#3. Assassin's Creed 3 -- Death for Not Skinning Enough Animals
The plot of the Assassin's Creed series involves certain elements of time travel, but the games play fast and loose with the rules of the space-time continuum -- you go around shanking people in the throat at your leisure, and you can even murder a whole bunch of innocent civilians before the game says, "Hey, you're changing the future, cut that out."
"WARNING: Your ancestor did not pose corpses to hump the sky. At least not too many times."
On the other hand, if you forget to skin a wolf, then it's instant temporal chaos and game over.
The protagonist of AC3 is half-British and half-Native American: the former half manifests in his love for tea and biscuits, and the latter in the form of hunting. You can lay snares, lure prey to them with bait, or just shoot them in the face, and then you can skin your kills and sell the furs for profit. This feature is presented as entirely optional, so you may very well decide that you don't need the money, or simply think that skinning things is icky.
"Animal hides? Yuck. No way. Now let's go gut some Limeys."
So let's say you get ambushed by a bunch of wolves, kill them in self-defense, and continue on your way, sparing yourself the annoying five-second skinning animation for each one. That's when you get a message: "WARNING: Connor skinned every animal he killed."
More of a warning to Connor's friends and family than to the player.
You briefly wonder what the fuck that's about and continue your game. Then you get another one: "WARNING: Failure to skin your next kill will result in desynchronization." And indeed, if you disobey this warning, you get "desynchronized," which is the game's fancy way of telling you that you lost. It's over. Nice job, asshole: You ruined history.
Turns out that wolf's skin was Hitler's grandfather.
So let's get this straight: You can kill people, erasing entire family trees with the swing of a blade, but not skinning five animals completely and irreversibly changes the entire future of the USA? We're all for the butterfly effect, but we don't think five decaying wolves would have tipped the balance in Britain's favor that much.
#2. Grange Hill: The Game -- Instant Death for Talking to a Drug Dealer
For the small percentage of Cracked readers who don't keep up with '80s British TV programming, Grange Hill was a BBC series that dealt with the everyday problems of a bunch of average school kids. Like almost everything that existed in this time period, it got turned into a shitty licensed game cleverly titled Grange Hill: The Game, which followed the story of two kids who sneaked into school to get back their stolen Walkman (an indestructible primitive iPod, youth of today).
The show continued till 2008. A sequel game could have featured the iPod Touch.
That is, unless the kids became addicted to cocaine along their way and died.
The game was littered with illogical puzzles, like the one where you had to scare off a mentally ill person by throwing a dead cat at her. Even worse were the many ways you could get an instant death, like missing a jump and getting stuck in this deleted Saw trap:
Eaten by the elderly. The game boldly portrayed the fears felt by 1980s British youth.
Or trying to jump over a little dog and getting your leg bitten off:
The game also critiqued British health care.
Or just fucking stepping on a loose stone in the sidewalk:
London's second leading cause of death in the '80s.
But the winner of the strangest, darkest game over ever has to be the time, early on, when a man approaches you and attempts to sell you some unspecified white substance:
When that's all a shifty jacketed man whips out, we consider that a win.
Now, this is a point-and-click adventure game -- law dictates that you pick up everything, as it can and will be used in an arbitrary illogical puzzle half an hour down the road. As such, if anyone offers you an item, you bloody well take it. So you click "yes" to take the mysterious powder ... and this happens:
Not just in the game. In all realities. Death is inevitable and lurks at every corner.
Yes, just like that, you succumb to drug addiction and die. Note that you didn't even take the drug: You just touched it, and that has doomed you to addiction and death.
Next time, just leave the Walkman in school.
#1. Mass Effect 2 -- Sexed to Death
The Mass Effect series is known for its deep immersive universe, its complex narrative based on multiple dialogue choices, and of course the boning. You can romance different characters and even get intimate with them, which naturally led Fox News to overreact and accuse the first game of perverting our youth, because that's their job.
Had they played the sequel, though, they could have been a little more rightfully indignant, as one romance ends with you being screwed until you die.
One of your potential romantic partners in Mass Effect 2 is Morinth, a blue-skinned, catsuit-wearing asari alien. The asari mate by merging their minds together, like the Pacific Rim Jaegers minus the Jaegers, but Morinth isn't very good at it -- she can't control her powers and overloads her partner's brain, killing him during sex. She's a literal sexual predator, and presumably not too big on masturbation.
Anyway, in the game you team up with Morinth's mother, but you can choose to betray her and have Morinth join you. After the final mission, assuming you're both alive, she will subtly signal that she wants to get into your pants, telling you: "I want you to feel every nerve in your body pulsing with pleasure."
Blind acquiescence isn't an option. Mass Effect 3 doesn't understand us.
If you ask her about the whole "killing her sexual partners" thing, Morinth puts forth a strong argument: You already died earlier in the game and came back, therefore you might be the only person in the universe she can cuddle with after intercourse (or at least the only one who will cuddle back).
She's cool with zombie fucking. What business do you have suddenly acting picky?
So you say yes, and she gets up to do you right there. Before you can say "Aren't we in like a hallway or something? I think there's a closet over there ..." this happens:
Luckily for the game's coders, Shepard's O-face was the same as his death face.
Followed by this:
Look, either way you were coming to a premature end.
You die. Straight-up game over. Who'd have thought the lying, matricidal, assassin-for-hire murderer was lying to you? And more importantly, where was Fox News to protect us from this?
For a look at the the craziest video game WINS in history, read about the master of blind tetris. If you're more about easter eggs in famous games, click here and read about Skyrim's secret room of the dead. Not done reading? Check out the brilliant clues hidden in video games.