Some games are great fun for the whole family. You can play them in front of Mom, Dad, Grandma, and Aunt Gladys, and nobody would bat an eye. Super Mario may engage in level after level of first degree koopacide, but fortunately Nintendo had the good sense to keep the mayhem safe and sanitary. Even fighting games — where the entire object of the genre is to deliver brain damage and internal hemorrhaging against your opponent, pummeling them until they’re too weak to throw a single fireball — are pretty safe to play in front of any crowd.
But then there are the others. Some games are simply too weird, too bizarre, too dirty, too rude, or just too terrible to play in front of your loved ones. Turn the following games on in front of your family at your own risk.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole and Stick of Truth
If you know anything about South Park, you already know why its video games couldn’t possibly be played around parents, except maybe the absolute most open-minded among them. Even then, they’re likely to wince at least a few times over Stick of Truth and The Fractured But Whole, RPGs that may actually be ruder than the show at times.
Stick, for example, features a scene where your character, the New Kid, gets shrunk down to the size of a mouse. This lets you enter your parent’s bedroom for a quest, except they’re actively … enjoying each other. The game censors absolutely nothing, meaning you hear every moan and scream of ecstasy from your folks. Worse, during a boss battle, your father’s dangly bits come flying right in your face, and once again you see absolutely everything.
Elsewhere in the games, you fight a giant mutant fetus, pedophiliac Catholic priests, and eight-year-olds dressed like Hooters girls. You enter a locked lair using the password "f**k you Mom," summon Jesus to mow down your opponents with a machine gun, and watch the New Kid’s parents get drunk and high while domestically abusing at each other. That’s to say nothing about the New Kid himself, who has the power of epic farts. That’s right — you can harness gnarly, nasty gas attacks to destroy your enemies, and even control time. Save these games for when Mom and Dad are at the store.
My Name Is Mayo
My Name Is Mayo might be the single most pointless "game" of all time. You have one goal: to open a jar of mayonnaise. You do so by clicking on the jar, over and over again. That is literally the entire game, which is honestly more of a surreal, absurdist art statement than anything else.
The jar, for reasons beyond understanding, wears various outfits throughout your quest to click it open. Sometimes it wears a bra and panties. Other times, it wears a pink Lyft mustache. Sometimes it rocks a guitar, and yet still other times it’s stuck inside an armpit. Also, like any game these days, there are achievements to be earned in Mayo. None are too complex, mainly because every single one is "click the jar of mayo X number of times." It never varies beyond that one goal.
If you’re patient enough, and can click the jar 10,000 times, you will successfully open it, beat this very random game, and your life will finally have meaning. Meanwhile, if your parents see you play this long enough to win, they’ll have but one question: "Do you need us to find you something to do?"
Duke Nukem Forever
Duke Nukem was never a family-friendly franchise — when your formula is "Doom plus fart jokes and hot girls," it’s kinda hard to be. But Duke Nukem Forever turned that formula up to 11, to the point where it was almost uncomfortable, even to many of his fans.
The plot, as it were, is about aliens stealing every hot girl on Earth, and Mr. Nukem needing to get them back. The problem is that the world had changed a lot between Forever and the last Nukem game, which came out 15 years prior. Now, lazy "sexy girl" jokes are mostly passe, and Nukem’s gags aren’t even his. Take this scene, where he’s macking on all the gorgeous women in his apartment — everything he says is something you should only try on a woman if your goal is to go home alone.
The actual gameplay isn’t any less embarrassing, as you literally start the game by peeing. It’s then revealed Duke is paying a Duke Nukem game as two girls are, well, beneath him. You’d do better to play Doom around your folks.
Catherine’s box art alone (a shapely woman removing her top, a guy trapped between her breasts, and sheep, for some reason) is enough to make parents wonder what exactly you’re playing. Then you actually start the game and it gets more awkward, as you then need to explain the story.
