If video games are meant to do one thing, they’re meant to make us feel. A rollercoaster of emotions tend to be what we remember when we look back on some of our favourite titles, and nothing brings back the memories like the games that gave us the feels. Here’s just a few titles that tug on those old heart-strings – needless to say this article is rotten with spoilers.
The Last of Us
Talk about a sucker punch right out of the gates. The Last of Us shocked just about everybody with the sheer turmoil in its opening sequence. Players were forgiven for thinking that the girl depicted on the cover art for Last of Us was in fact Joel’s daughter Sarah, who you play as at the start. After establishing a heartfelt father-daughter bond between Joel and Sarah, Naughty Dog proceed to have the young Sarah shot and killed.
That absolute trauma is only the start of a torrid journey through the post-apocalyptic world of Last of Us as so many beloved characters shine bright before being snuffed out mercilessly. Come to think of it, did George R. R. Martin have a hand in writing the script?
Metal Gear Solid 3
MGS 3 isn’t a particularly sad game in itself. In fact stealthy, shooty, Hideo Kojima nonsense is the order of the day for the most part, but the revelation of The Boss’ backstory brought a tear to many eyes back in 2004. Most believed her to be a traitor to the US, including her protégé and friend Naked Snake. After a tense and pretty tricky boss fight, Naked Snake prevails and The Boss goes down for the count. He doesn’t find out until after he kills the person he’s looked up to for most of his career, that she was under orders from the US government and never truly defected to the Soviets.
Not only has Snake killed his mentor, but the world would always recognise her as a war criminal and an instigator of nuclear fallout. Many manly tears were shed when snake salutes The Boss’ grave before continuing with his duty.
The Walking Dead
Nobody is safe in The Walking Dead TV series, equally, nobody is safe in Telltale’s The Walking Dead. Not even you.
And by you, I mean Lee, the protagonist of the game. Playing through story driven horror games, there’s always the niggling thought at the back of your head that shit might eventually hit the fan, and your character will bite the bullet. But nine times out of ten, you scrape through miraculously. Not Lee. Not this time.
The Walking Dead is fraught with death. But the death of Lee is by far the hardest, as you fight so hard to keep Clem safe only to succumb right at the very end.
To The Moon
Widely considered to be one of the saddest games ever made, To The Moon is set in a world where memories are fabricated for those who are dying in order to smooth over any regrets people have on their deathbeds. The entire game takes place within the memory of Johnny, who lost his twin when he was a child. His mother gave him blockers to suppress this memory, but it ends up leading Johnny to forget meeting his wife River at a carnival and falling in love under the moon.
As if that wasn’t sad enough, when River falls ill and dies, Johnny is still unable to remember their first meeting but is left with an unquenchable desire to go to the moon. The game ends with scientists creating this memory for Johnny as he passes away, and the game closes with his fake memory of reaching the moon. Deep.
Shadow of the Colossus
Like Metal Gear Solid 3, Shadow of the Colossus isn’t an inherently sad game. It tackles the frailties of life and death and the concept of good and evil. Not bad for a game with next to no voice acting.
You play as Wander, a young man tasked by a demigod named Dormin with killing sixteen mysterious giants known only as ‘Colossi’, in order to save your dying spouse Emon. Little do you know that Dormin is actually evil, and the Colossi each protect a piece of his soul to stop him reaching full power and unleashing his hate onto the world.
Dormin’s soul completely enters Wander when he defeats the last Colossi and he goes on a rampage, but is eventually defeated and Dormin banished. As Emon regains health, Wander dies and is re-birthed as a baby, never to have the reunion with her that he fought for and Emon never to know his sacrifice.
Many players mourned the death of Wander’s horse Agro, who falls to it’s death attempting to save Wander’s life. Agro is your faithful companion for the entire game, being your only means of traversing the massive landscapes. What makes the game worse though, is the fact that the Colossi all look so sad. Towards the end of the game you begin to get a feeling that you might be killing for the wrong reasons, and it becomes quite depressing as you’re forced to kill these peaceful giants.