Damned if you do
Games are full of hard choices. I've been forced to pick which ally to save or which path to take, and sometimes that choice just seems obvious. Other times, however, the consequences aren't so clear cut. I may think Im doing the right thing, then all of a sudden the rug is swept out from under me and Im contemplating restarting my entire playthrough.
The scenarios I present to you here are perfect examples of choices in video games with ZERO good results. Both choices come with severe consequences, with neither scenario really being the better of the two. Its decisions like these that make morality systems effective, because if every outcome was easy to choose, that'd just be lame. These are some of the toughests choices a game has forced us to make, and because this feature deals with the fallout of choices, consider this your spoiler warning.
The end of Mass Effect 3
The most infamous choice on the list (well, outside of the one in Infamous--hey-o!) is the ending to Mass Effect 3. You've probably heard jokes and read forum post after forum post about how this was the suckiest bunch of suck that ever sucked. Opinions on the quality of the content aside, the in-game choice Shepard has to make here is, for lack of a better term, pretty shitty. Those who defend the ending maintain that having only bad options is an artistic decision--sometimes, things just suck. Not every choice has you ending with you consorting with aliens.
You can choose to have Shepard take control of the synthetic Reapers, fusing his mind and soul with them but killing his physical body. You can choose to destroy the Reapers, but unless you did a ton of prep work and side quests, Shepard dies in the ensuing Citadel explosion. Theres also sacrificing Shepard to fuse organics and synthetics together into a single, galactic master race, or just being a petulant child and doing nothing, thus restarting the cycle of destruction. No matter what you choose, the character you've been grooming over the entire trilogy wont make it out, and while heroic, it also really sucks. Thanks for everything Shepard, time to die now.
Doug or Carley in The Walking Dead Season One
Telltales The Walking Dead forces me to make a lot of choices Im not particularly fond of. Who wants to have to choose whether or not to chop his own arm off? Or how about poor Clementines canine dilemma in the first episode of Season Two? However, one of the most tragic decisions comes in the very first episode of the game: Doug or Carley?
Saving Doug keeps a sharp mind within the group of survivors for future big decisions. Keeping Carley means Ill have better defenses if I get attacked later on. Its a harrowing decision, but whatever I decide to do is rendered moot by Episode 3, when the whoever was spared is unceremoniously shot in the head by a deranged woman named Lily after an argument on the side of the road. Awesome. Im glad the person for whom I sacrificed another human being didnt last the entire season. Go to hell, Lilly.
Alex's motherly dilemma in Silent Hill: Homecoming
In a game rife with disgusting consequences, the scene with Alexs mother might be the most harrowing of them all. Alex finds dear ol mum strapped to a device straight out of a Saw movie, and said contraption will eventually pull her apart. She gives Alex a speech about how its not his fault and that she loves him, but the pain is too much and she needs help. The game then asks you to solve the problem: you can either watch the machine take the mothers life or you can SHOOT HER IN THE HEAD and end her suffering before the machine can.
What the hell kind of choice is this? Its bad enough that I have to watch the protagonist's mother die, but theres NO way I can get her out of that contraption?!? I just have to accept the fact that shes going to die and choose to do it myself? I should have expected nothing less from the Silent Hill franchise, but this particular choice made me put down the controller for a bit and walk away.
Choosing where to investigate first in The Wolf Among Us
Another of Telltales successful episodic franchises, The Wolf Among Us, has its own slew of difficult decisions, but the hardest choices to make are sometimes the most subtle. A few times during the noirish adventure Bigby must choose to investigate one of multiple locations, and while the choice seems innocuous at first, theres actually a lot of weight to them hiding in the shadows.
Picking one location over another means that by the time the second location is visited, clues could be missing or potential people of interest are no longer at the location. Its an interesting and surprisingly realistic twist on in-game crime solving, as the investigative choices I make have consequences I dont normally deal with in games. As the choices keep appearing, you know you're sacrificing some clue or information in your decision, you just hope the one you pick costs you the least.
Killing the last Sasquatch in Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare
A lot of these choices have some pretty heavy consequences, but none of the scenarios on this list are as heartbreaking as John Marston versus the Sasquatch in Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare. An optional Stranger mission has you killing Sasquatches in the Tall Tress section of the map, but once you reach the final Bigfoot, the story takes a crazy turn--crazy even by the standards of this intentionally oddball DLC.
