My favourite trophies and achievements in video games are the gimmick-based ones. They're not about finishing a level or getting a certain amount of headshots. They're about doing something specific, often something outlandish, silly, deliberately provocative or plain screwed up. They can add levity to a sober gaming experience, provide a diversion from a linear plot, or open the player's mind to unconsidered gameplay possibilities. Here are the 15 most twisted trophies/achievements, for the dark-humoured sadist that resides in all of us.
Game: Red Dead Redemption Date: 2010
Like all great Rockstar Games protagonists, John Marston is more amoral than bad. The person controlling him decides whether to make him seem a little nicer or a little more reckless.
The game's infamous "dastardly" trophy requires you to kidnap and tie up a woman, lay her down on the railroad tracks, and then gawk as the locomotive runs her down. The 'woman tied to the tracks' dilemma is an ancient cliche in Westerns, up there with the saloon fight and the town square duel at high noon. In most Hollywood films, the hero swoops in to save the lady at the last minute. But in Red Dead Redemption, the 'villain' not only wins, but earns a reward for his efforts.
Image via VidGamiacUnlocked
#14. "Wishing Well"
Game: Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons Date: 2013
When Josef Fares created Brothers, his goal was to design a game that captured the unique dynamic between two siblings. The inspiration was rooted in real life experience. As a child, Fares buried his younger brother by himself, a traumatic experience that works its way into the game's final third. Brothers recalls not only the idyllic parts of childhood, but also its cruelty.
Most of the quests in the game have objectives that involve helping people. You reunite a mother penguin with her babies. You save a man from suicide. But the very first side mission is a bit out of character; you come across a little girl playing basketball, and you have to steal her ball and toss it down the nearby well. Tears ensue.
Game: Dead To Rights: Retribution Date: 2010
Low blows are not a new concept in gaming. A ton of games have special animations and visuals for getting hit in the click clacks, and many games have special achievements for doing so. But this particular trophy, which rewards you for turning your opponent's scrotum into a chew toy, stands out.
It's one thing to snipe a person's balls, and watch them explode from a distance. It's quite another to sic a dog on someone and watch him scream, up closely and personally, as his family jewels are ripped from his body. Someone's going to be singing a little higher in the shower.
Image via: TrueAchievements
#12. "A Slap In The Face"
Game: Sleeping Dogs Date: 2013
Many critics refer to Sleeping Dogs as 'Grand Theft Auto in Hong Kong', but that's neither fair nor accurate. Aside from its cultural resonance, Sleeping Dogs has a fight/combat system that, structurally, is far superior to anything in the Grand Theft Auto franchise. Beyond the rudimentary punches, kicks and reversals, there are unique animations for every environmental attack and weapon attack. Wei Chen, like Jackie Chan, uses any loose object at his disposal to kick arse.
To earn "A Slap In The Face", you first have to use an environmental attack against a fish tank. There's one in Club Bam Bam on the top floor, and there's another one in Dogeyes' drug warehouse by the docks. Then, you can pick up a fish off the floor, and use it to clock someone in the head. It's a one hit knockdown, which, funnily enough, makes it more effective in this game than a knife or a tire iron.
#11. "Cross My Heart And Hope To Die"
Game: Dead Space 2 Date: 2011
Try not to blink. "Cross My Heart And Hope To Die" plays upon people's worst fears about sharp objects. The majority of people, when they get a shot or get blood drawn, look away. But when the drill/needle's is going directly into one's eye? That's a whole different ballgame.
Ironically, the post-surgery is the most cringe-worthy part of all; when the drill withdraws, a thin stream of blood trickles out of Isaac's eye and down his cheek. If it was possible to make bleeding look even more painful than it usually does, Dead Space 2 succeeded admirably.
Image via: RPGFan
#10. "The Menace To Society"
Game: Fable II Date: 2008
Earning "The Menace To Society" in Fable II means you have to sexually harass people in public until someone reports you to the guards. And, true to life, this crime goes under-reported. If you want to earn this achievement, you have to be persistent.
You start by buying the Pervert's Handbook, which will teach you the "Vulgar Thrust". Then, you should perform the Thrust at everyone you meet, until someone tells the guards. Try taking off your clothes if this doesn't work. And if no one reports you, no worries. Just cut out the middle man and sexually harass a guard. You'll be fined (there's no sex crime registry in Fable II), and the achievement will unlock.
Image via: FPSTeam
#9. "R. Kelly's Protege"
Game: Postal 2 Date: 2003
The piss in Postal 2 is unlimited. It doesn't kill anyone, but it's incorporated into a mission, where you have to go to the cemetery and piss on your father's grave. Aside from that, it's best used as a defensive measure. You can use it to put a fire out, and if you set yourself on fire, you can aim your stream directly upwards to put yourself out.
If you have no other weapons or ammo, you can also piss in someone's mouth to stun them. He or she will start vomiting uncontrollably. This will earn you "R. Kelly's Protege" That's clever 'satire' from the same enlightened developers who brought you "F*g Hunter".
#8. "Psychotic Prankster"
Game: Fallout 3 Date: 2008
If you're going after this trophy, you might want to save your game, so that you can reload from an earlier save point afterwards. Planting a live grenade in an innocent person's pants will incur some negative karma.
A funny joke demands an audience, but there won't be anyone around. Your reverse pickpocketing victim in Fallout 3 won't have a sense of humour about it. He or she ends up looking like the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz, after the flying monkeys get through with him.
Image via: MobyGames
#7. "Poor Bob"
Game: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II Date: 2010
The Force Unleashed franchise boiled down to wish fulfillment — what if a Force user was so powerful that he or she could pull TIE fighters and Star Destroyers out of the sky? There was something liberating about levitating these iconic symbols of power and treating them like children's toys.
