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Cruelty Is the Only Option

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"You know immediately that you are engaged in something like evil, if not evil itself, but our appetites as players demand that we seek objectives and conquer them - and the game scourges us for this dereliction of conscience."

When the player is forced to do something that seems unnecessarily mean in order to continue playing. This isn't just when you kill an enemy that's trying to kill you, which can be seen as self-defense. This is when you take an NPC who is a minor inconvenience to you at worst or not in the way at all and have to intentionally harm, inconvenience, or psychologically damage that person, or inflict egregiously Disproportionate Retribution on somebody who's intentionally making your life difficult (such as inflicting a Cruel and Unusual Death on the aforementioned enemy who's trying to kill you, especially if they're only trying to shoot or stab you as opposed to anything particularly gruesome). In somewhat less gut-punchy (and possibly even cathartic) examples, the victim may be a depowered and defenseless enemy who was previously properly fought.

Very often, the reward gained for doing this seems disproportionately small compared to the damage the player caused.

Please note that this is when the player is forced to do these things. If the Player Character does it in a cutscene, then it doesn't count (though it does count as a sign that the player character is a Villain Protagonist).

May lead to You Bastard!, but often doesn't. Stupidity Is the Only Option is when the player is forced to violate their common sense in order to continue with the game. If the player is then given a What the Hell, Hero? for their actions, it's a case of Blamed for Being Railroaded. If both options result in some sort of cruelty, you have a Sadistic Choice or Morton's Fork. This can overlap with The Joys of Torturing Mooks when the player is required to dispatch their enemies in horrifying, ultra-painful ways, though that trope in and of itself is just about being a dick to virtual bad guys.


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  • In Trio the Punch, the last level has you beating up a bunch of innocent animals. The game calls you out for this "CRUETY" (sic).

  • The Binding of Isaac follows the classic format of "kill all the enemies in the room to open the doors". One enemy in the game does nothing but run away from you while crying uncontrollably — you can't be hurt by them even if you try. You still have to cry at them until their heads explode if you want to make progress. On the other hand, their heads are apparently stuffed full of flies or sometimes bombs, so maybe it's more of a mercy-killing.
  • At some point in It Takes Two (2021), Cody and May get it into their heads that their daughter's tears will break the spell that turned them into dolls, and thus they must make her cry. And they figure the best way to do so is to break her favorite toy, Cutie the Elephant. There is no way to dissuade them from this idea, even knowing it's wrong, and thus you must proceed to murder Cutie, even as she cries out for help and begs for her life, even as they accidentally mutilate her in the process and she cries out in pain. And it doesn't even work.
  • One sidequest in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword involves talking to Peatrice, the storage lady, who gradually develops a crush on Link. There are two ways to resolve this, but both of them are ethically dubious:
    • You can return her affections, which implies that you are either breaking up with or two-timing Zelda. Fortunately, it doesn't impact your quest as Peatrice knows how important it is and decides to remain professional when interacting with you.
    • The option to reject her, on the other hand, is almost uncharacteristically cruel even if you want to stay faithful to Zelda, as you end up calling Peatrice "just a shopkeeper" to her face. There is no way to let her down gently or suggest "Let's Just Be Friends." Naturally, after this, Peatrice will want to be alone, and any time you talk to her afterwards, she seems depressed.
  • Messiah forces you to do terrible stuff sometimes — one example is filling the waste container (necessary to proceed); the only way to do so is by... dropping harmless scientists into a meat grinder. Another example is filling an entire complex with deadly radiation. Even Satan calls you out on this one.
  • In Middle-earth: Shadow of War, the Shaming mechanic is introduced this way when you punish Bruz the Chopper for betraying you, leaving him as a mind-broken, sobbing wreck, and there is no way to avoid this. Even worse is that after you do this, Bruz' blood brothers, Baz, Gaz, and Daz, will start coming after you to try to avenge Bruz.
  • One of the defining tropes of Shadow of the Colossus. Many of the Colossi don't attack you, or even notice you, when the battle start, content to just hang around. Some, like the flying sand dragon, barely even attack when provoked. You can watch them be beautiful all you want, but sooner or later, you have to stab them to death. They cry out, they flail in desperation, but you must murder.

