When Mortal Kombat came out in North America, parents and politicians panicked to cover the eyes of youngsters who'd be exposed to the bloody fighting game. The ESRB swooped in to place age ratings on video games to warn consumers of the possibility of alcohol use, sex, and violence. This rating isn't a deterrent to everyone; some gamers may pick up a game because it contains mature themes.
Some developers are happy to take full advantage of their Mature 17+ age rating. Though gamers are warned of content, games that promote violent content like Hatred go too far for some. Other developers use violence as an accent to gameplay and content. Seeing a close friend be tortured to death is meant to pull at the gamers' heart strings and motivate them to get revenge. Games might even add graphic death animations to give some more excitement to a boss fight.
No matter how the violence is portrayed in-game, some moments may make us feel more squeamish than others. Games may show us violence in a cut scene, but developers have grown more creative and have started to make the violence interactive. There are some games where we must inflict pain and suffering upon our playable character to progress in the story. These scenes are hard to complete but vital to game immersion.
This list contains massive spoilers for Mature rated games. There may also be some graphic images not appropriate for those with a weak stomach. If you're ready to check out some of the most violent scenes in gaming, keep reading.
15 Trevor Philips Tortures Ferdinand Kerimov
Trevor Philips is one of the most morally bankrupt protagonists in Grand Theft Auto V. In the mission "By the Book," Trevor is tasked with interrogating Ferdinand Kerimov. Ferdinand is one of the FIB's only sources of information against Tahir Javan. There are four ways Trevor can extract information, which gamers control. He can use waterboarding techniques, electrocute him with a car battery, or beat various body parts with a wrench. The fourth torture option, tooth extraction with pliers, can have a such a strong physical reaction that Ferdinand will not be able to talk. Trevor's torture can go too far and kill the man. If Ferdinand dies before Trevor gets enough information, he will have to bring the man back to life by injecting him with an adrenaline shot. From there, the torture continues until Trevor is satisfied.
14 Jackie Ma's Final Walk
Jackie Ma is one of your closest friends in Sleeping Dogs. Working together in the Sun On Yee gang gets the pair in several fights, but it's not until an internal war begins in Sun On Yee that the real violence begins. Not wanting to get hurt, Jackie admits he wants to leave the gang. Jackie could have survived, but he decides to take a walk instead of speaking with the Sun On Yee council that night. When you see Jackie next, he's hanging from a pipe. His body is badly beaten and drenched in blood. When Wei Shen moves closer, you can see Jackie's exposed intestines. The scene is difficult to watch due to the gore and the fact that it's the emotional death of your best friend.
13 Lara Croft's Death Scenes
The Tomb Raider remake dramatically changed the series. Older Lara Croft was transformed into a younger woman. The gameplay was changed to focus more on the action, but Lara is still a strong, competent fighter. When your failures lead to her death, it can make some uncomfortable moments for our hero. Lara has some incredibly graphic death scenes in the Tomb Raider remake. Some of the lesser violent scenes are when Lara falls off cliffs; these aren't as intense because we don't see the impact. More up-close fatalities include getting stabbed, mauled by wolves, shot by arrows, or strangled by foes. Though these murders are particularly hard to witness, seeing Lara get impaled as she's sliding through rivers and down forest hills is just as bad.
12 John Marston's Last Stand
In Red Dead Redemption, you play as former bandit John Marston. You spend the entire game searching for your family and seeking redemption. When John finally finds his wife and son, you spend a few brief days enjoying life as a family. In the last story mission of the game, "The Last Enemy That Shall Be Destroyed," John sees his violent end. Though he worked hard to redeem himself, he was still seen as an outlaw and bandit. In the final mission, the government finds John and aren't going to let him get away again. You witness John being shot to death and his clothing becomes drenched in blood, but John doesn't immediately die. You watch his bullet-torn body realize what happened, and then collapse onto the ground.
