Gaming's Most Brutal Cutscenes

Video games can be a lot of fun when they get a little bit mean. There's nothing quite like that rush you get when you pull off a well-timed Fatality in the Mortal Kombat series or slice up one of the bosses in Sekiro. However, there's something about a violent cutscene that can take that excitement away in a flash.


Maybe it's the fact that you're no longer in control of the outcome. During a cutscene, you're at the mercy of the game's writers and animators. When things get grotesque during a cutscene, you don't have that feeling of safety that comes with interactivity. As the events of the story play out, you just have to watch and see what unfolds — even if it's ugly.

With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the most brutal cutscenes in video games. Naturally, there's plenty of gore ahead, so proceed with caution. Beware of spoilers for the following video games.

An impossible choice - Wolfenstein: The New Order

Wolfenstein: The New Order begins by forcing players to make a horrifying decision. After an intense prologue mission, protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz and his friends are captured by the evil General Deathshead, who tells B.J. that he must choose which of his two friends will be killed. Making this choice will change certain aspects of the game going forward. However, the worst part is that you are then forced to watch while Deathshead mutilates one of your buddies for his twisted experiments. Though the camera cuts to B.J.'s face, you can still hear the gruesome sounds of the dissection taking place. The noises and B.J.'s broken expression sell the brutality far better than any onscreen gore could.


On the other hand, if you don't choose anyone, then Deathshead orders the entire squad's execution. This results in the goriest of the three paths, as you watch every member of the squad getting their heads smashed by Deathshead's robotic soldiers before B.J. is killed as well.

Trevor eliminates the competition - Grand Theft Auto 5

Trevor is easily the most volatile of Grand Theft Auto 5's protagonists. He proves this right out of the gate by stomping the protagonist of a previous GTA entry to death. When players are reintroduced to Trevor after GTA's first big heist, he is caught having relations with the girlfriend of Johnny Klebitz, the lead character from Grand Theft Auto 4: The Lost and the Damned.


After a brief argument, Trevor brings Johnny in for a hug. Then Trevor knocks Johnny to the ground and smashes a bottle over his face. Finally, while unleashing a stream of expletives, Trevor kicks the biker's head in. The gore shown on screen isn't even close to being the worst thing seen in a GTA game. However, it's a hard moment to deal with for players who got attached to Johnny during The Lost and the Damned. The senseless act and the sound effects are almost worse than the actual bloody display.

"We were helping" - Spec Ops: The Line

Spec Ops: The Line sets itself apart from other military-based shooters in that it attempts to explore the ugliest sides of war. Still, there's one scene in particular that continues to haunt players long after the game's release. 


In the heat of battle, your character must launch a deadly white phosphorous attack on the enemy. While the game allows you to attempt to aim the attack away from civilians, the collateral damage is completely unavoidable. What follows is a scene in which players walk their squad through the resulting destruction. As you pass burning enemies who are begging for help, a sense of dread sets in. However, the worst is yet to come.

After passing a dying man who weakly gasps, "We were helping," your squad finally comes across all of the civilians you just killed in the attack. Judging from the way they're all huddled together, it's clear that all of these people died afraid.  In a game that never shies away from the horrors of war, this is hands down the most horrific scene.


Joel gets some answers - The Last of Us

Midway through The Last of Us, the lead protagonists Joel and Ellie are separated. Joel has been recovering from a horrible injury and Ellie has been taken by a group of cannibals. In an effort to find Ellie, Joel captures two members of the group and proceeds to torture them for information.


Over the course of a very short scene, Joel absolutely brutalizes these two men. After leaving one of them crumpled on the floor, Joel stabs the other in the leg with a hunting knife. After the second man tells Joel where he can find Ellie, Joel breaks the man's neck. In a chilling cap to the scene, Joel tells the first man that he believed their information. Then Joel seemingly proceeds to beat that man to death with a pipe.

It's an incredibly violent scene, even when most of the nastiest parts are off screen. It shows just how far Joel is willing to go to protect Ellie, which also nicely foreshadows Joel's actions in the game's finale.

Getting the Sky-Hook - Bioshock Infinite

In Bioshock Infinite, players receive the handy Sky-Hook in a very memorable cutscene. The handheld device allows protagonist Booker DeWitt to grapple from one point to another in quick succession. However, it can also be used as a particularly deadly melee weapon.


Just as Booker is about to be executed by a corrupt police officer with a Sky-Hook, he throws a baseball in the air as a distraction. When the other officer looks away for a moment, Booker seizes the opportunity to shove the man's face right into the whirling blades of the Sky-Hook. Blood erupts as the officer falls down dead. Booker then calmly slides his arm into the Sky-Hook and pulls it from the officer's head. Before you even get to use it for yourself, the game makes sure you know how messy the Sky-Hook can be.

