The Top 7… Saddest video games that will make you cry
For years, developers have tried to make games that would touch gamers on an emotional level. Some emotions, like fear, are fairly easy to elicit – as games like Resident Evil and Amnesia have proven time and time again. But fear is easy. The real success in terms of emotional investment is sadness, and making a game that will "make the player cry" has been something developers have attempted for years.
Usually, their efforts bomb horribly, coming off as insincere, but every so often there are great successes. We've assembled the games that have caused up to tear up, sniffle, or outright break down and sob. So grab a box of tissues and get ready to let it all out.
And be warned, there are some spoilers here, obviously, though we've marked them so that you won't mistakenly stumble onto a character death and start crying.
7. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
There's a good chance you didn't play Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. It
was, after all, released primarily on the Wii just too late in the
generation for a third-party title to really make waves. If you skipped it,
then you missed out on the best Silent Hill in years. And you also missed out
on crying a whole bunch. Because the game will make you cry a whole bunch.
Above: A trailer for the game that most likely won't make you cry
What makes Shattered Memories different from other sad games is that it actually isn't all that sad right away. Actually, you may not even realize what's so sad about it until you get to the end of the game, and even that isn't all that depressing. It's not until you
beat the game, and then start thinking back over the events that took place,
that you'll start piecing things together and laughing about how hard you're
And if you play it again? Grab the tissues, you’re in for an absolute
6. Final Fantasy VII
Death isn't really all that frightening in a video game, especially an RPG.
Heck, characters die in nearly every battle, and they're just brought back to life
with a cheap item. Whatever. It doesn't matter. Just shove a Phoenix Down into
their rotting mouth and they’ll be back on their feet within seconds.
Or, at least, that’s what we thought. This ignorance was used against us in
Final Fantasy VII, the game that put death back on the table in RPGs.
Above: Beware spoilers in the video above (and text below)
In a twist that would be called one of the most shocking in video game history, Aerith, Cloud's love interest and one of the more important party
members in the story, was stabbed by Sephiroth. And then she died. And then she
didn't come back.
We couldn’t believe our eyes. She would come back, right? This happened in
Chrono Trigger and then he came back, so surely she couldn’t be… dead? Yeah.
But she was. And we were heartbroken.
5. Gears of War 2
Marcus Fenix isn't really all that interesting of a main character. His partner, Dominic Santiago, on the other hand, has a much deeper persona. He's complicated, with motives beyond "kill all thems there locusts and maybe find out about my daddy." See, Dom is looking for his wife, Maria, who went missing once the imulsion hit the fan during Emergence Day. For the entire first game (and part of the second), Dom searches for information about her, getting glints of hope from time to time as he flashes her picture to other survivors.
And then... well... um... he finds her?
Above: The above video contains spoilers for Gears of War 2 – be warned
Say that Gears of War is for meatheads. Say that it's a dumb game with terrible writing. Say whatever you want – it doesn't matter. Epic nailed the segment where Dom finds Maria, and we were bawling like we just got dumped the night before Spring Formal. Dom's voice actor, Carlos Ferro, actually stepped into the mo-cap suit for the first time in this scene, adding to the emotion, and making this one of the saddest game moments we've ever experienced. And it was in Gears of War 2, so we were totally blindsided.
4. Lost Odyssey
Kaim suffers from amnesia. It’s easy to see his lack of memories as a curse –
those are a lot of forgotten memories – but after playing just a few hours of
Lost Odyssey we’re pretty sure that Kaim’s better off not remembering his past.
As the game goes on, he’ll occasionally be reminded of events in his life, which play out on-screen as short stories consisting simply of text and sound effects.
devastating. There are dozens of
these forgotten memories, and we eventually had to stop reading them. Some tell
tales of lost love, some of forgotten friends. Others are just downright
depressing, expertly crafted by fantastic writers whose only goal was to make
us miserable. Seriously, take a look at one of these things:
And even if you
avoid these catastrophically dismal memories, the story itself is just as
rough. At one point you help children gather flowers for their sick mother, and
then when you bring them to her she dies and you stand there awkwardly as the
children cry. That’s actually a thing that happens.
