People play games for many reasons. Some to blow some steam off after a hard day’s work. Some to work towards their trophies and achievements for bragging rights, and then some simply to escape into a new world and experience a good story. It is in these story driven games that we have all kinds of emotions being played upon. And, like we have had moments that thrilled us, made us sweat and put a smile on our faces, there have also been times when they made our eyes water up. Here are five such games that reached for our heart and pulled right out of our chest. And we love and remember them for just that. Please note that the below is based on my own experience in games, and some of the popular games may not appear. So, with that out of the way, here is our list, in no particular order.
To say that The Last of Us is not a jolly game will be an understatement. Naughty Dog’s finest game to date was a grim look at a future where survival was tough. Granted all of this was showcased and explained in the trailers and gameplay featurettes prior to release. But nothing prepared me for the first twenty minutes of the game. The prologue sees you witness the outbreak through the eyes of Sarah and her father-and-protagonist Joel. What starts as a warm scene of compassion between father and daughter, then quickly shifts gear as the world around them falls apart while they try to escape the infected. The whole sequence is thrilling and kept us at the edge of the seat, until we get to the end of the level where Sarah falls victim to, not the infected, but the bullet of a healthy, hesitant human soldier. The next minute and a half were the toughest to watch, and not many games can do that to us. This was one hell of a way to begin the game and we love it all the more for it.
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Few death’s in games are as difficult to deal with as that of John Marston’s in the original Red Dead Redemption. One of Rockstar’s best games has you in the shoes of the ill-fated protagonist spending dozens of hours doing the lawmen’s dirty work. Marston himself is flawed and his desire to right his wrongs and redeem himself is admirable. When he does have his redemption and lives an honest life with his family, the very men he worked for come looking for him. What elevates this whole sequence is the fact that you get to play the standoff. But the desperate attempt to take down as many of them as possible goes in vain, as he is riddled with bullets almost immediately. This was truly a gut-wrenching moment, one that a first-time player would have never seen coming.
There can be so much said about Shadow of the Colossus. From its masterful art design to the amazing score, to the simple yet robust gameplay mechanics, the game was a masterpiece. And, driving all of this was the story of the game, where you play as Wander, who seeks help from an entity named Dormin in order to bring a dead girl back to life, regardless of the cost. Armed with just a bow and arrow, a magic sword and your trusty horse Agro, you set out to do Dormin’s dirty work. Just before getting to the 16h colossi, Agro saves your life, sacrificing himself in the process by falling down a collapsing bridge. This moment is sad enough. But the real gut punch comes after completing the task of slaying all sixteen colossi, where we the player witness perhaps the saddest endings in all of gaming. Dormin is released and chooses Wander as his host, but is put to rest just in time, turning Wander into a baby. And all of this just before the girl comes back to life to find Wander in his baby form. The only comforting thing here is that Agro makes it back alive to the temple. I was not sure if I should be happy for Agro or sad for Wander, but the whole ordeal was less than easy to get through.
Telltales games’ The Walking Dead set a new standard back in it’s time. And season one still remains the best to date, which is telling something. This was one of those games that kept me thinking for a couple of days after I had finished the last episode of season one. Lee and Clementine’s adventures were filled with powerful moments throughout their journey. But perhaps the toughest moment was at the end of season one. After Lee gets bit and cuts his own hand off to slow down the process of him turning into a walker, Lee and Clem face the fact that Lee will eventually get there. Concerned about Clementine’s safety Lee handcuffs himself and offers the proposition of either killing himself or have Clem do it for him. This was a point in the game where we knew that any option we choose would result in Lee’s death. The last few words spoke between the two before the trigger is pulled only elevates the sadness. This was tough to watch.
The Arkham games not only gave us the best Batman games ever, but also one of the best versions of the Joker ever portrayed in any medium. Which is what makes the ending of Arkham City all the more impactful. Tasking Batman to find a cure for his illness, the dying Joker in Arkham City pulls no punches in being a villain, nonetheless. So much that he has clay face play his double while he pulls the strings. When Batman does deliver the cure though, his instincts to harm Batman gets the better of him and he loses his only chance for survival. We see the Joker collapse after a brief exchange of words with the caped crusader. And the image of him walking out while carrying the now dead Joker in his arms was very impactful. Personally, for me, Arkham’s Joker was so good that I had come to love the character and was not ready to part ways with the him yet. This was one moment where I really rooted for the bad guy who had now died. It was painful.
Let’s take a break from all the death and sadness and end this list on a good note. We as audience shed tears of sadness in quite a few occasions, but to get us shed a tear of Joy is quite the feet for the creators. And that is exactly what Naughty Dog did with the ending of Uncharted 4. To see Nathan and Sam part ways peacefully and Nate settling to earn his fortune the right way was the closure that I didn’t expect, much less think I would like. But what hit me harder is the epilogue featuring Cassie, Nate and Elena’s daughter. Exploring her once adventure hungry parents’ home and to find a treasure trove of memories that we as an audience have had through the series was truly heart-warming. I would lie if said I didn’t have my eyes watered when the camera focused on the picture of Nate, Elena and Sully at the end. A perfect ending to a story is hard to come by in any medium (look what happened to GOT). But this was as perfect as it could get. Thanks to naughty for giving us the crazy adventure that was the Uncharted series.