I have a couple thoughts/stories on this (First post so please let me know if I mess anything up, I will delete/edit/apologize as needed).
I first wanted to tell the story of when I first played Metro 2033. So, I was still in high school and I was mostly playing Metro because I liked all the little “immersive” mechanics, like having a hand charger for your flashlight, seeing the actual number of bullets in a clip and if you didn’t have enough bullets the clip would only be half full when you put it in and dealing with gas mask filters. I didn’t really pay attention to the story, years of playing shooter games with half-baked stories had taught me not to play attention. So when I finished the game I firmly believe that “nuking the bad guys” was a good thing to have done. It wasn’t until I watched a critical Let’s Play several years later that I learned about this hidden mechanic and another ending. I imagine if they had allowed that ending without requiring the player to actually engage in the world and be open-minded though various sections of game play, I probably would have just chosen not to nuke them because “Oh, if the game is giving me the option to not nuke them then that’s probably the right option!” Also, replaying the game, I was surprised by the amount of depth the game had, like, spiritually. In the metro universe the afterlife was literally destroyed in the nuclear holocaust, leaving shadows of those who’ve passed left lingering i n the tunnels continually reliving the moments of their death.
Speaking of Obsidian, I played Tyranny last year. This is a game where you are a part of a world conquering empire. It’s hard to describe your actual role in the empire, but your character probably isn’t a “good person” if they have that job. You play what’s called, I think, a fatebinder? You basically enforce Kyros’, the emperor’s, laws in newly conquered lands. So going in to the game I intended to compromise my morals in order to roleplay this character. So for set up, you enter Tyranny, make your character, and participate in the subjugation of the last free part of the world during a beautifully rendered kind series of choices, (no combat). Inside the empire there are various factions that are vassals of Kyros that compete to govern/control new territories. Here in the Tiers, the name of this newly conquered region, there are two factions within the empire who desire this land, the Disfavored and the Scarlet Horde. The Disfavored are well trained and take slaves of those they conquer, vaguely Roman, I’d say. The Scarlet Horde force those they conquer into conscripting, and what they lack in skill they make up for in numbers. “Wow,” I thought to myself, “I hate both of these groups. Great!” So again, I went into the game with the goal of forcing myself to… be terrible, that seemed like what the game wanted.
Here’s what happened: After being conquered the locals of the Tiers started rebelling, it was multiple uncoordinated rebellions in each of the various regions of the Tiers. And I found myself just wanting to save lives. So when I had them surrounded I would let the rebels go. The specific way that my orders were worded allowed me to show leniency.
And by taking my orders in their broadest context I started siding with the rebels. In order to do this I had to have the rebels swear fealty to me. But I believed I could unite the various rebel factions,
defeat the empire factions (but not fight the empire itself) and achieve some local autonomy for the people of the Tiers. I don’t want to go in to the specifics of how the magic system in this game kinda works, but very briefly your renown, what people believe you can do, actually gives you power (that’s one of the reasons the emperor is so powerful). So in the final moments of the game, after exploiting legal loopholes in the commands I was given to achieve my goals WITHOUT compromising my beliefs I had enough power to actually confront Kyros, but I chose not to. Kyros,
worried that I was about to rebel had sent an army to attack my holdings, but I reaffirmed my fealty to Kyros. I, the player, know that empires tend to fall to internal conflicts, and it’s possible that I could have been that conflict. But I just couldn’t do it. I don’t like Kyros, but I was apprehensive about pitting my war torn depleted lands against the might of the rest of the world. And the game does a lot to give context to this choice, suggesting that one rebellion here might lead to rebellions in other areas, etc. Anyway long story short I basically found a way to keep true to my morals as best as one could in this situation. I later watch a critique of Tyranny from someone who did compromise their morals and sided with the Disfavored the first time they played and had a miserable time (Noah Caldwell-Gervais on youtube!).
One last thing I wanted to say (I wrote too much already) I like Dragon Age 2, a lot. It’s my favorite DA game just because it bring so much context to the mage/templar conflict which DA:I is able to build upon very well. It’s a hot mess though.