Modern Warfare: The part where you play as a soldier crawling around just before dying from the aftereffects of a nuclear explosion. The worst part of that one scene hits so much harder because of the level before, and the reason you're not at a safe distance. You stick around to rescue a downed pilot, because "No One Gets Left Behind", and it seems like things will turn out well. And then NUKE, ruining any hopes of a happy ending. Despair hits so much harder when it has hope to contrast with.
Final Fantasy VII dropped a clearly environmentalist anvil by literally showing a company sucking out the life out of the planet to use as a fuel source. All the over-the-top additions, such as a corrupt president, the repetition of the phrase "the planet is dying", and even a botched public execution to try to throw off the blame only added to the message.
A subtler aesop is "Be yourself and not who you think you should be".
The Aesop of the entire Metal Gear series basically boils down to "people need to fix their problems today instead of handing them down to the next generation", An Aesop strengthened by the number of former Child Soldiers among the characters in the series.
Nuclear weapons are bad, bad, bad.
Everywhere, even in the subtleties. Look at RAY when you fight it using REX in Guns of the Patriots. See a tail on it? Interesting that the original Metal Gear RAY, the only non-nuclear Metal Gear, the Metal Gear designed not to launch nuclear weapons from any point on the globe, not to defend bigger nuclear-launch platforms like its production-model knockoffs, but to destroy those weapons of mass destruction, is unaccounted for and spared the fate of every other Metal Gear ever seen; destruction.
On same vein, it is worth noting that REX, after stripped down of its railgun (who makes it capable of firing nukes), now fighting RAY, who in this case is protecting a nuke launching. So, REX now takes the same stance as RAY originally did; stops nuke launching. AND IT WINS. So... yeah. It also has message that, even after doing horrible things, you can still atone for your sins.
The sheer, sheer weight of the anvil is a large part of why this works, too. The message of the series isn't just about people fixing their problems, it's about the individual, each person in the group of people, taking personal responsibility instead of sloughing blame off onto anything convenient.
Sons of Liberty is particularly genius in this, where Solidus Snake spends a good ten minutes monologuing in dramatic fashion about his plans to throw off the yoke of the Patriots, questionably making him seem sympathetic even though he was just a few minutes ago waxing nostalgia about being responsible for many of those child soldiers, the player's character included. He dies soon thereafter, and what's one of the things Solid Snake tells Raiden in the end? "The Patriots are a kind of ongoing fiction too, come to think of it."
Explored further in Guns of the Patriots, where an individual's sense of self is am important theme; the B&B Corps receive no sympathy from Snake, he even expresses annoyance that Drebin insists on telling him their backstories and how they were mentally broken. Life can be horrible, but after a certain point, this stops being an excuse for your actions, and you will never truly have absolution unless you confront your own problems instead of blaming them on others. Contrast with Otacon, who was sexually abused by his stepmother, among other things, but has turned out as Snake's best friend. Ho Yay aside, they're close in a way that Snake, as a soldier, has probably only ever known with other soldiers. It's no coincidence they first meet because Snake's old best friend - a soldier with a dark past who turned traitor out of blind loyalty - was trying to kill Otacon at the time.
Notice that Snake seems to believe in some sort of existentialism in the end of Metal Gear Solid 2. Great way to summarize some common existentialist beliefs: A person can do anything and are ultimately responsible for everything in life, including its purpose, so you have nobody or no circumstance to blame your flaws on.
"War is bad", especially in MGS 3. War turns two of the series's biggest heroes into villains mostly because of petty politics. Not to mention the part where every human being and animal you killed comes back from the dead to haunt you.
The biggest anvil in MGS3 is dropped right at the beginning, when The Boss gives a ten minute speech about how "there is no such thing as an enemy in absolute terms." The first time most players hear it, they want to yell at her to Get On With It Already, because they want to get to the part where they sneak past communists in the jungle. But as they experience the story, her story, it becomes clear how her entire life is contained in those words, and when the whole thing is repeated at the end, it carries a much bigger emotional impact. It's one of the most powerful moments in the entire series, and it would not have been nearly as effective if Kojima had been subtle about it.
Midway's The Suffering brings up the biggest issue with capital punishment, the very real chance of killing an innocent person. This wouldn't be nearly as effective without it's over the top elements.
Persona 3: knowing you will one day die and accepting it doesn't mean you should rush towards it. It means you should make your life into something you feel is worth living.
Persona 4's theme is about how finding the truth is never easy or simple. At first, it starts off with lots of misunderstandings, loose threads, and possibly a hasty and disastrous decision on your part, but crosses into Anvilicious toward the end when the whole population of Inaba seems obsessed with looking to TV to feed them all the answers. Considering how much of their conversation resembles exchanges of empty, baseless ideas on too many internet message boards, this is a pretty relevant Aesop. Likewise, if you went through the game without finding the true ending, perhaps the anvil didn't get dropped on you hard enough.
Aside from the plot-important characters, nearly every last Social Link involves someone who is running away from his/her own reality in order to hide in complacency. From the girl in the Drama Club who only got into acting as a way to escape from her family life, to the young stepmother who doesn't know how to relate to her new husband's son so she keeps him in daycare and tries to buy his affection with trinkets, to the man who buries himself in work to find his wife's killer and neglects his daughter because she reminds him of his late wife. In the end, although the Protagonist gently prods them in the right direction, it is each Social Link character who must realize his or her own issues on their own and solve them personally. Providing the double Aesop that you must face yourself and stop running from reality on your own, but you can (and should) also depend on your friends' support should you falter along the way.
Also, a side-andvil: Don't allow technology, media, and fantasy get in the way of yourself. One of the more subtle themes is how people base themselves off of media. Naoto disguised as a boy because of the media reinforced conception that men are the best cops or detectives. One thing that probably threw Kanji onto his path of trying to be tough is that you always see females learning how to sew, and that gay men were always the most gentle. Youske wanted to be a big damn hero, and resented that he couldn't the big boy around to save everybody, even if he was grounded in that he knew he needed his friends to beat the shadows. Chie wanted to be a strong martial artist, the kind that you see in movies and that is what drove her to want to be able to be strong and dependable. Yukiko wanted to run away because she cared too much about the people, rather than thinking that she had to be a reliable business tycoon, and thinking that she had to have a prince come get her. Teddie acts too much like a pimp sometimes. Rise was controlled by her media persona, and what people saw on the TV was everything about her that they knew, causing her confusion about herself. As you can see, there was subtle media interloping on each person's story. One thing was how they realized that they were not controlled by what they should see from media in themselves. There may be parts of themselves that match up with what they have seen and read about, but that wasn't them alone.
Another, far more subtle one: Enjoy the time you have with your friends now; because there will come a time when life will pull you apart.
It's strange that Psychonauts isn't a children's game, because it has the perfect Aesop for one: "Parents are people too. And you know what? Sometimes the stuff they say is 'for your own good' really is for your own good, and they do make mistakes, but you know what? They still love you."
Also, "don't try to force your kid to grow up to the way you would like him to grow up. It'll only create negative feelings to both sides, and after all, being different is a good thing."
Also, it's outright stated that it's not the size of your mind that matters, it's the size of your heart.
Final Fantasy XII runs on Grey and Gray Morality, and as such it demonstrates that in a war the people on the other side are people just like the heroes. With the exception of a single minor villain, the Archadians are normal humans beings with dignity, honor, and perfectly understandable reasons for why they do what they do. Even the Big Bad Vayne is a Necessarily EvilAnti-Villain—he is fully aware that he is doing evil things but considers them needed to achieve the ends he desires.
By the end, the anvil that keeps getting dropped is "trusting in people is a really, really good thing." Mr. Hanekoma even tells Neku that his world will only extend as far as he wants it to, and if he stays a shut-in his whole life, he'll always be miserable.
Okami has a big one: don't be selfish with your prayers. There is also a corollary to that, which is demonstrated with each NPC encountered. While most games are content to ignore the tendency of NPCs to just give you fetch quests and not do anything themselves (or at least lampshade it), Okami turns it into part of the game's message, which is that you shouldn't wait around on mystical forces to solve all your problems. You need to take responsibility for your own life and do things yourself. Amaterasu avoids taking credit for everything not out of any sort of modesty, but to give these people the confidence it takes to start doing things on their own, so that they won't need her around to fix everything. It's a very important life lesson that, while never actually stated, is anything but subtle in its presentation.
From its sequal Okamiden, it drops the message that it dosen't matter if you are a copy of someone else, you are still a person all the same. This is represented by Kurow, and boy howdy, does it ever.
Both BioShock games are very unsubtle about their aesop: Utopianism Is Unrealistic.
Charles Milton Porter: Sure, you hear it in Rapture. One of the business types asked me, "Why don't you splice white? Get ahead!" Well, that's some idiocy! I told him, "First of all, I AM ahead. Second, in Rapture, it's your WORK that's supposed to matter, not your skin!" Too bad for some folks you can't splice in common sense.
