Deny it all you like, but video games are a powerful medium. I would say just as powerful as any other forms of entertainment such as movies, music and books. Much like these other methods of telling a story or exploring a theme, video games continue to prove that they are able to evoke emotions within us we never thought we would feel – Sometimes even going so far as to make us hurt, ache and of course, cry.
Whether it’s through the power of the game’s storytelling, artistic nature or even a sudden turn of fate for a character you never saw coming, there are many games we can look back on and appreciate for their enjoyment, but what are those few games that made us feel the opposite way, wrenching out our heart and leading us to think; “this isn’t fair!”.
To find out, we’ve pulled together a list of the top 10 video games moments that made us cry. Tissues at the ready, our allergies are about to play up big time!
Cowboys don’t live forever (Red Dead Redemption)
Red Dead Redemption is an interesting open-world game not only in the sense that it places an unusual but welcome amount of emphasis on story for a game in its genre, but also because this narrative is paced and laid out entirely in reverse. Whereas most games start of quiet, eventually crescendo-ing to a bombastic climax, by Red Dead Redemption’s final three hours as John Marston you get to enjoy American life with your family.
This makes it all the more devastatingly heart-wrenching then when the crooked government agents you initially made a deal with decide to tie up all loose ends, riddling your carcass full of bullets and robbing you of the quiet life you had been fighting for the entire game. A hero’s death in every sense of the phrase, John Marston you died an honest man and we will always remember it.
The Fate of Dom’s Wife (Gears of War 2)
As silly as it may sound, masculine military bromance can be a powerful thing in a video game, when caught up in the midst of an alien war you really do find yourself latching onto the most human aspects in order to never lose sight of what you’re fighting for. Surprisingly no series proves this more so than Xbox exclusive series, Gears of War.
Throughout the majority of Gears of War 2, as stereotypical badass Marcus Phoenix you and your bro-buddy Dom spend a lot of your early time in the game hunting down the latter’s wife, in one last effort to retain a shining light in such a grey and war-torn world that is Sera. When eventually discovered within a Locust imprisonment camp, it’s all too heart-breaking to realize that all that is left is a shell of the person Dom once knew. We really were fighting back manly tears in this one.
Passing on the Torch (The Walking Dead)
There aren’t too many people on the planet who feel the need to criticize the sheer genius that is Telltale’s first season of The Walking Dead, and for good reason. The relationship you build with young girl Clementine over the course of 5 emotional episodes is enough to make you do anything for her, even die. It’s just a shame that by the end of the season finale, we experienced something we should have probably saw coming.
The final few moments and pieces of dialogue between Lee and Clementine carry a lot of weight, meaning and honesty, it’s in these values that makes the passing of the torch to Clem as the new series protagonist tougher than perhaps most games would struggle to achieve. As you’re given the choice for her to shoot you once turning into one of the undead or let you live out life as a walker, you make the first decision that notably sets the tone of survival for the following seasons to come.
Altair’s fate (Assassin’s Creed Revelations)
Believe it or not, some of the most emotional and heartfelt moments in a piece of media can be the ones in which we don’t see the tragedy that occurs, Assassin’s Creed is a series that we thought would be the least likely to choke us up in this manner, but when Revelations came along we were easily proved wrong. The game was a send-off for two beloved and honorable men and it is done rather beautifully.
Upon unlocking Altair’s library once collecting all of the appropriate keys as Ezio, only then do we learn of the legendary assassin’s true fate, gazing upon his skinless skeletal frame still clutching the powerful apple of eden he swore to protect. In many ways Altair was the unsung hero of the Assassin’s Creed games, setting the template for what was to come but only to pass the limelight onto franchise favourite Ezio. Discovering that the first assassin we knew died honorably off-screen was a mark of genius and an emotional moment.
Sarah doesn’t make it (The Last of Us)
So, picture this. You’ve been chomping at the bits to get your hands on developer Naughty Dog’s next game, following all preview coverage, scrolling through the E3 trailer too many times to count and putting down your pre-order only to discover that in the opening moments of the game you’ve been Hideo Kojima-ed. You’re not playing as Joel or even Ellie for that matter, and the only thing running through your mind is “Oh, this isn’t good”.
