5 Video Games That Pose (And Reward) Awful Moral Choices
Video games have a weird obsession with moral decisions: Are you the type of mercenary who saves civilians to gain points, or the kind who decorates their home with landmines to gain a comical acrobatics show? Any path you choose, it's a win-win scenario. But sometimes a game will give you a complex ethical dilemma, and then only reward you if you respond like a total psychopath. The idea is supposedly to deliver an emotional impact, but these choices generally only lead to an internet search on which Force powers you get if you saw all the younglings in half with your light saber.
Resident Evil: Revelations 2's Best Ending Requires Getting The Anti-Gun Teen To Shoot Someone
Resident Evil games usually drop you into a zombie world being terrorized by history's dumbest and most corrupt quadrillion-dollar corporation, but Revelations 2 takes it a step further. You (Claire Redfield) wake up trapped in a zombiefied prison with Moira, a shitty teenage sidekick who refuses to use a gun.
You also play the game as Moira's dad Barry, who is paired with a creepy little girl named Natalia. The four of you shove crates, turn cranks, and slaughter gooey monsters in order to prevent something only a madman would try to explain in 21 words: Alex Wesker, a genetically engineered woman, wants to transfer her mind into Natalia to take over the world with tentacled abominations. And like every Resident Evil game that was and will ever be, this goes terribly wrong, she explodes into monster form, and you slowly fill her with bullets until she dies.
From there, the game can end multiple ways. Most commonly, Claire rescues everyone in a chopper and the world is saved. In another, Moira is crushed to death, Claire ends up in a coma, and Alex takes over the little girl's body. There's more bad news. Barry, who has spent most of his adult life blasting holes in global threats, can't bring himself to execute a child ... even one that contains the mind of a Nazi zombie lord. So he lets her wander off to destroy the planet.
So how do you prevent this horrible outcome? Well, in order to get the good ending, you needed to have shot the previous boss, Neil, with Moira, who as we mentioned refuses to use guns. If you're wondering, her dislike of firearms started when she was a child and she accidentally shot her sister Polly, a tragedy that could have been prevented if only Polly had her own gun.
In the battle, Claire is trapped under a heap of slimy tumors formerly known as Neil. Her gun is knocked away, creating this dramatic moment:
If you follow the on-screen instructions to smash the square button, Claire struggles to reach her gun. It seems grim, but this is absolutely no big deal for Claire, survivor of three different apocalypses. Most of her mornings are spent reaching for a gun from a hissing wad of scabs. But then the game suggests switching from the lethal super-agent to the conscientious-objecting teen. If you do, she crawls over, has a traumatic flashback, then shoots. But not before delivering a one-liner no wad of scabs has ever been ready for:
If you do this right, the story sends Moira off to hunt with a cranky Russian hermit for six months, setting off a chain of events that lets her rescue her dad and save the world. It seems like the game's moral is ... wait, this can't be right. Resident Evil is saying "Kids should play with guns, especially if they don't want to because the last time they tried they shot their sister?" That seems like a strange advice. Oh, you know what might be fun? Let's have both sides discuss the merits of that in the comments below!
Related: TikTok Teens Hope Capitol Attack Serves As A Wake Up Call To Congress To Act On School Shootings
Dishonored Rewards You For Kidnapping Women And Giving Them To A Stalker
In Dishonored, you play Corvo Attano, a stealthy murder machine framed for the assassination of the empress. You eventually break out of jail, rescue the princess, and kill the world's population several times over. And speaking of killing, how many men you slaughter directly affects the ending. If you are careful to leave your enemies alive, the princess learns compassion and mercy. If throat-ripping rampage is how you solve all your problems, the princess will adopt the same policy.
If you're extremely patient and have nimble thumbs, it's possible to complete the game without killing a single person. Instead, you can unleash non-lethal but poetic justice on them. The evil, decadent pope? Brand him with the Mark Of Shame and force him to live as a pauper. The leader of the murderous conspiracy? Expose him to the public. The twin mine owners with barbaric labor practices? Sell those fuckers into slavery.