The Sky-Hook becomes less effective the deeper you get into the game (and the tougher your enemies become). Still, that first moment of carnage with the motorized tool is a sight to remember.


Everyone dies - Until Dawn

Until Dawn is a harrowing experience that stands apart from many other horror games. While many games of its type are based around defeating enemies and getting out alive, survival is not a given in Until Dawn. Every choice you make will impact who lives and who dies, or even if you ever learn exactly what is causing the horrific events of the story. When you do run into enemies, your only choices are to either run like hell or stay as still as possible. Even then, there's no guarantee that all of the characters make it out alive. It's the kind of game that's worth replaying to see just how wrong things can go.


Naturally, that means it's possible to reach an ending where everyone dies. If that happens, the game's credits will roll over a montage of how everyone met their untimely fates. From beheadings to burning alive, it's a real horror show with no silver linings. Other endings of the game feature footage of the surviving characters attempting to explain what happened to them before they escaped. Here, there is only death, and lots of it.

Removing the bomb - Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes

Paz Ortega Andrade is an ill-fated spy in the Metal Gear Solid series who meets her end in Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes. After being rescued from an enemy base by Snake, the young soldier named Chico notices that Paz has some suspicious surgical scars over her abdomen. Snake realizes that the enemy planted a bomb inside Paz's stomach as a way of disposing of her and anyone who came to her rescue. 


Realizing they're short on time, the team performs emergency surgery on Paz — with no anesthesia. As Paz writhes in pain, a very graphic scene plays out in which the bomb is removed from her stomach. The sequence is shown in insane detail as Chico tries not to freak out while holding Paz still. 

Even worse, gamers who have finished playing through Ground Zeroes know that this ultimately doesn't save Paz's life. Paz had another bomb inside of her all along, which essentially means that she went through this horrific surgery sequence for nothing.

The best at what he does - X-Men Origins: Wolverine

X-Men Origins: Wolverine may not exactly be a beloved entry in the X-Men film franchise, but the video game adaptation has a pretty good reputation. Long before Wolverine got an R-rated film in Logan, the X-Men Origins: Wolverine game showed off just how vicious he could be.


This is evident from the very first cutscene, which drops players into the middle of a battle between Wolverine and a group of soldiers. Though most of the movies show Hugh Jackman's Wolverine putting his claws to work, the results were rarely as messy as they are here. The game's opening cutscene not only features Wolverine carving people up like never before, but it also memorably shows his healing powers at work. In a particularly upsetting visual, Logan has half of his face blown off by a grenade. Before he begins healing, his skull is on full display beneath the charred side of his face.

"I'm the best there is at what I do," Logan tells the player. "At least, the people who are still living after I'm done doing it say that."


Joining Citra was a bad idea - Far Cry 3

In Far Cry 3, players meet Citra, a warlord who is worshipped by her people as a goddess. Citra will send lead protagonist Jason out on missions to help topple the criminal empire of her brother, Vaas. At the conclusion of Far Cry 3, Citra reveals that she's every bit as sinister as her brother, dosing Jason with a hallucinogen and then threatening his loved ones. 


After guiding Jason through a drug trip in which he imagines his own skin on fire, you are given a choice. You can kill your friends and take your place with Citra, or you can refuse and try to escape. If you choose the first option, you are treated to one heck of a downer ending.

Jason slits his girlfriend's throats and Citra orders the deaths of rest of the prisoners. Then he sleeps with Citra as part a ritual. As Jason attempts to bask in the afterglow, Citra jams a knife into his chest and sacrifices him. The screen goes black as Jason dies. It's not exactly the culmination of a hero's journey; the game wants you to know that you messed up.

Trager takes a finger - Outlast

There are plenty of instances of torture with the Outlast games. Thanks to the psychotic Richard Trager, there's one scene in particular that stands out as maybe the worst of the bunch. After luring the unsuspecting protagonist Miles Upshur into a trap, Trager beats Miles and straps him to a wheelchair. Players are then forced to watch in first-person as Miles is taken to a run-down procedure room.


There, Trager makes you watch while he sifts through different tools he can use to hurt Miles. He finally selects a giant pair of shears and cuts off two of Miles' fingers. Before Miles can lose consciousness, Trager slaps him awake. It's a harrowing scene that is made all the worse by the sound of Miles' whimpering.

A note that can be found in the game implies that the removal of Miles' fingers would have only been the start of Trager's unhinged "procedure." If nothing else, it makes you feel a huge sense of relief when Trager finally meets his gruesome end shortly thereafter.