Violence is not the way
There are hundreds of games that ask you to eviscerate, gun down, and blow up every life form that you see. At this point, we're all cold-blooded murderers in the virtual world - just think of your kill count at the end of any given action game. It's not uncommon for charming, likable video game heroes to have their hands soaked with gallons of blood by the end of their adventures.
But violence isn't the only way! Some games - even the most brutal ones - actually let you take the pacifist route. You can avoid conflicts, sneak past your enemies, and find alternate paths completely, seemingly breaking from gaming's tradition of force-feeding you bodies to desecrate. Sometimes it's obvious, sometimes you could finish the game without even knowing that nonviolence was an option. Here are the seven most brutal, peaceful examples.
The Fallout series has always afforded a great deal of freedom for solving conflicts your way. Most players opt to dissuade any opposition with a hail of bullets, but there's usually a dialogue option to resolve some disputes, where silver-tongued Vault dwellers can coax (or manipulate) people into reasonable compromises. But calm negotiations aren't always an option in Fallout 4 - unless you've got the gumption to channel the peaceful patience and persistence of Ghandi in a zero kill run that bends the rules of the game.
Certain moments in Fallout 4 force the player to kill, but Kyle 'The Weirdest' Hinckley managed to circumvent those fated executions, and on the hardest difficulty level of Survival, no less. Hostile raiders, mutated roaches, killer robots - they're all safe when Hinckley's high-Charisma character Dizzy is around, though he might have to turn a blind eye to other NPCs doing the murderous dirty work. It's just as impressive as the time someone completed Fallout 3 as a baby.
Garrett is a thief, not a cold-blooded killer. At the end of the day, the skulking hero from the Thief series just wants to get home with his pockets full of loot; he doesn't really want to kill a bunch of average joe guards working the night shift. They're just trying to pay the bills. He gets that.
In the latest Thief, Garrett always has the option to plug a few arrows into an enemy's brain if he wants. And honestly, we can understand why; It's tempting to become the angel of death, hiding in the shadows and filling the streets with the dead. But it is completely possible to get through the entire game without ever claiming a life. In fact, the game's built-in ranking system encourages it. Being a stealth-based game means players will want to strive for a Ghost ranking in every mission. Even the bosses have non-lethal options, allowing you to sneak out of a battle instead of fighting to the bitter end.
Faith is just a messenger, not a killer. Well, actually, she could be a killer if you wanted her to be - play violently and Faith can use here parkour skills and combat abilities to swipe guard's firearms and blow their faces off. She can be a serial killer, if you're so inclined to play her in that fashion.
But it doesn't have to be that way. Faith can get through every obstacle and escape any situation without a soul ever being harmed. The game even rewards you with the "Test of Faith" achievement, which requires you to not kill anyone with a firearm though kicking a cop off a building rooftop won't count against you. Still, you don't have to boot any cops off any 100 story skyscrapers if you don't want to.
You're playing an assassin in Dishonored, and that means you can be as bloodthirsty as you want. You can run out into the open swinging your sword like a maniac, casting magic spells, lopping off the heads of guards, and feeding them to ravenous rats. You could be an outright maniac. Or you can sneak by every enemy and accomplish your mission as if you had never been around at all.
Not even your intended assassination targets actually need to be eliminated. If you play your cards right, explore the environment, and uncover your target's dirty secrets, they don't need to die at all. Instead you could send them off to prison or subject them to a fate much worse than death (aka, having them captured by a secret admirer).
Mark of the Ninja
Many of the best stealth games often allow for playthroughs requiring zero kills, and Mark of the Ninja is no different. Though you can use your sword to flip out and slaughter enemies (as ninjas are oft to do), you are given all the tools and abilities you need to progress through the entire game without shoving your katana into anyone.
Mark of the Ninja is all about being a ghost and using the environment to your advantage. Throw your kunai into lights to stay in the dark, stick to ceilings to stay out of sight, and move through vents to get out of the open. If you have the stealth skills, there's no need to get any blood on your hands.
Metal Gear Solid 2
Metal Gear Solid 2 started a surprising trend in the series - the introduction of the tranquilizer pistol made long-range silent (and non-lethal) takedowns a thing. MGS always challenged you to complete the game without any guards showing their alerted exclamation points, but those pesky boss battles left you with blood all over your military-issued gloves.
But with MGS's tranq gun, war had changed. You didn't have to kill the bosses anymore, you could just knock them unconscious by filling their blood with a sedative. Some bosses would be referred to as dead later on in the storyline, but unless massive doses of tranquilizers is lethal in the Metal Gear universe (let's... just say they aren't) their deaths weren't on you. And if they were? Man, whoever was supplying Snake's darts has some explaining to do.
Postal 2 is notorious for being one of the most violent games ever created. So, what is it doing on this list? Though most players took Postal 2 as a chance to go postal and kill everyone, you really aren't required to do that sort of thing at all. You could play it cool, and complete the game's ludicrous plot without going postal in the least.
I know. It's hard to believe that that game that allows you to turn a cat's anus into a silencer has a nonviolent option, but it totally does. Better yet, if you do manage to resist the urge to kill everyone in sight and complete every mission peacefully, you get an end rank message saying, "Thank you for playing, Jesus." You're welcome?