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7 Video Games That Will Make You Cry

When I think of the typical emotional journey of a video game, I tend to rest in two extreme places: Pure joy (“Aw yeah, I knew Waluigi on the Yoshi bike was the best choice! Look at me go!”) and pure anger (“What? You’re gonna blue shell me again, Victor? Well guess what? I’m throwing your cheese-blasted munchies away in real life! They’re gross and bad for you anyway!”). However, some games are interested in a more complicated path. Some games go straight for your heartstrings. Some games want to make you cry like a baby. A couple warnings before we proceed: There may be discussions of traumatic themes that might trigger some of you, and there may be discussions of story beats that might spoil some of you. But now that you’re prepared, here are the video games sure to make you weep!

Life Is Strange

sad video games cry life is strange
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As this game starts, you may think to yourself, “Ugh, this is some clunky, whiny high school drama mess.” But then your character’s friend Kate makes it clear that she wants to commit suicide. And depending on your choices, you either save her, or you don’t. If you don’t, there’s no going back. The narrative hurdles forward, your personal guilt wrecking your conscience and coloring melancholy shades of your life — sorry, game. While Life is Strange is just a game, it’s a game that from that point forward pulls out all the emotional stops until the ending.

That Dragon, Cancer

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This work is heartbreakingly personal. It was written and developed by a married couple with a son who suffered from and eventually succumbed to terminal cancer. As such, as you spend time in the game’s world of medical procedures, unrelentingly complicated conversations, and unconditional love, you feel the metatextual reality seep into every nook and cranny. For the developers to put their hearts on their sleeves and share such an emotionally intense and private experience with the world, we thank them through tear-stemmed eyes.

Undertale

sad video games cry undertale
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Sometimes, you don’t need to be emotionally punished with darkness to cry. Sometimes, the simplest expressions of encouragement can get you there. In Undertale, your game choices affect the narrative. If you choose not to kill anyone (the True Pacifist route), the support character Sans, a charmingly bouncy skeleton with a love of bad jokes, gives you this positive platitude: “Take care of yourself, kid. ‘Cause someone really cares about you.” Maybe this is just a personal me thing, and I don’t get enough positive encouragement from my friends in real life, but good gravy did this line wreck me. The rest of the game is full of emotional heart-wrenchers, but all I needed was to be told I mattered to get me going.

To The Moon

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To The Moon has a lot of complicated elements on its mind: death, the fragility of memories, the fading of a love that once burned bright, even autism. Yet it succeeds at juggling these complexities because it’s all in service of a simple question: How do you live a life without regret? By the time our doctors implant a final memory, allowing Johnny to believe he did go to the moon with his beloved River, we are both crying at the primal emotions stirred, and questioning the moral ambiguities of such an action. It’s a remarkable feat, a cocktail of simplicity and complication that you must experience yourself to truly take in.

The Walking Dead: Season One

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I’m not a parent. To paraphrase a Jen Kirkman sentiment, I can barely take care of myself. However, the paternal bond fostered between Lee and Clementine during Telltale’s emotionally charged story-driven game feels genuine and intimate enough to give me an approximation of what it must be like to raise someone during their formative years, zombie apocalypse notwithstanding. As we reach the inevitable conclusion, when Lee has been bitten and Clementine must put him out of his misery, we cry not just because of the grim circumstances. We cry because we’ve seen a full parental journey from beginning to end. We cry because Clementine must now face the world on her own, like the rest of us barely-able-to-take-care-of-ourselves-adults. We cry because the game has filled us with heartfelt empathy.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

sad video games cry brothers a tale of two sons
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From the beginning scene, featuring a little boy grieving his dead mother, this is a game marked by death, trauma, and the triumph of the human spirit. Our heroes, Naiee and his older brother Naia, must gather water from the Tree Of Life in order to save their dying father. The mechanics of the game are quite ingenious: one of your dual-sticks controls Naiee, one of them controls Naia. However, when Naia is killed right at the base of the Tree Of Life, the stick that controls him stops working, leaving both you and Naiee feeling utterly hopeless and alone. But then, the spirit of your mother and your brother appear, encouraging you to find the best version possible of yourself to keep going, and… well, I’m not sure I can finish this entry, because there seems to be a bunch of dust in my eye that I have to go take care of right now by myself not in front of anyone I’m definitely not crying excuse me.

Final Fantasy VII

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Aeris and Sephiroth. You know the moment. Ugh. I need to go lie down for awhile.

Alright, friends. Take a moment to dry your eyes and take some deep breaths. Everyone good? Good. Now then, which sad games did I miss? Which of these moments left you stone-faced? Give me a follow on Twitter, where the only tears you will shed will be as a result of disbelief that I went for the puns I went for.

Contributor: 
Greg Smith
View Count: 
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Mass images: 
sad video games cry brothers a tale of two sons
sad video games cry final fantasy vii
sad video games cry life is strange
sad video games cry that dragon cancer
sad video games cry the walking dead season one
sad video games cry to the moon
sad video games cry undertale

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