Another anvil dropped in the first game is that a society of people completely dedicated to self-interest is short-lived. Rapture was filled with brilliant scientists, artists and businessmen, but very few willing blue-collar workers (as Frank Fontaine said, "Someone has to scrub the toilets"), which resulted in a top-heavy class system that led to Rapture's social, economical, and literal collapse.
Heck, every timeframe had some form of racism/segregation:
65,000,000 BC had Reptites oppressing "humans"
12,000 BC had a very clear apartheid allegory
600 and 1000 AD had the war between the ubermensch and the humans
And 2300 AD had Robots and their genocide.
The main messages of the game are also completely unsubtle: first, all living things have value. That even includes people who don't look like you, or act like you. In fact, that especially includes them. Secondly, nothing is decided by fate. One small change could be all it takes to change the future for the better, because nothing is predetermined.
Sonic Battle hits us with an anti-war message in a very personal way. The player and characters spend the game bonding to a new character, a robot named Emerl. Emerl was created to be a weapon of war, but for the most part, Sonic and friends put it out of their minds. He's more than a weapon; he's their friend, and like Shadow, he has heart and couldn't willingly kill anyone. When it is acknowledged, Rouge finds codewords that will supposedly free Emerl's mind, disengaging the destructive programming. Then Dr. Eggman unleashes a weapon to overload Emerl with power, making him go crazy and attempt to destroy the Earth. Sonic is able to stop him, but it's too late for Emerl... his final programming was set so if the weapon ever went out of control, it would terminate itself.
Tails hammers the point home:
Someday... If this world finally knows true peace... If this world no longer needs weapons or wars... If we can make this world a truly peaceful place when we're older... If we can make a world where there's only laughter... Do you think we'll be able to play with Emerl again?
Mega Man ZX finally drops that anvil, in a good way: (spoiler alert)
Giro: Don't tell me you forgot your promise already. You did mean it, right? Aile: Giro!? But, the blood that flows in me... Giro: Is just blood. Are you going to let some man you don't even know decide your destiny for you? Destiny is not something that is given to us by others. Destiny comes from the concept of "destine," or directing something towards a given end. Be the one doing the directing. Only you can decide your destiny. Aile: Only I can decide my destiny... Giro: Yes. Forget the past. It means nothing. The power you contain within is the key to creating your future.
There is also this:
Model Z: Face your destiny and carve out a new future for yourself. That's the struggle that you and every living thing on the planet must cope with.
Advent stays true and faithful to the Aesop:
Aile: I decided to become a Mega Man because I wanted to help people. You're fighting because you're trying to find out who you are, but don't forget. Only you can decide your own destiny. No matter what anyone says you are. The power you contain within is the key to creating your future. That's what a special person said to me. Grey: My destiny... My future.
Grey: Yeah, you're right, I am Defective. I'm just a person named Grey. You couldn't even change the destiny of a regular boy like me. This is the destiny that I've chosen... To live together with the people of this world! Albert: Is that what the "other me" would have said...? Goodbye, ultimate Defective! You can have your gentle peace... and leisurely rot in it!
Mega Man Battle Network Repeatedly hammers in the need for constant care and vigilence in keeping your computers and networks safe from blackhat hackers.
In particular, Battle Network 3's Hero of ACDC story arc hits a homerun telling about the dangers of peer pressure and social engineering, as Mr Match successfully deceives and pressures Lan into assisting him in his plan to cause a fire in a research lab while he steals vital data.
If you destroy a country and abuse the people, you are going to find yourself with terrorists on your minds. Today's saviours may be tomorrow's tyrants. Also, justifying everything you do as patriotism leads to horror.
Every country has its own political problems and social squabbing, but abuse, hatred, slavery, and genocide of people from other nations is never, never right. And trying to stop it can, and should, be a powerful unifying force between these differing nations.
Perhaps the most tearjerking thing in the game. Sometimes one persons life at the cost of millions is alright. It isn't pleasant, it sucks, but, to stop even greater tragedy, sacrifices must be made.
Yume Miru Kusuri: A Drug That Makes You Dream: Bullying may be bad, but complacency is equally bad. Your loved ones and friends are more reliable than your "conventional" social circle. Ostracizing people who are different through no fault of their own is fucked up. Don't be afraid of love, either to love someone or be loved in return. Compared to those, the game's drug aesop ("the fruits of escapism are fleeting and dangerous") is surprisingly subtle.
