Gameological Q&A

Cactuar

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

What creatures do you wish you didn’t have to fight?

By The Gameological Society Staff • October 3, 2013

Welcome to Gameological Q&A, where we throw out a question for discussion among the staff and readers. It’s extremely similar to The A.V. Club’s AVQ&A feature. You might even say it’s exactly the same. If you have a brilliant question that would make a fun Q&A, send it to brilliantquestions at gameological dot com.

This week’s question comes from a reader named Claire:

I have found that while playing through games, I will inevitably come across a creature that is automatically hostile which I really don’t want to have to kill. This seems especially true for me in open-world games where you can’t control your random encounters, and in which virtually any carnivorous animal is an enemy. For all the satisfaction I get from killing a Deathclaw Mother in Fallout: New Vegas, I feel guilty wiping out families of coyotes who weren’t bothering anyone until I showed up. Thankfully, I can take the “Animal Friend” perk early on so that I don’t have to kill all those coyotes. In Skyrim, carnivores are hardly at the top of my list of “least pleasant to indiscriminately slaughter.” That title goes to the giants. Only if I absolutely must in order to satisfy an important quest will I provoke and kill a seemingly peaceful giant or his mammoths. What enemy creature do you wish you didn’t have to fight?

John Teti

I love this question because the feeling of “I don’t really want to kill this inoffensive creature” has hit me countless times over the years. In so many games, I get the impression that the monsters I’m slaughtering were just minding their business before I showed up to unleash hell. I think the enemy that leaves me the most conflicted is the Cactuar from the Final Fantasy series. It’s not just that this dancing cactus is cute, although it is. But on top of its cuteness, I admire the little guy’s pluck and the fact that it can surprise you with its viciousness—for instance, by hitting you with a barrage of 1,000 or even 10,000 sharp cactus needles. Alas, in many of the Final Fantasy games, an opportunity to murder a Cactuar is worth a whole bunch of experience points (or offers the possibility of rare treasure), so it’s not a chance I can reasonably pass up. Then again, the skittish bastards often flee at a moment’s notice anyway, saving me the bittersweet trouble of slashing my gun-sword through their succulent insides.

Drew Toal

In Undead Nightmare, the zombie-themed add-on for Red Dead Redemption, the landscape is littered with mythical creatures—horses of the apocalypse, the Chupacabra, a unicorn. In a mission called “Birth Of The Conservation Movement,” John Marston must help a settler by hunting down rogue sasquatch (or whatever the plural is), who Marston is given to understand are terrorizing the countryside and eating human babies. After killing a handful of these hairy beasts, Marston comes upon the last sasquatch, crying against a tree. This “foul creature of the night” begs Marston to kill him, as some maniac has been running around and murdering his kin, leaving him as the last of his kind. Marston confronts this blubbering missing link about all the baby eating, and he’s informed that sasquatch are strict vegetarians, subsisting primarily on mushrooms and berries. (It seems there were some myths and misunderstandings floating around.) The humane thing to do would be to honor this being’s last wish and put a bullet in his brain, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Instead, in a page straight out of the O.J. playbook, I vowed to find those responsible for killing his family, saddled up my horse, and rode off into the sunset.

Adam Volk

I feel sorry for pretty much all of the creatures great and small dwelling on the PETA nightmare that is Far Cry 3’s Rook Island. After all, surviving in the wild is hard enough without having to worry about being blown away by some trigger-happy mercenary or being run over by an inattentive local. Rook Island is also shockingly bereft of commerce, with nary a Target or Wal-Mart to be found anywhere. Which means you have to collect plenty of animal pelts to construct such useful accoutrements as grenade slings, ammo belts, and leather pants. My favorite animal out of Rook Island’s many species is undoubtedly the majestic Asian black bear. They’re lumbering, peaceful, beautiful creatures, just minding their own business and foraging in the depths of the jungle. The first time I snuck up and blasted apart a hapless Yogi with a shotgun, I felt a little sick afterward. The humans of Rook Island are total scumbags, but the bears—they’re just innocent creatures trying to get by. Sadly, on Rook Island, the circle of life usually ends in the crosshairs of an assault rifle.

Samantha Nelson
World Of Warcraft

Plenty of critters have lost their lives because they were in the wrong place when I activated an area-of-effect spell in World Of Warcraft. I can tell myself I’m not a bad person for killing a cute wandering skunk or squirrel because it was an accident, but I do feel awful when I actively have to kill a baby animal. I’m okay with getting a quest to take out some tigers that are mauling refugees or killing a worg for some meat. I’m even down with going after the biggest animals in the area just for the achievement. After all, the big game hunter/ubiquitous quest-giver Hemet Nesingwary and I go way back. Unfortunately, plenty of animals have cubs nearby that will impotently attack your character until they’re put down. I respect their familial devotion, but I wish they would just let you kill their mom, mourn the loss, and then go off to grow up and have their own adventures, Bambi-style. Though maybe that’s a bad metaphor, because I’ve killed plenty of fawns when I needed animal blood and didn’t want to take the time to get it from their heartier parents. The cubs don’t help me fulfill an objective, so they really didn’t have to die! I’m a bad person.

Matt Gerardi

I’ve always felt bad for killing so many Grunts during my days spent as the Master Chief, the super-soldier star of the Halo games. They’re just so weak and tiny, and when they get scared, they run away while screaming their heads off. It might be cartoonish, but it’s one of the few times I’ve seen an “enemy combatant” actually flee and cry in terror. Sometimes you’ll even come across them while they’re napping, and they have just the cutest little snores. But one false move and I’ll wake them up. Then they’ll start screaming, and their bigger, nasty overlords will show up to shoot me full of plasma. So it’s either them or me. Sorry, Grunts. You might be cute, but I’m going to have to crush your skulls with the butt of my gun.

Derrick Sanskrit

There is certainly an argument to be made that Mario is the greater monster in most of his games, running through forests and stomping willy-nilly on the heads of the native inhabitants. To an extent, I’m willing to accept the premise that many of these beasties are grunts for big bad Bowser, particularly the ones throwing hammers or boomerangs directly at the plumber’s head, but I just can’t bring myself to attack the Wigglers. They’re just so cute and happy, wriggling their sectioned caterpillar-like bodies around the wooded glades with nary a care in the world—until Mario stomps on them, which they find infuriating. Your head-stomps hurt nothing but their feelings! Even in Super Mario Galaxy, where the Wigglers are enormous and Mario is the size of a worm by comparison, the Wigglers are content to just keep on marching in their straight lines with a doofy grin on their faces, oblivious of Mario’s trouble-making schemes. How could anyone hate on such a carefree critter, let alone one with a flower coming out of its head?

Danny Gallagher
Baraka

The early arcade versions of Mortal Kombat made it very easy to dehumanize the people you were turning into bloody puddles of goo. You really had to go out of your way to learn the characters’ backstories. However, even before the latest console reboot of Mortal Kombat offered a story mode that fleshed out the characters and gave reasons to care about their lives off the killing floor, Baraka was always the hardest creature to put down. He’s a mindless killing machine, but in a way, his animal instincts made him feel like a domesticated dog turned feral whose circumstances forced him to become a creature that disembowels first and asks questions later (assuming, of course, he can even complete full sentences). It’s not his fault that nature gave him retractable wrist spikes and teeth that can slice through bone and gristle. Powerful forces bent on evil simply exploited his power the way that some greedy con-men turned the once lovable and admirable White Fang into an mistrusting, cynical canine combatant.

Anthony John Agnello

Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic has a child’s sense of morality.The only shades of grey in the entire game are on the robes worn by the bad guys. Talking your way through conflict is always the right choice. If a stranger asks you for anything, you should give it to them without asking questions. And it’s only okay to kill people if it’s in self-defense. In fact, there’s no way to just send dim-bulb bounty hunters into a Force coma to spare their lives. When it comes to its relationship with animals, though, this black-and-white view is a strange one. It’s only occasionally bad to kill animals. If you’re wandering around the high plains of Dantooine and an alien goat gets all up in your Jedi business, the game passes no judgement on you for lightsabering it right in its goat face. On Manaan, though, killing some ancient shark and its babies in order to reach your goal will earn you Dark Side Points (the game’s way of telling you you’re a dick). The thing is, I don’t like to kill any of these animals in KOTOR. Rancors, Krayt Dragons, and all kinds of other beasts get in your way, and it sucks that I have few options when it comes to not killing them. I’m a space wizard, for crying out loud. Can’t I just knock them out or convince them we’re friends?

Sam Barsanti

First of all, I don’t want anyone to think I’m a Bowser sympathizer. I know that green bastard has been nothing but a pox on the great Mushroom Kingdom ever since he began his insurrection. However, I have been feeling a little guilty lately when I stomp some of his soldiers to death. I’m talking about Koopa Troopas. These little turtle guys have never had any issue killing me, so I’m sure they’re not particularly nice, but since New Super Mario Bros. and its sequels they’ve added a new move to their repertoire: dancing. It’s not much—just a little step and pose in time with the background music—but it shows that the Koopas aren’t quite as heartless as their boss. How could something that loves dancing be evil? They don’t ever go out of there way to hurt anybody, and there’s one less little yellow dancer for each Koopa that I kill. It’s very tragic. Of course, Mario himself shows no such qualms about it, so maybe it’s just me. Or maybe Derrick’s right, and he’s just an asshole.

Matt Kodner
Caterpie

I’ve always felt uneasy about the carnage that ensued on my way to becoming a master Pokémon trainer. In every game, it’s always the same. To beef up my own team of monsters, I’ve battle tons of trainers and their own death squads. When that’s not enough, I turn to the free beasts of the Kanto wild. Your pokémon only get the strengthening benefits of a fight if they savagely knock out the feral critters. Sure, shrieking man-sized bugs with swords for arms exist to be put down, but what about the pathetically cute monsters? An overgrown caterpillar is simply no threat to my fire-spewing lizard. You’re not able to kill your opponents, but what happens after you strut off victorious, thirsting for the next battle? With no potions or health clinics in sight, that poor little caterpillar is doomed to a crippled life, if it isn’t immediately picked off, killed, and eaten by a giant bird monster. That thing’s death might be on me, but my fire-lizard can fly now!

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  • Enkidum

    I felt bad after my long run of being a serial masseuse-killer in Sleeping Dogs, but… uh… forget I said that.

    • NakedSnake

      We saw what you said, Creep!

  • George_Liquor

    Ooh, totally Andrew Ryan in Bioshock. The moment the game takes the reigns away from me, I want to rebel & shout “Cram that ‘would-you-kindly’ crap. No way am I clobbering you to bejeesus & back with that 9-iron!”

    • Necrogem

       Yeah, that “kill this guy to advance the narrative” thing doesn’t always feel right (though in Bioshock it’s arguably intentional).  My personal worst example of that was in Legacy of Kain: Defiance, when Raziel fell under the influence of the Hylden and attacked Kain.  The game makes you play both sides of the fight, and I wished I had an option to talk them out of it, or just walk away.  I love both those guys, why do I have to make them try to kill each other?  Can’t we all just get along?!

    • SisterMaryFrancis

      What makes it worse is when you find out he’s your dad. Granted, you’re primarily a test tube baby, but you were only put in the tube after birth.

