The First Game That Truly Disturbed You

The First Game That Truly Disturbed You

Video games don't usually repel their players. Gamers are nothing if not tolerant — of horrific acts of violence, long loading times, high prices, we'll put up with a lot. But everyone has their limits. What was the first game that turned you off not because it wasn't fun, but because you found it morally repugnant?

This morning I came across a thread on the gaming forum NeoGAF that posed an interesting question: "What was the first game you actually found morally objectionable?" Let's talk this through. I'm curious to hear about the first game that truly disturbed you.

Let's do it like this, using one of my favourite games as an example we can all follow in the comments below:

God of War 3

The God of War series has always been insanely gory, even by modern gaming's supremely violent standards. But there was something about the way Kratos executed the bosses in that particular game that made me squirm. Like he was enjoying himself a bit too much when he gouged out someone's eyes, or chopped off their legs and watched them flop around helplessly on the ground. I guess I was supposed to be enjoying myself as well, which was the part that grossed me out.

The First Game That Truly Disturbed You

Now: the God of War example is an aesthetic question as much as an ethical one. Games can be morally objectionable for plenty of other reasons. Tomodachi Life offended many gamers in the US because Nintendo wouldn't allow people to have gay relationships in the game. At least one critic despised Dark Souls because he thought it was offensively long. Almost 80,000 people joined together in protest against SimCity's always-online requirements back in 2013.

In other words: feel free to take this question in any direction you'd prefer. And remember to have fun!


    Pathways into Darkness

    creeped the hell outta me when I was a kid. those.... things that just had a mouth & giant tongue where there should've been a head & neck were horrific to 8-year-old me.

      Pathways had some awesomely creepy designs really. I often wish Bungie would go back to it, you could make an incredibly good modern game out of the elements they had in it.

    It will probably take me a while to think back through the games to find the first, but I always hated the stealth segmeants in Uncharted because of the neck snapping sound effect. I've always been fine with that sound effect in other games, but in Uncharted it's too precise.

      I'm pretty interested in how you know the precise sound of a neck snapping !

        There was a Reddit thread a while ago where the same kind of question was asked, and things got.. pretty detailed.

        Some people have lived interesting lives.

        YEAH, Neo Kaiser. If that's your REAL NAME!...

    The first game that freaked me the hell out was The Suffering.

    The first game or part of a game I found morally objectionable was that part in GTA V, you know the one.

      Crashing through your bosses front window because Micheal told you to? Yeah, I had trouble sleeping after that too...

      I've played it all the way through but not sure which bit you mean?

      The first bit of trevor stomping that dude's head in was kinda messed up, but that's all I can think of.

        Nah, it was

        the part where Trevor has to torture that guy

        I didn't want to do it, but the game forced me to if I wanted to progress.

          ooooh right, yea that was pretty bad.

          Yeah, that was fucked up, no question, but for some reason, the thing that stuck in my craw was

          the part where after invading their apartment, Trevor murders Floyd and Debra after she freaks out at how they've completely trashed the place-- completely understandable IMO. Yeah they were annoying characters, and I know it was supposed to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but there was nothing funny or edgy about it and it had the vaguest scrap of context to it.

          It wasn't necessary at all. I dunno, just felt like it was a swing and a miss. I never really liked him after that.

      I agree with the GTAV part. I have been playing GTA since I was far too young, happily killing randoms in every single 3D GTA game. But torturing someone? I almost stopped playing the game at that point on my first time through. I just found it so wrong that I was doing it, and that Trevor was enjoying it.

        Completely agree, I almost stopped playing the game then as well.

        Its just wrong to make a torture scene in a game compulsory regardless of if it is part of the narrative or not and I am clearly not the only one that felt very unsettled by it.

        Truth be told it actually disgusted me a little that I had to do it, I have no issue with it being in the game for narrative purposes but give people the option to skip it or have a cutscene for it.

          Agree also. You know what's worse? I've spoken to six year olds who own the game :(

          Poor decision by Rockstar but probably worse by the parents.

          Last edited 11/08/14 2:22 pm

        Ahhhh the point was Trevor WASN'T enjoying it. He didn't see the point to it, hence he ended up rescuiing the guy instead of killing him.

          I think that he didn't is probably the reason why it didn't bug me as much. He shows a level of remorse for his actions a short time later.

        I turned the screen off and mashed controller buttons until it was over.

    Modern Warfare 2 - the banned bit where your the Russian mowing down the people in the airport. Felt wrong. Which is weird because I will go on a GTA rampage to rival the best of them.

    Didn't like it.

    Also didn't like the bit with the exploding babies in Dead Space 2.

      MW2 just hit too close to home; it was too real. At least GTA is ridiculous and doesn't pretend to be real.

        That was the point, though. For better or worse, that was the kind of response they were trying to elicit.

      I got half way through it before I realised I could just pretend to shoot the people.

