5 Games That Make You Feel Like A Bastard
Storytelling in games is evolving to new grounds. I believe in the days of
bong Pong, people would have never expected gaming to be so ambitious when it came to narrative, plot and general literary grandeur. It’s become such a formidable force that games have been nominated for awards because of their stories alone. If that’s not evolution, then I’m Charles Darwin’s goofy cousin. The core principle that sets gaming apart from other storytelling mediums is the simple fact that you are in control of the main character (and sometimes characters) as the story progresses and introduces concepts and plot devices.
Okay, enough with the technical mambo-jumbo, let’s discuss the title of this feature. It’s as plain and easy as a small town girl with daddy issues. There are games out there that make you feel like an absolute bastard. Whether it’s making difficult choices or following a scripted path, there are games where after you did the action, you hold your head and say to yourself: “Damn, that sucked.” This generally happens because these actions conflict with your personal morals and unless you’re a sociopath, you will feel some sort of negative emotion. It’s certainly not easy to make any type of choice, especially if that choice is whether someone lives or dies. Simply put, it can make you feel like a bastard.
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1. Mass Effect
Throughout our adventures with the intergalactic man-whore, Shepard, there are many choices that simply get thrown onto his shoulders and unfortunately none of them are easy. Well, except the decision to go into combat in shocking pink gear. It’s a questionable decision, but it’s an easy one. Barring shocking pink helmets, there’s a lot of difficult decisions that our beloved commander must make. Whether it’s the fate of a squad member or the fate of an entire race. These are not easy decisions to make whatsoever and when you, the player, make them you start feeling regret, remorse and in some cases even depression. It doesn’t help that a variety of different NPC’s will continuously question those choices and make you feel like an absolute ponce for making them, even if they were the best one.
Mass Effect is truly a forerunner in the field of epic storylines with so many characters, locations, cultures and ideals that it would make your head spin faster than that time EDI and Joker got drunk together and thought the Normandy was a bowling ball. Its ability to make you feel like a dick for making certain choices is extremely admirable, where it’s an experience to behold how haunting these can become. Dammit Mordin.
2. The Walking Dead
Telltale’s magnum opus certainly took us all by surprise. A while ago I had 400 MSP lying around with nothing to spend it on, where I then saw the first episode of this game going for that price. I thought “screw it” and bought the thing. I played it and thought: “Hmm this could be interesting.” I guess you might say I’m a hipster when it comes to this certain game because I played it far before it was cool. With the following episodes, we all got the shock of our gaming lives. The game’s strong and emotional storytelling has driven grown ass men to tears. So how can this brilliantly designed game make you feel like a bastard?
Quite simply, actually: it gives you impossible choices. Not impossible in the way where it’s physically impossible to make a choice, but rather choices where regardless of what you chose, there is no positive outcome. A good amount of these choices come back to haunt you later in the game when characters question you and some outright resent you. You are then left to willow in remorse and regret. There’s always that question in the back of your mind: “Did I really make the right choice?” And that’s why it’s so powerful in its ability to make you feel like a douchebag.
Catherine is a game that I wished more people experienced. Its relentless puzzles and strange style can put a lot of people off, but if you’re one of the lucky few that actually played it then you will agree with me. The game has this habit of making you feel like a pitiful excuse of a human being. The main character, Vincent, is constantly tormented by decisions and certain actions that blurs the line between black and white. You have two primary pathways that you can follow in the game and neither one is more right than the other one. Do you live a life of guilty freedom or shackled security? It’s a tough predicament and regardless of which one you choose, you will always have this nagging regret feeling in your head.
The “chaos” path of the game does a better job of making you feel like a douche because you have to ignore your morals and be a selfish asshole. It’s interesting how you feel these emotions of betrayal and remorse even if it isn’t so bad to begin with. Do yourself a favour and procure this game somehow. You will not regret it.
4. Dragon Age: Origins
The first Dragon Age puts you in the shoes of a random, mute elf/human/dwarf, where that one lowly warrior has to decide the fate of many and set a course of events that might not always be pleasant. The game explores many areas of fantasy lore such as elven cultures, werewolves and dwarven hierarchy. This sets the ground for a game so full of context that the choices you make carry a bigger impact than other fantasy forms. There’s major events where you have to decide the fate of thousands of people, and these choices are far from easy. There’s also slightly less important choices you make that don’t carry much weight in the grand scheme of things, but can affect many individuals nonetheless.
The feeling of bastardness is severely evident in this game because there are hundreds of people that can shun and despise you for your choices. An excellent example can be the one act where you have to decide which house gets to be the new royalty of the dwarves. Now, you have to understand that the dwarven houses are worse than the Republicans and Democrats of America. They have constant battles and disagreements and then the choice of who gets the reigns are given to you. One way or another, you’re going to piss people off. Isn’t it amazing?
5. Spec Ops: The Line
This is the king of making you feel like a relentless bastard. I’ve only recently played the game and the events are still fresh in my mind. The way the story played out was so powerful in it’s ability to make you feel so horrible that I suffered a small bout of depression after I finished it. The events in the game are of such a nature that it makes you question yourself, your moral guidance and even the trust between character and player. This is a one of a kind experience and if you brushed this game off as yet another generic shooter, then I feel sorry for you.
There were instances in the game where I sat back, put my hands on my head and said to myself: “What have I done?” That’s powerful. And this is coming from the guy that slaughtered an entire bar full of people in Fallout 3 and put their body parts on a pool table for laughs. The remorse and regret that you feel in this game is so intense that you are constantly left speechless. Especially after the game’s chilling conclusion. A work of art.
You might have noticed a pattern throughout the games that are mentioned. The word that is most used is “choice”. Choice can either be harmless or completely insane with repercussions, consequences and dire effects. It’s amazing how we as gamers have the ability to make these choices even if they are completely out of our comfort zone. Some of them make us feel like bastards and some of them make us feel like heroes, but in the end, someone always loses.