And then there's Lady Boyle, the rich aristocrat who funded the whole thing. What to do with her? Steal all her money? Destroy her reputation? A hostile takeover? Drug her and hand her over to a rapist? Well, not that last one, obviously. That's insa- Oh, it actually is that last one? Jesus, can we press X to just ... not?
It all starts when you sneak into her masked ball and get approached by this gentleman:
This creep is way too comfortable telling you how much he loves her and how if you bring her to him, no one will ever hear from her again. It's a window into what it must be like being Bill Cosby's pharmacist, but it's also arguably worse than just running across the dance floor and punching a knife into her brain. If you can bring yourself to go through with the "more moral" option, you deliver her and the creep says this:
You should know that no matter what Dishonored says, if you're determined to exact revenge against someone, this is worse than murder. Her best-case scenario is that you drugged her too hard and she never wakes up. Players mentioned how disgusting this sequence is to the developers and to their credit, they responded. Both by saying oops, and suggesting she probably turned the tables on her sex offender with her guile.
Silent Hill 3 Condemns You For Forgiveness
Silent Hill 3, the last decent game in the now-dead franchise, stars Heather Mason, the daughter of the first game's hero. There are some spoilers coming, but like the game itself, the words describing them will seem like a series of random things, stitched together in a strangely terrifying way: Heather has been lured back to the horrors of Silent Hill by an evil cult because she's secretly pregnant with their god. After hours of shrieking madness, the game ends with her vomiting up God's fetus, which is then eaten by the villain who becomes God herself. Heather then dives into a massive vagina to battle her own abortion. It's almost like there was some kind of mix-up and they accidentally made a game based on the hate mail sent to the female game developers instead of the actual script.
The first time you play through it, Heather will kill God, leave Silent Hill, and come to terms with her family history before laying a wreath at her father's grave. If you play through it again, the game starts measuring your morality. Perform badly enough and you will get an ending where Heather kills God but then instantly massacres her policeman friend because your evil caused the prophecy to be fulfilled, and it caused Heather to become the vessel for this cult's grimy murder god. We think? Honestly, this game's plot is like a dream journal written by a pile of tainted ground beef.
So how do you get this terrible ending? Well, you need to lower your morality. This is usually done the same way you'd do it in real life, by killing things. However, there's one action that earns you amoral points that doesn't quite make sense -- forgiving a grieving woman. At one point, you find a confession booth and overhear a horrific story from a distressed woman. She tells you about her murdered child and the vengeance killing she performed on the murderer. She knows she's going to Hell and begs you for your forgiveness.
Giving this woman some forgiveness is a pretty nice thing to do, right? No, you monster. Only priests can forgive sins, and you're an unwed girl pregnant with a cult monster. So even if you find killing your child's murderer a forgivable offense, you know what isn't? Impersonating a priest. Doing so costs you a ton of morality points and puts you a step closer to getting possessed by your own evil God baby. The most moral thing you can do is turn your back on this crybaby and let her tortured soul suffer alone.
Actually, no, the most moral thing to do is to kill 30 bad guys with the alien weapon at the start. That gets you the best ending where Heather's dad is still alive and accepting of you, before the two of you sit down for tea with a space alien and nuke Silent Hill with UFO lasers.
Fallout 3 Punishes You For Problem-Solving
Your main goal in Fallout 3 is to get clean drinking water to the radioactive wasteland. This involves tracking down your missing father and leading a giant anti-Communist robot into war while trying to resist 20,000 other distractions. After surviving countless impossible situations, you finally arrive at the water treatment plant with the special device to purify the world's water, and you encounter what seems to be an even more impossible situation: The purifier is filled with lethal radiation and whoever turns it on will surely die.
At first it doesn't seem like much of a problem. "Radiation? Welcome to Fallout 3, purifier. I'll just use any of the 25 items in my inventory designed specifically for that problem." Well, that's not an option here. The narrative demands a noble sacrifice, even if it has to throw out all its own rules.
It gets sillier. One of your followers, Fawkes the Super Mutant, is immune to radiation. It's not only his special ability, it's his race's entire origin story. And since he's a walking storage warehouse and infinite laser machine, there's a good chance you brought him with you even before you knew you'd run into this radiation "problem." So ... just have him do it?
