Video games. We play them to compete, to distract us from the outer world, to have some moments of sheer joy or to enjoy a great story. Rarely do you find yourself saying: "Hey, I want to get depressed today! Let's play this game, then."
Storytelling has been evolving within the video game medium, giving us memorable and enjoyable moments, but also some of the cruelest and saddest at the same time. Sometimes, a sad moment is included in the story to lend a sense of weight and emotion to the development of a character. There are also shocking moments that serve the purpose of explaining the plot or to fill some gaps in the story.
The following video game moments are in games that were aiming to be depressing. They are emotional tests to see how far can you take the punishment. Video Games are a form of art, and storytelling that keeps you engaged through the bitter end deserves to be praised. Even if you had to shed a tear or two in the process.
* Warning: Spoilers and mature content lie ahead *
5. Red Dead Redemption - The Last Stand
I have a soft spot for Westerns in general and playing Red Dead Redemption felt like I was living my own cinematic experience. I felt like a real outlaw. The game was full of drama and the ending echoes that of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. You kind of see it coming but when the moment arrives, you are honestly not prepared for it.
The build up to that scene is masterfully crafted and, in a way, very cruel. There are so many moments throughout this sequence when the game looks like it will give your character a chance but everything is for naught. Some say that the epilogue serves as a way to bring everything full circle but in a way, the conclusion feels like a hollow victory.
4. The Last of Us - I'm Still Waiting for My Turn
The Last of Us is a milestone in video game storytelling, ranging from its engaging dialogue to its breathtaking action sequences. While playing this game, you are already preparing your brain for the worst after seeing your own daughter dying in your arms, and that's only the beginning! Surely, there's nothing worse than that, right?
The ending of The Last of Us is a very twisted and depressing ending in an already twisted and depressing setting, but what makes it so soul crushing is the fact that you can not classify Joel as either a bad guy or a good guy. Of course we, as an audience, develop our own judgement of Joel because we crave an answer but that's why this game is so good. Ellie is Joel's reason to keep going and right away we label him as selfish, but what about Ellie? After all, she is still waiting for her turn.
3. Shadow of the Colossus - Seeing It Through the End
If there's a video game that can be considered a visual masterpiece, it would be Shadow of the Colossus. The game is so beautiful and the animation pushed the limits of the PlayStation 2 when it first came out. The story seems pretty straight forward in the beginning, but once you are half way there, you realize that the game has a dark little secret in store for you. Neither a hero or an anti-hero, your character is simply someone that wants to save his loved one no matter what. And when you are finally given a reality check, it is already too late.
2. Silent Hill 2 - Mary's Videotape
Silent Hill. Just mentioning its name makes me flinch a little bit. This franchise is one of the best survival horror experiences in video game history. These games are twisted and leave little room for any kind of redemption, but it's Silent Hill 2 that takes this franchise to a whole new level. The moment in question is when your character finds a video tape showing one of the best twists in video game history.
Silent Hill games dabble in the supernatural and psychological aspects of storytelling but when it touches upon real issues like mental illness, that's messing with very powerful themes. After watching that video, all the paranormal activity, monster slaying and jump scares happening in front of you will make (sadly) perfect sense.
1. Spec Ops: The Line - White Phosphorus
Just watch the video.
Bonus: Gears of War 2 - Dom's Wife
For a game that cranks up the testosterone level to 110%, Gears of War 2 surprises us with one of the most emotional moments in any video game. Maybe it's because in a world like the one offered in Gears you are too busy fighting, so this moment might be able to catch you by surprise, but they way it's set up will make you feel as if you were punched right in the heart.
Well, there you have it. These moments made it pretty hard to stay positive throughout the rest of the game but maybe they didn't phase you at all. So tell us then, which video games (if any) had an unexpected emotional impact on you after playing them?