Mother 3 has very constant, and quite often rather soul-shakingly terrifying representations of the corruption of nature by technology (not so much "technology is bad" as it is that misuse of technology with no restraint is bad) and the rather earthly and relevant destruction, sacrifice, reunion, and all around painful examination of familial bonds.
Live A Live: Anyone can become evil if they have enough hatred inside of them. And boy, does Oersted embody this message a hundredfold.
Pokémon, especially Pokémon Gold and Silver , can get pretty Anvilicious about taking care of your Pokémon and treating them like friends, rather than tools, but it's a message that people need to learn, whether you are talking about people or animals.
There's also some subtext that no one, no matter how cruel or mean they are, is beyond redemption if they truly do mean it — Silver, Maxie and Archie, and especially N are all primary villains that reform when they realize the error of their ways. And of course, Pokémon too are individuals, and many are probably just Punch Clock Villains that are simply following the orders of their trainers. The aesop gets a bit broken in later Generations, where the leaders of Team Galactic and Team Plasma don't reform, and we find out Giovanni, who since the very first games was implied to go off and try to live a peaceful life after being defeated, never learned his lesson either.
There's some environmental/animal rights messages too, with many people preaching that truly good trainers live in peace and harmony with Pokémon, while the evil teams are universally said to exploit and abuse Pokémon for their own ends. Some things (Legendary Pokémon) are best left to nature to govern, and trying to control them will only lead to disaster. This message was actually the focus of Black and White — Team Plasma believes that humans and Pokémon cannot co-exist and wish to create separate worlds for them, and leader N was influenced by being raised among abused and abandoned Pokémon.
Pokemon Black And White mentions that you should get along with people who have different views from yourself. Take one look at any political debate, especially those around major political parties and those on the internet, and you'd know how much that anvil really needed to be dropped.
The series as a whole goes to a lot of trouble to point out that old saw about how it is the destiny of every generation to overthrow their parents. Basically, you should be good to your children if you don't want them to kill you. This comes out in various ways, but the primary examples are the Geth pogrom that left the Quarians without a home and Shepard's option to kill off the Reapers. The fact that this is a Vicious Cycle that seems to repeat itself over and over is particularly anvilicious, but it works really well.
Your mileage may vary on the latter, however.
Another running theme in the series that becomes incredibly prominent in Mass Effect 3 is a depiction of The Chains of Commanding. It Sucks To Be The Chosen One for Shepard and his/her job is not at all portrayed as glamorous or fun in anyway. This comes to a head in 3 when Shepard is nearing his/her limit, physically and emotionally and by the end, s/he's almost completely broken by everything that's happened.
The underrated SEGA game Feel the Magic: XY/XX does not seem like the kind of game that would have an Aesop. But the final level kicks the Love Martyr concept in the tenders, wherein the hero saves the life of his beloved and delivers the message that "Love doesn't mean dying for the one you love, but living life to the fullest for them!"
L.A. Noire drops a pretty solid anvil that some people seem to have forgotten: honesty is the best policy. Crime does not pay, and personal integrity will always be worth more than money or prestige. This cannot be more clear than when Cole sticks his gun in Roy's face for badmouthing Courtney Sheldon, a war hero with whom Phelps served in the Pacific.
All of the Oddworld games focus on horrifying effects of people putting personal gain, capitalism, and social status before morality, as all the Player Characters are on the losing end of that compromise. They typically have a Green Aesop complimenting this theme, as well.
Dead Money takes this from the point of view of fortune-seekers. Dean and Elijah's greed for the Sierra Madre's vault (Dean's having ripened for more than 200 years), Christine's thirst for revenge on Elijah, and God/Dog's desire to lead and be lead all threaten to destroy them—only by letting go can any of them survive the DLC.
Honest Hearts takes this from the point of view of well-intentioned meddlers trying to influence a new civilization based on their past experiences. Joshua Graham, an ex-Legion soldier looking to atone for his past by protecting an innocent group of literate tribals, Daniel, a preacher trying to preserve his culture by peacefully converting those innocents to his faith, and Randall Clark, a long-dead soldier who founded the tribe in order to replace his lost family. Aiding Graham fully turns the tribe into a vicious warband, aiding Daniel fully drives the tribe from their fertile home into the harsh wastes. The best solution is to aid Graham in defeating the bloodthirsty usurpers, then persuade him to show mercy to the defeated leader - this leads the tribe to understand how justice must be tempered with mercy, creating a new civilization.
