Emotions are a pretty cool thing. You might chuckle at David Cage's latest use of the word, but you can't deny that they're powerful. They can leave a strong lasting impression. Our minds may jump straight back to the most emotionally powerful moment of something when we think of it in the future. In a sense, emotions can define or experience. I mean think about it. When people think of the movie Titanic, their thoughts jump to the scenes that are distressing, depressing, or shocking (in the case of the painting scene). The ones that create a sudden surge of emotions.
Lord, I sound like David Cage, now. Let's just get on with this before I turn into him. I recently beat Shin Megami Tensei IV, which had a very emotional scene (kind of shocking), and it led me to think of other scenes like it that I had experienced over the many games I have played throughout my life. So, here they are.
Needless to say, there's going to be a hell of a lot of spoilers in this blog. Both pictures (there will be one for every game I talk about) and text. Here's the deal. I'm going to list every game I'll be talking about right after this little disclaimer. In the order they'll appear in. That way you can know ahead of time if you want to avert your eyes for a segment of it or not or not. I don't want to spoil anything if I can help it. Ready?
Batman: Arkham City
9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors
Half-Life 2: Episode 2
Metal Gear Solid 3
Metal Gear Solid 4
Red Dead Redemption
Shin Megami Tensei IV
The Walking Dead
And now I'll put this big picture here to create a split, so you don't accidentally see #10's picture immediately (if you want to skip it).
Okay, onto number 10, then! But one final note. I'm trying to put these in some sort of order of emotional impact, but it's really hard to gauge that, so don't think this order is final by any means. I think the order isn't too far off, though.
#10: THE JOKER'S DEATH (BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY)
Say what you will about how many times the Joker has died in other Batman media, I was shocked to see the Joker die in Arkham City. Everything was in place. Hugo Strange was dead, Ra's was taken care of...all that was left was to get the Joker the antidote that you had spent the better half of the game making. It's not like I didn't expect him to try to pull something on Batman, but I knew that Batman would have given him the antidote, in the end. To see him die wasn't quite what I was expecting.
It was pretty sad, too. For all the crimes the Joker had committed, you can't help but like him. Seeing Batman carrying the Joker's body, putting it on the hood of a police car, and walking away in silence was powerful.
Of course, they found a way around all that by making a prequel to the Arkham games. That bugs me and feels like it cheapens the whole affair, when we thought we'd seen the last of the Joker in the Arkham series. But even still, that ending leaves me as speechless as Batman.
#9: SNAKE'S DEATH (9 HOURS 9 PERSONS 9 DOORS)
Playing 999 for the first time, Snake immediately stood out as one of my favorite characters in the crowd. Princely, smart, blind (yet quite able), kind...wears a nice coat. Snake was pretty damn awesome. And then he had to go and die. Not once. But twice. The first time doesn't matter so much, because it turns out that it wasn't actually him. I'm talking about the second time.
It's sad enough to see such a likable character die, but the circumstances left an impact on me. So, Snake dies in an incinerator, sacrificing himself to take Ace along with him, the guy who killed his sister (in this timeline). First of all, you have to admire him for his determination and willingness to make such a huge sacrifice. But the strangest thing that stuck out to me is how he continued to keep going despite being shot many times in the chest. It's inhuman.
"But Marche, it's fiction". Doesn't change that it was shocking and made it stick. This would probably be higher on the list if Snake's death was permanent, but it isn't. In the true ending he survives, so it's all good. But still, in that minute you see Snake die, you'd be lying if you said your heart wasn't aching.
#8: ELI VANCE'S DEATH (HALF LIFE 2: EPISODE 2)
Funny, I saw that this death was featured on an installment of Chad Concelmo's Memory Card series as a shocking loss. Well, he's not wrong there. It was certainly shocking, and heartbreaking.
Eli was apparently in Half-Life 1, although you wouldn't have known it. Many scientists shared his model, so it could have been any of them for all I knew. Half-Life 2 is where I was really introduced to him. Nice guy! He was always looking out for Alyx and Gordon, giving them guidance and cracking a few jokes along the way. Heck, by the end of Episode 2, he acted more like a father to Gordon than anything else.
