OK, so game worlds aren’t meant to be nice places full of kitten tails and rainbows, and if they didn’t test you, you’d get bored really quick. But some game worlds are outright cruel and unusual, and we’ve put together a list of ten of the worst places you could find yourself if you hopped dimensions into one of your favourite adventures.
THE NORTHERN KINGDOMS (THE WITCHER)
Let’s be honest, the world of the Witcher does have its appeal. Sex on the back of unicorns and the option to major in magic would be worth taking a few risks for, but the counter-balance to this, of course, is the ridiculous mortality rate. You can’t go fishing without a bunch of Drowners trying to live up to their name, griffins prowl the skies, beautiful women turn out to be murderous grave hags in disguise and as for travelling cross-country? Forget it. The packs of rabid wolves you’ll encounter roughly every hundred yards are going to put a crimp on anyone’s camping plans. Not to mention that fact that every third tree is decorated with swinging corpses. It might well look beautiful at sunset, but Timuria is an utter nightmare.
SEVASTOPOL STATION (ALIEN: ISOLATION)
OK, so it’s bad enough the artificial people have gone haywire and started murdering their makers. I mean, that’s horrific, but probably signposted quite blatantly by existential theory, the dangers of AI and playing God, blah, blah, blah. It’s already hard enough to stay alive aboard the USS thingy, without adding a skull-biting xenomorph to the equation. All the engineering know-how in the world isn’t going to make you a physical match for a seven-foot, armour-plated alien killing machine, so even if you avoid the insane simulants, you’re unlikely to make it very far.
TAMRIEL (THE ELDER SCROLLS)
As with the world of the Witcher, the fantasy land of Tamriel is custom built to kill you dead. You can’t step outside in Skyrim without getting eaten by a dragon, stabbed by goblins or clobbered by a troll, and if you DO survive the forna, the icy winds and random blizzards will almost certainly put an end to your breathing in and out plans. Not only that, but Tamriel as a while is beholden to some pretty immature and malevolent Gods who’ll probably squish you just for shits and giggles. The Dragonborn might well be “Chosen”, but the rest of us would be utterly buggered.
LOS SANTOS (GRAND THEFT AUTO V)
Even without venturing online, GTA V’s LA-riffing city is a terrifyingly violent place. Gunfights erupt hourly, hookers are found robbed and beaten, cars are jacked in frightening succession and pedestrians are mowed down like squishy bowling pins all over the city, and that’s just when the protagonist is out for a quick drive. If he’s on mission, watch out: pretty much anyone in the vicinity is going to die in a horrible way for no crime greater than walking up the street while talking on the phone.
THE CAPITAL WASTELAND (FALLOUT 3)
This is a no brainer: you’re going to die here. Deathclaws, Super-mutants, molerats and bandits, radiated puddles, live atomic bombs, wild dogs, killer robots and a totalitarian dictatorship just down the road that keeps turning up to murder you for no good reason. Not to mention that the Wasteland is a wild, hot, barren desert and even if it doesn’t kill you right away, you’re going to see some horrendous stuff before it does.
THE APERTURE SCIENCE TEST LAB (PORTAL)
Yeah, you wake up here, you’re screwed. Even with the portal gun tech and as many Weighted Companion Cubes as you can slide around the place, psychotic AI GladOs is not one to do things by halves. The cake may be a lie, but her contempt for you is real, and the fact that pretty much everything in the test lab is designed to kill or maim you greatly reduces your chances of survival. It also doesn’t help that GladOs constantly refers to your weight, and that’s just mean.
CITY-17 (HALF LIFE 2)
Same universe as Portal’s lab, but much darker, the alien-controlled City 17 is a brutally totalitarian hellscape from which hero-nerd Gordon Freeman must escape in Half Life 2. Massive alien tripods, masked enforcers and headcrabs (eurgh!) are enough to ruin anyone’s day, but the fact that’s it’s taking place in a depressing, barren husk of a dying city makes it all outright miserable. You’ll probably jump off something before anything gets the chance to squish you.
Colourful and diverse, Borderlands Pandora should be a space explorer’s dream, a gateway to endless opportunities and new discoveries. Unfortunately, it’s more of a planet-sized deathtrap. Putting aside the tribal bandit clans who’ll happily pulverise you, burn you, skin you or eat you (or all four, in whichever order), and the gun-happy rednecks who represent Pandora’s civilian populace, and you’ve still got a planet full of monstrous wildlife aching to pull you apart. Bullymongs, skags, threshers, rakks… No corner of Pandora is free from danger. Let’s face it, unless you’re a mental badass yourself, you’ve got no chance.
THE BURNING HELLS (DIABLO)
Goes without saying, this one, doesn’t it? I mean, it’s Hell. The underworld. And not just one, but several. Hells, plural. And not just your average run-of-the-mill Hells, either, but BURNING ones. If you find yourself there, you can’t count the ways in which you’re fucked. Demons, monsters, fallen angels, and all manner of ghastly abominations await you. Yeah, you’re not getting out of that one with any old Bastard Sword of the Bear.
DRANGLEIC (DARK SOULS 2)
This is the ultimate death trap, video game-wise. Not only will Drangleic kill you, it will then bring you back to life and kill you again, and again, and again, until you’re nothing but a Hollow, a broken husk of your former self, maddened by rage and hunger and really dirty nails. At least one death is more or less guaranteed, as you’ll be forced to face off against cottage-sized monsters, dragons and occasional crippling lag. And if they don’t get you, one of the “hilarious” TRY JUMPING HERE signs probably will.