It gets even more sillier. Inside the chamber is a dead scientist who has 10 Rad-X and 10 RadAways, the exact medicine you'd need to not die. You can take them all before you start the machine, but they don't help you any more than they helped the glowing puddle in a lab coat you stole them from. It's like the game went out of its way to demonstrate how clever you were being in your attempts to solve the problem while also demonstrating how much it didn't care. Stop your flailing and die!
To the game's credit, the developers did release an update that gave Fawkes the ability to complete the mission instead of watching you pointlessly die.
So you should be rewarded for all this, right? You saved the world, and didn't even have to kill yourself or your best friend! No. Fallout 3 really wanted you dead, and if you skirted it, Ron Perlman calls you a coward. In his closing narration he says, "The child refused to follow the father's selfless example, instead allowing a TRUE HERO to venture into the irradiated control chamber." True hero? That's a bit much isn't it? How bad do you want us to feel for asking our friend to flip a switch instead of committing pointless suicide?
Call Of Duty Supports Team Killing And Burning Men Alive
Despite its reputation as a place for frat boys to try out new political slurs, Call Of Duty has some deeply poignant scenarios. Even if you think video games are pointless endeavors with no artistic merit, it's hard to deny the impact of Modern Warfare's nuclear bomb scene, or Modern Warfare 2's "No Russian" mission. But those are from the COD games made by Infinity Ward. The other development team (World At War / Black Ops) isn't quite as effective when they try for moral complexity.
In World At War you play as a Russian soldier who survives Stalingrad before taking the fight back to the Germans. In one scene, the game reads to you from the diary of your fallen friend Chernov. Depending on your actions up to that point, he may call you a noble hero or a brutal savage. This distinction is determined when your commander orders you to kill German prisoners. If you follow his order, you're a savage. If you let them live, you're a hero. Makes sense, right?
Well, the men aren't exactly healthy POWs. They are bleeding out and suffering, and shooting them might actually be a kindness. If you decide to let them live despite this, the Germans end up being burned alive. So to be clear, you are a brutal savage if you mercy kill some dying soldiers, and you're a noble hero if you stand back to watch them turn into shrieking barbecue.
In a way, this is a legitimate moral dilemma. You shouldn't slaughter POWs, but you also shouldn't stand around and watch people suffer for no reason. We think most people would agree that some off-the-books euthanasia beats watching men burn to death.
Call Of Duty: Black Ops II also has some dubious moral paths to take, each with different endings depending on your "goodness." It all depends on how you handle a situation where you're undercover: You're given the option to prove your loyalty by shooting your teammate Harper, or you could just shoot the game's main villain, Menendez.
Beat the game or kill a brother in arms? It seems like an obvious choice, but if you don't shoot Harper, that's a one-way ticket to the bad ending. So as you already expected, you need to shoot Harper.
Executing a man is a pretty extreme way to maintain your cover, but it sets off the chain of events that leads to you saving a hacker lady who is necessary to save the world. It might be the "right" thing to do, but shooting at Menendez leads to certain doom for everyone. But all this is irrelevant since Black Ops II has only one true ending -- the one where Menendez and the sidekick from Black Ops become best friends and, without explanation, go on tour with the band Avenged Sevenfold.
Which Sci-Fi Trope Would You Bring To The Real World, And Why? Every summer we're treated to the same buffet of three or four science fiction movies with the same basic conceits. There's man vs. aliens, man vs. robots, man vs. army of clones and man vs. complicated time travel rules. With virtual reality and self-driving cars fast approaching, it's time to consider what type of sci-fi movie we want to be living in for the rest of our lives. Co-hosts Jack O'Brien and Adam Tod Brown are joined by Cracked's Tom Reimann and Josh Sargent along with comedians David Huntsberger, Caitlin Gill, and Lizzy Cooperman to figure out which sci-fi trope would be the best to make a reality. Get your tickets to this live podcast here!
For bizarre situations in video games, check out 6 Video Game Endings That Are Clearly F#@%ing With Us and The 5 Most WTF Video Game Endings Of All Time.
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