Come with me on a miserable, shame-sodden journey as I highlight five occasions when games gave you the opportunity to be completely and utterly evil.
Games, particularly those that rely heavily on their narrative, seek to provoke emotion. You’ve likely felt a wave of elation as you ploughed through a wave of enemies or brought down a boss. Maybe you’ve felt the cold fingers of fear upon your spine as you explore a dingy mansion. Or you found yourself moved to tears as the character you’d become so attached to met their demise in a particularly harrowing cutscene.
Guilt, on the other hand, is a feeling that relatively few games provoke. Perhaps it’s because if you are offered any narrative choices, they’re often so black and white that you’re wholly aware of the consequences. But sometimes a game offers you a choice that, if taken, makes you look like a complete scoundrel. Here are five games that did just that:
1. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – Mission Terminated
Before making Mass Effect, developer Bioware was responsible for creating Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, a role-playing game set four thousand years before the original Star Wars Trilogy. Not to be confused with the subsequent massive multiplayer online game, KotOR had you teaming up with a diverse bunch characters as you sought to save – or doom – the galaxy.
One of these characters was a Twi’Lek by the name of Mission Vao, a young orphan who’d fought to stay alive on the mean streets of Taris. Her continued survival was due in part to her companion Zalbar, a wookie whose life she’d saved. He, in turn, swore a life-debt to her and the two became inseparable, always watching each other’s backs. Awwww.
So naturally, she had to die, though her fate was, in this case, entirely in your hands. If you chose to follow the path to the Dark Side, she vociferously objected at which point you could order Zalbar, who was also in your debt, to kill her. I did a double take when the game offered me this option, scarcely thinking I would be allowed to do something so underhand. Testing the game’s resolve, I went ahead with my heinous plan and, two minutes later, was gawping at the screen in disbelief.
The scene that unfolding was truly heartbreaking and, despite the fact that I’d gleefully chosen all the dark side options up till that point, made me feel like the worst person in the world. Under the influence of your character, Zalbar, begging you to reconsider, slaughtered his friend. Grim doesn’t even begin to cover it and if you didn’t feel like an utter swine after choosing this option, then there was seriously amiss with you.
2. Fallout 3: Improving the View
When playing a role-playing game, the location that you have the greatest attachment to, the one you view as home (in an in-game sense) is often the first settlement you encounter. You may roam further and discover other cities or villages, but the one you initially stumble into has a special resonance. So it fell to Bethesda to give you the opportunity to wipe out this initial settlement.
The city of Megaton, as evidenced by its unorthodox construction materials, was put together in a hurry to shield its inhabitants from Fallout 3‘s hostile post-apocalyptic wastes. Those who dwelled within its scrap iron walls were reasonably friendly insomuch as they didn’t try to put a bullet in your head the first time they lay eyes on you. One inhabitant, the appealingly upbeat Moira Brown, even sought your help in creating her Wasteland Survival Guide, designed to altruistically assist those venturing outside the walls.
And then there was Mr Burke. Burke, the snake. Burke, a loathsome individual who was as morally principled as his Aliens namesake. Appealing to your sense of avarice, he offered you a sizable sum of money to activate the bomb within the city square, wiping Megaton off the map. And, on one of my playthroughs, I did just that. Why, I have no idea, but I felt like absolute scum afterwards.
After rigging the the bomb, you were invited to Tenpenny Tower, home of Mr Burke’s employer. As it transpired, said employer’s sole reason for wanting Megaton obliterated was that it blocked his view. So, standing on the balcony, you pushed the remote detonator and after a blinding flash, Megaton was no more. And for what? A few coins and an apartment paid for with the souls of the men, women and children who died in Megaton. I think I slept there once and then slunk off into the wasteland, alone with my shame.