    Adventure Games 
  • Back to the Future: The Game has a few examples therein.
    • One of the shining examples is serving a barrel of illegal hooch to a set of reformed alcoholics.
    • An even worse example, at least for fans of the films, is that you have to sabotage a young Emmett's relationship by publicly humiliating him (among other things). There is a legitimate reason (if they stay together, they end up turning Hill Valley into something out of Nineteen Eighty-Four), but you can't actually tell him that. The real Player Punch comes from the fact that the Marty McFly/Doc Brown friendship is being destroyed and it's all your fault.
  • Beacon Pines: As a part of the teaching the player how Charms functions, they are at first restricted to only be able to use the Charm "Chill" once Luka and Rolo encounters Roxy, the latter's older sister, who angrily demands that Rolo comes home and does his house chores at once. This leads Luka to decide that the best way to deal with Roxy is to "be a little chill", resulting in him telling Roxy to relax and not be too hard on Rolo. This outcome, however, ends up triggering the story's first Bad Ending. But the first Bad Ending also unlocks the Charm new "Shit", which becomes the player's only avenue to continue the story. In this other version of events, Luka decides that the best way to deal with Roxy is to "be a little shit", resulting in him kicking Roxy in the shin and telling Rolo to make a break for it while she is distracted by the pain.
  • Blazing Dragons: At one point, you come to a psychiatric clinic that features, among other people, Rapunzel and the Pied Piper. Rapunzel is afraid of having any hair on her head and the Pied Piper thinks he must constantly play, or else the rats will come. What do you do? Use fast-grow hair tonic on Rapunzel and plant termites in the Pied Piper's pipe so they'll eat it.
  • Every Broken Sword game has a section where you must rip off a Recurring Extra. For example, conning them out of $50 in the first game and getting them arrested in a 3rd world country in the second.
  • The Cave is all about your merry band of spelunkers doing dreadful things in order to progress through the cave and claim the thing they want the most, whether it's screwing a prospector out of his gold, pushing an explorer into a spike-lined pit, or launching a nuclear missile that will kill a hundred million people.
  • Day of the Tentacle, and how. Winning requires you to knock a sleeping man onto the floor and steal his keys and sweater, take away a cat's toy, shove a live hamster into the freezer, blow George Washington's dentures out of his face with an exploding cigar, sabotage an artist (causing him to ruin his work and have an existential crisis), and squirt ink all over a man's beloved stamp collection, greatly upsetting him and (in his words) ruining "years of therapy". (Though it is disappearing ink, and you have the the option of giving the collection back to him afterwards to show him the ink has vanished.) Then you have to go push his elderly mother down the stairs. There's also the matter of a clearly suicidal inventor named Dwayne, whom you have to trick into leaving his hotel room by giving him a letter inviting him to show off his inventions in Baltimore (stolen from someone else, thus ruining two lives in one fell swoop). And what do you think he'll do when he gets there and finds out he's been had?
  • The Dig has a puzzle where you have to resurrect an alien turtle... thing with an explosive inside of it in order to blow up another animal once it eats it. It doesn't help that failing to resurrect the turtle properly causes it to come to life briefly and then melt away.
  • In Floyd, you need access to a phonebooth to change your clothes, but a girl is talking to her boyfriend there. To advance, you need to spike his drink so he completely blunders and offends her. Since the world of Floyd is a horrible Big Brother dystopia, the girl promptly gets executed for being unhappy in public.
  • The Gabriel Knight series is pretty bad about this, although Gabriel is supposed to be kind of a jerk. Practically all the puzzles require lying, stealing, or otherwise manipulating people. In the first game, he repeatedly takes advantage of the generosity of his detective friend, Mosely, and at one point steals his badge and impersonates him just so that he can flirt with an attractive woman.
  • You will torture more than a few rats in Ghost Trick. Various puzzles involve flinging rats across the room, dropping rats from the ceiling, spinning rats around and around, and in one memorable instance, electrocuting one, then lighting its tail on fire. Sissel even comments that he really owes that last one an apology. Considering he's a cat, that's saying something. The same sequence also has you dropping a chandelier on someone's head and hoisting her up to the ceiling with it.
  • Grim Fandango has many examples of this.
    • Manny does many excessively mean things to Glottis, including turning on a machine while he's working on it so it'll toss him around while he cries in protest, poisoning him to force him to vomit, getting him fired, etc. Another puzzle has him gunk up the company mail system, forcing repairs. Glottis will at least protest being used as ballast to unbalance a tree marrow pump (long story).
    • At one point Manny locks up Raoul the claustrophobic waiter inside a closet, where the poor guy accidentally knocks himself out in a fit of panic. Notably, when Manny is locked up in a room later in the game, he finds the situation uncomfortable enough to feel sorry for that particular misdeed.
  • In Kathy Rain, Kathy has to use her stun gun on the friendly hobo and wannabe actor, Goober, to distract a nurse. She feels pretty bad about it afterwards. Goober, however, immediately forgives her for it, saying it made for a great bit of Method Acting for the scene he was trying to act out.
  • Ahh, the infamous Limbo of the Lost. Although at the very beginning of the game your character refuses to open a coffin, not wanting to desecrate the dead, he then goes on to steal a man's arm, remove copious amounts of bone from rotting corpses and skeletons, put a bear trap onto the eyes of one of the only sympathetic NPCs, and hang a sleeping man so that you can access a control panel that he's lying on. And we're not even halfway through the game yet!
  • The Longest Journey:
    • Lampshaded early on wherein April repeatedly distracts a woman at a desk by asking her to get forms in increasingly-out-of-the-way locations.
      Dumpy file clerk lady: You again? Why do you keep bugging me?
      April: Because I'm an evil bitch who enjoys making life miserable for people with menial jobs.
    • There are other things too, but special mention goes to Detective Minelli. First you poison him to get him to move (which also gets him beaten up by a custodian), then you steal his glass eye (he obviously becomes very panicked when you do this), and then you pretend to be the woman he's having an affair with and imply you'll reveal said affair to his wife. Other solutions involve conning your way around problems.
  • Mixed-Up Mother Goose:
    • Helping Humpty Dumpty requires bringing him the ladder he needs to climb the wall, even if the player knows he'll be injured when he falls off.
    • Similarly, helping Jack and Jill requires bringing them the pail, despite knowing they'll be injured falling down the hill afterward.
    • Bringing Little Miss Muffet to her tuffet, despite knowing she'll be scared away by a spider.
  • Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge:
    • You have to trap Stan the salesman in a coffin and nail it shut to advance. In the next game, you find him still stuck in that coffin in a tomb on Blood Island, and finally let him out.
    • Another example from the same game is taking Wally's monocle in order to progress. The poor little guy is Blind Without 'Em, and he's so helpless that many fans felt sorry for him afterwards. This got to the point where the developers cut out a scene in the game that would have had Wally accidentally drown trying to get his monocle after he dropped in the water. They couldn't do anything more to him without feeling bad. In the third game, you find out that Wally has become a pirate after attending a seminar and listening to books-on-parrot. How do you get out? You make him cry. He feels better afterwards, though.
  • Myst III: Exile requires the player to be cruel in order to accomplish their goal: Instead of immediately allowing a man who has been tormented, trapped, and left alone for decades to rejoin his people, the player must trap him on a tiny walkway where he can neither go back to his people nor to the Ages where he had spent the past twenty years. It's a Fate Worse than Death for him, but you have to do it so that he'll give up the book that that you followed him to reclaim, in a desperate attempt to bargain for freedom. Otherwise, he'll destroy it. The player does at least have the option of helping to undo the damage later. They can also abandon the Age and leave things as they are...
  • The Mystery of the Druids: Early on in the game, Detective Halligan needs to find change to use the payphone, but Halligan is flat-out broke and none one else at the Scotland Yard is willing to lend him any money, on account of his bad rep for borrowing things. So to get some change, he does what any sane person would do: give a homeless man apple juice mixed with lab-grade ethanol to knock him out and steal his change. Later, his boss gets furious at him when he heard someone tried to poison a bum and likely suspects Halligan and would've fired him if he had any proof he did it.
  • Nancy Drew:
    • Legend of the Crystal Skull requires for Bess to snoop through the back room of Lamont's shop. Doing this requires doing things like giving Lamont diarrhea from spicy gumbo and sending him into a sneezing fit, as opposed to other games where all you had to do was just wait until the suspect was gone.
    • In Shadow at the Water's Edge, Nancy can't solve the mystery unless and until she upsets several suspects by bringing up a relative's death more than once.
  • The Neverhood: In order to progress the game further, you must blow up Big Robot Bil's head with a cannon.
  • In the final case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice For All, you're forced to accuse someone who you know is innocent (not to mention quite emotionally frail) to buy time. And to make matters worse, you also know by this point that you're defending an obviously guilty villain. The crowd even boos you for it. Almost guaranteed to make you feel like a terrible person.
  • Police Quest 3: The Kindred has an example of this. Eventually, you will meet a jolly janitor who had just finished cleaning up the bathrooms. Cue Sonny clogging up a toilet with a whole roll of toilet paper, sending the janitor rushing off to fight against the flood to follow soon after just so Sonny can unlock his partner's locker in the women's bathrooms.
  • In Runaway: A Road Adventure, you meet an artifact restorer who takes pride in her work and the fact that she hasn't destroyed a single artifact in her entire long career. You need her to restore something you have, but she won't do it until she finishes the work she has (which is a lot). You advance the plot by tampering with her equipment, causing her to break the item she's working on, which in turn causes her to have a mental breakdown.
  • Rusty Lake: Roots has you do some pretty evil things whenever you're playing as Albert. Only partly justified, since while this character is The Sociopath, you, the player character, are implied to be a ghost nudging the entire cast towards performing a ritual that will bring you back.
  • The Sam and Max games feature this constantly.
    • For example, in "Abe Lincoln Must Die!", they trick one of the Soda Poppers into getting drunk on Bosco's "truth serum" so he'll provoke a war in the Dakotas. Of course, since Sam and Max are themselves moderately sadistic, this is completely in character. In the same episode, you're required to publically humiliate Sybil in the process of discrediting Abe.
    • Then in "What's New, Beelzebub?", they have to get Jimmy Two-Teeth's dying son sent to Hell by swapping his sin record with Jimmy's.
  • Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People features a Villain Protagonist, so naturally a lot of puzzles are solved by being a big jerk. The first episode alone, "Homestar Ruiner", has Strong Bad stealing Homestar's clothes and forcing him to run home naked, causing a fire in Marzipan's backyard, impersonating (and further humiliating) Homestar, breaking into the King of Town's castle, dropping the King of Town down a pit, flagrantly cheating in order to win the Tri-Annual Race to the End of the Race, framing Pom-Pom for taking banned supplements, and then tricking everyone at Homestar's victory party into falling out a window.
  • One puzzle in Stupid Invaders involves finding a delirious Santa Claus trapped in the chimney, and getting past him by dissolving him into a puddle of goo with toilet bowl cleaner.
  • In Takeshi's Challenge, you have to beat up the old man who gave you the Treasure Map, or you'll get a Game Over just before the ending.
  • Done to varying degrees in Technobabylon. Regis has to blow up an apartment in a botched assassination attempt, but he's forced to do it under duress and has no idea what he's actually doing. Lao gets into some mischief at Vickerman Labs, but other than annoying an intern, it's nothing serious. Latha's part of the game, however, is a near-endless cavalcade of screwing over random people, including trashing a police waiting room to help her get a fix for her Trance addiction, wrecking a random parked car, pickpocketing a woman while she's in the Trance (and thus completely helpless in real life), and cutting in line in a virtual games room.
  • Thimbleweed Park: In order to progress through the game? You have to make Ray, Reyes, Ransome, and Dolores all eat an obviously disgusting hot dog. You can make this even worse if you have all of them stand in the diner, watch the character eat the hot dog and say "Gotta go!" to throw up, and they won't even react.
  • Zak Mc Kracken And The Alien Mind Benders requires several items to be obtained from an airplane. To do this, Zak must make the stewardess's shift a living hell. First Zak must use the toilet and then clog the sink, causing a flood. While the stewardess is cleaning it up, he blows an egg up in the microwave. The stewardess is not amused, yet it feels quite funny.