In short, you’re a guy engaged to a proper woman named Katherine. A wild woman named Catherine (with a C!) shows up and seduces you — but then it turns out she isn’t really a woman. Rather, she’s a nightmare succubus who condemns cheating men to a deadly underworld tower, so only faithful men will survive. You must enter your own nightmare and scale the tower to escape, at which point you’ll get to choose human Katherine, or demon Catherine. Depending on your actions in the game, you could marry one or the other, wind up with neither, choose neither and instead become a space traveler, or overthrow the ruler of the Underworld and rule it alongside demon Catherine. "Beat Bowser, save the princess" this is not.
If your parents can actually stick around and watch the game, they’ll see it’s not nearly as sexual as the box art makes it seem. It’s much more of a horror game than anything else, as Catherine is basically Freddy Krueger with curves. But good luck getting them to really understand it.
A remaster with a whole new character and plotline, Catherine: Full Body, will haunt the PlayStation 4 on Sep. 3, 2019. Don’t tell your parents you’re thinking of checking that out, either.
Butts is the game’s real name, and it is indeed all about butts. Good luck getting your folks to play any more games with you after this one.
You don’t play Butts so much as experience it. It’s a virtual reality game where you slip on the VR headset and, for a little over two minutes, are subjected to a wacky blue guy with a dadbod gut and a giant behind dancing around. He comes across a bad red guy, cheers him up with more butt-dancing, then the two fart confetti and hug. The end. Sorry for the spoilers.
Butts‘ Steam page, cheekily enough, describes the game as "an animated VR short about love, trust, and learning what it means to be truly free." That’s certainly one way to say "cartoon butts." The above video is the entire game, but if you’ve got a VR rig and want to experience Butts the way the butthead who designed it intended you to, it’s only 99 cents. That still might be enough for your dad to take you aside and lecture you about the value of a dollar, however.
Who’s Your Daddy?
If you really want to make your parents uncomfortable with a game, show them Who’s Your Daddy?, a game about a baby trying to kill itself. What parent doesn’t love being reminded of their worst nightmare?
In Daddy, you can play as the baby, where your goal is to wander your spacious home and find the perfect way to die. This involves evading your father and trying to play various deadly games, like drinking cleaning products, putting forks in light sockets, drowning in the tub, and chugging pills. Die and you "win." Or, you can play as the baby’s father, with the goal now being to make sure your child doesn’t die horribly. You can do so by locking cabinets, covering up power outlets, and completing household chores that will give you superpowers like invisibility and seeing through walls. Eventually your baby gives up, decides it’s easier just to live, and you win the game.
Whichever route you take, good luck getting your parents on board, especially if you play as the father and lose. You’ve likely given them serious reservations about your abilities as a real-life parent.
As delicious as potatoes are, there’s very little "thrilling" about them. Then there’s Potato Thriller, a horror game about the search for a serial killer called the Potato Man. He’s not called that because he leaves a potato next to his victims’ bodies–he is literally a potato, he deep-fries his victims, and potential victims include anthropomorphic hot dogs, walking noses, and living lemons. It’s basically Resident Evil on mushrooms.
In the game, you have to both track down the Potato Man and escape his wrath, and the game’s setup can be legitimately scary. The house you’re in is dark, random noises and jump-scares increase the tension, and the Potato Man himself is just plain unsettling. He looks like Mr. Potato Head from Toy Story, but if Sid owned him instead of Andy. Plus, he talks in a computerized monotone that suggests Stephen Hawking has gone rogue. It’s the audio equivalent of a ransom letter made out of newspaper clippings, and it’s quite unnerving. Your parents won’t like this game. And if they do…run.
Soda Drinker Pro
If you enjoy soda so much that you’d play an entire game about drinking the stuff, then perhaps Soda Drinker Pro is for you. Just do everyone a favor and not tell anyone.
In Pro, you drink soda. That’s basically it. The hook is all the weird, surreal, possibly-drug-induced places you get your glug on. You can drink your soda at the beach, in space, inside a mouth, among some giant mushrooms, inside many scenes straight out of a surrealistic art installation, in the desert, and in front of a bearded guy dressed like a soda, among many other baffling places. You move from one area to the next once you’ve finished a soda, and when every area has been visited, you win. Your parents, who likely tell you at least once a day to stop drinking so much soda, will be thrilled to see you’ve made it a part of your hobby.
