4 YouTubers Who Broke Video Games In Delightfully Crazy Ways
Roughly half of all YouTube content consists of unwashed white guys screaming about video games. But every now and then, you’ll find a YouTuber who doesn’t merely play a video game, but who breaks it in such a fundamental way that it becomes some kind of niche performance art. We’re talking about …
One of Grand Theft Auto V‘s biggest selling points is that you can do absolutely anything you want. Want to rob a bank? Go nuts. Want to play tennis? Do it up. Want to visit a super embarrassing digital strip club? Sure, that’s an option too. But in 2014, YouTuber Jeremy “GoldVision” Mattheis wanted to find out if GTA would allow him to simply exist in its universe without behaving like a total maniac. So he launched “Grand Theft Auto Pacifist,” about the adventures of a character named Francisco who tries to find meaning in virtual life without committing any crimes. It’s like if Bob Ross did a Let’s Play. And along the way, he found some interesting gaps in a game which supposedly lets the player be whatever kind of person they want to.
Francisco’s philosophy of nonviolence is immediately challenged when the game’s multiplayer tutorial requires him to rob a convenience store. He attempts to get around the need to point a gun at the clerk by practicing shadowboxing and kicking some candy bars, but is ultimately compelled to pull out the gun. In order to atone for the mandatory violence, Mattheis has Francisco return and slowly, tediously buy 3,730 dollars’ worth of $2 sodas and cigarette packs, plus a little extra to get the clerk a counseling session.
While buying these sodas, Mattheis notices that the game’s drinking animation makes his character toss the empty cans on the ground. Even when trash bins are near, Francisco’s programming forces him to litter, further polluting the digital world.
So Mattheis comes up with the ingeniously stupid workaround of having Francisco climb into a dumpster whenever he finishes a can, thereby making it drop into the garbage. In a world in which everyone is an asshole criminal, the greatest act of rebellion is trying to be a decent citizen.
The best discovery Mattheis makes on his nonviolent journey happens when he accidentally runs over an NPC running across the street. Francisco parks his car between traffic and the injured person, gets out, and calls an ambulance. When the ambulance arrives, the EMTs disembark, run in little circles, then get back into their ambulance and try to drive off.
In desperation to get first aid to the poor injured NPC, Francisco uses his car to block the ambulance’s escape. In equal desperation to not do their job, the ambulance driver crashes into Francisco’s car and pushes it out of the way.
So it turns out that in Grand Theft Auto, you’re free to do anything except be a moral person. This is a world that exists only to enable chaos, and any attempt to engage it rationally will create scorn and Dadaist madness. We’re sure that will be addressed in the next installment.
Understanding the complete plot of the Metal Gear series requires a PhD in Advanced Nonsense, but for our purposes, all you need to know is that Metal Gear Solid V has been widely criticized over the character , a super soldier who must spend all of her time mostly naked … because she can only breathe through her skin, thanks to an “experimental” procedure meant to heal burns. She then falls in love with the horned man who’s responsible for all this. Yes, this is the most coherent description of these events.
Anyway, Quiet’s story was mocked as a thin excuse to cram gratuitous T&A into a military thriller, but the game’s creators stuck to their guns, and insisted that she was well-rounded in non-physical ways, too. We gave them the benefit of the doubt. Then came the scene in which Quiet strips down to her underwear, bends over to prominently display her ass, and playfully splashes and rolls around in the rain — on the deck of an oil platform right in front of everybody — before finally trotting over to your hero while romantic music plays. There are no more benefits.
If you harbored any illusions that Quiet was anything more than eye candy, then YouTube channel Tactical Modding Operations has a quick experiment for you. They swapped out Quiet with Skull Face, the villain with a name stolen from our fourth-grade Trapper Keepers. Behold the majesty:
The Fallout games were once renowned for clever writing and letting you solve problems in all sorts of ways. Then Bethesda took over and removed both of those features. Fallout 4 received the most flack for this, with dialogue options being stripped down to near-uselessness, to the point where the only way to resolve most quests is via the liberal application of murder. It was a far cry from the original games, in which talking your way out of problems was a legitimate strategy. Bethesda insisted that players were still free to approach the game in a variety of ways, but one devout Fallout fan, Kyle Hinckley, took them up on that. He wanted to know if you could finish Fallout 4 without murdering anyone. The answer was technically yes, but, uh … not the way you’d think.
Fallout 4 has a lot of combat. You murder crime lords in a vault, you murder the man who kidnapped your child, the ending features you annihilating anywhere from one to three rival factions, and then there’s all the random scavenging you’ll be doing. So how can you bypass all that death? Well, if you pump enough points into your character’s Charisma stat, you gain the ability to ask a bad guy to surrender. Sounds good! Except it’s not a strategy the game accounts for, so there’s only about a 10 percent chance they’ll take you up on it. So yes, Hinckley is able to talk everyone into submission, but every battle descends into him frantically shouting “Drop it,” saving after every successful attempt and reloading when it fails (again, nine times out of ten). It worked, but Fallout 4 was just not built to handle peaceful outcomes. Todd Howard demands blood.
The man who kidnapped your child has to die, despite starting the fight by telling you that he wants to talk. The game won’t advance otherwise, and the only “pacifist” solution Hinckley can come up with is luring the bad guy into a minefield to whittle down his health, then letting an NPC finish him off. This is less “pacifism” and more “pacifism aggressivism,” and it takes Hinckley five hours of trial and error to pull it off.
The game as a whole took Hinckley 75 hours to finish, and he only stayed peaceful on a technicality. Even then, Fallout 4 refused to acknowledge his work, as his companions go ahead and comment on his nonexistent bloodshed anyway.
Games like The Walking Dead, Beyond: Two Souls, and Tetris: Origins promise an interactive story wherein the player’s every decision matters. While you can’t exactly leave the zombie hordes behind and start a post-apocalyptic ballet studio, your actions supposedly do make the story play out differently. But one gamer, Adam Johnston, decided to put the game/narrative integration concept to the test … albeit in the most damning, laziest way possible.
Johnston played Beyond: Two Souls while never touching the controller during quick time events. At one point a wild dog attacks the heroine, Jodie. It’s the player’s choice on how to deal with that, right? One of those choices should be “Life is oblivion, let it eat me.” But no deal!
It wasn’t just one scene — it was all of them. Later, when Jodie needs to drive away, she doesn’t need Johnston’s help to evade the cops. Beyond prompts him to press R2 on his controller and speed off, but when he refuses, the game hits the gas for him anyway.
In other words, control is an illusion and the game plays with itself, which is fitting when talking about David Cage.
Meanwhile, AkariLT played the first “season” of The Walking Dead game, which has you control a man named Lee Everett during the zombie apocalypse. Throughout the game, you’re prompted to pick dialog options for Lee, and the game informs you that “silence is a valid option.” What it doesn’t tell you is that the story unfolds the same way even if you play as an awkward, impossible mute. For example, at one point you’re prompted to choose between two of your allies in an argument. If you stay silent, they don’t both stop to marvel at how you actually found a way to make the situation even more uncomfortable — the game chooses a side for you.
Silence also leads to some pretty hilarious moments, like when Lee is supposed to reassure Clementine, the little girl he’s protecting. He tells her to think of something hopeful, she asks “Like what?” And he just does this:
Thus proving that games like these really only offer you the illusion of choice, despite what the marketing says. They’re the virtual version of those crosswalk buttons — doing things only makes you feel better, while the world carries on fine without your input.
Adam Koski tried to start a Let’s Play channel but one thing led to another and he ended up writing a hilarious and exciting fantasy novel instead.