If you're a gamer I guarantee you've done awful things to NPCs and other players. How many people have you run over in GTA V, or stabbed in Assassin's Creed? A lot, I'd wager.
But this kind of meaningless violence seems almost inconsequential nowadays. We do it all the time, therefore we think less and less about our actions. However, some games have endeavoured to put players in uniquely awful moral situations. They're the kind of moments that make you grimace, want to turn away from the screen or have you feeling awful after they've transpired. These are some of the most memorable of those moments.
Know that this article is dripping in spoilers for all of the games mentioned.
8 Moral Choices We Hated Making In Video Games
Have any particularly harrowing moral choices you'd like to share with us? Let us know in the comments!
1. Dishonored & The Capturing of A Woman
There are many targets to set your sights on during the course of Dishonored's campaign. You can slit everyone's throats if you wish, but most players appreciate that the game offers more creative methods for eliminating targets. One of the most disturbing of these methods involved Lady Boyle.
A rich aristocrat responsible for a whole number of sordid events in Dishonored, Lady Boyle must be removed from the picture and you're the one to do it. Perhaps you could steal all her money or destroy her reputation? Or, you know, drug her and hand her over to a sadistic rapist... wait, what?
This terrifying mask conceals the face of a more terrifying man. Obsessed with Lady Boyle and all that she stands for, this creature offers you a way of removing her from the picture without outright killing her. His lust for Lady Boyle compels him to ask the player to drug her and take her to the cellar below the mansion; a rather disturbing request. But if you make the moral choice to deliver the lady to this "gentleman," things get much worse.
"You'll never know how happy you've made me. Someday she'll learn to appreciate me. After all, she'll have her whole life."
What the hell?! Because you chose not to kill this woman she becomes a slave to a man who most certainly has horrifically ill intentions. Gamers were up in arms over this particular mission. Can you blame them?
2. Fallout 3: Adding to the Radiation
One of the first critical decisions Fallout 3 throws your way has the potential to involve a whole lot of murder. You arrive in the community of Megaton, so named because of the enormous nuclear bomb left standing in its center. The good townsfolk ask if you can help them disarm it, but of course you don't have to take that route.
Do you help these people and dissipate their fears of nuclear annihilation in this apocalyptic landscape? Or do you become part of humanity's greatest problem and detonate the bomb, killing hundreds of people and filling the surrounding area with toxic pollution in all its forms?
For those that select the latter, they're forced to watch on high as the bomb erupts. Knowing the kind of devastation and pain that nuclear bombs have inflicted upon our world, you can't not feel the connection to reality as the mushroom cloud billows up into the sky.
What have I done...?
3. BioShock & the Harvesting of Little Sisters
One of the most memorable aspects of Irrational Games' masterful BioShock is how it incorporates the Little Sisters into its story. These small girls have been genetically altered and mentally conditioned to reclaim ADAM from corpses around Rapture and are generally in the company of a Big Daddy. But take down their giant companions and you can choose to liberate the younglings from their torment... or not.
Electing to harvest these young girls to keep yourself powered up is a pretty harrowing idea, but it's much worse when you watch your character actually perform the task right in front of your face.
As I'm sure plenty of BioShock players did, I wanted to see what happened when these young girls were harvested: I regretted it. Watching the young girls scream as their life source is sucked from them is pretty harrowing, and the mechanic got plenty of people talking following the game's release. And why wouldn't it?! Disturbing stuff indeed.
4. Far Cry 3 & the Torture of Your Significant Other
Far Cry 3 was an exceptional game for its time. With an intriguing plot line, a great antagonist and tons of explosive destruction to dole out, many of us had a blast on this tropical island. But Jason Brody, the protagonist of the game, goes through hell.
Tormented and torn between two rival factions, Brody's mind begins to play tricks on him and he eventually abandons his friends to capture and torment. Seduced by the leader of a local tribe, Jason is eventually forced to make a choice between the two sides. The scene is not pretty.
