In most cases, we can assume a certain degree of trustworthiness from the video game stories and protagonists that we engage with. This notion isn't specific to #VideoGames though, it's something that we do when we read books and watch movies as well—we trust our narrators. So, it would make sense that, in trusting our narrators and protagonists, we come to accept the same credibility that they see in the world around them.
Beware: Plenty of marked and unmarked spoilers ahead!
Here Are 7 Games About Characters Getting Screwed Over
I mean, sometimes there are clues that would indicate that trusting everything and everyone isn't a great idea. But when your bad guy is a playable character (yo, Scott Shelby!) or even a tutorial narrator (how's it going, Atlas?) for a quarter of the game... it's nearly impossible to keep from being fooled.
To be clear, I'm not talk about bad endings. While cruel endings might be a little closer to what I'm referring to here, even those don't quite fit... I'm talking about the games that make you weep over the lost playing time as you realize that your sweet little protagonist was doomed from the start. I think these are the worst of the bunch:
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin
I would be a little surprised if you weren't expecting this one. All game long, protagonist Michael Becket suffers from hallucinations of Alma—a ghost woman whose vengeful wrath is causing a very real paranormal crisis in the world. Becket's job is to make sure that Genevieve Aristide, president of Armacham Technology Corporation, is safely brought into protective custody.
It doesn't take long for us to figure out that all is not well with Genevieve as her plan for protecting herself and her job is locking Becket in a room with Alma and the amplifier that should have saved the world. While that's pretty screwed up on its own, Alma proceeds to sexually assault Becket and impregnate herself with his baby. Nasty... Becket continues to be pretty messed up about this in the third installment, F.E.A.R. 3.
Spec Ops: The Line
In Spec Ops: The Line, you become Captain Martin Walker, a soldier in Dubai who has be sent out on a reconnaissance mission following the presumably failed refugee evacuation effort lead by Colonel John Konrad some weeks before. Eventually, Walker and the team receive radio transmissions that would indicate that Konrad and his Battalion are working against the CIA. Obviously, they decide to interfere.
Things get worse when Walker and team use white phosphorus on a group of 47 civilians thinking that they were rogue members of the 33rd Battalion. Realizing the truth, Walker just gets more mad and vows to destroy the 33rd... still. Long story short—in what has gone down as one of the greatest twist endings in history—we find out that Konrad, our trusty commander, is actually a horrible hallucinatory recreation that lives only in the mind of our protagonist. This is one case in which the protagonist is the both the screwer and the screwed.
In Soma, Simon Jarrett ends up in a remote underwater research facility solving puzzles and trying not to die as he works to uncover the events of the past. His only real contact while he is in the facility is a woman named Catherine, a digital scan of a human mind that has been put onto a storage unit—something that becomes your only hope for survival after learning that the rest of humanity has died out.
The reveal in itself is somewhat depressing and might actually be enough to land this one on the list on its own, but what really gives us the sinking feeling in the end is the fact that, despite having managed to create our own digital copy on the ark, our real self is left to live out the remainder of our life in some very unfortunate solitude. Even your digital self is doomed to the same existence unless someone comes along to save the 'ark'. That's a whole lot of sad packed into one ending.
I know what you're thinking: "Why is this one even here?" I get that. The ending is nowhere near as stunning as the ending of the first #BioShock, and while it does get a little bit weird, it's not really so twisted. These things may be true. However, I can't really think of anything screwier than having to completely cancel your existence in order to save the world.
I mean, it would be one thing if the death of Booker or Comstock had been enough in and of itself. But the idea that we really and truly have to just disappear in order to save the universe from ruin is just... a slap in the face at best. Seriously. All of the bullet-sponge enemies, revolution and ripping just feels like a whole lot of nothing by the time you figure out what has to be done. Booker got the short end of the stick, but he was also the wielder of the stick as Comstock so... I just can't be sorry about this one.
Red Dead Redemption
I just could not forget about the world's best open world Western, Red Dead Redemption. You could probably put it on a million different lists for a million different reason because it is quite a lovely game... but today, I want to honor its totally f**ked up ending.
A lot of the #RedDeadRedemption plot revolves around the "errands" that John Marston has to take care of on behalf of the agents Edgar Ross and Archer Fordham. The agents won't let him return to his family until he basically takes down the criminal backbone of the region. Once Marston faces off with big baddie Dutch (who basically kills himself), he returns home to his happy family only to be gunned down by Ross and some randos sometime afterward. Simply bizarre.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
I don't have much to say about this one except for this: I don't think I've ever felt more betrayed in my life than when I found out that Lance Vance was a traitor. After becoming drug king pins and essentially conquering the universe/Vice City together, Lance shows his real colors and lets Tommy know that he's been informing Sonny—Tommy's main rival—all along. That really hurt, y'all. Also, why can't #GrandTheftAuto bring back this cartoon-ish mafia junk? I was living for the Scarface references.
The inclusion of Braid on this list is where things get a little meta. This deceptively charming platformer puts you in the shoes of Tim, a handsome little redhead on a quest to save his girlfriend. Level one of the meta-ness is finding out that this girl is not your girlfriend, but someone that you are actually stalking. You just played an entire game as a creep.
Level two of the meta-ness is the revelation that the damsel in distress is some strange atom bomb metaphor for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. Depressing and screwed up? I'll take it!
Nothing like having the carpet ripped from beneath your feet! Right? Despite the shock and despair, these are the moments that make the journey worth it. Why leave a game feeling perfectly triumphant when you can leave it crying and hopeful that your protagonist will find peace in death? Easy choice to make.
Any other games that left you feeling a little foolish in the end?