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  • In Metroid, if players completed the game in a sufficient amount of time, then Samus Aran would take off her Powered Armor to reveal that she's a young woman. Later games make no effort to conceal Samus's gender, though most still refrain from giving you a clear view of her face until the end of the game or a Playable Epilogue.
  • Adam Cadre's Interactive Fiction work 9:05 has you waking up in a panic and receiving a phone call admonishing you on being late for work. You can go through the (logical) motions of taking a shower, getting dressed, eating breakfast, driving to work and doing your job...until you suddenly are arrested and the game ends when it's revealed that under the bed was the corpse of the actual owner of the house, whom you killed the previous day while burgling the place.
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  • Used not once, but twice in Photopia. In one part, the protagonist seems to be a normal, if Mary Sue-esque, astronaut, until you take off your spacesuit and feel the wind ruffle your wings. Later, the connection of this to the other plot is explained when it's revealed that these segments were actually stories a babysitter is telling the young girl, with her as protagonist. It explains the Mary Sue-ness and also why the narrator has been defining words for you, SAT-style.
  • In the bonus level of The Suffering, it's explicitly revealed that the "Inhuman Monster mode" the protagonist can enter, seemingly turning him into a large, sub-human beast, is simply him giving in to his primal urges and tearing the demons apart with his bare hands. This is supported by the fact that Torque was a killer in two of the endings, and friendly NPCs don't seem to notice or care when you turn into the monster. Dr. Kiljoy also tried to convince you of this at about halfway through the game, but the ghost of a sadistic quack who talks like he's a member of a barbershop quartet isn't the kind of person you'd trust with that diagnosis.
  • Final Fantasy XI:
    • It is said the beastmen are the spawn of the dark god Promathia. Once you prevent The End of the World as We Know It in Chains of Promathia, it's revealed that all mortal life on Vana'diel are actually all parts of Promathia's body, the god himself slain by the Emptiness, with Vana'diel being formed by Altana using the Mothercrystal to try and restore him/it, with mortals as the end result. Her tears are also our souls, apparently, or something like that.
    • The Wings of the Goddess expansion is touted as a trip to Vana'diel's past in order to ensure the war is still won, and early missions imply it...until you learn that the 'past' is actually a parallel dimension to your own. Or rather, that your dimension is a parallel to the other, where the war was actually won. And yours was never supposed to exist. Your mission is to prevent your dimension from being erased by Atomos, a being that cleans up dimensions that aren't supposed to exist.
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  • Earthworm Jim 2 jokingly reveals that not only are Psy-Crow and Princess What's-Her-Name actually cows, but so is Jim himself.
    Narrator: And so, having defeated the nefarious Cow, our hero, the Cow, wins back the heart of the lovely Cow.
  • Hits at the mid-game climax of Baten Kaitos, in a truly brilliant execution. Whatever other game has ever had the main character turn out to have been The Mole? The game even manages to explain your (you being the main character's guardian spirit of sorts) "amnesia" at the beginning of the game (from just starting it then) as part of the main character's plot to suppress your memories as you were against his evil plans.
  • In Manhunt 2, Daniel's buddy Leo, who's been following him around on his journey, often urging him to use more violence and being playable in a few levels, is really the personality of a dead serial killer, implanted in Daniel's brain. The experiment was to create a super-soldier who could turn off his conscience and guilt whenever he was needed to, but Leo resisted, and secretly spent the entirety of the game trying to take over Daniel's body. On top of all that, in the end he's revealed to have forced Daniel to kill his wife and kids. Yes, he's kind of a bastard. (This plot twist is so profoundly obvious that it can barely be called a spoiler to come out and say it.) In a way, even the first level lampshades this — Leo always seems to somehow be beyond locked doors that you have to find a way to open, and he's never anywhere in sight when you're controlling Daniel.
  • Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis has The Hero Vayne and his Mana Sulpher. As it turns out, Vayne is the actual Mana, and Sulpher is his contract master.
