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Some Anvils Need To Be Dropped / Video Games

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  • Alice: Madness Returns: Children forced into being sex workers. This is a massive problem, especially in third world countries, that doesn't get much attention. This is the biggest form of slavery that's still around. And not every victim receives as much help as the others.
  • The Amazon Trail:
    • Its Green Aesop. Considering what begun in 2019 or how much destruction has been done in the Amazon prior to governments allowing slashing and burning, the Amazon is a huge ecosystem with a lot of biodiversity.
    • Lope de Aguirre was not a good man at all.
      • And neither was Arana. Arana flat out brags to you about how much of a Corrupt Corporate Executive he is, and if you double cross the tribe instead of lying to him, you get told off for having done so.
    • The debate about oil drilling in the Amazon. You are not told to take a side (Even though certain events after the games were made might guide you towards one side), your entire objective was to listen to both of them and acknowledge that yes, Both Sides Have a Point.
  • One critique of Analogue: A Hate Story is that it trends toward a preachy tone despite the liberal use of Deliberate Values Dissonance. However, it's impossible to play the game through to the end without thinking deeply about the human rights abuses that have occurred throughout history.
  • Assassin's Creed II cements its morals on the Grey-and-Gray Morality of the conflict between the Assassins and the Templars with a speech from Ezio near the game's end. Ezio pleads with a crowd that Vengeance Feels Empty, and it won't make you a better person. Also, he implores the crowd to find their own way, not to blindly follow those with the loudest voices or the most wealth.
    Ezio: Twenty-two years ago, I stood where I stand now – and watched my loved ones die, betrayed by those I had called friends. Vengeance clouded my mind. It would have consumed me, were it not for the wisdom of a few strangers, who taught me to look past my instincts. They never preached answers, but guided me to learn from myself. We don't need anyone to tell us what to do; not Savonarola, not the Medici. We are free to follow our own path. There are those who will take that freedom from us, and too many of you gladly give it. But it is our ability to choose – whatever you think is true – that makes us human... There is no book or teacher to give you the answers, to show you the path. Choose your own way! Do not follow me, or anyone else.
  • 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's 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 a bad, bad idea.
  • The BioShock games are very unsubtle about their Aesop: Utopianism is unrealistic. People will inevitably fail to live up to their own ideals, especially when the reins of power are given to those who would exploit it.
    • Also, from the audio diaries from Minerva's Den:
      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, economic, and literal collapse.
  • The Call of Duty games in general love smacking the player in the face with an anvil labeled "War Is Hell."
    • 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.
    • The Modern Warfare series is absolutely rife with war-related anvils, some of which are provided word-for-word by characters in-game, and it's scary how true most of them are:
      "You have to trust someone to be betrayed."
      "To know you're close to the end is a kind of freedom."
      "History is written by the victor."
      "History is filled with liars."
      "It doesn't take the most powerful nations on Earth to create the next global conflict. Just the will of a single man."
      "The bigger the lie, the more likely people will believe it, and when a nation cries for vengeance, the lie spreads like a wildfire. The fire builds, devouring everything in its path."
      "All warfare is based on deception."
      "Revenge is like a ghost. It takes over every man it touches. Its thirst cannot be quenched... until the last man standing has fallen."
      "All you need to change the world is one good lie and a river of blood."
      "Every man has his weakness."
      "They say truth is the first casualty of war. But who defines what's true? Truth is just a matter of perspective. The duty of every soldier is to protect the innocent, and sometimes that means preserving the lie of good and evil, that war isn't just natural selection played out on a grand scale. The only truth I found is that the world we live in is a giant tinderbox. All it someone to light the match."
      "There's a simplicity to war. Attacking is the only secret, but dare... and the world yields. How quickly they forget that all it takes to change the course of history... is the will of a single man."
    • Unfortunately, regardless of the plot, any given Call of Duty game is still all about the player experiencing a (very stylized) simulation of war for fun, so the message tends to come across as lip service.
  • Chrono Trigger. The Zeal story arc is as Anvilicious as they come, but it offers an important metaphor for nuclear warfare.
    • Heck, every time period had some form of racism: 65,000,000 BC had Reptites oppressing the primitive humans. 12,000 BC had the Enlightened Ones oppressing the Earthbound ones. 600 had the war between the humans and the Fiends. And 2300 AD had the robots oppressing what was left of humanity After the End.
    • 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.
  • Early Civilization games and especially Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri are focused on Green Aesop and dangers of science. The games show in full extent that of course, pollution and rampant 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 things our ancestors didn't even dream about and secure better futures for our children.
  • Company of Heroes: The second game is a very good example of why you have to be careful when hammering messages. The single player campaign was criticised, especially in Russia, for its depiction of the Eastern front of World War II and how it portrayed the Soviet Union as much worse than the Nazis. Soviet soldiers engage in several war crimes onscreen including burning farmsteads with the Russian civilians insidenote , human wave tacticsnote , and executing soldiers for retreatingnote . What makes this worse is that the Americans and British in the first game never engaged in underhanded tactics or broke from The Laws and Customs of War, and the infamous Rape, Pillage, and Burn that the Nazis engaged in during their invasion of Russia only gets one passing mention.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day ends with the very blatant message that being with your loved ones is more important than money and power.
  • Cuphead deserves a mention for its message about the dangers of compulsive gambling, with a casino run by the Devil himself and causing many inhabitants of Inkwell to lose their souls and be forced to serve him as a result, Cuphead and Mugman being his most recent victims. A reference to how old cartoons tended to be very anvilicious themselves is a possibility, but some very decent people have lost so much more than just money by getting addicted to gambling that comparing it to losing your soul doesn't look too exaggerated when put in perspective, and the fact that it keeps happening nowadays justifies to seriously address the topic.
