Movies, TV, and comic books aren’t the only mediums where gratuitous amounts of carnage are paraded around as entertainment; that same thirst for blood is readily showcased in video games.
Take a moment to think back on some of the best video games of all time. How many of them contain copious amounts of violence? For every colorful, family-friendly Legend of Zelda and Sonic title on the market, there are twice as many grim and gory games. Mortal Kombat has been around for decades, and the franchise celebrates limb-ripping and face-eating like they’re national pastimes. Similarly, the God of War series puts players in the sandals of a power-hungry Spartan who maims absolutely anything he can get his hands on.
The most brutal video game scenes make playtime feel more uncomfortable than fun. That's not to say that people shouldn't play through especially excessive titles; some of the most violent video game scenes take place right in the middle of otherwise wondrous experiences. However, when the player is given the option to check out an x-ray view of their victim's mutilated body, one has to wonder: how much is too much?
Spec Ops: The Line is a brutal game that seeks to explore the horrors of war by showing a soldier's descent into madness. While the game eventually goes off the rails into macabre psychedelia, the most horrifying moment comes midway through the story, when the player is devilishly prompted to unleash a white phosphorus strike on a camp of supposed enemies.
As soon as the player pulls the trigger, it's revealed that the camp was actually housing refugees, not adversaries. As a result of the characters' mistake, a large group of civilians burn to death, without ever being given the chance to escape.
The game punishes the player for their complicity by lingering on the charred remains of a mother clutching her deceased child. If you have any semblance of a soul, this shot will stay burned into your consciousness for years to come.
The Dead Space franchise follows Isaac Clark, an engineer who gets trapped in various space stations, all of which are infested with zombie monsters. To survive, Isaac must dismember the creatures' limbs, shoot their puss-filled pores, and stomp their corpses into oblivion.
In a franchise that features literally hundreds of unique death sequences, the grossest scene in the whole series surprisingly has nothing to do with zombies. At one point in Dead Space 2, there’s a cute little scene where Isaac needs a machine to insert a needle into his eyeball. The game makes it an interactive event; if the player succeeds, the needle goes in safely, but if they fail, it tears his face to shreds. Either way, you might vomit a little.
If you haven’t played through Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus yet, you should know that the game is stuffed to the brim with moments of sickening violence. Whereas in the first game, protagonist BJ Blaskowitz carries a combat knife for close-quarters encounters, the sequel sees him upgrade to a hatchet to maximize Nazi dismemberment. On top of that, the game begins by making the player shoot their beloved family pet, and doesn't let up until the triumphant, blood-drenched finale.
Of all the moments of extreme violence depicted in the game, Caroline's beheading stands above the rest in terms of gratuity. Blaskowitz wakes up in captivity to find that Caroline — his fearless leader — has been stripped of her power armor. The moment the player spots an armor-clad Nazi dragging a massive ax, they know things are about to turn bad.
The scene culminates with the Nazi leader beheading Caroline, then shoving her severed head directly into Blaskowitz's (and thus the player's) face. In most instances, the game graciously allows the player to look away from scenes of intense violence, but this one is rather inescapable.
If you've ever wanted to take back America from a group of Neo-Nazis in an "alternate history" scenario, you should probably go pick up Wolfenstein II.
The gritty, 2013 reboot of Tomb Raider is loaded with violent death animations. The story follows Lara Croft's transformation from normal researcher to vicious adventurer; a change that is sparked when the character ends up alone and afraid on a rural island. For all but the most skilled players, Lara's quest for subsistence is laden with missteps that usually result in the character getting horribly mangled.
In one particularly nasty death sequence, Lara is dragged downstream by a bout of violent river rapids, and ends up taking a rusty metal pole right to the neck. This isn't the type of thing a health pack can cure, and Lara remains alive just long enough for the player to watch her body writhe slowly to a stop.