For those that don’t know, here in the United States men are basically taught not to cry. ‘Murica. Social norms dictate that it shows weakness and popular culture tells us it’s unmanly. There’s also something about it preventing cancer. Here’s the thing though: bawling your eye sockets out is actually a healthy thing to help us get over whatever stress we have in our lives or show we care deeply about something. [Ed: Not me, I glued my tear ducts closed.]
Alright, so you now just realized as a man, or woman, it’s OK to let loose that salty goodness when you’re upset. But you actually need a motivation to cry right this moment. Don’t worry about that because the art form known as video games has you covered. You see, video games are way more interactive than books or movies. Not only do you form bonds, memories, and relationships with gaming characters but you have a direct control in how and what they do. Each success and failure weighs on you and if the characters you’ve fallen in love with live or die. It’s like if your actions determined what kindergarten classmates would return to school the next day alive. Point being things can get pretty heavy in the world of gaming. So in realization of this false machismo everywhere (and Horizon Zero Dawn being such a beautiful game), here are ten moments that made me (a man) cry my eyes out. Oh, and beware of spoilers ahead.
End of the First Kingdom Hearts
Alright so if you couldn’t tell by the first entry, there will be spoilers. Although if you haven’t played most of the video games on this list then I have to wonder what you’ve been doing with your life. Unless you knew these games would make you cry and avoided them accordingly. Don’t worry, I’ll be gentle.
So the first Kingdom Hearts title took you on a grandiose adventure of a teen named Sora. Him and his friends lived on a pretty small series of islands and dreamed of going to other worlds. We have to assume their home lives were pretty bad since they wanted to run away from a Caribbean paradise with no danger to speak of. We also have to assume their schooling system wasn’t the best because they tried to go to other worlds via a raft. Not just any raft, a small one made up of five logs and a mast. Stupidity aside their world is soon attacked by darkness minions known as the Heartless. Before they know it their entire planet is swallowed up and destroyed, everyone they’ve known is presumably dead, one friend mysteriously vanished in a haze, and another was engulfed into a pit of darkness.
Feeling the tears already huh? Just try to hold them in so you can explode in a massive wave of feel good cries. Our hero wakes up on another world and goes about trying to make sense of things. He eventually comes across his companions, Donald and Goofy, and the three go about trying to achieve different goals. Sora’s is clearly finding his friends. Adventures abound, different worlds are rescued from the Heartless, new friends are made, and sadly friends become enemies. You see one of Sora’s friendly island buddies, Riku, thought it would be a good idea to join the powers of darkness to rescue their other friend, Kairi. Then through teen angst, Riku thinks Sora doesn’t care about them as he’s off dawdling around on other worlds.
Fast forward most of the game where villains are vanquished, plot points are revealed, Riku realizes the error or his ways albeit too late, lives are lost, and the main bad guy is defeated. The worlds are slowly returning to normal and everything is hunky dory. Sora will be able to join Kairi back on Destiny Islands and then they’ll go about saving Riku from the darkness realm. Psyche! Sora and company decide they need to stick together to have the best chance of finding their lost friends. They have no idea how long it will take but they know in their hearts they need to do it.
So the worlds are re-materializing, Sora and Kairi have an emotional goodbye as they’re rushed to say how they truly feel about each other and what the plan is. All the while heartbreaking music plays. Eventually, the two are split apart by the worlds coming back and Sora’s choice to stay behind. They share a loving gaze before they are removed from each others view and the incredibly bittersweet ending plays. Little did they know they wouldn’t see each other for over a year and one person (who shall not be named) even forgot about everything that happened.
All of Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
There’s not a scientific quantity that could keep track of how many times this game will make you cry. It’s a JRPG that focuses on main character Oliver who is just a boy. At the very beginning of the game, his mother saves him from drowning only for her to have heart problems because of it and die. Que the next scene and our hero is a blubbering mess. He doesn’t know what he’s going to do or what’s next for his life. Luckily, all his crying made his toy doll come alive and reveal there’s a whole alternate world out there. Not only that but each person in his world has a soul mate they’re linked to in Oliver’s world. So it’s perfectly possible to not only meet his mother again, but to bring her back as well! O happy day and everything’s going to be ok since our hero is just a child.
You must have forgotten the title of this article huh? Well it turns out that his mother was quite the badass wizard but wasn’t quite strong enough to defeat one of the main antagonists of the game named Shadar. She retreated to Oliver’s world in order to find a way to defeat the baddie but ended up giving birth to Oliver himself. Not only that but Oliver was the soul mate link to Shadar. Obviously, the mother couldn’t snuff out her own child and the sinking realization came that Oliver’s mother had originally come from the alternate world. So the mother had “died” in both worlds and couldn’t be brought back. But wait! There’s more!
