Being evil in an RPG is no easy feat. Not only do you need the stomach for it, but developers aren't always the best at making evil choices feel as nuanced and satisfying as their morally righteous counterparts. It's rare for a game to present you with a decision so evil that it actually upsets you, but there is also an undeniable joy in being a monstrous jackass—even if your reason for detonating a dormant nuke in the middle of a small town is just for the lols.
That's why we forced some of our writers into the confession booth to finally fess up about their favorite evil decisions in PC gaming. It's some pretty dark stuff—from smothering babies to forcing someone to murder their lifelong best friend—but if you've got a kink for the chaotic, here are our picks for some of the most sinful choices we've made in games.
Tyranny - Hush little baby
To be fair, Tyranny is an RPG that has no real shortage of evil choices to be made—you do murder millions of people in the introduction alone, after all. But later in the story, Tyranny trades mass murder for one decision that is hauntingly terrible. See, to undo your overlord's Edicts that, like magical natural disasters, are tearing apart the land, your character must help fulfill certain contractual clauses. When you first venture to the Blade Sea, that clause is killing the last of its traitorous ruling family. At first this seems like a pretty easy task after you besiege the castle, corner the Regent Herodin and make ready to end his life. But after he is dead, the edict remains mysteriously intact. It's then revealed that there is another heir—a child born out of love between Herodin's son and the kidnapped daughter of your commander, Graven Ashe.
It's a hopelessly complicated situation made even more complicated by the fact that the mother, Amelia, will die to protect her child. But if the child lives, the Edict of Storms will continue. True to developer Obsidian's great storytelling lineage, there's a few different ways to handle the decision. But if you're the ruthlessly pragmatic type, you can simply kill Amelia and then smother her child in its crib. Or if you're a real monster, you can force one of your unwilling companions to do it for you, probably subjecting them to a lifetime of guilt and self-loathing. Whichever way you go about it (or however you might justify it) smothering babies isn't exactly heroic.
— Steven Messner
Fallout 3 - The Big Bang
The big, obvious one from Fallout 3 is such a grand moment that it's almost impossible to resist. I blew up Megaton for two reasons: one, I wanted a nice apartment in Tenpenny Tower, where I could have a little break from the depressing nuclear post-apocalypse and chill with my robot butler. Secondly, the layout of Megaton is really annoying, and needlessly tricky to navigate compared to other locations in Fallout 3. It had to go, really. I activated the nuke and watched that baby go off. I regret nothing—it's still one of the most shocking and exciting moments from any game in the last ten years.
— Samuel Roberts
Dishonored - Lust for vengeance
Despite being an assassin, Dishonored rightly punishes wanton murder and instead encourages players to seek their vengeance through more creative means. Each kill pushes the city of Dunwall closer to complete chaos, so finding an alternative is necessary if you hope to ultimately rid the city of evil and corruption. Instead of murdering the pope, for instance, you can brand him with a mark of shame and force him to live out the rest of his life as a beggar. It's poetic justice at its finest—except in the case of Lady Boyle.
This capitalist is the financier behind many of Dishonored's villains and is rightly deserving of justice. But Dishonored's non-lethal way of dealing with her is pretty abhorrent. During the Lady Boyle's Last Party mission, Corvo can choose to simple murder Boyle (and her lookalike sisters) or instead deliver her into the hands of a creepy-ass stalker named Lord Brisby who, in addition to confessing his love for her, promises to make her disappear forever. While his suggestion is vague, it's just insidious enough to make me believe that handing Lady Boyle over is little more than human trafficking. That, by knocking her unconscious and letting Lord Brisby have her, I'd be condemning her to a life of sexual slavery at the hands of this creep. I mean, I get it, she's a terrible person and absolutely deserves punishment—but I think we can all agree that this is a bit much.
— Steven Messner
Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow - No questions asked
Okay, obviously this isn’t an RPG, but I’ve pulled rank in order to include it because it’s such a juicy moral dilemma. What, dear reader, would you do if your boss ordered you to shoot someone—and only gave you a second to decide. Luckily for Steven, that’s not a situation I’m ever likely to be in. But for Sam Fisher, double-tapping a colleague is all in a day’s work. So it goes when midway through Pandora Tomorrow you step into one of those elevators with a mesh door. Suddenly you get a call from your handler, Lambert. “Fisher, we need Dahlia Tal dead. Kill her.” The elevator starts moving. “Don’t think, just do it.”
To this point as far as you’re aware Tal is an undercover agent in the Israeli secret police who’s been helping Fisher infiltrate a terrorist base, and has been portrayed as the kind of entirely sympathetic ‘goody’ NPC you expect from the series. The game barely gives you a second to make the call—I shot her, as did the guy in this video—and afterwards I remember feeling something close to actual actual shock.
If I’m being honest, there was also some exhilaration that the game had thrust such a horrendous decision on the player with zero foreshadowing. Brilliantly, at least in terms of design, if you kill Tal you don’t get any explanation as to why it was necessary. Whether or not I’d made the right decision was just about all I could think about for the rest of the game.
A quick trip to Wikia now reveals that Tal was in fact planning the ol’ switcheroo on Fisher, and had a team of snipers waiting to ambush him outside the facility. If you decide to let her live, Lambert gives you a bollocking and explains the deal with the double cross. It always disappointed me that although subsequent Splinter Cell games also came with tough decisions, none felt as startling as that murderous phone call. It’s also a pity that Pandora Tomorrow doesn’t appear to be on GoG or Steam currently. Time for a stern talk with Ubisoft.
— Tim Clark
Knights of the Old Republic - Do as I command
Playing the Dark Side in Knights of the Old Republic was way more fun, but this bit was twisted. Towards the end of the game, as you take on the mantle of the Sith and confront your party about their allegiances, things get pretty heated. The purehearted Mission Vao wants to redeem you, while her loyal wookiee friend Zaalbar is stuck in an impossible situation. He has a life debt to you, but loves Mission dearly. What's the most evil possible thing you can do, in this situation? Use Force Persuasion to convince Zaalbar to stab, strangle, or shoot Mission to death, while she shouts "It's me, Big Z! Noooo!" I don't think that's how the life debt is supposed to work.
— Wes Fenlon
Planescape: Torment - I have no body and I must scream
Planescape is full of potential bastardry, from selling your companions into slavery to, well, everything involving Deionarra. But in the Nine Hells of Baator there's an especially memorable moment. The Pillar of Skulls is where sage souls whose lies resulted in someone else's death are punished by being turned into chattering heads trapped in a column of flesh for eternity. The heads trade their knowledge for sacrifices, and know things you can't learn anywhere else.
This is where you discover that one of your companions, a wisecracking floating skull named Morte, is an escapee of the pillar who has been trying to atone for his sin by serving you. Knowing this, you can put him back into the Pillar of Skulls in return for which it will answer one question. I don't know if shoving the first friend you make in the game back into a mass of bone and putrid flesh for eternity in trade for some information counts as Lawful Evil, Chaotic Evil, or Neutral Evil but whichever it is you are a dick for doing it.
— Jody Macgregor
Fallout 2 - All is fair in love and war
Fallout 2 was the first game I can recall where you could be truly evil—like, really, really evil. If you, like me, ended up sleeping with Miria (or her brother Daven), you'd be forced by her father into a shotgun marriage, straddling you with a completely useless companion. If you're truly evil, you can make the best of a bad situation and profit in the process. If you head over to The Hole or New Reno, you can pimp off your spouse for some extra caps or, if you encounter trappers, have Miria earn you some gecko skins by doing the dirty. That's probably not what her father intended to happen when he forced you to marry her.
Even worse, if you tire of any of your companions (and you don’t just let them get killed in a fight), you can sell them into slavery and be rid of them forever. ‘Losing’ Miriam to Metzger in The Den was my eventual choice, and when I happened to return to Modoc and mentioned what happened to her father, Grisham, the old geezer had a heart attack. RIP, dad, and thanks for the shotgun wedding.
— Jarred Walton