    Fighting Games 
  • Certain characters in the Netherrealm Mortal Kombat games have winposes that have them killing off their opponent regardless of whether or not they used a Fatality:

    First-Person Shooter 
  • In Blood (1997):
    • At one point (near the end of the level "Sick Ward"), you have to activate a switch which will open a necessary door... and simultaneously activate flamethrowers inside prison cells, burning several innocent civilians to death.
    • There's at least one case where you have to personally kill a civilian to get a key he drops. And of course, the civilians in this game are overall annoying and the game loves putting them in big numbers between you and where you need to go.
  • Early in Borderlands 2, Claptrap tries to open a gate, fails, and tells you to man a nearby gun to blow up the gate. All well and good. He then tells you not to fire the gun until he moves out of the way. Despite having several minutes worth of dialogue telling you to wait for him to move out of the line of fire, he never actually moves, and you have to blow up the gate while he's standing next to it. Played for Laughs, as Claptrap is The Chew Toy, and is none the worse for wear afterward. If you sit through the entire speech, he'll say he's bored and ask you to shoot the gate anyways.
  • Bulletstorm: At the very beginning of the game, you're forced by an in-game tutorial to kick an attempted bounty hunter into an airlock, which your friend then releases...
  • Call of Duty:
    • Modern Warfare 2: The third mission in the game involves being an undercover special ops soldier in a group of Russian terrorists, and joining them on a massacre of hundreds of innocent unarmed civilians in a crowded airport. You don't have to participate, but the best you can do is to watch the other terrorists doing it without lifting a finger to prevent it. Oh, and then you're still forced to kill the SWAT teams that quickly show up to stop you. Interestingly, when you first start up the game, it offers you the option of skipping this mission entirely, knowing that it will probably shock and disturb a lot of players.
    • In Call of Duty: Black Ops II, in one mission, you, as Farid, the undercover operative, are forced to shoot Harper to show your loyalty to Menendez. Not doing this will lead to Farid's execution... which means he won't be present to Take The Bullet for the Playful Hacker that's essential to stop the Big Bad's evil plan.
    • Incorporated into Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019), as part of the games "morality conflicts":
      • During "The Embassy", the Butcher makes a show of force by executing a father right in front of his young son, threatening to kill the boy as well if Kyle and Price don't surrender, as well as declaring that senseless death is not his ultimate goal if the player do so. The glass door separating the player from him can be opened, but the instant Kyle lets the Butcher in, he is shot and killed, netting the player a game over. The only option is to abandon the boy to his fate, which is a Hand Cannon shot to the back as he flees.
      • During the opening minutes of "The Wolf's Den", Kyle and two Alphas breach and clear a suspected Al-Qatala house, which it turns out to be. Apart from the two armed combatants in the building, there's a woman comforting her child in the back room that will pull a gun and shoot at the player if they enter. If the player shoots back, she will die instantly regardless of where she is hit, so kneecaps won't do. Killing her leaves her son an orphan, assuming he lives, and what especially twists the knife is the fact that you cannot leave her alone as she wanted, she has to be killed to proceed despite the fact that she is only shooting in self-defense and will not leave the backroom to pursue anybody.

    Flash Games 
  • In The Company of Myself, your main character uses a simple platform game as an allegory of his thought process to tell the story about how he's insane and killed his wife for really no reason. In order to represent this, the game makes you kill his wife to solve a puzzle.
  • Some of the treatments in Die Anstalt can feel horrible to perform on the cute little stuffed animals, but are sometimes required to help the patient. Dub is the best example; at one point you have to perform ECT on him, and at another you end up making him cry hard enough to go through an entire box of tissues. But you have to do both of these things to help him in the end.
  • In Gyossait, you're forced to kill a girl by dropping a huge piece of metal on her head. You also must flip a switch that kills everybody in the room.
  • Lab of the Dead is a zombie game like no other: Instead of charging through hordes of zombies with a shotgun, you are simply trying to study them, eventually watching the creatures become more human and react differently to various objects as you treat them with patience and kindness. What a shame that in order to unlock the advanced reactions, you first have to see the aggressive reactions, which come from the zombie being sufficiently pissed off and/or hungry. Since their mood stat changes very slowly, you'll be spending a lot of time whacking the zombie like a pinata while he's chained helplessly to a wall. And you have to vary what you use to clobber the zombie or it becomes desensitized and its mood eventually stops dropping.
  • The Last Stand: Union City requires you to break out of the safety of the stadium and kill living humans who try to keep you from escaping the city to progress. You also have to take with you a person who has clearly been bitten by a zombie, and the ending implies that this breach of the quarantine may spread the virus further.

    Hack and Slash 
  • The God of War series is notorious for this. Highlights include:
    • The infamous sequence in the first game requiring you to sacrifice a live soldier to solve a puzzle, with him wailing and begging for his life the entire time. This is the harshest example, but the game is full of this sort of thing.
    • Quick-time events in God of War II forcing the player to smash helpless old men's skulls in as blood sacrifices.
    • Murdering everyone in Elysium in God of War: Chains of Olympus, as well as shoving away Kratos's daughter as a quick-time event. At least in this case, it's forced by the final boss and Kratos is about as happy about it as the player is.
    • About half of God of War III involves this, including:
  • Ninja Gaiden 3 has three sequences where you must slowly walk towards a helpless and disarmed enemy, with no other choice than to coldly and mercilessly cut them down. Only the first one − a Mook who just watched you decimate dozens of his comrades and drops his gun, pleading for his life − is scared shitless, while the other two dare you to kill them while lecturing you, but all of them are entirely defenseless in said sequences.

    Interactive Fiction 
  • In The Chancellor, you have to poison a friendly lamb and feed its body to a rock monster in order to enter a cave.
  • In Choice of Romance, you can only unlock the next chapter by getting involved with the very married king, right under his wife's nose. You either stay on as the other woman or man, or steal him (and the crown) for yourself by having the queen either killed or discredited. Choosing to just discredit her still ends up getting her killed.
  • Done to yourself in Christine Love's Even Cowgirls Bleed. Things are going swimmingly as you make your way out west to San Francisco, but that gets turned on its head fairly quickly, as you end up shooting yourself, several times. Dumb city bitch.
  • Rendition, by nespresso, but intentionally — you're a torturer.
  • Infocom's Trinity requires you to capture a skink (a lizard), only to kill it later on because a spell requires as an ingredient "fresh whole lizard, killed in the light of a crescent moon". The game is a meditation on the history of the nuclear age, including the question of whether events like the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki can be justified as necessary sacrifices to a noble goal.
  • In Varicella, you've got to kill all your rivals to win the regency, including betraying your country's army to bomb the General (or, just doing it yourself), and sending a remote-controlled car to crash on top of the King's brother.
  • Zero Sum Game, where you basically have to be a dick and murder people, including your trusting sidekick Maurice, in order to win.