One of the companions, Swaine, was a runaway from his kingdom he was the prince of. You see he was jealous that his father seemed to favor his brother over him. So he ran away and ran he did. Unfortunately, while he did so his father was murdered and he felt incredibly guilty that he couldn’t rectify the heartbreak. Turns out through plots of the story, our band of heroes gets to travel back in time! They go on to meet his dad but Swaine decides to play it cool harboring some small resentment still. That is until Shadar strikes again and mortally wounds the king. The father and son finally have a heart to heart talk after the king reveals he knew Swaine was really his son all grown up. Swaine’s dad then passes away too much sadness and they learn how he died in the first place.
If you’re crying your eyes out already over this game, then I apologize because there’s just one more example out of many I’d like to bring up. You see the other main bad guy (or should I say girl) is the White Witch. She was a powerful sorcerer and ruler in the alternate world centuries ago. She wanted to do nothing more than to help her subjects. Sadly, the council that acted like a governing body tricked her into performing a spell they said would help everyone. The White Witch did so and the spell killed everyone in her kingdom exceptionally slow and painfully. She was so wrought with grief that she buried her true self deep inside while her anger and depression took control. Eventually, she had a hold of every country in this world and contributed to a lot of suffering for eons.
Achilles’ Death in Assassin’s Creed III
Like it or hate it, you have to admit AC3 had one of the best mentor characters in all of gaming. Once you’re in control of grown up Ratonhnhake:ton (or Connor), a native american whose father is a high-ranking Templar, you’re led on your journey to Achilles Davenport’s house by powers beyond your control. You seek training and mentorship from the old Assassin but he rudely rebukes you. He did this because of the tragedy in his past. You see Achilles was a pretty big figure of the Assassin Brotherhood when the colonies of the new world were just starting to form. Some would say he was the defacto leader of the organization in the thirteen colonies. Regrettably it all came crumbling down due to his unintended arrogance and disbelief. One of his brightest students defected to the Templars (but for good reason) and essentially caused the downfall of the entire order. Eventually, all Assassin’s in the new world were exterminated except Achilles. He was kept alive as a warning but was crippled in order to ensure there would be no revenge taking. O and during all this his wife and son died of typhoid fever. So yaaaaaaaay….
Through a series of events and Connor’s hardheadedness, Achilles reluctantly agrees to lend out his training. The rest of the game was only possible thanks to the old mentor and provided our new Assassin with all the weapons to go up against the Templars. Not to mention the way Achilles’ land became a small town with a bunch of wonderful people. All of which looked up to the old man as a father figure. Good and bad times were had but everyone, including the player, loved Achilles. That is until late in the game where he passes away. I didn’t think this would happen as the game would end and everyone would assume he just died in the years to come. Nope!
Everything about the discovery of his body to the funeral was upsetting: Connor stumbling upon the dead mentor in his chair, reading the heartfelt letter left behind as you dig a grave in the rain, the preparation of the service, letting all the settlement people know, and the funeral itself. What’s worse (or better depending on your outlook) was Achilles dying by just passing away in his sleep. There was no Templar revenge or some horrible raid on the house. Just the cycle of life taking its toll. I know the death of Ezio’s family towards the beginning of ACII was also pretty heartbreaking. It’s just that not enough time was spent with the family to truly pack that punch of, “wow, my character’s family is dead and never to be seen again.” Compared to Achilles who you spent in-game years and fifty plus hours with.
The Reveal of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter’s Story
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter never looked like a particularly cheery game. It advertised itself as a family torn apart by supernatural forces. When I say torn apart I mean that literally. People were going to die in gruesome ways. Luckily, a world-famous detective had gotten some mail from the family’s youngest child. It detailed some strange going-ons in Wisconsin and he needed help. Once the detective arrives and starts scoping things out, the family has already killed each other silly. One was drowned, another took a weapon to the face, and more.
However, not all is as it seems. When the boy is finally found the detective mentions it’s time for him to go. Turns out the whole adventure was made up by the youngest kid because he was trapped in the family’s burning lakeside house. The entire game took place in his mind. Why would he make it up you ask? Well not for nothing but the kid was going to die. He imagined all this so his mind could make sense of why he had to move on. Yea, that’s the end of the game. The small kid kicking the bucket in a burned down house as his plenty alive family tried to help. Life just isn’t fair huh?