  • The setting of the plot in Utawarerumono is revealed to be Earth in the far future, with the world's race as a result of genetic experiments; everything resembles the feudal era because of an apocalyptic period long ago. And don't forget the whole Hakuoro being a god thing, either. Well, half of one.
  • Cave Story: A third into the story, the protagonist is stated to be a Ridiculously Human Robot. His antennae-ears are visible from the beginning of the game, but they're easy enough to overlook (or mistake for something else) on his 8-bit sprite. It's also suggested for most of it that you're in an underground civilization, but it slowly becomes apparent that you're actually on the inside of a floating island.
  • The second Vigilante 8 game had two of these. Garbage Man is Y the Alien from the first game, and Bob O. is a monkey.
  • River City Girls leads the player to believe that Misako and Kyoko are dating Kunio and Riki, and run off to rescue them after they were kidnapped. Along the way Mami and Hasebe constantly belittle them. The ending reveals that Kunio and Riki are actually dating those girls, while Misako and Kyoko are crazy stalkers whom the boys are actively avoiding. The plot twist seems like an Ass Pull until you actually pay attention to the conversations the two pairs of girls have with each other - mainly, Misako and Kyoko constantly claiming they "Don't deserve" the boys, while Mami and Hasebe imply being on much friendlier terms with them and straight up calling the protagonists insane, as they are never able to disprove either of those claims. This is subverted if you find and destroy every Sabu statue and unlock the game's Secret Ending. Instead of the normal final boss, you face down Mami and Hasebe, and beating them shows the protagonists actually are the real girlfriends of Kunio and Riki.
  • In Splinter Cell: Conviction, one level has you play a Faceless Goon who has to save his squad leader. You are playing as Vic Coste and the man you save is Sam. Not really a tomato surprise when said level starts with Vic himself saying that he saved him, which makes the fact that the goon was Vic and the leader was Sam blatantly obvious.
  • A number of things in Splinter Cell: Blacklist help hide the fact that the player spends most of the final level as Isaac Briggs rather than Sam: Mission Control is otherwise occupied (explaining why 'Sam' isn't talking as much as he usually does), the full face mask worn by the character just seems like a Call-Back to Sam wearing similar outfits in the climax of the first three games and the previous (non-coop) level played as Briggs was an Unexpected Gameplay Change to a First-Person Shooter.
  • Silent Hill series:
    • Silent Hill 2: James's wife didn't die years ago; she died a few days before he went to Silent Hill. Oh, and it was not because of illness (though she had been suffering from it for a while). He killed her.
    • Alex from Silent Hill: Homecoming wasn't in the army, he was in an insane asylum. Was M. Night Shyamalan a writer for these games!?
    • Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, an Alternate Continuity re-imagining of the original Silent Hill, actually takes a unique approach with this trope with respect to the rest of the series. The plot is as basic as it gets and follows the same premise as the original: Harry Mason was in a car crash and is now traversing the town looking for his lost 7-year-old daughter Cheryl, and along the way, he's accosted by all sorts of demented-looking monsters. The game is punctuated by first-person, interactive "therapy sessions" that are set sometime after the events of the game. The last scene of the game? You find out that said therapy sessions are happening in the present, and it's not Harry who's the patient but 25-year-old Cheryl. It turns out Harry died in the car crash, which was actually 18 years ago (as opposed to "earlier that day" from your character's perspective,) but the real kicker is that your character isn't even Harry's ghost; the entire game was apparently a metaphorical journey through Cheryl's psyche as she underwent therapy, and your character faces the harsh reality that he's nothing more than a delusion in Cheryl's mind.
  • In the Minerva's Den DLC of BioShock 2 you play as Subject Sigma, a prototype Big Daddy from the same line as the protagonist of the main game, Subject Delta. Unlike Delta, whose previous identity is never revealed, Sigma is revealed to be Charles Milton Porter, the man who has apparently been acting as your Mission Control. The latter was actually a computer simulation of the former.
  • In Second Sight, the main character gets frequent playable flashbacks to events in the past. However, in said flashbacks, you can actually change events in the past which then have consequences in the future which move the plot along. Mental Time Travel? No. Turns out the "flashbacks" are actually the present time and the "present" portions are actually visions of the future, which ends up being completely erased by the end of the game.