      Although I did find it interesting that at the end of No Russian, the player is absolved through death:
      Kill the people - you may have done the mission but you still get your comeuppance.
      Don't Kill the people - you stood your moral ground, but let the bad guys get away with it, but there was nothing you could do because they figured you out anyway.

    Manhunt. I didn't even finish the second level.
    Feeling - through the 'new' invention of rumble feedback - a person struggle against you, while you quickly mash buttons to keep the plastic bag over their head, feeling them suffocate against you...

    And then when they handed you a shiv and you had to quickly sneak up and jab it repeatedly into an unsuspecting victim...

      I didn't make it more than halfway through manhunt myself but that was because I was shocked that rockstar of all companies had managed to make a game that was so fucking boring

      Manhunt for me too, by far the most disturbing game ive played, but i fucken LOVED that game finished it a few times,
      Was spewing the second one was so shit.

      edit: Hmm that may come across as i'm a socio path, but IRL i cant even stand the sight of blood.

      Last edited 08/08/14 11:31 am

        So you electrocute your victims? ;)

        I loved Manhunt, up until you got all the guns then it felt kind of meh.

      Hell yeah, definitely, definitely manhunt - I ended up finishing it, but sometimes I could only play it for a half hour at a time because I was so shocked, not only by the intense violence, but because as a player you're complicit in that violence.

      That was the first game I played which really threw your actions back onto you - it was very subtly asking you, do you really want to kill this person in a more violent way? why? Only other game that asks those questions that I've played was spec ops: the line - but it's kind of the central theme there so it's a bit different.

      Interestingly when the guns became more prevalent towards the end of Manhunt it lost some of it's gross-factor. But then you get a chainsaw near the end.....nuff said

      Last edited 08/08/14 11:45 am

        I can't remember if I finished it or not (I remember getting a gun and it getting boring). Manhunt was truly disturbing. Especially when I figured out that there was varying levels of kills depending on how long you waited (I must have played a few hours before working that out!).

          yeah totally - and there was that subtle interplay between your character's motivations - just trying to get out of the situation, so more brutal violence not being necessary or desirable at all - and then Brian Cox's character's excellent goading of you when you took the softer option as he was trying to make a more intense snuff film. Really awesome stuff

          It's the first game that really made me realise and question why I'm so comfortable with killing people in computer games

          Last edited 08/08/14 12:44 pm

      Totally. I distinctly remember that moment of asking myself, very early on in the game: 'Do I really want to be doing this?'

    The half-life series.
    Those zombies...
    Especially the bit where the scientist crawls into the vent at black mesa and gets blended. Too much gib cannon for my liking.

    Last edited 08/08/14 11:17 am

      especially HL2. Setting a zombie on fire and then listening to it screaming, really made you feel like they used to be people

        Listen to it backwards.
        "Help me oooh gord help hellllp im on fire kill me!!"
        Its worth youtubeing.
        I skipped ravenholm in the end.

        Last edited 08/08/14 11:30 am

          Listen to all of it backwards. It's just....uugh.

          This is amazing!

        That screaming was really disturbing when I first heard it.

    I... totally can't think of any. So either I am the morally repugnant one, or I just haven't been playing any games like that.

      I'm struggling to come up with something as well. I guess there's a case for being desensitised to violence and moral blurry lines. Even some major talking points in gaming history like Aeris' (Aerith :P) death, I continued playing on like nothing had happened. I don't really attach myself to characters in games, they're just a tool for the story

    The realisation that team rocket found a method to artificially create mega stones using a science based transmutation that they could use by spying on team galactic on their research on the lake trio and did this experiment at the home of creepy pastas: lavender town. I mean many people who played x & y know that mega stones came after the az event, but what about mewtwoite x & y, possibly z?. Yet another theory that is connected to nintendo's version of silent hill: lavender town

    It wasn't a moral thing but Condemned: Criminal Origins really set my claustrophobia off for some weird reason and I just couldn't keep playing it. It was a shame since it seemed like it was shaping up to be a decent game but something about it just messed with my brain and I wasn't able to push through it.

      Oh yeah, that one is right up there, still haven't even got through the first bit yet.

      Yeah that's a good one, forgot about that. The melee combat was so brutal, and I think the field of view was so restricted that it did really make it feel claustrophobic.

      I finished Condemned 2 - Bloodshot. It was intense. Beating thugs in first person with prosthetic limbs is not something I expected to be doing in a video game.

    Manhunt for sure, that first kill with the plastic bag never seen anything like it in a game before. most brutal game I've ever played and i loved it

    Last edited 08/08/14 11:36 am

      Manhunt I actually had to stop playing it. I got pretty far too, but that static overlay and gore just eventually got too much for me.

    Well there is a long list for me. Diablo 1 was honestly pretty crazy if you put thought into it.

    But thr one that left me shocked was the latest infamous: second son.
    when you tracked down the prisoner that got your brother killed and (if you are evil) choke him to death while his daughter calls out for him

    Mine was the original Soldier Of Fortune. Not the violence or anything, but the slaughterhouse level. I am no vegetarian or anything close, but the sounds got to me as a kid, so was all too happy when I finished the level and could move on

    The first time I finished the original Abe's Oddysee and *SPOILERS*...