  • Danganronpa:
    • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc: When in desperate situations and overcome with despair, people can easily turn on each other to survive. But it's important that we have hope, both in others and in ourselves, if we ever want to move forward.
    • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair: Hope can overcome despair, but It is also something that can be just as much of a corrupting influence as Despair is, as shown with Nagito Komaeda. The ending shows and is repeated throughout the Hope's Peak saga that Talent doesn't mean everything. Putting talent above all other aspects of life is shown to be nothing but arrogant, to the point where the seemingly great Hope's Peak Academy in the name of creating hope, was actually experimenting on Talent to create Hope, and getting resources meant creating a reserve course of talentless kids that are heavily ridiculed by the Talented individuals of the school. Chiaki proves to Hajime who fell into a Heroic BSoD after finding out that he's the culmination of Hope's Peak's research on talent, and that both choices would erase him as a personality, Chiaki tells him outright that that he doesn't have to choose. He can create a new future with his own two hands, just like anyone else.
    • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony: Fiction can be a corrupting influence if it is overly obsessed with too much over reality, but if the same fiction could have a positive impact on your life, then it was something worthwhile. It can even change the world if it has a big enough impact on people.
  • Dragon Age II comes with a number of brilliant anvils tied to the personal quests of the True Companions, but mostly concentrated in Merrill's arc. Merrill's 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 own life on the line for their cause, other people who love them can get hurt in the crossfire. To ignore this brings great misery.
    • The second game also drops an anvil about self-reflection and responsibility. In the entire game, every single side is blaming each other and urging them to better themselves. While they are all justified, none of the groups ever take a second to look at themselves to see how flawed they are and that they are just as responsible for the mess as all of the other sides in the conflict.
    • 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.
    • The game drops an anvil by making it brutally clear that one person cannot solve all the problems, and that that one person is just as flawed as everyone else.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition has quite a few Aesops about extremism and its effects on average people, religious conviction, and existentialism, but it also tackles the issue of LGBT rights rather than simply portraying gay characters like in previous Bioware games. Dorian's personal quest addresses the character's homosexuality head-on and the pressure placed on him to be straight or at least "act straight" within the ruthless nobility of Tevinter (without giving anything away). While some fans find his quest to be simply Anvilicious, others applaud the game for having little nuance about the character's sexuality.
     E to L 
  • EarthBound fits here too; while it does have a lot of subtlety to pick apart, its main lesson is neither subtle nor would it be any better if it was: There is no evil of or beyond this world that can stand a chance against an earth bound by good people sharing real friendship.
    • The sequel, Mother 3, has a 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) as well as rather earthly and relevant destruction, sacrifice, reunion, and all-around painful examination of familial bonds. And it wouldn't be half the game it is without these things.
      • Living in the past can be harmful to both those around you and yourself, as demonstrated by Porky.
  • The Fallout: New Vegas add-ons all revolve around moving on and accepting the past.
    • 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 led 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's still true in Real Life.
      • 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.
  • Far Cry 5 has a heavy religious theme and regardless of your thoughts on faith, you can't deny that there is a definitive transformative power behind it. The enemies you fight are brainwashed but members like Faith Seed were abused people and addicts who had no personal view of redemption or hope. Eden's gate gave them hope and transformed them however the game made them insane and psychotic. In real life, many lost individuals see faith as a chance for sanctuary, redemption or a chance to change their ways and you shouldn't shame them for it or abuse them.
    • Another anvil is far more subtle, the game has a secret ending where you can refuse to put handcuffs on the main antagonist Joseph Seed. If you refuse to put on the handcuffs then Sheriff Whitehorse will tell you, the deputies and the Marshal that they are leaving for reinforcements because there is an obvious, fatal trap waiting for them if they try to arrest Joseph. When you reach the final boss Joseph gives you a choice, leave with your fellow deputies and sheriff or fight Joseph and his brainwashed allies. If you fight Joseph then the world will fall into a nuclear holocaust, killing everyone but you and Joseph. If you leave then you will frenziedly murder the deputies and sheriff during the car ride. The game shows you an unheard anvil about vigilante justice and self-intuition. Sometimes it's best to not do anything and to get reinforcements from the proper authorities. If you try to solve the problem yourself, you may make things far worse for yourself and others. It's best to step back and think about the problem at hand before resorting to violence or dominance.
  • Fate of the World isn't the least bit subtle about its Green Aesop. The sheer difficulty of the game hammers home the point about how hard it is to tackle global warming.
  • 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!"
  • Final Fantasy IV drops the anvil that ultimately, the true worth of a man or woman will shine through any outward appearances, and that ultimately, all humans have the capacity for both good and evil; it's all about what you do with it.
  • Final Fantasy VI drops the 'Love is Good' anvil fair and square on every player's head, explicitly stating the Power of Love, how it was the meaning of life, and showing an example of a life without love: Kefka.
  • Final Fantasy VII drops a clearly environmentalist anvil by literally showing a company sucking 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 add to the message.
    • Tying with this theme, however, is acknowledging that being an eco-terrorist that is fighting against something killing the planet doesn't mean your actions won't hurt people besides the evil corporation.
  • Final Fantasy VIII drops an anvil that not all love, even between a (heterosexual) unrelated man and woman, is romantic.
    • You don't have to do everything alone. It's okay to rely on others for help.
  • Final Fantasy IX has quite a handful of anvils that are dropped on a character by character basis:
    • One shouldn't look at romantic love as the solution to all one's problems, nor is obnoxiously and relentlessly pursuing someone a good way to win them over.
    • Don't fully shoulder all of the responsibility by yourself. You have people who can help you.
    • The best course of action can come from what you believe is right; blind honor and loyalty is not always right.
    • Trying to do things alone won't get you far and it's okay to rely on others for assistance.