"Poor Bob" is a symptom of the game's 'more is more' extravagance. First, you force grip a Stormtrooper. Then, you impale him on your lightsaber. Then, you hit him with Force lightning. Then, you toss him away like a rag doll. Bob's had a pretty rough day; he should probably go to bed, and try again tomorrow.
#6. "Anatomy Lesson"
Game: Blitz: The League II Date: 2008
Blitz: The League II has some of the most painful looking X-ray moves in gaming. This is no small feat; the game is eight years old and has to compete against the HD graphics of games like Sniper Elite III and Mortal Kombat X.
The Mortal Kombat fighters have their skulls and legs fractured in three places, but they continue to jump and kick. That's kind of unrealistic, even for a franchise that features undead contestants and four-armed half-dragons.
In Blitz: The League II, on the other hand, every injury has its consequence. The player limps or twitches off the field, and if he fractures his skull or neck, the doctor keeps him still and signals for the stretcher.
To get the "Anatomy Lesson" trophy, you must injure your opponent in every way possible. The worst injury of all of them? Definitely the ruptured scrotum: your opponent's testes explode, squirting semen on the camera lens.
#5. "Too Far"
Game: South Park: The Stick of Truth Date: 2014
The boss fight at Unplanned Parenthood is the toughest thus far. The trick to destroying Kim Kardashian's aborted Nazi zombie foetus is to target its umbilical cord first. Otherwise, it will continue to regenerate. Once it's dead (and no longer undead), remember to fart on its corpse to unlock "Too Far".
At its very best, South Park can be brilliant satire. It's a thoughtful, incisive commentary on fear culture and its wedge issues. This is not one of those times.
Game: Grand Theft Auto 1 Date: 1998
This predates the achievement/trophy system we know today, but it's a forerunner to most of the other insanity on this list.
The first two Grand Theft Auto games were restricted to a bird's eye view perspective. It's easier to see the traffic patterns than if the game was in first or third person. This perspective also lends itself to the "GOURANGA" challenge, in which you must kill an entire procession of Hare Krishnas in a short time frame. They scatter quickly, so the simplest strategy is to run them over with a car in a single, smooth motion. Alternatively, you can wait for them to line up, and use a machine gun to take them all out simultaneously.
In Grand Theft Auto 2, the Krishnas were replaced by a procession of Elvis impersonators, and the challenge was renamed "Elvis Has Left the Building!" It was funnier, but less bloody than the original.
Image via: TrueAchievements
#3. "Seal Slayer"
Game: Overlord 2 Date: 2009
If you club 100 seal pups to death, you unlock the "Seal Slayer" achievement in Overlord 2. The most surprising thing about this achievement was not that it existed, but that PETA had a positive response to it. PETA said the following in a statement to Engadget, concerning the Overlord 2 promo on IGN:
Not only is "Picking on others weaker than you" in the instructions for Whack-a-Seal, it's also the name of Canada's seal slaughter game. PETA is pleased that Whack-a-Seal is drawing attention to Canada's annual seal slaughter, during which sealers beat and skin hundreds of thousands of baby seals every year for products that are now banned in the U.S. and in Europe. In real life, seals don't have helmets and can't fight back, but perhaps you'll soon see PETA-made helmets for baby seals in Canada.
It was probably the savviest possible move that PETA could make. It was better to call attention to the plight of actual baby seals rather than fruitlessly advocate for the welfare of virtual ones.
Game: Heavy Rain Date: 2010
What would you be willing to do to save your son? As Ethan finds out in Heavy Rain, a hell of a lot, including chopping off his own finger. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
You have a several options for chopping off your finger, some of which are more civilised than others. You can bite down on a piece of wood. You can cauterise your wound by heating a metal rod on a stove. You can disinfect with alcohol. You can get drunk to dull the pain. And, you also have your choice of several possible implements: a pair of scissors, a saw, a knife, a pair of pliers and a hatchet.
To get the "Butcher" trophy, you need to use the scissors or a saw to do the deed. And unlike with the hatchet, which will separate your digit with one stroke, the scissors and saw require you to work at it, and manually cut through the flesh. By the time you finally get your pinky off, Ethan is screaming and bleeding like a stuck pig.
Pascal Langdale, it must be said, is one hell of a voice actor. He delivers one of the best, non-verbal representations of pain that I've ever heard.
Image via: Red Dead Wiki
#1. "Manifest Destiny"
Game: Red Dead Redemption Date: 2010
Red Dead Redemption gets two entries on the list. "Dastardly" is the one that gets all the press, but "Manifest Destiny?" Call me crazy, but this one made me legitimately sad.
Most of the animals in Red Dead Redemption are renewable resources; you can't kill all of them. No matter how many bears, or bighorn sheep, or beavers you kill, there will always be more that respawn when you return to the same area. The one, notable exception to this is the buffalo herd outside of West Elizabeth. There are 20 buffalos; if you kill all of them, then they're gone for good — no more buffalo in the game. But to earn the "Manifest Destiny" trophy, you must do precisely this.
If you pick them off slowly, instead of doing it all in one, bloody go, it starts feeling tragic. The once-massive herd shrinks and shrinks, until eventually, you can see the end of the species in sight. At first, I tried to keep a few of them alive. But eventually, I just said 'to hell with it,' and did away with the rest of them. Besides, their pelts were valuable, and I needed the money. Like all great Westerns, Red Dead Redemption is about the death of the frontier and the rise of civilisation, and there's no better visual representation of that destruction than "Manifest Destiny".
Was it worth it? Well, I bought a better rifle. I also bought a better horse. But that ride into West Elizabeth was a lot emptier and a lot lonelier.
Illustration by Sam Woolley