The Top 7... gut-wrenching choices

Free will is overrated. In the old days, videogame stories were completely and rigidly linear, not much more than interactive novels with the occasional puzzle or shooting spree to break things up. The developers held our hands, gently guiding us from point A to point B, and life was easy… if a little boring.

Now, everything’s complicated. Plotlines are deep and branching. Worlds are open to explore, and to change. Major characters are expendable. Side quests are optional, dialogue trees are intricate and endings are multiple. We are the authors of our own digital experiences.

Which sounds pretty great, until you reach one of those choices that you just know will affect the rest of the game. One of those choices with no obvious answer, but with a thousand possible ramifications. One of those choices that leaves you staring at the screen, paralyzed with stomach-churning indecision. Here are seven of them…

The choice: You’ve discovered a lost little girl, alone and helpless in a dark and dangerous place. She’s scared. She’s crying. She’s at your mercy. Will you help her find a way home? Or will you tear her into pieces with your bare and bloody hands? If this were any other setting, the decision would be obvious. In Rapture, however, nothing is ever as it seems…

The paralyzing thought process: Saving Little Sisters should be a guilt-free no-brainer, but as your new friend Atlas keeps pointing out, “Whatever you thought about right and wrong on the surface, well, that don’t count for much down here.” While you may want to rescue the girls, you definitely need to survive, and harvesting the slugs inside their bodies makes that easier.

Above: Actually, both of these options look pretty painful...

Besides, who’s to say they’re so innocent anyway? You’ve seen them plunge dagger-sized needles into rotting corpses, for chrissakes. They hang out with murderous drill monsters. Tenenbaum, their supposed savior, was the one who created them to begin with. Maybe killing the Sisters is actually the smart – and safe – thing to do.

Still, though… they’re just lost little girls.

The aftermath: By game’s end, the “correct” choice is clear and irrefutable. Rescue the Little Sisters and you die a loved and respected man. Harvest and you’re basically Hitler. Oh, and all those extra resources? You get every plasmid and weapon whether you go evil or not. Whoops!

The choice: This RPG doesn’t waste any time. Important, impactful decisions that will affect the entire adventure are thrown at you from the moment your character is born. Literally. So of course the game is going to put the fate of the very first city – and the lives of all its residents – in your rookie hands as soon as you step out the Vault door.

The paralyzing thought process: Within a couple minutes of entering Megaton, the town foolishly built atop a dormant nuclear bomb, Sheriff Lucas Simms is asking you to save it. He seems like an honest fellow, and after meeting friendly, quirky folks like Moira the mechanic and Gob the ghoul, you’ll definitely feel inclined to defuse the situation.

On the other hand… how often do you get to f***ing nuke a whole f***ing city?

Mr. Burke, a visiting businessman, would rather you detonated the bomb instead. He’s creepy, suspicious, condescending and offering a rather measly 500 bottle caps for the total annihilation of every new acquaintance you’ve just made. Plus, the evil deed will result in a karma loss of 1000 – the lowest you can sink in the game.

On the other hand… how often do you get to f***ing nuke a whole f***ing city?

The aftermath: Pretty much what you’d expect. Megaton is either still there, or it isn’t. The population either respects and adores you, or they’re too dead to care. There’s either a new safehouse in town, or a swankier new safehouse at Burke’s employer’s place. Moira lives on as either a mechanic, or a flesh-dripping ghoul mechanic. The crucial difference is you. Did you just decide to play the rest of Fallout 3 as a saint, or as a sinner?


Top 7


  • EwoksTasteLikeChicken - April 21, 2011 11:24 a.m.

    What about Mass Effect? I chose to save Ashley instead of Kaiden.
  • shravanraja - January 30, 2011 3:18 p.m.

    Infamous had a lot of choices to make too which greatly affected the games outcome. For example, you could have either give a group of hungry people food, or zap them and take it all for yourself. =P
  • Voltaire - December 9, 2010 5:13 p.m.

    I dont remember any choice in Shivering Isles
  • Gsindahouse - June 8, 2010 1:07 a.m.

    Or just pick nobody and get the Cocona Ending! But good luck beating Raki before the game freezes w/o anyones super song magic/Replakia.
  • dannage805 - October 19, 2009 11:04 p.m.

    portal has meaningful choices and dilemmas? lol i just blew up megaton 2day, dat shits unreal
  • petrolboy - September 21, 2009 11:50 a.m.

    What about Half Life one. That's pretty defining...
  • GameManiac - September 15, 2009 2:48 a.m.

    The number one pick could not have been more one-sided. And I know that from experience.
  • KayRedd - August 31, 2009 8:25 p.m.

    One choice I had to make was in Lost Magic (NDS). The choice comes halfway through the game, where you either give the bad guy the wand (which your father told you was the only thing which could stop her) and save your friend (bad guy's sister) or keep the wand and let her die. I obviously thought you HAD to keep the wand, i didn't know there was a real choice! So I gave her the wand, she kills your friend, you start going crazy, bad guy turns you into a phsycotic mess with clever word-play, and ends up turning you into a slave for which you spend the rest of the game killing all the friends that helped you..... FUN!
  • MassEffectfan - August 17, 2009 4:57 p.m.

    Mass Effect should have made it on here. Its choices are totally better than some of these. Like Kaidan or Ashley or the Council or Soverign. Plus the effs of these choices effect the second game.
  • zuse315 - August 9, 2009 12:21 p.m.

    How is Mass Effect NOT in here???
  • Black_X_1111 - August 6, 2009 12:33 a.m.

    You forgot Black & White, and to a lesser extent, all the other strategy games out there. And a lot of mmorpgs.
  • 11englj - July 20, 2009 3:37 p.m.

    I always kill Francis McReary because that asshole always deserves to die, or atleast in my mind he does
  • Warhead1997 - July 19, 2009 8:12 p.m.

  • theodo1997 - July 15, 2009 9:41 p.m.

    they should have had fire emblem, whether to restart when one of your guys die or to continue on without them. that bugs me every time!
  • _D-Man_ - June 24, 2009 6 p.m.

    lmfao pokemon got number 1 captcha: times rein
  • baconfacemilomonster - May 28, 2009 5:11 a.m.

    damn that ghoul is moira is HOT! love me some of that bald dead chick action
  • HRhuffnstuff - May 27, 2009 8:10 p.m.

    I believe the other choices in Grand Theft Auto aer much greater than the two yuo've chosen. Kill a ghost that has haunted you or let him lead his miserable life? Get lots of money for you and Roman or get revenge on some who wants you dead? Those were way worse than the others.
  • deathhunter - May 18, 2009 3:20 a.m.

    you guys forgot about Silent Hill Homecoming. When your in the jail and you find your mother tied to a machine straight out of a Saw movie. You either shoot her between the eyes, or watch as shes ripped in two pieces screaming in agony.
  • xXxKohakuxXx - May 17, 2009 8:33 p.m.

    in GTA 4 kill play boy,you get his house and dwayne will be your freind Dwayne's ability is to send you two gangsters that will protect you (also you get an outfit that the main character wore in GTA 3)
  • Blinder - May 12, 2009 11:59 p.m.

    You forgot The Suffering

Showing 1-20 of 148 comments

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