    • Cherish and make the most of your time while you are alive.
    • You'll always have friends who will stand by you through the thick and thin, even in your Darkest Hour when all seems lost.
  • Final Fantasy X: One of the game's main aesops is the importance of free-thinking and not following things blindly. Best demonstrated by the scene where Wakka discovers Rikku is an Al Bhed, and the subsequent cutscene consists of Rikku protesting the way people of Spira follow Yevon, demolishing the Religion of Evil with such points as thinking for yourself instead of following blindly, and asking for proof that Yevon's teachings are the right way. Given that the church in question is a Corrupt Church, this anvil had to be dropped sooner or later. Because of this, Wakka gets some serious Character Development, and come the next game, he fathers a child whom he proudly names after the Al Bhed word for "future".
    • In addition, child abuse is wrong and toxic machismo isn't going to make things any better. In addition, if you want to be a parent, it's not about you anymore.
  • Final Fantasy X-2
    • Gippal says that Yuna should not feel responsible for the entire world anymore, since it isn't her cross to bear any longer. She fulfilled her duty as Summoner by defeating Sin and actually managed to give peace to Spira. Gippal says that now it's the duty of Spira's entire population to work at making the world better.
    • Don't build a weapon of mass destruction if you can't control it.
    • The game opens showing the player a new Spira ready to embrace fun, while Shuyin and Vegnagun are elements of Spira's bloody past ready to suck Spira back down into the spiral. Both symbols of grief and misery. Anvil? You need to put the past behind you, and while it is important to learn from history, it's not wise to repeat it.
  • 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 several minor villains (Judges Ghis and Bergan, for instance), the Archadians are normal humans beings with dignity, honor, and perfectly understandable reasons for why they do what they do. Even Vayne is presented as a Necessarily Evil Anti-Villain — he's fully aware that he is doing evil things, but considers them needed to achieve the ends he desires.
    • Adding to that, the side of the war considered to be the "heroic" one isn't always virtuous and selfless. Just as the Archadians are capable of nobility and honor, the Dalmascan side has its share of selfish, ill-minded individuals, or those who would betray their homeland, believing it will save them to just surrender to the Empire. Vossler embodies this well, cutting a deal with Ghis to place Ashe as Queen of Dalmasca in exchange for her becoming essentially another puppet for the Empire, as long as Dalmasca itself is unharmed in the process. Ashe herself also embodies the "not-so-virtuous" aspect, as she's pretty much dead set on making the Empire suffer for all the damage it caused to her kingdom and for the death of her prince, ignoring that she'd be acting just like - if not worse than - the same people who robbed her of everything.
    • Revenge is never a worthy goal to fight for. Fighting to avenge the past ultimately blinds you to the future, and your actions might even endanger those around you, as well as the people you supposedly fight for to begin with. Vaan doesn't take long to realize that his hatred for Basch is unfounded, especially given all the evidence to support his innocence, and realizes it's best to move past his brother's death to fight for the people he cares for in the present. Similarly, Ashe stops her Roaring Rampage of Revenge just in the nick of time, realizing that using the Nethicite to attack the Empire would make her worse than them, and cost both the hope and the lives of her subjects in the process.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance loves to remind players that using escapism as a way to cope with your problems solves nothing and you must confront your problems if you want to be able to solve them.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn:
    • Fire Emblem Fates:
    • Fire Emblem: Three Houses:
      • No one is inherently good or inherently evil, and everyone has the capacity to become either one. Similarly, just because two people are on opposite sides on a conflict does not mean that they want to fight each other, let alone fight for or believe in the side they're on.
      • Everyone should be defined by their strength of character, rather than the ideals they fight for, their birth status, their position in society, or the labels bestowed upon them, and no one should shape their entire life and identity around these things.
      • The ends do not justify the means. Even if one's objective is an honorable goal, fighting for it becomes worthless when it does more harm than good, and when there's no one left alive to bear witness to the fruition of these objectives.
      • War Is Hell. It tears people away from family, causes mass destruction and suffering, destroys relationships and friendships, and benefits the few rather than the many. And most of the people fighting in it aren't doing so out of spite, but rather for their wellbeing or the wellbeing of others, which makes their deaths all the more tragic and senseless.
      • You cannot satisfy or save everyone. Regardless of which house Byleth chooses or who they side with, they are guaranteed to make enemies with at least some of the playable cast by the time the war beginsnote , and while Byleth can convince some party members to defect to their side, none of the routes conclude with the entire playable cast surviving to the end.
  • God of War (PS4), as the culmination of Kratos' Character Development, emphasizes that hatred and revenge are empty motivations, and that compassion and empathy can lead to more fulfilling lives.
    • Parents may be the authority to their children, but they're still fallible. They're still human and capable of making mistakes, both from personal experience and in the methods utilized in raising their children, no matter how saintly or intimidating they are. They continue to educate themselves through life, just as they need to educate their children to prevent them from succumbing to similar vices.
    • No matter how stern or loving you act towards your child, Poor Communication Kills and children don't respond well to being lied to by their parents, especially if it has gone on for a long time. Kratos hiding his godhood from Atreus nearly costs the boy's life against Modi and also nearly makes the kid go mad with power from knowing his lineage without the restraints, and Freya's overprotective tendencies towards Baldur just served to drive him insane with rage to the point of their relationship being completely destroyed beyond hope of reconciliation.
    • Furthermore, just because one parent is intimidating and easy to anger, it doesn't mean they're immediately or willingly abusive towards their child, and just because another is more loving and kind, it doesn't mean said love couldn't be exaggerated or hurtful without them realizing it.