You might be able to regain their favor with Pro’s trippy game-within-a-game, Vivian Clark, a series of super-weird, but super-fun mini-games. Whether you’re side-scrolling and collecting items, traversing a first-person dungeon, battling enemies that look like Alice In Wonderland outtakes, or simply wandering around as what appears to be a drop of soda, Clark works to silence anyone watching you play a soda-drinking simulator and wondering why you’re even bothering.
Far from a video game adaptation of the Saturday Night Fever sequel nobody liked, Stayin’ Alive is yet another opportunity to remind your parents about the impending deaths of loved ones. With Who’s Your Daddy, it was the death of their child. With Stayin’ Alive, they get to ponder their own mortality.
In Alive, you play as one of two teams: old people who want nothing more than to die, or nurses who want them to live. If you play as Team Wanna-Die, you run around (or rather, wheelchair around) and collect items you can MacGyver into lethal tools. Turn a toothbrush into a razor, a lighter into an explosive, or just plain set yourself on fire. Each death nabs your team a point. Meanwhile, Team Not-Your-Time-Yet races to craft cures for their patients’ self-inflicted ailments. For each old person they keep from dying, by safely wheeling them to a sedation unit, the nurses earn a point. Once time expires, a winner is declared based on how many old people died, unless they all die or are all saved. It’s the most fatalistic game of tag ever.
If you think your folks can handle old people happily burning to death with chill and good humor, go ahead and play this in front of them. If you have any doubt, though, just play Skyrim instead.
Henry the Hamster Handler
Hamsters are pretty adorable and lovable. Henry the Hamster Handler, on the other hand, isn’t, and it certainly won’t do anything to endear your parents to your favorite pastime.
The titular Henry is a professional hamster handler, and he only has one hand for some reason. The hamsters have broken loose and it’s your job to find them before they die terribly. This is extra difficult because these hamsters are particularly brainless and walk right into every death trap they possibly can. You, rather than just scooping them up and throwing them in a cage like a normal hamster handler, push various buttons and manipulate machines so the hamsters march themselves to safety. Imagine Lemmings, but with more cuddly creatures getting squashed to a bloody pulp or burnt alive if you suck at your job.
Your parents might get a kick out of this VR game, but only if they hate hamsters. If they love the cute little buggers, or even if they just hate the idea of animals violently and needlessly biting it, firing up Henry will likely result in nothing but dirty looks.
Wolfenstein: The New Order
At first glance, Wolfenstein: The New Order seems like the kind of ultra-violent Nazi-killing fun that the whole family can enjoy. Sure, there are plenty of missions that come down to some blood-soaked neck-stabbing action, but at this point, that’s the sort of thing that parents should be used to from video games.
That said, there’s a problem here that comes from the pretty abrupt tonal shifts that often occur during cutscenes. Specifically, there’s a part a few hours into the game where you’re on a train. For a game that eventually has you battling Nazi spacemen on a moon base, things get pretty tense when you’re confronted by Frau Engel. Describing her as "sinister" only scratches the surface, and the scene where she tests you to see if you’re Aryan enough by making you choose between seemingly random photographs, while also giving you the option of grabbing a gun and trying (and failing) to fight your way out of the situation is the kind of thing that’ll have you leaning forward in your seat to see how it all works out. And then immediately after, B.J. heads back to his room and launches a shock-and-awe invasion to the bone zone.
That’s the kind of gear shift into a sex scene that can make mom and dad’s interest in this psychologically stressful game a little uncomfortable.
When you get right down to it, it’s hard to believe that Midway’s Revolution X is actually real. An arcade shooter set in a dystopian future where a fascist government called the New Order Nation has taken over and outlawed rock ‘n’ roll, the game calls upon you to save the world by rescuing the kidnapped dad-rock icons of Aerosmith by killing everyone you can with a gun that shoots CDs. If every word in that sentence made you feel more and more like you were having a stroke, don’t worry. That’s normal.
