We tend to associate video games with frenetic action, be it old-school quarter-munchers like Space Invaders or the more intense first-person shooters of today. Yet, with all of the noticeable evolution in game mechanics and presentation, we’ve also started to see more and more examples of something that most people would never consider a possibility in games back in the 70s: Genuine emotion.
Undoubtedly, a feat that was considered nigh on impossible in the days of Atari was the ability for developers to incorporate engaging stories and characters that resonate with the audience on an emotional level. Now, with all the big-budget games running at 1080p and 60fps, it can be easy for many players to take the gift of good storytelling for granted, especially considering how easy it can be to lose yourself in the actual gameplay of many titles.
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And with more opportunities for developers and writers to get players attached to their characters and stories, they naturally also get more opportunities to tug at the audiences’ heartstrings. Be they the inevitable occurrences in life of death and loss, or even a more broad and hard to place reaction (something the final entry in this list is a shining example of), gaming has no shortage of poignant scenes these days that even the most hardened players can admit to getting a little misty-eyed at, and, after we’ve dealt with the industry’s memorable misfires, this list is here to showcase some of the very best.
With that said, be warned that key events and even some endings in the seven games featured in this list will be spoiled in great detail, so if you see a title that you haven’t played yet but intend to, it may be best to skip to the next page. Also, just because a specific game you may see as a shining example of heartbreak isn’t on the list doesn’t mean it counts for nothing (I came pretty close to including big titles like Red Dead Redemption and the Mass Effect series on it), as these are just some of our personal picks and, like with many things, your mileage may vary.
So, with that in mind, here are seven video games that struck a chord with the WGTC staff and plucked more than a few heartstrings in the process.