10 Unforgettable Video Games That Will Move You to Tears
Grab a box of tissues.
Sometimes you just need a good cry. It’s healthy to get those emotions out, and one of the best ways to get the tears flowing is through art. A good book or song can be just the thing but why not pick up a video game? It’s a great time sink and often times the interactive nature can make you more invested in characters than any other medium — which just means crying even harder! Remember, as Lee Pace says in The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, it hurts “because it was real.” Now onto the games that will bring out the water works!
10. Final Fantasy X
One of the greatest love stories in video games is also one of the saddest. This is a credit to how well the budding relationship between Yuna and Tidus is portrayed throughout Final Fantasy X. If I care enough about these two crazy kids falling in love in a world so defined by tragedy and endless cycles of doom and sacrifice, then Square Enix is doing something right. Be prepared for a heartbreaking ending, you have been warned.
Learning to live with your flaws and insecurities as well as learning to love yourself is an incredibly difficult thing to do (Just me? I’ll save that for therapy then). Celeste’s challenging platforming is a mechanical representation of struggling and growing as a person. Madeline is a protagonist everyone can see themselves in, and the narrative highs and lows are incredibly touching.
You will get attached to the characters you meet in Spiritfarer, which makes it all the more emotional when you inevitably have to say goodbye. Spiritfarer is a game about ferrying people to the afterlife and learning to cope with the inevitability of mortality. Each character has unique quirks that make them loveable, but in the end, you have to do your job and let them go. Ok, I’m sobbing just thinking about it.
7. Chicory: A Colorful Tale
If you have ever dealt with feeling inadequate in your chosen life path or suffered from burnout that leaves you lost and feeling purposeless then Chicory might hit a little too close to home. Ostensibly about a cute dog painting a black-and-white world, this game is about learning to fall back in love with your passions after you turn them into work and it burns you out. It is also about deciding you are the only person you need to please and giving everything, you have all the time isn’t sustainable.
6. Persona 3
This game opens by flashing a Latin phrase on screen that translates to “Remember, you must díe.” — fun! While the true ending of Persona 3 is itself one of the most tear-inducing moments in any game ever made, the rest of the story does not hold back. Persona as a series has never shied away from talking about real issues and Persona 3 may be the bluntest. If you want to invest hours to build relationships with characters and get attached just to have the game take away many of these points of happiness then this game is perfect.
“Despite everything, it’s still you.” That line alone is enough to make the heartache if you have played the masterpiece indie Undertale. A meta-commentary and investigation of how we engage with brutality in video games, Undertale is a game about mercy. Not much can be said about the game without spoiling its best moments, but trust that it will have you deep in your feelings.
4. To the Moon
At the end of a man’s life, scientists go inside his brain to change his memories as a form of wish fulfillment. This is the inciting action in To the Moon, a game that asks questions about what our choices mean, regret, and how memory is sometimes the only thing we have left. To The Moon takes the look and feel of retro RPGs and transforms them into a storytelling device for a truly transformative and emotional game.
3. Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers
I know, why didn’t I choose Heavansward? What could be more tear-inducing than [SPOILER]’s last moments? Shadowbringers manages to be one of the most emotionally impressive entries in the entire Final Fantasy franchise. It elicits tears of joy during long-awaited reunions, and tears of sadness at the relentlessly unforgiving state of the First. Anyone who chooses the Ahm Araeng quest at the beginning of the expansion knows exactly what I mean. Much of the story can have massive payoffs thanks to the hundreds of hours of story that came before it, which helps it deliver a story unlike anything else.
2. The Walking Dead
This shouldn’t surprise anybody. This whole game is known for making its player base sob thanks to the final episode’s last scenes. Telltale’s signature use of branching baths and decision-making invests the player in the world in a way that can then be leveraged for an emotional payoff. This game is about struggling to survive, and often how you will fail the community around you. Which is all the more difficult to deal with since your decisions directly led to the outcome. If The Last of Us’ narrative following Joel and Ellie got to you, then imagine that dialed up to eleven. The Walking Dead is a game that will leave you gasping for air between heavy sobs.
1. The Last Guardian
Only a special game can make you truly care about a digital character. Many games on this list tug on the heartstrings because the narrative itself is deeply emotional, but only The Last Guardian makes the player build a real bond with a character that is tested and forged in trial and error. Trico is not a character that you can command completely, you must build trust and in turn trust him to care about you. This merging of gameplay and narrative makes the story’s twists and finale resolution utterly devastating to the player. Ending this game feels like saying goodbye to a friend.