Throughout gaming history there have been plenty of occasions when players have found themselves cast as the bad guy. Most of the time this is just a thinly veiled attempt by developers to mine our cultural fascination with violence for profit. However, it has also been used to provoke serious discussions regarding the morality of characters and their actions.
Both these functions can help build an unforgettable gaming experience. Whether you realize that you’re the villain or you’re entirely oblivious to the fact, being a bad guy opens up a world of possibilities for you as a player, granting you a freedom beyond what is capable in everyday life.
On account of this, I decided to compile a list celebrating six video games that have you breaking bad.
6. ‘SILENT HILL 2’
As you advance through the second Silent Hill game it’s slowly revealed to you that James Sunderland, the protagonist, isn’t as squeaky clean a hero as you might have initially thought. Startling revelations are revealed to you through the medium of eerie video footage, revealing a hitherto unseen violent streak to the figure.
This flips the game on its head and challenges your perceptions of who you are and what you know. To this day it’s one of the most well-executed twists in gaming and forces you to reevaluate all of the events leading up to the grand reveal. Combining psychologically complex characters with grotesque visuals, Silent Hill 2 still stands as a significant moment in horror gaming. Given the cancellation of Hideo Kojima’s and Guillermo Del Toro’s Silent Hills, it seems unlikely we’ll ever get another experience quite like it.
5. ‘SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS
Thrusting your sword into the last illuminated weak spot on a giant boss, you listen as the colossus releases its parting groan. Silence falls across the field of battle. “Is this right?” you ask yourself, staring at its corpse. Suddenly, black tendrils pierce your spleen. You awake in the temple where you began your quest. From above, a disembodied entity calls to you, urging you to proceed with your mission to resurrect your fallen friend Mono. You reluctantly agree, all the while questioning your duty. Your doubt follows you around the world like a shadow, serving as a witness to your vile acts. Your regret grows with every colossus killed.
Many games have tried to make player feel the weight of their actions, but few have been quite as effective as Shadow of the Colossus. By defeating the colossi you’re gradually revealed to be the aggressor in the story, not the other way around.
4. ‘GRAND THEFT AUTO’
There was no version of this list that could have excluded Grand Theft Auto. GTA has made headlines repeatedly since its conception for giving players the chance to act out their most sordid fantasies without consequences.
Whether you’re playing as Niko Bellic (Grand Theft Auto IV), Carl Johnson (Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas), Tommy Vercetti (Grand Theft Auto: Vice City), or one of the series’ many other villainous protagonists, you’re prompted to commit an abundance of awful crimes and horrible deeds in order to progress through the criminal underworld and achieve your goal. You may reason that this is all part of your big revenge scheme on an even larger evil, but you’d be omitting the crucial fact that you actually enjoy it. Why else would you spend so much time messing around instead of doing missions?
3. ‘FALLOUT 3’
Fallout 3’s wasteland is a vast desert with only small pockets of fertile land capable of sustaining the surviving dregs of society. Populated by raiders and mutants, it’s a cruel and unwelcoming place that rewards those who abandon ethics in the pursuit of greed and power. It’s into this environment that you’re thrown as one of the survivors of Vault 101. Searching for your father in the wasteland, you must lie, steal, and kill just to survive in the environment.
Still, that doesn’t explain why you blew up an entire town with a nuclear weapon or why you decided to take all the medical equipment from a town’s Medbay only to sell it back to them for a profit. The explanation for that is that you’re just a bad person. You may have survived the wasteland, but can you really live with yourself?
2. ‘METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN’
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is the second numbered game in the series that focuses on how Big Boss became the villain of the first two Metal Gear games. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that you’re made to commit some truly despicable acts throughout the course of the game.
Picking up nine years after Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, the story follows Big Boss as he carries out his revenge on Cipher and Skull Face after they destroyed his private military base. The game centers on putting together a new militia. To do this you must take contracts from shady clients for money, kidnap personnel to work for you, and throws endless amounts of money into the arms trade. You also possess nuclear weapons for no real reason other than to use it to intimidate your competition. Does that sound heroic? Thought not.
1. ‘SUPER MARIO BROS.’
Think about it: you’re a plumber who travels the Mushroom Kingdom stomping on a displaced tribe of mushrooms while eliminating all the other wildlife in your path. Most of the so-called “enemies” aren’t even trying to hurt you, but are simply standing in your way. You’re basically a hired assassin and an environmental terrorist who is profiteering from a civil war between two sentient species of fungi. Collecting coins and consuming the decapitated heads of your allies, you care very little about anyone and anything, existing only to indulge your own selfish and destructive vices.
Bowser may have kidnapped Princess Peach, but have you ever seen him murder anyone on screen? Meanwhile, you’ve been offing his children with gleeful determination. Accept it! You’re the real monster here, not the fire-breathing giant.
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