You know, there’s nothing worse than having to pause a game just to sink into a lengthy analysis to help fill in the blanks. Of course, while we do tend to love a riveting storyline with plenty of twists and turns along the way — some games really don’t know how to inject balance into the mix. Complex story arcs can often be interrupted just so we can try and put two and two together, and before even considering the sequel — we’re sometimes left to gloss over a Reddit theory just to stay afloat. And that’s not fun. It’s just not.
We get it — concepts are running a little dry these days. Ideas have been recycled more times than we’d like to admit — and developers are struggling to conjure anything that hasn’t been made twenty times before. But with all that being said, forging a ridiculously complex storyline just isn’t the way to stand out in the crowd. Sure, many gamers enjoy the thought-provoking tale with far more questions than answers to boot. But the majority? Well, there’s definitely a bit of bad blood looming. And as for these five, well — they just take the absolute cake.
5. Resident Evil
What started off as an incredibly simple concept eventually spiralled into a slew of touch-and-go outbreaks with very little to keep them grounded. Of course, the first batch of Resident Evil titles were ridiculously easy to navigate and understand without ever having to resort to a forum to discuss (with the exception of the odd puzzle, maybe). However, after the T-Virus settled ever so slightly, Capcom looked to fuse new plagues into the mix by developing a stack of games with zero consistency to boot.
After Resident Evil 4 narrowed in on a new outbreak known only as Las Plagas, Capcom followed up with a round of titles that made no effort to follow the same structure as Racoon City once did. Resident Evil 5 found Majini, a similar virus to the Las Plagas, and then Biohazard went on to forge a shifting mold that alters your personality. Strangely enough, all of these outbreaks take place in the same world — only half of them don’t stick around long enough to be explained before being shoved aside for the next one.
4. Little Nightmares
While Tarsier Studios did go on to prove that not every game needs a cutting-edge narrative and a bulky prologue to be a success — Little Nightmares did possess quite the slew of confusing moments. Saying that, the survival horror series did make up for the lack of explanation with some of the most terrifying creature encounters and locations we’ve ever laid eyes on in a video game. But sadly, that doesn’t dismiss the fact that both entries had us pulling chunks out of our hair over the complexing plotlines.
From the moment you fill the little yellow raincoat as Six to the closing phases of the confusing tale — nothing is explained in detail, nor is anything backed up by a chunky dialogue before or after the events played out on screen. Instead, what you’re left with is one continuous timeline of otherworldly events with zero context to fortify it. And so, while the journey as a whole can be fleshed out with nail-biting fun — the story does prefer to take a backseat and leave you scratching for answers.
3. Bioshock: Infinite
2K sort of shot themselves in the foot when getting greedy with the Bioshock plotline. Admittedly, the first two games were somewhat difficult to crack — but nothing compared to the madness that lapped around the final instalment. That’s when we all resorted to filling out the forums to help piece together the mind-boggling ending that made little to no sense whatsoever. Of course, a few threads were easy to follow over the course of Infinite, but that finale? Now that was a curveball for the ages.
Bioshock, in a nutshell, isn’t that difficult to follow. Rapture had us submerging into a steampunk setting with escape being the only real motive. Columbia, on the other hand, had us coursing through the clouds in search of something much deeper. Elizabeth introduced a whole new level of complexity to the world, and in turn, brewed a pretty exhausting plotline with endless twists, turns and cracks to fathom. That being said, Infinite, despite its oddities, was perhaps the best chapter in the Bioshock series to date. It’s just a shame the ending made no effort to paint a complete picture.
2. Metal Gear Solid
Gee, I’d love to single out a single entry from the Metal Gear Solid franchise and unravel its complexities, but that isn’t going to happen. Thanks to Hideo Kojima and his unorthodox methods of storytelling, fans of the series have been left to assemble the pieces of this shattered timeline for years. And even in 2021 — people still don’t understand what on earth is going on with the overall story. At least the majority of the player base don’t, anyway. And as for the select few who do, well — kudos.
Of course, a large part of this monstrosity does boil down to the fact that Kojima himself didn’t map out the timeline from the get-go. With a ‘wing it and fling it’ sort of attitude, Metal Gear Solid has been trying to explain itself and connect the scattered dots with each passing entry to assemble one simple picture. The problem is, with each segment being thrown onto the canvas, both Kojima and Konami have essentially put more pieces than the puzzle needs — leaving a heap of unexplainable corners. And as for 2021? Well, your guess is as good as mine.
1. Kingdom Hearts
When we picture a Disney-themed video game, we don’t necessarily associate it with complex storylines and extensive character development. Instead, what we picture is happy-go-lucky faces, smooth gameplay and an easy-to-navigate series of obstacles. Unfortunately for us, however, Square Enix just didn’t want to play ball and follow the cliche when it came to developing Kingdom Hearts. In fact, they just sort of went off the rails and made it up as they went along — to the point of moulding an absolute shipwreck of a concept altogether.
It should be relatively simple in some respects. A boy inherits a rather large key that holds the power to banish darkness from a chain of Disney worlds. Donald and Goofy are puppets that stalk your every move, and the end goal is to essentially rid the darkness and return light to the slew of realms. Simple enough, right? Well, try telling that to anyone who’s tucked into the entire saga and they’ll most likely tell you otherwise. To put it plainly — Kingdom Hearts, despite its loveable front — does not have a simple storyline. Far, far from it. Like, galaxies apart.
Had enough of complex video games? Looking for the next list? Why not take a look at one of these: