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(Springing surprises at the end, perhaps, but not having a video game character be a sentient being.)

This may be a personal thing, but in general surprises shouldn't be total surprises. In a good thriller, detective novel, etc. the reader, at the end, should feel a kind of cathartic "OOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" where everything comes together and suddenly makes sense. This is so common that it's practically formula.

Two examples I can think of are "Sixth Sense" and "Unbreakable", where the surprise twists were surprising, but in retrospect the viewer thinks, "Oh, wow, it all makes sense now!"

If you don't give them clues or set pieces to figure it out, or if the twist isn't relevant to the story, then the reader often feels either confused or robbed.

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