As games have gotten bigger, NPCs have become more important. Saints Row would be a duller experience without someone to Bo-Duke-Ken out of their car. Someone’s got to give quests to Link in the Legend of Zelda games. Then, whenever someone or something needs to deliver exposition in Metal Gear, Half-Life, God of War, etc., sure enough, there will be an NPC at hand.

Related: Every NPC in Terraria (& How to Spawn Them)

However, they can also be messed around with. Why not cause a little mayhem? Hold them up in Saints Row! Shove them over in Yakuza! Keep annoying that receptionist by ringing the bell in The X-Files FMV game! They’re not real people, so there’s no consequence for harming them, right? Well, not unless these are the games being played.


8 Jungle Strike

Desert Strike was a pretty fun shooter back in the day. Players zoomed around an isometric landscape shooting baddies, protecting targets, and keeping themselves refueled and re-armed to stay in the game. It did well enough to spawn a series, leading to its first sequel Jungle Strike. Despite the title, the first level starts in Washington DC, where the player has to fly their Comanche helicopter to protect the President’s motorcade from Carlos Ortega and his terrorist forces.

But since it’s a relatively open world, the player can do anything! They can even blow up houses for pick-ups. Just not the White House. As fun as it is, the game will ground the player afterward and scold them like they broke the neighbor’s window with a baseball. Likewise, if they destroy the President’s motorcade instead of protecting it, it’s game over.

7 Colony Wars

Psygnosis’ space shooter was pretty popular on the PS1 back in the day but is fairly obscure now. It’s a shame as they are a rather good space sims. The first one was particularly quick and exciting on its release. While it lacks the furry personality of Starfox 64, it still offered a variety of weapons, missions, and allies in the player’s quest against the Earth Empire.

But what if the player decided to switch sides mid-mission? What if they just shot down all their friends? In Starfox, they’d be told off by Falco, Peppy, and co. But in Colony Wars, they’ll respond in kind. The player’s former friends will track them down and keep attacking them until their ship explodes. Then they’ll keep pursuing their escape pod as they go off into the distance.

6 Resident Evil 4

Large chunks of Resident Evil 4 involve keeping Ashley Graham, the President’s daughter, safe from harm. If she’s killed, deliberately or otherwise, the game is over, and the player has to restart from a checkpoint. Killing the Merchant on Professional difficulty gets rid of him for good too. What’s really special is the Cabin Siege section, where the Ganados besiege Leon (the player), Ashley, and their acquaintance Luis in a safe house.

Related: Scariest Stages in Resident Evil 4

It’s up to Leon and Luis to survive the hordes of home invaders by blocking windows, knocking down ladders, and shooting anything that moves. It might be possible to hit Luis by accident a few times. But he doesn’t go down like Ashley. Shoot him too many times, and he’ll get sick of Leon and shoot him dead.

5 Stardew Valley

Attacking someone is an easy way to annoy an NPC, even in this charming farming simulator. NPCs will refuse to help for a little while the player if they get hit. But there are other ways to hurt someone. The player can befriend the locals in the valley, form relationships with them, and get married. So, what would happen if they formed relationships with multiple characters, and got them to within a cat’s whisker of the altar?

Well, the one thing that any cheater doesn’t want happens: all their sidepieces meet up together the next time the player goes to the bar. They all find out, there’s a big emotional fallout, and they’ll all refuse to speak to the player at all for a couple of in-game weeks. It doesn’t sound like much, but if one or all of them were key NPCs offering help on the farm, it can bite the player back hard.

4 Dragon Age: Origins

Bioware’s RPG caught on quite well back in 2009, as players led their Grey Wardens to protect the world of Thedas from the Darkspawn. It was kind of like a fantasy take on their sci-fi hit Mass Effect, complete with dialogue trees and variable outcomes depending on whether the player wanted to be a goody-two-shoes or an utter jerk. But being a jerk comes with consequences.

If they loot a chest that Lanaya tells them not to, they’ll lose access to the smith and their infinite supply of elfroot. Pick pockets for funds, and the guards will chase after the player to mete out justice. Side with the Cult of the Dragon, and they could lose party members for good. It’s entirely possible for jerk players to end up with just one suffering companion left with them by the end of the game.

3 The Legend of Zelda Series

There are now so many timelines and alternate paths in Nintendo’s premier fantasy series that it can be hard to keep track of them all. Is Link to the Past connected to Ocarina of Time? Are the cartoony handheld Zelda games connected to the cartoony console ones? Is the skeleton guy in Twilight Princess the same as Link in Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask?

Related: The Legend of Zelda’s Dark Timeline Explained

What is universal across the game is that cruelty to animals is a big no-no. Especially Cuccos, the little chicken creature. If Link harms them in any game they appear in, an infinite number of them will bombard the screen and chase Link out of the area. At least they provide an escape. In Link’s Awakening, if Link shoplifts from the village store, he’ll be killed instantly by the shopkeeper if he returns, and he’ll permanently be renamed ‘THIEF’ for the rest of the game.

2 Grand Theft Auto Series

Wait, Grand Theft Auto? Isn’t harming the NPCs the entire point of the game? Those ‘Frenzy’ levels still involved killing lots of virtual innocents, right? Well, yes. GTA inspired a lot of open-world sandbox games, including different ways of harming NPCs. But they always come with a consequence or two. Like the increasingly aggressive cops.

In Liberty City Stories, they’d dogpile the player with cars, and any cop that made it to their car door instantly busted them. GTA4 made them stronger while making the player more vulnerable and threw in NPCs acting as vigilantes after a citizen’s arrest as well. The player could fight back against them, but in GTA5 they had to make sure they didn’t hit the wrong NPC. If the player attacks the other protagonists enough times, they’ll fight back and kill them instantly.

Finally, the Metal Gear series has come up with many ways to punish the player for hurting the wrong people. Punch Meryl in MGS1, and she’ll chase Snake down and give him a hard slap. Do it in the wolf-dog caverns, then equip a cardboard box, and she’ll summon a puppy to pee on it instead. In MGS2, if Raiden attacks Plisken while he’s sleeping, he’ll fire back, and both the Colonel and Rose will chew him out on the Codec for it.

If the player went on a killing spree in MGS4, it would max out Snake’s Stress meter and make him vomit. While MGS5 gave the player a simple game over if they used lethal weapons on child soldiers. Killing anyone in the first half of MGS3 made all their ghosts return for The Sorrow’s sequence. It’s not just a Solid thing either. Killing hostages in the original Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake leveled Snake down, reducing his life bar and ammo capacity. The message is pretty clear: don’t hurt the NPCs.

More: Underrated Konami Games That Have Been Forgotten

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