    • It's important that the person we aim to be is, above all else, a better version of ourselves. Admiring the powers, talents, and even good character of others is fine, but we must keep things in perspective. The people we admire often have their own struggles, their own character flaws that hold them back from achieving the greatness they desired. Moreso, we often have our own flaws that we must work on before we can make progress in a personal journey. The people we admire had their personal journeys, and we must strive to stay the course on ours. Kratos passes on this perspective to Atreus, citing that the failures of past gods will not be their inevitable fate — they will be the gods they choose to be.
  • 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 of 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.
  • Hotline Miami and its sequel Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number highlight the consequences of blind patriotism and the consequences of using violence.
  • Katawa Shoujo: People with disabilities are just that — people. Nothing more, nothing less. And never ever forget that "You are not alone, and you are not strange. You are you, and everyone has damage. Be the better person."
  • Kingdom Hearts could not hammer home its message that as long as you stay loyal to your friends, you'll always be okay any harder, and although it does become Narm on occasion, it can still be touching, and that anvil should probably be dropped as often as humanly possible, because, yes, good friends do make it possible to survive anything.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords shows that the world isn't just Black And White, and how warring over ideals and perceived absolutes without regard to those who get helplessly caught up in such conflicts will just make everyone hate you, regardless of which side is "right".
  • L.A. Noire drops a pretty solid anvil that some people seem to have forgotten: Honesty Is the Best Policy. Crime doesn't 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.
  • Live A Live: Anyone can become evil if they have enough hatred inside of them. And boy, does Oersted embody this message a hundredfold.
     M to P 
  • The Mass Effect series drops this one: There comes a time where you have to acknowledge that you can't save everyone and you won't be able to make it through unscarred. You can't win them all. Doing so will come at great sacrifice.
    • 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 program that left the Quarians without a home and Shepard's option to kill off the Reapers.
    • 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 any way. 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 third game does have a more positive message, especially for people who played Paragon through the trilogy: treat people right and they'll do right by you.
    • The Proud Warrior Race Guy is a trope that is common throughout science fiction, but is Deconstructed with the krogan, one such race for which being Proud Warriors was their only strength at the cost of technological and social progress. When the salarians uplifted them, the resultant Krogan Rebellions ensued, which later resulted in the krogan being afflicted with the genophage. Rather than return to their homeworld and try to preserve their race in the face of the genophage, the krogan instead resigned themselves to slow and painful extinction, convinced that they were going to die out and living their lives as mercenaries. The message is clear: no good can come from a people whose only defining characteristic is their martial strength.
  • 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.
    • There's also this. Not even an insanely-powerful madman could decide your own destiny: (spoiler alert)
      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 vigilance 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.
  • Metal Gear: The Aesop of the entire 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.
    • War Is Hell, and nuclear weapons are 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 the same vein, it is worth noting that REX, after being stripped of its railgun (which makes it capable of firing nukes), is now fighting RAY, who in this case is protecting a nuke launching. So, REX now takes the same stance as RAY originally did, which also happens to be the purpose its designer originally intended; defending against nukes. AND IT WINS. So... yeah. It also has the 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 an important theme; the B&B Corps receive no sympathy from Snake, and 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. 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 is 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 MGS3. 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 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, 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.
    • The game's entire storyline might be one of the biggest aversions of Do Not Do This Cool Thing in video games. It also takes Naked Snake, who was originally a goofy and almost nerdy soldier, and killed him inside. In all of the games he appeared in afterwards, he was never the same.
    • The fact that, as opposed to most bosses who are killed in a cutscene, the game switches you back to gameplay to shoot her yourself, while she's lying on the ground and dying. There is nothing you can do, except push the trigger button.
    • Homeless and impoverished children and their exploitation are a major problem in the world today, and Rising makes no effort to mask this.
      • There are some people and organizations in the world that blatantly violate the laws and moral standards of society, and if they do operate within the law, they will use the law as a shield to protect their immoral activities and interests. Such people can't be negotiated with and need to be dealt with. Harshly and permanently. The story goes to great lengths to show Raiden as operating outside of the law in order to do the right thing; that operating within the law is not always the same as being moral, and it's important that we try to recognize the difference.
    • Sons of Liberty was criticized for managing to be EVEN MORE preachy and heavy-handed than its predecessor, particularly with regards to the over 10 minutes long Codec call near the end of the game. However, it turns out the social commentary was very much needed: The game came out as the internet's influence on the world and the media was rapidly increasing, and warned that the massive amounts of digital information would isolate people ideologically and promote the proliferation of biased unchallenged views. 15 years later, and the term "fake news" on the internet would be a primary concern in the political sphere.
      • Furthermore, the aformentioned Codec call mentions political correctness preventing issues from being discussed. Meanwhile, extremist views in real life continue to develop anonymously on internet forums, while political correctness prevents these views from reaching the mainstream and being properly challenged.
      • At the same time the game emphasizes why information should not be censored, because the groups who wish to do so want to purge any knowledge that goes against the narrative they want to push. The villains in the Codec call make legimate points about human nature, but they are wrong in their claims that The Evils of Free Will justify letting one group control the flow of all information.
      • Wanting to do the wrong thing for the right reasons is still wrong. The Big Bad of the game wants to kill an even worse group of villains, something that later games admit was a just cause. But that doesn't mean he was right in his plan that would have destroyed a major US city.
  • Mortal Kombat X: Be supportive. Kotal Kahn and Johnny Cage in separate ways demonstrate why this cannot be stressed enough:
    • Johnny was always supportive towards both his daughter and his SF team, even in the darkest times. The power of father/daughter love actually manages to save Earthrealm itself and was instrumental in the defeat of Shinnok, an Elder God, as their hidden power could only be unlocked by witnessing a loved one about to die. This extends to the rest of his team, all of whom were responsible for the outcome of the game's story as well. As a proof, there's his dialogue with Sonya at the beginning of Chapter 5:
    Johnny Cage: This is what split us up in the first place. You disappear in your work. Never time for me and Cassie.
