KULT: The Temple of Flying Saucers, or “Chamber of the Sci-Mutant Priestess”, as it was called in America, is a graphic adventure game from the late 80’s.
i mention it now because it had a really neat twist that has stayed with me throughout my career in game design.
*** HERE BE SPOILERS ***
The game is crazybizarre. You play a Tuner, a being with magical mind powers. You are imprisoned by the Protozorqs. Your task in the game is to pass the five Ordeals. Your first time through the game, you go into each Ordeal room, and solve some relatively benign puzzles. Once you pass all five Ordeals, you are sent up to the titular Chamber where the Sci Mutant Priestess kills you. Game over.
Of course, that’s not how the game has to end. Game with multiple endings are nothing new, but there was something so satisfying about the alternate path in Chamber of the Sci-Mutant Priestess. You really felt like you were defeating, or outsmarting the game.
At the outset, you can kill one of the prison guards and take his weapon. Then you crawl through the ducts, bypassing the five Ordeals. This path eventually leads you into a backdoor in the Chamber, where you assassinate the Sci-Mutant Priestess. Score!
By giving the player the chance to outmuscle the guards, skip past half of the game, and kill the ultimate baddy, Kult’s designers indellibly etched a chunk of game bliss into my brain. It excites my richest “escape from prison” fantasies, and i admit that i am eager to “pay homage” to this twist in one of my own games.