That made it especially hard to accept it when he died right at the end. For all you've accomplished in the Half-Life games, you're powerless at that one moment. The moment that it matters. And then Dog showing up RIGHT AFTER ELI DIES was just the cherry on top. Nice timing. *sniff* But seriously, I think part of what made Eli's death so hard was how well written he was. He felt like a real human. It was like losing someone close to you that you had known for ages.
Damn you Valve. Damn your brilliance.
#7: THE BOSS FIGHT/DEATH SCENE (METAL GEAR SOLID 3)
No one wanted to kill The Boss. No one. For the longest time, it seemed like she was the villain, but that's not the whole story. She was playing the part of a traitor to avert nuclear war. Talk about tough ordeals. And you learn of her back story, that she was rendered infertile via atomic bomb testing, and you can't help but feel for her. Oh, and she spends pretty well the entire game acting as a mother figure, even when she's supposedly the "bad guy". Yeah.
So, you establish that you don't want to kill her, because out of anyone in Metal Gear Solid 3, she deserves to die the least (well, there are a few exceptions). But then they had to make the fight one of the most beautiful fights ever made, in a field of white flowers, and with that fight theme. You know the one. It's hard not to feel like you should be bawling your eyes out as you fight.
And then you kill her. And the flowers ripple outwards from The Boss' body and turn a shade of red. Just rip my heart out Konami. RIP IT OUT.
#6: REVOLVER OCELOT FIGHT/DEATH SCENE
Yes, I hold this particular moment in higher regard than that I listed from Metal Gear Solid 3. I never started up Metal Gear Solid 3 again just to replay that moment. But I have started up Metal Gear Solid 4 up multiple times just to relive this stunning fight.
This one isn't like the ones before it. It's not so much a matter of feeling sad for Revolver Ocelot. I mean, I still kind of do. I like him as a character. A lot. But it's more-so about the fight itself. This is a fight that's been long awaited. It's the culmination of the many events throughout the Metal Gear Solid franchise. I don't usually throw this word around, because I feel like it's overused, but it is an epic battle.
Like the moment I described from Metal Gear Solid 3, the scene around this fight is stunning. Just look at that screenshot. Beautiful. And then the fight itself plays out in phases reflecting every major Metal Gear Solid title. Don't tell me you didn't get hyped up as you went through this fight. You can tell that a lot of thought was put into how this fight would pan out, and it paid off. It's a breathtaking scene from beginning to end.
And then Ocelot said "you're pretty good" and made the hand gesture from Metal Gear Solid 3. Okay, that's where my heart broke. Metal Gear Solid 3 Ocelot was awesome.
#5: MASKED MAN FIGHT/DEATH (MOTHER 3)
This one gets points simply for bringing me pretty close to tears. Whereas the Giygas fight from Mother 2 was all about fear, I found this one to be much more powerful, because it's about the death of a loved one.
You spend some time in Mother 3 looking for Claus, who disappears. Even though that search leaves the spotlight, you know that Claus is never far from Lucas' thoughts. I know I was wondering if Claus would ever turn back up. He does, near the end of the game but brainwashed...to the extreme.
The fight itself can bring you into a pretty heightened state. The music is weird. Like, you need to go listen to it to yourself if you haven't already. It's kind of creepy, otherworldly, and at the same time sort of sad, because it has the Theme of Love song mixed into it. Of course, how can I mention the fight without talking about how Lucas and Claus' dead mother speaks to them throughout the fight, trying to get them to stop fighting. Claus clearly struggles to regain control and to listen to her voice. So sad.
But of course, even after you manage to temporarily break the brainwashing effects, Claus sacrifices himself so that he doesn't fall back into being brainwashed. It's heart shattering stuff (I keep using the word heart breaking and I need to come up with new words for it).
#4: MINATO'S DEATH (PERSONA 3)
I think the hardest deaths in games are the ones where the character you've been playing as for the entire game dies. Persona 3 is a special case. The main character's appearance is set in stone, but his personality isn't. You decide his personality, his actions (to a degree), and his interests. So, in a way, when Minato dies, it's not really him dying. It's you. That's a depressing thought.
It was pretty shocking, too. Nyx had been defeated and sealed away. Everything looked like it was going to turn out okay. Everyone was happy, again. It was, what, a month after you had even fought Nyx? And then Minato just up and falls asleep in Aigis' arms and dies. Wow. Talk about coming out of nowhere.