    Sonya: I had responsibilities. Sorry you couldn't be the center of attention.
    Johnny Cage: There was a time when you cared more about your family than your job, General.
    • In spite of all of his mistakes, Kotal Kahn always has the respect of those who follow him, which allowed him to not only restore Outworld to some extent, but also regain the respect and allegiance of the Shokan, a race hellbent on conquering. Only one character in the entire game, out of millions of followers, actually manages to betray him, and that's only because said character was a mole all along, revived in order to work for another evil entity, and not out of selfishness. Compare this to Shao Kahn's several resistances and betrayals of entire realms he had to endure. The man himself (and his right hand) even makes that point in Issue #19 of the MKX comics:
    Kotal Kahn: If I cannot protect the Capitol, I am unfit to rule. If dying is my duty, I will die.
    D'Vorah: Reptile defended Kotal with conviction beyond that of any servant or slave, and I knew tyrants rule with fear, but Kotal Kahn leads with respect. You are the only leader This One has ever truly respected.
    Reptile: D'Vorah speakss for uss all.
    Kotal Kahn: My sacrifice tomorrow... will save thousands of lives. THAT is leading with respect.
  • No Straight Roads:
    • The music industry is harsh and brutal to the unprepared, naive artist. While it doesn't have to become something evil or exploitative, it will become so if left unchecked, especially if it takes hold of people who don't have it in their minds that stardom isn't all it's cracked up to be. None of the game's bosses are truly evil people, but their respective reputations have become so large that it has corrupted and taken hold of their egos (like DJ Subatomic Supernova), their inner demons (Eve), their artistic integrity (Sayu's creative team) or even their familial bonds (Yinu and her mother);
    • Rebelling against a single-minded, uniform system is important, but it's even MORE important to know the why and how you do it in the first place, otherwise your actions will become more reckless and destructive, to the point you'll run the risk of becoming exactly what needed to be deposed to begin with;
    • Make no mistake, celebrities LOVE their fans, and their combined love and support for their icons is always appreciated when it comes from an earnest place of admiration. But just because you're highly devoted to your idols, maybe even being their "Number One Fan", NEVER assume the stars "owe" you anything for it. You don't own them or their careers, and while fans can help a celebrity improve through constructive criticism, fan ENTITLEMENT is destructive and toxic, even psychotic depending on the person, as both Tatiana and Bunk Bed Junction learn when Kliff reveals his true colors.
  • Ōkami 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 sequel Ōkamiden, it drops the message that it doesn'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.
  • All of the Oddworld games focus on the 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.
  • Persona 2, particularly Eternal Punishment, has one emerge from the stories of the characters. Life may not go the way you want it to; and it won't get any easier, but it's not the end of the world if you don't get to do what you want to do. You can still move on and still find success in other ways.
  • 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.
    • The FES expansion's epilogue story "The Answer" deals with the concept of grief, and how it affects people once a loved one does, in fact, die. It affects everyone differently, but ultimately it is natural to feel it, be it through a momentary loss of purpose, emotional turmoil or thinking it best to move on. However, giving into the extremes of grief can be self-destructive: insisting on moving on blindly means you fail to see the pain your friends and loved ones still feel in the present, and dwelling on the past, letting your emotions run wild, makes you stay stuck in a loop of depression and makes you stop seeing what's coming ahead. SEES is broken into "factions" over how they handled the loss of the Protagonist and what they could do with the keys from the Abyss of Time. Not only does their combined grief and memories of him create a Shadow version of their fallen friend that they must fight, it breaks the team apart even further to the point of fighting over what to do with the keys acquired in the Abyss.
      • Even if your bonds of friendship are strong, fights can and will still occur sometimes between you and your friends for many possible reasons. And in some cases, talking the problem over with them isn't going to solve it.
      • Never assume suppressing your emotions makes it easier to handle the loss of a loved one. Hiding from your feelings only makes the pain worse and makes you unable to move on in the process. Be honest with yourself and remember that it's natural to feel pain and suffering, and that You Are Not Alone.
      • Moving on doesn't mean you forget the people you've lost along the way. As long as they are remembered, they will live on in memory.
  • 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.
    • Another heavy-handed anvil that plummets from the sky is "Be honest to yourself, your true friends won't care if you're not perfect, or a All-Loving Hero." This comes in all flavors. From the Shadows representing a twisted version of their persona, with exaggerated negative characteristics. Continually rejecting the feelings cause them to go berserk and attack, and the only way to obtain a Persona and fight is to accept all your feelings and traits — the good and the bad.
    • 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.
    • Don't allow technology, media, and fantasy to dictate how you should act or who you should be. People might see you in a number of ways, but what matters is how you see yourself.
    • The Reveal of the killer's identity and motivations brings a very important, albeit harsh, aesop: There are people who have no real motivation to cause pain and suffering, they do it because they have the means and/or the chance to, and looking for the reason behind their actions, even when it's the truth, might not give you resolution or be what you were hoping for. Adachi's life was lived in loneliness and boredom, with no one to give him a hand or words of support, and by the time he did find people who genuinely wished him well, it was too late. The Investigation Team expected to find a cunning, tactical killer, a Magnificent Bastard. Instead they found a raving, hunched-over Manchild who killed people because he could, so far gone into nihilism that killing became his own twisted version of fun and vindication.
      • Adachi's story and character development in the later games also teach that a little friendship and caring for others can go a long way, even possibly getting them out of the Moral Event Horizon. The events of Arena Ultimax show that the team did leave an impression on Adachi, however small it might be, and he does genuinely treasure his friendship with his (former) boss Dojima, even if he won't outright admit to it. He has committed horrible crimes he still has to pay for, but the road to redemption is there and he seems to be on his way to it.