  • In The 3rd Birthday, you have been playing as Eve Brea all along, not Aya.
  • Assassin's Creed III:
    • An early plot point reveals that Connor's father and the character you've been playing up until now is a Templar. This is subtly foreshadowed but still kept vague until the very last sentence of you playing as him, when he welcomes another character to the order with the words "Welcome to the Templars."
    • Achilles Davenport, Connor's mentor, is the one who gave him the name Connor (whose real name is Ratonhnhakéton). There doesn't seem to be any reason given for this until the end: while Connor is paying respect to his late mentor and foster father's grave, we see that Achilles is buried next to his wife, who is buried next to...their son, Connor Davenport, who apparently died while a child. Achilles gave him the name as a sign that he was taking Ratonhnhakéton as the son he lost.
  • Double subverted in Heavy Rain. A few hours into the game, it appears that Ethan may be the Origami Killer. This is later debunked, and then we get The Reveal that Shelby (another one of the playable characters) is the real killer.
  • In The Witch's House, you play as Viola, a young girl trying to escape the home of a disfigured witch with the help of a friendly black cat. The game's true ending reveals that Viola and the witch switched bodies some time ago, and the witch disfigured her old body so that Viola would despair and die (the only way a witch can be killed is through absolute despair). So throughout the game, the player has been aiding in the witch's escape. The pseudo-third ending also reveals the "friendly" cat to be a mere body possessed by a demon, and is the one who gave the witch her powers in the first place.
  • In Icewind Dale we have the narrator, who reads a book describing the adventures of the Player Character party. After completing the game, in the epilogue, his voice gets very angry. Turns out he personally witnessed the story - he's the Big Bad.
  • Complete one loop of DonPachi and the player character goes on a monologue about his training he's being put through, which, as he reveals, involves killing his own comrades in combat. Complete the 2nd loop, and he reveals the purpose of the training: to create Super Soldiers for the elite DonPachi unit.
  • The ending of ALLTYNEX Second reveals that the protagonist is Guehala Dennis, who was behind the development of the Phoenix in RefleX (and was killed about one second into that game).
  • In Shovel Knight the various Knights tell the player that Shield Knight is dead, which he denies. She was possessed by an amulet years earlier and became the Enchantress. Shovel Knight recognized her and was fighting the Order so he could break her free from the magic.
  • The ending of Xenoblade Chronicles takes place from Fiora's perspective. We do not see what she looks like at first after being half-Mechon for a while, but when Fiora meets up with Shulk, the camera pans out to reveal that she is fully Homs again.
  • In the Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars expansion Kane's Wrath, the Non-Entity General you play as in the campaign seems to be a Nod commander who has managed to survive the Second and Third Tiberium Wars. It is not until the third act of the game that it is revealed that "you" are actually a computer AI that Kane personally created and programmed out of the remnants of CABAL's code after the conclusion of Tiberian Sun: Firestorm.
  • Undertale has a huge one. At the beginning of the game, you're asked to name the Fallen Child. Most players assume this is the character they would be playing as, and the user interface goes along with that by putting the name on the save file and the battle screen. Near the end of the game, you find out that the child you named is not the one you were controlling, but the very first child that had fallen down the mountain. Not only that, but you also learn that the first child did some really nasty things and was generally not a nice person before they succumbed to an illness. This also has the Game Over screen make more sense since the voice calling out to the named child is begging them to stay strong and determined throughout the illness. Depending on your actions in the game, the named child is either given more backstory to their hatred while revealing the true name of the playable protagonist or said child reincarnates and destroys everything like it was just a game and moves onto the next one, signifying their link to the player.
  • Kingdom Hearts series:
    • There's an In-Universe example in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. Sora is forced to admit that the female childhood friend whom he and Riku befriended as a child is a blonde-haired girl named Naminé, a person whom he has never met before, let alone befriended. However, this is an in-universe retcon written by Naminé on the orders of Organization XIII so Sora could forget the true friend he actually befriended: Kairi. This falls apart, though, as Naminé can't completely erase that memory from Sora (like she does with Donald and Goofy) - in part because of his strong memory of Kairi, and in part because she's Kairi's Nobody.
    • In Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, there's the fact that Ventus and Vanitas are the two sides of the same person, as in, Vanitas is the darkness extracted completely from Ventus' heart, leaving the latter a literal Incorruptible Pure Pureness, or the fact that beneath that mask, Vanitas is a black-haired Sora. Both are sparsely hinted before the reveal and have been shown to the in-universe characters, the former one especially, so the surprises are really only on the part of the players.
    • Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance alternately lets you play as the two protagonists, Sora and Riku, who are taking the Mark of Mastery exam separately. They never encounter each other, strangely, despite the fact that the two can visit the worlds at the same time. Then it's revealed that Riku is playing out as Sora's Dream Eater all along, as in, those cute creatures you can befriend as allies, and the two do take part in the exam jointly, except that Riku is doing it in Sora's dream, Inception-style. This is cleverly hinted early on as Riku's costume features the same symbol as that appearing in all Dream Eaters. Yet this actually has been planned since the very beginning of the exam, so the revelation does not send anyone into headaches, except the players, that is. And this is all a mild twist in this infamously-Mind Screw of a game...
    • Kingdom Hearts III drops a major bombshell plot twist in its epilogue, though it only really makes sense to those who played the Mobile game or at least watched Back Cover. The Foretellers are summoned into the present by someone whom they recognize as their old friend Luxu, but that was just the name he originally used. Currently, in the game's present? He's Xigbar.
    • The finale of the mobile game gives another one about the Dream Eaters mentioned above. Riku technically being a Dream Eater while in Sora's dream? Not an exception. They're all Keyblade Wielders stuck deep in the Realm of Sleep, they're just so deeply asleep that they've forgotten who they are and are fused with their partner Chirithies to have animal-like form while sleeping so the Chirithies can use that form to protect them. The player wasn't playing hours of minigames with animal companions, we were playing hours of minigames with comatose child soldiers.
  • In Overlord I, the protagonist is revealed to be the Eighth Hero, left for dead by the other seven. This has virtually no impact on what happens afterwards, but could explain why an option for gameplay style is Pragmatic Villainy, whereas the rest of the series Overlord's tend to be more brutal.
  • Inversion: The aliens from another world are revealed to be from a neighboring city, as the game takes place on a giant Colony Ship. Some of the townsfolk knew about the city being in some kind of bottle, but didn't tell anyone because it wasn't important until aliens showed up.
  • Unavowed: A demon possessed a human who read a strange book, and the two went on a ridiculous murder spree that spans the entire game. Except the player character is a demon of knowledge, and the antagonist is the psychopathic cult leader who intentionally possessed themselves so they would gain enough power to begin their murder spree. They were so sick in the head that the exorcism cast THEM out of their own body because they were worse than the demon itself.
  • Dragon Age II ends with the revelation that Cassandra's interrogation of Varric has been taking place in Hawke's own house the whole time. What they both knew all along, but the first-time player did not, is that Hawke fled Kirkwall in the wake of the game's events, and the reason Cassandra is asking Varric all about Hawke is so she can try to find them to ask their help with a church matter.
  • Persona 5 Royal introduced the accomplished gymnastics athlete Kasumi Yoshizawa. Everyone (save for Joker) calls her by her surname. While normal in Japan as a sign of respect, it hides the fact she's really her violently depressed and timid sister Sumire Yoshizawa, who with Takuto Maruki's help, impersonates the late Kasumi after she died in a car crash Sumire indirectly caused. What's more surprising is that everyone in the game (but Joker) knew that Sumire is impersonating her sister, and actually feel sorry for her having deluded herself into thinking she's Kasumi.