The Walking Dead’s Kenny Losing His Wife and Child
I know, I know. Some of you are infuriated that this one doesn’t deal with Lee and Clem. Especially when Lee dies at the end. I did mention spoilers right? Point being there is not a lot in this game that causes happy emotions. I could make an entire list every week for a year about The Walking Dead titles by Telltale but I only want to make people cry. Not ruin their lives. The moment that got to me the most though was when main protagonist buddy, Kenny, learns that his son, Duck, was bitten by a walker. Of course, that in itself is depressing enough but nooooo it doesn’t stop there.
After much uncertainty about what to do Lee, Kenny, and Kenny’s wife, Katjaa, take a heavily ailing Duck into the woods. Depending on player choices will determine how things are done but the outcome remains the same. A poor Duck passing away due to his bite and both mother and father being incredibly distraught. Then Katjaa uses a gun on herself and well…I’m sure you can figure out what that does to a person. Immediately after, Duck shows signs of reanimating and has to be shot by either Lee or Kenny. The whole ordeal leaves Kenny a visibly broken man but he continues to help Season 1’s group out. So yea, don’t be too upset with your parents when they ask you to do a few chores?
The Last of Us’ Opening Chapter
We knew this was coming from the moment we inserted the disc into our PlayStations, but it still left us ragged. You probably have seen this one on any article about lists of sadness but there’s a reason for that. The very beginning of The Last of Us shows us a great father, Joel, and his daughter, Sarah, bantering about life. Including and I quote, “drugs, I sell hardcore drugs.” Immediately it’s made apparent how much the two love each other, hardcore drugs aside, and Naughty Dog’s ability to utilize visuals, sounds, and dialogue really brings it home. But that’s when the fire nation attacked…errr…I mean that’s when things went south and would mark the first time every grown man all over the world would cry in a rated M game. [Ed: Nope, not me. I’m cold. Doctors delivering my son into the world was like Dominoes delivering pizza. I don’t like pizza…]
When you take control of Sarah, she roams around the house looking for her dad. She finds him when he rushes into the house, loads a gun, and shoots the infected neighbor close behind him. Then Joel’s brother, Tommy, picks the pair up as they try to escape the area from the infected. They’re stopped by a ton of traffic, a military checkpoint, and more infected people running around trying to kill everyone. The trio’s truck is eventually crashed into and they all survive but Sarah’s leg is broken. Joel puts Sarah in his arms and they make a mad dash for their survival. People are running everywhere, cars are crashing, a gas station explodes, and just all around chaos ensues.
Unfortunately, the two get separated from Tommy just as a military soldier holds the panicked father and daughter at gunpoint. His orders are to eliminate them and they try pleading but to no avail. Sarah is shot in the abdomen while the murderer is gunned down by a reappearing Tommy. An emotional scene plays out as a whimpering child slowly dies in her father’s shaking arms. This all happened in the first ten minutes mind you, yet we felt like we were actually there and apart of this family that was now torn apart. I guess with these last two entries you should really go and hug your mom and dad. Go on, this piece isn’t going anywhere.
Papo & Yo’s Message
Anything dealing with abusive parents is always a sad affair. Which considering what I just said, maybe be smart about when to hug your parents. This game starts off with a young boy hiding in a closet so he won’t get beaten by his drunken dad. His favorite toy then comes to life and transports Quico to another world. Once there they come upon a giant creature only known as Monster. Plenty of warnings are given about the Monster but Quico finds it harmless and playful. That is until it eats a frog and goes on a rampage where it tries to kill the player. The only way to stop the rampage is to make it eat a rotten fruit. I’m sure you can see the metaphors already right?
If you still don’t get it, Monster=Quico’s dad and frogs=alcohol. The rest of the game is spent traveling and platforming this world while trying to cure the Monster of its rage. By the end all attempts are futile and Quico realizes that there is no saving his father (the Monster) and he has to let him go. After the monster has been put to sleep for the last time, the player pushes it into the abyss and Quico returns home. Quite the message right? As depressing as it is, the game does a good job at letting abuse victims know it’s not their fault and they don’t have to put up with it any longer. Even if it’s from family. Just what we needed in our daily dose of video games huh?
inFAMOUS 2’s Evil Ending
inFAMOUS tells the story of Cole, who acquires electric superpowers after his future self sets off a bomb that manifests super abilities within our protagonist. You know what? That’s a long story in itself and would take a while to explain. Just take my word for it that the future self of the player you’re controlling gave you superpowers. Through the entire first game and most of the second one, there was only one person by Cole’s side through thick and thin. His best friend Zeke. Even Cole’s girlfriend left him over the events of the series. Truths were discovered, battles are fought, plot points were had, missions accomplished, and Zeke was always there for his bud. All of this is made the more meaningful when you realize that Zeke lacks any powers and is just a normal human.
