Gaming's most heartbreaking betrayals

Kain Highwind (Final Fantasy IV)

OK…maybe a character named ‘Kain’ should have been a giveaway that this guy has some dirty laundry to air. And maybe after the first back-stabbing, we should not have been too surprised about the second… and the third. But, hey, it’s not as if anyone has lived on this earth without trying to impress a girl…or being mind controlled by magic. Happens all the time.

For all the aforementioned stabbing of backs, Kain is a very honor-bound individual and close friend of Cecil. Sure, he might be in competition with Cecil for the affections of Rosa, but the young Dragoon officer wants to stop the villainous Golbez’s plot to ‘depopulate’ the Earth just as much as anyone. Problem is, Golbez’s mind control constantly causes Kain to turn on his comrades. This is made doubly sad by the fact Golbez is being manipulated by Zemus, an even bigger baddie. Poor Kain is a puppet of a puppet!

For all that, however, the saddest thing about his betrayals is they are wholly uncreative. The instant Cecil obtains the crystal from Fabul, Kain steals it. He then manipulates Cecil’s party into retrieving another crystal… so Golbez can steal it. He then informs Cecil’s party about the ‘Dark Crystals’ in the underworld…and then steals them. Mix it up, yeesh!

After all of this, after Kain is freed from mind control for the hundredth time, he finds it within himself to commit yet one more betrayal of his own volition: he ditches Cecil and Rosa’s wedding during the game’s lengthy ending. We suppose the lesson is, just because someone is being mind-controlled doesn’t mean they’re not a douchebag.

Iris/Erim (Lufia 2: Rise of the Sinestrals/ Curse of the Sinistrals)

Though an ancillary character throughout Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals, Iris is nonetheless a constant companion in Maxim’s party. Even though being a constant source of encouragement and guidance was enough, Iris goes above and beyond the call of duty when she takes a laser to the chest to protect a child prince.

She attributes her miraculous survival to the enchanted amulet she wears as a priestess, but the actual reason is far more devious - she is the Sinistral of Death. It will take more than that to… kill her?

Where the other Sinistrals were content to just try to bring about the apocalypse head-on, Iris took a far more cunning route. As Maxim’s party defeated the other Sinistrals one by one, Iris learned from the mistakes of both her compatriots and her human counterparts. She even seems to take pity on some of the poor souls, which makes her inevitable betrayal all the more shocking.

Just as Maxim’s party almost finds a way onto Doom Island, just as it starts to look like they might be able to win against the insurmountable odds, Iris, or rather Erim,  makes her move. When Erim decides to strike, she does so without hesitation or mercy, leaving her former ‘comrades’ demoralized, disadvantaged and utterly shocked. For her betrayal’s effectiveness, it might have been ripped from the pages of The Art of War itself.

Wheatley (Portal 2)

‘Cheerful, nervous, and just slightly silly’ these are the best ways to describe this little AI ball that knocked on the door to our stasis chamber one fateful day. Just as fearful of GLaDOS and eager to escape the Aperture labs as any thinking being should be, Wheatley soon became an irreplaceable and sympathetic companion, a constant source of amusement and –on occasion- a useful ally. Had it not been for Wheatley’s advice, Chell might never have thought to disable GLaDOS’ trump cards of turrets and neurotoxins. At first, replacing GlaDOS’ AI core with Wheatley’s seemed a perfectly natural and sane thing to do.

But then it all went so horribly wrong. Our best friend since the companion cube changed when he was installed into GLaDOS’ mainframe. As if he had suffered a sudden onset of schizophrenia, Wheatley became suspicious, paranoid, even vindictive. Like a high school pal who’s fallen on hard times, Wheatley soon found himself addicted to the hardest drug of all: Science.

The true knife in the gut is the fact it was our fault. Now free of her mainframe, GLaDOS, while still sarcastic and pushy, is less mean and bitter. It seems the issue was with the mainframe itself, not with the AI. So by installing Wheatley into the aperture mainframe, we became the unwitting purveyors of his corruption.

And that makes us have sad faces.

May 17, 2011

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  • Vitreosity - May 17, 2011 9:08 p.m.

    Even though the game was spoiled for me, I still was incredibly surprised by Wheatley's betrayal. He's too awkward to actually begin hating Chell :(
  • Ninjasauce404 - May 17, 2011 9:09 p.m.

    poor wrex....
  • EnragedTortoise1 - May 17, 2011 9:27 p.m.

