Science, the most difficult of the arts. We are trained from toddlerhood to respect and fear the products of scientific advancement, such as the selfie sticks or mechanical pencil. The unsurpassed boffins who create such devices are worthy of admiration. But there is one realm in which science is not such a gentle guardian of the people. That’s right, it’s videogames. In games, scientists are treacherous, evil, stupid, murderous or some genetic concoction of all the above. Here are the 9 worst scientists in PC games.
Dr Casper Darling - Control
Dr Darling is the spectacle-wearer who appears in the crackly, live-action science vids you find throughout the brutalist government building you're investigating in Control. It’s not the concrete-demolishing action sequences that drive the player through this superpower-fuelled shooter (although they help) but rather the funny videos of Darling, the hapless lab-coated theorist trying to poke and prod the phenomena around him, even if said phenomena are an existential threat to humanity. He is a scientist in the traditional Icarus mold. He flies too close to the giant intradimensional ghost-pyramid, and his noggin melts. Yet still he pokes. Stop poking, Casper, you are only making things worse.
The Birkins - Resident Evil 2
The quintessential virologist power couple. William and Annette Birkin are simultaneously the brightest minds of Umbrella Corp and the worst parents in Raccoon City. They have developed a virus that miraculously restores eyesight (to shoulders) but, oops, it also turns humans into flesh-eating zombies. And they forgot to send their own daughter, little Sherry Birkin, to a safe boarding school in Canada when things were getting a bit outbreaky. As the town tumbles into disorder and Big Billy Birko stomps around with a brand new face growing on his neck, Annette tries to burn a woman in an incinerator. They are terrible role models.
Caustic - Apex Legends
This battle royale’s toxic token male is famous for being a 14-year-old Linkin Park fan with a false beard and some stilts, but aside from that indisputable fact he is also a fan of science. Most pressingly, gas science. He is keen to use the deadly arena as a giant laboratory in which to test the effects of his noxious vapours on human lungs. Invariably, he does this by barricading himself into a tiny shack and blocking the doors with barrel-sized gas traps. But sometimes he uses a toilet.
Mordin Solus - Mass Effect 2
The very model of a scientist Salarian! That is to say: a fascist. Oh, don’t give me that look, as if this big-eyed buddy of yours is a reformed goodie with his heart in the right place and a streak of firm loyalty to his captain and crewmates. Mordin Solus is a war criminal. He’s a eugenicist who performed a planet-wide sterilisation program. You don’t get to “redemptive character beat” your way out of that. Bring this shitheel to the Hague.
Black Mesa scientists - Half-Life
Ineptitude in a white coat, exemplified by this dopey duo who guide Gordon “Highly Trained Professional” Freeman through a dangerous procedure despite several glaring hints that this experiment is unsafe and ill-advised. They put their qualms aside because of a visit from a mysterious “administrator” and famously judge notable discrepancies as “well within acceptable bounds”. This is like if CERN’s scientists listened to their pushy marketing team who kept telling them to make a black hole because it’d be “great for the numbers”.
The Medic - Team Fortress 2
An effective healer with a strong Dr Strangelove vibe and a deep appreciation for hiding behind other, bigger men. You may push your glasses up your nose and snort that, actually, the Medic is a very good scientist, he heals bullet wounds with a cursory glance, he transforms people into bulletproof war heroes. Well, slide those glasses right back down your nose, sunshine. It is clear from the start this doc has no clue what he’s doing. He is an unqualified quack. Like his pigeon mascots, he is completely winging it. Even if it works, that is not good science.
You - Molek-Syntez
Molek-Syntez is a zachlike puzzler that puts you in the dusty boots of a black market chemist. A puzzle game about synthesising dugs with little machines. You will start to feel a gnawing unease as you work your way from the nice happy drugs like Nitrous Oxide to dubious compounds like Mustard Gas and Sarin. Is this what you ought to be doing? Is it right to be creating these substances? Don’t worry. Your moral hand-wringing doesn’t really matter. At this point, you won’t be able to figure out the solution anyway. You become dumbfounded, the videogaming inversion of Jurassic Park’s dinosaur geneticists. Too preoccupied with whether or not you should, you didn’t stop to think if you could.
It's you - Oxygen Not Included
Once more your scientific credentials come into question, as you try to sort out multiple dangerous gas leaks in this asteroid settlement sim. This game will challenge your ability to track several systems of toxic and non-toxic matter at once. Do you know how to separate clean and contaminated water sources? Do you know how to control the pressure of various unstable gases? Are you aware there is a corpse floating in the reservoir? Well, there is. It would be helpful if you were better at this.
You are the worst scientist - Kerbal Space Program
To lose one astronaut is unfortunate. To lose 17 is an inquiry.
One Off The List from… the best nights out
Last week we went out on the town, with the 9 best nights out in PC games. But some returned from one night with frowns and disappointed sighs. It’s… The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
"[It] is not a night out," says list wrangler "Coming Second" (ugh) arguing that Geralt and the gang be disqualified. "It’s profoundly a night in. In their old ruined school many miles away from anywhere, Gerald and pals have nothing to do except get completely rat-arsed with each other. That they eventually drunkenly attempt to summon girls to them speaks to the faint and all-too-familiar desperation of the scenario."
Speak for yourself! Wayooo. Lads! Lads! Lads! All right, simmer down. See you all next week, list scum.