ByNicholas Montegriffo, writer at
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Nicholas Montegriffo

Video Games can be difficult enough to complete normally, and we all know that terrible surge of despair that comes with hitting the Game Over in the middle of a tense action sequence.

Some game designers evidentially relish that feeling of despair with a cruel delight, because there are some games which actually try to trick you into thinking you've lost. Here's our rundown of the most shocking examples of this video game bait-and-switch. Fair warning: Spoilers ahead.

'Metal Gear Solid 2' Forces You To Mail Your Fission

Late into Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, you're in a tense firefight when the game suddenly exits to the familiar game over screen. Luckily, there's a couple of tells that let you know there's still hope.

The screen reads 'Fission Mailed' instead of 'Mission Failed', 'Emit/Continent' for 'Exit/Continue' and it's possible to continue the action in the corner screen that usually replays your death. Still, my heart skipped a beat the first time I ever saw this.

Hideo Kojima has a reputation for screwing with players this way. One of this worst pranks was back in the first Metal Gear Solid in which boss Psycho Mantis unleashed an attack that pretended to turn off the console.

I shudder to think of the level of mind games that Kojima has in store for us with Death Stranding.

'Batman: Arkham Asylum' Gives You A Taste Of Madness

This one is as creepy as hell. At a certain point in Batman: Arkham Asylum the console or PC will freeze, faking a crash. Then the game 'restarts'... but with a sinister twist. Suddenly you're the Joker, escorting Batman into Arkham Asylum in a cruelly mocking parody of the opening sequence (with the Scarecrow replacing the Bat-signal).

The Joker then shoots Batman in the face, triggering the game over screen with the helpful message to 'Use the middle stick ('tilt the mouse' on PC) to dodge Joker's bullet'. Either option takes you back into battle with the Scarecrow

There's a kicker: if you try to skip the twisted version of the opening cutscene, the game will prompt you to press the 'J' button to skip.

'X-Men' Goes Really Meta

Cyclops isn't good with computers [Sega]
Cyclops isn't good with computers [Sega]

X-Men for the Sega Genesis is infamous among old school gamers thanks to a seriously WTF moment that made us think we could never complete the game. In the second to last level after the Mojo boss fight, the player finds a computer screen to destroy. The game prompts you to 'Reset the Computer.' Gamers spent hours, weeks, months searching the level for an in-game button to press. But the solution was closer to home.

You actually needed to hit the 'Reset' button on the console to continue the game. Hah, nice one game devs! Except...some versions of the Genesis didn't have a reset button, leaving with you with no option but to come to terms—early in life—with the fact that failure to meet impossible expectations in an unfair world is going to be a thing now forever, you loser.

'Command & Conquer: Red Alert': Losing Is Winning, Winning Is Losing

Objective Reached-Mission Failed [EA]
Objective Reached-Mission Failed [EA]

One of the Soviet missions in Command & Conquer: Red Alert tasks you with capturing the Chronosphere for Stalin, but the allies blow it up themselves before you can capture it. As punishment for your failure, you are are ordered to be shot. Luckily, this mission failure is part of the story. Before you can be executed, the blame is (accurately) pinned on someone else and you're reinstated.

Unfortunately, due to a level-design bug it is actually possible to capture the objective by making it invulnerable with the iron curtain (not intended to be used on enemy buildings, but it still works) before the allies detonate their explosives.

These cunning players then captured it with their engineers, congratulating themselves on their clever strategy, only to get slapped with an all-too-real 'Mission Failed' screen for breaking the story.

'Blood Omen: Legacy Of Kain': Can't Get Undead Without Dying

A promising start [Crystal Dynamics]
A promising start [Crystal Dynamics]

Kain is one of my favorite video game vampires, but he didn't start out that way. At the beginning of the very first Legacy Of Kain game, he's just a noble warrior in a typical RPG tavern. Take him outside and...oh crap, bandit attack. A whole lot of them. This first level is super unfair.

Except, you're actually supposed to lose to the first encounter and die horribly so that you can be resurrected as a vampire and begin working on that titular legacy. Unfortunately, for complete newbies to the series, it really looked like the game was just being a dick to you. At least once you come back from the dead you can exact bloody revenge on the assassins that ganked you.

'Assassin's Creed' And Your 'Spiritual Death'

A harsh lesson [EA]
A harsh lesson [EA]

In Assassin's Creed, Al Mualim stabs Altaïr with a dagger in the second Memory Sequence for breaking the titular Creed at the Temple of Solomon. The game returns to the White Room of the Animus, just as if Altaïr gets desynchronised.

However, Altaïr awakens in front of Al Mualim's desk, shocked to be alive. Turns out that Al Mualim intended for the stabbing to be a 'spiritual' death, except that 'spiritual' death seemed to affect a lot of material things, like all your items. Dick move, Old Man.

Credits Will Roll, Then Heads In 'Hitman: Blood Money'

[Eidos Interactive]
[Eidos Interactive]

Near the end of Hitman: Blood Money, it looks like it's all over for Agent 47 when Diana stabs him full of poison. The game segues to a lavish funeral, with a bunch of bad guys gloating over your chrome dome corpse.

Could it be a fake out? But wait, those credits are really rolling. I guess it's just a downer end-wait, our hard-as-nails protagonist can actually shake off the poison, rise up and shoot up his own funeral. Take that, Technical Producer Martin Amor. At least they've got the facilities to handle all those new corpses.

Oh My God, 'Eternal Darkness'

So. Harsh. [Nintendo]
So. Harsh. [Nintendo]

Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem for the Gamecube took Nintendo's reputation for happy-go-lucky light-hearted party games and ripped it to shreds. The game actually out-Kojimas Kojima, with fake game overs, fake glitches, fake deaths and even a fake blue screen of death.

Even if the game doesn't outright try to trick you with a fake ending, you might be forgiven for thinking you're just about to get killed normally, as another popular insanity effect spawns a horde of fake enemies. It'll take a whole lot of Mario Party to calm those shaking hands.

Back From The Brink


As frustrating as these moments can be, they're memorable to me because of the huge emotional rush of relief when I found out that it wasn't the end. Even those dirty tricks that screw with the screen interface had me appreciating their originality after the initial shock.

Are there any times a game convinced you that you'd lost, only to offer you a second chance? Let us know in the comments!


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