    • TaumpyTearrs

      Since you gave a human as an answer, I feel better about mine now:

      Killing the Boss at the end of MGS 3: Snake Eater. The first time, refused to fight her, and let the timer run down til I got a game over. Then I tried to do it non-lethally, but of course you have to kill her because it is the crux of the mission and the plot. Finally, I gave in to the inevitable and killed her, a lump in my throat and shame in my heart.
      Then when the theme song plays again over the end credits, I realized the lyrics are Boss adressing Snake, and when the line “I give my life, not for honor, but for you” and I actually started to tear up. It still makes me emotional thinking about it, I really loved that character and her relationship with Snake. Even among all the insane plots, silly humor, and just straight-up weirdness of the MGS games, they managed to make me deeply care about some of the characters and their relationships, and feel real emotions in relation to them.

      For an AV Club appropriate metaphor, it was like in Buffy the Vampire Slayer when Buffy had to kill Angel even though his soul was restored, except I actually had to carry out the act myself, making it even more affecting.

  • Citric

    Slimes. They’re just so happy and silly, and completely useless for experience or anything. I feel like a massive prick cutting a gooey swath through all the slimes in my path, because it’s not like they’re hurting anything, they’re just giving out good vibes.

    Incidentally, I had a king slime keychain that used to live on my TV, but I lost it. It came from a promotion Square was doing for DQVIII,where they would send you a demo and a toy.

    • dmikester

      Slimes are not only cute, but the rarer ones, especially the giant metal slimes in DQ8 that give enormous amounts of experience, run away from you almost immediately, which makes you feel even worse!

    • The_Juggernaut_Bitch

       The Steel Slime in the original Dragon Warrior was the highest XP monster in the game.

      It also only took 1 point of damage from any spells and all but the absolute best weapon in the game… of course, it only had 3 HP, but since you could so very rarely actually hurt it, these battles would go on for 15 minutes before you’d done 2 points of damage and then it would run away.

  • Spacemonkey Mafia

    Then there’s the monster you want to kill, but can’t. The Remlit from Skyward Sword is this cat-like creature one of the teachers owns.
    It’s all bouncy and kawaii during the day, but if you wander town at night, the thing is all agitated and runs up to you, unprovoked, to attack. You can whap it, but it only ever causes the thing to run off and cower for a few seconds before it pursues you again.
     It’s such a despicable little shit and it makes me murderous. And when a video game doesn’t let you indulge in your murderous instincts, it’s backwards day.

    • George_Liquor

      If there’s any video game creature I wish I could inflict real pain upon, it’d be that little fucker. 

    • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

      It’s your own personal Duck Hunt Dog!

    • Sa3ad

      The accursed thing can even fly, so throwing it off a ledge is also futile. That didn’t stop me from trying though. Again, and again, and again…

      • https://www.thegamecrafter.com/designers/xyvir-games Xyvir

        And again, and again and again….

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000590707081 Chris Ingersoll

       I believe completing the demon side quest stops this transformation, but by that time you’ve already built up quite the hatred for that thing.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia

        You’re right. But as you say, even if I were to finish that sidequest, which I won’t, I’ve had an entire game to slow-cook my animosity. 

    • Drinking_with_Skeletons

       I wasn’t enormously impressed with Skyward Sword, but I did like those little bastards.  Knocking one off the edge of town only for it to rise up again like a demon was a genuine surprise.

  • aklab

    I always feel terrible about killing Crocomire. He sounds terrified when I drop into his lair and start shootin’, and all he can do is wave his wittle arms around, and then those heartbreaking wails when you… well, you know the rest. It’s sadistic!

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      In retrospect, it really is pretty awful. Though at sixteen I just thought it was the most bad-ass thing I’d seen in a game since Nathan ‘Rad’ Spencer ‘asploded Hitler’s head.

      • aklab

        For me the badassness directly fed my shame. I remember my first time in that fight — after a few hits it became clear that I was going to knock him into the lava, and I thought, “Gnarly!* I’m going to knock him in that lava, that’ll be wicked!” Then I did it, and it was awesome at first, and then it keeps going on, and then I thought, it was terrible of me to want that! 

        Although the xylophone-style sound effect of the skeleton collapsing serves as a bit of comic relief.

        *it was 1995. 

        • throbbin_bitchcock

           Yeah, I’ve replayed that game so many times and that really stuck with me on recent play-throughs. With most of the bosses (Ridley, Kraid, the eyeball ghost thing…) you get the impression that they’ve been preparing this encounter, luring you into a trap. Crocomir  was just sort of chilling there when you suddenly bust through his roof and started firing rockets into his face. Maybe you don’t want to go into the spike-wall, but hey, he’s not too keen on taking a lava bath either.

  • The_Helmaroc_King

    The colossi in Shadow of the Colossus didn’t deserve what was coming to them.

    • PPPfive

      Especially the long flying worm thing in the desert that spends the fight flying away from you

      • CrabNaga

        That thing is both the saddest one to kill and my favorite “fight” in the game. It’s so cool jumping from your horse to one of its listing wings at high speeds, and then running along its back while you’re hundreds of feet in the air!

        • Scott Agro

          The music cues! MY GOD THE MUSIC CUES!

    • duwease

      I thought this would be the first 10 entries in the article myself..

    • Drinking_with_Skeletons

       Some of them do.  Fuck those tiger-style ones that make it their mission to kill you the second they spot you.  They also pursue you a lot farther than any of the others, and it’s clear that the only reason you can escape them is that they can’t climb out of their territory.

    • Kyle O’Reilly

      Well the universe does see fit to punish the Wanderer for his transgression by violating him with weird black tentacles after every kill.

    • TheInternetSaid

      I ctrl-f’d for this.  Some of them were assholes, but I felt progressively awful during that game.  You start off stabbing a giant teddy bear to death!

    • http://i821.photobucket.com/albums/zz132/toemali/stuff/bosun.jpg Colliewest

      I got to the first Colossus, died while I looked at it in awe, and turned the game off. Sorry, cookie cutter princess, nothing tells me you’re worth it.

      It might be different if they came after you but actively seeking them out to murder them didn’t make sense to me.

      • GaryX

        You’re missing out on an amazing game.

        • http://i821.photobucket.com/albums/zz132/toemali/stuff/bosun.jpg Colliewest

          I believe it, but sixteen of them? 

          I still own it; maybe one day.

        • Basement Boy

          Seriously! I never did get over the queasy feeling that (most!) of these creatures didn’t deserve to die, but get into game mode and “do what you gotta do for your princess”… 

    • http://caspiancomic.com/gametheory caspiancomic

       This is probably the ultimate answer to this question.

  • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

    Wasn’t White Fang sold by his drunken Indian owner to the dogfighting gambling pit bosses? And wasn’t he rescued by some do-gooder rich guy and ended up having offspring with the family poodle? Please tell me that was also Baraka’s ending.

    Also, I vaguely recall one of the Mortal Kombat fighters was a SWAT guy whose special martial arts moves involved throwing grenades and shooting his gun, which basically means I could also be a great martial artist as long as I pass my firearms and explosives license tests.

    • George_Liquor

      And that’s how we got the Barakadoodle.

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

    I assume we’re talking only about grunts?  I have to bring up Patchwork Heroes/1,000,000 Tons Of Debris, a fantastic C.A.M.P. game.  The game’s enemies are so cutout animation adorable that your own followers, when they’re killed, flash their age and portrait like they’re Zoombinis before having DEAD stamped on them.  It’s the only way to generate rage, especially since your method of destruction is Jezzballing their airship out of the sky, which is utterly horrifying.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HItQBQcvozc

    The aesthetics are amazing, though!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyZJUfADCLU

    • HighlyFunctioningTimTebow

       I played that too! It was super creepy that there was a Graveyard where you would see the graves of all the dudes you couldn’t rescue in time! Seriously, WTF, tonal shift?

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

        I love that slightly morbid stuff in otherwise cheery games.  Okage: Shadow King/Me And The Demon King did that really nicely.

  • rvb1023

    Eh, I don’t know if it entirely counts, but I really do hate having to beat up Bowser in every Mario game. Especially in Bowser’s Inside Story, Bowser seems less like a threatening, kidnapping king and more like a turtle desperate for human contact.

    All the Mario RPG’s have done is humanize Bowser to the point I find him the most entertaining and interesting character in the series.

    I suppose I never liked killing the shades in Nier from the second play through onwards. Killing the colossi also always felt like a dick move.

    • DrFlimFlam

      They humanize the entire world of enemies. I started playing 1K Year Door with my son last week and Goombella not only like Mario (the mass murderer) but also went to college. There is a COLLEGE for these things, but Mario hops, bops, and stops them dead in their tracks.

      • sharculese

        Oh man, 1000 Year Door is just full of moments where you feel like this fight is just a huge misunderstanding. The good news is maybe half the time you’re right, and afterwards you and the bad guy become friends.

      • George_Liquor

        Remember that old Sawbuck Gamer entry, The Visit? It pretty damn expertly lampshaded this odd little gaming phenomenon. 

      • GaryX

        Well, aren’t the bad Goombas sort of like soldiers or something? I always figured that the ones Mario is stomping on aren’t the good, Goombella-like Goombas, but rather ones that have chosen a less moral path. Or whatever.

        • George_Liquor

          In the original Super Mario Bros Manual, Goombahs are described as, “evil mushrooms that betrayed the Mushroom Kingdom.” I suppose you could say a Goombah is defined by his life choices.

        • GaryX

          @George_Liquor:disqus Goombas are the Nietzschian characters of the Mario Universe.

        • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

          I’m sure they were shouting that they were only following orders during the postwar Nuremberg trials.

        • GaryX

          @sarapen:disqus Whoa there, Hitler.

  • patagonianhorsesnake

    mentioning carnivores in skyrim made it easy for me. wolves, in any game.

    listen, game makers. wolves are not evil, ravenous monsters, out for blood, who will stop at nothing to murder every hapless passerby. they just aren’t. stop making them “generic low level monster #3″.

    actually in general, i’d like to see less hostile, more natural wildlife in games. i loved seeing those little scribs in morrowind. all just walking around, thumping their tails and making noises, not attacking. it makes a world feel real, like there’s life going on around, and that everything in the game isn’t centered solely around the player (ie murdering the player).

    • Necrogem

       That reminds me, my state just authorized our first wolf hunt since they were removed from the endangered species list, and all the permits sold out the first day.  I think there were actually more permits distributed than there are wolves in the state (though my hunting-enthusiast father swears they’re going to stop the hunt after a certain number of kills).  The worst thing about it for me is that it’s pretty widely acknowledged that most of these people just want to kill wolves because they’re competing with them for deer.  I mean, they’re basically the feral version of fuzzy puppies, where’s the love?  /rant

      I also totally agree that wildlife in games should have a more naturalistic presentation, but unfortunately developers don’t seem to be creative enough to come up with other low-level things to kill, at least not in the more realistic games.

      • DrFlimFlam

        Did you know that horseback riders are the mountain lion’s favorite food?

        • http://mrglitchsreviews.blogspot.com/ Mr. Glitch

          Well, to be fair–probably too fair–Mountain Lions have been known to go after people on bikes. They’re more likely than bears or wolves to actually stalk an adult human as food, though the instances of Mountain Lion attacks are still really low.

      • patagonianhorsesnake

         hey, i live in michigan too! isn’t it depressing!

        anyways, if people are worried about competition for deer, they should start buying up permits to hunt cars.

    • The Guilty Party

      Cliff racers, on the other hand, can die in a fire. Bastards.

