Did somebody say violent video games?
We get it. Gamers hear that Congress or the president or some old white guys are talking about violence in video games, and everyone seizes up and acts as though there's no such thing. It's natural to get a little defensive, but it doesn't help anyone to be dishonest about it. Video games are not inherently violent--just look at recent standouts like Animal Crossing: New Leaf or Gone Home. But let's stop pretending that there aren't some really, really violent video games out there. Instead of feigning that they don't exist, let's acknowledge them.
This isn't a contest of which game is the bloodiest, goriest, or has the highest body count. The games on this list tap into a brutality we didn't even know we possessed. And the discussion is bound to pick back up again. So to get it rolling, we're taking a good hard look at what are truly the most unsettingly violent games that coders have ever brought into the digital world...
It definitely wasnt everyones cup of tea, but to those that smirk at the sight of a pained gentleman clutching his freshly bullet-pierced gonads, Bulletstorm was pretty darn funny. If, on the other hand, youre not comfortable with assigning point values to outrageous gun violence, this FPS is liable to make you queasy. No matter how self-aware or absurdly humorous, theres no denying that this gorgeous shooter rewards you for thinking of increasingly complex ways to kill.
Every level was essentially an excuse to throw a parade of muscular mutants at the player, each doomed to die in an environmental hazard (electric fields, carnivorous plants, spiked walls) or be perforated by hot lead. Add in Grayson Hunts ability to yank enemies with his Energy Leash, or boot them into a slow-mo trajectory with his Gravity Boots, and the game became a macabre ballet of mangled, munition-filled corpses soaring towards oblivion. To complement the avant-garde premise, the dialogue included such thought-provoking lines as It's a murder party, starring me! and "What the dick!? That is one big bitch."
Games like Saw II: Flesh and Blood revolve around sickening death wrought by horrific, if not inventive, metal traps. But back in 1986, before we became so desensitized to abductees clawing out their own eyeballs for surgically implanted keys, Chiller was made for you to graphically mutilate digital prisoners in a venue as public as an arcade. This lightgun game was less a test of point-scoring skill and more like an excuse for sadists to get their sick jollies. Players are tasked with killing every living thing in a given diorama--settings like Torture Chamber and Rack Room. What that mainly entails is shooting the flesh off of defenseless prisoners, exposing rib cages and bright red viscera as your victims scream out in pain.
The most senseless thing about it, besides the fact that this game has no redeeming value, is that the settings become increasingly tame as you progress, going from human slaughterhouse to hallway from Scooby-Doo. Oh, and later versions censored out the nudity on a females beheaded torso in the background. Because God forbid we see pixelated nipples while dismembering helpless captives with bullets.
5. God of War III
Kratos crusade against the Greek gods was always about glorified fantasy violence. But the conclusion to the original GoW trilogy upped the ante, making us cringe at the copious gore in all new ways. Just when you thought youve seen every brutal execution brought on by a quick-time event, Kratos unleashes unseen works of primal savagery using fury as his muse and fleshy bodies as his canvas.
Curious about what it might feel like to be beaten to a bloody pulp? God of War III introduced death scenes experienced through the eyes of Kratos unfortunate, human punching bags. Of course, there was still the reliable suite of ruthless monsters fatalities--wrenching out Cyclops eyes, bursting out of a titans stomach, that sort of thing. But Kratos truly outdid his standards for barbarous carnage with his slaying of Helios, god of the sun. The player must mash buttons to slowly decapitate Helios, in order to keep his noggin as a progress-enabling souvenir. After laboriously pulling at the poor gods skull, youll have the pleasure of seeing the slow-motion separation of head from shoulders, slimy neck tendons and all.
4. Postal 2
Developer Running with Scissors wanted nothing more than to shock and appall people with its Postal franchise. Besides offering an assortment of racial stereotypes, projectile vomiting, and animal cruelty, Postal 2s chief purpose is to let the player assault, maim, and murder civilians without consequence. Postals pitch is that its only as violent as you are--but without the gratuitous violence, this would literally be a game about running mundane errands while people harangue you.
If your dream is to expel an endless stream of urine onto a strangers carcass, youre in luck--because thats what Postal 2 will likely devolve into within five minutes of playing. If straight-up cruelty is more your thing, this game is like a vicious playpen, enabling a multitude of grisly scenes that arent half as funny as the game thinks they are. Training your dog to play fetch with severed heads, shotgun-blasting a soccer moms cranium into a million bloody bits, gunning down a crudely rendered Gary Coleman (RIP)--its everything sociopaths have ever wanted in an open-world game.
3. Mortal Kombat (2011)
If parents were outraged over the Fatalities of the 90s Mortal Kombat games, they wouldve fainted at the mere sight of the modern reboots extremely detailed mutilation. The 2011 Mortal Kombat raised the series over-the-top gore to new heights, upping the graphic detail of the trademark Fatalities with little touches like persistent coats of crimson blood, ripped pieces of flesh and sinew, and glistening, sloshy innards. Even the most hardcore MK fan didn't know whether to cheer or feel grossed out.
Not content to stop at Fatalities, Netherrealm Studios also implemented a super attack in the form of the X-Ray Move. When activated, this high-risk-high-reward ability could trigger bone-crunching, marrow-loosening animations that showed a see-through view of all the bodily destruction, a la Three Kings. They reach such a level of brutality--eyes gouged, ribs cracked, spleens ruptured, spines broken--that it becomes almost laughable to see fighters not instantly die on the spot, regardless of their mortal or demigod heritage.
2. Soldier of Fortune
By modern standards, the gun violence in Soldier of Fortune seems positively tame. But its first-person, 3D-rendered cruelty packed a hell of a punch in 2000, with bleak violence that could make your stomach turn. It wasn't just that your gun could fill people with holes; thanks to the proprietary GHOUL engine, entire chunks of your victims could be blown clean off. And because each NPC was built with individual damage zones, their death animations would actually coincide with where you had shot them.
Gore is only as affecting as it is believable. The more outlandish it is, the less it affects you--but when another human figure lies twitching on the ground, gasping for air through aerated lungs, you suddenly realize you're not playing Quake anymore. Soldier of Fortune also had a tendency to bring out anyone's sadistic side, given how you could dissect bodies with bullets until they were nothing more than scattered limbs. Time spent defiling corpses in Soldier of Fortune is likely in direct correlation to potential for real-life serial killing.
Manhunts incredibly graphic violence can be summed up by a single word: callous. There is no humor to its multitude of grisly stealth kills. It never backs down from its gritty, grimy presentation as the game version of a snuff film. Like its emotionless protagonist James Earl Cash, Manhunt stares you in the face while it bludgeons you with an unending stream of brutality. Its viciousness makes Grand Theft Auto look like a franchise founded on societal norms.
What makes it so intensely disturbing is the accuracy of the kill animations. When you bash someone in the skull with the claw of a hammer, or hack off their head with a machete, or suffocate them with a plastic bag, it looks and sounds as close to reality as 2003 hardware could muster. The sequel's saving grace is that its antihero, Danny Lamb, is a conscience-stricken schizophrenic; Cash, on the other hand, feels no remorse for his victims. No other game in existence delivers such raw, unsettling violence--and very little of it has anything to do with guns.
So there you have it--the most violent games in existence, be they gory or chillingly realistic. At this point, we feel like we need 50 cc's of E-rated gaming, stat. Think we missed one? Do you scoff at the violence in any of the aforementioned games? Tell us about it in the comments.
And if you're looking for more, check out the Top 7... Lies games tell us about medicine (and staying alive) and Every Adults Only game in existence.