Violence is a staple in all forms of media; from classical literature and Shakespearian plays, to death metal, and horror movies. Video games are no exception, with the majority of video games focusing heavily on violence as a plot device, gameplay mechanic, or, in some cases, as the games sole purpose for existing. Not that there's anything wrong with that. After all, we'd rather it be fictional violence on the screen as opposed to real violence on the streets, right?
With violence being a mainstay of entertainment since, forever, there will obviously be a few examples in each form of media that may have gone a little too far. An extra bucket of blood here, a generous handful of brains there, and more weapons than you can empty a drum clip at. Due to the interactive nature of video games, the extremely violent ones seem to catch a lot of negativity — usually to gamers' delight and to the media's disdain. Regardless of your interpretation of violence and its presence in video games, one thing is for certain, it's not going anywhere anytime soon. With that said, let's hop into the 15 Most Violent Games Ever Made! Those with weak constitutions or who take offense with a harmless pastime may want to find some pearls to clutch.
15 God Of War (Series)
Ah, Kratos. Perhaps the angriest video game protagonist of all time, Kratos’s M.O. is slaughtering everything he comes across with little to no interaction besides extreme violence. Half disturbingly brutal and half comically over the top, the violence in the God of War series has always been a cornerstone for fans of the Ghost of Sparta’s killing sprees.
Violence can range from cutting off Hermes’ legs to take his winged shoes, to the extremely visceral quick time events used to eviscerate and maim larger enemies. Kratos rips Helios’s head off with his bare hands for god’s sake. That scene alone is enough to make even the most experienced gore hound’s stomach turn.
14 Dead Space (Series)
An excellent survival horror series, the Dead Space games deliver on the violence and gore in spades. You would never suspect a game that literally has the message “CUT OFF THEIR LIMBS” painted on a mirror in blood to be one of the most violent ever made. Focusing on Isaac Clark, an incredibly unfortunate space engineer, and his horrific war against a grotesque race of aliens called necromorphs, the game focuses on extremely violent gun play in space.
The main method to bring down enemies is to sever their limbs using a variety of repurposed mining tools. The blood and guts fly through the air as Isaac butchers his way brutally through swarms of mutated human abominations. The Dead Space series is one of the most outstanding, and violent, examples of survival horror in the last decade. Except Dead Space 3; that game really sucks.
13 Manhunt (Series)
Rockstar’s over the top murder sim, the Manhunt series is well known for its violence and stomach churning executions. Creep out of the shadows and slink behind an unsuspecting baddy with a weapon and the lock-on reticle will change colors depending on how long you hold the attack button down. Say you’re using a plastic bag to bring down an unsuspecting foe. Your regular execution will be a brief, but the incredibly disturbing attack that asphyxiates your foe with said bag. Hold down the attack button until the reticle flashes red and the attack is much more severe, ending in the bag-headed baddy having his head beaten in while suffocating.
12 Splatterhouse (Series)
A retro series remembered fondly by all those who’ve played it, followed by a less than satisfying reboot in the 2000s, the Splatterhouse series was the epitome of violence in the retro era. Following hockey masked protagonist Rick on a quest to save his kidnapped girlfriend, players will slay hellish beasts with a vicious arsenal of weapons and gore splattering moves.
Chainsaws can be used to cut enemies into pieces, bosses feast on flesh in a room of desiccated human corpses, and brains and blood splatter just about everywhere that you look. Like most retro titles, the games can seem pretty subdued compared to the gore-drenched modern day video game industry, but it still remains in my eyes as one of the most violent, gruesome series that exists today.
11 Grand Theft Auto (Series)
Starting with the first two iterations in the now infamous series, Grand Theft Auto's violence was always egregious. It wasn't until the third entry in the series that the media started perking up. Enter the first third-person action entry in Grand Theft Auto III, and the world went wild. Enemies could be shot, stabbed, and beaten to death. The news was rife with reports of children being able to witness lewd sexual acts with in-game prostitutes before running them over or beating them to death with baseball bats.
Often used as a cornerstone in the “violent video games cause violent behavior” debate, Rockstar has done little to tone down the themes in its smash hit Grand Theft Auto series. Grand Theft Auto V allowed players to participate in new forms of debauchery, depicting torture, over the top violence, and allowing players to be a creep in general.
10 Resident Evil (Series)
The best survival-horror series of all time, the Resident Evil games are some of the bloodiest games to have ever been made. I still remember my first time popping in the original Resident Evil and being treated to a screen warning me of the intense violence and gore I was about to be subjected to. Still, a warning didn’t prepare me for the amount of zombie-fueled gore I was about to experience.
Even the original was overly violent, as zombie dogs ripped mercilessly at my appendages and Barry popped zombie heads with well-placed magnum rounds like ripe melons filled with firecrackers. The series' violence only increased as it went on, all for the better of the franchise; Resident Evil 7 wouldn’t be so darn fantastic without all the extremely violent and bloody subject matter.
9 Tomb Raider
A series that debuted on the original PlayStation and was more well known for environmental puzzles and preposterously boxy boobs has taken an extremely violent twist circa 2013. The Tomb Raider reboot, cleverly named Tomb Raider, saw a much more realistic take on the T-Rex slaying days of the series' past.