    I hadn't rescued enough Mudokens, and they drop Abe in to giant meat mincer and all of the gibs shoot out. I was devastated.

      Also, fallout 3, setting of the nuke in megaton, then walking back towards the ruins. Other players will know the feels.


    The first game to really have me packing it was "Clocktower" on the PS1, it was so bad that i actually developed a fear of clocktowers IRL, refused to go anywhere near one for years, which makes no sense, i should have been afraid of giant scissors.

      Haha, how often did you experience clock towers in real life?

        There is one at the main intersection in my town. Still spooks me.

        Funnily enough, my best mate worked at a shopping complex with one, i refused to visit.
        And one of the schools near where i lived for 3 years had one.

    Silent Hill 1 on the PS1. Every time I booted it up it was with this sense of unease. The first survival horror game that truly disturbed me.

      I don't know that "disturbed" is the right word, but I'm with this guy. Silent Hill had me on the edge of my seat, first real game to do that for me. SH2 didn't live up to it, but 3 brought the memories back.

      Manhunt was an artform as was Condemned. Both beautiful games, but never though the killing was anything but justified.

      Other top contenders for me:
      F.E.A.R., but not for what you think. Alma showed up and killed stuff, was all well and good.. what got to me was listening to all the voice recordings and hearing just what those scientists did to her. Made me understand and relate to her reaction.
      Red Seeds Profile (because thats a better title than Deadly Premonition). Emily. Enough said.
      System Shock 2, as you're getting beaten to death by the hybrids having them say "I'm sorry"

        Yes, 'Disturbed' isn't really the right word...I was trying to tie it in with the authors title. There were disturbing enemies, such as the Puppet Nurse and the mysterious mind controlling Parasite. But hey, SH certainly gave me the willies nonetheless.

      oh hell yeah, that static on radio.....

    Disturbed probably isn't the right word, but the asylum part in Fahrenheit/The Indigo Prophecy reeeeeally creeped me out a lot. Like, differently to the way a scary game creeps me out.

    Last edited 08/08/14 11:36 am

    Demo of Silent hill creeped the hell out of me especially when you walk past the dog carcass just scared the hell out of (although i was probably 10-11 at the time). To this day i cannot watch/play anything from Silent Hill.

    I can't really think of any. Maybe the main menu for Legacy of Kain?

    EDIT: Oh I remember now, the trees with faces in Mortal Kombat 2

    Last edited 08/08/14 11:45 am

    For me it was Trapt, the PS2 game where you plant gruesome traps to kill those that are chasing you. To get a good score, you need to combo your traps into each other and the environment hazards, but some of them are just so gruesome that it just feels wrong. Felt a little psychotic...

    When I was a kid I was genuinely shocked by the guards in Perfect Dark because of the voice acting. They'd scream out comments like "I don't want to die!" when you shot them, which gave it a human edge that Goldeneye's clueless meat sack enemies didn't have. I got over it after a couple of days, but for a while the mass murder truly hit home.

    Silent Hill 2, never got around to finishing it. Scared the shit out of me.

    The Last of Us - David, up until the reveal of what a sack of shit he is the game seems to want you to sympathise with him and after the reveal I just felt sick.

      Same. That whole section...especially that part when everything is revealed about what he and his group of people do...that's probably the first and only time I've ever been truly disturbed while playing a video game.

        Yeah, and to think that's how some rapists act to get close to their prey, it's a devasting reminder of how dangerous the world is. It really changes how you view things the second time around too (I am completely filled with rage during Chapter 9).

    Farmville. That "game" shook the core of my faith in games and gamers everywhere :'(

    Now closely followed by Kim Kardashian's app store game.

      I feel that you should know I laughed out loud.

    Oh actually, Eternal Darkness and leading so many characters to their deaths. As in not the gameplay type of dying where I've run out of health, but the story deaths. Those kind of bothered me.

      Going with this too. The game squirreled itself into my mind in ways nothing else has been able to.
      Damn I miss that game.

    I... don't remember. I remember that there were sections in some games that turned my stomach, but for the life of me I can't remember what they were. Well, I remember there was Modern Warfare 2, but that was just constant motion sickness. The end of Spec Ops: The Line was pretty horrific (actually, some of the choices you're tasked with throughout the game are pretty sickening too). Gore has never really had much of an impact on me, nor has insanity, it's mostly really immoral stuff that turns my stomach. Or self-harm.
    The closest I might have come is the eye scene in Dead Space, maybe, or the sections in Heavy Rain involving self-mutilation and crawling through broken glass.

      Spec Op's the Line's end I just found wrong. The further I played it the more questionable it was, but then, that was the point of the game the developers were trying to make.

      But any game that forced you to kill animals like dogs or cats in an ominous manner that didn't pose a threat really turns me off, new game Darkwood's intro for example just wasn't necessary.

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