    • Have fun in your life. Enjoy the moments you have with your friends and family, and treasure these memories even through the darkest of times.
  • Persona 5 continues this legacy with the twist of putting you in the role of a metaphorical criminal, a Phantom Thief, to go with the theme of rebelling against being a societal prisoner, due to being falsely charged for a crime you didn't commit when you were trying to do the right thing. Throughout the whole game's story, you're faced with those who exploit the weak, the helpless, and even the just plain ignorant to further their own ends with no regard for who gets hurt. But rather than take these injustices, the right thing to do is stand up to those who misuse their authority. Even if the enemy you face seems too powerful, stand up to them. Even if society will brand you as a criminal for fighting back, stand up to them.
    • But despite the themes of rebelling against society, it also makes it clear that it's immature to blame society or even just others for everything that happens to you, circumstantial or even self-inflicted. And that to just straight up Pay Evil unto Evil doesn't make anything right. While the Phantom Thieves and your Confidants have all grown up suffering various injustices inflicted upon them by a corrupt society, your Targets' Shadows blame society for problems that were either their own fault or out of anyone's control. The Phantom Thieves sought justice by making the Targets confess instead of murder, with the Heel–Face Brainwashing being the only method available to them. The Targets exploited everyone around them without once thinking that there may have been alternatives to getting where they were.
      • In addition to this, it even makes the point of having faith in humanity, even when you've seen some of the worst of it happen to you. This shows up the most in the game's Social Links, as your Confidants even come to help the very people who betrayed them and earn their trust. From the school's nobody saving the skin of a guy who used to bully him, to an ex-track runner sticking his neck out to help the teammates who blamed him for their disbandment.
    • Being an adult may mean that you now have to provide for yourself in order to stay afloat, but it gives you no right to be an uppity asshole about it. Throughout the game, you'll see many adults besides Targets who act arrogant and condescending towards those they see as below them, such as adolescents, particularly those in the buffet scene after the first Target, whom don't show even the slightest amount of sympathy after said Target confessed his crimes and continue to act as though they're the only important people in the room.
      • Being an adult also means that you now have a responsibility to help future generations move forward as well and give them something to strive for, even just a little. Shirking such responsibilities for your own gain is not only a shitty, immature thing to do, but it also screws over said future generations. Unlike the Targets and other nasty people, you'll probably notice that the adults who're usually your Confidants or victims of said assholes want to actually help society in whatever way they can, but don't have any leg room to do so because of the jerks that exploit those around them.
      • Don't lose sight of your aspirations and goals as you grow up, but don't let them twist you into someone you're not. Persona 5 surprisingly humanizes your Targets by always making it clear that their motives always come from heavily warped desires. Many of them were once decent people, but basic human flaws distorted their vision and made them lose sight of what they originally wanted. Even the Phantom Thieves get a dose of this when they're framed for the death of Kunikazu Okumura due to their various successes up to this point. But even if you lose sight of what you aspired for, what's important is that you realize this soon enough so that you can get back on track.
      • Self-sacrifice: Acting on your own and doing whatever you want, even if it's for good intentions, is seen as selfish. If you don't fulfill your role and complain about it, you are seen as disrupting the environment. This is why it's easy for Japanese audiences to see why Ryuji would be blamed for breaking up the track team despite Kamoshida egging him on, or for Haru to be blamed for hurting her father and her family's company if she didn't agree to her marriage. At the end of the game, though, if you completed the Strength Confidant, it's explicitly said that there are times when you must sacrifice your desires to do the right thing, like Joker did when he let himself go to jail to ensure Shido's conviction.
    • The Golden Ending especially stresses the absolute importance of having freedom, and how nothing is more valuable than freedom of will for all of humanity. And that nothing is more dangerous to that than mass complacency. Never waste your freedom on the decision to not choose, just because reality keeps blindsiding you even if doing so promises some distorted sense of security, and especially if the bastard tempting you to give up freedom is little more than a Control Freak. This very decision to give up free will for the sake of a little comfort is what exactly led Yaldabaoth, the true mastermind of all the events, to try and erase the world. And if it wasn't for you and your friends' rebellion, he would have succeeded beyond a doubt.
    • Don't strive for the approval of the masses, because their opinion is fleeting and shallow. Don't strive for the opinion of your superiors either, because those that are undeserving of it will almost assuredly abuse it. Your True Companions will accept you and stand by your side even if the world seems against you. This is best shown with Goro Akechi, who betrays the Phantom Thieves and throws away his chance at having actual friends all to maintain his celebrity status, which is ultimately unfulfilling, and his status with his father, who ultimately planned to dispose of him. By the time he's given a second chance, it's too late.
  • Persona 5 Scramble: The Phantom Strikers continues to hammer in the aesops of the original along with some new ones.
    • The character arc of newcomer Zenkichi Hasegawa touches on the concept of the police as an institution in service of the people. While it's true that the police can be corrupt, there are many in the police force who are honest people who want to see justice served, and deserve to be respected. However, the police need to earn that respect by actually doing their job, or you get people like the Phantom Thieves or the Jail Kings who decide that they need to take justice into their own hands. Moreover, completely dismantling the police in favor of vigilante justice is a horrible idea no mater how you slice it. When one villain proposes just that, the Phantom Thieves, who have plenty of experience with how corrupt the police can get, completely reject the idea.
    • Once again, straight up Pay Evil unto Evil doesn't make anything right. The Jail Kings are much more sympathetic than the Palace Rulers of the original, having each suffered through injustices that the Thieves can personally relate to. However, this doesn't change the fact that they have to be stopped, because their solution to coping with the trauma they faced in the past is to brainwash the masses in order to gain the vengeance and power that they crave, which turns them into worse monsters than the people who tormented them.
