The 6 Coolest Ways to Lose Popular Video Games
In video games, most of the ways to lose are pretty self-evident -- don't jump in the lava, don't get shot, and don't send Facebook requests asking friends to join your sad mobile gaming addiction. But some developers decided, "Screw the obvious and logical game over scenarios! Death should lurk around every corner, waiting to pants the player in bizarre and unpredictable ways."
Far Cry 4 -- You Should Probably Listen to the Bad Guy
Far Cry 4 takes place in the fictional land of Kyrat, to which young Ajay returns to fulfill his mother's last wish: laying her ashes to rest with someone named Lakshmana. Ajay's bus is shot up by the evil tyrant king Pagan Min, who kidnaps him and then tells him to stay put while he deals with a problem. And that's when the game begins -- you make a daring escape, aided by rebels who reveal that you're the son of the guy who founded them. You're swept into their ranks and begin the process of bringing democracy to Kyrat, at least when you're not sidetracked by the prospect of brutally murdering rhinos so you can make a slightly larger wallet out of their hides.
Numerous hours and objections from PETA later, Ajay and the rebels overthrow Pagan Min. He reveals that he wanted to pass leadership of Kyrat to Ajay because his original successor, Lakshmana, was murdered. It turns out that Ajay's father sent his mother into Pagan's inner circle as a spy, but she had a fetish for weedy guys in fabulous suits and Prince was nowhere to be found. When Ajay's father found out, he killed their love child Lakshmana out of jealousy, and Ajay's mother killed him in return before fleeing to America.
You can discover all of this after countless brutal deaths, or you can avoid all the bloodshed and learn everything within the first 15 minutes. If you forego your daring escape and dutifully wait in Pagan's dining room like he asked you to, he'll eventually come back and take you to Lakshmana's tomb while explaining the entire plot. You leave your mom's ashes before going with Pagan to shoot shit up in a highly dysfunctional father/son relationship. It's implied that the despotic leader will groom you to be a "lesser-of-two-evils" ruler, and all you had to do was let the game play itself.
And the music that plays during the intro? The Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" gives you a little hint that you should probably stick around.
Portal 2 -- You Probably Shouldn't Listen to the Bad Guy
Portal's successor continues the tradition of computers trying to kill you with mind-bending physics puzzles, as well as hilariously nuanced writing that people will mostly forget in favor of beating a single catchphrase into the ground. Now there's a new murderous and quotable AI -- Wheatley. At one point in the game, he tries to lure you into a room that consists of a small platform surrounded by spiky walls. It's basically the trap we designed for our math teacher on our trapper keeper when we were seven.
When you spot the blatant setup and move on with the game, Wheatley feebly asks you to come back to his death pit. It's a funny moment. Most of us ignored him, because generally it's a bad idea to listen to the villain. But if you do honor his request, there's a whole extra scene in it for you. Even Wheatley is surprised by your compliance. He hadn't planned for your chronic politeness, so he simply asks you to jump into the pit of doom.
If you're plagued by indecision -- you're not moving on with the game, but also not jumping -- he continues to offer you incentives, including claims that the pit is full of ponies, designer clothes, a yacht, boy bands, and your real parents.
While we wouldn't put it beyond the Portal team to include a secret boy band and pony level just for the joke, the jump kills you, obviously. Now, falling to your death may not be all that but a way to lose a game, but it's pretty strange that there's one little throwaway moment in Portal 2 that starts a whole secret scene -- if only if you're polite enough to commit suicide on request.
Shadow President -- A Boring Political Simulator ... Complete With Nuclear Annihilation and Assassination?
Shadow President is a political simulator in which players are thrust into the Oval Office like Bill Clinton. Once there, they must respond to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait while balancing the needs of the post-Cold War world with the desires of the American people, all while maintaining enough popularity to get reelected. Or you can nuke Canada.
The game offers an absurd amount of detail, including the ability to interact with every nation on the planet through trade agreements, treaties, and military action. You can end the embargo on Cuba and watch America's GDP tick up .01 percent, donate the entire foreign aid budget to the underappreciated people of Luxembourg, or send nukes flying at anybody with the audacity to eat a different type of bacon than you.
Much like actual politicians, your Cabinet is both utterly humorless and utterly incompetent -- they'll give you a stern talking-to for launching a first strike against America's closest allies, but they don't have the authority to stop even the most suicidal of actions. Your advisers will point out that nuclear fallout blowing into Minnesota from what used to be Winnipeg doesn't help your reelection chances amongst the key "Non-Mutant" demographic, but they can't do jack about it.
Your game-losing scenario is usually just being voted out after years of unabashed tyranny. However, if you go far enough, you can provoke a lone gunman scenario -- and we ain't talking about X-Files spinoffs. For most players, this is a dry political simulator about the careful balance of national relationships, with the game over screen giving you a bunch of unsatisfactory election results. Play it like a total asshole, and you get bullet holes and blood spatter across the screen.
