*Looks at camera* Oh! Hey reader, didn’t see you there! The concept of a fourth wall break is nothing new in gaming, with many classic characters regularly talking directly to the player, such as the iconic Elder Scrolls character M’aiq the liar, who often voices the opinions of Bethesda developers.
There are certain instances of a fourth wall break that are particularly memorable, where the developer gets creative with the concept, and these moments can be some of the most interesting in the entirety of the game. This list features the absolute best of those titles with such tongue-in-cheek sections, which add greatly to whatever game they appear in.
The entire series of Metal Gear Solid contains a number of unique fourth wall breaks, ranging from small occurrences, such as the player character interacting with the camera, to major ones, like Psycho Mantis, literally reading your memory card and stating which games you’ve played.
Perhaps the most well-known fourth wall break in the series is when you get a call on your Codec during Metal Gear Solid IV: Guns of the Patriots, where your companion tells you to swap discs, then remembers that you are playing on a PS3 console and the Blu-ray discs could handle all of this wonderful game, which is often stated to be one of the best Metal Gear games.
9 High On Life
High On Life was developed in tandem with the team who created the show Rick and Morty, which is itself known for having many fourth-wall-breaking moments. Prepare for hilarity to abound as you carry a gun that speaks directly to you, the player, and who directs you through these magnificent alien worlds.
One moment which you surely won’t miss while playing the game is when you enter the pause menu during a shoot-out, and your alien gat shouts about how you’ve paused the game during a dangerous moment, chastising you for the decision.
The character of Deadpool is almost entirely built on a foundation of fourth wall breaking, with a key aspect of his personality being that he understands his existence as a comic book character. This essence of his nature was carried over into High Moon Studios’ video game adaptation, and much of the game sees him conversating directly with the audience.
It can be quite hilarious to hear this legendary character speak directly to you, asking for your input on tense situations and making fun of you if you perform poorly in combat. Nolan North is as excellent as always here, truly bringing the icon to life, making this by far his best video game iteration to date and one of the best Marvel games of all time.
7 The Stanley Parable
The Stanley Parable does an excellent job of reacting to player choices, essentially being able to respond to any action which you are capable of in the game. If you do not follow the narrator’s strict instructions, he will get quite upset and eventually stop speaking to Stanley and instead talk directly to you.
It can actually be a little scary at times, the way he angrily narrates your every step — no matter how absurd you think that decision may be, the game reacts. The game is aware of the fact that you will want to see multiple play-throughs, and in order to prevent player burnout, the game uses the clever tactic of not repeating the narrator’s dialogue. The intro will occasionally only have silence, providing an unexpectedly eerie start.
6 Batman: Arkham Asylum
The Scarecrow proves to be quite the menacing foe in whatever medium he appears, from comics to video games, he is consistently intimidating. In what is perhaps his greatest appearance, Arkham Asylum, he doses Batman with fear gas, which leads to a number of different mind-bending effects.
Most notable of these effects is when your game seemingly crashes, which assuredly confuses many players on the first go around. The game resets, showing the introductory cut scene with a few strange twists, such as the Joker sitting in the driver’s seat of the Bat-mobile.
5 Animal Crossing
In a game full of lovable characters, Mr. Resetti stands out as being particularly standoffish, but he had a pretty good cause to stand behind. There was a bug on the Nintendo Gamecube where-in resetting the console caused your save files to be corrupted on the memory card.
If you reset your console while playing Animal Crossing without first saving and leaving to the menu, whenever you next loaded into the game, Mr. Resetti would be there, ready to chew you out. He directly brings up the fact you’re playing on a Gamecube and will even reset the game himself as a prank!
OneShot is one of the most intriguing puzzle games of all time, being entirely based on the concept of the inhabitants of its world knowing you exist outside the game. It even goes so far as to make you interact with your operating system in very interesting ways to solve its complex puzzles.
The game has many different moments where you will interact with a computer in the game, only for it to hint at some clue that is in your file system or hidden within your desktop wallpaper in sneaky and frankly creepy ways. All of these fourth wall breaks contribute to the game’s inherently horrific atmosphere, and it really connects you with the playable character in a way that other games simply can’t compete because it’s like they are part of the real world.
3 Superhot VR
Superhot’s concept is primarily about the merging of a simulated world with reality, with the game utilizing many mind-bending story mechanics to make it unclear whether your actions are in a game or the real world. The game’s VR port uses the platform’s unique properties to deliver a wonderfully confusing experience as you switch between “real” life and the bullet hell world.
It can be particularly trippy to take off your VR Headset in-game, revealing you to be a player in their apartment with a very impressive gaming rig. Things ramp up from there, and Superhot VR often proves to be one of the best VR games available, sure to please those looking for a tense and unique first-person shooting experience.
2 Max Payne
The original Max Payne is not a title well known for its fourth-wall-breaking moments, but they are there and may surprise those of you who have only briefly experienced the series. There is a secret mission in this classic game, where Max comes to the realization he is inside a computer game. If you make it through that mission, Max will regularly associate with you, even thanking you for your good performance in combat.
It can be quite hilarious and strange to see what was initially such a serious game take this ridiculous path, and Max responds in an appropriately bleak manor considering the game he is in, having a brief mental breakdown at the thought, but it is still a side-splitting moment nonetheless.
1 Conker’s Bad Fur Day
Context-sensitive, eh? Conker’s Bad Fur Day was developed during the height of the 3D platforming genre and served as a wonderful parody of those games. Being developed by Rareware, who created many classics in the genre, it has wonderful roots in such and stands the test of time as a hilarious, wildly fun romp.
It is a very self-aware title, and the furry protagonist often takes small breaks to crack wise at the audience. The most iconic of these in-jokes would be the context-sensitive button, which was a very common mechanic in games of the time, and Conker has a great time bringing this up.
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