A lot of the time, a narrator is a person you can trust. After all, they typically know more about the story than everyone else, and why would they lie? Yet, some do lie, while others are simply wrong about things. These are called unreliable narrators.
Whether they’re an unknown voiceover or a character in the story, they present a version of events that is not actually true. For example, they may tell a tale about them showing incredible bravery, and you may even see it with your own eyes but find out later that what you saw wasn’t what really happened. The trope is often used to keep things from the player and give them an exciting twist further in the tale. These are the best games to include this sort of narration.
Metal Gear Solid 2 is a game that changes its protagonist partway through, as you start as Solid Snake but take on the role of Raiden a few hours into the story. At this time, the narrator also changes, as Raiden’s commanding officer, The Colonel, takes up that role.
During the story, he pretty much explains everything about what’s happening on the mission and what Raiden needs to do. Later in the tale, The Colonel starts to lose his mind and says a bunch of strange things. This is when you discover that he’s actually an AI who has been tricking you and Raiden the whole time. And it’s been lying to you about everything, from Raiden’s own past to the mission itself. In fact, the mission is more of a simulation set up by the AI and others like it. You were effectively just a test subject.
In Spec Ops: The Line, a squad of soldiers heads on a recon mission to Dubai, which has been destroyed due to sandstorms and conflict. While roaming around the country, the main character and narrator, Walker sees his fair share of atrocities. This leads to Walker losing his mind a bit.
But you don’t know the exact extent of his insanity until the end of the game. It turns out a lot of what you saw throughout the adventure wasn’t entirely real. After all, the antagonist that seemed to be causing all the atrocities had been dead for some time. Walker’s mind distorted events to make it seem like he wasn’t to blame for a lot of the horrible things that went down. In reality, Walker was the real villain.
4 Tales From The Borderlands
As Tales From The Borderlands includes some of gaming’s funniest characters, its version of an unreliable narrator is more humorous than most. The game uses a framing device that allows the two protagonists, Rhys and Fiona, to give their sides of the same story. And you play out the events as they recount them. However, there are some moments in both versions that are very clearly not real.
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Typically, the storyteller embellishes certain parts to make themselves look cooler or make the story more interesting. For instance, at one point in Rhys’s tale, he may rip somebody’s heart out, which he obviously didn’t actually do. The game makes the lies obvious on purpose for comedic effect.
3 Bioshock: Infinite
The premise of Bioshock Infinite is that you play as detective Booker DeWitt, who is sent to a new city in the sky called Columbia. His mission is to rescue a young woman named Elizabeth from the evil Comstock who runs the place. At least, that is what the game has led you to believe through its narrator, Booker.
However, throughout the story, Booker keeps having a flashback that takes place in his apartment. In it, someone keeps telling him to “bring us the girl and wipe away the debt.” Toward the end of the story, you and Booker finally understand what the scene means. You find out that the amnesiac protagonist is actually from a different universe, and he gave away his daughter to another version of himself, aka Comstock. The villain named her Elizabeth and kept her as his daughter. So, Booker wasn’t hired to rescue some random girl. He was trying to get his daughter back.
2 Final Fantasy 7
The Nibelheim Incident is a big moment in the story of Final Fantasy 7, even though it actually takes place prior to the events of the base game. You learn about what happened through a playable flashback narrated by protagonist Cloud Strife.
In the tale, he is a SOLDIER working alongside FF7 villain Sephiroth as they embark on a mission in Cloud’s hometown of Nibelheim. The story depicts the antagonist’s descent into villainy, which includes burning down the village. Yet, you later learn that only part of Cloud’s tale is true. The sequence of events is largely what Cloud said, but he didn’t feature as prominently as he remembered. His memories had become distorted. The SOLDIER working alongside Sephiroth was actually a man named Zack. Cloud was merely a regular infantryman that was also there at the time.
1 Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Near the beginning of the fourth Uncharted game, Sam Drake convinces his brother Nathan to come out of retirement from treasure hunting to find something extremely valuable. He does this by revealing that a crime boss named Hector Alcazar helped Sam break out of prison, and now he owes him the treasure. You even play an entire level as Sam that depicts all this.
Of course, Nate joins the cause so he can help his brother pay for his freedom. However, the main antagonist, Rafe, later reveals that the story is a lie. Alcazar didn’t get Sam out – Rafe did. There wasn’t even a breakout, as the villain just paid off the Warden. So, Sam functions as an unreliable narrator during the breakout level.