All men must die
It's Game of Thrones season, and that means people are about to get really depressed. The show regularly introduces you to lovable characters, then brutally murders them without a moment's notice. When your favorite character meets their end, that moment sticks with you - which is probably why so many people watch the show. But, even Game of Thrones' scenes are tame compared to some of gaming's most intense, emotional events. Games have some of the most dramatic, heart-wrenching moments in any form of entertainment.
In honor of Game of Thrones' return to our Sunday night viewing schedule, I'm going to revisit some of the most heartbreaking and powerful gaming moments in history. These are the scenes that leave you with your mouth agape, the dramatic events you never expected to happen, and the startling deaths that keep you up at night. Here are the gaming moments that put Game of Thrones' most intense scenes to shame.
Aeris' tragic death in Final Fantasy VII
Tragedy and death? You can't talk about those two things in relation to gaming and leave out the murder of Aeris in Final Fantasy VII. What makes the death of your party member so memorable is that it comes out of nowhere. As Cloud and crew attempt to prevent Sephiroth from blowing up the planet and becoming a god, Aeris is already working on stopping him with her holy magic.
But in the most surprising moment in the game, Sephiroth falls from the sky driving his sword through Aeris' torso, killing her as she prays. And there is no Phoenix Down that can bring her back. Aeris is dead for good. Then to complete the tragedy, Cloud takes Aeris' body to the center of the Forgotten Capital and lays her to rest in a watery tomb in the most depressing cutscene in the game.
John Marston's sacrifice in Red Dead Redemption
After going through hell and back to hunt down his old gang and bring them to justice, you'd think it was the end of John Marston's adventures in the Wild West and the conclusion of Red Dead Redemption. His debt has been paid to the federal government, and now he has all the time in the world to raise his family peacefully on his own land. But of course, that's not how the story ends.
Instead of Marston walking off into the sunset, he is betrayed, but, honestly, you can kind of see it coming. Antagonist, Edgar Ross, the federal agent with whom Marston made a deal to capture his old gang in exchange for his family's freedom, charges into the Marston ranch with the army. With no way to escape with his family, John steps out of his barn to look down the barrels of a firing squad. The cowboy is gunned down, leaving his son to seek revenge.
The ultimate betrayal in Jade Empire
If there's one thing that Jade Empire teaches you, it's not to trust anyone. You spend the entire game training with your Master Li, learning different types of martial arts so that you can defeat the evil Emperor Sun Hai. But after countless battles and defeating the Emperor, Master Li swoops in, takes the prized jade for himself, and kills you with his pressure point kung fu moves. What an asshole.
So, obviously, Master Li was never a nice guy. He is actually one of the Emperor Sun Hai's power-hungry brothers who killed your real would-be master and took you into his tutelage instead. It was all a lie. All of your training and accomplishments were a lie. And now, you're dead.
Jenny gets executed in The Darkness
Jackie Estacado has a troubled soul. He's fallen in with the mob, he's a hardened criminal, and worst of all he has a demon inside of him, using Jackie for its own ends. The only thing that's even remotely redeemable about this guy is his relationship with his childhood best friend and girlfriend, Jenny. The developers really build up their relationship in The Darkness. You see flashbacks of the two playing together as children, or sitting together on a couch watching movies and enjoying each others company. But then, Jackie's demon brings you to the orphanage where the two grew up; to a room where his nemesis, Uncle Paulie, is holding Jenny at gunpoint. Helpless behind the glass, you're forced to watch Uncle Paulie execute Jenny just inches from where you stand. Ned Stark's got nothing on this.
Andrew Ryan gets a putter to the face in Bioshock
The political schemes and power struggles happening in Bioshock's Rapture are monumental. As a survivor of a plane crash, you have no stake in Andrew Ryan's underwater utopia. You're just trying to get out alive. And in order to do that, you decide to listen to a reasonable-sounding man named Atlas.
As you explore more and more of Rapture, you learn about Andrew Ryan's ambitious project to create the perfect world, and the attempts of Ryan's rival, Frank Fontaine, to take over. When you finally get to meet face to face with Ryan, he reveals that you are being mind controlled by Atlas (aka Frank Fontaine) to do his dirty work. To prove it, Ryan uses the trigger phrase "would you kindly," to force you to beat him to death with a golf club. The whole time you were just some crafty villain's weapon, being manipulated to do whatever he wanted. Mind blown.
No Russian in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
MW2 has a scene that involves one of the most atrocious acts I've ever been able to perform in a video game: gunning down civilians in an airport. But the thing was, in the game you are an undercover American soldier attempting to bring down the international criminal leading the massacre. Someone needs to get their hands dirty for the greater good.
As you proceed through the mission, you get the impression that you'll play as this character often as he gathers information on the bad guys and relays it to the special ops forces who then handle all of the firefights and explosions. You know, do some good things so it wasn't all for nothing. But, nope. All that quickly ends when the big bad, Makarov guns you down and leaves your American corpse to be discovered by the Russian authorities. The spy is dead, just like that, and his body is instigating hostilities between the two nations. Well played, Makarov. Well played.
Killing the gods in God of War 3
Looking for gaming's Game of Thrones equal in family drama? Just take a look at Kratos' rampage through Olympus. The god of war storms the kingdom of the gods killing every mythological creature and god standing in the way of ringing his hands around Zeus' throat. And most of those gods Kratos is killing are related to him somehow. I mean, Zeus is his father, Heracles is his half brother, and Athena is technically an aunt. But he blames the death of his family and his misery on the gods, so when they fail to relieve him of his pain, he just starts ripping their heads off.
All of Kratos rage culminates in the final confrontation with Zeus. After knocking each other around the destroyed halls of Olympus, then shoving a massive sword into the lightning god's chest, Kratos kills Zeus with his bare hands. And, let me tell you, nothing is more intimate than a rage-fueled, bloody beat down from a first-person view.
Every time you kill a boss in the Metal Gear Solid series
Whenever I kill one of the bosses in The Metal Gear Solid games, it tugs at my heart strings a little. Even though they're your enemy, sometimes you just don't want to see them go. At the start of the battle, they are vicious combatants that seem like they will chew you up and spit you out. But when they're defeated and breathing their last breaths, there's a whole other side to them.
Sniper Wolf is a ruthless killer up until her last moments when you learn from Otacon that she might have actually been a good person deep down. When you kill the Boss in MGS 3, it's revealed that she was actually sacrificing herself for her country and is the greatest hero ever. When if comes to those long goodbyes and confessions, you get to see your enemy's true character and witnessing that makes each encounter all the more memorable.
Can you think of any intense gaming moments that hit you way harder than anything that's happened in Game of Thrones? What betrayals, character deaths, or plot twists really got you good? I want to hear about it. Just leave a comment below.
For more from GamesRadar, be sure to check out our coverage of the upcoming Game of Thrones episodes and more.