Much like in films, books, or any other form of storytelling, the classic plot structure of video games usually sees the hero eventually best the villain after overcoming a series of obstacles in their path. However, not every game needs to (or should) follow this formula.
Although there's nothing intrinsically wrong with the classic hero's journey set-up, stories can be far more interesting and impactful when creators diverge from this tried-and-tested method of writing.
Rather than the hero coming out on top, sometimes games will see the villain be the one who emerges victorious. Other times the player-character may be revealed as the true villain of the story. Both these options can add intriguing layers of moral complexity to whatever tale developers wish to tell, with the best containing some of the most thoughtful writing in recent years.
Even more interesting, though, is when the villain wins without players necessarily realising it.
By taking a closer look at the wider implications of the ending of these games it becomes clear that it was the antagonist who secretly triumphed by the time the credits roll.
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!
10. Billy Grey - Grand Theft Auto 4: The Lost And Damned
Expanding on the crime-infested world of Grand Theft Auto 4, The Lost and Damned saw players take control of Johnny Klebitz, the vice president of the Lost motorcycle gang. Everything is going smoothly for the Lost at the start of the game until former leader Billy Grey returns to power after an extended absence.
Despite being welcomed back with open arms, it soon transpires that Billy doesn’t have the gang’s best interests at heart when he breaks the fragile truce between the Lost and rival gang Angels of Death. From here, things only get worse for the gang as dodgy drug deals, power vacuums, and a brush with the notorious Pegorino crime family leave the group in tatters.
Although Johnny and the remaining members of the Lost kill Billy before he can give evidence against his former gang mates in exchange for witness protection, it’s too late to salvage the damage that his actions have caused. With the Lost deciding to burn down their clubhouse in search for a new place to settle down, Billy successfully sabotaged the Lost.
Moreover, if it weren’t for Billy's betrayal Johnny wouldn't have ended up in San Andreas where he'd be killed by Trevor in GTA 5.