The 7 Toughest Moral Dilemmas You Must Face in Video Games

May 28, 2020

The illusion of choice is a gameplay mechanic that has become popular in recent years. Naturally, this popularity has brought forth some insanely hard dilemmas that players have had to deal with. As such, it’s fun to look back on some of these choices and reminisce on the stress they put us under. Here are the toughest moral dilemmas you must face in video games.

Deciding the fate of Duck — The Walking Dead: Season 1

The first season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead was a minefield of hard decisions. One of the hardest among them was deciding what to do with the character named Duck. This young boy wasn’t the most beloved character ever, but he was still a pretty all right kid. 

Naturally, this complicates things when the poor boy ends up getting nibbled on by a walker. As Duck begins to turn, the game forces the choice of what to do with him into the hands of the player. As you can imagine, no option provided can be chosen lightly, nor will you feel particularly proud of any of them. 

Rescuing or harvesting the Little Sisters for ADAM — BioShock

Superpowers are good, and it’s only natural to want to shoot lighting from your fingertips like a Star Wars villain. However, it also makes sense that these abilities would come with a cost. In BioShock, using powers comes at the cost of ADAM. This chemical substance allows the player to alter their powers and make them even better. Depending on your experience, this may just be key to survival in the nightmare that is Rapture. 

While ADAM isn’t exactly abundant within the levels of BioShock, one of the options to obtain more of it is to harvest a Little Sister. However, you also have the choice to rescue the Little Sister at the sacrifice of precious ADAM. By rescuing the Little Sisters, you save your conscience. By harvesting them, your chances of survival raise pretty significantly. Plus you get some fancy new powers, which might just tempt some of you to sacrifice the creepy monster girls. 

Saving the doctors or your love interest — Infamous

Infamous is another video game that allows the player to make decisions using incredible superpowers. This game takes a more in-depth approach to morality, however. It monitors what the player is doing with their powers and decides if they’re using them for good or evil.

This culminates in a pretty harsh decision during the game’s climax. The villain, Kessler, forces the protagonist, Cole, to choose who to save. On one hand, a group of life-saving doctors are hanging precariously from a building. On the other, Cole’s love interest, Trish, hangs in the same position. Cole is naturally unable to save both. 

Of course, saving the doctors is presented as the moral choice at the cost of Trish’s life. However, Trish is more meaningful to the character than the random nameless doctors. There’s no winning this scenario, which really puts some weight on the player to be a selfless hero or selfish villain.

Choosing which squadmate to leave behind on Virmire — Mass Effect

Mass Effect is a sci-fi series that prides itself on choices players make within the space opera. The first game in the series may have the hardest call of them all, however. On a mission to a planet called Virmire, the player is forced to leave behind one of two squadmates in order to complete their mission. To make things even more tense, this is a decision that follows the player throughout the entire trilogy.

Saving the nomads or the synthetics — Mass Effect 3

For a series that relies on hard calls, it makes sense that Mass Effect would find its way into two entries here. For this one, however, the player must choose between saving the Quarians, an alien race that has been kicked off of their home planet, or the Geth, an army of artificial intelligence that displaced them in the first place.

The situation becomes more gray when you take into consideration that the alien race has a very sensitive immune system that is developed specifically for their homeworld, and that the A.I. were originally mistreated slaves of the aliens that they liberated themselves from.

Embracing or escaping the island — Far Cry 3

Far Cry 3 impressed players by setting them free on a gorgeous island inhabited by modern day pirates. By giving you the freedom to approach gameplay in a variety of ways, the main character of Jason Brody develops in the mind of the player. Some tactics require Jason to be more violent and feral in combat, while others allow him to be more subdued and logical. 

These decisions do not play into the story at all until the climax of the game. The final decision that players are forced to make is to either escape the dreaded island with friends, or turn your back on them and stay as a warrior on the island. The correct answer may be clear, but things get a little blurry when you’ve spent dozens of hours enjoying wreaking havoc on the island. 

Choosing between the two sorceresses — The Witcher III: Wild Hunt

There’s a good chance that most gaming fans will be familiar with The Witcher III, as well as the civil war within its fanbase surrounding Geralt of Rivea’s love life. While players can choose from a variety of smaller, more casual romances within Wild Hunt, two sorceresses dominate the spotlight. The two main romance options boil down to Yennefer of Vengerberg or Triss Merigold. 

Both options have valid reasoning behind them. Yennefer is the more canonical choice while Triss may seem to be a friendlier fit for the seasoned witcher. However, players can find some major glaring moral issues with both romances that call each side into question.

For instance, the relationship between Yennefer and Geralt is the result of magic rather than true emotion. Beyond that, some would argue that their relationship is rather toxic in many cases.

On the other hand, some could say that the bond between Triss and Geralt is built on manipulation and deceit. In the previous game, Geralt was a victim of amnesia, allowing Triss to withhold key information regarding his past life from him. In doing this, she also crafted a close relationship with him. These actions never sat well with many fans of the series.

What is the toughest moral dilemma you’ve faced in a video game? Tell us in the comments below!

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