With its insanely ridiculous premise and downright relentless graphics, it’s still a pretty fun game to pop a few quarters into if you run into it at an arcade somewhere. Just make sure that your dad’s not around when you do. It’s not the violence, and it’s not even the sight of Playboy model Kerri Hoskins in a dominatrix costume as the game’s end boss, Mistress Helga. The real question is, do you really want to run the risk of hearing your old man sing along to an arcade game’s rendition of "Sweet Emotion" or, God forbid, "Dude Looks Like a Lady?" That’s a sight (and sound) that could haunt you to your grave.
Dating sim games are best enjoyed alone. That is, after all, the whole point: the game is providing you with a digital version of the social interaction that you could be getting from, you know, talking to another human being in real life. But Hatoful Boyfriend takes all that to the next level.
See, Hatoful Boyfriend keeps all the traditional trappings of dating sims, but switches up the formula by making every other character in the game a sentient bird. They hit all the usual archetypes, from the childhood best friend (a dove) to the athletic jock (pigeon) to the popular kid (another pigeon), but with a lot more feathers. Oh, and just in case that wasn’t weird enough, there’s a secret mode unlocked after you finish the dating sim that’s actually a psychological thriller murder investigation about the protagonist’s death, where you’re tasked with finding the killer. Who is also a bird. This mode is actually longer and more involved than the main game.
At the very least, playing a game about trying to date a literal partridge is going to raise some uncomfortable questions from your mom. You’re going to have to overhear a lot of whispered phone conversations with other moms trying to figure out why you can’t just find a nice human boyfriend and what to do about your sudden interest in avisodomy.
No More Heroes
You might think the Wii would be safe for some family fun. Everyone loves the Wii! It’s a solid plan, but if you do try to liven up game night at grandmas with a trip back to 2006, just make sure you stay away from No More Heroes.
Don’t get it wrong: NMH is one of the best games ever released for the Wii. Suda51’s typically weird take on an assassin who takes out his targets with a laser sword and pro wrestling moves tells a shockingly compelling story. It’s full of action that involves slashing enemies in half, although they tend to shower you with blood and coins in equal measure, and Travis Touchdown has an unhealthy obsession with moé anime, but neither of those aspects of the game is the problem.
That comes in the form of one of the game’s core mechanics. In order to recharge your laser sword, you’re required to firmly grasp the Wiimote and give it a vigorous up-and-down shake that … well, let’s just say that it resembles the motion of having some solo fun that doesn’t require a game console. It’s not the sort of thing you really want grandma seeing you doing in the living room, and believe us, it’s definitely not the sort of thing you want to see Grandma doing either.
The 2006 indie darling Braid may seem like the least objectionable game on this entire list: a straightforward puzzle platformer about manipulating time in order to advance. The problem here comes if you’re a completist. See, the very first Secret Star in the game, in level 2-2, is easy to find. Actually getting to it, on the other hand, requires you to hop on a cloud and stand there while it makes its way across the entire level. The catch? The cloud moves so slowly that it takes almost two hours to get to its destination, during which you can’t really do anything else but stand around.
A kid spending two hours playing a video game isn’t usually that much of a problem for most parents, but even the most permissive parents would probably start to question it after 45 minutes of staring at an achingly slow trip across a level without doing anything. Eventually, Mom’s gonna want to watch Rizzoli and Isles, and once she turns this game off, all that waiting around is gonna be for nothing.
"Is this, uh, anime?"
That’s the question that you’re going to get as soon as your parents walk in while you’re getting through Persona 5, but honestly, that’s not the bad part. If nothing else, "no, it’s a Japanese RPG that features designs from Shigenori Soejima" is a complicated enough answer that they’ll probably just give you an "oh" and then leave you to explore the strange world of teenage psychology.
If, however, they stick around from the beginning of the game, then you’re going to wind up fielding way more questions, and they’re gonna get real awkward, real quick. For one thing, the first hour or so of this game requires you to press a button maybe three times — leading to "are you sure this is a video game?" — and once the action starts, you’re immediately dropped into the mind of an abusively horny gym teacher. That’s uncomfortable subject matter on its own, and once Ann Takamaki shows up in her skin-tight vinyl catgirl outfight to fight enemies with a whip, a suspicious "didn’t you say these were high school kids?" is all but inevitable. Have fun explaining that one.
The Stanley Parable
With most of these games, you’ll want to avoid playing them around your parents in order to dodge awkward questions. With The Stanley Parable, it’s more about not wanting to see your mom and dad get depressed.