      • It's never too late to atone for your mistakes. Due to confessing to their crimes after then Phantom Thieves convince their Shadows to stand down, the Jail Kings' reputations are in tatters. However, the Thieves understand that the Kings are good people who still have alot to offer to society and encourage them to pick themselves back up and try to pursue their dreams again, with honest means this time.
  • Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth all but screams to the world that mindless conformism is bad, individuality is a good thing, the idea of Individuality Is Illegal is bullshit, and that it's wrong to shame someone who would much rather do their own thing and have their own opinions and feelings than just blindly go along with everyone else's opinions. Considering Japan is a heavily conformist, traditional society that frowns upon individuality in favor of the group ideology and strict societal standards, it's an anvil that, while cliche, very much needs to be dropped in that particular country.
  • Pokémon, especially Pokémon Gold and Silver and Pokémon Black and White, 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, and considering all the criticism Pokémon gets as being similar to cockfighting or dogfighting. This doesn't mean that these people will ever learn their lesson, unfortunately.
    • 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 (the latter three, anyway) that reform when they realize the error of their ways. Maybe they were just misguided in life, and simply need to be shown that there is another way. 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.
      • And yet the above failed reformations drop another anvil: it doesn't matter if you set a good example; others can and sometimes will make the wrong decisions. That, however, doesn't make their lack of change your fault nor does it mean you should stop setting that good example.
    • There's another Aesop in that there are some people out there who won't accept a second chance or a chance for redemption. It doesn't mean that offering them a second chance is pointless, but it's naive to expect that all people will automatically renounce their ways if you give them a second chance. And if they do reject that second chance, you should kick their ass without hesitation or remorse, as they will hurt someone if they're not stopped.
    • 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 almost 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.
    • Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon XD beat Metal Gear Rising to the punch in expressing villainous organizations abusing and bending the law to their defense and the need to neutralize them, even through illegal methods, as Evice and Greevil protect their illicit operations using political and financial means whereas the player utilizes a Pokémon theft device in a war campaign against them.
  • 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.
     R to Z 
  • Red Dead Redemption II does not at all gloss over just how badly the Native Americans were treated. The Arc Villain of Chapter 6 is a corrupt military official who denies the Wapiti tribe medicine they desperately need and tries to provoke them into war so the government can wipe them out and seize their land. The man in question is a complete jerk who denies their human rights and considers their real names to be "silly", showing no respect for their culture at all. Agent Milton talks at length about how as far as he's concerned, the Native Americans are no better than Dutch's motley gang and like Dutch's gang they should be eradicated for the good of "civilisation". This is not hyperbole, many white Americans really did have this attitude towards them.
  • The demons in Shin Megami Tensei: 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.
  • Spec Ops: The Line has the Aesop of "war is 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. 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 protagonist. 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.
    • How the game attacks the U.S. "foreign policy" of military intervention. The military brass explicitly ordered Konrad to get the hell out of Dubai before the storm hit, but Konrad (and the Damned 33rd) opted to stay to act both as a stabilizing element and in the hopes of organizing a mass evacuation for those that hadn't already gotten out of the city. Konrad himself was a Well-Intentioned Extremist at worst (as even the draconian water-rationing had a purpose), and his initial attitude was Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right! when told not to intercede. However, this also reinforces the point that, regardless of how noble your intentions going in might be, things are not guaranteed to work out well in the end.
    • The biggest (and most subtle) Aesop is an old one — "A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing." All of Walker's decisions were based on only partial information (a situation that can easily happen while in a war zone) — from who he should side with (Enemy Mine isn't always a good option — in fact, it tends to be a crapshoot) to what he should do. He never made attempts to fully assess the situation, or simply drop his weapons and approach unarmed to explain the situation (though, granted, the latter would likely have gotten him killed).
      • And on the other side of the aisle, the entire mess starts because those embroiled in Dubai's civil war believed that the trio of newcomers were members of those they were fighting, shooting on-sight rather than making any effort to assess their intentions.
    • Writer Walt Williams is not terribly keen on the game being described as an "anti-war" video game: he has stated that his primary intention was to create a narrative which asked players to question why they play shooters in the first place, and the War Is Hell aspect of the game came about largely as a necessary consequence of this rather than out of any special desire to attack war in its own right.
    • Another thing the game brutally deconstructs is the very purpose of the Big Bad itself. Throughout the game, Walker uses Konrad to justify his actions, since he needs to liberate Dubai from his martial law. However, finding out that Konrad (or more accurately, the version of him that Walker has dealt with all game — the real Konrad has been Dead All Along) was just a figment of his imagination that Walker created to deny his actions not only deals a potentially Driven to Suicide reaction from Walker, but also is the straw that breaks the player's morale as well. Really, the deconstruction of a villain as a justification for the protagonist's actions applies to all forms of narrative fiction.
  • 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?
  • Midway Games'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 its over-the-top elements.
  • 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.
  • Tales Series:
  • This War of Mine hammers home the message that War Is Hell, especially for the civilians who must live in the war zone, scrounging for food and water, trying not to be killed by soldiers on either side, and, in general, just trying to make it to tomorrow.
    In war, not everyone is a soldier.
  • 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 as Japanese, because she does not look Japanese, when in fact she is Japanese due to having lived her whole life there.
  • Undertale and Deltarune:
    • In regards to the pacifist route, will gladly remind you that sometimes Being Good Sucks and No Good Deed Goes Unpunished (such as making it more difficult to win battles since you can't kill anyone and some characters will keep attacking you even if you never fight back), but being good and doing the right thing in spite of the hardships will lead to its own reward and will make you a better person in the long run. Likewise, in a No Mercy run, you will be reminded constantly that your actions will have consequences and that you will eventually be dealt with retribution from the most unlikely sources.