  • RuneScape has several cases of these in its quests. One notorious example is a quest where you use multiple cruel tactics to move up the hierarchy of the Vyre society, from taunting an imprisoned widow about their dead husband (one whom you killed in an earlier quest), destroying a slave's tithing glass and getting him executed to entertain a bored Vyrelord noble for his favor, and to top it off, you must commit mass murder of human prisoners to entertain the guards. Even after the quest, you have the option of doing more cruel acts to get access to the highest rank possible, which is required for the Completionist Cape.
  • The Secret World features a really depressing case of this in the Halloween mission "The Seven Silences". Having been tasked with investigating the suicide of one of Gaia's Chosen, you end up on a quest to gather the broken pieces of her Bee, following the directions in her dream journal and entering the enchanted dreams she used to destroy her connection to Gaia. Eventually, you make your way into the dream where her soul has been residing: by now, you know from her dream journal that this poor woman has been looking for a means of staying dead for the better part of thirty years; the final entry makes it clear she wants nothing more than an end to her immortality and the chance to be reunited with her son; if you've played The Park, you know Lorraine hates herself and with good reason; her spirit even tells you she doesn't want to go back, and actually kicks off a boss battle in a desperate attempt to dissuade you. So what do you do if you want to actually complete the mission? You reassemble her Bee and use it to bring her back to life.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • One quest in the game stands out as a WTF moment: In the Borean Tundra, you have captured an enemy mage, and the quest giver instructs you to extract information from him yourself, as his code of ethics won't allow him to personally perform the act. This involves repeatedly using an Agony Beam while he cries out in pain. Even further, after completing the quest, you can ask for another of the Agony Beams just to use it on him, for no in-game gain.
    • Another questline has you find three Horde NPCs that had been captured and are being held in a human town. They are happy to see you... until you reveal that you were sent to kill them for having failed. They all die pitifully, one of them begging for his life. At this point, you've probably killed a dozen people to get to the individual cages they're in, and it would be trivial to unlock the cage and point to the exit, but you're not given an option.
    • The Death Knight starting quests. Among other things, it involves killing innocent villagers (most of whom beg you to spare them), turning miners into zombies, torturing enemy soldiers, and executing an old friend of the player character. There's no option to skip any of this. Mitigated somewhat by them being part of the Scarlet Crusade — a faction also hostile to the Alliance and Horde — but even so... Justified in this instance though, as you are a minion of the evil Scourge during this part of the game and have no free will.

    Platform Game 
  • Banjo-Kazooie:
    • Across Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie, the main characters are constantly harassing a camel named Gobi for his precious hump water, forcing him to move from world to world and across games.
    • A pair of puzzles in Banjo-Tooie require the senseless destruction of an anthropomorphic ice cube couple.
  • Quite a few things in Conker's Bad Fur Day.
    • The king is when Conker hatches a baby dinosaur that loves him and calls him "mama"... and then smashes it with a giant stone tablet in order to create a bridge. Conker has no problem whatsoever with this.
    • Later on Conker encounters another squirrel trapped in an electric chair that's hooked up to two switches. One of them activates the chair, and the other releases whomever is trapped in it. Choosing is required to advance through the level, but no matter which switch you pick, the squirrel gets electrocuted. And while he actually does survive, it's implied that his brain has been seriously fried by the ordeal. What makes this even worse than many other examples in the game is that this time, Conker actually was trying to save him.
  • There are some instances in the old Sega Genesis game Dynamite Headdy.
    • In one of the early levels, you come across a pipe in the ground that shoots out strange little round guys called Happy Campers. You have to knock them over into a bar fixed adjacent to you, brutally impaling them (and they turn blue and stop moving afterwards), so that you can hop on their corpses to get over a wall. Do it again to reach an extra life!
    • Many of the secret bonus points require beating up Al Bino, a mostly harmless custodian (though he can do damage to you in one instance).
  • This is actually the core gameplay mechanic in Life Goes On, where you are required to kill, at minimum, one Knight to complete each level. You use their bodies as stepping stones, to bridge electrical gaps, or just as a slightly higher platform to jump from.
  • Shantae: Risky's Revenge: Smashing Golems, who have signs saying not to do it, is needed to get the coffee needed to get to the third Baron and their Magic Seal.
  • When Yoshi is hatched for the first time (most likely Happy Horse Bridge or Pipes n' P-switches) in Something, he says not to drop him in a pit. Mario does this to access either exit in Happy Horse Bridge.
  • In order to get to the last story of Sonic Adventure 2, you have to play through both the Hero and Dark side stories first. At certain points on both sides the two sides fight their rival counterparts. While the other two sets are about even, Eggman is paired with Tails, which means that on the Dark Side story there's a boss battle where you, as a middle-aged adult, have to shoot and incapacitate a prepubescent boy twice. And to make matters worse, the second time context means you're attacking a hostage.
  • In Super Mario World, it's possible to jump off of Yoshi's back to get an extra boost to make it over a particularly difficult jump, which will consign him to an ignoble death in your place, but it's never actually required that you do so. Not so in Super Mario Maker, in which cruel level designers can set things up so as to require you to sacrifice innocent dinosaurs in order to progress, and at least one gimmick level (created by Giant Bomb's Dan Rykert) is built around doing this over and over, making anyone who completes the level a dinosaur mass murderer.
  • In Tomb Raider Chronicles, one level has you infiltrate a high rise, and there's a door that can only be opened with two key cards at the same time. Normally, you have to coax a worker to use his card in conjunction with yours to proceed. However, if you want to get 100% Completion, you have to kill the poor sod to unlock an alternate path, which contains one of the level's secrets.
  • Every now and then in Wild 9, you'll come across obstacles in the area, where the only way to bypass them is by grabbing random mooks with your Tractor Beam and throwing them to create makeshift platforms over a path of spikes, shoving at least three of them into gears until the gears broke, throw mooks into the mouths of Man Eating Plants as a distraction...

