xellha, another party member who becomes the focus of the game. While Kalos returns to the side of the angels eventually, that doesn’t lessen the switch’s impact. Turns out having your family murdered is a bit more stressful than most JRPGs make it out to be. Who knew?
7. Dunban is the Real Hero (Xenoblade)
Everybody knows about Xenoblade’s Shulk. He was probably one of the most surprising new entrants for Smash Bros. for the Wii U/3DS and everybody now remembers him as the half-naked Aussie who shouts something to the effect of “backscratch” constantly (“backslash” really). But while many people love him in Smash, there aren’t as many people who have played his game, Xenoblade Chronicles. And they might be surprised to know that a man named Dunban was the first badass. Dunban is originally the hero of the human colonies, and the original wielder of Shulk’s Monado blade. Were it not for the fact that Dunban had his right arm paralyzed in a fight with the Mechon a year earlier; in a scene we are introduced to the game by; it’s likely that he would have gone on to be the hero of Xenoblade Chronicles as well, and not just the mentor of Shulk. We might know better now than to rely on Dunban, but with Xenoblade’s relatively quiet initial debut, Shulk was every bit the nobody the game first makes him out to be.
6. The Haytham Kenway Surprise (Assassin’s Creed 3)
Prior to Assassin’s Creed 3, the Assassin’s Creed series had established a certain format. Each game was set in a different time period; featuring characters such as Ezio and Altair; with periodic cuts to the present day, to follow the story of their modern ancestor, Desmond Miles. Haytham Kenway is the assassin we play immediately after our Desmond Miles introduction. We follow him through well over a dozen missions, even joining him as he takes a boat from England to America, on orders from (presumably) the Assassin Brotherhood. However, it isn’t until many hours later that we learn that Haytham isn’t, in fact, an Assassin; that he serves the Templars, and that the man you kill in the beginning is one of the good guys. Assassin’s Creed 3, through Haytham Kenway, had us betray everything we would later stand for, and his reveal as one of the main antagonists of the real protagonist, Connor Kenway, is easily one of the most memorable moments of the Assassin’s Creed series.