While it certainly gets weird by the end, The Stanley Parable starts you off in a cubicle doing an extremely menial data entry job before asking you to wander around following (or ignoring) the suggestions and commands of an omniscient narrator. Trust us, the last thing your parents want to see when they’re hanging out at the house is an office building with an audible reminder that most of their days at their jobs are controlled by the whims of people that they’ll never see, and how their small acts of rebellion are often pointless.
Unless you want to see a hollow-eyed stare and the regrets of a wasted life of pushing buttons to line someone else’s pockets, maybe close this one down and see if the folks are up for a game of Smash Bros. instead.
Ah, here we go! Kingdom Hearts, the game that combines the depth and storytelling of Square Enix RPGs with the beloved and recognizable Disney characters! Everyone loves Disney, right? Yes. And that’s exactly the problem.
The second your parents notice that some weird anime kid with big feet is hanging out with Donald and Goofy and bouncing around through portals looking for Mickey Mouse, they’re going to want you to explain the story behind this game. The thing is, Kingdom Hearts as a franchise defies explanation. With nine games (and counting), the story seems to have completely lost interest in answering any questions, instead filling its time with increasingly complicated character relationships, evil twins, secret identities, goth rave Mickey, and a plot to reboot the entire universe. That’s not the kind of thing you can explain over dinner, even if you’re willing to hand out flow charts between bites of mac ‘n’ cheese.
Plus, there’s a part in this game where Goofy, who is already a dog, goes to the world of The Little Mermaid and turns into a sea turtle with a dog head. It’s horrifying, and your poor sainted mother who carried you for nine long months does not deserve to see that. We’re not sure anyone deserves to see that.
Long Live the Queen
Long Live the Queen is a delightful game about a plucky young princess named Elodie and her education in the skills that will allow her to rule as Queen when she’s coronated on her 15th birthday. It’s cute, witty, utterly charming, and seems like exactly the sort of game you wouldn’t mind playing with your mom around … except for all the murder.
While Elodie’s education in various subjects makes up the bulk of the game, the real challenge comes from the fact that there are plenty of courtiers looking to assassinate the princess before she can take the throne. All told, there are 11 possible ways to die and 17 chances to get them over the course of the 40 in-game weeks before your birthday. Each one is even accompanied by a cute drawing of Elodie being killed in specific ways. Considering that you’re absolutely going to fail a few skill checks along the way, you’re going to run into at least a few instances of Elodie shuffling loose this mortal coil by the time you’re done.
On the one hand, that could actually be a nice thing: helping Elodie survive long enough to take the throne, you might actually get closer to your own mom in the process. On the other, well, moms don’t usually like seeing 14-year-old princesses get murdered over and over, no matter how cute those deaths are.
My Horse Prince
With most dating sims, you can at least justify what you’re doing by the game’s internal logic. In a game about dating a high schooler, for instance, it’s important to remember that you’re also playing as student yourself. Even when you’re trying to romance a bird, you can at least claim that the game just happens to take place in a world that’s a lot more forgiving of interspecies love. My Horse Prince on the other hand, has no room for interpretation. It is a game about a woman who’s dating a horse.
The only inch of wiggle room that it gives you comes from the fact that said woman actually sees the horse as human … sort of. In a move that’s arguably way weirder than the horse just being a horse, your love interest in this game is a horse with a human face. That’s just the tip of the creepiness iceberg, too — over the course of the very questionable romance, you see Yuuma (the human-faced horse) partake in activities like surfing, cooking breakfast, and drinking coffee. That last one might not seem that weird, but consider that he’s carrying a coffee cup in his hoof, and you’ll probably see why it might be a strange thing to see.
Admittedly, this is a game that knows exactly what it is, but what it is, is very, very weird, and bound to raise some justifiable concerns in your parents.
Looks are deceiving – Conker’s Bad Fur Day
Even the most strict of parents likely wouldn’t give one of Rare’s Conker games a second look. A cute squirrel in a 3D platformer? There can’t possibly be anything overtly adult about that. Sure, Conker looks like he might have an attitude, but so does Sonic. But wait … is he holding a beer?
