Games where you are the bad guy are a surprisingly diverse, occasionally mixed, bag.
In some games, especially RPGs, you are presented with good and evil choices and you’re free to pick whatever fits your vision of your character…or provides rewards you’re more interested in. There are also games where you are the villain from the get-go, free to do your evil deeds gleefully with the full satisfaction of playing the game right.
Below we take a look at a list of game which, one way or another, allow you to be an evil bastard, a scheming villain, a terrific monster, or just a complete heel, hated by everyone for being a huge bully.
Come flex your moustache-twirling muscles with our list of…
|The Darkness II||2012-02-09||Action & Shooter||91%|
|Destroy All Humans Remake||2020-07-28||Action & Shooter||86%|
|Mafia Definitive Edition||2020-09-25||Action||80%|
|Dungeon Keeper 2||1999-06-28||Adventure||34%|
|Mass Effect Legendary Edition||2021-05-14||Action||68%|
|Destroy All Humans 2 Reprobed||2022-08-30||Adventure||69%|
|Evil Genius 2 World Domination||2021-03-30||Strategy||75%|
|Carmageddon Max Damage||2016-10-27||Race||81%|
|Fallout Classic Collection||1997-11-01||Adventure||64%|
|Fallout New Vegas||2010-10-21||Adventure||61%|
|Grand Theft Auto Collection||2002-05-21||Adventure|
|Grand Theft Auto V||2015-04-14||Adventure||60%|
|Hatred||2015-06-01||Action & Shooter||73%|
|Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic||2003-11-19||RPG||74%|
|Plague Inc Evolved||2016-02-18||Indie||59%|
|Red Dead Redemption 2||2019-11-05||Adventure||74%|
|Untitled Goose Game||2020-09-23||Indie|
|Developer:||Sucker Punch Productions|
Undertale is a critical and audience darling, and for good reasons.
Toby Fox’s bullet hell RPG is an outstanding work, with compelling themes, creative gameplay, many killer tracks in its musical score, and it breaks the fourth wall to make you feel bad about things you’ve done. It’s a lot, and it features several distinct story paths, one of which is aptly, and darkly, called the Genocide playthrough.
See, while the game has you fight various monsters regularly, you can refuse to kill them of you want to, aiming for a good, Pacifist ending. But you can also kill every single monster you encounter, no matter how amicable they are, triggering the genocide ending. And the game will never let you forget it: you’ll feel the consequences of it in every future Pacifist playthrough.
|Developer:||Sucker Punch Productions|
The original Infamous games put you in the shocking shoes of one Cole McGrath, a courier who happened to get infused with a superpower letting him control and emit electricity.
Throughout each game you get plenty of opportunities to define what kind of person Cole is: you can save and help the citizens of the city you’re in, or you can unleashed your power upon them for fun and profit.
The choice isn’t inconsequential, either. Not only does your moral leaning change the appearance of your powers, but your Karma also decides which powers you get access to in the first place. It also influences the way NPCs react to Cole. But, on the flip side, if you go full evil your lightning powers would make Emperor Palpatine blush, so it’s definitely worth the effort.
Mass Effect trilogy
Although nominally Mass Effect use a Paragon/Renegade system and both work towards the same goals, you can be pretty damn evil.
The Renegade options turn your Shepard into a ruthless, cold objective-oriented professional who has no time for being nice. By picking them you’ll kill, betray, intimidate, and even shoot hostages just to get your target hidden behind them.
Full-Renegade Shepards have no time for anything that stands between them and the mission, everybody else be damned. After all, getting tangled up in niceties and unruly crew members might mean everybody dies. In Mass Effect 2 going full Renegade also means your cybernetic implants start really showing, making Shepard even more unsettling.
The Fallout games, especially the original two and New Vegas, are some of the deepest role-playing games out there in terms of narrative freedom given to the players.
They were quite happy with giving you a specific task to accomplish, but left you to your own devices. And with the wealth of dialogue options and fairly non-linear quests you could be a quite a menace if you wanted to.
You could murder pretty much anyone, sell people into slavery, lead the destruction of a settlement or two, or encourage a powerful base to take violent action against harmless settlement at its walls. Of course, the games like to track the things you do, and you might get a reputation for, say, child killing, but that’s what makes being evil worthwhile in Fallouts: it’s feels consequential.
|Developer:||Phobia Game Studio|
Carrion turns you into a shapeless, inhuman, crimson blob with lethal abilities it’s keen to deploy on any human it sees.
More specifically: you’re a blood-red blob of mutated worms breaking out of a containment in a military research facility. Time to reclaim pieces of the swarm, gobble up hapless humans, and break through level after level to reach the outside world.
It’s quite rare in a video game to the monster crawling through the vents, and Carrion does it quite well. Over time you unlock new powers, and you’ll switch between being a massive, lethal blob perfect for direct combat, and a smaller hive sliver which has an easier time crawling through tight spaces. If you’re up for being a murderous amorphous worm hive, Carrion is perfect for you.