3. Shadow of the Colossus
Character motivation is usually pretty cut-and-dry. You're killing the bad guys who are trying to take over the world, or you're trying to get revenge, or you're trying to save someone. In Shadow of the Colossus things aren't so clear. Plot details are dripped slowly throughout the course of the game, but you eventually learn out that your character, named in the credits as Wander, has traveled to the forbidden land to resurrect a girl named Mono with the help of Dormin, a powerful, evil-ish god. So far so good, right?
But before the creepily-voiced Dormin is willing to bring Mono back, he needs Wander to travel around the massive, desolate landscape and slay 16 colossi. That's it. There are no strange puzzles, no other enemies, just a man and his horse wandering the world to kill giants.
Above: This trailer isn't that sad, but the rest of the game totally is
After a little while, killing these colossi... it starts to get to you, man. They're literally just chilling, minding their own business, and then some punk kid climbs up their back and stabs them in the head until they die. They aren't rampaging around cities or killing people. They're sleeping. Eventually you'll find a colossus – and it's different for every person – who pushes you over the brink and makes you start doubting what you're doing. It's just going to happen. And you're going to get sad.
We're not even going to deal with the ending stuff right now, because screw that. It's essentially like the first 15 minutes of Pixar's UP, except you're in control and it's sadder because there were giants involved.
2. Mother 3
Nintendo never gave a reason for Mother 3's lack of a worldwide release, but we think we know why it was never officially translated to English: it was too goddamn sad. We imagine that Nintendo just had to scrap the translation after a few months of work because the translators couldn't see the game text past their tears. That's the most practical excuse.
Mother 3's story is tragic, but what makes it hit even harder is how randomly the depressing bits show up. Mother 3, like
Earthbound before it, is absolutely hilarious. The characters are funny, the dialog is wonderfully written, and the world is as whimsical as any RPG's. It totally catches you off guard when the
tone shifts completely from silly dances and fart jokes to real-world issues like the death of a family member.
Above: ULTIMATE SADNESS! (not really)
It follows a small, wholesome town torn asunder by a series of unfortunate events. The inhabitants don't even know how to handle things right away, with the game's narration eventually breaking the fourth wall just to ponder aloud if the townspeople had ever experienced sadness before. If the concept of a tight-knit village being exposed to the abstract concept of "sadness" for the first time doesn't have you blabbering like a teenage girl watching A Walk to Remember, the ending will. We're not going to spoil it for you, but believe us when we say that the last few minutes of the game will kick your heart in the ass really, really hard.
1. To The Moon
To the Moon is so sad that you'll be dehydrated once it's over. That's how much you'll have cried. It takes place in the not-too-distant future, where trained specialists have the ability to enter into the memory of people in order to change things. While you might think this sort of power would be use to Incept people, it's actually primarily used to grant the wishes of people on their death bed. Always wanted to go to France but never actually went through with it? Wish you told that crush that you love her? Doctors can dive into your memories and convince your younger self to do just that, leaving you to die without any regrets.
We'll skip over the morally grey areas of this practice and skip right to the plot: you play as doctors going into the memories of Johnny, a dying man who has wanted to go to the moon since his wife passed away. Trouble is, he has no idea why he wants to go there, so before you're able to convince his memories to do it, you need to track down the source.
What follows is a dive into the memories of an old man, dropping down a few years every so often and reliving his life in reverse. It covers with typical issues one would deal with during a long life, ranging from monetary problems to relationship issues.
Above: Oh god we just watched this video and now we're tearing up
And it's the saddest thing ever. Playing in reverse means you first see him grieving for his dead wife, and then him seeing her on her death bed, and then her finding out she's dying, and then... it just gets worse and worse. By the time she's healthy your mind is already full of sadness at her death, and the knowledge that you can't do anything to change it. To make things even more emotionally devastating, traveling back through his memories reveals that the game actually takes place in the future, and that he was born in the 1980s, which means he's in his 20s now, building a stronger connection.
All of the depressing, crippling sorrow comes to a head at the ending, which made us more emotional than we were during any movie, television show, or book we can remember. It's an amazing experience, and one that'll have you dry heaving tears for months.
What did we miss?
Yeah, we know, you disagree with us. We're wrong about one of the entries, or we forgot something, or we're stupid for not including your favorite game of all time. It's fine, we get it.
Don't just sit there shouting at the screen, though - comment below and let us know what you think of this Top 7.
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