    • kuribosshoe

      Dear game developers; quit making games with canine enemies that whimper when they die. Or if you absolutely have to have guard dogs, at least give me some tranquilizer darts (thanks, Deus Ex!)

      • ComradePig

        Yes, those wolf noises in Oblivion were the worst. Just make them growl in an appropriately evil fashion when they croak so I don’t feel like such an asshole Bethesda!

      • TheOligarchicMe

        IIRC, don’t the dogs in Deus Ex die when you tranq them? They change into corpses, at any rate. 

    • Drinking_with_Skeletons

       I was like this with the giants and mammoths.  It was actually very rare that the game asked you to kill a giant, and I don’t recall any quest to kill a mammoth.  The worst was easily from that asshole who runs Dawnstar; his town offers nothing of value for the giants (who elsewhere sometimes start shit by stealing crops and damaging the surrounding farm infrastructure), he just doesn’t like the idea of them hanging around the hold. 

      • MrTusks

        I knew I had done all there was to do in Skyrim when I took on three mammoths, two giants, and a dragon all at once, and won.

    • Boonehams

      I told my girlfriend that as long as I was in the room watching her play Skyrim, I didn’t want her killing any of the animals.  No goats or wolves or any other benign woodland creatures.  Trolls and other monsters, fine, but animals were off limits.

    • Fluka

      I had a distressing moment along these lines when I started the Hearthfire expansion.  I opted to build Windstad Manor, up north of Morthal, with a lovely view of an icy bay full of shipwrecks.  And hey, check it out!  Three big ol’ horkers live just down the hill!  Cool!  Well, if we don’t bother them, they’ll leave us alone too…

      Iona, what are you doing.  Iona, get back here.  IONA.  PUT DOWN THE LONGSWORD.  *Casts “Calm”!*  Okay, that’s better.  NO, DON’T GO BACK!  STOP HITTING THEM!  NOOOOO!

      Now I have three horker carcasses next to my house.

      • patagonianhorsesnake

         this is why i try to avoid all companions.

        “please… just stop murdering for one minute. one.”

        • Fluka

          “Nnnnnnnnnnnnope!”

  • dmikester

    As Teti said, so many over the years.  The one that stands out in my mind is any of the colossi in Shadow of the Colossus, which is of course the point of the game.  But still, I’ve seldom felt as bad about killing enemies as I have in that game, especially any of the ones that are just hanging out and don’t even try to attack you, like the first one or the first water one.  

    • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

      Do you mean the one that drags you into the briny deep? Because I’m scared of deep water and I had to psych myself up for like five minutes beforehand before I could fight that monster. I was actually relieved when I finished killing it. If the game had let me give up my horse instead of swimming into the middle of the lake I would have totally gone for it.

      • dmikester

        Yes, I’m pretty sure that’s the one.  My strongest memory of that colossi relates perfectly to this QA.  It got introduced coming out of the water and flying around, and then, if you didn’t do anything, it would just mind its own business and actually look really peaceful.  Yes, once you started fighting it, it got really scary and intense, but there was absolutely no need to do anything to it beyond your own selfish needs.

        Also, I’ve written about this here before, but Shadow of The Colossus’ water is the most menacing of any game I’ve ever played.  It always feels like there’s something lurking down there, and the way the camera is set up, there’s no way to angle it so that you can see.  I don’t blame you for being scared of going into that water!

      • Sa3ad

        I thought I was the only one who feared the water in that game. So this is what it feels like when doves cry. 

      • beema

        Yeah that water one freaked me the hell out too. There’s something about a lurking leviathan in dark deep water that could rise up at any second and swallow you that really instills terror in me.

        I felt kind of the same way in the Killer Croc fight in Arkham Asylum.

        • kthejoker

          Or the shark in arkham city. Or any shark, in any game, ever. I play most of those levels with my eyes closed.

        • TaumpyTearrs

          @kthejoker:disqus  Alot of Arkham City got on my nerves with its unending parade of the designers’ idea of “grim ‘n gritty”, the endless chorus of prisoners calling Harley or Catwoman bitches, etc. but they DID let be beat the shit out of a shark, so they can’t be all bad. More humor in the next game, less rapey prisoners, kay thanks!

  • SirExal

    In N64 inevitably-worse-than-the-original game Banjo-Tooie, one of the levels is Grunty Industries, a massive factory of some sort.  The primary enemies in this level are yellow-jumpsuit clad workers (called “Guvnors,” of all things.  Huh).  I always felt bad for pecking these workaday shlubs to death; they were just there, attempting to hold down a paycheck, possibly for their wife and 2.5 kids at home.  Then they see an ursine intruder, know that if they don’t do something about it (as specified they must in the employee handbook), they may be demoted or fired, and then we have to go and kill them just for defending their living? 

    Some playthroughs I just froze them with ice attacks rather than put that poor household out of a prizewinner.

    • Beaver Van der Meer

      I found Banjo Tooie better than Kazooie. Why was being worse inevitable, or am I misunderstanding you?

      Anyway, my default strategy for dealing with enemies in Banjo games is to just ignore them. I find that most of the time when I take damage it’s because I’m trying to kill enemies instead of speeding past them in bird mode.

  • http://caspiancomic.com/gametheory caspiancomic

    I think I should probably feel this sensation more often than I actually do. Games like Metal Gear Solid explicitly position killing the faceless, nameless mooks that populate game worlds as a sort of moral failing, and other games like Chrono Trigger, Ni No Kuni, and Shining Force occasionally show the “wild” monsters you kill as being somewhat intelligent. The monsters in Ni No Kuni are even capable of speech if you know the right spell, and can become loyal friends if you don’t kill them first.

    But even though many games have tried, only one has succeeded in making me feel truly bad for killing off its waves of enemies- Bastion. That game’s Mount Zand level, where you learn that the ostensibly stupid beasts from outside the walls of the city are actually smart enough to work together to build their own “bastion” actually managed to change the way I thought about that game’s enemies. Suddenly I felt a little bit guilty every time I killed a Pecker or a Lunkhead, knowing that it was basically doing the same thing I was trying to do- collect supplies and survive. I felt especially bad about icing the game’s big “boss” monsters like Queen Anne and Sir Lunky. And don’t even get me started on killing the Ura.

    • DrFlimFlam

      Oh those Squirts are just so cute. It definitely felt wrong to kill them, even if it was only attacking as a result of its corruption

    • CrabNaga

      I agree about Bastion, with the exception that Peckers, like most bird enemies in games, are the spawn of Satan and putting them down is truly the moral thing to do. I wonder if there is some sort of running trend of prominent game developers being traumatized by birds during childhood.

    • Drinking_with_Skeletons

       Ni no Kuni goes out of its way to explain that the ones you fight are the mischievous, even dangerous, ones, and defeating them just gives them a chance to cool off before being reborn or something.

  • Godots17thCup

    I’m not sure if this counts, seeing as she’s hardly a character that anyone would think of as a typical video game enemy, but having to accuse poor, damaged Adrian Andrews of murder, when you know her to be innocent, during the final case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice for All stands out for me.

    Sure, there were very important circumstances factoring into that course of action (Phoenix Wright’s assistant, Maya Fey, is being held hostage by a professional assassin hired by your sociopath client, and will certainly be murdered if Wright doesn’t find a way to manufacture a “Not Guilty” verdict) and the subversion of the normal Ace Attorney formula is part of what makes 2-4 arguably the best case in the entire series. But, man, watching Adrian Andrews’ desperate insistence on her innocence and her increasingly feeble pleas for help was just heartbreaking – a feeling made worse by making the player/Phoenix complicit in her near mental breakdown on the witness stand.

  • Colonel

    Hey, Teti!  You need to play some Final Fantasy XIII-2 (I know, hold on, hold on) because you can actually befriend monsters and use them in battle.  Yes, Cactuars (and Gigantuars!) included.  The whole monster-taming system is pretty cool and you can eventually round out your party with Tonberries and Chocobos.  Speaking of which, I was never comfortable killing Chocobos and if I ever hit one accidentally I completely understood why it chose to run away.

    • PaganPoet

      DOWNSIDE: You develop a Pokemon-esque “Gotta Catch Em All” attitude with the monsters in XIII-2!

      The best one was the hidden Chichu monster, though. That little guy is a BEAST!

      • rvb1023

         I never found Pichu, though fortunately enough the game was so easy I didn’t really need it.

      • Kyle O’Reilly

         I would say the real DOWNSIDE here is you have to play Final Fantasy XIII-2.

        • Citric

          I thought FFXIII-2 was really fun. I mean, the story was utter nonsense, but the actual game bit was fun.

    • Richard

       Cactuar?  I thought that was Gumby.  I can see not wanting to kill Gumby.  OTOH, I can totally see wanting to kill Gumby.

    • Smilner

       I’m still having trouble playing through FFXIII-2.  My wife summed it up pretty well a couple days ago: it’s incredibly beautiful and incredibly boring.  I told her it’s a bit easier if you just realize that not a single character realizes that every word coming out of their mouths makes zero sense.  I also told her it has nothing on FFXIII in terms of boring.  That’s just boring in a straight line.

      I’m sure I’ll get back to it someday, and I’ll feel the need to tame the crap out of every cute little beastie I encounter.  But it needs to get in line now.  GTA V Gameological Crew represent.

      • Zack Handlen

        I gave up after five hours when I realized I still didn’t have a damn idea what was going on.

        • rvb1023

           XIII-2 will always be that weird game to me where it surpasses it’s predecessor in every way except the story. And that is actually quite an accomplishment because XIII’s story is so poorly written and inadequately explained.

          I think the funniest thing was my favorite part of XIII (It’s rather well done ending) and retconned the shit out of it to justify the weird time traveling setup they had going.

          I recently watched the opening cinematic to XIII-3 and the conversations they had with each other didn’t even flow like normal conversation, much less trying to make sense of the setting or context.

        • Citric

          I finished the game and I don’t have a damn idea what happened.

      • Ack_Ack

        Wait, is there actually a Gameological crew that I can join?  Bender R Bender, reporting for duty!  If this is really a thing, please provide details.  Or, you could always joing my crew, Cremation Creek Bros.

    • PaganPoet

      I used to attack Chocobos, but then I took a meteor to the face…(playign Final Fantasy Tactics).

    • Crusty Old Dean

      Some Final fantasies have an excuse for why you’re killing seemingly innocent animals (they’re Sin spawn, or creatures born from the evil mist).

      One thing that weirded me out big time is when Yuna, Rikku and the Other one are killing people in FFX-2. It’s not the first time you kill humans in a Final Fantasy-game, but it’s usually for better reasons. If memory serves me, the political climate in Spira is a little tense, Yuna wants to help and approaches the Youth League (one of the political parties) headquarters. Killing their guards left and right on the way. WTF, Yuna.

  • PaganPoet

    The Dragon Quest slimes? I mean, seriously, those guys are adorable. Look at them. And they’re so weak, can their attacks really be taken more seriously than a little kitten’s claws? They look so cheerful, maybe they’re just trying to play when the DQ protagonist comes along and brutally murders them all. Who’s the real monster, Enix?

    • feisto

      Hey, nobody said saving the world was for the faint of heart. Why do you think so many kings send you off on a quest to defeat unprecedented evil armed with a friggin’ stick?

    • SamPlays

      Go watch “The Blob” and see if you feel the same way. Sure, the slime is all cute and smiley at first but you’ll regret it when a mountain-sized slime slowly devours you and your loved ones along with the rest of humanity.