Yes, yes he is. Conker’s Bad Fur Day is anything but innocent. Considering the game’s Mature-rated content, it is only a matter of time until parents realize that there’s something wrong with Conker. Actually, there’s very little that is family friendly about the game in the first place. The whole premise of the title has the cute little squirrel stumbling home drunk from a late night of binge drinking. He has Berri, a curvaceous girlfriend that would make Lola Bunny blanche, to return home to. But Conker is just as greedy as he is a drunk, and he’ll do just about anything for a spare wad of cash, which leads him further and further away from home.
Conker fights Nazi teddy bears, singing piles of fecal matter, and blatant pop culture references to R-rated movies like Alien and The Matrix all while cursing a blue streak. Maybe keep the volume down on this one, not that the visuals will do anything to hide the true nature of Conker.
Doki Doki Literature Club is secretly horrifying
Doki Doki Literature Club further proves that looks can be deceiving. All is not well in the cutesy, pastel world of this visual novel. Even with the upbeat music and adorable anime girls, the Steam description might give players pause: "This game is not suitable for children or those who are easily disturbed."
Because Doki Doki Literature Club is a deeply disturbing game, partially because of the darkness disguised by friendly faces. The game is built in the typical frame of a visual novel: the player is surrounded by girls who all are inexplicably into him. The most difficult part of this formula is choosing a girl to pursue. Not so for Doki Doki. Everything familiar falls away when childhood friend Sayori is found hanging. From there, the game glitches and restarts, Sayori absent but not entirely forgotten. How are you supposed to get that image out of your head?
With more disturbing content, of course! Like Yuri’s obsessive-compulsive mania, or Natsuki’s abusive father, or the fact that Monika is entirely aware of the fact that you’re playing a game. She also knows your name, your real name. Hidden beneath the kawaii surface is a fourth-wall-breaking horror game filled with jumpscares and real life tragedy. The juxtaposition of cute and twisted makes a lasting impression, and no moment is safe from a flash of body horror or macabre poetry.
Sex sells, and little else, in Playboy: The Mansion
Playing as a young Hugh Hefner might already give you the idea that Playboy: The Mansion isn’t going to be an easy game to ask your mom to pick up from GameStop, if the title wasn’t enough to give away the nature of this 2005 Xbox game. But don’t worry, this game is all about producing a quality magazine and building the Playboy empire. Sure, sometimes that involves throwing infamously scandalous Playboy parties and taking racy pictures of scantily clad models, but at its core, this game is all about the business.
That’s actually one of the complaints that reviewers had about Playboy: The Mansion. For a game that sells itself with sex, there’s not a whole lot of it in the game. Mostly Hef is running around building offices and purchasing party snacks. In this Sims-style strategy game, Hef has to publish an issue of Playboy each month. This means he has to hire writers, photographers, and models — but he gets to personally oversee the photoshoots, of course. The Playboy bunnies are all equipped with the same face as well as a healthy dose of jiggle physics, but the really sexy part of the game is getting the latest scoop on all the celebrities who visit the mansion in the never-ending pursuit of interviews.
Plug & Play is hard to explain
Plug & Play is so short that it would be easy to get to the end uninterrupted. You’d better, because otherwise, you might be asked some strange questions that you don’t have answers to. The game is weird, surreal in a way that makes it hard to explain, because it’s "art." It’s also suggestive of a lot of penetration and an infamous "touching tips" scene.
Animator Michael Frei made the game so that people would have to interact with his minimalist animations. Plug & Play is made up of an amalgam of minigames wherein the player usually aims to plug something into something else. Sometimes it’s traditional outlets and sockets. Other times it’s headless, naked people with prongs coming out of their necks. These silent characters can be plugged into walls, and each other. If the neck space is occupied by another plug-person, there’s always the option of bending over and ramming into butts.
It’s weird, really weird, but not nearly as mind-boggling as the minigame in which you help a prong-less person squeeze the missing prongs out of … well, you’ll have a hard time explaining to your folks that pooping out plug-ins is actually, in fact, art.
