Gaming is a medium that may evoke a lot of emotion out of those who choose to play them. For anyone who has played one, you know the emotions may range from raging, to laughing, and occasionally to even crying. The fact that video games are able to get us to have such feelings is a testament to how great of an avenue for entertainment they truly are. A well told story, coupled with characters we either grow to love or loathe throughout our journey in the digital worlds we are encompassed in, makes for a connection that cannot be replicated in any other entertainment industry. We are literally a part of the world in the games we play, and as developers continue to push the industry forward, a major draw that will keep us coming back is how emotionally attached we become in the process of playing. This video is placing emphasis on 5 games that were so memorable and important to the gaming medium as a whole due in part to the emotion it elicited out of the players. I’m talking about moments that will make even the biggest, burliest manbearpig get teary eyed.
Now of course, expect major spoilers, and remember, this is not a top 5 video, so I am not ranking these moments above or below any others that may not have made the list. If there are some you feel are noteworthy, please list it in the comment section. So, without further delay:
#5: The Legend of Dragoon – Lavitz’s death
Lavitz Slambert was the first party member to join main character Dart in Hellena Prison to save Shana and make a daring escape. He was the pillar of strength early on in the game for the party with a personality to match. As captain of the First Knighthood of Basil, he was a personal servant to King Albert of the same kingdom. So once the King was kidnapped and taken to Hellena prison, Lavitz led the team in a rescue mission. When they arrived to the King, Lavitz lost control over his emotions as he saw main antagonist, Lloyd, extracting the Moon Object from Albert. Filled with rage at the potential thought that his King was hurt, Lavitz charged forward in his Dragoon state, ready to take on Lloyd. Little did he, nor the party know, that Lloyd was packing a weapon strong enough to slay any dragon, and Lavitz would meet his end by the blade. The fact that Lavitz was such a genuine character is what made his death so saddening. What’s worse is King Albert joined the party in his stead, and he was definitely a step down in regard to defensive stats and the fact that his additions were so much faster and harder to master than Lavitz.
#4: The Last of Us – Joel’s daughter is killed
This moment happened in the opening minutes of the game. The cordyceps brain virus that was the primary plot point of the game was just beginning to spread, and you immediately were thrown into a world that was beginning to become turned upside down as the virus spread rapidly and no one knew why or how at the time. Joel, his brother Tommy and his daughter Sarah were fighting for their lives to get out of town and into a safe zone. As they nearly make it, Joel & his daughter are greeted at the outskirts of town by a military soldier who is simply following orders from his superior to open fire on anyone who makes it to him. Sad to say, Joel and Sarah were subject to his order to open fire. While Tommy got there just in time to save Joel’s life, it was too late for Sarah as she was bleeding to death while her father held her in his arms, crying, reassuring her it would be okay. It was touching, as the last person Joel cared about just died before the game even starts. The tone was set, you were fighting back tears, and you were ready to take over playing as a jaded Joel 20 years later.
#3: Final Fantasy VII – Aeris is killed by Sephiroth
Aeris is a beloved character in Final Fantasy VII, and that’s why her death hit so hard. The truth is, I, like many other people at the time, had not played any Final Fantasy games prior to 7, so I was in no way ready for such masterful storytelling. The game was created in 1997 when video games were just starting to be taken seriously as more than child’s play, and being that I was a child at the time, I had only played light hearted adventures previously. Aeris was the constant source of hope in a world full of despair. She was the last remaining Ancient known to mankind, a special race of people who had a connection to the Promised Land, a very spiritual place that should not be desecrated by mankind for selfish reasons. This is precisely why Shinra Corporation was after her, so that they may exploit the Promised Land for its Mako energy.
It’s safe to say that the main antagonist in the story, Sephiroth had his own agenda in attaining power, and he had little need for Aeris, unlike the company he used to work for. Therefore, he found solace in offing her in front of poor Cloud and the gang. It was ruthless and heartbreaking all at the same time. She was literally stabbed in the back while she was praying for goodness sake! She was at complete peace, then her life gets taken away from her. All I could remember as a then 8 year old boy was reassuring myself that I would be able to use a phoenix down on her after I was done fighting the Jenova Life boss Sephiroth left behind. The opportunity never came, and she was gone not even halfway through the game. The fact that it is talked about nearly 20 years later makes it such a heavy hitting moment in gaming that began to elevate the art form at a time when it was hardly considered one by mainstream culture.
#2: The Walking Dead Season 1 – Lee’s death
Lee Everett was tasked with protecting 8 year old Clementine, who he would do anything for in order to keep safe and help her to get to her parents. So when he gets bitten in the game, as the gamer, you’re unassuming that he is in any immediate danger because you’re given the option to cut his hand off, and of course, you feel inclined to do so. Regardless, the infection has taken hold of him and he gradually becomes sicker throughout the game. What makes the moment of truth so hard is that Clementine is the one who must decide whether to take his life or leave him to turn. This is such a touching, emotional time because they have spent nearly the entire game together and the bond they formed was akin to a father-daughter relationship. Either scenario proves to be very sad and a real tear jerker. You feel so helpless no matter what decision is made because this bond is broken in such devastating fashion. Oh the feels!
#1: Metal Gear Solid 3 – Snake finds out the truth about The Boss after he already killed her
At the conclusion of the Virtuous Mission in the beginning of the game, main character Naked Snake had nearly accomplished his orders of rescuing scientist Sokolov and extracting him from Soviet enemy territory when he came across his then mentor and mother figure, codenamed “The Boss.” She was the greatest asset to tactical espionage warfare for the United States government until that very moment when she joined forces with GRU colonel, Volgin and to commensurate her new allegiance to Volgin, The Boss gifted him a mini U.S. nuclear warhead. Volgin used the warhead on a Soviet Union research facility, thus heightening the Cold War between the Soviets and United States. From that point forward, Snake was tasked with killing The Boss, which after a grand gaming experience, he managed to accomplish in the end. The fact that through all The Boss did to make Snake’s life hell during the game, he still loved and cared for her, made killing her hard enough. The events that unfolded thereafter was even tougher to swallow.
To discover that The Boss was in fact not a traitor to her country and was actually an inside agent working for the U.S. to take down Colonel Volgin from the beginning was mind-blowing. The incalculable event of Volgin using the U.S. warhead she gifted him was not accounted for. Therefore, the U.S. government had to clear their name of all wrongdoing in the event and thus, The Boss was labeled as the scapegoat that would have to be killed by her own apprentice and closest person she knew to be a son. The Boss was the real hero of the story, and she loved her country so much that she did anything to see her mission through, even if it meant that her life would be taken for the cause. Imagining Snake’s emotional state through this all being revealed to him is unfathomable. All you can do is cry. As the last scene unfolds where he visits her grave and salutes her for the last time while a tear rolls down his face, I was boo hoo crying. This was the culmination of storytelling in gaming, as only Hideo Kojima could masterfully tell it.
Are there any moments you don’t agree with? How about some that I may have missed? There is always an opportunity for a part two, so sound off in the comments section and let your voice be heard!
Jarad Munroe, JCMac120