      • Citric

        But mountain-sized slimes are King Slimes, and they have an adorable little crown and everything.

        • SamPlays

          Hitler had a cute little mustache but look what happened there.

        • PaganPoet

          @SamPlays:disqus woah there hitler

    • ProfFarnsworth

      I loved those slimes.  They made the bulk of my monster fighting team in DQVIII.  Yes, I admit that I am the legendary PROFESSOR who fights monsters in the ARENA!

  • flowsthead

    Man, I must have some sort of moral failing because I could not care less about all of these grunts, even the cute ones. I either always side with the protagonists, or with whoever is strongest at the moment. For example, I always loved how Beatrix would beat my team in FF9, otherwise I would be rooting for my guys to kill everyone.

    I think the Cactuar are super cute, and the Tonberries can be too, but I had no qualms about killing them. More experience means my guys kill things faster. Although generally I will play games with the good character options, trying to help people and not kill indiscriminately (unless a guide tells me I can get a super awesome weapon, in which case I kill who I have to with pleasure), but if helping people isn’t involved I kill everyone.

    • The_Helmaroc_King

      I can relate. Sometimes, it’s like I know what I’m supposed to feel, in the abstract, but video games are usually systems with goals and challenges, and there’s a certain pride I can find in success, regardless of what my actions are supposed to represent.

      I think this is one of the reasons I’m so interested in the spate of “non-traditional” games like The Walking Dead or Dear Esther. I’m not always impressed, but they’re certainly trying different ways to engage me that don’t trigger that kind of reflex.

    • DrFlimFlam

       I both adore and fear tonberries.

      • Drinking_with_Skeletons

         DOINK!

      • http://caspiancomic.com/gametheory caspiancomic

         Man I went through a roller coaster ride of emotions when I met a Tonberry for the very first time. It was in the Northern Crater in VII. The emotional journey went something like,

        1. Haha! What a cutie!
        2. Isn’t this guy going to attack me? He’s just waddling around! What a wimp!
        3. 9999
        4. Run away!

        • DrFlimFlam

          Definitely the most terrifying, but not the most annoying. I HATED Malboros.

      • flowsthead

        Malboros were the absolute worst. They had 5000 status effects on you. It was so fricken annoying if you weren’t near a place you could heal at. I’d rather face Tonberry after Tonberry than deal with Malboros.

    • Smilner

       See, my survival instinct and immediate panic and fear is what leads me to trying to put down a Tonberry as fast as possible.  Not the XP.  Few things can put me at higher risk for heart failure than that little bastard taking one step closer.

    • Afghamistam

      I can think of any time I’ve felt such conflict as the first time I encountered a Tonberry in FFVII. In my hubris, I imagined that even though I was in the final dungeon, nothing that cute could possibly be any threat. My arrogance only increased as I rained blows upon it. And even though it was no-selling every one of my attacks, doing nothing but walking slowly towards me, it never occurred to me at any point that I was making a grim mistake.

      One shiv+9999 later…

      • doyourealize

        Weird what we remember. I recall that first encounter, too. Just assuming it’s a normal enemy, and then coming closer and closer to despair as none of my attacks was the final attack. I really think they’re terrifying, and mostly because of that first battle.

  • LoveWaffle

    The Rachni in Mass Effect. Here’s this species that was apparently wiped out being seen for the first time in thousands of years, and here I am shooting them. Yeah, I saved the Rachni Queen (twice), but I still had to open fire on all the grunts the game threw at you.

    I guess the same could be said of the bison in Red Dead Redemption, all of which I brutally slaughtered to get that friggin’ achievement. Extinction events aren’t something I want my character to be a part of.

    • SamPlays

      I’m with Drew on the Sasquatch hunt. When I realized I was being a dick, I let the last one go. Then I came back and shot him and instantly felt remorse.

      • TaumpyTearrs

        I gave up on Red Dead after a few hours and gave it to my roommate, who ended up doing almost everything possible in the damn game. I still remember when he came to my door upset after the Sasquatch quest, “Dude, the most fucked up thing just happened in the game…” He felt bad about it too, and I don’t think he had EVER had that reaction to a game before.

    • dmikester

      Second to the bison.  They were especially depressing because there was no practical reason to hunt them down; there was plenty of wildlife around for you to survive.

    • Unexpected Dave

      And Mass Effect tries to give you moral absolution for slaughtering all the Rachni workers and soldiers, by explaining that they’ve irretrievably lost their minds. That just makes me feel worse.

    • Halloween_Jack

      There are a bunch of (thankfully optional) feel-bad choices in the Mass Effect series, many of them renegade, some of which have you actually killing former squad-mates in the third game. The only reverse situation that I can think of in the trilogy is letting Rana Thanoptis live in the first game, which, as a news report in the third game tells you, isn’t such a hot idea.

      • ProfFarnsworth

        I remember reading that during my first play through and thinking: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0LxAt-mjK8

    • beema

      For a while I was trying to get all the RDR achievement, but after a certain point I just said “fuck this, I’m not going to slaughter animals for no reason, especially not the Buffalo which were actually hunted to extinction IRL”

      • SamPlays

        Look at me being pedantic: The buffalo in North America were pushed NEARLY to extinction. Their population has recovered somewhat and they enjoy the various luxuries afforded by national parks and wildlife reserves. 

        • His_Space_Holiness

          Yet we still consume their delicious wings in vast quantities! When will the cruelty end?

      • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

        You can cheat by massacring the bison and getting the achievement then reloading to enjoy your hypocrisy. I wiped the entire herd out by riding around and throwing sticks of dynamite at them.

  • Mistah Chrysoprase

    I’d have to go with Return to Zork’s aptly named codger/human doorstop Booze. Man I felt bad stabbing that guy. All he ever wanted was to sit in his shack and share a drink or six with any passing stranger who wandered into his house, but he just HAD to go and park his ass right on the essential trap door.
    Of course later I found out that was absolutely NOT how you solved the puzzle, and it basically broke the game to boot. One of the few times I was actually glad to have to dump a couple hours worth of supposed progress.
    Want some rye? Fuck yeah old man, fuck yeah.

    • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

      “Want some rye?” “‘Course you do!” is still a standby call-and-response in-joke between me and the only high-school friend who actually played through that game.

      • Aurora Boreanaz

        My little brothers and I use that one as well!

  • EmperorNortonI

    I know I’ve felt this before, in one form or another, but I honestly can’t remember when.  I’ve been playing mainly strategy for a while, which is not a genre in which this comes up – at least, it shouldn’t be.

    However, I do feel kinda bad when I damage or destroy infrastructure in strategy games.  Sometimes in Civ, you need to walk around and destroy farms and mines and roads and whatnot, to break an enemy whose cities you can’t quite take at the moment.  It hurts me.  Much worse, though, was Master of Orion, wherein it quite often was strategically sound to bomb the crap out of enemy planets.  I hated it, and didn’t do it often, but I still did it.

    It also bothers me when in games like Fallout, the gangs and raiders and whatnot are shoot-first types, dead set on attacking you no matter what.  Not only is it stupidly suicidal, but how come they are just so sure you can’t get along?  Given how few people are left in the wasteland, wouldn’t it be worth their time to get to know you a bit, before opening fire?  Maybe you’re just looking to join their gang – why else would you walk out of your way to their camp?

    • CrabNaga

      Taking a city in Civ hurts especially, because (at least in Civ V) you usually wipe out half the people living there during the siege. A 25 population city gets reduced to a 13 population city, and most of the infrastructure and buildings gets destroyed too. Razing a city is even worse, although sometimes it must be done because either you’re at your happiness limit or the AI is really dumb in placing their cities (I’m looking at you, Kamehameha).

      I wish, at least in games like Fallout and Elder Scrolls, that the lowly bandits/raiders would at least have a lick of sense in knowing when to attack you. Obviously they outnumber you in any given situation, but I’d think twice about plinking away at someone in power armor with a gigantic plasma caster, especially if all I have is some crappy leather armor and a hunting rifle.

    • Roswulf

      On the strategy games side.

      This has been discussed before, but the Paradox strategy games are designed to turn the player into a viciously expansionist monster, sweeping other religions and cultures into the dustbin of history along with the bones of ten thousand poor soldiers.

      I’m fine with that- comes with the ludicrous power fantasy. If the Malayans want to declare war on MY world-spanning Scottish empire, I’m not going to apologize for wiping their armies off the map. And if they refuse to acknowledge my fundamental right as the player with a bigger more competent army to bring them civilization and me their wealth, well, they might as well be declaring war.

      But my soul gets weary when dealing with “natives”. Colonizing new land occassionally causes rebellions not tied to any political allegiance. So eight thousand brave men rise on the coast of Ghana hurling themselves at my riflemen in the desperate hope that they can stop their country from becoming a cog in a monstrous empire, supplying slaves for cotton plantations across a great ocean. And without even pressing a button, I wipe them out with 25 or 50 casualties. Just brutal.

      It’s not enough to stop me playing or even colonizing, but I make small concessions to my flickering conscience. When an event pops up and lets me choose how to treat the natives, I am always as nice as possible. And I don’t even let my cursor hover over the “EXTERMINATE NATIVES” button. But these are hollow gestures towards not being a monster.

    • Afghamistam

      I got curious and bought Civ V. It was my first Civ game.

      And in my first playthrough the first CPU player I met was Gandhi. And he was all like “Give me all your shit, asshole, or it’s ON.” Which I thought was a bit bolshy for a leader with one visible city, but y’know, it was Gandhi. How could I…

      Reader, I annihilated him. And then I sacked the two or three city states around him because by that point my bloodlust had been awakened.

      It was only weeks later, after reading about his legendary aggressiveness that I realised what I’d avoided.

      • Drinking_with_Skeletons

         I haven’t seen Gandhi in one of my games in a while.  My impression is that he’s pretty hardcore, but he’ll generally leave you alone if you are peaceful.  But God help you if you ever declare war on anyone, for any reason, or you seem to be building up towards him.  He’s like alternate reality Flanders in that Treehouse of Horror with the time traveling toaster.  He’s nice, but he’s got no patience for your shit.

    • OrangeLazarus

      A couple of months ago, I was trying to take over Japan and almost gave up when Nobunaga begged that I not destroy his nation. But I was running out of room and resources on the small island I started on so I pressed on. I eventually did agree to peace when he gave me four cities.

    • Flying_Turtle

      In Civ, I don’t start conflicts, but once I’m in a war, I won’t stop until my civ or the enemy’s is gone. I like to think that it sends a message to other civilizations that my civ is one you should play nice with, but oddly it seems to have the opposite effect. I don’t see how winning a war I didn’t start makes me a warmongering menace, and I don’t see why you’d want to irritate a supposed warmongering menace, but that’s AI for you.

      For Fallout, I kind of wonder how those groups formed in the first place. At some point, you guys stopped shooting anything that moves long enough to cooperate with each other. I’d expect to be approached with caution rather than guns blazing, especially if I’m walking around with great equipment. Also, if you’re charging at me with a baseball bat, and you’ve seen me gun down 3 of your buddies, you know this is going to end badly for you, why not abort the attack?

  • Sa3ad

    Sif in Dark Souls. For those who didn’t play the game, Sif is probably the most ridiculous thing in it; a giant wolf carrying a gargantuan sword in his jaw which he uses to slash at you. If you manage to wound him severely enough he’ll start to limp, his ears slouching while he makes futile attempts to fight back. And then he loses his balance and trips and it’s pretty much the worst thing ever. Look at him! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3f8uoUlEo4c

    Oh, and the Mulligans from The Binding of Isaac. Poor blighters.

