Shin Megami Tensei: a Game of Consequences
Gods and Alignments
In 1992 Japan released an interesting game named Shin Megami Tensei. In the game you play an ordinary human who receives the ability to summon gods and deities through your wrist. These gods, referred to as demons in Shin Megami Tensei, give you magical abilities that you utilize when you try to survive in a world that was slowly succumbing to a monstrous and chaotic alteration due to divine influences. What made Shin Megami Tensei uniques for a video game was that rather than pick a side of good or evil, the character was forced to pick law, chaos, or neutral, all with their benefits and consequences. Becoming an ally of Law made you an ally to the forces of Heaven and order, but you are forced to smite and enforce that order on all beings, even if they gave reasonable arguments against your actions. Becoming an ally of Chaos made you an ally to the forces of Hell and anarchy, but you fight for absolute freedom from all forms of order. And when you decide to be Neutral you have to fight both of the forces of Law and Chaos, but for the sake of preventing the world from changing even more than it did when diving forces intervened.
Forcing Law and Order
One of the alignments that the player can choose in Shin Megami Tensei is referred to as Law. Consisting of of a cult called the Order of Messiah, members referred to as Messians, and deities of good or pious origins. During the events of Shin Megami Tensei a nuclear holocaust occurs due to a divine intervention and as a result the Order of Messiah becomes one of the major factions to appear. Their belief in the game was that humanity as a whole had to give-up their freedom and submit to their god, the Old Testament interpretation of God, and follow their way of thinking to be saved. Basically if you believe in what they believed wholeheartedly, then you would find sanctuary and salvation, but if you disagreed on any the smallest of levels, you deserved to be forsaken or struck-down. One of your allies before your world was decimated, identified as the Law Hero, agrees with the Order of Messiah and eventually the angels of this game literally give the Law Hero the title of Messiah and the powers that that title implies. Siding with this organization brings consequences to your character as well. You essentially help the forces of Heaven reduce humanity's independence into a groveling shell of its former self, murder anyone who opposed your side, and only make the world better for anyone who agreed with you. And as bad as the forces of Chaos are presented, the Order of Messiah was presented as bad in its own way.
Survival of the Fittest
During the decimation of your character's home due to a nuclear holocaust another organization arrives and tries to recruit your character and his friends. Called the Ring of Gaea, its members referred to as Gaeans, their belief was that now that the old order of the world was gone, humans had the right to make the world bend to their will, take what can be taken by their own power, and put down anyone who would dare defy them. Basically survival-of-the-fittest. Like the Order of Messiah, the Ring of Gaea had deities on their side, but their deities consisted of actual demons, deities who served as the enemies of more pious deities, and entities associated with destruction and anarchy. At face value siding with the forces of Chaos and the Gaeans in Shin Megami Tensei is more overt in its negativity. you had to side with beings various religions dictated very very bad allies, you had to deal with the fact that committing murder was your first choice, and at the end of the game all forms of order that your character experienced before the destruction of society that existed would never exist in the world you were responsible of helping shape.
Take a Third Option
One of the more appealing aspects in the Shin Megami Tensei franchise was the option to pick a side that was not completely good, nor completely bad. Deemed the Neutral side, it essentially consists of your character attempting to rebuild the world until it is as close to normal as it could be before the nuclear holocaust destroyed it. In the first game this included killing your former allies from the Law and Chaos forces. The Neutral side was the player's way of saying that humanity can get out of this problem on their own and humanity as a whole does not need the intervention from some god or demon. While this side does not fight for any divine forces in the the original Shin Megami Tensei game, sequels usually involve divine entities who share in the player's wish to let humanity keep its collective autonomy. And even if the world does not miraculously fix itself, humanity will simply rebuild everything with its own hands and will manage to govern itself.
Pick Your Poison
Shin Megami Tensei was a game where your choices always included consequences. Pick the side of Law and judge everybody who even slightly disagrees with you. Pick the side of Chaos and murder those who dare stop you from gaining anything. Pick the side of Neutrality and fight both sides, but at least the world will not turn into something uninhabitable for normal humans. Shin Megami Tensei was an interesting game to play when you factor the choices and consequences the game provided.