MacVenture Games Hate You And Everything You Do
MacVenture games were point-and-click quests from the '80s that were notorious for the impressive number of ways they brutally punished players who had the audacity to try to enjoy the game. In Deja Vu: A Nightmare Comes True, you wake up in a bathroom with no memory and learn that you've been accused of murder, which is a slightly more serious crime than the ones we're accustomed to after waking up from a blackout drunk. To start your quest, why not drive your car to go look for clues? Pop the key in the ignition and ...
Okay, fine, whatever. Instead of driving, you walk to the police station. Hey, might as well check out what's further down this street -- what's the worst that could happen?
We love that it says "You should watch where you are going," as though there was a warning or a way to react, and not an arbitrary and uncontrollable game over. Speaking of which, the next MacVenture game, Uninvited, has you searching a haunted mansion to save your sister. First you have to get out of your wrecked car. You start to look around, because you spend roughly 99 percent of your time in adventure games looking for stuff, then the car goes up in flames.
This mansion is tough, but surely this lovely Southern belle will aid us in our quest!
Reach out to her, and ...
That'll learn you to examine your surroundings! Next came Shadowgate, in which you enter a castle to stop an evil wizard. Think you can walk past that motionless green slime? Guess again, sucker!
Hey, looks like there's a book here. You know how adventure games work -- you have to pick up everything you see, because you'll need it later.
Whoops, you broke a mirror. Clearly ...
Only one more MacVenture game was ever made, after which the series was tragically cut short when the lead developer picked the wrong sandwich condiment and was killed in the subsequent refrigerator explosion.
Star Trek: Voyager - Elite Force Lets You Stage a One-Man Mutiny
Star Trek: Voyager - Elite Force lets you explore the USS Voyager as Ensign Alex Munro. In true Star Trek fashion, you can peacefully wander the ship, checking out the warp core, chatting with Neelix in the cafeteria and, uh, murdering the captain. Elite Force's free roam mode doesn't take away phasers, so you're allowed to walk Voyager's hallways armed to the teeth. You meet and chat with characters from the show, just like you've always dreamed of as a fan, and then mercilessly gun them down, just like you've always dreamed of as an obsessive fan who psychotically broke from reality.
Unlike the new Fallout games, there are no bullshit "characters who are too important to die" here -- Captain Janeway is a fully destructible part of the ship's environment. But Voyager's crew doesn't sit idly by as you attempt a one-man mutiny -- an endless number of security guards beam onto the bridge to blast you. No choice now but to pull a Jovi and go out in a blaze of glory. You active the ship's self-destruct ...
As the ship is consumed by a fireball, the screen fades to black ... and the player wakes up in Voyager's brig, because apparently self-destruct sequences, much like smoke detectors, lose efficiency if they don't receive regular maintenance. The player is informed that the new Captain is upset with them, prompting Ensign Munro to hang his head in shame. It's bizarre (and awesome) enough that this Star Trek game is so open-ended that you can stage an unsuccessful mutiny, but then you blow up the whole ship and wake up to a lecture? This is one of those damn "it was all in the Holo-deck" episodes, isn't it ...
Police Quest: Open Season -- Don't Upset the HR Department
Police Quest: Open Season puts the player in the shoes of LAPD Detective John Carey. Carey's mission is to stop a serial killer who's terrifying Los Angeles, or at least convince him to terrify Milwaukee instead. Your quest pits you against countless dangers, but the deadliest foe of all is human resources.
The game goes to such extreme lengths for the sake of realism that we're surprised you don't have to pass a physical before you're allowed to play. Police Quest ensures that the player doesn't go rogue in any (and we mean any) way. You get lectures for every unsanctioned action, from trying to shoot a dead body to attempting to hug your commanding officer, even though he clearly needs a friendly pick-me-up.
The game's absurd commitment is best represented by a scenario in which you bother a female officer too much and get an instant game over. Touch one of your co-workers, and she'll respond with a message right out of an HR training skit: "Detective Carey, I view your action as sexual harassment and find your behavior objectionable. Please stop touching me."
If you take "no" as another word for "yes" and proceed with your unwanted shoulder tapping, you'll be given additional warnings about how harassment is illegal and has no place in the office. If you keep clicking, perhaps unable to control your raw arousal in the face of up to twenty fully-clothed pixels representing a woman, the screen fades to red, grim music plays, and it's game over.
In case you think this was all totally in line with a completely realistic, no-frills police simulator, the finale of Police Quest sees you killing a cross-dressing psycho with an improvised flamethrower. Then the blurry police chief gives you a medal. But you're still hollow inside. All you really wanted was Officer Chester. Maybe if you click this time, she'll respond to your advances ...
Gavin wishes Hogwarts dorm assignments didn't commit 25% of students to a life of evil, but understands the Sorting Hat had tenure. He has a Twitter: @gavinjamieson.
For more unusual ways games screw with you, check out 7 Dick Moves Everyone Pulled in Classic Video Games and 6 Groundbreaking Ways Video Games Are Screwing Players.
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