    • Sa3ad

      Also notable is the fact that in the expansion (do people still use that term?) you actually get to rescue and fight alongside Sif in the past. If you elect to face him after completing the added content, Sif will recognise your scent before the battle and only reluctantly takes up arms against you:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkyi8aLgq_k
      In this case, the enemy creature would much rather not fight the player. Role reversal! It’s a thing!

      • WorldCivilizations

        Thought of Sif right away too. Always wished you could just leave after you’ve basically bested him, I get legitimately upset having to finish him off.

    • miltthefish

      There certainly was an element of tragedy for many of the bosses in Dark Souls, with Sif being the most notable. One exception was Bed of Chaos…that boss can go fuck itself.

      • http://starttocrate.tumblr.com/ Http Lovecraft

        Almost every non-Lord boss has some tragic element (SPOILERS): 
        -Pinwheel is a sorcerer who cursed himself and his family (the mother and child who live as masks) to living in that form and he’s in his boss area trying futilely to reverse the spell.
        -Artorias is cursed by the Abyss while saving his friend (though you get to preserve, or actually create, his legend).
        -All the bosses of the Demon Ruins/Izalith area are the cursed sons and daughters of the Witch of Izalith, living in torment.
        -Gwyndolin was raised as a woman (the daughter of Gwyn) after Gwyn’s first son somehow betrays the family.-Crossbreed Priscilla is a prisoner of the painted world just for being born half-dragon (though you don’t have to kill her, I suppose).
        -Gwyn’s a mindless hollow himself after linking the fire the first time.

        Probably a lot more in there if you hunt for lore videos or carefully read item descriptions.

        Ornstein and Smough are pure jerks, though, slaughter them with deserved pleasure.

        • http://www.facebook.com/gareth.hughes.1253 Gareth Hughes

          “All the bosses of the Demon Ruins/Izalith area are the cursed sons and daughters of the Witch of Izalith, living in torment.”

          I thought it was just Ceaseless Discharge, I’m pretty sure Firesage Demon isn’t and Centipede definitely aint as he’s born from the ring Ceaseless drops. But yeah, the look on Ceaseless’ face is heartbreaking.

          I’m on my 4th playthrough and have yet to kill Priscilla, partially out of pity but mainly due to not having a dex build that would make it worthwhile getting her soul and tail cut. Her fuzzy ass got lucky.

          • http://starttocrate.tumblr.com/ Http Lovecraft

            Hmm, I guess I’m also thinking of that daughter running around near the Bed of Chaos fog gate, though she’s hardly boss-caliber.

            Playing on NG+++? Or trying new characters? I’ve only beaten Gwyn 2-3 times (and only NG+ once, as needed to get the ‘all special weapons’ achievement), yet I find myself compelled to make new characters and try out other builds CONSTANTLY.

        • http://www.facebook.com/gareth.hughes.1253 Gareth Hughes

          Trying out new play styles, first one was an unfocused mess but I’ve since done a magic build, a lightweight str build and my current one which is a medium/heavy str character. I also want to do a lightweight dex guy at some point.

          Got to 4 Kings on NG+ but never felt compelled to play any further. It is nice being able to breeze through the first half of the game but I’m not an achievement chaser or a completionist so when I get bored with a character I tend to just start fresh.

    • CrabNaga

      I’ll say Knight Solaire, too. Sure, he’s gone mad from having a parasite attached to his brain, but there MUST be some other way to stop him without killing him. There simply MUST! We can go off and look for your sun together, damn it! (Yes I know you can prevent it from happening.)

      Also, if you’re going for certain achievements, it’s necessary to kill off a bunch of the NPCs in the game. Humble blacksmiths, ingenious sorcerers, and innocent bystanders: it matters not. Succumb to your humanity!

      • Carlton_Hungus

        You can save him!  Get high enough in the spider fire-keepers coven (level 2) and there’s a secret door that will open up to Lost City of Izalith, there you can kill the bug that ultimately corrupts Solaire’s mind.  He doesn’t find his sun but he lives, and helps you fight Lord Gwyn.

        • ZTO

          *Spoiler for a fairly inscrutable story, I guess?*

          Which leads to the pretty awesome theory that he is the war god that got kicked out of the Anor Lando pantheon, and I think that would also make him Gwyn’s son. His items make reference that he is unnaturally skilled and strong since his armor is just normal stuff. Makes summoning him for the final battle a lot more interesting. Just more reason to love the sun bro.

      • Carlton_Hungus

        But there is no greater joy than killing the notorious assclowns Smough and Ornstein.

    • Kyle O’Reilly

       Don’t forget that Quelaag, the attractive, naked woman with a hideous tarantula for a lower half, is really just trying to protect her poor blind sister and give her the souls she needs to stay alive.

      Oh and when you kill Quelaag and find the sister, she says something along the lines of “Sister, is that you?”

      • Fluka

        Well *that’s* heartbreaking.

    • doyourealize

      And this makes me think of the Old Hero in Demon’s Souls. Aside from the fact that all the bosses in this game are trapped souls, the Old Hero gets that extra sympathy for being blind. He comes on strong and can seem almost impossible, towering over you and swinging his huge sword, creating earthquakes and light attacks. Then you see that blindfold over his eyes and realize he can’t see you. You can’t help but feel a little sorry for him, tiptoeing around, taking a few hits then backing off, watching from a distance as he swings over and over again at nothing. And then he dies.

      • WorldCivilizations

        Demon’s Souls has plenty of good bosses for this article. The final “boss” merits a mention (especially if you choose the “bad” ending), as does the Old Hero, but the really powerful one is Maiden Astraea. It’s not totally clear to me what the lore surrounding her is, but it seems that she used the Demon Soul to gain power to help the wretched, uh, people in the Valley of Defilement, but then seems to have become a demon herself. Still, Garl nobly fights to the death to protect her, and once you do, she basically spits at you “take your precious Demon’s Soul” then kills herself. Both Souls games are pretty great at making you start a noble mission and finish feeling like a pawn or a monster.

        • doyourealize

          I thought of Astraea at first, but I think that player-regret comes from the sadness in her voice…not to mention the kickass music during that fight. As I remember it, she’s the reason the swamp is the way it is. She loves it, but she’s also its ruiner. Sort of the Mother Theresa of Demon’s Souls. It’s a sad moment, I think, but ultimately deserved.

      • Sa3ad

        That was a great boss. I remembered another encounter from that game which probably fits the theme of this discussion: Maiden Astraea and her body guard Garl Vinland. 

        When you enter their domain — a bog where mutated monstrosities pray for salvation — Astraea pleads “Leave us, slayer of Demons. This is a sanctuary for the lost and wretched. There is nothing here for you to pillage and plunder. Please, leave quietly.” 

        And when you engage Vinland in battle he tells you the following; “You will not turn back, will you? I shall let no harm come to dearest Astraea. May you rot in the deepest depths of this swamp. How dare you persist in intruding upon our haven. You abandoned us long ago; what right do you have? We live humble lives.” And then when you bash poor Vinland’s skull asunder, and approach the Maiden, she gives you this final guilt trip “You killed him didn’t you? Very well. I can no longer resist you. Do as you like. Take your precious Demon soul.”, and then promptly kills herself. I’ve rarely felt less heroic defeating a boss in a game.

      • TheBryanJZX90

        I also immediately thought of Maiden Astraea when I read this headline. Even though it was pretty obvious that the game was trying to make you feel like a monster and were Doing the Wrong Thing, well it succeeded. It was so frustrating though, Astraea and Garl basically say “hey, you don’t have to do this, you have a choice, you can just turn around and leave.” And I immediately thought “OK! You guys have fun in your bloody plague swamp I’m outta here!”

        But you can’t. The game tells you you have a choice, then it forces you to kill an innocent. Kinda fucked up.

  • DrFlimFlam

    The ghost dog in Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon comes to mind. Many of the ghosts are more mischievous than evil, but the ghost dog isn’t even that; he just wants someone to play with, and his boisterous good nature is infectious, if at cross purpose with Luigi’s goals. So it feels wrong to flash him with the light and zap him into my Poltergust to proceed in the game.

    Luckily, he proves difficult to keep there.

    • Drinking_with_Skeletons

       Man, fuck that dog.  I wanted Luigi to pull out a ghost 12-gauge and put it down so I wouldn’t have to chase it around again.

  • Raging Bear

    Bears, obviously. Really though, games have really jumped on the “bears=mindless killing machines” bandwagon, when we all know that the truth is more like “bears=clever, judicious, and adorable killing machines.”

    I hate when games make you defend yourself against bears, or really any other timid forest critters, who behave like nothing so much as zombies.

    • SamPlays

      Bears are just plain awesome when they’re sitting on their ass in a daybed (usually a wide, shallow hole in the ground). 

    • Colonel Mustard

      I had to kill SO MANY bears in Assassin’s Creed 3, and I felt terrible every time.

      • TheInternetSaid

        Nia:wen

      • http://www.avclub.com/ B.K.

        AC3 has nothing on Oregon Trail. As a deranged child I would kill two dozen bears knowing that I could only carry 200 lbs back to the wagon.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      But then there’s Psychonaut’s hovering, telekinetic bears. Those guys stink.

      • Raging Bear

        You just bought yourself an astral claw swipe, buddy.

    • Aurora Boreanaz

      In 1990 I visited my mom in southern Alaska.  She lived with her husband on a sailboat at the time, so during my visit we sailed around to several islands, went fishing, hiked a bit, and generally had lots of outdoors fun.

      At one point we were walking back up a stream after doing a bit of fishing, and heard a rustling from the tall grass about 100 feet away.  Mom stopped us all just in time to see a black bear step halfway out of the grass and stop to look at us.

      Mom very, VERY slowly raised her camera up to her eye, all of us (and the bear) staying perfectly still.  She took a picture…

      CLICK!

      …and the bear turned around and RAN away from us!

      To this day, I’m just glad that A) it wasn’t a mother bear with cubs, and B) wasn’t a grizzly bear, which were also very common in that area.

    • WorldCivilizations

      I doubt anyone here has played Unreal World (a really cool wilderness survival roguelike), but I still feel pretty bad hunting in the game – I remember in particular managing to trap an elk early in the game and having only a club, smashing it over and over in the neck and skull before it mercifully fell unconscious. 

    • The_Juggernaut_Bitch

       Bullshit.  Most bears are some rapey sumbitches, I tell you what. You hear a story ’bout some poor fool getting killed by a bear in the woods? You gotta know that bear done raped that poor bastard before eating him.  It’s just a thing bears do.  They don’t talk about that shit on the news when someone gets killed by bears… probably respect for the dead or something, I dunno… they got scientists that study this kind of thing.

  • The_Misanthrope

    He’s not necessarily a creature, but I always felt bad that Herbert “Daring” Dashwood had to die during the ghoul’s violent take-over of Tenpenny Tower’s little gated community.  The rest of those assholes probably has it coming, but Dashwood was cool.

    • Aurora Boreanaz

      In an alternate universe of my Fallout playthrough (saved the game before doing this, then reloaded and continued on normally), I assassinated Allistair Tenpenny and threw him off his balcony.  I then went down to ground level, found his body, and carried it over to the firing range where a guard was practicing his marksmanship.