I think Persona 3 gets the award for most shocking death. Seriously. I was upset when he died.
#3: JOHN MARSTON'S DEATH (RED DEAD REDEMPTION)
Talk about your surprises. John Marston had finally redeemed himself. He had killed the members of his gang that he used to run with and is free of his doings with the government. He then returns to his home to raise his son and return to life as usual. But nothing could ever be that simple. I mean, we all knew there had to be a reason that the game was still going, at that point. Something bad was brewing, but that didn't make it any less of a shock.
The surprise attack on Marston's home didn't totally shock me in itself. I thought "hey, I've dealt with this kind of crap all game, I can deal with these bozos". And for a while, you do. Rockstar pretty expertly made you think that you had the possibility of making it out of that situation alive, at least for a moment.
What shocked me was when Marston actually dies. That moment gets his family to safety and steps out to hold off the attackers. There were a lot of them, and for a second, I thought "my dead eye is going to wipe the floor with you idiots". When it became clear that you were overwhelmed, I couldn't believe it. I thought that I had done something wrong. Like I could have actually won, but just failed to do so for some reason.
It was hard to accept it. It was a sad day when I finished Red Dead Redemption.
#2: ISABEAU FIGHT/DEATH (SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI IV)
So, you eventually fight Isabeau if you choose Law or Chaos in Shin Megami Tensei IV and it is one of the most awfully depressing scenes I have ever seen. Good lord. I'm simply speaking from experience in taking the Law route, so some of these things don't apply to Chaos.
First of all, she calls your move to totally wipe out Tokyo genocide. Well...when you put it that way...it does make me feel pretty bad, even after Jonathan's speech about preserving peace. Then you fight her, and she hints that she had feelings for the main character. Well, crap. Now, you KNOW you've chosen the wrong route, because you know where this is headed.
The worst is yet to come. So, you beat the heck out of her because you're level 70something and everything falls before you. Then you're treated to a picture of her all bloodied, like Issachar earlier in the game. Ugh. Regret. To top it all off, she wants to at least have her final choice be her own and slits her throat. Shit. Is it too late to change over to neutral?
So that's more than just a downer. That's downright sickening. I had to step away from my 3DS because I couldn't believe what had just happened. It's interesting, too, because you spend only about the first half of the game with Isabeau. So, she's like a lesser major character. And yet, I still found her death more impacting than Jonathan's, or even Flynn's (although don't get me wrong, I was very sad to see them go, too).
Atlus sure knows how to toy with everyone's emotions.
#1: LEE EVERETT'S DEATH (THE WALKING DEAD)
I know this must be near the top of most people's lists, if they've played The Walking Dead. Well, it's at the time of mine, too, because EVERYTHING about this scene is sad. And I'm talking about when you get Clementine to shoot him. As far as I'm concerned, that's the only real way that this scene can go down. Leaving him to re-animate is like denial of the fact that Clementine will have to face tough situations like this and might have to kill those she grows attached to later on.
Anyways, Let's start with Lee. Lee Everett was an awesome character. I know you could shape his personality, but he was generally a kind, caring, person and like a father to Clementine. He could do what he had to do, do the right thing, and be a leader when there was a need for him to be. I felt very attached to Lee, by the end, and found it very hard to let him go.
Moving on, the conversation between Lee and Clementine was pretty depressing. Lee trying to get Clementine to believe that she can do it, that she can survive, while he's sitting there, a few minutes from being a zombie. And then you can get Lee to tell her to keep her hair short, as one final fatherly piece of advice. Heartsplosion. Getting her to pull the trigger was almost too much, too.
But of course, the worst part of it all is that Clementine is a kid, and she has to go through all this. We've actually been talking about this in my English course. Kids are quite possibly the fastest way to get at someone's emotions, and that holds true, here. If it was some adult in Clementine's place in this scene, the scene would not be as high on the list. No way.
Now I've made myself sad.
There you have it. My 10 most emotional moments in video games. As far as I know. I'm sure there are plenty of games with emotional moments out there that I've never played. But as far as my experiences go, this feels pretty accurate.
So, now that I've emotionally drained myself by writing that, anyone care to share a few of their top emotional moments? I'm interested in seeing any that weren't on my list. read