6 Games Where You Play as the Bad Guy

Sometimes being the good guy is a little boring, especially when it comes to a medium that lets you live out an escapist fantasy like video games. In recent years, developers have embraced that mindset, diversifying their protagonists to be more morally grey, with some games even putting you in the shoes of the bad guys instead of heroes.

To celebrate that different perspective, we’ve compiled a list of ten games that where you play as the bad guy.

And even though it doesn’t really matter to a rule breaker like you, we did want to warn you that the following article contains spoilers for the some of the games involved, including how they end. Skip over sections that you don’t want to be spoiled on.

Vito Scaletta – Mafia 2

Mafia 2

No one that goes into the criminal underworld can be classified as a good guy, no matter how charming they may be with the ladies. Even by Mafia standards, though, Mafia 2 protagonist Vito Scaletta is not only a bad guy but a lousy friend.

Throughout the game, Vito Scaletta and Joe Barbaro work together, carrying out hits and doing jobs for the Mafia to rise through the ranks. The two are thick as thieves throughout the entirety of Mafia II, or so we thought.

At the end of the game, players fight alongside Joe to try and survive the mess they find themselves in. It is soon revealed that Carlo attempted to have Joe kill Vito, offering him the position of caporegime if he went through with it.

Joe refuses, and the two barely survive the ensuing firefight, with just about everyone now wanting to kill them as a result of it. When Vito is given an out, he takes it, dooming his friend in the process.

The game ends with Joe being driven away to an unknown – likely grim – fate. That means that right after your best friend chooses friendship over business, you do the exact opposite.

The Overlord – Overlord

Overlord, Bad Guy

After a long slumber, you are awakened from your tomb by two companions. They help you suit up and reclaim your old base of operations.

Now, this has the makings of a game about a gallant knight and his friends taking back the kingdom from evil, right? Well, if you paid attention to the title whatsoever, you’d know that Overlord is actually the exact opposite of that premise.

In this action RPG, Players take control of the titular Overlord, using their influence over lesser beings, gremlin-like creatures known as Minions, to conquer the kingdom it once ruled.

Players are given a choice to be evil or really evil, building on the corruption that humankind has already got started for you.

Bowser – Mario and Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story

Mario and Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story

For almost every single game in the Mario series, Bowser serves as the main bad guy. Whether he is kidnapping princesses or trying to beat everyone in a go-kart race, the Mario brothers try to best him at every turn.

That isn’t the case in Mario and Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story, though. In this Nintendo DS title, the brothers must team up with Bowser to solve an issue that threatens the entire kingdom. You trade-off between playing as Mario and Luigi – who were accidentally inhaled by Bowser – and the King Koopa himself.

The game uses the same turn-based style as previous iterations in the Mario & Luigi series, with the added perk of getting to feel the power of playing as Bowser in the overworld section.

Jackie Estacado – The Darkness

When you’re adopted from an orphanage at the age of 12 by a mob boss, it’d be pretty hard to live life on the straight and narrow. Add an ancient death demon that possesses you to consume souls to the mix, and you can see why Jackie Estacado would turn out as a bad guy.

As the main protagonist of both titles in The Darkness series, players see that while he may have noble intentions when it comes to his family and friends, Jackie is ruthless to those who cross him.

Throughout both titles, Estacado goes on a slew of killing sprees, fueled by his lust for revenge and power.

To reach his goals, he uses the darkness in sadistic ways. Those powers include levitation, black hole conjuration, and a lot of different attacks that come from the two serpent-like heads that protrude from Jackie’s back to get that revenge, killing anyone that is in the way.

This is definitely one guy you don’t want to come across in a dark alley.

James Earl Cash – Manhunt

bad guy, manhunt

Are you really the bad guy when all you’re doing is punishing other criminals for their wrongdoings? Well, when you’re a death row inmate like James Earl Cash, who revels in violence, then the answer is a resounding yes.

After somehow waking up after his scheduled execution, Cash awakes to a mysterious man called The Director. It turns out that the inmate wasn’t given a lethal inject, but was simply sedated.

The Director promises Cash his freedom, but only if he murders gang members as a part of some sick CCTV experiment. What follows is a litany of gruesome executions and twisted plot developments, setting the player-controlled Cash on a warpath fueled by revenge.

The crimes you commit in Manhunt are reprehensible, still standing out to this day as some of the most graphic content ever on display in video games.

Starkiller – Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, bad guy

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is one of the few installments in any part of the franchise that puts an immediate focus on what would happen if the Dark Side raised a child.

Known as Starkiller, the player controls that child, now an adult, and gets to wield Dark Side powers in an action-adventure game that is all about destroying anything in your way.

Just about every force power in the book is used, from choking to lightning. Enemies can even be lifted like rag dolls and thrown all over the place.

The story eventually sees Starkiller explore his past, which leads to the usual Star Wars question of light versus dark. While the canon ending leans toward the light, that doesn’t mean you can embrace your bad guy habits.

The player is given a choice to revert back to the dark side at the end of the game, rewriting the lore by killing Darth Vader and becoming Palpatine’s new apprentice.

About the author

Andrew McMahon

Andrew was Twinfinite's Features Editor from 2020 through until March 2023 and wrote for the site from 2018. He has wandered around with a Bachelor's Degree in Communications sitting in his back pocket for a while now, all the while wondering what he is going to do for a career. Luckily, video games have always been there, especially as his writing career progresses.