Of all the game genres on the market, first-person shooters will always be the most popular. At this point, when gamers pick up shooters, they know exactly what they’re in for: taking down waves of bad guys with whatever gun they can find. Most shooters, even the best, can easily fall into a predictable formula.

Related: Games that deconstruct the RPG genre

It’s surprising, then, when a game breaks the formula when players least expect it. Genre subversion is at its best when it defies tropes and expectations, questioning why genres are the way they are and why we enjoy the genre in the first place. Games that deconstruct first-person shooters find creative ways to critique both the story and gameplay, and the gaming industry as a whole, leaving players to think and discuss long after putting down the controller.

Gamerant Video of the Day

7/7 Superhot

This unique indie game may only take a few hours to beat, but it packs a lot into a small experience. Superhot’s gameplay is simple; Time only moves forward when the player moves. The player is then thrown into various random action-movie scenarios where they have to kill waves of bad guys.

The gameplay itself begins to deconstruct the nature of first-person shooters. There is no narrative context for any of the levels or between any of the levels, and the enemies are depicted as completely spare and featureless. Superhot It essentially boils down first-person shooters to their basic mechanics: shoot the bad guys. The context doesn’t matter, because it doesn’t for the players. the story of Superhot Known as extremely meta, the game reveals the control the designers have over the players. However, its presentation is so unique that it is best if players experience it themselves.

6/7 SWAT 4

Players and other SWAT members in SWAT 4

In most first-person shooters, the objective is clearly to shoot NPCs. Therefore, it is difficult for any shooter to break down the genre without becoming a violent shooter. SWAT 4, however, probably comes closest. Developed by Irrational Games, SWAT 4 is a tactical shooter where players lead a SWAT team through various missions.

Unlike almost every shooter ever made, going in guns-blazing won’t help players win the game. SWAT 4 Players must act more than how an actual SWAT team member would act, meaning using lethal force when necessary. In fact, players who cause gratuitous violence will be penalized for doing so. instead, SWAT 4 Rewards players for gathering evidence, making arrests, and generally handling situations more like real life than video games.

5/7 Far cry 3

Far Cry 3 Vaas Promotional Image

In addition to memorable villains and exotic environments, the Great opposition The franchise is known for its explosive playground-style open worlds. As far as intense violent shooters go, the third installment of the franchise breaks the typical formula found in most shooters, examining how gamers enjoy violence. The game’s story follows Jason as he and several friends accidentally parachute onto a pirate-infested island. With players controlling Jason, they must kill pirates to save Jason’s friends.

Related: Games That Subvert the “Good Guys Always Win” Trope

Like most first-person shooter heroes, Jason begins the game against violence, only using it as a last resort to save his friends. As the game progresses, however, Jason begins to enjoy the violence he inflicts on the pirates, so much so that his friends take a back seat to the gameplay and combat. Many of the game’s dream sequences compare Jason to the game’s anti-psychotic smell, almost arguing that the more violence Jason commits, the more like the smell he has become. Far cry 3 The game reveals how players enjoy combat and violence and questions why so many people pay so much attention to shooting bad guys.

4/7 Very loud 4

Far Cry 4 Pagan Min promotional images

while the Very loud 4 While its overall campaign may not be as meta as its predecessor, it still offers a fun and clever subplot in its opening minutes if players are patient enough. At the start of the game, the protagonist Ajay is traveling to his native Kirat to return his mother’s ashes, as per her last wish. While doing so, the bus he is traveling on is attacked by the Royal Army and the game’s main antagonist, Pagan Min. Min then takes Ajay and Ajay’s tour guide to his mansion; He briefly leaves Ajay alone, where the player takes control of Ajay and escapes.

However, there is a secret ending at the beginning of the game. If the players wait as instructed, Min will return and thank Ajay for waiting. Ajay would throw his mother’s ashes and the game would end relatively peacefully. Most gamers can’t wait to pick up a controller and start playing, but that’s where the mystery ends Very loud 4 She breaks Ajay’s wish by pointing out that his initial goal could have been achieved if they had only waited. This is obviously the less exciting option, but that’s also the point. Peace could have been easily achieved and violence stopped, but it is not a fun option.

3/7 half life

The Half-Life player is pointing a gun at enemies

Over two decades old, half life Still one of the strongest first-person shooters ever made. The game’s storyline has players taking control of Gordon Freeman, a scientist working at Black Mesa. When an experiment goes horribly wrong, hostile creatures from an alternate dimension attack the facility and players must fight to survive.

RELATED: Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Ravenholm, The Half-Life 2 Spinoff

The main body of first-person shooters today, at the time of its release, half life Can be seen as a breakdown of similar violent shooters doom. Gordon Freeman is not a trained soldier but an ordinary scientist just trying to survive. Likes games doom Show shooting ghosts as fun, half life The game’s sequels and spinoffs depict the situation as downright terrifying as the horror elements expand.

2/7 Spec Ops: The Line

Spec Ops: The Line Martin Walker promotional image

One of the most analyzed games in the market, Spec Ops: The Line It is still talked about for its meta-commentary on war video games, although its commercial failure ended the franchise. Spec Ops: The Lineloosely based Heart of Darkness Players take on the role of Captain Martin Walker as he leads a team of soldiers into war-torn Dubai to find Colonel Joseph Conrad, who went missing months ago.

Although in the third person, Spec Ops Careful critiques of modern warfare video games such as battlefield Or Call of Duty. The game starts out normal but quickly begins subverting common war game tropes and even breaks the fourth wall in creative ways, such as making American soldiers the enemy or addressing the players’ love of violence during loading screens. Spec Ops Finally it discusses how gamers view war as entertainment rather than serious issues and how war games are disconnected from real life.

1/7 Bioshock

Big Daddy and Little Sister in BioShock

Some games have creative world-building, unique gameplay, and philosophical ideas just like the original Bioshock. Although the game is most famous for its Ayn Rand objectivity, the game’s big twist helps subvert the video game format. At the end of the game, the player’s character Jack goes to kill the villain Andrew Ryan, only to reveal to him that Jack was actually under his friend Atlas the whole time.

The nature of the twist clearly draws attention to the fact that players have very little control over what they do in video games. Like Jack, players can feel like they have complete freedom while playing the game. But in reality, everything the player does is predetermined and designed by the developers long in advance, which is especially true in linear games such as Bioshock. Needless to say after playing BioshockIt’s hard to look at any other game the same way again.

MORE: Slasher Moves That Deconstruct the Genre