Then the big bad of the series shows up and arrives towards the end of the second game. Turns out he was enacting one of those save the world by destroying it type of deals. If Cole agrees then he goes through helping the main antagonist essentially take over the world and save other people with powers, Conduits, by killing normal people. Joylessly, Zeke disagrees with the methods and stands in his former friend’s way. The two meet up on a church and they share a heartbreaking moment as an old catch phrase is shared between the two. Zeke’s only comment is, “I have to try,” and Cole’s only response is, “I know.” The former best bro then tries to shoot Cole but to no avail. The “hero” then forces himself to kill his friend with three electrical strikes.
If you need a comparison this would be like if Cloud decided that Sephiroth was right and helped his extinction level event. Only Tifa stood in Cloud’s way. Most fans would agree that Tifa didn’t stand a chance but tries in vain anyway. Just imagine that will you. Cloud annihilating his childhood best friend. Now before you ask, I didn’t choose this ending on my “100 percent realsies” playthrough. I only played inFAMOUS 2 as an evil person to acquire the platinum trophy. I promise! But what does that say about me though…
Spec Ops: The Line and Killing Innocence
Another event you’ve probably heard on weepy lists and for good reasons. Most shooters you are the unstoppable, one man army, good guy who can kill anyone anywhere and be doing the world a great service. Those pesky enemy soldiers causing problems? Just go ahead and Rambo their assess. Civilians in your crosshairs as you’re in a gunfight? Try not to hit them but if you do don’t worry, you obviously weren’t trying to do that. These are the questions that Spec Ops: The Line forces you to face. There are no buts or I’m sorrys here.
Long story short, you and your two comrades are dug in deep while in a firefight with the enemy army in Dubai. You come across a nice mortar with white phosphorus and utilize it against the enemy. For those that don’t know white phosphorus is a smoke and incendiary munition that is quite deadly. Its explosion can kill instantly and parts of it can stick to humans and continue burning. Yikes. Well, when you investigate the enemy soldiers you were engaged with, you find a macabre display that will be stuck with you for a while.
Turns out those enemy soldiers were civilians. The white phosphorus killed every innocent life, skinned them all to their bones, and left nothing but throw up inducing retching. That little child curled up into their mother’s arms, forever embraced in the melted skin and death…yea that was you good chap. Nice job.
Flower and Journey
I figured I caused a lot of sad times with your eyes so I’ll finish on a happy note or happy cry. Also, I know these are two separate games but they’re made by the same developer and it is my list so…”whatevah I do what I want.” Thatgamecompany just has a way with feels. Their latter two creations show that more than anything. In Flower you play as a flower petal who must gather other petals to travel and “re-light” the world. You start off in a field and gradually make your way across the countryside and into the urban city. While you’re doing this you are accompanied by the most beautiful, heavenly music and sound effects. The whoosh of the wind and the rush of collecting petals leaves you with a feeling of universal understanding. Ok, maybe not that much but you will be moved by just a flower traveling on the wind.
By the end you are saving a city which has been corrupted by dark blobs but not without challenges. Your precious piece of nature almost died! These entries are the only games on this list that will make you cry yourself to sleep with just music and graphics. It’s all a good cry though. Just realizing the beauty of nature, the world around you, and your place in it would make anyone at least shudder at the magnificence. Plus, is it weird to just cry at beauty itself?
Journey also has a similar premise. You play a robed figure in the desert who is trying to reach a mountaintop in the distance. Except in this one you can meet up with other random players and tackle exploration, puzzle solving, or enemies together. However, you can only communicate with chirps which in itself is oh so adorable. Once again the visuals and sound will move you like few soundtracks can. From cheerfully sliding down a giant hill while bathing in beautiful sunlight to being frozen in a harsh snow with ominous tunes. Not to mention the final level which is easily one of the most alluring moments in all of gaming. I really can’t describe the experience here and do it justice. So go and play it yourself if you haven’t yet you dolt!
So there you have it. The moments in video games that made this red-blooded American cry harder than when Rocky defeated Ivan Drago in the boxing ring. I realize that was a fictitious movie and didn’t really happen. It still has no bearing on how emotional each of these titles were and the impact they can have on the human psyche. I just hope I didn’t completely ruin your day by shoving some of the saddest moments in video game history straight to your face all at once.
So, c’mon then, share your teary moments down in the comments section below. Honestly, we won’t judge you. [Ed: I will. ;-)]