Destroy All Humans 1 & 2
|Release:||2005 / 2020 / 2022|
|Genre:||Action & Adventure|
|Developer:||Black Forest Games|
With a title like this, what else could you be, if not a villain? Indeed, you’re playing as an alien called Crypto who came to Earth in order to harvest human DNA by any means necessary.
If that also means turning your deadly alien weapons on Earth soldiers, who cares, they are only humans, after all. All of that is kept in the style of 1950s USA, giving DAH a vibe of old alien invasion movies.
Most of the game you’ll be on foot, cycling through weapons, collecting DNA, and using your powers to accomplish your objectives, but occasionally you’ll also hop into your flying saucer equipped with a death ray. Destroy All Humans was originally released in 2005, but it received a remake in 2020, and a remake of its sequel, Reprobed, in 2022.
If you’ve always wondered why you can never play as Castlevania’s Dracula, or miss the casual bloodthirstiness of Legacy of Kain, give V Rising a chance.
You get to play as a fancy Gothic vampire, freshly risen from his slumber and in the market for fresh blood, some murder, and a new castle. Just remember to be careful, thirst and sun can ruin your time, V Rising is a survival game after all.
In addition to the wonderful opportunity to be a vampire terrorizing the region, V Rising also happens to have a lot in common with hack and slash games such as Diablo. Your physical and magical prowess gives you access to plenty of powerful, devastating abilities. It’s one of 2022 surprise hits, so don’t sleep on V Rising.
Black & White (series)
Some say that it’s tough to be a god, but if Black & White games are anything to judge by, it’s actually pretty easy. The secret ingredient is “evil”.
While you can be a nice and benevolent god in Lionhead Studios’ Black & White games… where’s the fun in that? Throw your people into the ocean with your godly hand and set a rain of fire upon their farms. They’ll never disobey you again.
Better yet, you get a giant juvenile pet, called simply “the Creature”, which can learn and mimic your spells and behaviors towards villagers. It won’t take long for the Creature to start chucking people into the ocean or burning their crops. They grow up so fast. Even your temple gets a nifty design full of edges and spikes. There’s no other game that gives being an evil god so many fun bells and whistles.
Some games on this list present evil as a choice the players can actively make at any point of the experience.
Evil Genius isn’t that kind of game, here you start out as a true spy fiction villain with private islands, volcano lairs, and neatly uniformed goons. What’s important is that it’s a lair of your own design, with all the 1960s’ aesthetic — arguably the golden age of spy fiction.
You will prepare interrogation rooms, assign goons and minions to their stations, and deal with an occasional spy trying to get dirt on your operation of infiltrating governments and trying to take over the world. You even get to pick one of several avatars, each inspired by a different spy fiction villain archetype. There is also a sequel released in 2021, and it’s very much worth a look.
The Fable series never shied away from giving the players a chance to be massive jerks.
Ever since the very first game you’ve always been able to choose to be good or evil, and there are visual changes to go with committing to one path over the other. If you gladly kill innocent people, disobey town guards, and generally behave like a big ol’ jerk, you’re on a good way to become a villain.
The eviller acts you commit, the more it’s going to affect you and your surroundings. Your complexion becomes sickly at best, devilish at worst, you’re surrounded by an infernal aura, and it’s likely that people will react with fear and revulsion to your presence. Interestingly, being evil takes some effort to maintain, since most normal activities give you rose-scented, goody two-shoes points.
|Developer:||11 bit studios|
Frostpunk is an interesting case, because all you’re doing is meant to save as many lives as possible during a global cooling.
What matters, is that you can do your best to keep high morale and not work people to the bone…or you could just… not. You can enforce child labour, control your citizens with an iron fist, leading the city towards theocracy or autocracy, neither of which ends up to nicely.
Frostpunk is a rare game where in a way you can become an anti-villain: someone who does horrible things, because it’s the only way to accomplish a greater good, in this case: humanity’s survival. You can be evil, you can be callous, or weep as you send another batch of freshly made children to the coal mines, because it’s necessary. It’s a cold, cruel world out there, you can reflect that.
Knights of the Old Republic
Some say that the Dark Side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities. In BioWare’s Knights of the Old Republic it’s means highly destructive Force powers are cheaper to use.
Thankfully, outside of combat you can let your aspiring Sith Lord flag fly by being just the worst to everyone you meet on your journey, including plucky teenagers and people who swore a life debt to you.
Although being nice is generally recommended, KotOR allows you to be a despicable, rude, callous parody of a human. This path will not only lead you organically to a different ending, but can also be very entertaining. The Obsidian-made sequel boosts the potential for evil by letting you corrupt your followers and drag them to the Dark Side with you, complete with appearance changes.
As the title suggest, in Overlord you play an evil ruler who tries to conquer land after land and exploit it for fun, profit, and revenge.
You have an ever-growing, and disposable, army of multi-coloured minions, an ominous tower, and a lot of potential for sowing fear among people you encounter. You also have a cool helmet that makes you look like a more personally involved Sauron.
Letting your goblin-like minions loose on an enemy, a village, or a particularly ripe patch of pumpkins results in a delightful chaos, a few potential new helmets, and a lot of unhappy people. And somehow you’re STILL not the worst person around, because there are some decadent former heroes you need to put in their place and show them who’s the true villain here.
