Video games, just like films, TV shows, and books, have the ability to spark a certain emotion from the person interacting with it. As games evolved from the simple two-dimensional back and forth ping pong game in Pong, most games nowadays, revolve around a story-driven narrative that manipulates a person’s emotion, making them invest their time to see the game through.
Remember the feeling of satisfaction and happiness when Mario finally rescued Princess Peach from the evil hands of Bowser in Super Mario? Or the feeling of unease and tension as Snake sneaks his way through Shadow Moses in Metal Gear Solid? Players definitely go through a roller coaster of emotions as they escape in their favorite video game, but nothing is more memorable yet haunting at the same time, when a game makes a player shed a tear, and bring their softer side to the surface. I mean, who knew that a bunch of pixels on a screen has the power to appeal to our inner-most humanity?
Before you start to reminsce on which games made an impact on you the most, let me share with you our picks, and in no particular order, of the five most heartbreaking moments in video games. While the list contains older games to prevent us from spoiling newer ones to people, note that there will still be spoilers, so be warned.
The Ending of Resident Evil 0
Resident Evil 0, the prequel to Capcom’s mega successful franchise, is not the most known title in the series. However, the ending scene still made players shed a tear or two as the heroes of the game, Rebecca Chambers, and Billy Coen, said their goodbyes and never saw each other again. The partnership between Rebecca and Billy is highly unusual at first as the former is an elite police officer, and the latter an escaped convict. However, as they face the horrors of the Umbrella Research Facility, Rebecca saw the true side of Billy, and knew that he was a good guy after all. As the duo escaped the facility, Rebecca spotted the infamous Spencer Mansion where the events of Resident Evil 1 will take place. Dedicated to her duty, Rebecca headed for the mansion, and knowing that her team mates won’t see Billy’s true side, the pair opted to separate with Rebecca reporting to her team that Billy died to give him a fresh start. However, by the very end of the scene, as the camera pans to the mansion, you can hear what sounds like a gunshot. Did Rebecca shoot Billy in the end? Did Billy shoot himself? Or was it just a sound effect to end the game with a bang? Probably the third one, but given that Billy’s status is unknown, you can’t help but wonder.
The Ending of Dino Crisis 2
Similar to the ending of RE0, this scene from Dino Crisis 2 showed the unlikely bond that formed between Regina and Dylan, the game’s playable characters. In this ending, the duo, together with Dylan’s daughter from the future (Regina and Dylan came from the present using a time portal) are trapped in a facility where the self-destruct system has been activated. However, Regina and Dylan was able to open the portal bringing them back to their own time, when Dylan’s daughter, foolishly got herself caught under falling debris. With only a few seconds to spare before the facility explodes, Dylan urged a hesitant Regina to go on her own and build a perfect gate to come back for them one last time. As Regina was left with no choice, she promised Dylan that she will go back in time and rescue them and swiftly escaped through the portal just in time before the facility exploded. The ending in itself is extremely heartbreaking, however, the most sad thing about this is when Dino Crisis 3 was released, the storyline was rebooted and the series got cancelled by Capcom. In the end, players were left hanging if Regina was able to fulfill her promise. The good news is that Capcom expressed their interest in reviving the series, if players wished for it.
Lee’s Death from Telltale’s The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead game by telltale is a pretty emotional game if you ask me. The player takes on the role of Lee, who, among with fellow survivors, tries to look for the parents of young Clementine. As the game progressed, we saw how Clementine witnessed so many horrific situations at such a young age. In the end, Lee and Clementine found out that Clem’s parents were already turned into walkers and to make matters worse, Clementine found out that Lee had been bitten and is already about to turn into a walker himself. As the game revolves around the player’s choices, the final decision is to let Lee turn, let him kill himself, or let young Clementine kill Lee, the closest person she can consider her family. In the end, Lee will die and Clementine will be left on her own, and continue her story on the game’s sequels. This scene is definitely one of the saddest ones I ever encountered in a video game. Heck, even PewDiePie bawled like a baby with this one.
The Boss Final Battle from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
Snake Eater is the highlight of the Metal Gear series in my opinion. That game pulled focus from Solid Snake, and revolved around the original Snake, who is also known as Big Boss. However, the game takes us back in time before Snake earned that title. As the game reached its end, Snake faced his mentor, and his most trusted advisor known as The Boss. In the beginning of the game, it was revealed that The Boss, defected to the Russians, betraying Snake and her country. However, in the final showdown with The Boss, we saw Snake rise up to his mentor, effectively killing her in the end, and earning the title of Big Boss. The final fight scene is definitely heartbreaking as we saw Snake trying to kill the one person he truly trusted. The emotional background music while in battle did not help players hold their tears, and in the end, it was revealed that The Boss was not a traitor after all, she was a double agent sacrificing her reputation, her legacy, and her life, all for her country.
Sarah’s Death from The Last of Us
The Last of Us is probably one of the best story-driven games I have played thus far. The game is set on a post-apocalyptic world where humanity is nearly extinct from a disease caused by the Cordyceps parasite, that turned people into violent and aggressive animals, incapable of rational thought. However, in the game’s opening sequence, we saw the beginning stages of the infection. Joel, together with his brother Tommy, and daughter Sarah, tried to escape for their lives as the infection got out of control. In the end of the scene, Joel and Sarah was stopped by a soldier, who has orders to kill anyone on sight. The soldier open fired at them as Joel and Sarah tried to escape and stumbled on the ground. Before the soldier was able to finish the job, Tommy fired at the soldier saving Joel’s life. I guess you can already tell what happened to Sarah. The cinematography, the animation, the voice acting, all fell into the right place that had players crying their eyes out before the game even started. Kudos to you Naughty Dog, I give this one to you. Hopefully, the upcoming sequel to the Last of Us will be better than the first.
In the end, video games are truly fascinating with its ability to invoke certain emotions from its players. Of course, there are different elements that will trigger certain emotions for different people, which makes playing video games a truly unique experience. What do you think of our list for the most heartbreaking moments in video games? What games made you pause and think about the true meaning of life?