Top 10 Unexpecedly Heartbreaking Moments in Video Games

Spoilers ahead! Sad ones.

10. Borderlands 2 is, across the board, one of the funniest, most cleverly written and entertaining RPG shooters ever created – which is why the emotional tones behind several of the stories came as such a surprise. Each character has experienced some sort of incredible tragedy, and the culmination of this pain and loss can be found in the DLC, Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep. While working through the trauma of losing her mentor and best friend, the group tries to explain his death to a seemingly in denial Tina when she suddenly shouts, “I KNOW!” sending every underlying feeling straight to the surface.

9. The main themes in Firewatch include heartbreak, regret, and running away from the problems you can’t bring yourself to face. The entire story isn’t exactly uplifting, but one of the hardest parts to continue comes when Henry’s suspicions about Brian Goodwin are confirmed. Shocked and in disbelief at what he sees, the only thing Henry can say is, “Ah, shit…”

8. Bioshock Infinite is a whirlwind of emotion, but Elizabeth’s story is the real shot in the gut. Booker, haunted by what he has experienced and witnessed throughout Columbia, runs desperately towards the inevitable truth of his past as Elizabeth laments: “There’s always a lighthouse, there’s always a man, there’s always a city.” From the moment she speaks these words, the doubt sets in, and we’re left to watch in shock as the constants and variables come together.

7. Valiant Hearts is a game that made even the toughest players break down. Emotionally driven, the overtones of sacrifice and loss during the Great War reverberate through every sequence, but none felt more deeply than during the ending scene. The loss of Emile is great, but his observation of his experiences only deepens the ache: “War makes men mad.”

6. 2018’s Marvel’s Spider-Man makes you “feel like Spider-Man,” but that sensation has its downside at the very end of the game. Peter is faced with an impossible choice, and players are forced to bear witness to his pain firsthand as he cries, “I don’t know what to do!”

5. Every game in the Half Life series is a masterpiece, but Half Life 2 - Part 2 has the unique claim of holding audiences in suspense for decades. In a surprising twist, two of the game’s main characters are thrown into disaster without warning and without resolution. Alyx can only watch as her father is dangled by a deadly enemy, and she helplessly returns his last sentiment: “I love you, dad.”

4. Telltale’s The Walking Dead is often cited as one of the saddest video games ever made, and for good reason; just as happiness is short lived in the comic books and TV shows, so it is in the video game. There are more heartbreaking scenes than can be mentioned, of course, but often forgotten is a more subtle tragedy when Lee discovers the body of a small, starved zombie child in an attic. When Lee sees the tiny, broken body turn to face him, all he can say is a soft, shocked, “oh my god,” echoing the thoughts of every player that watched along with him.

3. Sometimes you can feel the heartbreak coming long before you actually see it. Such is the case in Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. The premise of the game is bleak enough – with their mother already dead, two sons must find the tree of life to save their dying father. Near the top, they are attacked by an enormous spider-like creature that, right before it dies, stabs the older brother through the chest. The younger brother finishes his journey to the top and collects the healing water, but returns to find his brother already dead. Anguished, all he can do is call his name: “Nyaa!”

2. For a game that is almost completely centered on chainsaw guns and gore, Gears of War 2 has some seriously weighty moments. Dom, who has been searching unceasingly for his wife throughout the story, finally finds his love, only to discover that the hive has reduced her to barely more than a shell. Shocked and disgusted, he exclaims, “What did they do to you?!” as he realizes the depth of what has been taken from him.

1. It’s naive to assume that a game called The Last of Us would be anything short of heart-wrenching, but even before the game’s title appeared, it had players in tears. As his daughter Sarah succumbs to her wounds, Joel cries softly (with everyone weeping along with him), “Please, please, please don’t do this, please…”

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