The Most Heartbreaking Moments in Video Games
Video games are a unique form of entertainment that can drag you through many emotions. From being on the verge of smashing your controller in sheer frustration to falling head over heels and smiling dreamily, games resonate in a way like no other form of media. Some titles deliver a firm punch to the gut and it’s these I want to focus on. So join me as I explore the most heartbreaking moments in video games.
Paper Mario: The Origami King
The Mario series is full of fodder. Without care, you stomp on Goombas or boot Koopa Troopers and plod on your merry way. Well, the great minds at Intelligent Systems went against conventions to make an emotional, tear-jerker with…a Bob-omb. Bobby is a charming and adorable character that quickly becomes part of the team. Due to a bout of amnesia, he is unsure of details of his past and why he lacks a fuse. Gradually, you learn about the tragic events that took place and manage to reclaim a fuse from a deceased friend. With Olivia stuck beneath a boulder, Bobby makes the ultimate sacrifice in a heart-wrenching scene that is both unexpected and beautiful.
Last of Us
While the opening scene is heartbreaking, I believe that the ending has more impact. As you learn about Ellie’s fate, you rush through the hospital in an epic scene to save the person who has become a daughter figure. Upon survival, it’s the final moments that are truly traumatic. With the loss of Joel’s family haunting him, he decides he can’t lose the only person he has cared for since that fateful night. Even though Ellie’s demise could result in a cure for the virus, Joel decides to withhold this information. As he has been so open throughout, this one little lie is tough to swallow.
Last of Us 2
The obvious scene to select is Joel’s death, but for me, there’s a scene that is much more emotional. The guitar plays a prominent part in the game. It’s the tool used that bonds Ellie and Joel. He teaches her the Pearl Jam classic, Future Days, and this acts as a way for Ellie to connect with Joel even after his passing. After an arduous journey that results in the dismemberment of several fingers, Ellie picks up her guitar once more when she returns home. She tries to play that incredible track but is unable to do so due to the result of her thirst for revenge. It’s simple, it’s poignant and it’s heartbreaking.
The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead told a bleak tale about a man caring for a young girl. While several distressing scenes occur in the episodic adventure, there is one key moment that will resonate with many. The relationship between Lee and Clementine evolves throughout 5 episodes. Due to this format, TellTale were able to delve deeper into their personalities to tell micro-stories within the overarching narrative. This made you more invested in their relationship and the choices you have to make. The final, and most devastating choice is when Lee has been bitten and is turning into a zombie. You have to decide whether to leave him to slowly turn and walk the streets or to end his suffering with a shot to the head.
Heavy Rain has a vast number of endings and while some turn out well, others can be horrific. Throughout the game, you play as four different characters that are intertwined with the disappearance of Shaun. I’m going to focus on the endings concerning Ethan as these are the most personal and powerful. It’s easy to go with the most miserable ending which would be when his son dies and he commits suicide. While this is awful, there’s another ending that hits harder. In one instance, you cause a level of distrust with the police so that they consider you as the perpetrator. Regardless, you plow through the many trials to reach your son and save him before he drowns. As you carry his body to freedom, the police arrive outside the location. You put him down to see the commotion and are gunned down by the officers who believe they have caught you in the act. Horrific.
Okay, bear with me on this. There are narrative-based heartbreaks and gameplay ones. This lies in the latter. Tetris is all about building blocks precisely and removing them efficiently. Due to the constant stream of blocks, it becomes a fast-thinking, anxiety-ridden experience. It can take a while to create the perfect path, but when you do, it’s glorious. Creating that column for a vertical piece so you can hit that Tetris never gets old. However, when you slightly off-shoot it and land just next to the gap, devastation.
Metal Gear Solid 3
Metal Gear Solid 3 is arguably the greatest release in the franchise. Although there are many great scenes in it, the speech by Eva is truly magnificent. As you spend the game tracking The Boss who defected from the American government, Snake goes through personal turmoil. She was his mentor, a hero, a goddamn patriot. Why would she do such a thing? After an epic battle, you soon learn that The Boss was a double agent infiltrating the enemy. She goes down in the history books as a traitor but she did it for the good of her country. I’m tearing up just thinking about it.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a wonderful adventure where you control both characters at once. With an analog stick each, you can maneuver the brothers and work together to overcome several issues that you encounter. Your journey to find a cure for your father will take you to strange and wonderful places and it’s on this that bond between the brothers grows. After a harrowing incident, one of the brothers is fatally injured, which results in his demise. Due to this, you no longer need both hands to play which heightens that feeling of loss.
The Last Guardian
Trico is adorable and due to his realistic portrayal, I wanted to do everything I could to protect him. While there are moments throughout that put Trico in danger, it’s the conclusion that is heartbreaking. Misunderstood, the civilians think he is a threat and attack. Seeing the loveable creature in pain, scurrying away with blood-soaked feathers is a moment I won’t forget.
Who would have thought that the friendly-neighborhood Spider-Man would be an emotional rollercoaster? Most sequences are by the book, quippy moments from Spidey in a straightforward tale of good vs evil. However, after Aunt May comes in contact with Doc Oc’s Devil’s Breath disease, she becomes ill. Laying on her deathbed, Peter reveals that he is Spider-Man as she passes away in front of his very eyes. Damn.
So there you have it. Those are my picks for the most heartbreaking moments in video games. Did I miss your favorite? Which games would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter, and don’t forget to subscribe to us on YouTube for some great video game content.
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