    Puzzle Game 
  • Deadly Rooms of Death: The first game ends with you backing the 'Neather into a corner, where he begs for his life. No matter how much mercy you show, he will always spring a trap on you when you try to leave. The only way to get out with your life is to kill him.
  • The final missions of both Kindergarten and its sequel are heroic in nature, with the goal to save one or several children from the evil principal. However, to unlock these missions you have to complete every other mission in the game, many of which require you to hurt or even kill many of the game's characters, including the ones who really don't deserve it. For example, one of the earlier missions in the second game requires you to help the Ax-Crazy janitor kill the other janitor, Bob, who is a certified Nice Guy. Fortunately, the game runs on a "Groundhog Day" Loop mechanic, meaning that your horrible actions are undone once the day is over.
  • Portal:
    • In Portal, you have to incinerate your best friend the Companion Cube at the end of the test chamber to continue the game; GLaDOS won't open the door until you do. However, the only noticeable difference between the Companion Cube and every other (completely inanimate) Weighted Cube in the game is that the Companion Cube has pink hearts painted on it, and that GLaDOS discusses it in a way specifically designed to make you feel guilty.
    • Portal 2:
      • GLaDOS plays with this trope again by "fizzling" a large number of companion cubes in a certain chamber, proceeding to claim that she "thinks that one said 'I love you'. They are sentient, of course. We just have a lot of them." It's not entirely clear whether she's lying, as the Companion Cubes in this game do appear to... sing... when you're near them.
      • When Wheatley detaches himself from the rail, he asks you to catch him — but you can't, no matter how hard you try. During his Villainous Breakdown at the end of the game, he brings this up as proof of what a horrible person you are.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • Codename Panzers forces the player into this trope when the mission objective is "Kill All Enemy Units", as that last enemy Rifle squad gets cornered by the edge of the map and can neither run away any further, shoot back (as you're probably flushing them out with a tank or armored car), or surrender.
  • Numerous Command & Conquer games would have you do this:
    • Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn: The Nod Campaign has numerous missions that have very little GDI and focus on destroying villages, "Oum Hadjer" being the most memorable.
    • Command & Conquer: Red Alert: The Soviet Campaign starts off with a massacre of a village that's harboring guerillas. The ending FMV comes complete with an Empathy Doll Shot.
    • Command & Conquer: Generals: The GLA Campaign missions two and three have you loot villages for the supplies the UN gave them and looting the whole city of Astana, respectively.
  • In The New Order Last Days Of Europe, an Alternate-History Nazi Victory mod for Hearts of Iron IV, one of the main reasons why playing Heinrich Himmler's Burgundy is such a nightmarish experience is that any domestic development, be it political, industrial, or military, is built upon a systemic and gamified representation of oppressive slavery, where things like factories or infrastructure are "exchanged" with a cost of skilled workers. The player is forced to participate in this slave system and go into the shoes of a Burgundian bureaucrat, treating the slaves like a resource token rather than actual people. To develop Burgundy's industry, the player has to feed slaves to Rodomo, which, over time will inevitably have a monthly loss of skilled workers throughout the region. To develop Burgundy's infrastructure, the player has to work slaves to death. To prevent slaves from rebelling, more slaves must be worked and starved to death, or more Secret Police members be stationed in their collective region. There is no way to get around this active player participation in oppression if the player wants to continue playing as Burgundy; if the player stops oppressing the slaves, they will eventually rise up and topple the country.
  • Some missions in Planet Blupi involve you having to build protection towers, walls, or both, which instantly kill the Blupis that work on them after doing so, thanks to them spending the entire Life Meter to build those buildings.
  • Total War:
    • In Rome: Total War, this is often the best way to deal with an overpopulated city. Overpopulation leads to rioting and increased likelihood of acquiring the plague. There is no standard way to "depopulate" a city... that is, other than pulling your forces out, allowing the city to rebel, and then recapturing the city. Once you've retaken it, you can "exterminate the populace".
    • In Total War: Attila, the tutorial actually forces you to sack the first enemy settlement you capture. Unlike in the rest of the game, peacefully occupying isn't an option.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • Agarest Senki increases in difficulty part-way through the third generation with the introduction of the boss Midas. He, and nearly every boss after, will have large area-of-effect attacks that will wipe out your party and a Healing Factor that negates most damage. Now, when a character dies, everyone else gets a huge amount of SP, which is used to fuel EX-skills... which are your only hope of killing those bosses. So what do most players resort to? Throwing their tank at the boss to keep them away from everyone else, letting the tank die, reviving them with their healer, and repeating until enough SP is stored to unleash hell.
  • Dark Souls: Great Grey Wolf Sif is, essentially, a very big dog with a sword in its mouth that you have to kill to progress. The sad music, plus Sif limping when sufficiently injured, is basically designed to make you feel sad that you had to do it. For bonus points, with the DLC you can actually save a younger Sif, who will have an extremely tearjerking reluctance to fight you, but accepts it as a sad necessity. For bonus points, while a lot of the other bosses are monstrous creatures, Sif is very straightforward... to make you feel more monstrous.
  • Disco Elysium: The achievement "Baddest of the Bad Cops" has the description "Reach an all-time low with Kim." If you want 100% Completion, then you have to say a few vile things to your police partner.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Many of the things you have to do for Almalexia during the plot of the Tribunal expansion of Morrowind. Granted, King Helseth has asked you to go along with them until you can figure out what she is planning, but using Dwemer tech to create permanent ash storms in Mournhold still feels like crossing a line.
    • Skyrim: In short, the game is so structured that while excessive cruelty is not really required to beat the main quest, the main quest is itself a very small part of the game as a whole, and the player is practically stuck with only half a game if they choose to play a Dragonborn who's actually a decent person.
      • The more vicious Daedric Princes order you to do horrible things for their artifacts (and you need to get all of them for an achievement). They usually involve betraying a companion or leading a good person to a horrible death. The less said about the things Namira, Molag Bal, Boethiah, and Vaermina demand of you, the better. That said, all of those are sidequests, and therefore don't have to be completed by the player unless you really want the rewards... although, the in-game rewards for these quests are good. Really damn good. Namira and Vaermina's quests, at least, can be intentionally "failed" if you're not quite ready to step over the Moral Event Horizon. In Vaermina's quest in particular, many players have flat out found themselves unable to complete it and therefore miss out on the "Oblivion Walker" achievement because it involves betraying the very likable Erandur.
      • Thieves Guild: There are three achievements tied to completing the guild questline. By the time the guild questline has finished, the player will have robbed at least dozens of innocent people of items and money worth thousands and thousands of gold. It's not killing people, but it's still loathsome. Furthermore, the way the game works encourages the player to rob people blind, as theft is by far the simplest and easiest way to get material goods you want or need.
      • The Civil War Questline, another three trophies. While plenty of people have no qualms about supporting one side or the other after looking at the situation fully, others see a situation with no good choices, only "less horrible" ones. Much like real wars in that respect, yes, but still depressing.
      • The Dark Brotherhood questline has another three achievements. And the Dark Brotherhood is, not to put too fine of a point on it, a quasi-cult that listens to a mummified corpse of the bride of the void god Sithis, who tells them which people to kill. The player's kills, if they follow this questline, include a man driven to insanity from his sister's death and a bride on her wedding day, among others. The player character is encouraged further to do these despicable things by great in-game rewards, such as access to Shadowmere. This one at least has a slightly non-evil ending available; if you kill the member of the Brotherhood who kidnapped you at first (yes, still killing, but she's an unrepentant assassin trying to force the player to kill one of three people, two of which are totally innocent, and she doesn't care about the choice so much as the murder), you instead get a quest to wipe out the Dark Brotherhood — still violent, but probably for the good of the world.
      • There's an achievement for having a bounty of at least 1000 gold in all nine holds simultaneously, for which the player must get caught doing horrible things — for example, killing people. And then there's an achievement for escaping from jail, which of course requires going there in the first place. These, at least, can be acquired by — just as an option — assaulting chickens rather than actually hurting people. Or for the jail one, you can simply try to pick a lock when a guard's nearby, for a 5-gold bounty.
  • In Etrian Odyssey, Chieftain Visil orders you to exterminate the forest folk. Not much you can do about it, especially since you have to kill about twenty of them to get at the fourth stratum's boss. Even worse, in the original game, Visil's rationale for this request? To protect the town's tourism industry, which will suffer if the Forest Folk keep the dungeon from being explored. Worse, dialog with the Forest Folk implies that there was a long-standing agreement with them that Visil is breaking by doing this.
    • This is both pointed out and made less reprehensible in the remake's Story Mode. It turns out that the corruption of Yggdrasil's core is causing a contagious disease that causes the Forest Folk to mindlessly attack anyone in their way, and it's incurable. Killing the infected is the safest thing for everyone. Nobody in the party is particularly happy about this, but it's a lot better than the implication in the original that all the Forest Folk you killed were just trying to defend their homes.
  • Fallout:
    • Fallout 3:
      • There are many examples in "Tranquility Lane", where the more obvious means of progressing the story is to torment on each of its residents, sometimes offering a variety of creative methods to achieve this. You are even told that doing this means that they will be still alive for the next simulation, mindwiped, except the mastermind and one of the subjects. The good, more difficult way to finish this quest is to find a hidden terminal which activates a failsafe that kills them all. It's a Mercy Kill, given the situation, but as far as they know, they're being gunned down in their homes by Chinese soldiers. The "good" option also forces you to leave the sick mastermind behind the whole thing alone in his simulation for eternity.
      • The second DLC, The Pitt, is infamous for this reason. To complete it you must either kidnap a baby from their parents for medical experiments, or suppress a slave rebellion by killing their leader and most likely a whole lot of them. No Taking a Third Option there.
    • Fallout: New Vegas has a couple of examples that stand out in the main story quests as well:
      • Mr. House's story route requires you to wipe out the Brotherhood of Steel's underground bunker. Wipe out as in personally kill each and every last person there, or activate the bunker's Self-Destruct Mechanism. He absolutely, positively will not even entertain the idea of any other kind of solution (though he does have his reasons, granted. The Modular Epilogue shows that if the Brotherhood of Steel is allowed to roam freely in New Vegas, then they'll seize anything advanced from other people, ostensibly in the name of safety). However, according to a Dummied Out quest stage, it was intended to be possible to work out a peaceful solution between Mr. House and the Brotherhood. A Game Mod exists that restores this option.
      • The other three ending paths will, at one point or another, require you to infiltrate the Lucky 38 and either execute a defenseless Mr. House in cold blood, or, if you're feeling particularly like a bastard, leave him alive, but disconnected from his computer network and slowly wasting away from infections that he is no longer able to fight off. Sure, Mr. House is a light gray in the Black-and-Gray Morality of New Vegas. However, the reason that the Mojave Wasteland is mostly livable (unlike, say, the Capital Wasteland) is because most of the nukes launched at Nevada were intercepted by the defenses he set up, and he's responsible for rebuilding the Strip and restoring Hoover Dam to a working condition. Once again a mod restores a Dummied Out option to convince Mr. House to ally with the NCR in that ending path, but the Wild Card and Legion paths still require you to take him out of the picture.
    • Fallout 4 has this no matter what faction you join.
      • Depending on your choice, you either indirectly kill the man that's supposed to be your son, brainwashed since he was kidnapped years ago to accept how the Institute is the only way to save the world above, or betray your taught-by-experience ideals and let the Institute publicly take control of The Commonwealth with you as the successor.
      • There is also how between Brotherhood of Steel and Railroad, if you join BOS, you have to choose between killing a bunch of underground idealists who want both human and synth to live free, or if you join the Railroad, you have to blow up BOS's airship Prydwen, killing everyone on board, including children and teenagers.
      • The DLC Nuka-World has either playing the questline, which involves joining the organized Raider there and raid the Commonwealth's settlers, betraying the Minuteman and the settlers in process. The other choice is a simple Leave No Survivors to the raiders inhabiting Nuka-World, but you miss a lot of exposition.
  • In the freeware RPG Maker game OFF, the player is more or less tricked by the protagonist The Batter (or forced, or encouraged, depending on how you view your role in the story) to kill each one of the leaders of the zones he enters. This includes Hugo, who the battle text describes as "a little boy" and is the creator of both The Batter and The Queen. He's so small and feeble that he can't even fight back, and you can't flee or do anything to avoid killing him, so you're forced to just beat him until he finally lets out one last weak little cough and fades out of existence.
  • In the original version of Persona 3, the Social Links with Yukari, Fuuka, Mitsuru, Yuko and Chihiro inevitably turn romantic after a certain point, so if you want to max out all your Social Links in one playthrough, you inevitably end up five-timing the girls involved. Luckily, in the subsequent two games, as well as the Female Protagonist's route in Persona 3 Portable, there's a point at which you're given the opportunity to confess to a romance option or keep things platonic.
  • Solatorobo: At one point, your character enters Super Mode and takes out the two enemies that had been plaguing you. They've recognized their defeat by that point, and there is no point in attacking further... but you have to destroy their mech (and them) to continue.
  • There's a city in Two Worlds that's supposedly surrounded by orcs, though they never appear outside the gates, and you have no opportunity to kill them. The only thing that's stopping them from getting in and killing everyone is a magical artifact under the city. In order to beat the game, you need to go underground and steal the artifact, and when you reach the surface, you'll discover that everyone in the city has been slaughtered by orcs. The best the player can do is complete a couple of quests that result in the quest-givers leaving town.