      I found it endlessly amusing that this guard watched me drag his boss’ body over and drape it over a target, and all he would have to say was “Move, please” or “Get out of the way”.  Once I moved off, he would happily continue his target practice on Tenpenny’s corpse.  Obviously the employees weren’t very fond of him, either.

      • TaumpyTearrs

        I forgot the name, but the little village in Skyrim you go to first (River Town or something?) was where I always went back to when I was between missions. At a certain point, I seemed to get attacked by a dragon EVERY time I fast travelled there. Eventually the black smith was killed by a dragon, and after stripping him, I dragged his body back to his house and laid it on his blacksmithing table. It was pretty funny watching his family not react at all to this, especially when I started using the table and began hammering iron on his corpse.

  • Indoorsman

    It’s been a while since I played Red Dead Redemption, but there must have been firebombs or Molotov cocktails or something because I remember burning that sobbing Sasquatch alive.

    Yup. 

  • MathleticDepartment

    “What enemies did you wish you didn’t have to fight”

    Weight gain

    Oh you wanted a video game one, let me get back to you

    • Mercenary_Security_number_4

       I agree.  Weight Gain has given me a lot of comfort in my life.  Trying to get rid of it is like betraying my oldest friend.

      • Halloween_Jack

        IKR? Especially when you have enough spare weight to actually make an entire other person (that is, if the fat could transform into muscle, bone, skin and organs); you’d like to be able to just bud it off like a yeast cell and have this sidekick made of you that you could have adventures with, but no, you have to kill it off… ounce by stinking ounce. 

  • stakkalee

    All the nameless guards in the Assassin’s Creed series.  Sure, they’re technically Templars, but it’s not like they’re in on any of the plotting.  Cesare Borgia isn’t holding new employee orientation seminars to fill these guys in on the Templars’ plan for world domination.  I always get a mordant little chuckle whenever I accidentally kill a civilian because the game warns “Ezio did not kill civilians,” but the only difference between the man on the street and the guard on the rooftops is that the latter is wearing a uniform.

    • Afghamistam

      Whenever I see “Ezio did not kill civilians” a little voice in my head instantly replies “as far as you know”.

    • Citric

      Assassin’s Creed makes me think of the opposite question, things that you are discouraged from killing but do anyway because they’re annoying. Those lamprey-esque beggar women in the first one, especially when they get angry that you’re not giving them coins, I’d stab them just because sometimes.

      • GaryX

        Playing an AC game for me is a balancing act between “dsynchronization” and hidden-blade stabbing all the annoying bards possible. Poison blades tend to be the best.

    • TheInternetSaid

      I get a Marxist cringe when I rummage through a guard’s corpse and find like $5.

  • Jackbert

    Dogs, in any game. Also, the assorted absolutely adorable Shadows in Persona 3.

    • signsofrain

      I always kind of felt bad about killing the dogs in Wolfenstein 3D and Quake.

      • SamPlays

        Whoa there, Hitler! You’re standing at the top of a slippery slope to denying the Holocaust with this one.

      • NakedSnake

        Nah, the dogs in Wolfenstein were clearly Nazis. Totally OK to kill. Plus they were terrifying. In fact, I remember at one time in my creating-levels-for-wolfenstein phase, I made a level that was basically all dogs; it was definitely a stressful experience.

        • SamPlays

          Attack dogs are terrifying because they’re fearless. They’re also adorable when you put a little hat on their head. 

    • Mercenary_Security_number_4

       I always avoid coyote packs in New Vegas because I hate how the parents will fight me to the death and then their poor brave little pups will continue to try to take me down.  Its pitiful and heartbreaking.  Made me really mad when the game spawned a family of them right in front of the passage to one of the DLCs.

      • The_Juggernaut_Bitch

         I use the 40K Chainsword mod for them, specifically.

        • TaumpyTearrs

          When Mr. House’s machine opened up to reveal his even-more-frail-than-Mr. Burns body, even my roommate (who is usually bloodthirsty and unemotional about games) was taken aback when I exploded his body into a bloody mess with a VATS-assisted chainsaw blow.

  • signsofrain

    I can think of a few examples:

    In Chrono Cross, there’s the classic first quest… murdering dragon pups so you can make Leena a necklace. Thou must murder helpless young lizards (the game even suggests these creatures are sentient and capable of speech! though that’s perhaps only in the other world) and when you’re done murdering babies and their bigger badder mother comes roaring out at you, you have to murder her too. I killed them. I killed them all. They’re dead, every single one of them. And not just the men, but the women and the children, too. They’re like animals, and I slaughtered them like animals.. Enjoy your gore-soaked necklace Leena, you bitch. 

    In Ultima VI there’s a dungeon in which a bunch of children are imprisoned in cells. If you throw a lever on the wall you can set the children free, but as soon as you do they swarm out and start attacking you. You’re faced with a choice between killing them, putting them to sleep with potions or spells, or trying to shove them back into their cells. The easiest way to end the encounter is to kill them, and that’s what I always did but I always felt terrible about it.

    Finally, in FFVII I always kind of felt bad about killing those “House with arms and legs” enemies you run into shortly after Cloud falls through the church roof and meets Aerith. I dunno… they just seem like such tragic creatures. I kind of imagined that they were the product of a Ninja Turtles-esque mutagen that dripped down from Midgar and brought piles of junk to life.

    • beema

      ughhhh I hated that quest in Chrono Cross. What the FUCK was that?
      I had to just grit my teeth and bare it.
      Slaughtering cute creatures is totally a Japanese thing
      Filling you with terrible guilt is also a very Japanese thing

      • signsofrain

        I know right? They don’t even want to fight you! They run away! You have to trick them and trap them and force them to fight you! It’s probably the most barbaric first quest I’ve ever encountered. 

      • DrFlimFlam

        This is why Leena is not wife material. Materialistic AND she wants you to murder baby dragons.

        It is probably the worst quest in the entire game to boot.

    • TaumpyTearrs

      As a kid I felt compelled to kill everything possible in videogames, but I do admit that killing prisoners made me a feel a little sick about it. I specifically remember the animation in Blackthorne when you shot the frail prsioners chained to the wall, and there bodies slump down but are still suspended by one chained up arm. See also, the first Legacy of Kain when I would suck the blood from helpless prisoners.

  • Drinking_with_Skeletons

    SPOILERS

    In Legend of Mana, at the end of one of the main quest lines (the game gives you a choice of three and requires you to complete at least one to finish the game) you have to fight Irwin.  On the one hand, Irwin is a demon who wants to destroy the world.  On the other, he’s only destroying the world because he fell in love with a human woman–something that a demon shouldn’t even be able to do–and this love directly caused her to age tremendously quickly, so the only way he sees to set things right is to destroy the world that allows such impossible horror to occur in the hopes that something better will rise from the ashes.  It’s a surprisingly sad story in a mostly upbeat game, made sadder by the way the narrative is presented as all but inevitable. 

    • Unexpected Dave

      *SPOILERPLATE*

      All three of those main quest lines are really tragic*, but the only one where I felt like a monster was in the dragon-killing quest.

      *If crying for the Jumi really did turn a person to stone, then you could call me Dr. Rock.

      • Drinking_with_Skeletons

        I always figured that the dragons were all kind of dicks outside of the forest one (seriously, one of them is undead).  That plotline, partly as the most straightforward to trigger, always struck me as the obligatory big damn hero option.  Well done, but still.

        City of Flickering Destruction is a piece of music that really sells the sadness of the Jumi.  You want to cry just entering the City of Jewels, empty as it is while that track plays. 

        There are a couple of orchestral versions of tracks from the game floating around on YouTube, but I’d buy the hell out of a full orchestral version of the entire soundtrack. 

  • PPPfive

    I hated killing the bad guys in Sonic, not because I felt bad for them though, quite the opposite. It’s because you are destroying a robot and freeing a woodland creature. This means the only way to take out my frustrations on the beast that just made me lose all my rings, is to free it from a life of mechanical incarceration. NOT SATISFYING. It was equally shitty to leave them as robots, wandering the plains and wreaking havoc. A lose-lose.

    • Mercenary_Security_number_4

      I don’t think the animals were morally responsible for the actions the robots took.  The fact that they moved in such a repetitive pattern is a pretty clear indication that there was not even primitive animal instinct involved.  The animals were just being used as batteries or something, more of an unwilling passenger than even a brainwashed operator.

      • PPPfive

        That’s what’s so frustrating! I could only do good and cause happiness when, being 8 and newly bereft of virtual rings, I just wanted to destroy and kill those responsible. I resented every creature’s freedom, though the way you paint it, the poor lobotomised headcases would not have survived 1 day in the wilds. Maybe it is the most fitting end after all; I’m not burdened with executing a mentally unwell criminal. Let nature decide.

  • duwease

    *DRAGON-SIZED DRAGON AGE 2 SPOILERS*

    The final battle of the game, where the simmering tensions between Templar and Mage finally erupt, and the last sensible leader of the Templars gets done in by the lunatic Mage element.  Never have I sat at a “Choose a response” screen so long, desperately scouring the internet looking for a way out.  Surely it will let you punish the wicked without massive civilian collateral damage, right?  Nope.
     
    Thematically, it’s an interesting reflection on Us vs. Them mentality, where the actions of the worst come to reflect unfairly on the average person in the eyes of the other side, and people who otherwise wouldn’t take up arms get forced into defending whoever they sympathize with when the mess hits the fan.  In game… well, nothing takes the wind out of the trope of “Epic Final Battle” more than the ‘enemies’ you’re slaughtering being all the normal folks you’d who you’ve been having sensible political conversations with not too much earlier.

    • Fluka

      Ain’t no way to feel good about that ending.

      SPOILERS

      Sided with the Templars, thus I felt bad about killing the mages, Orsino, and even Anders.  In a very weird way, however, I also felt bad about killing Meredith, mostly because she was a really neat character.  Classic villain with strong convictions (who actually sometimes has a point), and a good non-sexualized female one at that.  Well, a good character up until she magically goes crazy – come on, videogames, stop using “madness!” as a plot crutch! 

      • duwease

        I did too, even as a Mage.  Didn’t feel great about it, but there *did* seem to be an awful lot of rogue abominations sprouting up, all of a sudden.

        Also agree about Meredith.. I wish she and Orsino had both shown up earlier, actually, to really flesh them out.  The central conflict was compelling enough, but it could have benefited from having them coming in as the personifications of the two sides a little earlier to really tie the drama together.

    • DrFlimFlam

      I sided with the mages, as I usually do, but boy oh boy did I take pleasure in separating Anders’ head from his body, even though it left me with zero healing mages until my sister later re-joined the party.

      • duwease

        Seriously.. I believe that’s the moment that I went from “What a terrible character, I couldn’t identify with him”, to “Oh, I’m *supposed* to not identify with him.. what a great character!”  It was the first time I’d really had a party member in an RPG that you weren’t supposed to really buddy with eventually.

        • DrFlimFlam

          For all of its recycled environs, I really, really liked the cast of DA2, and that’s part of why. I liked that there was a guy in your party you very well could end up hating to DEATH, and I like how angry I got when Anders did that. I could just see my sword and board tank pull out his sword with a grim look and take care of business.

  • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

    Gotta mention Negative Man from Mother 3. That poor guy…

  • doyourealize

    Spoilers for The Last of Us

    I’m still unsure about whether it was the right choice or not narratively, but the doctor operating on Ellie at the end of The Last of Us was pretty much an innocent bystander. No way that scalpel he held was a threat to Joel. When I played, I just walked up to him and Joel took that scalpel and jammed it in the doctor’s neck. Apparently, there’s no way not to kill this guy. You can shoot him in the foot if you want, but that’s a death blow somehow.

    The problem I had with this is that makes Joel less sympathetic. Somehow it’s okay to mow people down who are shooting back (and I tried to do that only when I had to in this game), but to murder a dude who’s got no chance of hurting you is extreme. Joel could have kicked the guy in the knee if he wanted. Hell, he probably could have just walked past him and grabbed Ellie off the table.

    Again, I can see arguments as to how this works narratively, but if it was my choice, the doctor’s neck would be scalpel-free.

    • PPPfive

      But he is NOT sympathetic by the end of the game, at least a lot less…I think that’s the intended message

      • doyourealize

        Which is why it might make sense narratively (as I said). The question was “Which enemy creature do you wish you didn’t have to fight?” I might be placing my own whims on the game, but I’m willing to admit that. I just wish I didn’t have to kill that guy.

      • doyourealize

        I hope my first response didn’t come off as dismissive, and I apologize if it did. I think there are good reasons to have Joel do what he did. It’s just not something I would have done.

    • Mercenary_Security_number_4

       Everyone he doesn’t kill is potentially someone who will come after them.  That’s how I saw it anyway.

    • signsofrain

      Yeah I wasn’t happy with being forced to murder that doctor either. Worse still, when I killed the doctor and the game didn’t immediately drop me into the cutscene I assumed I had to kill the other 2 doctors as well. I shot them while they cowered in fear. At the time I did feel pretty justified mowing the Fireflies down but shooting scared unarmed people was a bit much.

      • ByronAytch

        Because I was playing it with a buddy who had already gone through the game, my first playthrough was on survivor difficulty. It took me FOREVER to get through the room of Fireflies guarding Ellie; I was completely wiped out of health and ammo at the start of the room. 

        One hour and many restarts later, I got to the doctors. I killed two of the three with my revolver right away. The third doctor, who happened to be a lady, cowered in the corner. Without hesitating, I ran up to her and hit the melee button. Joel… basically stomped her to death where she crouched.

        Some combination of frustration, adrenalin, curiosity, and perhaps genuine concern for Ellie spurred my bloody rampage. At the time, I had zero hesitation. I knew what Joel wanted to do. Upon reflection though, the last death has really haunted me. But, uh, hey, I was just roleplaying Joel really well, right?

        • signsofrain

          I certainly didn’t hesitate shooting the scalpel-doctor. But I paused for a few seconds before shooting the other two. I didn’t want to, because I knew they weren’t a threat. Point a gun at me or come at me with a knife, I’ve got no problem straight-up murdering your ass, but all I wanted in that moment was for the cut scene to start and when it didn’t I just kind of sighed resignedly and half-heartedly executed the other two. 

          I find it interesting that despite the two different attitudes we approached the scene with it ended the same way for both of us. I learned later that if you walk over to Ellie you can trigger the cutscene without killing the other 2 doctors, but even that offers me no comfort when I lie awake at night. Sparing those two wouldn’t change anything else about the ending, so the choice is pretty much meaningless.

          Now your question is added to my haunting burdens… are you truly roleplaying if the game offers you no choice or if the choice is essentially meaningless? And damnit Joel, what do you have against zip ties? Handcuff those mofos and get the hell out of there! Save your ammo for the dudes with machine guns.

        • doyourealize

          It’s interesting to hear all the different reactions. I remember literally pausing and just walking up to the guy. I thought I’d be able to shove him out the way or something. Maybe because, in that final hallway, I sneaked through most it, incapacitating only a couple guards. I didn’t have that adrenaline going when I reached the doctor’s room, and so wasn’t in the killing mood.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      There was an illusion, or maybe expectation, in Last of Us that Joel was a conventionally moral protagonist who had to compromise at times in order to survive in such a harsh world. Or needed Ellie to bring that morality back to clarity.
       It was telegraphed when he first started murdering the Fireflies in the hospital, and then confirmed with the doctors, that Joel really was a self-serving sociopath, not just dabbling.
        That, more than anything really emphasized the toll of the virus. It wiped out humanity in more ways than just turnin’ folks into bad-ass mushrooms.  

    • The_Juggernaut_Bitch

       Man, not me.  Yeah, I know those dudes thought they were doing the right thing, investigating a way to make the spores non-lethal to humans…

      … but, by that point in the game, Ellie had become Joel’s daughter to me, and *anyone* who wanted to hurt Ellie got their fucking neck snapped. I had just charged my way through a battalion of soldiers, kicked the door in, and popped that guy in the back of the head with my pistol.

      When the other docs fell back from the table and cowered, they demonstrated that they were not immediate threats to me or Ellie, and so they got to live.  First dude would have lived if he had not decided to go through with the operation while I’m killing all his soldiers.

      Bitch in the parking lot, though?  Sorry, lady, you lose.  Your “chance” to save mankind, when mankind is demonstrably adapting and learning to live around the infection, is not worth Ellie’s life.

      And as to the story I told Ellie?  She’s 14.  She doesn’t need to know the truth yet.  Later, when she’s older.  Then I’d tell her.  Maybe.

  • WELCOME_THRILLHO

    Practically every enemy in the Secret of Mana is difficult to kill (or at least in the early game; it’s been a loong time). Rabites- hopping yellow blobs with bunny faces and tales that munch at you or do a hurricane kick attack with their little ears? Bipedal Mushbooms with little hearts on their caps? Why are these guys hostile and why must I put them down? 

    • NakedSnake

      XP baby… xp.

  • Mercenary_Security_number_4

    Nah, I usually have more of a problem wanting to kill rude, annoying people that I’m not allowed to kill.  For instance, pretty much everyone in Riften (Skyrim).

  • Kyle O’Reilly

    Racking my brain for people I feel bad about killing in video games and I’ve come to the conclusion I’m a digital sociopath.  But no, usually I have flashes of regret over the constant cyber murder when some in-game animation or what not crosses the uncanny valley and just seems too real.

    While playing the fourth entry in the obscure and little-known Grand Theft Auto series, I was on a typical tirade running from the cops weaving between traffic and causing a ruckus.  A cop car pulled up next to me, to try and ram me off the road and without missing a beat, I aimed my Uzi at them and fired.  For some reason the animation of the passenger side cop’s head whipping back and forth after a bullet to the head was especially horrifying.  My roommate was watching me play and even he had to exclaim “Jesus Christ!” at the weird realism of that animation.

    But did I pull over and turn myself in?  Hell no, I kept rolling and probably got shot trying to run to a different car after murdering 12 more police officers.

    • SamPlays

      Once you pop, you can’t stop.

    • DrFlimFlam

      Playing Saint’s Row 3 and BioShock Infinite this year has made me more uncomfortable with random video game killing than I used to be. I’m not growing numb to it; I’m growing MORE sensitive to it.

      • Citric

        It was interesting that I suddenly felt a tinge of regret when killing a human shield in Saint’s Row 3, but it’s otherwise such a cartoon it’s one of the rare games that I really don’t feel too bad killing everything.

  • Colonel Mustard

    One of the best things about the No One Lives Forever games is that you could hide behind corners and just listen to the henchmen shoot the shit for a while.

    That made them seem like actually relatable – if misguided – people, which made it that much more difficult to step out from behind the corner and shoot them in the face.

    • NakedSnake

      Haha, ooops. Get out of my brain!

    • NakedSnake

      Seriously one of my favorite games of all time, though. Few games manage to pull off humor, but NOLF succeeds with flying colors. What’s more, the core shooter gameplay mix between stealth and action is perfect. And even the gimic levels (snowmobiles, planes, etc.) work great. I feel like shooter games are still cribbing off of NOLF to this day.

    • http://mrglitchsreviews.blogspot.com/ Mr. Glitch

      I can dig it. The she-ninjas in NOLF2, who all sound like Elaine from Airplane!, are tough enough to stomach dispatching, but I interrupted one ninja talking about her upcoming nuptials to another, and I felt downright miserable about having to kill the two of them before they could sound an alarm. 

  • Citric

    Just thought of another one – when you throw the museum guard off the roof in Uncharted 2. It is kind of weird just how many henchmen you have to kill in that game, but that guy wasn’t even a henchman, he was a low-level security guard at a museum. He probably had a family and a mortgage, maybe an adorable puppy at home. But you throw him off a cliff into a ravine. He’s probably dead now.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      If it’s any consolation, the aggressive Turkish housing market and entrenched economic disparity means that the guard was likely living in an extended family household and not solely responsible for a mortgage. Though the same economic boom that deepens that disparity has overall increased the cultural norm of pet ownership, so you’re probably right about the puppy.

    • beema

      Nathan Drake is history’s greatest monster

      • Citric

        It always seemed like at some point the henchmen should go “this one dude in a crappy T-shirt has killed thousands of us, maybe we should have some self preservation instincts and run?” So I only felt a little queasy about mowing down all of them. But the poor, innocent roof guard…

        • beema

          The best is when you are running to escape a collapsing building or fire or impending explosion and the henchmen still stop to fight you. They must have some fucking amazing life insurance.

  • HobbesMkii

    In my view, the Pokemon series presents a stark post-nuclear apocalypse and global warming world in which the economy is based entirely on animal abuse.

  • Crusty Old Dean

    The Na’vi-like inhabitants of Shangri-La in Uncharted 2.

    Humanoid creatures, amazing! Possibly the the most exciting discovery in the history of mankind. Never mind some moldy old treasure or whatever, surely Nathan Drake will have some sort of spiritual awakening here!

    Oh – I’m supposed to…?
    Some initial xenophobia is understandable on their part, couldn’t we just…?
    How about if I…?

    *ratatatatat*

  • Unexpected Dave

    In the Star Control series, diplomacy will often help you avoid battles with the more noble races. It always makes me sad when diplomacy fails. The biggest gut punch is the Clairconctlar from Star Control 3, who have been coerced into servitude.

  • ItsTheShadsy

    Waddle Dee. Poor dude.

  • Knarf Black

    Everyone feels bad about killing the mostly harmless mushroom children in Dark Souls… until one of their brutish parents punches all the blood out of your body with a single blow.

  • NakedSnake

    It’s hard not to feel bad killing some  of the rank-and-file bond baddies in No One Lives Forever. Since you play as a super-spy and all, you have plenty of opportunities to eavesdrop on their conversations over the course of the game. After hearing them complain about their uniforms, make fun of their bosses, and their health insurance, etc., it feel a little scummy to quietly eliminate with a silenced 9mm to the back of the head. But as quite a few of them note over the course of the game, they should have chosen a better employer.

    • signsofrain

      Same deal for the goons in Max Payne. I loved sneaking up on those dudes and listening to them. Particularly memorable were a few goons who were discussing their favorite movie endings and one says to the other:

      Oh hey, “Se7en”, where Brad Pitt gets to that head-sized blood-soaked cardboard box…

      • NakedSnake

        For some reason, I love the idea that criminal everywhere are watching and loving movies about criminals.

  • indy2003

    Like a handful of other people, I’ve been playing GTA V lately and Trevor’s hunting missions have made me feel awfully guilty. During the first one, my redneck buddy instructed me to shoot some coyotes. The whimpering noises they made upon being shot made it awfully tough to get through.

