5 of the most shocking moments in Square Enix games

We take a look at some of those amazing twists that left us gasping in surprise. Spoilers… obviously.
By Duncan Heaney

Warning: This article contains spoilers for FINAL FANTASY VI, DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age, Life is Strange, FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE and FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered. Scroll beneath the spoiler-Barret at your own risk.

We expect games to be full of twists and turns, but sometimes a title does something so unexpected that it leaves us literally open-mouthed.

These magical moments can be tragic, amusing or just plain awesome, but they all have one thing in common: they’re utterly unforgettable.

So without further ado, here are just a few of the times Square Enix games shocked us to our cores.

Kefka’s betrayal - FINAL FANTASY VI

The true genius of Kefka is that you don’t really see him coming. Yes, he commits terrible acts of brutality throughout the story, but in the hierarchy of villains, he appears to sit securely at the ‘henchman’ level.

Until suddenly he doesn’t.

For much of the adventure, Emperor Gestahl’s the big bad. He’s the one who’s out to conquer the world and gain ultimate power - his court mage Kefka’s seemingly just along for the ride. But just when it seems like the Emperor’s plans are about to come to fruition, Kefka kills him and takes the power for himself.

Now Kefka’s essentially a god, which you have to admit is quite the promotion from high-ranking minion.

Not only that, his actions plunge the world into a year of darkness and ruin, sends the heroes into an emotional spiral they can barely recover from… and leaves players in disbelief

A tragic tail - DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age

DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age is a story full of stories.

The grand narrative is supported by lots of smaller scale adventures and quests along the way. One of the most shocking of these is the tale of a love-struck mermaid, Michelle.

The hero and his companions meet Michelle on a small rocky outcropping in the middle of the ocean. They need her help to gain access to the underwater kingdom of Nautica, so she makes them a deal.

She’s waiting for the return of her love, a sailor called Kainoa, and asks the group to find him. The sun’s shining, and like all mermaids in the game, Michelle speaks entirely in charming rhyme. It seems we’re in for a jolly time.

Then we find out the truth. Mermaids live much longer than humans, and Kainoa is long gone. Not only that, mermaids are feared and hated by the populace, figures of superstition, and this has had big implications on his life, and his descendants.

So the heroes are faced with a choice - tell Michelle the painful truth, or lie and leave her waiting for a love that will never come. If you choose the path of honesty, Michelle sets out to verify your story, and when she does… well, let’s just say that it’s a scene you’ll never forget.

Despite our best intentions, we couldn’t help Michelle. So with a very heavy heart, we bade a sad farewell.

Mushroom - Life is Strange 2

Torn from their comfortable life in Seattle into a life on the road, it’s clear that Sean and Daniel Diaz are not going to have an easy time in Life is Strange 2.

True enough, their long journey towards Mexico is fraught with hardship and adversity, but amid all the struggle there are some bright spots. Mushroom for example.

Daniel ‘adopts’ this adorable little puppy in the first episode, and it accompanies them on their long trek across America. At least, she does for a while - very early in the second episode, Mushroom goes missing. The brothers find her lifeless body - gored by a wild cougar.

What makes the moment so shocking is how understated it is. There’s no drama or ceremony to the event - it just… happens. That quiet sense of horror is only emphasized by Daniel’s angry unleashing of his hidden powers - and how far you decide to let him go.

Fun fact: I was so shocked by this moment, I directly confronted the writers about it, essentially wailing: “How could you do this?” at the poor guys.

Michel Koch told me: “We wanted to establish the ground rules for Daniel’s powers, and then present a situation where those rules are tested.

“It’s basically a battle between heart and mind, right? You’re telling Daniel not to use those powers, but then we hit the player with an emotional scene that challenges the very rules they set.”

Well mission accomplished - you can’t deny it’s an effective moment. Still hurts though.

Seifer kills a Guardian Force - FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered

Guardian Forces - or GFs - are hugely important in FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered. These powerful supernatural beings can be equipped to characters, and summoned into battle to deliver brutal attacks.

Odin is an optional GF that acts a little differently to most. Rather than being manually summoned, he randomly appears at the start of fights to take down all your enemies in one go.

He doesn’t typically show up for climactic boss battles though, so it’s a surprise when he appears to take on Seifer. But what happens next is the real mind-messer: Seifer fights back. He uses his limit break Zantetsuken to turn the tables and cleave Odin in two.

You’re left reeling - what the heck? This isn’t how things are meant to go! GFs appear, do their thing and get out - that’s how it’s always worked. Seifer’s suddenly broken all the rules - anything could happen now.

And the biggest surprise is yet to come…

Shinra pushes the button - FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE starts with a bang. Literally.

The opening bombing mission is an exciting assault on the Shinra Electric Power Company’s Mako Reactor 1 - a power plant that’s sucking the planet of life-giving energy.

Cloud, Barret and the rest of the team battle their way past Shinra security, wall mounted lasers, and a boss with a real sting in its tail, set the bomb and make their escape. As planned, the explosive detonates, damaging the reactor - mission accomplished, right?

And that’s when it happens. It turns out Shinra’s executives have been watching the whole assault play out. With a nod, President Shinra gives authorization for a sinister plan - the Reactor’s army of bots and turrets activate and lay waste to the reactor, causing a massive explosion that takes out the entire complex - and part of the streets outside.

It’s a moment that left many a fan on the back foot - why would Shinra obliterate one of their own reactors? That feeling of deep unease is only increased by an extended tour of the aftermath - with its many burning buildings and ruined lives.

In short, it’s a shocking turn of events acts an early warning of just how far Shinra is willing to go to achieve its goals - and how little it cares about collateral damage.

Those were just a few of the shocking moments that left us flabbergasted - but do you agree? Let us know by following the team on social media: