×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Terrible things video games pressured you to do

Video games have taken us on some spectacular journeys to far away worlds and historic moments we couldn't have witnessed in person, all while letting us do so from the comfort of our own couches. We don't often have to worry about living with the consequences of games given that they don't truly affect reality, but sometimes the moral choices presented to us can linger. There are a lot of games that pressure players with morality and the consequences of our actions, but these moments and choices have stuck with us more than others, for better or worse.

Stuck in the Middle With Grand Theft Auto V

Rockstar Games has never shied away from controversy, and its fan-favorite Grand Theft Auto series is a prime example. The series has often pushed the limits of taste and what's acceptable in a video game, with players living lives of crime and vice that would make most real inmates blush. But for all the glamorizing of violence most players enjoyed, there's one moment in Grand Theft Auto V that took things a bit too far even by Rockstar's loose standards.

Around half-way through, players are met with a mission that requires them to assassinate an alleged terrorist. The only problem is, even the government doesn't quite know what the target looks like. In order to discover his identity at a crowded party, players must torture an otherwise innocent man. You can give him an electric shock, whack him with a big wrench, or use pliers to pull out teeth, all so you can get as many details about the target as you can from the subject. And if he happens to be pushed too far before giving up the goods, that's okay. You can bring him back to life with an adrenaline shot.

It's purposefully not an easy scene to complete, but that doesn't make it any less grotesque. In a series full of memorable moments, for good or ill, GTA V's torture mission proves that just because you can do something outrageous in a video game doesn't mean you should.

Fallout 3 Pushes Your Buttons

Since acquiring the Fallout license, Bethesda's take on the series has been chock full of moral quandaries. Decisions you make as a player define the post-apocalyptic world as you explore it, giving each person slightly different playthroughs depending on how they dealt with particular choices. While there are dozens of branches you can explore, the very first major decision not only defines your game, it also defined Bethesda's vision for the Fallout franchise.

Arriving in Megaton, you find that the town is built around an active nuclear bomb that failed to detonate years ago. The people all live in shacks hastily built around the bomb site, with only a few fearing its possible explosion. While you explore, Sheriff Lucas Sims asks you to disarm the bomb to keep Megaton safe for the foreseeable future. Of course, his isn't the only offer in town. Just beyond the town's outskirts lies Tenpenny Tower, home to Allistair Tenpenny, a mean old rich dude who wants Megaton erased from the map.

There are no wrong ways to proceed as Fallout 3 is all about your Karma level. You can be as good or bad as you want, provided you're willing to deal with the consequences either way. Blowing up the town sets you back quite a bit with St. Peter at the pearly gates, but there is something satisfying about pushing that big red button and watching the town go boom.

Wolfenstein II's Sadistic Old Yeller

Machine Games' take on Wolfenstein has given the rebooted franchise an actual heart, having developed protagonist BJ Blazkowicz into a fully realized hero instead of a disembodied head. The surrounding cast helps ground BJ into someone that you actually believe and want to rally around for his beliefs, rather than just because the game says he's a hero. That's what makes an early moment in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus so devastating.

For the first time in the new canon, players are given a glimpse into BJ's early life in Texas. There, we discover young BJ was the child of a strict, racist southern father and a loving Jewish immigrant mother. His father blames all the trouble in the world on BJ's mother, the African-American populace of the town, and everyone else that's not a white man. Mr. Blazkowicz lashes out at BJ and his mother in expected ways, but after learning BJ befriended a young black girl, he snaps.

As punishment, BJ's dad drags him to the basement and puts a shotgun in his hands. The father then lures the family dog into the room, and he directs BJ to shoot the dog. Players can aim away and shoot the wall, but BJ's father still ends the puppy himself, claiming BJ was too weak to be a real man anyway. It's a disturbing snapshot of reality in an otherwise over-the-top game, and one that makes a late-game family reunion that much more meaningful.

A Fable to Remember or Regret

As one of the pioneers of video game morality, the Fable series made player choice a major part of each of the franchise's three core games. Though all the Fable entries allowed you some semblance of life-changing decisions, it's Fable II's final choice that has stuck with players the longest.

After battling your way through the world to get to the Spire, your hero finally confronts the villainous Lucien. Here, you get the showdown with the big bad you've been working towards the entire game, and after finishing Lucien off (or letting the Reaver do it for you), the immortal sister of the original Fable's hero, Theresa, offers you one of three wishes. You can either bring everyone in the world back to life, sacrificing yourself in the process; bring back your family and dog at the expense of all those souls who worked on the Spire; or take an inordinate amount of money and retire as a hero that everyone in the world hates.

Like so many other morality plays in games, there are no truly wrong choices, but the guilt you'll feel over not bringing all those people back to life may vary. Virtual money is cool and you did do all the heavy lifting to stop Lucien…but if everyone hates you, was it really worth it?

Toeing the Line or Crossing it in Spec Ops

Spec Ops: The Line was a military shooter that went beyond the "oo-rah" focus of so many other similar games. Choosing to focus on the psychological effects of war on the human psyche, Spec Ops gave players a look at the gray areas between right and wrong, and often pushed them to act in ways that were effective strategically, but damning mentally. Unlike a number of other games with moral choices, however, Spec Ops: The Line didn't let those decisions alter the story or gameplay. They just tested a player's own fortitude.

Primarily a game about rescuing people, Spec Ops had you killing an awful lot of enemies in Dubai. Where some moments in the game allowed you to be more discreet or avoid conflict, one section forced players to commit a war crime in order to proceed. With their backs against the wall and outnumbered by what appeared to be a heavy number of enemy forces, the "heroes" of Spec Ops had no choice but to drop white phosphorus on an entire portion of the game world in order to pass through. Only after securing the area does the truth come out, making the characters–and players–feel absolutely sick.

As it turns out, the "enemies" you were chemically attacking weren't really enemies at all, and dozens of unarmed civilians were affected by your actions too. It was already a horrible moment in the game, made all the more sickening by not letting players find another solution. Spec Ops had a lot to say about war and what it means to be a soldier, but this was one point we wish wasn't made at all.

How Far Will You Go For Your Son in Heavy Rain?

In Quantic Dream's Heavy Rain, Case protagonist Ethan Mars must decide how far he's willing to fall in order to rescue his son Shaun from the Origami Killer. Ethan was faced with five trials to prove his love for Shaun, with the Shark Trial pushing him to his absolute limit. The trial set forth asks Ethan to kill a drug dealer in order to learn where Shaun has been taken by the Origami Killer. The sadistic villain at the center of Heavy Rain has put Ethan through a Saw-like wringer, testing his will and mental state every step of the way. Killing the drug dealer takes one more thug off the street and gets Ethan one step closer to his son, but it also means taking the life of another man–something even Ethan, and players, aren't sure they are capable of doing.

The outcome of the moment doesn't drastically alter the state of the game world, but it does give Ethan either a leg up or a slight disadvantage in hunting Shaun down. Is your own child's life worth that of another human being's, no matter how degenerate they may be? Only you know the answer, and you might not like it.

Little Sisters Watch Out, BioShock is Coming For Your Blood

BioShock from 2007 had some strong first-person shooter gameplay, with its superhuman abilities giving it enough distance from the litany of other FPS games competitors. Those abilities came with a price, however: players needed to secure enough of the magical elixir Adam to ensure they could throw flames, freeze foes, or send bee swarms at enemies in Rapture. The only problem was Adam wasn't always easy to find out in the open…but it was easy to find in the bodies of Rapture's Little Sisters.

Terrible things happened to the denizens of Rapture, but the young girls of the underwater city got the biggest screwjob of them all. Rather than being mutated beyond belief like so many other citizens, the Little Sisters were pumped full of Adam, making them a desirable commodity. Non-player characters would often be found hunting for Little Sisters, but the Big Daddies were never far away to protect them. So, as you found the Little Sisters throughout the game, you could choose to either cure them or steal their life force away. One choice made you more powerful and a creepy monster, not unlike those already roaming the leaking halls of Rapture. The other saved the girls, but left you less capable of defending against those who would see you dead.

It's one thing to give players the choice to kill adults or more mature creatures in order to gain an advantage, but BioShock put many players' own morality to the test by having young children at the center of such a decision. Look, we all know how we played–but we won't judge you for doing something different. At least not to your face.

Killing Your Buddies is a Far Cry From Friendship

Once upon a time, the Far Cry series was nothing more than another first-person shooter. Sure, it had a jungle setting and introduced some variation on familiar FPS tropes. But it wasn't until Far Cry 3 arrived that the series took a more personal route that involved moral choices to define the kind of person your character would become.

After getting stranded on a tropical island, game-protagonist Jason must rescue his friends from Vaas, an egomaniacal villain set on controlling Rook Island. If not for the intervention of Vaas's sister Citra and her mystical powers, Jason may well not have been able to foil Vaas and his attempts at ruling the island. However, working with Citra came with a cost of its own, and in the final moments of Far Cry 3, Jason must choose between saving the lives of his friends or joining Citra to rule Rook Island.

Both choices come at a cost to Jason. Saving the lives of his friends means Jason has to live with everything he did on the island, as one "good" decision does not outweigh all the carnage he caused prior. Killing his friends ultimately also leads to his own death, as Citra murders him soon after, since she only wanted him to provide an heir.

Playing Krogan's Heroes (Or Not) in Mass Effect 3

BioWare's Mass Effect franchise was a galactic adventure with plenty of decisions that provided stakes for each entry in the core franchise. While some player choices may have resonated a bit more than others (hello romance options), perhaps no choice was more significant to the overall universe than choosing to save the Krogan race or not.

The Krogans were a war-mongering race that populated at an incredible rate. Several other planetary governments decided it would be best if perhaps the Krogans didn't reproduce so quickly, as eventually they'd be populous enough to take over and rule the galaxy if left unchecked. That prompted the creation of the incurable Genophage virus, which just about every non-Krogan alien race in the galaxy saw as a necessary measure. Eventually, Mass Effect 3 revealed there was indeed a chance the Genophage could be reversed, giving the Krogans an honest chance at survival.

Players could let the Krogans live by curing the virus, but at the expense of losing a trusted friend and ally in Mordin Solus. They could also fake a cure, leaving the Genophage in place, with the Krogans merely believing it had been cured. Neither was an easy choice when weighing all the options, but having the lives of an entire race put in our hands was certainly a decision we'd never want to entertain again.

The Great Dishonor of Lady Boyle and Her Suitor

Most of the moral plays in the Arkane's Dishonored series aren't quite as black and white as so many other games on this list. Often, the decisions you make in the Dishonored series are always for the good of the kingdom–it just boils down to which version of a decision you want to make. Along the way, there are some small instances where you get to make a seemingly inconsequential decision, such as the optional late-game mission at a masquerade.

The choice of whether or not to kidnap the vile Lady Boyle for a spurned stalker is arguably the creepiest choice you'll ever have to make in a game. Nothing about what the stalker wanted was normal or right. But on the other side of that coin, Lady Boyle was not a very nice person, and giving her a comeuppance of sorts was certainly something many players were willing to do.

Kidnapping someone for the sake of a creep with a crush is inexcusable in the real world, and it's pretty bad in the virtual world, too. Perhaps if Lady Boyle hadn't been such a monster to everyone in her life, players might've felt worse about the decision. But it's still a terrible thing to do to someone regardless of how she treated those around her. Kind of.