I don’t keep it a secret–I cry a lot. Like a lot. Video games, movies, puppies… you name it, I’ve probably cried about it at some point. So, I figured, instead of just a boring old, regular game of the year list, why don’t we talk about how much I (and others) have cried their sweet little eyes out?
Let’s sit back, grab a box of tissues, and weep over these gaming moments again together.
SPOILER ALERT – This list will have FULL SPOILERS for the following games: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, The Banner Saga, Life is Strange 2 Episode 1, Spider-Man, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, Dragon Quest XI, Yakuza 0, and Final Fantasy XV.
Kassandra reuniting with her mother in Naxos – Aimee Hart
My family, much like Kassandra’s, has been broken for a very long time–and like her, I’ve dealt with that throughout my childhood and my teenage years by well, not dealing with it at all. So of course, it made me tear up at seeing Kassandra finally come face-to-face with her mother on Naxos. The shadows on Kassandra’s face as she hides away, the way her eyes widen when she recognizes her mother and hears her voice. The hitch of her breath… It all leads to her finally coming upon her mother, and them both being lost for words as they embrace. It isn’t just about Kassandra getting her mother back, but a piece of herself back when she was happy as a child. The return of love thought abandoned, that’s what made me weep so hard for Kassandra and Myrrine.
Experiencing Tetris Effect
I’ve never been one to ‘get’ Mizuguchi’s games. I don’t like Rez all that much, so I never really bothered with any of his other games. When Tetris Effect was first announced, I worried the visual effects would be more distracting than anything else. Something compelled me to try the demo, however, and I ended up paying full price for the title. Tetris Effect is just an experience, and for reasons I still can’t explain, finishing the final level of Journey Mode roll and watching the credits had tears falling from my eyes.
Doc Octopus in Marvel’s Spiderman – Axel Bosso
It was tremendously anxious for me to see both Peter and Otto being friends in the first two acts of Spider-Man. It was a smart move to emphasize their relationship, the importance of Otto as a father figure/role model for Peter and his descent into madness. We all knew what was going to happen at the end of the story, but hell, Insomniac Games delivered.
I felt devastated with Peter’s major disappointment, the fall of the world he believed in. His last words to Doc: “You do what you think is best, Doc. It’s all any of us can… even when it hurts like hell”.
The End of Banner Saga 1
If you play enough video games, you could probably see the end of Stoic’s first strategy RPG coming. The game gives you a pretty important choice near the end–who will shoot the arrow that will make the immortal mortal? The danger in such a task is explicit, yet you must choose whether the father or daughter will complete this task. When they shoot the arrow and hit Bellower, the monstrous Dredge reacts violently, rushing the archer and killing them. You have to finish the battle looking at their corpse, sacrificing one you care deeply about for the greater good.
The game closes out with the one left behind grieving the loss of their family member, and the poignant scene that plays will coax a few tears out of your eyes.
When Chris found his treasure in The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit – Khee Hoon Chan
Chris lives in a broken home. Too distraught by the death of his wife, his dad has resorted to drinking heavily, his beer cans tossed and tucked carelessly in every cranny of the house. At times he would lash out at Chris, even grabbing him so hard that his grip would leave behind telltale signs of bruises. To cope with his father’s abuse, Chris’ imagination brings him to elaborate adventures, as he becomes a superhero who would punish evildoers and save the innocent. It’s in one of his escapades that he chanced upon a fortress—in reality, a heap of junk in his backyard—which, as Chris noted to himself, was said to house the most sought-after treasure in the galaxy.
The player eventually discovers what that really was: a stash of pictures and drawings of himself and his mother. A soft Steven Sufjan tune plays, and Chris reminisced about happier times. He thinks about how much he misses his mum, and the warm, loving family he used to have.
Veronica’s Fate in Dragon Quest XI
As much as I love Dragon Quest, I never really expect many of the titles to hit any particular emotional story beats. Dragon Quest XI bucks this trend, however, by offering some gut-wrenching moments. After the Hero fails to save the world, everyone is scattered to the four corners and you have to try to get everyone back together, Final Fantasy VI style. Eventually, you do get everyone back together, except one–Veronica, the pint-sized mage. Things seem a bit amiss when she’s not with her twin sister Serena, but the game continues on without care until you return to Arboria. Then, the party gets concerned… they’ve traveled across the entire world again, so where is she? It isn’t long until we learn what happened–as Yggdrasil fell with our heroes on it, Veronica spirited them away, saving their lives but in the sacrifice of her own.
Her death comes as a shock to not only the party but the player, especially considering all the nigh-impossible scenarios they’ve survived to this point. But as Veronica’s funeral is held, and Serena quietly grieves and her deceased twin passes on her abilities from the afterlife, the brutal truth hits you–not only could you not save the world, you couldn’t even save your friends.
The Final Fantasy XV Wedding – Santi Leguiza
In a story where the main protagonist loses his kingdom, his father and the love of his life, we struggle to feel that the ending is a happy one. After a road trip full of fights and hurtful moments followed by an endless night, when we see the sunshine again for the first time in ten years… Then, we are transported to a version of Lucis Kingdom untouched by darkness and the war. Instead, it is filled with petals and the sound of bells, and we hear King Regis thanking Lunafreya for helping Noctis to achieve the world salvation. That’s when we see Noctis and Luna in the throne, dressed as a groom and bride–as the king and queen they will never be. They are finally together and share a moment of happiness. One that they deserved.
The two share a long-awaited kiss and, and as they fall asleep next to each other it finally hits you. This afterlife, this marriage ceremony that will never happen, the kiss, and the peaceful sleep that comes after that, is what they’ve always wanted to happen. At that moment, we witness their Final Fantasy.
Majima’s Ending in Yakuza 0
Everyone knows all of the funny and ridiculous things that happen in the Yakuza series, but no one really speaks on the more serious tones of the series. The main story has a streak of melodrama to it, but it can still pull at the heartstrings. Majima’s ending in Yakuza 0 is especially bittersweet. Makoto, having lost her sight while in Majima’s care, regains her vision but never clearly sees the man who saved her life on multiple occasions. They happen to meet on the street, but Majima puts on the role of an eccentric yakuza–he knows that even being associated with Japan’s seedy underbelly can be a death sentence.
So in loving her, Majima does the best thing he can do for Makoto… by letting her live a normal life.
Life is Strange 2 Episode 1’s Ending – Natalie Flores
The ending of this episode perfectly captures the complexity of the feelings one experiences as a marginalized person on a daily basis. After an episode that made me feel so seen and that already made so attached to the Diaz brothers, I couldn’t help but weep a little. I felt anger — anger at all the terrible things that had befallen these two kids, many of them simply because of their race, because of something they can’t control. I felt sadness for all they’ve already lost — most of all, their innocence and childhood.
There was also a feeling of deep love and appreciation as I saw these two loving brothers be each other’s lifeline — even when everything seems awful, I’ve had my close family to keep me going, and it was heartwarming to see that represented in a game. And lastly, there was a sense of pride at seeing these two brown little boys keep going despite all they’ve faced, a resilience that people of color often have no choice but to possess.
They shouldn’t have had to go through the experiences they did — but at the end of the day, they dealt with those experiences; that can’t be changed. They dealt with them so gracefully, with kindness and love and resilience, and it’s so inspiring.