WARNING – If you have not played Mass Effect 3 or The Walking Dead: Season 2 then please do not continue to read on. There will be some pretty major spoilers. Consider yourself warned.
While playing The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 5 a couple of weeks ago, I had a really tough and just about heart breaking decision to make. That decision was whether or not to kill Kenny. In the end I did, and I’ll get to why I did it later, but it made me wonder, when given the choice should some video game characters die?
The first instance of this occurred to me while playing Mass Effect 3. As Commander Shepard you have to make some pretty tough choices, but none were as tough as deciding the fate of one of my all time favorite characters Mordin. You meet Mordin in Mass Effect 2 and learn that he is one of the scientists that created the genophage. He did something pretty horrible, creating this disease that is causing the Krogan to not reproduce properly making their numbers go down. He did what he thought was right at the time, but as Shepard you can bring out a human side of Mordin. Help him work through his flaws and even show him what he did was wrong. Out of all the characters in the Mass Effect Universe, Mordin is the one who grows the most. The one who learns and the one who wants to redeem himself.
In Mass Effect 3 when you get the chance to actually cure the genophage I was all for it. I wanted to right this wrong and restore life to the Korgan. Everything was going well too, until it came down to the fact that if the genophage was cured it would mean that Mordin had to die. I struggled with this decision. I had no idea what to do. On one hand I wanted to cure the genophage, but on the other I didn’t want Mordin to die.
In the end, I let Mordin go up the tower and cure the genophage. Mordin died doing this, but it was the right choice. It was also the perfect ending for his character. He created the genophage and then he died curing it. I could have kept him alive and not cure the genophage, or I could have even shot him myself, but none of them felt right. Mordin going out the hero was the right thing to do. He had to die in order for his character to come full circle. It was one of the toughest decisions I ever had to make in a video game and when Mordin died, I cried. I cried for the character that I lost and I cried because it was the perfect ending for him and he came out the hero.
The most recent example of this was while playing the final episode of The Walking Dead Season 2. I once again had to make the decision of whether or not a character had to die. Playing as Clem I had the heart breaking decision to make. Should I shoot and kill Kenny or should I look away and let him kill Jane? Kenny and Clem had been through so much and I was so excited when I seen Kenny make a reappearance in season 2 after thinking that he had died in season 1.
The first thing I did when I seen Kenny was hug him and then that night I sat with him at dinner. I defended his actions to just about everyone, but when it came down to it at the end I shot him. It took me a while to come to this decision. I even paused the game and actually thought about what I was doing. I realized that this wasn’t the same Kenny that I had once known. This was a broken man who had everything taken away from him. Everything. Unlike Clem, his losses didn’t make him stronger. Each death was a reminder of what he didn’t do right and how he couldn’t protect the people that he loved.
Yes, it was extremely shitty what Jane did, but it proved a point. Kenny was no longer the strong leader that he once was. He was unstable, a ticking time bomb. Shooting him was the right thing to do. It was an extremely sad thing to do, but seeing the road he was going down and seeing what his character was becoming was even sadder. I want to make it clear though that I didn’t shoot him because he was sad and broken. This wasn’t Kenny and I wanted him to die with whatever dignity that he had left. This decision hurt and after pressing the square button, I cried. I absolutely hated doing this, but it was the right choice.
Final verdict? When given the choice, should video game characters die? Yes, if it makes sense for the story and if it’s the right thing to do for the character. These two character deaths weren’t taken lightly and I didn’t kill them for the hell of it. The deaths of these two characters happened at the right time and were the proper way to end their stories. Not all characters are meant to survive and not all endings can be happy ones.