11 Soap Gets Stabbed And Saves Price
The Call of Duty series is known for its emphasis on killing enemies in both the story campaign and multiplayer. In CoD: Modern Warfare 2, the campaign's final mission sets Price and Soap against Shepherd. Soap tries to find Shepherd in a fierce sandstorm. When Soap attempts to attack, Shepherd counters, stabbing Soap in the stomach with his tactical knife. As Soap wakes up, he sees Shepherd and Price fighting. Price is losing and Soap has to act, even if he is wounded. You then have to pull the knife from Soap's body while watching the painful scene, which includes added sound effects. When the knife is free, Soap aims the knife at Shepherd's head. The violent moment isn't censored, and the impact can be felt. Price is saved, but Soap is still seriously injured.
10 Joel Interrogates Two Hunters
Though Joel starts off The Last of Us cold-hearted, after meeting Ellie he forms a powerful bond with the young girl. When she goes missing, Joel is determined to get her back. When a pair of hunters fail to kill him, he takes them captive and interrogates them. Immediately, we see Joel punching one of the captive men. He takes to the next man and stabs him in the knee. Obviously, the man is in pain as Joel continues to twist the knife to extract more information. When Joel is done with him, Joel quickly breaks his neck and goes back to his first victim. Though he has the information he needs, Joel isn't going to let the hunter get away. You see Joel take a metal pipe and smash the man's head. In desperate times, Joel isn't willing to take chances or play nice.
9 Battling Mr. Sunshine In The Meat Packing Plant
The first two Saints Row games are more serious, as gangs go to war trying to claim territory. The Sons of Samedi are one of the groups you face off against in Stilwater in Saints Row 2. Before you face off against their leader, The General, you fight his right-hand man, Mr. Sunshine. Mr. Sunshine enjoys the supernatural and practices voodoo. Though he has a joyous moniker, he is happy to kill innocent people or watch a building burn. In a final act of revenge, the protagonist faces against him in a meat packing plant. You shoot him several times, but due to his voodoo abilities, he keeps rising back from the dead. After finally unloading your gun into the Sons of Samedi member, you behead him and toss the decapitated head onto a conveyor belt. The fate of his head remains unknown.
8 Blake's Crucifixion And Escape
Outlast 2 has several violent and disturbing scenes that would make most gamers uncomfortable. Most players are instructed to commit these violent acts by Outlast 2's main antagonist, Laird Byron. Blake Langermann is on a quest to find his wife and explores their settlement, seeing the remains of those unable to escape. As he gets closer to discovering her whereabouts, Laird and his followers attack him first. We see Blake's painful crucifixion as nails are driven into hands and feet. The Scalled make it clear they wish to eat Blake's flesh and drink his blood to cure their disfigurements. After pulling himself off the cross, he rolls down a hill into barbed wire. Blake doesn't get relief from the violence until he's able to kill Laird.
7 Launching White Phosphorous On Civilians
Spec Ops: The Line puts you in control of Captain Martin Walker as he faces the horror of war. Walker is working with his team to take out the rogue 33rd Infantry Battalion. His mental state starts to deteriorate over the course of the game, making moral decisions more unclear. Violence is necessary to take out the 33rd, which had already committed several war crimes. In a vital mission, you find heat signatures of the 33rd. Instead of engaging in a firefight, your team uses the incendiary weapon, white phosphorus to clear the area. Though it can be used to burn down obstacles quickly, it has a deadly effect on people. Unfortunately, the heat signatures Walker's team detected were those of civilians seeking refuge from the war. In a disturbing scene, you see the burned corpses of all 47 civilians were killed, including a haunting image of a mother holding her child.
6 Ethan Mars Cuts Off His Finger
Heavy Rain stresses making sacrifices for the one you love. Ethan Mars is willing to do anything to save his kidnapped son, Shaun. In the story mission "The Lizard," Ethan is led to a table with various cutting tools and disinfectant. He is instructed by the kidnapper that he must make a sacrifice to save Shaun. That sacrifice is cutting off his finger. Though there are several ways to complete the task, they're all hard to complete. Heavy Rain is more of an interactive movie experience, so you must perform all the actions to make Ethan cut off a finger. After watching Ethan scream in pain, and maybe screaming a bit yourself, you still have to stop the blood and disinfect the wounds. The kidnapper offers various options for this as well, including cauterizing the wound with a hot, metal rod.