Higurashi: When They Cry is way more violent than you’d think
Higurashi: When They Cry doesn’t even have the sexual undertones usually associated with visual novels about big-eyed anime girls, so why does it have such a dark reputation? The story spans eight games, each one a chapter of the tale of Keiichi: he’s a new kid in the rural village of Hinamizawa. Luckily he’s made friends with a group of girls at school with which he has picnics and boring conversations. Seriously, the first chapter of this game seems to be nothing but idle conversation. Until the murder that is.
There’s something wrong with Hinamizawa, something to do with an ancient curse and a festival based on ritual disembowelment. Each chapter of the game ends unhappily: everybody seems to meet a gruesome end, sometimes at the hands of their own friends. It’s all pretty graphic, and worse, perpetrated by otherwise cutesy pre-teens. No one is safe from the bloodshed.
Players have to stomach their way through four chapters of seemingly senseless violence before the mystery of Hinamizawa begins to unravel. Even then, there’s still more gorey discoveries to endure. Don’t let the dull dialogue about innocent pranks fool you: Higurashi is not cool for kids.
Mother Simulator makes motherhood messy
Being a mom is hard, but Mother Simulator makes it even harder. If you thought you were ready to handle delicate, soft-skulled little bundles of joy, this game will make you think again. The title screen hints at the true horrors of parenthood: a terrifyingly extensive brown streak that is smeared from wall to ceiling.
It’s an ugly playthrough. You’re tasked with the care of your baby who stares with hauntingly large eyes as you fumble through some basic tasks like changing a diaper, making formula, and cleaning off a pacifier. Nothing questionable there until you realize how easy it is to unceremoniously drop the baby. The controls do not make safety a priority. Everything gets dirty very, very quickly and spills are likely to happen as you try and fail to handle the care of this kid because speed really is of the essence.
Nothing your average mom doesn’t have to contend with. However, if you’re not interested in getting a good score, you can take advantage of some considerable ragdoll physics and toss the baby. Don’t let your mom see you hurling the baby out the window, or throwing dirty diapers against the wall in an effort to make up some points. Or the part about explosive diarrhea. (Hint: it’s not the baby’s.)
Rule of Rose: bad dogs and bondage
For a game that largely centers around children, Rule of Rose is certainly not for children. The game was born from the desire to make a horror title that wasn’t a slasher or zombie thriller. The terror centers around a twisted, psychological confusion of dreams and reality and some suggestive imagery that caused something of a moral panic around the game’s 2006 release. Rule of Rose was banned in Australia and New Zealand for what it did to the little girls in the game.
The game centers around Jennifer, 19 years old, who hasn’t had the easiest of lives. At one point, she was cared for (read: kidnapped) by a farmer named Gregory Wilson who was grieving over his deceased son Joshua. Naturally, he made her dress and act like Joshua. With the help of her newfound friend Wendy, Jennifer was able to escape to an orphanage. Too bad that within its walls was a capricious clique of girls and a doctor who may have been molesting them.
The ending either had Jennifer killing him or allowing him to kill himself. The game is a weird ride from start to finish: the opening has a suggestive montage of fetishistic imagery that might make one adverse to a public playthrough.
Neverending Nightmares is nightmarish
Intrusive thoughts aren’t fun. They find you with the express purpose of being disturbing: hey, you could throw yourself down this flight of stairs. Or maybe take a swig of laundry detergent, who knows what could happen? Developer Matt Gilgenbach wanted players to experience the horror of the horrifying intrusive thoughts that OCD can bring on in his game Neverending Nightmares.
As the name suggests, the game is told in a series of dreaming and waking sequences. Something terrible happens, usually pretty violent, and then you wake up again. Neverending Nightmares is stylized in a very Edward Gorey, ink-sketched style that only makes the bloodshed all the more lurid when something red drips onto the black and white scene. The gameplay is quiet, an old house in the middle of the night, and while the game isn’t all blood and guts, you never know when you’re going to peer into the sink and find some bloody teeth.
The further you venture into the game, the worse the nightmares become. Crimson becomes more common and the player doesn’t know what’s real or imagined. This psychological horror isn’t for the faint of heart or anyone wanting to avoid concerned looks and suggestions of therapy.
