I royally screwed up Baldur's Gate 3 by playing as a Dark Urge. Not because I don't enjoy being unnecessarily evil in games – on the contrary, it's one of my favorite things to do. But as I stride into Moonrise Towers with nothing but three companions by my side, staring down about 90 enemies in total, I can almost feel my whole party's knees begin to buckle. I'm about to learn the hard way that there is a big, big reason developer Larian Studios suggests against doing exactly what I currently am: playing Dark Urge on your very first time.
Being bad feels oh-so good at times in this game, especially when you get rewarded for it with unique gear, a behemoth form, and even your own butler. But in Baldur's Gate 3, the consequences can be truly dire. My Dark Urge playthrough is the first time I've ever felt truly rotten to my absolute core while playing an RPG, the first time I've stared at my screen agape at the outcomes of some of my heinous actions. It's true: I killed some powerful allies at the behest of my Dark Urge, and all I got were some lousy items. And guess what? I'd do it all again.
Warning: Spoilers for Baldur's Gate 3 until the end of Act 2
Nice guys finish last
Check out our Baldur's Gate 3 review and see what GR+ makes of it.
I'm plagued by a sickening sense that maybe I'm not cut out for the bad guy life after all. Few games make you face that truth quite like Baldur's Gate 3. The Dark Urge version of the main campaign is proof of the writers' sheer prowess, creating a playable villain that feels alternately fun and horrifying as you move through the story.
For starters, the game is very good at making me forget my conscience. Choosing the nastiest options feels quite easy at times – logical, fluid, natural to my character. I give in to my Urge and execute the sweet cleric, Isobel, protector of the Last Light Inn and a potential major player for Act 2's endgame. This is something I do entirely on a whim, just to see what might happen. I'm playing Dark Urge, after all; I owe it to myself to see it through.
That is, of course, until I'm reminded of said conscience with a rip-roaring punch to the gut. Killing Isobel was easy enough, especially being a four-versus-one fight. It's not until I go toe-to-toe with her dear old dad, Ketheric Thorm, that I find a note on his corpse. "Papa, love you. Iz," it reads. Ouch.
It's small touches like these that show just how lovingly the writers have penned every outcome of its frankly baffling, sprawling array of choices. Murdering Isobel and everyone at the Last Light Inn – including potential companion Jaheira – is certainly not what you want to do in a good playthrough. But as a Dark Urge, Baldur's Gate 3 can still feel rewarding when you do the bleakest of things.
The boy is mine
I'm usually quite happy to indulge my Dark Urge, but I draw the line when little goblin butler Sceleteritas Fel tries to get me to off my own beau. I'll admit it: Wyll was not my first choice when it comes to matters of my cold, evil heart, but since I had to kill Karlach's infernal mechanic and she's technically never going to be able to touch me at all, I figure why the hell not? A Dark Urge monk like myself can do a lot worse than the Blade of Frontiers. Plus, having a devil for a boyfriend sounds kind of badass.
When Sceleritas comes to visit at the dead of night and tells me I'm about to kill my favorite companion, I decide I'm having none of that. Fancy cape be damned, I'm not about to murder the only person in this entire camp who actually finds me decent. What happens next is one of the most stressful, heart-in-my-throat sequences of any game I've ever played.
I wake Wyll up and tell him of Sceleritas' prophecy: that if I fall asleep, I will try to kill him. I need to land a series of high-stakes saving throws in order to keep from doing so, holding my Urge back lest it consume me and tear out his throat. Wyll soothes me all the while, and for a moment, I consider that maybe his smug one-eyed face really would look better torn off. His annoying nature is somehow a part of his charm, though, so I keep fighting it. The next few moments pass feverishly as I claw my way back from the brink before finally falling asleep.
I wake up the next day, and Wyll is alive. I am alive, Scratch the dog is alive, and so is everyone else. Well, everyone except Isobel Thorm. And Alfira, the passionate tiefling bard I tore apart in cold blood. And everyone I had originally rescued at Emerald Grove in Act 1 and was later forced to kill at Last Light. Still, I'm proud of myself for not gutting my boyfriend.
By holding myself back, even just that once, the layers of complexity added to my Dark Urge feel monumentally important, and that's a reward in itself. Will I reject my bloodthirsty nature going ahead, or is it time to embrace my role as a true-born Slayer? I'm not yet sure. Some things in Baldur's Gate 3 are worth killing for, but the writers never let you forget that balance is the key to any good story.