I don’t remember which was the first game I played that made me feel extremely happy or extremely sad. But regardless of which it was, that must have been some revelation. Narrative in video games has come a long way since I held that NES controller for the first time to play Super Mario Bros. Personally, I couldn’t be happier to live in a world where I can play entertaining games like Geometry Wars and emotional games such as Telltale’s The Walking Dead.
This article focuses on the those titles that keep you emotionally invested, but to avoid spoilers, I decided not to pay attention to particular moments. Instead, I tried to include those titles that have stories that are emotional from the moment you start playing them right until the end. Since emotional stories tend to be pretty personal, feel free to share your personal list of games in the comments down below. Without further ado, here’s a spoiler-free article with some of the most emotional games ever made.
Final Fantasy X has a compelling gameplay, stunning visuals (at least that’s what I felt the first time I played it) and gripping minigames. But the complex storyline is what makes Final Fantasy X such a gratifying and unique RPG. Interestingly, the game avoids many common clichés in the genre (especially those proper of Japanese role-playing games) at the same time it creates a love story that’s worth experiencing. And that’s an achievement in itself.
4. Final Fantasy VII
It’s hard to talk about Final Fantasy VII’s sad moments without making reference to one particular scene that we’re all familiar with. Nevertheless, if you played the game all over again, you’d realize that its tone is always sentimental. To a certain extent, it’s unfortunate that everyone who follows video game blogs and websites has heard about that particular scene over and over, but I bet that if you played Final Fantasy VII all over again, that scene would be as effective as it was back in 1998.
As I stated in my review, Shadow of the Colossus is a pretty special game. Part of what makes the game so special is related to the fact that you don’t know what guides your actions; you don’t know why the main character is slaying all those gargantuan creatures. But you keep doing it all the same. Every single time a colossus falls and remain motionless for a few seconds, you start wondering if it’s all worth it. Whenever people think about Shadow of the Colossus, they tend to mention the sense of scale, the unique visuals and original premise, but if it wasn’t for its emotional narrative, this game wouldn’t be what it is.
2. To the Moon
To the Moon doesn’t have top notch graphics; To the Moon doesn’t have stellar animations; To the Moon doesn’t have a huge budget; To the Moon doesn’t have a team of experienced writers. What it has is one of the most emotional stories to ever grace our beloved medium. The dialogue can be funny and sad, the characters interact in a believable way and each of them has a genuine motivation to do what they do. I appreciated the masterfully written story that takes some ideas from films such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Inception, but it’s really the heart-wrenching conclusion what makes To the Moon such a memorable game.
1. Telltale’s The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead TV series really caught my attention when it first came out, but eventually, it lost me because the series started following conventions. Telltale’s re imagining of that universe is absolutely jaw-dropping. If you think about it, the gameplay seems like a mean to an end and even if you were watching the game instead of playing it, the story would be as effective. But it really helps that the difficulty has been toned down and that the story is as good as it is. The zombie apocalypse is a really grim and bleak place and I’m happy that Telltale dealt with that scenario in the mature way it deserved.
These are some of the games that didn’t make the cut: Red Dead Redemption, Mass Effect 2, Portal, Metal Gear Solid 3, Silent Hill 2, Mother 2 and Chrono Trigger. Did I miss anything? Write your own list in the comments.