Top 10 Tear Jerkers
Games have often been criticised for their lack of emotive capability compared to other forms of media such as cinema and TV. To a certain extent this argument is well founded. Many, if not most, games focus more on gameplay than story but in recent years, with a few exceptions from the past, gaming has begun to mature in regards to its plot lines and emotional output. There are a variety of emotions that games portray and bring out in players. The most common of these are happiness, anger and relief. This article focuses on the slightly rarer realm of game related emotional responses – the tear jerker. The games that make us weep with sadness over a lost character, and the games that put a lump in our throats when the story’s grand conclusion unfolds. But before we get into the list itself, it must be said that from here on in there will be spoilers. You have been warned! So here it is, the Top 10 Tear Jerkers:
Dark Souls is a game that receives a lot of praise from gamers, however it is not often heralded as a tear jerker. This is most likely due to the fact that the story line (or lack there of) is not one of perpetual sadness, like others in this list. The true brutality of this game though and the part that has brought many a tear to a gamers eye, is not down to sadness, but to sheer and utter frustration.
To the uninitiated this may seem foolish as surely no game is so frustratingly difficult that it reduces one to tears. Once you try to complete Anor Londo and defeat Smaug and Ornstein, however, you will understand. And no you’re not allowed to cheat and use walkthroughs from the start of the game! Playing Dark Souls is a true baptism of blood and many a tear has been shed in pursuit of becoming the lord of the un-dead. These tears, however, are often followed by complete and utter elation and relief after defeating the most difficult of bosses.
Red Dead Redemption
Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption is one of the most successful and finest examples of a Wild West game. The storyline itself is a rather sad tale: ex-outlaw John Marston wishes to return to his family but is roped into returning to his previous life to stop his old gang mates. After a long gruelling campaign, John finally returns home to his family and we see him readjust to a simpler life with his wife and son. Suddenly things change, and John’s home is stormed by government officials. After making sure his family is safe, he storms out of the barn, offering shades of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, into a hail of bullets and betrayal.
This heroic end to such a loved character was a filmic moment, hence the comparison, and was enough to make even the most stern gamer sit in silence fighting a quivering bottom lip. It was made all the more horrific by the fact that after witnessing the terrible death you were left to play as Jack Marston, John’s son who was forced to carry on his father’s legacy despite being capable of so much more.
Valiant Hearts is a war game almost like no other. Its approach to World War One is not that of the Call of Duty franchise or, in other words, running around killing and grinning whilst things blow up. Instead, it takes a realistic and mature approach to what war actually means to those who are pulled into it. Centred around four separate characters all from different walks of life, the tale is one of sorrow as families are torn apart by the war. The tone of the game alone is enough to make most people feel down, and with the addition of heart wrenching situations the characters find themselves in, it is enough to give you quite the heavy heart.
The Last Of Us: Re-mastered
The Last of Us is nothing but tear jerker moments. It begins with a father losing his daughter and then quickly jumps into the destruction of the human race. As we’re taken alongside Joel and Ellie, we see remnants of old life spread between unspeakable horrors, and the people we meet either end up dead or unhappy. In a world where survival is more important than actually living, moments like the one above, with the giraffe, are enough to illicit more than a sob.
Metal Gear Solid 4
Who doesn’t love Snake? The man has gone to hell and back throughout the MGS series and there have been many occasions when it’s choked us up, with none more so than the end of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. The final scenes are so filled with sentiment, it is impossible for strong emotions to be left unstirred. The struggle he (and indeed the player) goes through to get to this point is rewarded with heartbreak as Big Boss collapses after a speech to Snake and dies leaving Snake stood contemplating the words of his now deceased father, to not “waste the life you have left fighting.” All this is done at the grave site of The Boss, Big Boss’ mentor and mother like figure. The whole setting is done in the classic Metal Gear way with a lovingly crafted, long cut-scene that ties together the whole affair and with music tugging at the heart strings the player is left with watery eyes and a runny nose and if you’re not feeling exceptionally mournful, you’re doing it wrong.
This is good… isn’t it?
