As Fallout jumped to the third dimension it left behind a lot of its edge. Chalk it up to changing developers, or just the collective calming down that was culture exiting the 90s. Given some of the cringe-worthy elements of the first two games -- we'll get to you, Myron -- it was probably, mostly, for the best.
That doesn't mean Fallout doesn't get up to some freaky stuff on occasion. It just usually leans more toward the grotesque than the uncomfortable. Such is the case with Blood Ties, a cannibal-centric quest from Fallout 3.
The quest kicks off with you discovering a matching set of dead parents whose necks have been chewed off, and mostly just gets worse from there. The duo, you see, wasn't attacked by killer mutant bears or giant asshole wasps. They were killed by their own son, another adolescent lawbreaker of the post-nuclear world.
Our culprit, Ian West, orphaned himself and his older sister Lucy West by virtue of his uncontrollable bloodlust. After learning that he was "different" from most folks, Ian shacked up with a subterranean faction known as The Family. This being hundreds of years after the fall of civilization we can perhaps assume that "The Family" didn't sound like the creepiest goddamn thing you could possibly call an underground cult to Ian's young ears.
The Family, as you might have guessed, are cannibals. Their leader, thinking that vampires were somehow more acceptable than people who just eat each other for the hell of it, convinced his troupe that they were indeed creatures of the night. This allowed them to both drink human blood without having to tear into someone, and apparently feel much better about doing it.
What's truly creepy about this quest is how it equates cannibalism in the post-apocalypse to something genetic. It could just be a fabulously misguided metaphor on the part of a certain writer, or it could imply that by the time of Fallout 3 eating thy neighbor is actually becoming a viable next step in human evolution.
Even more-so than Fallout 3, New Vegas wasn't really in the habit of turning up the creep factor. Not because it lacked punch, but because New Vegas more than any other Fallout game worked in the moral grey. Caesar's Legion were jerks, but they were pretty accepting jerks. The New California Republic offered stability, but also deployed more nepotism than a Bush family militia. Etcetera, etcetera.
Luckily there's always Vault-Tec to provide some convenient amoral antics. Enter Vault 11, and its corresponding quest -- Democracy Inaction.
The events within the bunker are as complicated as they are horrific. Like something out of The Twilight Zone, the inhabitants were forced to sacrifice one of their own each year, or else they would all be killed by the facility's computer. The population put the sacrifice up to a popular vote, giving their soon-to-be-victim powers of government as Overseer. The sacrificial-elect would then walk into a special chamber and watch a nice movie while being murdered by deathbots.
Like any good democracy, the system was immediately abused to subjugate minority parties to the benefit of the few. One such mistreated individual was Katherine Stone. The ruling party, the Justice Bloc, extorted "sexual favors" from Katherine on the threat that her husband, Nate, would otherwise be elected. When she complied, the Justice Bloc turned on Kate's husband just the same, sending her on a righteous murder spree through the committees' members.
When Mrs. Stone was caught, she confessed immediately. But even that was part of her revenge plot. As a confirmed murderer Katherine was immediately elected for sacrificial-- as well as Overseer -- status. Her first act in office? To abolish the vote, and to draw sacrifices by lottery like a civilized government.
Finally darting out from behind the skirts of a corrupt law, the Justice Bloc showed its true colors. They organized a coup against Katherine that killed all but five of the Vault's dwellers. When this handful of hangers-on refused to sacrifice any more of their number it was revealed that the Vault's entire gimmick was a trick. By refusing to make a "donation," they had proved their humanity, and unsealed the bunker.
But the four skeletons strewn across the entrance imply that most of them didn't make it out into the Mojave Wasteland.
Listening to the recording at the entrance reveals the last moments of the Final Five, who are ashamed of their past words and deeds. Together they've made a suicide pact, what they see as a fitting punishment for playing along with Vault-Tec's sick game. We hear four gunshots, and then a sigh, followed by the gun dropping to the ground. Sounds like someone might have made it out to tell the tale.