    • Adding to this, talking to Asriel at the end of a True Pacifist run will cause him to reflect on how some conflicts in the surface world (i.e. real life) simply can't be resolved peacefully, and that in those situations the best you can really strive for is "don't kill and don't be killed."
    • Undertale also asks a very serious question: if you have the option to resolve conflicts peacefully, why would you ever resort to violence beyond simply wanting to do so?
    • The No Mercy run drops a huge big anvil near the end about the way most gamers treat games — as tools for their enjoyment, as challenges to overcome. This obviously extends to the characters in said games too; despite how much gamers may profess to like characters, in the end, all the characters do is serve as ways to further the player's enjoyment of the medium. Flowey lets the anvil go during the New Home segment, where he talks about his experiences abusing his power to save and reset the world; he used the power to more effectively solve the characters' problems at first, becoming friends with them, then wondering what would happen if he gave them this thing, or said that thing to them; that once you find out, that's ALL THEY ARE. Just a set of dialogue boxes which pop up in response to your choices. So what's to stop you from then finding out what would happen if you killed them? Sans brings the anvil home during his battle, by saying that he knows your type. That you will keep persevering in order to beat him, even if there's no benefit to doing so, not for any reward, but because you can. And therefore you feel like you have to.
    • Undertale, while emphasizing the power of Determination, also emphasizes the importance of letting go of things, especially in a Pacifist run. Toriel has to realize that you have to go forward and she has to let you go forth on your journey, Papyrus has to let go of his dreams of becoming a Royal Guard in order to realize that he already has a friend in you, Undyne has to let go of her disdain for humans and realize that maybe they aren't as bad as she thought they were, Alphys has to let go of the idea that everyone hates her and realize that there are people who love her, Mettaton has to let go of his dreams of being famous on the surface world so that he can continue being an inspiration to his fans in the Underground, Asgore has to let go of his plan to destroy the barrier because even though it gives his people hope, he doesn't want to hurt anyone, and Asriel has to accept the fact that the friend he knew from his childhood is dead and that he has to let the player go so they can have their happy ending. And in the No Mercy run, perhaps it's you who needs to learn this, as you're given every opportunity to stop your genocide until you actually finish it. And if you try to fix things only after you've finished, the first bullet points out, your actions have repercussions.
    • Deltarune, meanwhile has pretty much the opposite moral of it's predecessor. Not every bad person is just a tortured soul or the result of a misunderstanding. Some people know full well they're hurting people, simply don't care, and will gleefully abuse your good will. The friend-to-all act will not work on such people.
  • The Witcher series:
    • Moral ambiguity reigns supreme. There is no grand "Good vs. Evil" to be found (save for the Salamandra gang in the first game), just people against people. Elves and dwarves want to be free of human oppression, but use extremist, guerrilla actions to accomplish their goal. Humans want to maintain the peace, but at the expense of non-human citizens' rights.
    • Conversely, just because a conflict is morally gray on both sides, it doesn't mean neutrality is the best choice. Complacency only helps the side that is in power, and hurts the oppressed.
    • Geralt himself monologues in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt that hate and prejudice will never quite go away. Mankind will always fear and oppress those that are different, whether they are of other races, or simply don't conform to societal customs.
  • We Become What We Behold is a short flash game that doesn't just drop its anvil, but shoots it from orbit out of a railgun station with the force of ten nukes. The media (played by you) and the populace are little more than an Ouroboros, as the media is interested in nothing but generating scandal and outrage for profit as it takes small negative occurrences and blows them out of proportion. At the same time, the populace don't make anything better, by blindly believing in the morally bankrupt news media and perpetuating its false message while the Devil in Plain Sight get away with it all. In the end, only the media wins while the people lose; survivors of the tragedy, the genuinely good people who tried to counter the corrupt media, can only mourn for the lives that were pointlessly lost.
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. Most World War II games are happy to just have Those Wacky Nazis as two-dimensional bullet fodder and Acceptable Targets. Not these two. These games go really deep into why they became Acceptable Targets, how harmful and insane the Nazi's reactionary ideology is, and how it corrupts everyone who believes in it and everything that gets touched by it. This comes up even more in the second game.
    • Both games have a surprising amount of Pet the Dog and Cry for the Devil moments as depicted in various letters to their family. Oddly enough, this doesn't go against the latter theme - the intended message is most likely "Yes, these people have family and others they care about. But they're still terrible people who believe in a murderous ideology, so screw 'em."
    • In the second game, there's a memorable scene where an American woman tries to cosy up to a Nazi officer who returns her affections and praises her zeal, right up until she makes a misguided comment about those "impure Austrians", at which moment he immediately turns on her, as not only is the Fuhrer an Austrian but the officer's own grandmother. Two lessons here: 1) trying to cosy up to racists makes you a Jerkass, and 2) trying to cosy up to racists will backfire on you.
    • At the same time, the game makes a point with Sigrun that labelling someone a Nazi or lashing out at allies who only want to help you, can be just as cruel and damaging as straight-up prejudice, not to mention detrimental to your own cause.
    • You don't have to follow up your parents' steps if they are in the wrong, as both B.J. (with his father Rip) and Sigrun (with her mother Engel) display across the game.
    • In addition to the bit above regarding BJ's father, Rip's racism and the complacent attitude of many Americans to the Nazi occupation bring up the important fact that 20th century America still had grave problems of its own regarding bigotry even when it fought the Third Reich. This leads to the Aesop of never being apathetic in times of injustice, especially when Grace points out that marginalized folk have and still fight for their rights on a daily basis. Oppression doesn't need jackbooted Nazis to be any less real.
  • The World Ends with You has CAT's "Do what you want, wherever you want, whenever you want."
    • 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.
  • 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 screwed 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.


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