Video games are a major past time for millions of people and can serve as vehicles for moral lessons based on our own decisions. Sometimes, games are just there so we can make giant things blow up in the coolest way possible; who’s to judge? Well, we are. Not all games are of equal worth, value, or sanity. These components, in the proper combination, would make a game successful, addicting, and quite possibly questionable.
There are a number of things that go into how successful a game is, and one of those is the game’s ability to make you agonize over what you decided to do. Not every game is going to make you reconsider what you’ve done, as some of them make you wonder what you are doing with your life.
Whenever a game is so bad you have to agonize over life decisions, you should generally put it down. You should definitely put it down if it directly encourages you to massacre people for no reason other than they are the wrong skin color. Each of the games in this list have one thing that make them alike, that is that they are so whacked out that you just can’t stop look away. Not every game that you’ll see here is made by bad people for bad people, or any shadow motivation, they just all make you take a step back and look at what you’re doing.
15 Postal 2
This is one of the hardest entries to write about, so might as well put it first, right? Postal 2 is the sequel to the 1997 isometric shooter Postal. This gore-touting exploration of man's inner cruelty is, unsurprisingly, one of the most violent video games in history. There are two choices in Postal 2, be a violent sociopath hellbent on the destruction of the town, or be a non-violent sociopath who is just plain rude.
Virtually none of the player-induced violence in the game is mandatory, allowing us to fulfill any sort of depraved wants we might have. This particular game will cause us to question not only why we are doing things, but it will force us to evaluate our true moral character. The extreme and graphic violence of this game is directed at far more than just people and animals. A plethora of obscene gestures and bodily functions force us to recognize that we may not be all there logically. The numbing effects of the game will provide us with the most visceral of reactions. Killing Gary Coleman was also a pretty weird thing to do...
14 Telltale's The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead is one of the absolutely most heart wrenching games that has ever been made, from Lee to the dog, you are forced to make a number of difficult choices just to stay alive. One of the absolute hallmarks of this series is that it has an almost supernatural ability to make the simplest of actions nothing sort of pure cask-strength agony!
Spoilers beyond this point.
One of the most iconic scenes in the whole of the game is when Lee is presented with the choice of amputating his arm once he is bitten. To fans of the series, that it's going end poorly regardless, but to the uninitiated it is horribly overwhelming. The situation entirely revolves around keeping Clementine as safe as possible. The emergency amputation was completely unnecessary, making life harder than it needed to be.
Hatred is definitely one of the more extreme cases when it comes to personal choice and violence. The game gives players no choice but to commit mass murder in order to complete the game and this is done for no other reason than your character is bored. Unlike most other games on this list which you'll find, the only choice is what weapon you will kill people with.
Hatred's very blatant misanthropy and anti-human premise offered a lot of opportunity, only for it to fall short of any sort of rewarding experience. With the game being the way it is, whoever wantonly plays and enjoys the game should probably take a step back and re-evaluate their life decisions.
Since Hatred is nothing short of a cheap wannabe Grindhouse game, there is little in the way of substance. The game's repetitiveness is only partly overcome by its overly edgy storyline.
12 Emperor: Rise Of The Middle Kingdom
Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom, as with many other games in the City Building Series features the player taking the role of a magistrate who must make their city prosperous. This is easier said than done as many situations will shift the balance of power within the game's world. Among the most prominent features of this game is that players must constantly strive to ensure the wants and needs of its citizens. Besides the citizens, players are going to be forced to compete for the favor of many deities and ancestors to prevent natural disasters and ensure continued progress.
The game feels as if you are an actual administrator for a city. Among the most common problems that are faced is if it is better to increase food availability or increase industry. Both of those two aspects of gameplay are important. There is a necessity to perpetually increase security, maintenance, and wellness within your growing metropolis, but those cannot be as ignored as economics. If you make a wrong turn, many will die and you'll be left to wonder what you're doing.
11 Far Cry 3
As far as action-adventure games are concerned, there are few better than Far Cry 3. The game's plethora of weapons and side quests make the game fun and enjoyable for multiple rounds of story completion. The point where the game shines the brightest is at the end when Jason Brody must make his choice.