    Stealth-Based Game 
  • In Dishonored, the only way to complete a Pacifist Run is to impose a Fate Worse than Death to all the important characters except Daud, as sparing him is clearly shown as an act of mercy. They all deserve it, mind.
  • The ending of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. After you defeat the Boss, you, the player, have to shoot your mentor; the story will not proceed until you pull the trigger.
  • The Neighbours From Hell series is based on this trope. The player is a Reality Show participant whose task is to cause a neighbor the maximum amount of grief in order to get the highest ratings. The second game adds the neighbor's mother and her dog to the list of acceptable targets. Granted, the neighbor is a jerk, but this seems a little excessive.

    Survival Horror 
  • In the final chapter of the Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach DLC expansion Ruin, player character Cassie discovers that the final security node she needs to disable before she can save her friend Gregory is Roxanne Wolf, her favorite animatronic. Not only is Cassie heartbroken about having to do it, especially since Roxy seems to have shaken off Vanny's brainwashing and fondly remembers Cassie, but the game refuses to let the player back out once the scene begins; the VR mask being used in the scene can't be removed, and the security node puzzle can't be exited once started, kicking the player into the pause menu instead. Twisting the knife further, the security node puzzle is the simplest in the whole game, giving the player no excuse to not follow through.
  • At the end of The Last of Us, your trusty companion that you've been spending the whole game together, Ellie, is taken into surgery by the resistance fighters because Ellie's immunity to The Virus could be extracted into a cure and possibly save humanity, but since the infection rests in the brain, the operation would kill her. Nobody is happy about the situation, especially the leader Marlene, who's been watching over Ellie since she was a baby because of a promise she made to her dying mother, but she forces her feelings aside because she knows that this kind of opportunity is too rare and invaluable to ignore. However, protagonist Joel refuses to let her die (especially since Joel's daughter Sarah died at the very beginning of the game and he sees Ellie as a replacement for her) and chooses to engage in a violent Roaring Rampage of Revenge by killing everybody that stands between him and Ellie, including the doctors that are clearly desperate people and try to remind you of all the lives they'll save with the vaccine they'll be able to make. Yes, in order to progress the story, you need to damn humanity to hell. Whether or not it's worth it...
  • Manhunt: The entire premise of the game and its sequel is to sneak up on people and kill them in the most gruesome manner possible with mundane objects such as plastic bags, barbed wires and syringes. Mind, they're trying to do the exact same thing to you.
  • Horror game Penumbra: Overture is fairly standard storywise until the very end. Red, a mentally unstable man who communicates with you via a one-way radio, continually talks to you until the moment you two finally meet. When you do finally get to him, he's locked himself in an incinerator, and begs you to turn it on. To make things worse, he's swallowed the key you need to proceed. It's arguably mercy killing, but it is necessary, and his screams will give you nightmares for weeks if you took a shining to his quirky personality.
  • SOMA requires you to kill practically anyone you meet. Though, given the circumstances, several might come across as Mercy Killings.
    • Early on, in order to escape from Upsilon-1's Comm Station, you need to divert power from one of two rooms. Simple enough, except that the WAU has created one of its Mockingbirds — robots with copied human consciousnesses deluded into thinking they are still human — and welded into the floor in one of the room. If you use the power from his room, you send a direct electrical current through him, causing him endless pain that you can't turn off. If you use the power from the other room, you drain all of his power as part of the process, killing him. Oh, and for extra moral quandaries; using the power from the other room not only kills this friendly Mockingbird, but lets the Proxy that you narrowly escaped from earlier journey up into this room, forcing you to outmaneuver it before you can escape.
    • To escape from Upsilon-2 early in the game, you have no choice but to unplug the artificial lungs preserving the life of a woman injured by WAU, killing her to save yourself.
    • At one point, you need to get a certain type of chip to start up a zeppelin again. You can either take it from the cute little robot-buddy, who has been helping you in that area and has done nothing wrong, or take it from one of the jerk robots... who will scream and curse in pain each time you shoot him with the taser, until you finally kill him with the third shot and take the chip from him. And your little robot-buddy will be scared of you, if you do the latter.
    • Late in the game, you encounter Sarah, the last human on earth. She's a mere husk of a human, kept alive by a machine. After helping you, Sarah asks you to please turn her life-support machine off. You can choose to not turn it off or you can, in which case she'll ask you to stay with her.
    • Towards the very end of the game, before you finally reach the Omega Space Gun, you encounter "The Heart", a bio-mechanical organ that the WAU uses to distribute its Mutagenic Goo to the entirety of PATHOS-II. From another sane cyborg, you're told that your body is actually filled with a unique toxic "structure gel" that was created to kill the WAU and its creatures, and it implores you to distribute it into the Heart. This will destroy all of the horrific Proxies you've encountered so far, and the infected sea life... but it also kills the harmless Mockingbirds and the humans who have been "assimilated" into the WAU as well. Of course, given the former are portrayed as insane and the latter are, at best, physically crippled and kept in a Lotus-Eater Machine that makes them unaware of their hideous fate, it does raise the question as to which is the crueller of the choices; letting them go on existing in that state, or giving them a swift death.
    • The protagonist Simon isn't immune to this. He learns that he is merely a copy of the original Simon's brain, put into a robot, while the real Simon died a good hundred years ago. Later, Simon needs to be transferred to another body and succeed... only to be told that they copied his brain, not transferred it. Meaning there is now a Simon copy lying around, unconscious for a few days, who will wake up without Catherine or any idea what went down last and be stuck in a dangerous area. Though Simon can choose to drain his battery, so that copy will die. And then, at the end of the game, Simon's brain is copied once more onto The Ark. Meaning he is in his second body, but still stuck at the bottom of the ocean, and presumably surrounded by dangerous creatures, although the threat may be diminished if you poisoned the WAU beforehand.
  • The RPG Maker game The Witch's House has a lot of these. Most notably, you pick up an affectionate frog who helps you with several puzzles, which you must then feed to a giant snake. Part of the reason for this is to draw the player into the horror of what is going on in the house. Another is to foreshadow that you're playing as the witch herself, and that's why she's so cruel.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • Mission: Impossible for the Nintendo 64:
    • To beat the Interrogation level, you have to distract the doctors' attention by either rising a hospital bed or turning off an occupied treadmill.
    • In the Train Car level, punching out the ticket collector and taking on his identity prevents Max's guards from shooting you.
  • Shadow the Hedgehog:
    • This happens a strangely large amount of times. In the first level, for example, Sonic says he doesn't want to anger GUN, but attacking their flying bots is the only way across. Naturally, he yells at you for doing this. It gets even worse when Amy/Espio is yelling at you for destroying Eggman's robots. Even when Eggman is currently in the process of trying to kill you.
    • It's also inverted. The game has several areas where you're required to attack a flying Black Arms creature to be able to ride on it. This earns you points on the good side of the Karma Meter, but you have to do it even if you're trying to accomplish the evil mission. The Big Bad will even yell at you for doing so even though it's required to progress.
  • Spec Ops: The Line: Using the white phosphorus on the civilian refugee camp is the only way to advance the plot. According to the developer, the only alternate option is quite simple — stop playing the game. This is actually a major part of the narrative; the characters could have turned back at any time, and in fact their orders were to just to scout and bring back word if they met survivors. Just like them, all the player has to do to make the horrible things stop is walk away.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • In CyberStorm, Bioderms are to be viewed this way, and some of the HERCs' weapons systems compel you to use the Bioderms as suicidal missiles to take down nastier Cybrids and HERCs, as they all have a limited lifespan and you can simply breed more of them.
  • Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light, in a mild variation, forces the player to sacrifice one of their early-game characters in its Normal Mode tutorial chapters. There are other ways around that, but they involve even more characters dying in a game where death is permanent and useful characters are a very valuable resource. Most players just throw Crutch Character Jagen to the wolves. That being said, the remake-sequel for this game, New Mystery of the Emblem, reveals that the character who was the canonical sacrifice, Frey, actually survived the ordeal but lost his memory for some time (explaining his absence up until that point). Of course, if you prefer to play Hard Mode, you won't play through the prologue chapters anyway.
  • Rise Eterna: The main quest starts by collecting protagonist Lua's "sisters" from the villages where they are living. The villagers don't want them to leave, so you have to massacre the villagers, after which the sisters join the party with no complaints. There are no options to use intimidation or minimum force, you have to kill every last one of the weak, lightly armed villagers.
  • In Tactics Ogre, although the player can avoid taking part in the massive act of cruelty known as the Balmamusa Massacre, the resulting Chaos route has the player forced to fight grieving refugees that wrongfully pin the blame on you with no way to prevent killing them. This route also has one fight against a female pirate that admits in her dying breath that she's pregnant and you've also just killed her unborn child, though the game's remakes add the option to just chip away at her health until she surrenders.