  • Golden Sun: The fact that Felix' and Jenna's parents are still alive and held captive by the Fire Clan of Prox was known to Jenna and Felix all along, but the player never gets informed about it until halfway through Golden Sun: The Lost Age. This is also why Felix continues to light the Lighthouses together with Jenna despite their own captors/companions being dead by this point.
  • The promotional material for Resonance tells the player straightaway that at least one of the four Player Characters is not trustworthy, leaving the player to speculate out of the gate who it might be. A bit into the game, Detective Bennett drops a letter which implicates him as the traitor; but at the The Reveal, it turns that this was a Red Herring, and that the traitor is actually Eddings.
  • Haze attempted to play this trope straight. The game has you as a trooper for the Mantel Corporation, jacked up on a performance-enhancing supplement called "Nectar" and fighting a guerrilla-terrorist army led by a madman that wears human skin. Of course, Nectar is really a hallucinogenic mind-control Psycho Serum that blinds you to the fact that you're really a mass-murderer drug-junkie treating war as if it were a game of Halo. This might have been a shocking twist and a highly effective deception of the player...if it wasn't revealed on the back of the box and in all the game's publicity for months before release, and if the supposed good guys weren't basically carrying around giant signs saying "hey, I'm a totally evil bastard" in flashing neon. Not a bad idea, but the execution was lacking, and it didn't help that the gameplay doesn't hold up terribly well.
  • Contact makes you believe you are playing as main character Terry and that the Professor is helping you and by extension him return home. In actuality, Terry is being used by both you and the Professor against his will and Mint, leader of the Cosmo-NOTs, actually wants to help him. At the end of the game, Terry gets sick of you controlling him, forcing you to fight him, and the Professor unceremoniously abandons you both.
  • In the short game Dear Mariko, the player is automatically predisposed into assuming that the Player Character is Mariko by way of the title and the introduction scene, without noticing that she was never explicitly referred to as Mariko nor does she have a dialogue box stating her name. She's not Mariko.
  • Until Dawn: Eight friends return to a cabin in the mountains where, one year ago, two of their number disappeared (as the player sees in the intro, they fell to their deaths). While there, they find themselves stalked by a psychotic man in a clown mask, who forces them to make a Sadistic Choice, hunts them with a flamethrower, and follows them in the woods. Throughout the game, the player can find clues that point to the Mystery Man's real identity. Half of those clues are fake. One of the eight player characters, Joshua, is the psycho - it's all an elaborate prank by someone with serious mental health problems, caused by the tragedy. The two that died were his sisters, and he never recovered from the loss. Except...He's not the only one. The guy with the flamethrower is someone else entirely, and he's not a threat. And on top of that, there's something else out there - something not human. The guy with the flamethrower is trying to protect the main characters from it.
  • Indie horror game Love, Sam has a similar twist as Dear Mariko, with the player assuming they're either playing as Sam, then later her crush Brian being stalked by Sam, just going off the title and entries in her diary. It then double twists it by having the actual player character be Brian's closet gay best friend Kyle, who became jealous of Sam and Brian's relationship and orchestrated the events that ended with her death and him moving away. The game is him coming to terms with what he did by forcing him through the stalking and manipulation he performed himself.
  • Psychonauts:
    • Throughout the Milkman Conspiracy, resident Conspiracy Theorist Boyd is agitatedly trying to string together the whereabouts of an entity called the Milkman. Completing the level reveals that the Milkman is Boyd... or, at the very least, the Milkman is a Manchurian Agent planted in Boyd's head.
    • In Edgar's mind, a rampaging bull called El Odio runs wild in his head, preventing Edgar from getting anywhere in his head as the bull holds him back. Only until the finale does the player learn that the bull represents Edgar's own anger issues that prevent him from moving on in his life. This is represented by Edgar transforming into El Odio.
  • Knight Orc, an Interactive Fiction game by Level 9 has you (at first) playing as an orc, a low-level mook easily killed by roaming adventurers, requiring you to use cunning and underhanded tactics to defeat them. A third of the way through the game, a malfunction reveals that you’re actually a robot orc in a futuristic virtual-reality MMORPG, and the objective becomes finding a way to escape the facility.