Hello! Welcome to this little guest blog-thing. I’m Luke and I’m going to be blogging about this weird need I have to be good in video games, even if it means having less fun. I don’t know why this is the case. I just can’t play a bad guy. I’m probably an unlikable jerk in reality, but in the magical video game world, I’m this virtuous, peace loving saint, no matter the game, if it has a good option, I’m taking it.
Most games are straightforward, you’re set as a particular character with a specific quest to be getting on with. But I personally find myself drawn towards games that involve a bit of choice. Usually, the choices you get don’t really amount to much (A little change of dialogue, or doing a different mission over another), but I just enjoy games where you get the feeling that you are helping to shape the story in some way. This is mostly done in RPG games, where there are multiple ways to complete a mission, different routes to take and different ways to level up your character.
Most games that I’ve played in the past, usually give this illusion of choice in the form of good and bad options. These lead to the two (Or sometimes more) endings for the game, where your character is seen as a hero or a villain. This is great and it gives the game a bit of replayability, as you see how your choices change the story each time. Sometimes it’s only by a little, sometimes its drastic. But, with me, I never go for the evil route. Not even after I’ve completed the game the first time, I just can’t bring myself to try being evil.
Sometimes it’s easy
In some games, it is a pretty easy decision for me to make. Take Bioshock. The creepy, alternate-reality, underwater city game (Not to be confused with Bioshock: Infinite. The creepy, alternate-reality, floating city game), in which you have the option throughout the game to get some extra ADAM (Which is pretty much a drug that grants you magic powers)… all you have to do… is brutally murder tiny, drug-addicted children.
Simple, right?. Or, you know, you can do without the extra ADAM and not be a horrible monster. Instead, helping the children escape from their guardians, which happen to be these giant, zombified brutes called ‘Big Daddies’. To me, that’s a pretty easy choice. Let’s not kill children.
(Yes, even creepy looking children. Murder is bad.)
In Dishonoured and its sequel ‘Dishonoured 2: 2 Dis 2 Honoured’, it was another simple decision for me. You can go around killing everyone on your quest, or you can go a pacifist route, including with how you deal with each mission’s assassination target. The guards on each level are just doing their jobs. No need for a crazy guy in a mask to leap down and stab them to death. That’d just be ruddy rude.
(Just look at his weird mask, this is not how most NPC’s would like to die)
With those two examples. There is a benefit to taking the good route. Usually there’s an extra achievement you can unlock, or perhaps a few extra perks to help you out in the later game. But, despite these perks, you are usually dooming yourself to a far more difficult and frustrating gaming experience by picking the good route. That’s like… the complete opposite of easy mode gaming!
With these games, I’d be missing out on new weapons or powers that would make the game a whole lot easier, and in a lot of cases far more fun. I’ve missed out on so many cool abilities in games because I didn’t want to be a bad guy.
It’s not always fun
Sometimes, there isn’t even a benefit to being the over the top goodie-two-shoes in the game. The worst example of this would be in Fable 3, where I was actually making the game incredibly dull, just for the sake of playing the good guy!
In the game, about halfway through, you become the ruler of the kingdom. Great! But you now must make some tough decisions. Raise Taxes or lower them. Open up a hospital or a casino. Open a school or put children to work. Execute someone or spare them. There was a big threat looming over the kingdom, that you would need to face at the end of the game, and you needed to make sure you had enough gold in the vault to fund the defence.
This was simple enough. Make some evil decisions and save the kingdom or pick the good options and potentially doom everyone! Oh no! But…. There was a loop hole. Time in the game didn’t progress between missions. So, I, as well as many other people, decided to go with a third option. If you can save up enough money in the game before completing any of the missions, you can afford to choose all the good options, and still have enough gold to save the day at the end of the game. Perfect! Problem solved!
All this required… was to spend hours and hours of actual real-life time, playing a repetitive busking minigame. I was crazy enough to do it. The ruler of the kingdom was out on the street, playing a lute for some coins, whilst I was wasting my childhood, pressing a series of buttons over and over and over and over and over again. I must have been insane, but I did it anyway. Just for the feel-good happy ending, saving the lives of a bunch of nameless characters. There was no benefit to doing this. I don’t think the game even had an achievement for taking this third option. The game was over, and I didn’t go back to the game ever again.
(Jeeze… I’m supposed to be king!)
It makes the game more challenging
More recently, I was playing a game called Vampyr. It turns out that it has nothing to do with the ‘What we do in the shadows’ film. Instead, you play as a doctor fellow who gets turned into a vampire at the start of the game.
(I don’t think that’s tomato sauce…)
In this game, there is a constant temptation to give into the doctor’s thirst for blood and kill off the NPC’s!
