While most video games amount to more than just their story or characters, there's no denying that every game needs a compelling, memorable villain in order to achieve true greatness.
But sometimes developers opt to play their cards close to the chest, choosing not to reveal the true villain until late in the game or perhaps even in the sequel, and feeding the player a second-tier antagonist in the interim.
There's no denying that the puppet-master villain is a well-trod, tired trope in pop-culture, but given the more sprawling scope of most video game franchises, it makes sense to come up with a larger scale endgame villain who is held back for a future installment.
Sometimes we might hear about these villains in an earlier game, or maybe their later reveal slots neatly the existing continuity, but either way, we know now that these antagonists were doing their bad guy thing all along.
If nothing else, you can't accuse these video games of lacking imagination with the unhinged, terrifying, and unexpected villains they held at arm's length from the player...
10. Resident Evil
The original Resident Evil's big twist is that fellow S.T.A.R.S. team member Albert Wesker is a double agent working in league with the Umbrella Corporation, helping them to test their various grotesque experiments out on his own teammates.
However, Umbrella itself remains a relatively shady outfit throughout the game and the next few sequels, with the organization's higher-ups kept firmly in the shadows.
The man at the top is Oswell E. Spencer, the co-founder of Umbrella who is briefly mentioned in the original game's files but who didn't make an appearance until well over a decade later in Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles and more significantly Resident Evil 5.
Spencer is the megalomaniac ultimately responsible for the events that set the series in motion, including even the creation of Wesker himself, and is eventually killed by Wesker in Resident Evil 5.
And yet, Oswell is a rarity in the franchise given that he never has any sort of direct interaction with any of the heroes or playable characters, nor does he ever appear as a boss.
Though the recent Resident Evil Village went on to reveal that Mother Miranda was the one who taught Spencer about virology and inspired him to create Umbrella, Oswell is unique to the series in being known about since the very beginning but rarely actually seen.