Stranded on an island with her ship’s crew and a gang of crazed, cannibalistic mercenaries, Laura Croft has no choice but to violently butcher her way through the twisted jungle and ancient ruins to discover the secret of an ancient sun god. Not only are the kills and gunplay extremely visceral and gory; there is a particular scene where Laura is forced to wade through a river of blood and hacked off limbs. I didn’t feel clean for a week, despite repeated showers.
8 Mortal Kombat (Series)
The first series that most overzealous politicians and pearl clutching housewives will think of when “violence in video games” is brought up, Mortal Kombat is tame by today’s standards. Originally released when violent video games and their effects on the children that played them was the center of a media firestorm, Mortal Kombat was pretty bloody.
Buckets of blood flew out of characters even at the lightest jab, fatalities were brutal and graphic, and environmental fatalities showed characters impaled on spikes or ground into giblets. The violence only increased as the series evolved, with Mortal Kombat X showing slow motion x-rays that would make a serial killer's eyes water.
An uncharacteristically violent Wii game, MadWorld is one of the most violent games ever released on a Nintendo console. The game follows a contestant on “DeathWatch,” a game show devoted to killing and destruction. The game also bears a resemblance to Sin City, as the whole game is in black and white, with the buckets of red gore being the only other color in the game.
MadWorld takes advantage of the Wii’s unique remote and Nunchuck attachment, allowing players to pull off gruesome finishers with a swipe through the air to simulate a chainsaw cutting through a foe. The game’s violence is extremely over the top, making it a serious oddity for a friendly family company like Nintendo.
6 Condemned: Criminal Origins
One of the scariest games that I’ve ever played (those damn mannequins!), Condemned: Criminal Origins is essentially a homeless beating simulator. Following a crime investigation agent and his descent into madness in his attempts to catch a serial killer, the game features up close brutal melee combat that is carried out with whatever can be found in the environment.
Enemies are beaten to death with the likes of rebar, pipes, and occasionally a gun. Guns are only found with a few rounds in them, and the protagonist’s aim isn’t the best, making melee a must. There are few things as brutal as chopping a crazed crack head down in a bloody spray using the bladed arm of a rusty paper cutter.
5 Killing Floor 2
One of the best Co-Op shooters ever made, Killing Floor 2 isn’t shy about its extremely violent nature. Using developer Tripwire’s patented M.E.A.T. system (Massive Evisceration and Trauma), enemies are essentially walking bags of gore, waiting to be popped by one of the game's many weapons.
Killing Floor 2 also keeps all the blood spilled during a match, and there is a lot, sprayed all over the environment and the participating mercenaries. You can literally paint entire areas of the map in blood, making them nigh unrecognizable. The inclusion of Zed Time, bullet time that triggers when someone does something stand out during a match, means that players can watch the M.E.A.T. system work in slow motion as heads come apart with disturbingly intricate detail.
4 Postal 2
The first-person follow-up to the isometric shooter that featured a schizophrenic trying to shoot up an elementary school, developer Running With Scissors' Postal series always shows up in talks about violence in video games. The plot follows The Postal Dude through a regular week fraught with errands such as pissing on his father’s grave, picking up pills to cure his raging case of gonorrhea, and killing Gary Coleman.
Honestly, I used to play the hell out of this game when I was younger, mostly because of the heavy-handed shock value and mindless violence. Not only is the game lewd plot wise but also is steeped in gore and death. Postal 2 also pokes fun at societal and game industry issues in surprisingly insightful ways at some points, which is instantly overshadowed by the over the top violence that is so extreme, it borders on the line of being silly. Even though you can beat the game without killing anyone, the game goads gamers in the direction of senseless violence.
3 Soldier Of Fortune (Series)
One of the first games to feature graphic dismemberment, Soldier Of Fortune was a typical subpar shooter that really only stood out for its gore.
The game featured the ability to blow off the limbs of enemies down to bloody stumps, and headshots sprayed gore and chunks of skulls everywhere. Not to mention the shots to the gut that would expose shredded intestines amongst a gushing fountain of blood. Again, this doesn’t sound like much compared to the ultra-violent features of today’s games, but its release in seventeen years ago means that it was the talk of the town among gamers focused on overly bloody gunplay.
2 Doom (Series)
The scapegoat for all teenage violence in the early 90s, the Doom series was largely blamed for the Columbine School Shooting in 1999 and almost all other adolescent violence in the following years. Putting gamers in the boots of a marine tasked with cleaning the demon presence out of a space station on Mars, Doom was extremely gore filled for an early 90s computer game.
Pixelated demons being blasted into bloody pulp may be docile compared to some of the offerings on today’s video game market, including Bethesda's excellent reboot, but when the original Doom was released in 1993 it made waves in gaming communities and the media for its “graphic” depictions of shooting and death.
1 Hotline Miami (Series)
What will initially appear to most as a top down acid trip gone wrong, the Hotline Miami series features some of the most brutal gameplay set to the throbbing base of club music. The gameplay is full of frantic and furious violence where one wrong step results in your own bloody dismemberment.Enemies are slain by multiple masked assailants, their brains smashed across the floor in greasy swaths, decapitated with the single stroke of a blade, or left kicking on the floor, their heads leaking all types of blood. The violence is never sub-par in the Hotline Miami series; nearly every aspect of the game is soaked in psychedelic violence with extreme amounts of gore and gibs.