    The music for Wheatley's betrayal actually gave me goosebumps.
  • FVDub - May 17, 2011 9:28 p.m.

    I hate the options that Shepard can say after Ashley kills Wrex, they mostly boil down to "don't do that again" or "I could have handled it." Unless Shepard deliberately tells Ashley to kill him, he/she doesn't really doesn't seem mad at all that a party member was killed by a racist suddenly. And I forgot how big of a jerk Kain really is.
  • Hellhog - May 17, 2011 9:28 p.m.

    I wish I didn't read, I agree with the Mass Effect and GTA since I've played those (especially Big Smoke, what an ass!), wish I never read the Portal 2 one, haven't played it yet and was on the fence. Since I've already seen the Portal 2 co-op and have had more than just this for Portal 2 spoiled, might rent and thats it.
  • TheHungryLemur - May 17, 2011 9:44 p.m.

    Great article GR!...But I think you've spoiled Portal 2 for a few people... As for me, I completed it about 3 days after it was released! ^_^
  • dphoenix192 - May 17, 2011 9:48 p.m.

    I'm surprised that there is no bioshock, but I guess you guy were going with betraying you for a good reason or out of their control.
  • monkeyrevenge - May 17, 2011 9:50 p.m.

    WHAT?!?! No Jowy from Suikoden 2? Thats the one that got me more than any other.
  • dphoenix192 - May 17, 2011 9:55 p.m.

    No wait, Sinclair fits this article pretty well
  • NG14916 - May 17, 2011 9:57 p.m.

    You can't really call FFIV's betrayal heartbreaking since there isn't nearly enough character development for you to care. And a truly heartbreaking betrayal is one made of free will by a friend who really would rather not betray you and feels horrible about it but feels that it is the lesser of two evils. It's even worse when you know that, too, and can only feel sorrow rather than feeling angry.
  • SvAcAde - May 17, 2011 9:59 p.m.

    Erm, i kept Wrex alive.
  • garnsr - May 17, 2011 9:59 p.m.

    Does knowing part of a story for something really make it impossible for someone to enjoy it? People are so uptight about "spoilers" these days.
  • shadowreaper72 - May 17, 2011 10:06 p.m.

    Really, no Bioshock? When Atlas betrayed me and it turned out it was Fontaine I was so freaking shocked, too shocked for words. I just sat there and was like no freaking way!!!
  • RicePuddingUK - May 17, 2011 10:10 p.m.

    Where's Dark Side Bastila/Revan from KOTOR? The fact it is YOU carrying out the betrayal after a good 20-30 hours with your team-mates is heartbreaking.
  • paganpoet - May 17, 2011 10:12 p.m.

    Not sure if it counts, but I always thought the "betrayal" scene from Chrono Cross was pretty sad (where Serge stabs Kid), the way she looks at him with confusion. Although that's...not really a betrayal since it's the antagonist in the protagonist's body. Is it?
  • tomthespesh - May 17, 2011 10:21 p.m.

    Wheatley, the most loveable villain ever. I would've gladly kept testing under him.
  • AirickG - May 17, 2011 11:12 p.m.

    Oh Wrex, why did you have to be replaced by a dull beefhead in the second Mass Effect? Oh well, it was nice to see you trying to unite Krogan...
  • AirickG - May 17, 2011 11:18 p.m.

    PS. that's the first time I've seen Wrex die. I probably would have cried if that happened to me while playing...
  • FauxFurry - May 17, 2011 11:36 p.m.

    That Portal 2 spoiler brought something to light that most reviews seemed to glaze over if not outright ignore: Portal 2 has cut scenes?! How unlike Half-Life 2 of it. Since people are lobbing around spoilers with reckless abandon as is fitting for an article about betrayals, what about Liu Kang turning on Rayden in Mortal Kombat (2011)? It wasn't for power, money, sex, drugs or bragging rights. Liu Kang was just fed up with a crazy god whose hallucinations got the woman that he sort of had a thing for killed and put all of the warriors of Earth Realm through the wringer, one who he intended to stop from doing more harm with his own two hands.
  • p0wnd - May 17, 2011 11:37 p.m.

    How about Fontaine? Me wife Moria, me wee son Patrick. Greastest line ever?

Showing 1-20 of 54 comments

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