5 times Square Enix games made YOU the villain

VILLAINS WEEK: Are... are we the baddies?
By Duncan Heaney

Most of the time we play the hero in games. We fight the villains, save the day and are generally really lovely people.

On occasion though, Square Enix games give you an opportunity to indulge your darker side. Sometimes it’s an intentional choice, while others it’s a nasty surprise that shocks or upsets you. It is, however, always memorable.

In honor of Villain Week, here are 5 times Square Enix made you the bad guy:

Following orders in FINAL FANTASY IV

Cecil and Kain in FINAL FANTASY IV are not bad people, but they do some bad things.

The opening of the game sees them participate in a couple of events so awful that they spend the rest of the adventure seeking redemption.

At the beginning of the game, Cecil’s unit, the Redwings, invade the city of Mysidia to steal their crystal. In the aftermath of the violence, Cecil starts to wonder about the motivations of the king, but upon airing his concerns is stripped of his rank.

He’s then sent, with his friend and rival Kain, to deliver a ring to the Village of Mist, but when they get there, monsters burst out of the jewelry and massacre the entire town. Only one young lady survives the truly shocking assault.

Unlike, say Terra in FINAL FANTASY VI, Cecil and Kain don’t have the excuse of being made to act against their will. Instead, they - and you - act out of loyalty to their king and country, and in doing so become complicit in some truly villainous acts.

Meeting with ulterior motives - I am Setsuna

The world of I am Setsuna is cold, bleak and dangerous. Monsters roam everywhere, and some people are chosen as sacrifices to help keep them at bay. These people are considered important and necessary - to kill one would be a crime far beyond simple murder.

Yet this is what you, as mercenary Endir, are out to do near the start of the game. He accepts a contract to assassinate the most recent sacrificial candidate Setsuna, and encounters her on a clifftop. There, he and you are offered a choice - spare her or swing her sword.

Although the plot continues regardless of what you choose, it’s an interesting test of your own villainy…

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Getting a little… too into roleplaying - Life is Strange: Before the Storm

In one of the highlights of Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 1, your character Chloe Price, can take part in a short tabletop role-playing game. As you’d expect from series, you have a lot of choice over how you proceed.

In our playthrough, Chloe - or more accurately the elven barbarian Callamastia - is aggressive, threatening, and quick to anger. As she gets more and more into the game, her behavior only gets more extreme.

It all culminates in a disastrous, albeit hilarious, sequence of events in which our ‘hero’ intimidates an elderly guard with threats so vivid that it dies of fear, repeatedly tries to punch her enemies in… let’s politely call it a ‘sensitive area’, and accidentally chops off her ally’s feet.

To be honest, we don’t know if we’d call Callamastia a villain in the truest sense… but she certainly ain’t a hero.

Running a protection racket in Sleeping Dogs

Wei Shen, the main character of Sleeping Dogs, is a man caught between two worlds. On the one hand, he’s a member of the Triad, working his way up the criminal ladder and bringing his childhood friends with him. On the other, he’s an undercover police officer tasked with bringing those gangs to justice.

Over the course of the game’s missions, Wei Shen discovers that both sides are morally ambiguous at best, and is repeatedly put into positions that fly directly against his - and our - moral code.

For example, one of his first tasks is to collect money from the local market traders for ‘protection’. Most pay up, without question, but there’s a gang war brewing and a couple of shopkeepers back the other guys.

Wei Shen is forced to bust a few heads, mainly rival gang members, in order to remind the holdouts who’s in really in charge.

It’s not the most extreme crime in the game, but there’s something about bullying those who can’t defend themselves that makes it feel particularly cruel. It’s also Wei Shen’s first step towards much, much worse…

Becoming a Warrior of Darkness in FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers

FINAL FANTASY XIV Online typically puts you in the role of a do-gooder. Even if you spend time doing basic fetch quests for the people of Hydaelyn or working on your Triple Triad card collection, you’re still considered a Warrior of Light.

But the incoming expansion FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers mixes things up – you must become the Warrior of Darkness in order to destroy the light and save the land of Norvrandt.

For the first time, you’ll be able to see how the other half lives - and trust us, being bad can be a lot of fun.

Of course, as with all great stories, it’s not quite as simple as saying ‘you are now the bad guy’. There are some twists and turns on your journey into darkness… but to spoil anything before the game is out would be… well, pretty villainous.

You can preorder the game here:

Alternatively, if you’d like to try the game without making a commitment, there’s an extensive free trial available. It lets you play up to level 35 and keep your character if you upgrade to the full version.

Those are times that games made us the bad guy, but what about when we're evil through choice? Join us tomorrow, when we take a look at times that we've tormented video game characters for our own selfish pleasure.

Mwahahaha. Et cetera.