Old World Blues does this from a society's point of view. The titular expression is explained by a talking jukebox to be a state where one is so focused on the glories of the past that he can't concentrate on the present—or the future.
The add-on "Lonesome Road" is a guided tour through a series of Old World military installations, frozen in the act of setting off the apocalypse, and culminating in a chance to destroy the New California Republic and/or Caesar's Legion with a nuclear weapon. The best ending is to abandon the WMD insanity of the past and solve the problems of the wasteland yourself. While this makes sense in a post-Apocalyptic world, it is still true in Real Life, particularly in the global landscape America currently finds itself in.
The other main points of Lonesome Road are that (despite the name) you are never, ever alone (even when ED-E is not there, Ulysses is still watching you from afar), and that regardless of your intentions, all actions have consequences, consequences that will always exist, and shape the world, even if you are forgiven and try to make amends.
Tales Of Symphonia has about a million messages that aren't subtle at all, but need to be told:
Bigotry and discrimination is evil and never, ever justifiable. Even if you're a victim of discrimination, returning the favor to the people who mistreated you is just as bad.
Every life is worth something; designating certain people as sacrificial lambs is worthless.
Blindly following one course of action without thought of alternatives or how many people you'll need to step on to get there is detrimental to your psyche, and will probably hurt a lot of people too.
The demons in Strange Journey will make you think quite hard about exactly what is it that you really believe about Humanity and its role on Earth. The demon lords' Hannibal Lectures very likely will hammer in the point in ways Churchill would be proud of.
Grandia II places a lot of emphasis on the importance of making one's own decisions. Throughout the game, Roan learns that following authority is not a way of living, Mareg teaches Tio to learn to be her own master instead of following orders, and Ryudo hammers it into Elena that even though they were playing into Pope Zera's hand the whole second half the quest, she is not a servant to anyone, not even the dead God of Light Granas or the returning Valmar. And since that game was made in a country where the interests of the group is emphasized over those of the individual, this is one anvil that especially needed to be dropped there.
Your mileage may vary on this one: Galaxy Angel, the whole trilogy, is admittedly an idealistic metaphor for how to make truly loving relationships work. The first game in the trilogy is the "passionate falling in love" phase: Tact and his chosen Angel, whoever it is, fall in love and dang, don't they have so much in common? Tact's such a great guy, he's so understanding, the Angel's never met anyone like him before! The Angel in question is so beautiful and nice and helpful, a true Angel for Tact! Then in the second game, Moonlit Lovers, the relationship moves to the phase where the partners start to discover each other's little annoyances that make them not so perfect: Ranpha habitually jumps to conclusions, Mint has trouble relating to Tact in situations where she can't rely on mind-reading, Tact himself slacks off too much and notices beauty in others too much, etc., and so on. Finally in the third game, Eternal Lovers, the relationship is put through such enormous strain that it will break unless Tact is really and truly serious about how much he loves his girlfriend. In every route in the final game, Tact's girlfriend is driven by circumstances beyond her control to become inconvenient to love instead of a source of endless support: Milfeulle loses her memory of Tact and treats him like her commander, Ranpha develops an uncontrollable reflex to attack Tact whenever he touches her, Mint's mind-reading powers become their inverse broadcasting all of Mint's thoughts and feelings including the bad ones, Forte develops an uncontrollable fear of picking up a gun and thus loses the quality that makes her stand out the most (her love of guns and serious dedication to the military), Vanilla's nanomachine pet malfunctions turning into a monster and attacking Tact on sight, and Chitose falls under a delusion that she's in love with Lester instead. The only way Tact manages to clear up any of this is to learn what really makes a loving relationship mature instead of teenage love: you have to accept that you and your partner will eventually be in conflict, and work hard to deal with that when it happens, since love means you're more concerned with your partner's well-being than you are with your own pride. After the problem is cleared up and the enemy is finished, they eventually get happily married and show up in Galaxy Angel II, with a marriage like most of you Tropers' parents where they're still close even as mature adults.
Spec Ops The Line has the Aesop of war isfucking horrible, as do a lot of First-Person Shooter games, but it goes deeper than just that. The game goes on length about how everyone suffers in war and there are no true heroes in war, there is only death, destruction, and trauma awaiting for anyone who engages in war or is a witness to war and that there are heroes in wars, which serves as a massive deconstruction of contemporary shooters that have elements of War Is Hell but still try to paint certain aspects of war as justifiable if our hero does what is right. This game goes the extra mile and says there is no justifiable part of war, even if you're on the so-called good side and we should not cross the proverbial line regardless of intentions.