Obviously the "Save your friends" option is the more humane and morally pure choice, but should you choose to side with Citra, you'll cut your girlfriend's throat right then and there. It's disturbing to say the least. After this moment the game ends pretty quickly, so if you made the decision to side with the locals the ending is a pretty harrowing way to leave Far Cry 3 behind.
Which of you monsters killed her, huh?!
5. GTA V Talks About Torture
One of the most controversial elements of an already very controversial game involved Trevor escalating things to a rather uncomfortable level.
With a government agent present, Trevor is asked to torture a captive man who's been bound to a chair in a warehouse. The madman happily obliges. But the disturbing aspect of this scene is that the player is complicit in all of it. You have to play this scene in order to progress the story. And you have to select the torture devices used.
All throughout the scene, the man being tortured informs the men that he'll tell them anything they want. But of course, the torturing carries on regardless. It's a really disturbing moment for the player, particularly following reports on how the US tortured their prisoners. Rockstar North clearly included this scene in a satirical fashion, what with how Trevor justifies himself:
“The media and the government would have us believe that torture is some necessary thing. We need it to get information, to assert ourselves,” Trevor says. “Did we get any information out of you?”“I would have told you everything!” the man replies.“Exactly!” says Trevor. “Torture’s for the torturer. Or the guy giving the order to the torturer. You torture for the good times! We should all admit that. It’s useless as a means of getting information.”
A rather damning look at those who support the use of torture, but it's nonetheless horrifying to be a part of.
6. Spec Ops: The Line Forces Tough Decisions
Spec Ops: The Line is a deeply disturbing and deceptively intelligent video game. There's no other FPS quit like it. Its narrative explores the torturous aspects of war and the effects on the minds of those involved, exemplified by lead character Captain Martin Walker. But one of the more troubling sequences comes when the player is asked to choose which of these two men should die.
Tied to this bridge and overseen by snipers, Walker is asked to make a choice. The player is told that one of them stole water (an extreme crime in the desert) and the other was sent to apprehend him but killed the man's family in the process. Because of both of them 5 people are dead. Which one will you choose?
It's a disturbing thought. But should the player attempt to free one of the men by shooting their ropes, both of them are gunned down by the snipers. And if you decide to kill one of them, then their blood is on your hands. It's a morally challenging moment that ultimately feels depressing regardless of the outcome. War is hell and this game does a remarkable job of portraying that.
7. Catherine: To Cheat Or Not To Cheat
In my humble opinion, Catherine is one of the best games of this decade. Fantastic visuals, beautifully challenging puzzle design and a great narrative make this one of the most compelling and re-playable games in recent memory. But it presents the player with some tough choices.
Catherine is obsessed with fidelity. It frequently asks the player where they stand on certain moral issues and whether they'd be okay with being disloyal to their partner of many years.
You're given a meter in the game based on whether Vincent, the protagonist, is attempting to remain true to his girlfriend or continue to flirt with the sexy new girl on the scene. Catherine asks some revealing questions throughout its campaign and you're ultimately confronted with whether you believe that loyalty to your partner is important. Would you cheat on your significant other were you in Vincent's situation? The answer may leave you feeling pretty ashamed.
8. Telltale's The Walking Dead: A Choice No One Wants To Make
Telltale's greatest game to date, The Walking Dead Season One is a powerful video game dripping in rich storytelling, exceptional dialogue and compelling characters. Hence why their issues, dilemmas and possible deaths feel even more harrowing—and more impactful than the show. But the one death that still haunts everyone who played this great game is that of our beloved Lee Everett.
At the conclusion of the first season, Lee is bitten by a walker and left to turn in an abandoned building. Clementine is there with him to the end, but the player is then faced with an emotionally draining choice. Should Clem, this innocent little child, take a stand and shoot Lee before he turns? Or should she leave him behind and let him become one of those that they fear?
It was a damn hard decision to make, and both of them are guaranteed to leave you feeling distraught. We felt horrible after either leaving Lee to die or destroying a young girl's innocence by forcing her to shoot the man who essentially became her father. God damn it Telltale, why you do this to us?!