Mass Effect is too sexy for Fox News
Mass Effect is rated M for mature so that people know they’re probably either going to get some violence or suggestive romance in their playthrough. Mass Effect provides both, but it can’t really be called the "pornography" that Fox News claimed that it was. Sure, we get some heavy petting, but a now-infamous Fox News segment likened the romance scenes of the first game to something like the Hot Coffee minigame in GTA: explicit, nude, and uncensored.
The Fox News segment brought on author Cooper Lawrence, who emphasized the danger of players becoming desensitized to violence and seeing women as objects. The first game allows for the player, as Commander Shepard, to pursue either a heterosexual or an alien romance. The fact that the alien paramour resembles a human woman meant that the game was briefly banned in Singapore. Later, Lawrence admitted that she had seen more graphic love scenes on prime-time shows like Lost. EA demanded that Fox redact its statement–there wasn’t any full-frontal nudity, and it was wrong for the network to suggest otherwise.
If your parents have a problem with interspecies romance or the love scenes you might encounter on any show with a romance subplot, maybe reserve Mass Effect playtime for after the ‘rents go to bed.
Postal didn’t age well
Postal might’ve been a ha-ha funny concept during its 1997 release. The protagonist finds his house repossessed and, like any sane person, snaps and goes on a bloody killing spree that would make the most hardened of serial killers wince. Victims choke on their last breaths and beg for the release of death, all while you, the player, continue to mow down neighbors.
The fact that the game is a top-down shooter does little to separate the player from the stark violence they commit. The main character, named "Postal Dude," believes that some kind of mind-altering drug has been released onto the town, and he’s the one trying to stop the madness. It’s violent, but any chance of Postal being a laugh dies as the Postal Dude approaches a local elementary school (only to realize that he’s gone mad, and this is all in his head).
Needless to say, the game hasn’t aged well. Although Postal Dude finds that his imaginary weapons have no effect on the kids playing at recess, it’s still not a good look. Postal is the poster child for the hackneyed debate about video games causing violent behavior, but considering the game’s ending at the elementary school, it’s not a title kids — or anyone — should play in the wake of the last few years.
South Park: The Fractured but Whole is concentrated controversy
Like The Stick of Truth before it, South Park: The Fractured but Whole takes everything that a parent would gasp or roll their eyes at and condenses it into a generally well-received game. Although the game stars fourth graders who have traded their fantasy obsession for superhero fanaticism, the whole of the game is centered around the kind of edgy, shock-value humor that South Park has perfected. And fart jokes, can’t forget the fart jokes.
As The New Kid, the player’s main offensive attack is farting. Their required tragic backstory is the fact that they catch their parents having sex while they’re forced to listen as they fight rats in the walls of their home. They then have to fight their way through various enemies, including but not limited to: priests who turn out to be pedophiles, sex workers who are pimp-slapped into submission, and the usual amount of meth tweakers you can expect to find in a South Park game.
As with any South Park episode, nothing is sacred. There are very few encounters that don’t have some amount of racial tension, sexual innuendo, or casual anti-semitism that would make the most laissez-faire of parents concerned.
Saw is a sadomasochist’s dream
Have you ever wanted to place yourself inside the Saw universe? There you are at the mercy of a capricious cancer patient who’s determined that horrific physical and psychological torture is the only way in which people — who have wasted their lives with silly things like grieving lost loved ones and depression — can really appreciate the gift of life.
You probably (hopefully) haven’t. Even so, the folks at Zombie Studios saw fit to give gamers the chance to see if they would be able to survive and escape the demented puzzles of the infamous Jigsaw Killer. This 2009 survival horror game places players in the shoes of Detective David Tapp. It’s something of a quick and dirty version of all the worst of what the series has to offer. You get to relive the movies through Detective Tapp’s eyes as he struggles through Jigsaw’s booby-trapped asylum. You get to watch people get twisted, impaled, shot, sewn up, and torn open. It’s a fun time, if you’re a sadist like the Jigsaw Killer.
As with the movies, maybe try not to let on how much fun you have wading through the guts and gore of a game like Saw. It’s concerning to say the least if the snap of a beartrap makes you giggle.