5 Decapitating The God Of The Sun
With a name like God of War, it's no surprise that Kratos is willing to commit acts of violence to get his vengeance. In God of War III, he goes after the God of the Sun, Helios. Helios isn't an easy target. He wields the full power of the sun and can also attack using fire. He uses his Sun Chariot to fly laps around the God of War. Kratos brings Helios back to Earth by crashing his Chariot. He finds the Sun God heavily wounded. The Gods fight, but Helios is defeated by the God of War. Helios begs for his life, but Kratos refuses, angrily ripping off the Sun God's head with his bare hands. Helios' head becomes a trophy for Kratos, and uses the decapitated head as a lantern, to blind enemies, and as a beacon to find hidden treasure chests.
4 Cutting Off Lee's Arm
Telltale's The Walking Dead's first season is an interactive game starring Lee Everett. In the final episode, Lee is searching for Clementine, who has been kidnapped. Gamers were shocked and saddened when Lee was suddenly bitten. Lee faces a decision that many wonder about in a zombie apocalypse situation. If you cut off the bite, will it stop the infection? Lee can either go alone or with friends to the morgue. There, he finds the tools necessary to cut off his arm. Though it's optional, many gamers chose to cut off the limb in a desperate attempt to save Lee's life. Having his friends there to perform the task makes things easier, as Lee doesn't have to remain conscious while sawing off his arm. It's a graphic and bloody scene, but having Lee cut off his arm is even more painful to watch.
3 Performing Stomach Surgery On Paz
Paz Ortega Andrade was a triple agent who grew to trust Big Boss. Though he thought she died during the Peace Walker Incident, he learned she was alive in Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. Unfortunately, Paz was taken captive by Skull Face. Skull Face knew Big Boss would attempt to rescue her. In anticipation of the rescue, he implanted her with two bombs: one in her abdomen and the second in a place the Militaires Sans Frontières would not look. After recovering Paz and reaching the chopper, Big Boss learned about the bombs. He attempts to remove one of the bombs without anesthetic. The surgery causes Paz intense pain, and she passes out. When she awakens, she reveals that there is a second bomb inside of her. To save those onboard, she jumps out of the helicopter and explodes mid-air.
2 Sticking A Needle In Isaac’s Eye
After the events of the first Dead Space game, Isaac was held captured by the Church of Unitology. They wanted to learn more about the Red Marker he discovered during the Aegis VII incident. Fortunately, in Dead Space 2 he was rescued, only to discover the Unitologists were building their Marker. Isaac manages to find the NoonTech Diagnostic Machine, which was used to extract the information from his brain without opening his skull. He had to use it again on himself to learn how to destroy their Marker. With a time limit before Isaac's heartbeat starts to race, gamers had to line up the laser to his pupil. The laser will then slowly move into his eye, causing Isaac intense pain. Completely misalign the laser, and the machine will completely drill into his skull and kill him.
After failing to destroy a Strogg facility, Quake 4's protagonist Matthew Kane is taken captive. He is chosen to undergo the process of stroggification. From a first-person view, you must watch the captive ahead of you go through the painful process before it's your turn. You can struggle in the restraints, but your attempts to escape are in vain. Kane moves on a conveyor belt through different stations. First, he receives various injections and cuts his face. The next stations gradually worsen as Kane is transformed from a human to Strogg. A large circular saw amputates Kane's legs and burns the stubs. You may feel faint after watching the violent scene, but Kane passes out from the pain. He awakens to see his legs replaced with robotic parts. His brain is then injected with a neurocyte chip, almost completing the painful, stroggification process.