10 Games That Prove Life is Unforgivably Cruel

XboxOneUk - Thumbnail - March 2016

Not all games can be as relentlessly chipper as Rocket League, or Sunset Overdrive. Sometimes videogames like to delve into the bleakness of the human soul and the unremitting cruelty of this universe in which we exist, for there is no God and anything we do in the world will be a mere stain on the fabric of reality… Yeah, we’re getting dark here today. Join me, as we take a look at 10 Games That Prove Life is Just Plain Cruel.

Honourable Mentions

All Telltale Games – Pretty much all of the Telltale games at least grapple with dark, morally grey characters and choices with far-reaching and potentially damaging consequences. Heck, you could tell me Minecraft: Story Mode has sub-plot concerning a drug trafficking ring and multiple homicides; I’d believe it.

Metal Gear Solid – Hideo Kojima’s award winning series has its goofy moments, sure, but without them, MGS would be much more depressing as a result. Hunting Kerotan Frogs in a jungle really helps to take your mind off the backdrop of thermonuclear war, for instance. And that’s before we even begin to talk about child soldiers.

Oregon Trail – Can you think of a crueler fate than “dying of dysentry” on the Frontier?

Burg’s Ridiculous Gun Game Set Up – A round of gun game isn’t supposed to last 2 hours, Burg. You’re a damn monster. Why would you ever set it to 10 setbacks? Who thought that would be a good idea? WHO?!!

Now let’s get to the list:

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The Darkness – Life as a mafioso hitman recently brought back to life by a demonic tentacled monster is cruel. Especially so when your girlfriend has also been murdered by your former mafia brethren. You’d forgive Jackie Estacado for not wanting to get out of bed in the morning, but that Darkness within him compels him towards vengeance and dishing out some cruelty of his own. Nothing says “bad day” like a detached tentacle feasting on your still beating heart.

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Dark Souls – Life as an undead adventurer, cursed to forever try and constantly fail link the fire and reclaim their humanity is cruel, and you love it. Being stomped by giant trolls, grotesque monsters and more than a few skilled knights is nothing more than a joyful stroll for your accursed undead. Death is around every corner and your every decision is likely to be your last, and you wouldn’t have it any other way. You damn masochist.

Spec Ops The Line

Spec Ops: The Line – Life is cruel, and war is hell. And sandstorms get everywhere. I mean… Everywhere. Perhaps that explains the growing irrationality of lead character Martin Walker; sand in the pants. That, or it might be something to do with the surrounding death, devastation and flagrant disregard for anything remotely resembling the Geneva Conventions. Things like that could really take a toll on a guy’s psyche.

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The Punisher – Life is cruel. Just ask Frank Castle. Watching your entire family die in front of you can really put a crimp on your day. Make you lose your get up and go, you know what I mean? Not Castle though. As he said in the Daredevil series: “We don’t get to pick the things that fix us, Red. Make us whole. Make us feel purpose.” If the cruel mistress of fate is going to deal Frank a bad hand, he’s gonna rip her arm off and beat her to death with it.

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Borderlands – The Pandoran lifestyle is cruel, and requires your head to be on a swivel. If it’s not the robots, the evil corporations, the wildlife, the zombies, the bandits, the other bandits, the bandits, the mythical creatures, the mutants or even just your own partners duelling you for precious loot, it’s the realisation that your entire quest has been an elaborate hoax and there’s no pot of gold in the Vault. Only a giant purple monster resembling a female reproductive organs.

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State of Decay – Life as a band of survivors in a zombie outbreak is cruel, and there just simply isn’t enough resources to go around. Dangerous supply runs, infestations and the numerous attempts to find fellow survivors are commonplace here, and you’re never more than one wrong move away from being next on the zombie menu; no matter how many buffs and level ups your character has received.

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Grand Theft Auto – Life is cruel, and so are you. Frankly, in a world full of cruelty and injustice, you’re just looking to deal out more than your fair share of home brand sadism. You could have followed the rules, obeyed the law and lived a normal life, but you chose to mount the pavement in that SUV. You chose to plant that sticky bomb outside of an apartment, waiting and praying for that unsuspecting player to re-enter Los Santos. You chose to steal someone’s car with a Cargobob then drop it in the ocean. Just know that as big and as bad as you are, there’s always a bigger bully on the playground… And they probably have more friends too.

Killer Instinct

Killer Instinct – Life in the ranked match circuit is cruel. It’s kill or be killed; survival of the fittest and all that. You’re either the winner or you’re dead, and whilst you might think you’ve got a good win streak on the go, there’s always a bigger bad guy waiting to body you all the way back to the Dojo. A true monster on a fight stick that’ll show you no mercy and no quarter as they double Ultra Combo you into oblivion. All that’s left for you to do is let the salt flow through your soul.

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The Sims – Life underneath the ruling of a sadistic deity intent on your destruction is cruel, and that’s an understatement. You work and you sweat and you bleed for the sweet sweet taste of that brass ring until the ladder in your pool gets deleted. That poor drowned Sim, gone from this world too soon. And don’t even think about rebelling against your omnipotent masters; lest you be confined to windowless box for the rest of your pathetic, miserable existence.  

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Superman 64 – Life as a gamer is… usually okay actually. Overwatch just came out, so we can rejoice about that. However, the coldness of reality usually likes to remind you that even videogames can inflict untold cruelty and suffering. At the very least, my Superman 64 Survivors Support Group is still going strong, though it’s tough for us to see any kind of flying rings without suffering some kind of Vietnam flashback. Oh god… no… it’s happening again!

And that, my friends, was the list. I think I need a lie down after that journey… Though I’m sure there are plenty of you waiting to let me know what games you think best reflect the grim reality of life, so be sure to let us know in the comments below!

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About: Ashley Bates

Full time bearded man of Xbox One UK, and also a Senior Editor. Self-appointed Fighting Game Hype Man, because no one else on site appreciates the art of fisticuffs. Catch me on Twitter @donovan_ryder.

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