Plague Inc: Evolved
A villain doesn’t always need to be sentient to threaten everything people hold dear.
As Plague Inc.: Evolved proves, you could just be a very persistent infection deadly enough to spread across the entire globe and kill everyone. You are in control of the way your chosen pathogen evolves, including transmission, symptoms, and a few other features, some unique to specific pathogens.
If you actually need a sentient villain, there is a way. Instead of picking a virus or a parasite you can become a vampire, freshly awakened from a long slumber and ready to spread the curse of vampirism across the world. If you’ve ever wanted to roleplay a supervillain intend on destroying humanity, you can do it in Plague Inc: Evolved. You even get to name every disease you concoct.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2 gives you a choice.
You could be as “white hat” as being in a notorious gang would allow, or you could go full “black hat”, stopping just short of twirling your moustache as you put a hogtied victim on the train tracks. You can kill enemies you already defeated in a duel, you can shoot innocents willy-nilly, and conduct yourself like a boorish lout in general.
The game even gives you button prompts you can use to antagonise people through casual dialogue. The examples here aren’t as dramatic or overstated as in other entries on this list, but even the small ways you can be a good-for-nothing bandit make the world feel more grounded and believable. Thanks to the game’s dialogue system you can also basically pull the classic “NOT!” card.
Tyranny’s big thing is that you’re an agent of an evil Overlord, Kyros. Your task is simple: remove the last bits of resistance preventing Kyros’ conquest from being complete.
You are also a Judge Dredd of the land, except you can twist the law to suit your needs if you want to. Tyranny is, or can be, if you want it to be, a game about being a Lawful Evil agent of an evil empire. How cool is that?
Depending on how smart you are, the laws can also turn out to be quite pliable, especially when it would benefit your goals. Thanks to the way reputations work in the game you can also instil fear in your companions without losing their loyalty, and you can make all factions hate you, but also kind of need you. You can also betray whoever you’ve allied with at the beginning and conquer Tiers for yourself.
Untitled Goose Game
|Genre:||Stealth & Simulator|
Arguably the worst villain on the list: the Goose. The Goose is a menace, and a constant threat to the idyllic English countryside.
Across the campaign you’ll steal property, put humans in embarrassing positions, and gather treasures for your lair. At least that’s one way of presenting it. Another would be just that you’re playing as a mischievous goose who’s up to some harmless pranks.
What remains true is that the Goose can sow some chaos in the clearly languid and peaceful life of an English village. The humans try to oppose your machinations, and sometimes will even use a broom to rudely shoo you away. There is even an end game: when you complete the game for the first time you get a series of additional objectives: more pranks and more things to steal.
In Prototype 2 you are James Heller, a former US Marine. When you were on a mission a virus outbreak started and your wife was killed, while the daughter was taken by the government.
On Alex Mercer who caused the outbreak and on the government itself. However, during your confrontation with Alex, he infected you with the same virus he had in his veins.Now you are an abomination just like him.
You can shapeshift, produce weapons out of your limbs, jump over buildings, run super-fast, consume people and their memories etc. You are like a mix of the Hulk and that monster you might know from a movie The Thing. However, you are not going to be a hero in this game. If citizens of New York are going to die because of that? Who cares about that? You are even going to kill many people yourself. You are not going to stop until Mercer is dead.
Grand Theft Auto 5
While we specifically mention Grand Theft Auto 5 in this list, you can actually put any Grand Theft Auto game you want.
In all games from the series you can be a bad boy. Steal cars, kill people, fight the police, destroy everything. Do whatever you want. In GTA 5 you land in the city of Los Santos (which you should already know if you are a fan of the series). Here you are going to take a control of three different characters.
The first one is Michael, a retired thief who due to family troubles and bad temper has to start stealing again. Then there’s Michael’s old friend Trevor, a violent maniac still in the crime biz. The third character is Franklin. A young man from the ghetto who simply wants to earn a lot of money in a short amount of time.While they are quite likable, you are still going to be a general menace thanks to open world gameplay that loves giving you all the freedom you want.
Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous
Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous is a successor to Owlcat’s previous game, Pathfinder: Kingmaker.
It deserves a spot on this list not only because, as a true RPG, it allows you to pick evil, murderous, and generally kind of unhinged dialogue options. It is here, because unlike other games you can actually decide to become a creature you’re usually supposed to be killing.
Thanks to the game’s Mythic Paths you can choose to sacrifice your loved ones and become a lich, turn into a ravenous Swarm-That-Walks, or even turn into a literal devil or demon. Each path (10 total, including some Good ones) has its own related quest, and hard (or easy, as it might be) choices to make before you can embrace the legendary power it offers.
Evil is bad, but it can be fun
The games above are some of the best options you could go for, if being a villain in a game is your goal, but it’s hardly exhaustive, and as the hobby develops, the way being evil is written also improves in new, fascinating, and occasionally sickening, directions.
We’ve made sure to include various genres and settings, so hopefully you’ve found something that stirred your villainous impulses.