This game did have a fun way of exploring the concept of good and evil gameplay. By avoiding feeding on the other characters, I got to keep them around for the rest of the story. This ensured I learnt more about their individual backstories and got additional quests to complete. This made it a more interesting experience for me.
But, in consequence, I was unable to get the much-needed experience points to level up my vampire. Killing the NPCs would have gotten me a whole bunch of that bloody experience points. This made the fights in the game a pain in the backside to get through. I’d only get 5 measly experience points for dying over and over again too. I was missing out on some of the cool vampire powers, which would have made the game far easier to get through! But, taking the good route was a fun challenge, and a lot more satisfying than playing a lute.
Attempting to be evil
I have tried to play the bad guy before in games. Once in Fallout 3 (It’s like Fallout 4, but with a 3 at the end instead of a 4, and also I don’t hate it). During one of the main missions of the game, you end up in a virtual reality world, depicting a nice, tranquil 50’s American neighbourhood.
Whilst there, a creepy girl who apparently runs the simulation begins to give you tasks.
All whilst your character’s dad, disguised as a dog is barking at you. These tasks get more and more sinister with each one. You have to make a young boy cry by telling him his parents want to send him to military school, you cause an accident to kill off one of the neighbours and even go on a killing spree at one point!
It didn’t sit right with me, and I could tell that Dog-Dad was silently judging my behaviour. Even though it was fictional, and your actions don’t matter, as the game carries on out of the virtual reality world as normal, I had to go back to an original save and find the peaceful, alternative route. This involved finding a secret house and hacking a computer and overriding the program, much to the evil little girl’s annoyance.
I did try to be evil in that game another time too. Near the start of Fallout 3, you stumble upon a small town that’s surrounds an atomic bomb, as most towns do in a post-apocalyptic situation, I’m sure. You have the choice of disarming the bomb and saving the day (Not that anyone notices), or you can accept the task from a sinister guy in the local bar to rig the bomb to explode. You watch the atomic blast from the comfort of a dingy hotel penthouse in the distance.
You get to keep the penthouse as a reward, buy you are left with a bunch of snobby, racist neighbours… and also the guilt of killing off an entire group of fictional people! Not only that, but you lock yourself out of a bunch of quests and you come across as a bit of a twat…
I didn’t get very far into that evil playthrough either. Soon enough, I was resetting the game and playing as the good guy once more. This included helping a talking tree pass away peacefully, rather than burning him alive. Just the simple things really, that help my fictional character sleep at night.
(Ah… Classic Bob)
I also tried to almost do the evil route in Undertale once, but let’s not talk about that one…
Sometimes it’s unclear what’s the best choice
It is not very often that a game has grey decisions, at least in the games I’ve played, where It is unclear which option is the evil one. The Witcher 3, was likely the closest for me to make me question my decisions. A lot of people like to play their games blind…
Not actually blind! Disclaimer: I’m not suggesting you should blind yourself before playing a game.
By this I mean, that they don’t let outside knowledge influence their gameplay. I can’t do that. Once I get a decision, where I’m unsure of what option will lead to the best ending, I’ll find myself dashing to my computer, looking up walkthroughs and reddit discussions and making sure I know for certain which will lead to the best outcome. This often ensures that my character and the NPC they are talking to are suddenly in for quite a long, awkward silence. I’m surprised they don’t walk away. Instead, they just look into each other’s eyes, no one saying a word….
One choice in the Witcher 3 was to decide if you should trust a strange creature beneath a hill or some creepy looking witches in a forest.
(I don’t thing this is the hot tub…)
You had to side with one of them, which would lead to either a group of children going missing forever or this baron fellow losing his wife and then committing suicide. Tough decisions when you are trying to be the ultimate good guy. I don’t remember which option I took in the end, but I remember it took a long while to decide.
It’s always the goal in my playthroughs to get the ultimate good ending. More often than not, the evil ending of a game is often less thought out, and is often over the top in its doom and gloom. It’s always a lot more engaging to see the good ending of a game, in my opinion.
To sum up my ramble of a guest-blog, I’m probably being silly sticking to the good routes of games. I’m actually missing out on half the content a lot of the time, making it far more difficult for myself, and at times, just making the game more frustrating than enjoyable.
But there is something oddly satisfying about taking the tedious, challenging, but inevitably good route. They might just be fictional characters, but in games with a good story, I often find myself compelled to want the best for the side characters. Plus, I feel this bit of accomplishment for struggling through the game and getting the best of the best ending. More often than not, that’s all I want out of my gaming experience.
Well, that’s enough from me. Thanks for reading! BYE!