Game: Lost Odyssey
The deceased: Lirum Argonar
The first time the player actually gets to meet Lirum Argonar in the 'flesh', as it where, is when she's lying on her death bed. Until that point she's only glimpsed using flashbacks, which is the way Lost Odyssey reveals the backstory of its 1000 year-old immortal protagonist, Kaim Argonar. Lirum is Kaim's daughter - a daughter he thought he'd seen perish several years earlier. So it's a particularly cruel twist of fate that the two are only reunited as Lirum is drawing her last breaths. Press play to watch an edited version of the emotional reunion.
But while the death scene is moving and tragic and affectively glum-inducing, it's the subdued post-mortem preparations and 'sending off' ceremony that really make Lirum's death so sadly poignant and memorable. We can't recall any other game that has actively involved the player in a character's religious funeral or, indeed, dwelled so ponderously upon it...
By tasking the player with picking flowers to adorn Lirum's body and with lighting symbolic torches at the ceremony, it crafts a sense of solemn significance and produces a palpable atmosphere of mourning. Her appearance in the game may be incredibly brief, but Lirum's departure is treated with a touching sobriety that proved to be a powerful influence on our mood.
Game: Advance Wars: Dark Conflict/Days of Ruin (UK/US)
The deceased: Captain O'Brian/Brenner (UK/US)
Proof that it's not just the Gig-spitting machines of near-cinematic magic that can tickle the blue chords with genuine feeling, this DS gem surprised us by making us feel suitably down hearted at the death of one of its lead characters, Captain O'Brian (Captain Brenner in the US). We've got no movie to illustrate the event, but watching static illustrations out of context wouldn't effectively convey the anguish that anyone who played the game would have felt.
For that you would need to have played the game from the start, where your character, Ed (Will in the US), is rescued by O'Brian. The Captain becomes Ed/Will's mentor and the narrative quickly establishes O'Brian/Brenner as a heroic, humane and compassionate soldier that follows an unwritten code of honour on the battlefield. The Captain's penultimate action before his death halfway through the game is a characteristically chivalrous one, effectively sacrificing himself so Ed/Will and the rest of his men can escape a certain crushing defeat at the hands of a merciless enemy.
And while the picture of a beaten O'Brian/Brenner slumped against a wall (which was displayed using both the DS' screens) was the only visual tool for illustrating his demise, it was an incredibly poignant image, and made us realise - with a touch of surprise - that we were properly sad about the Captain dying. Testament surely to the game's great characters and affecting narrative.
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