The other major aesop that the game tries to get across is that of personal choice. You should never try to blame others for your own actions, you always have the option of stopping what you're doing and walking away from the situation. Short of someone pointing a gun at you and forcing you to do something you always have a choice to do the right thing. It goes even further than that by reminding us that even if we have made a mistake we still have the right to go home and do better next time, even in your failures you have the choice to keep on living and face up to the consequences of your actions.
The game is equally unsubtle as a self-reflexive critique of the military-themed shooter genre itself. It argues that the genre more or less forces the player to become a Sociopathic Soldier with Black and White Insanity. Through its protagonist Cpt. Martin Walker, it demonstrates that acting like the protagonist of a shooter game in real life results not in victory but tragedy, and that such an individual would not emerge from the situation a dedicated, stoic hero, but rather an unhinged, maniacal, PTSD-ridden psychopath. All of this is demonstrated without an ounce of restraint.
It also makes a point about what happens to the people and objects around a shooter protagnist. Walker's desperate drive to be the hero ends up being the reason that everyone in Dubai will die of dehydration.
It also makes a fairly severe point about how the use of white phosphorous is horrific and devastating with several accurately depicted scenes of people being killed by it and the bodies left behind by it.
And that's not even getting started on how the game attacks the U.S. "foreign policy" of military intervention.
Early Civilization games and especially Sid Meiers Alpha Centauri are focused on Green Aesop and dangers of science. The games show in full extend that of course, pollution and rampart exploitation of resources is bad and uncontrolled, unethical scientific development leads to more harm than good things, but advanced industry and technology allows us create thing our ancestors didn't even dream about and secure better future for our children.
The main message of the Super Robot Wars franchise can essentially be summed up as thus: The philosophies of people participating in a war aren't always compatible, but if we can set our differences aside and work together, we will be able to protect our loved ones and make the world a better place.
Asura's Wrath: Always keep your familial bonds in mind first, and never let vengeance truly cloud your judgement. It's somewhat subtle, but after asura turns into his completely berserk Wrath Form, he is not a completely mindless force, leaving those that are truly deserving of his anger as his main targets and never attacking innocent bystanders.
Somewhat less subtle is that Worshipping Jerkass Gods blindly, as well as treating this as a good thing, is bad, bad idea.
The Ace Attorney series has a running theme of To Be Lawful or Good, as might well be expected of games centered around the legal system. The anvil comes at the very end of the fourth game in the main series, where both the Judge and the prosecutor of that game explain outright that Good is always the right choice over Lawful, because the law is always changing...and that we have a responsibility to stand up and work to change the law if the law is wrong, for the sake of anyone else who might have to face that law. Given how many protagonists are idealized for breaking laws they don't like, it's nice to hear from the other perspective on this, and leaving it as a subtle theme rather than stating it firmly would have been far less effective.
Dragon Age II comes with a number of brilliant anvils tied to the personal quests of the True Companions, but mostly concentrated in Merill's arc. Merrill is a blood mage who willingly accepts a demon's assistance to complete her mission of purifying a corrupted mirror. Accepting this aid puts her at odds with Anders, who berates her because the demon only wants to possess her and turn her into an abomination. At first, Merrill points out that Anders, who hosts a spirit of Justice, is hardly one to criticize. In Act II, after Anders kills or almost kills Ella, Merrill points out how mistaken he was about himself, and herself. Strip away the fantasy elements, and the brilliant truth is that concepts of unyielding justice are just as dangerous as reckless pride, and there are no "good" or "evil" concepts.
At the culmination of Merrill's arc, another truth is realized to her by Hawke and Keeper Marethari. Even if one is willing to put their life on the line for their cause, other people who love them can get hurt in the crossfire. To ignore this brings great misery.
Throughout the Dragon Age franchise there is an underlying theme that oppression and hatred of others, whether racial, social or fantastical, for whatever reason is never an ideal situation and destroys the oppressors as well, examples being the Tevinter Imperium, the Orlesians and their occupation of Ferelden, the dwarves and their rigid social classes, the elves and humanity and especially the mages and the Templars which finally comes to a head in the second game.
Tokimeki Memorial 4 has Elisa Doolittle Naruse. Elisa's story is unusually political for a Tokimeki, as it brushes with the topics of bigotry and racism: matters the ethnically homogeneous Japan tends to outright ignore... especially in a video game. Elisa is not treated Japanese, because she does not look Japanese, when in fact she is Japanese due to having lived her whole life there.