One of the many joys of playing video games is blowing off steam.
Whether you’re going on a rampage in GTA or wasting rebel scum as Darth Vader in Star Wars Battlefront, being able to release tension and vent frustration can help to make a bad day a little better.
Of course, as games evolve, developers give us more moral freedom. In series like Mass Effect, The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, and more, you can make your own choices, building either a good or bad reputation over the course of the story. Not only does this make you feel like you’re directing the story and make games more engaging, it also gives you more reason to play through again.
In these games, you can technically play as a villain – but they’re not built explicitly around dabbling in the dark side. For a fuller fix of badness, there are some games tailor-made to let you be evil from the off, leaving a trail of destruction in your wake without any of the guilt or roadblocks you might get elsewhere.
Let’s take a look at seven of the best to inspire your mischievous side …
We’ve all wanted to be super-rich and super-powerful at one point or another, and Evil Genius lets us live these fantasies out again and again.
While Evil Genius takes the more Roger Moore-Bond / Austin Powers approach, it’s still a fantastic way to unleash your inner tyrant. The aim of the game is to take over the world using an army of minions, building a world-threatening weapon, torturing agents of the enemy, and more nefarious acts.
As an RTS game, Evil Genius is a little less action-packed than some of the other games on this list, providing a deeper ‘villain-simulator’ experience. The tongue-in-cheek style and the cartoony design keeps this light, though.
Okay, so this isn’t the best game ever made, but it sure does let you cut loose and have a blast.
Starring as a shape-shifter with a nice taste in hoodies, you’re basically given free run of New York City. Not only can he take on the look of pretty much anyone, his weird abilities allow him to perform all kinds of messed-up moves when fighting enemies.
Of course, what fun would this be if you couldn’t use them on innocent bystanders too?
There’s nothing quite like impaling some unfortunate NPC on your mutant-spikes to lighten your mood. On the other hand, you can spend hours grabbing people off the street, dragging them up the side of the tallest building you can find, and promptly flinging them across the rooftops.
While Prototype was followed by a sequel, they’re pretty similar, delivering much of the same action with improved mechanics. Either should suit you fine.
The GTA Series
Trying to pick one GTA game that lets you be a better villain than another is really down to taste – sure, some offer more features and sharper visuals than others, but we all have our favourites.
Maybe you find GTA V to be the deepest, most well-made of the franchise, but you just can’t get enough of sprinting around Vice City in a tracksuit, wielding a chainsaw. Maybe you’ve played through GTA IV a bunch of times but still dip into the very first 2D game for its simplicity.
The latter games in the series might be a little too much for some gamers, too. With the advanced graphics and more believable character-models, going on a rampage might seem a little too realistic, whereas the older games’ cartoony visuals keep everything feeling light and guilt-free.
Whatever your personal preference, the GTA games provide all kinds of ways to be bad, profit from unsavoury habits, and vent your rage however you like. Let us know what your fave GTA title is!
Destroy All Humans!
Like Evil Genius, Destroy All Humans! is pretty tongue-in-cheek, but an entirely different type of game.
To start with, you’re playing as an alien with a badass armoury of weapons and gadgets rather than a megalomaniac. The aim of the game is to harvest humans for their DNA, but you can lay waste to civilians and environments on-foot and in your flying saucer. The ship carries such fun, diverse gear as your Death Ray, tractor beam, mini-nukes, and sonic bombs.
On-foot, Crypto (your Grey of choice) has the brilliantly-named Zap-O-Matic, an anal probe (no, really), and other nasty death-tools.
The game’s great fun, and while it might not keep you playing as long as a GTA game, it’s a unique experience filled with all the humanity-slaying sci-fi tropes you’d expect. The sequel and spin-offs provide more dark laughter too, if the first doesn’t give you all the alien-centric chaos you could want.
Dungeon Keeper turns the fantasy game on its head by casting you as the ‘bad guy’ fighting to keep adventurers out of your dungeon. Rather than playing the brave treasure-hunter or monster-slayer, these rogues are instead the enemy, and you’re given plenty of different ways to fend them off.
You’re asked to construct your dungeon and recruit an army of workers to help defend it, which later goes on to attract vampires, dragons, and more. You can also order traps to be built, perform sacrifices to your dark lords, and expand your dungeon over time.
Dungeon Keeper’s a deliciously dark experience, and is rightly regarded as a classic. The sequel’s also well-loved, and both are ideal villain-simulators.
Similar to Dungeon Keeper (thematically, at least), Overlord takes place in a fantasy world populated by traditional creatures – and you get to run the show.
Overlord stars the eponymous dark master, who has a horde of nasty little minions at his command, on a quest to rid the world of seven brave heroes responsible for killing the Overlord’s predecessor. You have different types of minions with various abilities, such as being gifted fighters or healers, and can upgrade the Overlord’s armour and weapons with a handy forge.
Throughout Overlord, you get to make choices and either raise or lower your ‘corruption level’, changing the way in which NPC’s react to the Overlord himself. To be fair, becoming as evil as possible is more fun, in no small part due to the way in which his armour represents his dark mood.
Like other games on this list, Overlord’s got a mean humorous streak, with some laughs along the way. It’s well worth trying if you haven’t yet.
Black & White
This god game allows you to be either a benevolent or brutal deity, giving you the freedom to treat your followers nicely or punish them for hassling you.
Like the games discussed above, Black & White is ideal for a cathartic release – but it lets you go way further in your villainous pursuits. For example, you can unleash great destruction on your people by launching fireballs or horrendous storms at them, making sacrifices, and even feeding them to your personal creature.
As said creature becomes more evil, it will start to look more frightening, with larger horns, claws, and teeth, making it a suitable physical embodiment of your wrath.
Black & White was followed by a sequel, but didn’t quite beat the original. It might not be as instantly-accessible as Destroy All Humans! or the GTA series, but Black & White’s a must-play anyway.
What’s your favourite villain-centric game? Let us know!