Tough moral choices have always been a staple of the best writing. From Batman having to choose between love or justice in The Dark Knight, to Captain Jack Aubrey choosing between ship or sailor in Master and Commander, when option A and option B are equally difficult to stomach it makes for thrilling stuff.
That is, until you have to make the choice. As an interactive medium video games have the unique power to pull you out of your comfort zone, dump the tough choices - and the unpleasant consequences that come with them - in your lap, and say ‘There you go chief, enjoy.’
And the most unpleasant choices are the ones that seem easy, where we breathe a sigh of relief and gladly click on option A, only for the horror to creep up on us as we slowly realize that our little moral garden of roses was actually a nuclear minefield.
These nine questions are of that particularly devilish variety, where black and white is actually cold hard grey and what you thought you understand is not what is really going on.
Be warned: Major spoilers ahead.
8. Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic II: The Sith Lords – Charity Is Bad. Or Is It?
The set-up: When the Jedi Exile arrives on the corrupt smugglers moon of Nar Shaddaa in search of a lost Jedi Master, one of the first residents they meet is a hapless beggar asking for credits.
The obvious choice: The beggar is asking for five credits. That’s a piddling amount, so why not help the man out?
The reality: Being charitable, however, incurs the ire of your mentor, Kreia, who points out that by giving the beggar what he has not earned all you have managed to do is to turn him into a target. And indeed, the man is swiftly mugged.
Or is he? The ‘incident’ happens out of sight and, Kreia never explicitly states that it does. Her argument is compelling to be sure, but is she being candid, or spinning a story designed to bring the Exile around to her way of thinking? And by casting doubt on the truth of the incident are developers Obsidian making Kreia out to be a liar? Or are they showing just how easily receptive minds can be manipulated, including yours?
KotOR II is a game that takes seemingly simple questions and turns them upside down, and thought-provoking dilemmas like this are why it’s genius.