Video games are often a great form of entertainment media, telling a compelling story with an interesting and engaging narrative. A significant part of a good story is the characters introduced, which are a way for players to imagine themselves in these unfolding narratives that are purely fictional and fantastical, yet feel very real.
Through various plot points, character arcs, and deaths, video games also deliver some of the saddest moments in a fictional medium that can reduce players to tears. Yet even the opposite is true as sometimes video games might create a scenario where players may shed tears of happiness.
Regardless of their route, video games have been known on more than one occasion to make players cry, whether out of sadness or joy. Here are five examples of video games that had players sobbing and weeping.
Note: This article contains spoilers and reflects the writer's opinion.
From RDR2 to The Last of Us: 5 video games that reduced players to tears
1) Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption made everyone cry with sadness as John Marston was shot to death near the end of the game. However, Red Dead Redemption 2 makes players cry on more than one occasion, depending on how they play the game.
Protagonist Arthur Morgan is generally portrayed as an outlaw with a heart of gold, making it hard for anyone who plays this game to see him go through the last stage of the game suffering from tuberculosis.
His death hits even harder, as just before, he hands his iconic hat to John, telling him to run and let him handle things. The honorable ending saw him accept his fate as a new day dawned, recalling the good deeds he managed to accomplish. Even in the dishonorable ending, it is hard to hold back tears as Arthur is shot to death by Micah Bell, one of the most despised villains in video game history.
However, in the epilog, there are many moments to shed some tears of happiness, starting with the final mission when John avenges Arthur by killing Micah. As players explore the endgame open-world, they will be treated to many small events that will transpire if Arthur had been good to many NPCs throughout the game.
The beggar in Valentine will recount his memories with Arthur, noting his kindness, while Arthur’s name will be on the plaque in front of the homeless veterans' home in Saint Denis. John may even complete some leftover side quests with the people Arthur had helped before, who similarly recount his good-natured spirit. Arthur Morgan truly was one of the best protagonists in video game history.
From indie developer Witch Beam, Unpacking is a video game that tells a simple yet wholesome and heartening story, only through context clues and items. Players need to unpack various boxes of belongings as the protagonist enters a new phase of their lives and moves into new accommodation.
Taking place over eight years, the protagonist has a journey of growing up, as the first level starts when they get a room of their own in their parents' house. Players follow them through to their college dorm, a shared living space with roommates, and later with their partner.
This, however, seemingly results in heartbreak, as the protagonist then has to move back in with their parents, possibly after a setback in life. However, the protagonist picks themselves back up, getting an independent place of their own.
Further down, they even make room in their lives for a new partner and, finally, a little baby, whose room the players also get to set up. At this end level, players might just be blinking back tears out of sheer joy and happiness for the protagonist.
3) The Last of Us
While The Last of Us has a few heartrending moments, the very first one hits the player just 15 minutes into the video game. The game starts with the protagonist Joel, who lives in suburban Austin, Texas. As things began to go awry, Joel, his daughter Sarah, and his brother Tommy escaped their home as it was overrun with infected zombies.
At this point, the player starts playing as Sarah and then switches over to Joel, establishing the two as the primary protagonists. After crashing their vehicle, Joel and Tommy were separated. While carrying Sarah, Joel had to get them both to safety while evading the mobs of infected people.
After successfully getting them off the road and into the wilderness, Joel was confronted by a soldier, one of many sent to contain the spread. The soldier attempts to shoot the two, but only hits Sarah.
As Tommy arrives and takes out the soldier, Joel realizes that his daughter is bleeding out and that there’s no way he can help her. Seeing these last few moments of this little girl in pain will bring the player to tears while also setting up Joel’s arc for the rest of the game.
4) Life is Strange: Before the Storm
Life is Strange: Before the Storm is a prequel to the first Life is Strange video game, telling the story of Chloe Price. Developer Don't Nod took a step back for this outing, with Deck Nine taking the reins for the development of Before the Storm, which was released in an episodic format in 2017.
Taking place after Chloe lost her dad and her best friend, Max moved away from Arcadia Bay. Chloe’s life is in complete disarray at this point, and players will probably feel sad for her more than once as the story progresses. However, the most emotional moments came after Chloe first met Rachel Ambers.
This gives players who have played the first game an even harder time continuing with the story, as they know Rachael’s eventual fate. The fun memories Chloe and Rachel make together are a great change of pace but are always undercut by a note of bittersweetness. There are more than a handful of times when players will be sobbing in this game.
5) The Walking Dead Season One
The Walking Dead is a series of video games developed by Telltale Games, released in an episodic format over many years, and consisting of four seasons. The first season was released in 2012, consisting of five playable episodes. This video game's story takes place in the state of Georgia, US, much like the TV series and comics it is inspired from.
While players can play as various characters throughout the game's episodes, the primary protagonist is Lee Everett, who throughout the story had become somewhat of a father figure to Clementine, an eight-year-old girl who was on her own when the zombie apocalypse happened.
The two go on a journey together through the episodes, but by the end of the game, Lee is bitten by a zombie. While players can choose to cut Lee’s arm off to stave off being turned, ultimately, the time comes for the two to part ways.
Lee can ask Clementine to shoot him or have a tearful conversation with the little girl one last time. While the first option is sad (and horrifying) enough, the conversation allows Lee to give Clementine some last bits of advice and tell her to stay safe. Brave players who decide to finish the game will need tissues.
Q. Have you cried to any of these video games?
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