Shadow Of The Colossus
This PS2 classic is without a doubt a game that will have you tearing up at its conclusion, and the reason for this is Agro. Agro is the faithful companion and trusty steed of Wander, the game’s main protagonist. The horse is quite often considered to be one of the greatest animal companions in any game, and the bond shared between Wander and Agro cannot be described as anything but unbreakable. The only word in the game that Wander ever utters is the name of his trusted horse. The build up to the end of the game sees the apparent death of Agro. After a bridge begins to collapse Agro speeds on, landing on the final stretch of the bridge only for it to fall and crumble away. Agro quickly bucks Wander off on to the safety of the other side and then succumbs to the fall. The love that the player builds for this animal is potentially even more than what is felt for Epona, and we all love Epona! So this moment is truly harrowing and makes the final Colossus even harder to defeat, with the player’s vision being impaired by the presence of welled-up tears.
Agro is revealed to have survived the fall later on, although she quite obviously worse for wear. Even so, she’s still looking out for Wander.
Final Fantasy X
Final Fantasy X is often overlooked as a tear jerker, what with its older sibling Final Fantasy VII overshadowing it in this sense with one of the biggest emotional video game moments of all time: the death of Aeris. However, the ending to FFX contains such a series of saddening and poignant events that it is hard to not give it a firm place in this top ten.
The first instance is when Tidus, the protagonist, finds out that Yuna, the girl he loves and thus must protect, has to sacrifice herself in order to defeat the final boss. His outburst of emotion is hard not to replicate after receiving the news and after the joy felt discovering that this is in fact not the case the player is quickly pulled back into silence and snuffles when, after defeating the last boss, Tidus begins to disappear. Yuna’s dive to hug him and tell him she loves him is so heartfelt you can’t help but sympathise with their pain. As he slowly walks away toward his own reality the player is left to contemplate the harshness of lovers torn apart. All of course accented by the beautiful soundtrack, which only serves to heighten your emotions to such an extent that you become a blubbering, woeful mess.
Mass Effect 3
Mass Effect 3 is on this list for a variety of reasons. The first and most obvious reason is the death of the trilogy’s main playable character, Commander Shepard. The grand finale of the series sees the heroic sacrifice of the person you’ve followed through ninety hours of gameplay, to restore hope and give the gift of continued life to the universe.
Arguably the saddest moment in the game, however, is the death of Thane Krios. This fan-favourite character has been doomed since his first appearance in Mass Effect 2, but it isn’t until the third instalment that we finally witness his death. This scene is made all the more touching by his estranged son, who sits at his father’s side as Shepard says his goodbyes. It is hard not to empathise with the situation and it’s enough to start making one discreetly rub the ‘dust’ from their eyes.
Nier is filled with moments that bring about sadness, a sense of loss and bewilderment, with none more so than the ending. Nier is a game with multiple endings and some are arguably a lot better than others. The worst combination of which are endings B with C. This is possible as endings C and D describe events after the previous two endings. Ending B shows the deceased ‘Gestalt’ Nier in a white space crying to himself whilst having flashbacks of him and his daughter. This harrowing scene really does bring the player to the verge of breakdown and followed by the relapse of Kaine leading to the player having to fight her, which in turn, leads to Nier having to kill her whilst kissing her, to which she replies ‘thank you’. Collectedly, this sequence of events could easily bring the player to explode with emotion and sob at the emotional rollercoaster, that is Nier.
Lost Odyssey is a truly testing game for anyone’s machismo. The beautiful storyline is as long as it is harrowing. It is a game filled with truly depressing and tear-filled moments, none more so than the meeting of Kaim and his long lost daughter Lirum. To those not familiar with this game, Kaim is an immortal warrior who, suffering from amnesia, slowly begins regaining his memories through scenery and character driven flashbacks. These flashbacks often involve the supposed death of his daughter in front of him. A while into the game, Kaim finally reunites with his daughter who is dying from a disease. It is also in this scene that he first meets his grandchildren. The exchange between Kaim and his newly found family is so beautiful and heart wrenching it makes even the toughest, weathered gamers break down like a little school girl and cry.