We eat berries and mushrooms, you fool. Or we did. None of us left. Some maniac's been murdering us. I'm the last one of my kind. We've lived in these hills for a thousand years... My family is gone. My kind is gone... The last Sasquatch then begs you to kill him and end his suffering, but you can choose to leave him to live out his daysas the last of his kind. Either way his species ends with him and its all your fault. Congratulations! Youre a one-man Sasquatch Armageddon. Maybe next time, John Marston won't just kill a bunch of people because a someone he never met before told him to.
Save the church or save your friends in Far Cry 2
Far Cry 2 put me in one hell of a working for the greater good scenario. During an ambush in the Leboa-Sako region of the game, I have to choose between protecting a church or saving a group of mercenaries Ive befriended who are trapped in a bar and surrounded by enemies. Do I do the right thing and help the innocent people of the village in the church, or should I focus on my own mission and keep the mercs alive?
Its a tough decision to make, though either way I dont come out much better on the other side. I either have the blood of a town filled with innocent people on my hands or I lose some of the support from mercenaries that I'll need for the battles to come. Both choices will end in death and sacrifice, its just a matter of figuring out which loss is more affordable. I dont envy the man Im controlling one bit.
Save the doctors or save Trish in Infamous
Few video game villains have raised my blood pressure like Kessler from the original Infamous. Forget purposefully detonating the Ray Sphere in Coles hands or crafting an army of enhanced soldiers to take Cole out after he became a Conduit. Kessler's worst offense is the devious trick he plays on Cole during one of the games most pivotal moments.
Cole must choose between saving a team of doctors from falling off the top of a building or saving his girlfriend Trish from the same fate. The good choice ends with Cole saving the doctors and Trish falling, telling Cole how proud she is of him before she succumbs to her injuries. The evil choice ends with Cole saving his love who is a fake. Trish is on the other building with the doctors, they all fall to their deaths, and Trish instead tells Cole what a jackass hes become before succumbing. It's a bit cheap that Trish in only fake when you choose her, but Trish dies either way and Cole has all the more reason to smash Kesslers stupid face in. Still, kind of unfair, no?
Classic or Casual Mode in Fire Emblem Awakening
Hooray, youve just gotten your hands on Fire Emblem: Awakening, the excellent strategy RPG from Nintendo and Intelligent Systems! You slap it in your 3DS, watch the introduction sequence, then begin the campaign but not before making a crucial choice. Will you play Casual, where all of your units stay with you regardless if they fall in battle, or will you turn permadeath on in Classic mode?
I found this choice to be way more difficult than it would seem on the surface. I want the full Fire Emblem experience, and the only way to get that is in Classic Mode, but I HATE losing powerful units forever to stupid mistakes or having to reboot a save, so Casual might make more sense. It took me a really long time to finally decide on Classic, and then it took me losing Kellam in his first battle to start over on Casual. Call me a noob if you want, but I I probably had more fun without permadeath hanging over my head.
Saving your daughter or saving your crew in Kane and Lynch: Dead Men
The tumultuous relationship between Kane and Lynch should have been a sign that the game wasnt going to turn out the way I wanted it to, but man if that ending didnt piss me off anyway. Kane must choose between leaving with the daughter he sent out to save or stay in a shootout to try and save a few of his mercenary buddies. No matter what he does, Kane is screwed either way.
If he chooses to stay, he is only able to save one of his friends (who ends up dying elsewhere anyhow) and his daughter is shot during the escape. Just great. But the alternative isn't much better, as he successfully rescues his daughter, only for her to HATE HIM FOR LEAVING HIS CREW BEHIND. The poor guy is just trying to save his family, but even when he wins he loses. Whats a career criminal to do?
...damned if you dont.
Theres a lot of crazy choices to be made here, and none of them really turn out the way I wanted them to, but Ill continue to make the tough choices. Part of the fun is seeing where your choices take you, right? (In games anyway--real life ones are another story.)
For more of the GamesRadar good stuff, you should choose to read the Top 7 amazing mechanics in mediocre games, or maybe take a gander at 10 games so profane theyll make your f**king mother blush.