5 most emotional NPC deaths in video games
As an interactive medium, games provide players with unparalleled immersion, resulting in emotional attachment. It is therefore natural to feel a sense of loss when some relatable non-playable characters (NPCs) are met with unexpected demise in games. Creating emotional responses is a hallmark of effective storytelling.
Many games are infamous for killing off the protagonist with whom the players are heavily imbued throughout the story. While it hurts to part ways with a favorite hero, it is even more tragic to witness the death of the protagonist's well-wisher. All the deaths in this list of games are sure to cause some players to shed some tears.
Disclaimer: This listicle is subjective and solely reflects the writer's opinions. This article also contains major spoilers.
Lord Shimura's demise in Ghost of Tsushima and 4 other emotional NPC deaths in games
1) Sarah (The Last of Us Part I)
The Last of Us plays with the heartstrings from the earliest section when the players are just getting introduced to Joel and his daughter Sarah. Joel gets a gift from her on his birthday and the two share some adorable moments before the chaos begins. Joel along with Sarah and his brother Tommy rushes out to escape Texas and reach a safe zone as people around them start becoming wild and attempt to kill each other.
Players become more sensitive to the tone of the game over the entire car trip as Joel tells Tommy to keep driving and disregard the screams for aid from onlookers. After surviving an accident, the trio has to make their way on foot but is obstructed by a soldier who demands Joel drop Sarah on the ground.
The soldier fires a round and it hits Sarah and she bleeds out in Joel’s arms. Despite only knowing Sarah for a brief time, players get emotionally engaged in her relationship, and seeing it end is a devastating blow.
2) Vesemir (The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt)
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt features a slew of characters ranging from the stoic protagonist Geralt to his fellow witchers Lambert, Eskel, and mentor Vesemir. The initial part of this beloved RPG involves riding along with Vesemir in search of Yennefer, a powerful sorceress.
Vesemir is a charming elderly witcher who guards his granddaughter Ciri. The nemesis faction Wild Hunt laid siege to Kaer Morhen, which is home to the witchers, after the game. Imlerith defeats Vesemir despite significant resistance from Geralt and his companions.
Ciri is enraged and unleashes her powers, which forces the Wild Hunt to leave. Vesemir gets a proper send-off through a ritual and the pause after a chaotic battle gives players a moment to reflect on the loss of one of the fan-favorite side characters in the Witcher universe and games in general.
3) Hosea (Red Dead Redemption 2)
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a storytelling powerhouse and one of the best open-world games that are bound to play with the players' heartstrings at some point in the narrative. As the Van Der Linde gang decides to loot a bank in Saint-Denis, the plot thickens. The heist does not go as planned as Agent Milton arrives with Hosea imprisoned.
Dutch’s negotiation attempt is futile and Agent Milton shoots Hosea, which ensues in a full-blown shootout. Players are left shocked but aren’t given any chance to let Hosea’s death sink in as they still have cops to defeat and run for their lives. Throughout this escape, gamers will recall their time fishing with Hosea and his wisdom in difficult situations.
4) Lord Shimura (Ghost of Tsushima)
Ghost of Tsushima is one of the most beautiful open-world games to date. Another feature of the game is the protagonist Jin's struggle to embrace beating adversaries by any means required rather than adhering to honorable Samurai traditions.
Lord Shimura, his uncle is concerned about Jin’s changing demeanor and at one point even gets arrested for defying him. After defeating Mongol invader Khotun Khan, Jin faces off against his uncle and in the end, players are given two choices: to either kill Shimura honorably or spare his life.
If the noble course is taken, Jin murders his uncle and tears extensively, which is guaranteed to elicit emotions from gamers.
5) Jackie (Cyberpunk 2077)
Cyberpunk 2077 presents a flashy neon-soaked Night City that appears upbeat on the surface and is one of the most detailed worlds in games. Players can create their character (male or female) named V and ally with Jackie. Their common goal is to be the best mercenary in Night City and enjoy the resulting fame and riches.
Their unidimensional longing is cut short when Jackie is wounded while shielding the bio-chip during a botched heist. Jackie bleeds out while giving over the bio-chip to the task giver, Dexter Deshawn, on the trip back. Despite spending considerably less game time with Jackie, his death is emotionally draining and shifts the tone of Cyberpunk 2077 which is worth playing in 2023.
Players are accustomed to the most brutal deaths in video games, but nothing can prepare them for the sudden demise of their beloved NPCs that help ground the protagonist and shape their purpose in the game world.