    I’m trying to complete all of the official side quests and everything, but I don’t think I’ll be doing any hunting outside of missions which require it. 

    • SamPlays

      People are still playing GTA V? That’s so last week.

  • bostonrocco

    God, the sasquatch killing in Undead Nightmare was so damn depressing.  I couldn’t kill him either.  That part took a much darker turn than I expected.

    • NakedSnake

      Tell the truth: didn’t you have a little inkling that everything was not right with that mission before it began? But you played in through to the end because “hey, it’s a mission!”

      • Sam_Barsanti

        The idea of “I don’t like this, but I might as well do it because it’s a video game!” pops up a few times in Red Dead Redemption. I’d argue that’s the whole point of the twist at the end, too.

      • His_Space_Holiness

        Maybe I’ve just read too much Chandler and Hammett, but I’ve gotten to the point where I immediately suspect that all quest-givers in open-world RPGs are setting me up somehow. I’m not often wrong.

  • Canadian gamer

    The NSA guards in Splinter Cell Conviction had no way to know what their employer was up to. After all, they presumably had got into the NSA to serve their country. Yet, the game would not offer me a way to knock them out. In order to progress, I had to puncture their skulls, snap their necks or smash their faces into walls, with a sarcastic quip after “end-of-zone” kills. It’s like Sam Fisher had forgotten any sense of solidarity with his fellow soldiers. The whole thing felt needlessly cruel.

  • beema

    Uff this comes up in SO many games for me. I’m a ridiculous animal lover and there are so many games where the animals are auto-hostile, or need to be killed for an achievement, or whatever, and it makes me feel sick. 
    - Red Dead Redemption: eventually I caved in because fuck those mountain lions, but it really disturbed me that half of the achievements centered around slaughtering animals.
    - Any “normal” animals in Fallout NV and Skyrim (luckily the perks/shouts can help with this once you get them) — actually in Skyrim I didn’t even want to kill the dragons, at least not the ones you had to seek out. You have these ancient majestic creatures and you have to slaughter them? 
    - Shadow of the Colossus: I pretty much felt terrible killing any of the Colossi. It’s not like they were going out of their way to harm you. You had to seek them out in remote areas, disturb their peace, and then murder them. 
    - Any games that have attack dogs as enemies. 

    • dreadguacamole

      Oh, man. JRPGs are the worst at this! In both final fantasy MMOs, your path to greatness is built on a mountain of cute critters.
      On FFXIV, depending on where you start, you may need to kill dozens of cat-sized ladybugs and squirrels before you move onto things that may conceivably pose a threat to anyone. Ladybugs!
       My wife refuses to play the game because of this sort of thing, and to be honest I don’t blame her.

    • SamPlays

      For what it’s worth, the other half of RDR’s achievements involved picking plants so there’s something for everyone. The cougars were nasty in the game – most times they would kill my horse and I would attempt to run away with little to no success. 

      • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

        I practically shat myself every time I was just riding through the wood minding my own business when I’d spot a bear charging at me.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      During an early section of FF XII, I had to kill x number of cute bunny creatures for some interminable FF XII-style fetch quest, and, rare for her, my wife was watching.
       She straight up told me if I killed one of the bunny creatures she wouldn’t forgive me.
        And while I agreed with her, and felt bad about it, I did it anyways because I just had to get whatever marginal doodad that would be helpful for maybe two levels that murdering those things would provide me.

      • PaganPoet

        You should have showed her the Viera tribe and told her all those little bunnies you didn’t slaughter became sexy dominatrix bunny women. With Bjork accents.

        • The_Juggernaut_Bitch

           Why would this permit killing bunnies?  Seems to me it would make them Federally protected…

        • PaganPoet

          @The_Juggernaut_Bitch:disqus True, but maybe SpaceMonk’s wife would feel differently.

      • beema

        That is grounds for a divorce if I’ve ever heard them

  • ProfFarnsworth

    For me a few come to mind.  One is Illusion of Gaia where  SPOILER  all of the enemies are people who have been horribly transformed by the light of a comet.  Thus the protagonist is killing many, many people via “monsters”

    My other creature I really don’t like to kill is in Dragon Age, when I have to face the Dragon (not the arch demon).  That is such a beautiful creature, and I kill it for it’s skin.

    • DrFlimFlam

      I know they’re destructive, but most games that involve killing dragons seem awfully shortsighted about it. It’s like we WANT to ride the world of the most terrifying, beautiful creature in existence.

      And then sell parts of it in Solitude.

    • Colonel Mustard

      And speaking of dragons, let’s be honest.  Flemeth would be way more valuable as a friend than as a dead enemy.

    • http://mrglitchsreviews.blogspot.com/ Mr. Glitch

      In Pocky & Rocky, you knock the sense back into the mind-controlled boss goblins, but you have to ruthlessly slaughter hordes of also-mind-controlled cannon fodder goblins in order to get to them. This is made all the more disturbing when you consider that one of the two playable characters is a goblin himself.

    • TaumpyTearrs

      That reminds me of the Australian film Undead, which at first seems to be a combination zombie/alien invasion movie.

      But then *SPOILER* it turns out the aliens are actually there to cure people of the zombie infection, so all the “zombies” who have been killed could have been saved. The movie ends with the main character guarding a fenced in area of the infected, protecting them until the aliens return to cure them.

  • SnugglyCrow

    Demons Souls.

    Killing Maiden Astraea, while she refuses to attack you and pleads for you to leave her and her pathetic worshipers alone, is incredibly sad.  Even more so if you take the cheap strategy I usually did of safely standing on a faraway ledge and filling her with arrows.

    If you’re going to 100% Demons Souls you also need to betray and kill people that have befriended and assisted you. Biorr, the addled warrior with a heart of gold who took the majority of damage against the Penetrator and valiantly stands his ground in front of a massive dragon, idly sat asking me to please stop attacking him while I landed blow after blow.

    Sorry.

  • TheBryanJZX90

    *Spoiler for Nier, although just saying that I have something to say about Nier that fits with this topic kind of spoils it anyway* After the revelations at the end of the first playthrough blowing up the Aerie kind of sucked even more the second time around. That whole town seemed like it was full of jerks but they were just trying to get by, ya know. Finding their way in this crazy post-apocalyptic world where the souls of humanity somehow live separate from their bodies. Also the little shade and his robot friend were cute, I didn’t want to kill them.
    Oh and I dunno if the game was trying to make me feel bad when fighting Popola and Devola, but nah. Maybe at first, but after you cut down one of them and the remaining sister gets all super angry, I stopped caring. Hey, maybe if you two didn’t attack me I wouldn’t have killed your sister.

  • Crusty Old Dean

    Oh, also the great white ape in the forest temple in Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. You make friends with him afterwards (thank god) but stabbing his little pink butt with your sword while he cries like a baby is horrifying.

  • Internet Tough Guy

    What, nobody remembers Floyd the robot?

  • Passe_Partout

    I can empathize with the Matt’s feelings towards Pokemon, especially after this little clip from the new Pokemon anime.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAdGv89e0sE

    Now every time I see those teeth close around the innocent sprites of the wild Pokemon, I’m going to have to pretend I can’t hear the sound of their cries. 

    • Citric

      Squirtle used sexual assault! It’s super effective!

  • https://www.thegamecrafter.com/designers/xyvir-games Xyvir

    In Mother 3 there is an optional enemy called ‘Negative Man.’ 

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmUymQ9VrGk 

    I heartlessly killed him, and I have regretted this decision for the rest of my life. But then again, the cold, heartless, pragmatic part of me thinks maybe this was the right thing to do; maybe I put him out of his misery.

  • http://mrglitchsreviews.blogspot.com/ Mr. Glitch

    Gunstar Heroes has a boss kinda like Cactuar, Curry And Rice. In a game crammed with bizarre enemies, this giant O-faced pile of… whatever really takes the taco. Like Cactuar, it can be surprisingly vicious in its attacks, but the way in which it half-obliviously dances around the screen makes me feel that it’s happiest just being left alone to practice its Pop & Lock.

    • The_Juggernaut_Bitch

       It’s a giant pile of curry and rice, man, it’s right there in the name.

  • PiraticalTerror

    I hate killing any of the neutral animals in Final Fantasy XII, but curse my completionist heart, I need to fill the bestiary and make Order of the Ambrosia. I feel bad enough hunting down the Happy Bunnies, but they’re animals, and I tell myself my party needed to sell the pelt and eat the meat for provisions.

    Then we come to the Garif.

    The story has already established that these are a peaceful and intelligent people, with culture and myths and customs, and they help you out and send you on your way. Then you realize to fill their entry in the bestiary, you have to repeatedly hunt the “Garif Adventurer.” He’s neutral, and just wandering the area, hunting some monsters, just like you.

    Then you murder him. And then you do it 9 more times.

    All so I can have a better title on my save file. *sob*

  • Jergs

    The Colossi, as lots of folks have mentioned above. 

    Guild Wars 2: during holiday events, most if not all enemies have a chance of dropping holiday items. And the first time I played during the winter event, I was punching out a bunch of grubs that were all spitting poison at me and I’m looting them and feeling triumphant and then it turns out they were carrying Wintersday items (like “ugly wool sweater” and “ugly wool hat”) and I’m like, shit, I just busted up their secret Santa D:

  • Dariusz G. Jagielski

    I always felt the same way about Minecraft’s Creepers.

  • Gentileman

    This article reminded me of the pitiful noise that the elk make in Skyrim when you kill them. They were just standing there, but I wanted to level up my destruction dammit!

  • Flying_Turtle

    No surprise, I guess, but I don’t like killing Koopas either. I try to play all Mario games in a “turtle-friendly” style. It’s pretty simple: no killing turtles unless you have to in order to advance. Stomping on them to get them to hide in their shells is fine, but no shooting with fireballs, knocking into bottomless pits, touching while invincible…stuff like that. Of course, people have been doing pacifist runs for quite a while, so it’s not particularly novel.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=726809245 Bozo Profound

    I thought General Knoxx might have been the funniest character in Borderlands.

  • Magical Pansexual Spokesthing

    Ditto to whoever said any dogs in any games. I was taking Chop for a walk in GTA V as Franklin the other day, and things were as calm as could be, then a fucking car chase just came barreling through the park. I didn’t exactly see what happened, but I physically screamed “NO!” at the TV, and realizing that someone at Rockstar was in charge of rendering Chop’s corpse caused part of my soul to die.

    Fortunately, when I got back to the Vinewood Hills safehouse, he was just chilling in his doghouse in the back. Perhaps he’s immortal, or some sort of Dr. Whovian being.

    I also have only done one of the hunting missions, and I felt too bad about it to want to do more. I purposefully avoid hitting any coyotes or deer when I’m driving.

    • huge_jacked_man

      Agree with “dogs in any game”, even deformed monstrosities like in Stalker or Silent Hill. If that makes you feel better no one at Rockstar is “in charge of rendering Chop’s corpse”, they just set any living model in the game world to dynamically ragdoll when dead. You can actually ragdoll your character on purpose by jumping then pressing Circle (PS3) or B (360).

  • huge_jacked_man
  • http://utau-inu.com/ Brain Stew

    The correct answer is the mushroom men of Dark Souls. The sound the little ones make is mysterious and adorable. Of course you don’t have to kill them but if you don’t, there are times they will push you off a ledge to your doom. 

  • NoahOfTheJungle

    For me, playing BioShock was one part guilt trip, two parts mind fuck. That game really gets in your head. (shivers)