    Wide-Open Sandbox 
  • In Animal Crossing, you can donate creatures to Blathers to display in the museum. The problem is, Blathers has a strong fear of bugs, and the only way to achieve 100% Completion for the museum is to obviously donate them. You can get around this by donating multiple items at once, which will trigger generic "thanks for donating all of these specimens" dialogue that runs whether bugs are part of the set of donations or not.
  • In Bully, a lot of the unskippable missions involve you acting like a complete Jerkass (hey, it's in the title). In one, you have to sneak several racy pictures of a seventeen-year-old girl at the behest of Earnest, the leader of the Nerds.note  In another, you have to plant evidence to get a teacher fired. In yet another, you help the gross cafeteria lady Date Rape the chemistry teacher. The Scholarship Edition adds one where you have to destroy a Mall Santa's Christmas Castle only because it was stealing attention from another Santa's attraction, even though he did nothing to deserve it.
  • Grand Theft Auto:
    • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas:
    • The infamous mission "By the Book" from Grand Theft Auto V, in which the player, as Trevor, is forced to torture (using tools such as a pair of pliers to pull his teeth or waterboarding him using a can of gasoline) an informant who has information about a target the FIB wants to assassinate. What firmly drives it into this trope is the moment after, when Trevor off-handedly remarks that he knew the torture was ineffective and that he was pretty much doing it for fun; this is likely the exact opposite thought of what's running through the player's mind at that point in time.
  • It's theoretically possible to avoid killing innocents in [PROTOTYPE], but in practice, your civilian kill count will likely number in the hundreds within the first hour of gameplay even if you don't deliberately attack them, simply because they're everywhere and oh so fragile. Trying to get through a fight without any collateral damage will almost always result in failure, especially if you're driving a tank around. And the easiest way to regain health is to grab the closest person and smash them open before absorbing their biomass. You don't have to... but gosh, wouldn't that extra health be useful...? Also, if you accidentally grab an innocent civilian, it is impossible to let go of them without hurling them a few blocks.
  • In Red Dead Redemption 2, most of Leopold Strauss's debt collection missions are optional. However, the Thomas Downes mission — the one in which Arthur Morgan contracts tuberculosis after intimidating, if not beating up, a dying man whose family is utterly broke — is a main quest mission and is thus required to continue.
  • Saints Row:
    • About half of the Brotherhood quest chain of Saints Row 2 is an escalating prank war that turns deadly about halfway through. An early mission involves stealing toxic waste for the purposes of spiking the Brotherhood boss's tattoo ink with it. Later, you kidnap the Brotherhood boss's girlfriend, lock her in her own car's trunk, and abandon her car at a monster truck rally for her boyfriend to run over. Then you give him the keys yourself while delivering an Ironic Echo. Yes, these people are violent jerks, but it's still unnecessarily cruel. On the other hand, the aforementioned trunk locking is done as retaliation after the Brotherhood kidnapped one of your lieutenants, chained him to a truck bumper, and took him for a drag through the Stillwater docks, after which he is so badly messed up, your character is forced to give him a Mercy Kill. The toxic tattoo is a dick move in response to a ridiculously low-ball offer made by the Brotherhood's leader to split Stillwater between his gang and the recently reborn Saints.
    • Saints Row: The Third:
      • The Boss can do this unintentionally. If someone is too close when you press the action button intending to open a door, participate in a photo op, or get into a car, you grab them as a Human Shield. Unless you're near a body of water or a short ledge, your only options at that point are to either kill them with a Neck Snap (or throat bite if you have a certain DLC), or throw them. They might live if you throw them, unless you've gotten the melee-muscles perk which can make them fly over a hundred feet.
      • The "Ho Boat" mission involves stealing a shipment of prostitutes from the Syndicate, at which point you can either sell them back or keep them to add to Zimos's stable. The option of simply letting the innocent, terrified sex workers go free is not available at all. However, the consolation you get for keeping them is that it is established that Zimos treats his women very well and even lets them unionize.
  • In order to continue with the game in Terraria, you need to throw a doll into the lava of the underworld. A Voodoo Doll of the Guide, killing him in the process so you can summon the boss to advance. Skeletron can be re-summoned by equipping a Voodoo Doll of the Clothier and finding a way to kill him. Most items have "tooltips" that tell you a little about them. The tooltip for both of the voodoo dolls is just "You are a horrible person."