At the end of the game, (SPOILERS) Jason is presented a choice by the tantalizing Citra: do you save your friends and girlfriend or kill them in order to be with Citra and help the Rakyat? There are consequences to both options. In one, you kill your loved ones to sleep with a witch-queen, only to be offered as a sacrifice to a hypothetical child you impregnate Citra with. In the other option, Citra dies and the Rakyat presumably carry on as they were, just minus the pirates. The choice is entirely up to you and you will feel somewhat guilty for one thing or another.
10 Heavy Rain
Heavy Rain is a game which is one of the hardest hitting in the world; it is a tour de force of emotion. The central premise of the game is a grieving father who is trying to come to terms with the loss of his son in an auto accident. As one of the best releases for the PlayStation 3 (re-released for the PS4), Heavy Rain feels more like a cinematic thriller than a video game.
One of the key points of the game is the effect of our day to day choices. Much like a Telltale Game, Heavy Rain may cause extreme anxiety and existential terror as you make tough choices. Since the game is almost entirely malleable to the decisions of the player, every little choice is going to count. The choices of the player make it so that the main character can be killed or change any number of outcomes and scenes. The “living” world that exists in the game rewards the player for quick decision-making, even if it leads to an even more melancholic reaction.
Anime and dating sims go hand in hand, and we’ve seen this for a number of years on the free-to-play flash market, but now the bar has been raised by successful Steam games like HuniePop. HuniePop takes us down the road of a lonesome dude who just wants to become the world’s ultimate pick up artist; which he accomplishes. The game is filled with plenty of anime-style vixens for your viewing pleasure, but none of them really qualify as being all there in the morally sound department (looking at you Momo).
The game has taken its fair share of the Steam market and was successful enough to spawn a sequel, which crashed and burned. HuniePop’s assortment of characters includes humans, aliens, celestial beings, and one childish cat girl. The game’s questionability is very much based on the fact that you have to lie about details to pick them up. Something that makes the game shine is that it focuses entirely on an unreliable narrator who just wants to have fun. The game was a pretty ingenious addition to the dating sim market, to say the least.
8 Ethnic Cleansing
No, just no. That is the short response, but to the unaware, here’s the long version. Ethnic Cleansing is a bad game for bad people made by even worse people. Since I don’t have to divulge any of the game’s plot (if you can say it has one), let’s begin with deconstructing it.
The game was a game made by a particularly well known White Nationalist hate group as a recruitment tool. It preys upon the fears and prejudices of a troubled segment of the population in order to turn them into little goose-stepping soldiers for an “oncoming race war.” That narrative makes this game one of the most troubling games released in the last 20 years. Just like Muslim Massacre, this particular game serves no other purpose than for people to vicariously exterminate racial, ethnic, and religious minorities. The sad part about this is that it has been a successful game in terms of number of plays. The complete and utter abhorrence of the subject matter and the intended purpose of this game, and its sequel, leave no doubt why it is on this list.
7 S.EXE: Coming Out On Top
S.EXE: Coming Out On Top is a dating simulation game. Like HuniePop and others in this burgeoning genre, it has its ups and downs. There are two things that set this particular game apart from any of the others. The first one that sets it apart is that it is a gay dating sim, something which is unusual, and should be applauded, in the market. The second aspect that sets it apart from many of the others is that it starts out fairly normal before things get weird.
So where exactly does the game get weird? Well, you have to seduce a giant gold fish. The game fits well in the anime-esque dating sims that are becoming fairly common, but the mere fact that you have to seduce a gold fish is just plain weird. The questionable choices behind this leave our imaginations to run completely wild. The game has a lot going for it, apparently, as the gameplay has been praised; it just has that one gold fish hang up. In the words that one gold fish would understand, “glub glubadubdub!”
6 Manhunt 1 & 2
Let’s move back to good old fashioned not-so-family friendly homicide! The Manhunt series was revolutionary in its use of cinematic violence, stalking, and gruesome overkill. The games have quite a special place in the hearts of gamers everywhere. They come with lessons, most of which lean towards being morally bankrupt. The first game, at the least, has an interesting selling point in that it takes a unique approach to how much people are willing to sacrifice for freedom; that might just be over thinking it though.
