The beauty of video games, particularly those where players can be whoever they want and behave however they want, is that they are free of consequences. In an ideal world, gamers could immerse themselves in a world different from their reality, finding ancient loot and making off with their rightful treasure scot-free.


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Alas, some games have dire consequences for those that want to dabble in thievery. These seven games all treat thieving players with varying levels of disdain, from publicly shaming and embarrassing them for their petty crimes to launching into a sudden, intensely-difficult boss fight with their demise almost assured. These games definitely ensure that the punishment does not befit the crime and actively serves to deter players from stealing.

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7 Spelunky

Throughout the world of Spelunky, various shopkeepers stock some much-needed items for players on their adventures. If the shopkeepers feel threatened by the player’s actions, they become slightly twitchy with their trigger fingers.

If players steal from them, use their whip, or some environmental damage happens near the NPC shopkeeper, the shopkeeper will retaliate with brute force. Even if the player is not necessarily at fault! All other shopkeepers on the same Spelunky run will react similarly, so it’s best not to make an enemy out of them.

6 BioShock

Fort Frolic in the original BioShock is Rapture’s main entertainment and shopping district; every thief’s dream! Players may be used to spam-picking up every item that crosses their path without a care in the world, but they should be cautious when exploring this BioShock environment.

Store display windows are dotted around Fort Frolic, often with valuable items like Medkits close enough to grasp. If these windows are broken, even by accident, a security system alarm will be activated, sending machine-gun-equipped drones after them. Sometimes the temptation just isn’t worth it.

5 NieR: Automata

Emil in NieR: Automata seems pleasant and innocent enough at his shop, eager to sell the player new weapons. If the player steals from him once, this theft is noted by Emil and upsets him. When the player visits him again, he will mention that there was a break-in and that he has increased his security measures.

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These security measures are not to be trifled with. If a theft happens again on a separate occasion, Emil will launch the player into an immediate boss battle; one of the hardest in NieR: Automata. This is almost a guaranteed instant death unless the player has extensively prepared for this scenario.

4 Postal 2

Postal 2 highlights how trigger-happy the in-game residents can be and how even in-game crimes have consequences. At the beginning of the game, players are tasked with picking up a carton of goat’s milk from the Lucky Ganesh store. Seems innocent enough, right?

The player can then decide if they want to be a lawful citizen, queue in-line, pay the five dollars for the milk, or attempt to shoplift it and use their five-fingered discount. If they decide to steal the milk, the shop’s shutters will instantly close, and the shop’s owner will open fire on the player with his automatic rifle!

3 Fallout 4

Stealing is a skill that can be leveled up in Bethesda’s most recent addition to the Fallout franchise, Fallout 4. But strangely enough, theft is still frowned upon. Items belonging to another character will be shown in red, which can be stolen and hidden in the player’s inventory. This has a better success rate if the player is crouching.

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Players with loyal followers accompanying them on their travels may find that their opinion of them is lowered after watching them steal. If players are caught stealing in an inhabited town or city, local guards may open fire and empty rounds into them without question. Who says life is precious in a post-apocalyptic universe anyway.

Like the previous Bethesda entry, Fallout 4, Skyrim also has punishments in place for criminals and petty theft. All the major towns in Skyrim have guards constantly patrolling and keeping a watchful eye over their surroundings. If the guards spot the Dragonborn stealing and dipping their hands into other people’s pockets, they will immediately accost them, informing them that they need to pay a fine or face some jail time.

Either way, the stolen goods are forfeited. The player may believe that they have got away with their crime unscathed. But shopkeepers may eventually realize their wares have been stolen and send a gang of bounty hunters after the player!

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is excellent at teaching one of life’s most important lessons: do not steal, and it does this in the most shaming yet hilarious way possible. If players steal from the Tool Shop in Mabe Villager, a message will pop up saying the player got this item for free before asking: “Are you proud of yourself?” Way to get players to question their moral compass!

The player’s character will then be branded and renamed “THIEF” by all the NPCs as a permanent reminder of their crimes. There is no escape from public shaming and embarrassment. On top of this, if players attempt to re-enter the Tool Shop, the shopkeeper will kill them without pause, resulting in an immediate Game Over.

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