10 Tiny Video Game Decisions With HUGE Consequences

When the butterfly effect slaps you in the face.

Bioshock Little Sister

Sometimes, players just don’t appreciate the lack of control they have in video games. Granted, they usually directly lead the protagonist through a given title’s world, but in terms of story and plot development, they’re sometimes powerless.

Many action-heavy titles lead a player from dramatic setpiece to dramatic setpiece, active participants in the unfolding plot but ultimately surrendering to its whims.

Franchises such as Mass Effect allow more influence by offering up decisions that can have substantial impact on how the games progress, while others simply add a morality system that affects how a protagonist impacts their world and its fellow inhabitants.

Whether the player has any input or not, though, the fact remains that the tiniest decision can sometimes have enormous repercussions.

What if Dr. Neo Cortex hasn’t chosen a bandicoot of all creatures for his experiments, inadvertently creating his own worst enemy in Crash?

What if the player hadn’t chosen Charmander in Pokemon Red and Blue, thus giving their starter some kind of chance of damaging Brock’s Rock-types in Pewter City’s Gym?

In video games as in life, sometimes the most seemingly simple decisions can have huge consequences.

10. Life Is Strange - Warning The Homeless Lady About The Storm

Bioshock Little Sister
Dontnod Entertainment

When it comes to emotionally wrought narratives that are heavily influenced by the player's choices, this is the big one. Max Caulfield's story is powerful, poignant, joyful, and tragic. The thing that truly lends the game its weight is this: regardless of how things turn out, the player made it all happen.

Max's extraordinary ability to manipulate time is explored in various intriguing ways, as the plot shifts and reverts to account for it. Along the way, decisions that seem natural or trivial have consequences that the player may never have foreseen. One example is the opportunity to develop a friendship with an unnamed homeless woman who lives in Arcadia Bay.

Max can encounter her a maximum of three times, in Episodes 2, 3 and 5. If she takes the time to speak with the woman and learn more about her, in Episode 3, the player has a chance to warn her about the approaching storm.

This may not seem to be a major decision, but the she will believe Max and, in Episode 5, she will have disappeared from her usual spot near the diner. Otherwise, she will instead discover the woman's body there.

In a sense, the homeless woman makes clear the human cost of some of Max's decisions more clearly than any cataclysmic event could.

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