The Manhunt games have had a strong cultural impact, bringing back the entertainment fascination with snuff films. Back in their day, the Manhunt series was able to evoke a visceral reaction to their violence and creative use of weapons to kill people. The game turns from seeking freedom to vengeance once the character is betrayed. The gore and the excessive violence tantalized us and they forced us to question if we are really as civilized as we say we are.
5 The Game Which Shall Not Be Named
Since this game is so abhorrent that you'll need the kitten above to feel clean again!
Many of the games on this list revolve around murder and death in general, but this particular game is absolutely abhorrent! It is so horrendous that its title will not be featured here. The game’s plot revolves around stalking and assaulting an innocent family of three in the worst possible way; the main targets of this sick and depraved game aren’t even adults! It is nothing short of astounding that this game could be allowed to be made, or even legal in most jurisdictions.
As bad and questionable as Hatred is, it has nothing on this particular game. In fact, you could argue that Hatred is the more moral of the two since its modus operandi is just mass murder. That Game Which Shall Not Be Named is one which glorifies and encourages the audience to fetishize sexual violence. No normal individual can conceivably play or enjoy this game. It satisfies only the darkest desires that some members of the population have and blatantly calls women subhuman.
4 Hatoful Boyfriend
Dating simulation games are among the more popular genres emerging on the market. One of the more unusual dating sims out there, Hatoful Boyfriend has one of the most bizarre plots in the gaming world. The whole premise of the game is to woo pigeons and other birds into loving you. There is nothing wrong with playing a dating simulation game, but sometimes those games are just plain weird. The game is set in a dystopian world where humans are subjugated by birds and the player plays a teenage girl in her freshman year of high school.
The normal romantic shenanigans of dating sims take place throughout the game, but every action causes a reaction in the game’s ending. There are multiple possible endings in the game, which makes your decisions matter a lot more than in other games. One of the coolest aspects of this game is that it turns from dating simulator to “try not to get murdered” simulator. This game will make you question not only why you are playing this, but what the exact value of friendship and love happens to be.
3 Shadow Of The Colossus
Out of all the games on this list, Shadow of the Colossus is the only one which broke my heart. The game is a masterful example of how to make the player regret everything they've ever done. The game's systematic feels-trip begins with you having to kill lumbering behemoths, which the game has you kill for a rather devious reason. As the hero, Wander, travels throughout the forbidden land, he will meet sixteen Colossi.
The Colossi are mostly harmless, only trying to kill Wander after the would-be hero attacks. This makes them more like giant animals, as they want little to nothing to do with people. As the game progresses, you end up discovering that they are guardians, protecting the world from a great evil locked away for centuries. Thanks to the player's actions, that evil was freed. The player then had to try and put it back.
The moral of this story is that you should probably question whatever information you're given by a disembodied voice in the wild.
2 Fallout: New Vegas
Fallout: New Vegas is one of those games which you either love or hate due to the choices you are forced to make in the game. Vault 34 is the ultimate test of who and what you are. You are presented with two options, save the people of the vault or save a farm. There is no in-between when it comes to what you have to decide, as one must die so that the other might live.
The moral choices presented by this mission bring about an interesting philosophical discussion: "is it better to let some die, so that the many may live?" The fact that the trapped denizens of Vault 34 are utilizing so much water, so to cause mass crop failures is maddening, to say the least. Since you never really see anyone who will be affected by your decision, the ethical debate is one of great magnitude. The agonizing contemplation that follows is one of the game's highlights. Personally, I follow the Vulcan maxim, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few...or the one."
1 Skyrim: M'rissi's Tails Of Troubles
Sure, this is cheating, but who cares? The story behind this one mod will make you instantly question and regret whatever choice you've made with the most existential of dread imaginable. Feeling just like it belongs in the base game, M'rissi's Tails of Troubles will break you, no matter what you choose. It is unbelievable how you will feel like a terrible person no matter what decision you make when the moment comes. This mod humanizes a particular Khajit girl in more ways than one. The whole purpose of this mod is the uncertainty of choice and identity; those are two things which a lot of us struggle with in our lives. When the time comes, we will all question if it is better for us to remember or forget the traumas which made us the way we are. Would you forget if you could start all over or would you just go on as you are?