  • Can Your Pet? seems like a regular Virtual Pet game at first... then you click on the bicycle. It's not a bicycle at all-it's a pair of buzzsaws, which make quick work of your pet before dropping the remains in a can while the credits roll. Christ.
  • City-Building Series:
    • In Pharaoh, the best way to keep your city happy and well-fed is to stick a few houses near the various industries (which no one wants to live next to) without setting up the usual services (health, food, clean water...), as trying to keep everyone on a more or less equal footing is expensive and counterproductive (the available labor force is taken from housing as a whole, so as long as there's one house in range of a recruiter, the industries will work regardless of its level). This mechanic was done away with in subsequent games, probably as a direct result of the above.
    • In Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom, if you're trying to get things done in time and you only need a population level, it can be easiest to simply build up a developed central town and then just create endless shantytowns outside the city walls. At least that's historically accurate, though.
  • There are three ascension paths in Cultist Simulator: Power, Enlightenment, and Sensation. Two of them require you to kill others in order to progress, only one path allows the Villain Protagonist to remain a Noble Demon. Counter-intuitively, it's the quest for Power that allows the player to avoid devouring the bodies or minds of others.
    • With the Ghoul DLC you need to consume human corpses to progress your ascension, acquire memories, and keep your Horror Hunger in check. However, the ability to raid graveyards for corpses only becomes available after you have progressed to the second stage of ascension. You need to make the first corpse yourself.
  • Every game in the Danganronpa series has at least one class trial that really hammers in how sadistic the killing game and the Mastermind are, but the only way to save everyone else is to reveal the truth and get the killer executed.
    • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc: The second trial comes about due to the stress of the mastermind threatening to reveal everyone's darkest secret, and once you figure out that it was Mondo who killed Chihiro, you learn that his secret is that he blames himself for his brother Daiya's death; it wasn't his fault, but he believes it was, so that's how Junko holds it over him. You're forced to bring this secret to light, and it all becomes ten times worse when you realize that Mondo never even intended to hurt Chihiro in the first place—Chihiro had unintentionally reminded him of Daiya's death in a way that made Mondo snap and kill him, and once he realized what he did, tried to stage the crime scene in a way that didn't reveal Chihiro's real gender (his secret was that he had been pretending to be a girl) which he had confessed to Mondo, as a way of trying to preserve Chihiro's dignity. The whole crime was a series of tragic events, and it's extremely hard to convict Mondo, especially when he decides to Face Death with Dignity but Ishimaru is begging for his life to be spared, even going so far as to vote for himself.
    • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair:
      • Teruteru was actually trying to stop Komaeda from killing anyone at the party, but he accidentally wound up being the murderer. He had no intention of hurting anyone, but made it look that way to fool him. The trial ends with him begging for his mother, in tears, broken and wracked with guilt for killing The Ultimate Impostor, who only wanted to protect everyone from danger.
      • It happens again in trial 5, in which the same person that set up trial 1 set up his own murder via exploiting his supernatural luck. The killer doesn't even know she is, and he was hoping she wouldn't be convicted, because he wanted to save her and kill everyone else because they were all mass murderers except her.
    • Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls: The villains are four abused children and their sociopathic leader. One was beaten by his alcoholic father, one was a test subject, one was subject to extreme emotional abuse, and one was repeatedly raped by strangers and her own mother. It's implied you get all four killed, but they luckily survive. The sociopath escapes unscathed. Then again, they're so positively gleeful about mass murder and torture, proudly standing Atop a Mountain of Corpses and turning bodies into art pieces, that it's hard to feel too sorry for them even knowing they're being manipulated. The fact that they survive just makes their defeats into Break the Haughty moments that feel at least somewhat upbeat despite the Motive Rant.
    • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony: The first killer was trying to kill the mastermind and killed an innocent instead. And it turns out she was entirely innocent and was framed. The only way for everyone to live is for her to die, and she tearfully accepts this and her love interest must reveal this and cause her to be convicted. The fourth trial goes even further as the killer is unaware he’s the killer due to accidentally losing his memory, was manipulated by one of the smartest characters in the franchise into doing it, and due to his Raised by Wolves nature is heavily implied to suffer from some sort of mental disability, being the resident Gentle Giant. His breakdown as he realizes what he did is horrifying, and the entire cast is disgusted with the situation. As always, you have to personally solve the case and reveal him to be the killer, but also explain to him himself how it happened. The protagonist gently does this, rather than the usual accusation, comforting him as he condemns him to death in order to save the rest.
  • In the 1999 version of the Harley Davidson pinball machine, the goal in the Video Mode is to run over as many pedestrians as possible while riding your motorcycle. Players who run over every pedestrian who appears onscreen get an Extra Ball. While you can avoid every pedestrian and finish, you're given the minimal participatory points and a "Nice try" voice clip.
  • The Flash game Homer the Flanders Killer involves killing Ned Flanders and his family (even the kids!) from The Simpsons.
  • In Katamari Forever, the King of All Cosmos spends most of the game out cold, while the Prince and his cousins build a RoboKing to help rebuild the Cosmos. Once the King reawakens, he immediately orders you to dismantle the RoboKing, rolling him up piece by piece. But don't worry; the Negative Continuity of the game ensures that he'll stick around.
  • You don't need to look further than the title for KZ Manager. You play as a freaking Nazi concentration camp commandant.
  • In NCAA Football, the game makers mistakenly included a hard roster limit, preventing you from stashing players to develop. However, you are also in competition with the other teams for recruits, so if you deliberately limit yourself to open roster slots, the opposing teams will get stronger. So a common, almost necessary strategy is to heavily recruit some poor 17 year old all through his senior year of high school until he chooses you over your rivals. Then cut the poor boy before he even puts your jersey on once. Those recruits disappear from the game entirely.
  • One stage of NES Remix has you "make poor Luigi lose a life..." in Mario Bros..
  • The Path requires you to make your character waltz right into the Wolf. And if you played the game right, you do it only after really starting to care for the character as soon as you learn everything about her.
  • On the Sapphire table of Pokémon Pinball: Ruby and Sapphire, the only way to get an upgrade is to Makuhita knock the ball up a ramp, knocking down a Nuzleaf to close the loop.
  • Rune Factory 3: Want to marry Kuruna? You have to wait until after the Unity Festival to access the rest of her heart events. How do you get the Unity Festival to take place? You have to reveal your secretnote  to one of the other bachelorettes, which will only happen if her Love Levels are at maximum. In other words, you have to woo her to the point where she's ready to marry you... then dump her for Kuruna. Even if you use cheat codes to set her Love Meter at max, the needed events won't trigger without the Unity Festival.
  • A quest in The Sims Medieval forces the monarch to kill his/her advisor, even though the player is given reason to believe the advisor did nothing wrong. Thankfully, he gets better. That is, he'll come back in your very next quest. So will your ship, which you blow up with the advisor and servant on it. But still.
  • In Tiny Toon Adventures: Defenders of the Universe, you have to beat up Fifi LaFume at one point to continue. The reason? She is trying to stop you from doing something that she and Shirley have foreseen will lead to the Earth being doomed. Even though Babs (her best friend) and Hamton (who is shown to have feelings for her) are present, they don't even try to talk her out of it. Turns out she was right.
  • In Tomodachi Life, if a Mii falls in love with another Mii, and for one reason or another you disapprove of it, you'll break that Mii's heart and they will fall into Sadness status, forcing you to do favors for them to drain the Sadness meter. If it's a relationship you don't want to see happen (e.g. a Mii of your significant other falling for someone other than you, or vice versa), this is the only way to divert that particular relationship.
  • In Virtue's Last Reward, the heart of the Nonary Game: Ambidex Edition is the Ambidex Game, a version of the Prisoner's Dilemma where three allies, a pair and a solo, blindly choose whether to Ally with or Betray each other. As this is a story with many branching paths, it is occasionally necessary to be a dick to your opponent by Betraying them to unlock story routes. Note that both choices have both good and bad outcomes depending on the path.

    Non-Video Game Examples 
  • In Pokémon Strangled Red, the final menu for "M@#$" in the hacked game consists of four options: "Status," "Switch," "Close," and "Strangle." The narrator discovers that, to finish the game, he must choose the last option.

Alternative Title(s): Plot Aided Bastardry