5 acts of petty cruelty we’re responsible for in Square Enix gamesVILLAINS WEEK: Sometimes you just have to indulge your dark side.
Schadenfreude - a German word that means to take pleasure for someone else’s misfortune.
It’s something that many of us seek out in our games - the small, pointless and petty acts of cruelty that make us feel… satisfied. We attempt to ‘trick’ AI for comedic effect, find ways to make our heroes fall over, or just try to make them look silly.
Sometimes developers intentionally add opportunities into their games to accommodate these darker urges, but much of the time it’s up to the player to abuse or manipulate the mechanics in a way that was never intended. Usually for a laugh.
We’ve already talked about times games made us villains, but we thought it would be interesting to find out whether any of us at Square Enix HQ were jerks in games through choice. We quizzed the team and what we learned was… disturbing.
So here are 5 times we indulged our worst impulses in Square Enix games:
Tripping Vivi - FINAL FANTASY IX
Vivi is one of the most charming and likeable FINAL FANTASY characters. The young Black Mage is awkward, clumsy and desperately in need of a friend. Honestly, to be mean to Vivi would be akin to kicking a puppy - it’s just… wrong!
And yet, at least one person, who works for this very company, admits to torturing Vivi for his own entertainment.
In the city of Alexandria, right at the start of the game, Vivi can approach some kids and try to play jump rope. The aim is to leap over the rope as many times as possible, but this particular player, played over and over again to intentionally trip poor Vivi!
Why? Because he thought it was funny. We’re a bit scared of that person, to be honest.
Playing with your food - Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver
In the original PlayStation-era classic, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, many of the enemies you face are vampiric in origin.
To defeat them, and absorb their souls, your character Raziel must utilize traditional vampire-offing techniques. These include stakes through the heart, immersion in water, exposure to sunlight… all the classics.
Without a finisher though, enemies eventually get up ready for round two. The most efficient way to play is to use the environment to dispatch threats as quickly as possible, but… we have a villainous streak in us.
Some of us (okay, me) found it endlessly entertaining to beat the enemies to a pulp, but not deliver the final blow. Instead, we simply wait for them to recover, before slapping them back into a stunned state. Over and over again.
It’s clearly not the intended way to play, but it’s just cruel enough to satisfy that dark need for small, pointless acts of nastiness.
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Denying Prompto’s passion - FINAL FANTASY XV
This act of petty and unnecessary cruelty sits almost entirely in the head of the individual who suggested it, but it’s so weirdly well-considered, we have to mention it.
Prompto - and his photography - is one of the many highlights of FINAL FANTASY XV. He has a rich and compelling backstory and his quirky quips and snazzy snaps make him a genuine joy to have as a traveling companion. He’s just so… nice.
So naturally, one of the more cruel in the office admitted to an attempt to crush that spirit.
According to this member of the team, on his third playthrough, he decided to run a campaign of demoralization on the put-upon Prompto. Specifically, he decided to deny him any pleasure from his true love - photography.
Throughout the game, Prompto will show the gang pictures, ask to stop the car for a photo op, and even ask the player what they want him to take pictures of. In all cases, this player either ignored the request, showed disinterest (“whatever”), or actively denied him the opportunity. He even refused to look at the day’s pictures when he rested.
Prompto never showed any sign of disappointment, outside of the occasional groan when you deny him a picture. Throughout the adventure, he’s still the same cheerful Prompto - the game doesn’t care if you photo-block your friend.
But in this particular player’s head-canon, that upbeat attitude was masking a thick, rich seam of misery and despair.
All I can say is wow man… that’s dark.
Bullying the baddies - DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age
We’ve all done this one.
In the early stages of an RPG like the DRAGON QUEST series, all monsters are a threat. Until you build up your experience, you have to keep your wits about you, because any attack could be your last.
So you fight and scrape your way through, use valuable restoratives and eventually make your way to the nearest church battered and bruised.
So there’s a certain sadistic satisfaction in going back to those areas when you’ve leveled up to teach each and every Slime and Dracky a little lesson about power. Let’s see how they like it.
There’s no real advantage to doing this - the experience gain is negligible and enemies don’t drop much valuable loot - so it’s all rather petty on our part. But oh boy, it feels good.
Rico-rolling - Just Cause 4
Rico Rodriguez has fought armies, taken down dictators and saved entire countries. But there’s one threat he’ll never be able to defeat… us.
One of the best features of the recent Just Cause 4 is the ability to keep Rico in a ragdoll state indefinitely. Essentially, if he takes a tumble, we can hold down a button and he won’t try to get up until gravity stops doing its thing.
It’s really satisfying to smash a wingsuiting Rico into a mountain, and make him tumble all the way down, bouncing over and over. And over again. All while poor Rico yelps out in pain and anguish. Mwahahaha!
You can enhance the effect further by activating the secret laughter track, making every pratfall sound like a cheesy studio sitcom.
It’s utterly undeserved, and yet endlessly compelling - though perhaps that says more about us than the game.
That was the team here, but what about you? Have you ever indulged your dark side like this, or are you above such things? Share your memories in the comments or on social media: