It's pretty common for gore and brutality to flesh out a video game, as it has been since the rise of arcade titles way back in the eighties. In those forty or so years since, developers have really knuckled in one some controversial subjects, and bloodthirsty protagonist with questionable motives have definitely contributed towards that, tenfold. Yet, there are some stories that can only really be told through mindless bloodshed and sadistic morals.
Truth is, developers can get away with quite a lot in this day and age, and it's not very often a character is swept under the rug for being too violent. That said, some of these so-called heroes have definitely raised a few suspicions in the past. The question is, which of the few have sparked the biggest debate, and which are still as ravenous today as they were during their rise to fame? Well, here are the five we'd put up on the pedestal.
5. Kratos (God of War)
The notorious Ghost of Sparta doesn't exactly have the cleanest record, no thanks to his mindless killing sprees through the very fires of Helheim and what have you. Although for a good reason—at least in Kratos' eyes—the ravenous God did put on quite a display over his unhealthy tenure as a flesh-eating psychopath. You know, nothing like the man he transitioned into when the reboot came about in 2018.
Pain and suffering set aside, Kratos is one of the most complex protagonists in the gaming world. But unfortunately, that closed book was never really opened and examined until much further down the line. Before then, it was pretty easy to get lost in the unruly mayhem that Kratos willingly hurled himself into. And you know what? We absolutely loved him for it.
4. Dante (Dante's Inferno)
Dante might have had it rough, though that doesn't exactly justify killing numerous lost souls in the fiery pits of hell. Then again, it all boils down to the players' moral judgement, and how one perceives crime and punishment. Of course, you can play the fallen angel and help absolve the tormented, or you can banish them to an eternal void in the seventh circle itself.
Granted, hell can be a little manic. It can also house some pretty sadistic folk that only wish to inflict pain on those who trespass. And for that reason, we don't blame Dante for firing on all cylinders. But boy, some of the executions that fill out his blood-soaked portfolio are downright outrageous. A little far-fetched? Maybe just a tad.
3. Rick Taylor (Splatterhouse)
Splatterhouse was many things, but family-friendly probably wasn't one of them. In fact, the gore-heavy festival of blood and brutality was enough to curdle iron, and it showed through its savage gameplay and reckless approach to the beat 'em up genre. That said, for many, it was a breath of fresh air, and a real ballsy approach to a controversial link in the gaming industry.
Rick Taylor, the character you play as, is driven by a mask, one that influences him to slaughter his way through a mansion in search of his kidnapped love interest. However, rather than settling for a couple of bruised knuckles, the protagonist instead opts for a blood-soaked grin, one that wouldn't take too kindly to the vast majority of everyday hoodlums. It's crammed to the brim with violence, just as its metal-loving developer intended it to be.
2. Doom Guy (DOOM)
If DOOM was without its signature gory theatrics and hellish battlefields, then it just wouldn't be the award-winning series we know and respect today. It's a staple on the first-person shooter category, and it's a world we've grown fully accustomed to over the last two or more decades on a variety of platforms. But then, even in our subconscious mind, we know where to draw the line. And honestly, Doom Guy probably crossed it back in 1997.
Wherever you stand, there's no denying the fact that Doom Guy has one of the most hell-bent track records in the killing fields. His actions may be justified, but his methods are questionable at best. Still, we can't fault some of the creativity that bleeds from the heat of the moment. And if there is anything DOOM isn't in short supply of…it's moments.
1. The Postal Dude (Postal)
If you want to talk about controversial video games, then let's talk about Postal. This is a series of games that, to our best knowledge, was banned in a number of countries. Understandable, given the fact that you can quite literally urinate on bystanders for no reason whatsoever. And that's just the tip of the iceberg to a whole patch pull of questionable actions that the notorious Postal Dude employs.
Of course, when it comes to treading the Postal waters, it all comes down to how creative a player can get, and how far they're willing to wade before drawing the line. Because when you don't have limitations holding you back, anything goes, and Postal Dude certainly isn't one to question what's right and what's wrong when staring down the barrel of a shotgun. The real question is this: How far will you go before chalking up the line? Decisions, decisions!
So, what's your take? Do you agree with our top five? Are there any games we should've put on this list? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.