One of the boldest ways to begin a game by far, The Last of Us successfully sets itself apart from the developer’s previous games by placing you in a dark world amidst a dark event only to suffer the ultimate loss within the first 10 mins of the game. Sarah’s accidental death at the hands of a government soldier feel so devastating because as Joel you are powerless to prevent it, as in real life the event happens so fast, only leaving you to cradle Sarah in your arms praying that she’ll wake up.
What have I done? (Shadow of the Colossus)
Yes, it’s the entry on the list that any gamer with a pulse probably saw coming. Placing you in the unexpected role of the bad guy long before The Last of Us even sparked up the concept for debate, Team Ico’s brilliantly somber Shadow of the Colossus has you ride across a sprawling open world devoid of any life outside of you, your horse and eight colossi and as you take them down one by one, it really starts to niggle at you whether or not what you’re doing is the right thing.
You believe that in killing these mythical beasts that you are at first doing the right thing in order to save your dying love and revive her back to the land of the living, it isn’t long however until you begin to recognize how selfish you are being. Cue the emotionally symphonic musical score, and this is a video game finale that had us in a mess.
The Boss revealed (MGS3: Snake Eater)
If ever there was a video game series that found fun in building up our expectations before turning them on their head drastically, it has to be Metal Gear Solid. When looking at the series from this perspective you could really pick any game as an example, but it was in 60’s Bond-like Snake Eater that this theme of misinterpretation is combined with a great deal of emotional weight that successfully reduced us to tears.
Throughout Operation Snake Eater as the yet-to-be legendary Big Boss you’re initially led to believe that your mother figure and mentor The Boss has betrayed her own country to instead defect to the USSR, as her protégé you’re tasked to bring her in but it’s only in the final moments that the knife really twists. When standing over her grave it becomes apparent that her allegiances had in fact always remained true to the USA, going so far has to give her life in order for the mission to succeed. Boss, we salute you!
Who am I? (Silent Hill 2)
Much like the majority of Silent Hill entries, Silent Hill 2 places you in search of a loved one who has recently gone missing in the fated and eerily creepy suburban town. As father James Sunderland you consistently feel empowered and honorable in the effort to find your daughter Maria, eventually going on to realize that in any one of Silent Hill 2’s six endings, you might not be as much of a stand-up guy as you initially thought.
Once again the idea of you retrospectively discovering that the protagonist you’ve been playing as is actually the true monster in this world full of threats, it works just as powerful here as it does in other games, but in such a bleak world that is Silent Hill it really hits home here. You’ve killed your wife, robbed your daughter and instead of making amends you’ll find yourself committing suicide, feeling terrible or abducted by aliens – quite the mix!
Reaching the top (Journey)
Journey is one of the interesting games on the list purely because that after making the majority of gamers cry, many of us can’t begin to fathom why. In such a brief game where no dialogue at all is featured, it really is a true testament to That Game Company’s visual storytelling ability that they are able to so successfully evoke such deep emotions purely through the use of cloaked figures.
By the tom you and your partner reach the top of your mountain goal amidst the cold harsh rushes of the wind, you really do feel the weight of every step you take and the determination your character has in order to succeed. The actual meaning of this game still remains to each players individual interpretation, but needless to say depending on your understanding of it, it’s highly likely you’ll walk away in a flood of tears.
The adventures continues (Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End)
The culmination of 5 brilliant games that generally focuses on campy fun and inter-character relationships, Uncharted 4: A thief’s end is the only game on this list that made us cry for all of the right reasons come the end. Rather than killing off the series’ main hero or a close loved one, Naughty Dog once again use the power of a small child to show us just how important it is for people to move on and the beauty that can come from it.
Using the lens of Nate and Elena’s daughter, the end of Uncharted 4 tugs on our heart strings by letting us explore a house full of memories that we’ll never have the joy of experiencing first-hand, making them all the more emotional as a result. So many times in movies, books and games are we told that there are no such thing as happy endings, Uncharted 4 chooses to throw this perspective firmly out of the window by stating that no matter how you get there life can be a special thing.