Video games are still a very young story telling medium. It may seem like they have been around for a long time, when compared to books and movies, they are just a baby. However, in spite of being young, it doesn’t mean that a game can’t come along every now and then with a story that truly hits you deep in your heart. Certain games actually use the interactive nature of games to grip you in a way that no other form of entertainment can.
The games that follow will truly touch you in your heart. If you played through these games and didn’t feel a thing, you just might want to check and see if you still have a pulse.
Note: I will talk about the games generally in the first paragraph, and follow with a big bold Spoiler tag in the second paragraph where will discuss the specific moments of the game that really hit home. If you haven’t played the game in question, please skip this section or have it ruined for you. You’ve been warned.
Calling Gone Home a video game is using the term very loosely, as all you are really doing is wandering around a house and picking up and looking at things you find in the environment. This makes the emotions it is able to pull out of you even more impressive. Each audio journal entry you find from your sister sucks you in even further to the events of the game. Couple that with the deeply ominous atmosphere, and you have a game, that while very short, never lets you off the emotional roller coaster.
Spoiler: As the game progresses, you come to find out that Lonnie, the friend your sister Samantha speaks fondly of in the notes, ends up being the person with whom Sam has fallen in love. Sam tells you about the reaction of your parents when she tells them of her same-sex love, and you can’t help but feel something inside. Later, you learn that Lonnie is going in the military, and you can actually feel Sam’s depressing loss in a way that no other game has been able to do. It all makes you feel a different emotion when you find out Sam and Lonnie have run off to be together; pure joy.
Brothers: A Tale Of Two Son
Brothers and Gone Home, two very recently released indie games, remind us just what can happen when a small team really pours their heart and soul into a game without worrying about the timelines and milestones that come with being part of a big publisher. In Brothers, you control, you guessed it, two brothers as they make their way through a journey in an attempt to save their sick father. You control both of them at the same time, with one linked to each of your joysticks. All throughout you feel for these brothers, and you become attached to their quest as if it was your own. Impressively, all of this is done without actual spoken dialog.
Spoiler: The emotion in this short game is already running high, and then you reach the end of the game. One of the brothers meets an early death, and you are left with one. It’s one of the most soul-crushing, gut-wrenching moments I can ever recall in a video game. The feeling of dragging your brother to his grave and burying him hurts deep inside. It even changes the mechanics of the game, as you now only have one brother to control. So not only do you feel it just in the emotion of the characters, but you actually feel the loss in the way you play the game.
The Last Of Us
Who says only indie games can tell emotionally gripping tales? Not this guy, that’s for sure. Naughty Dog, the team behind the Uncharted Series, which featured one of the best love stories you’ll find, has outdone itself with the story of Joel and Ellie trying to survive the desolate wasteland of a post-apocalyptic world. While it’s easy to write this game off as just another action-packed third-person shooter, it’s actually much more, and between battles with the clickers, a truly beautiful interactive story unfolds.
Spoilers: The Last Of Us starts out with the single greatest opening scene in the history of games, which sees Joel attempting to escape from a city of pure death with his daughter. Sadly, in spite of Joel’s best efforts, she doesn’t make it and dies in his arms. Just a few minutes into the game, and your heart is being stomped into a pulp. But don’t think it’s over, because the emotional freight train has only left the station. You still have to deal with thinking Joel has die. Just when you accept the loss of the main character, you experience the joy of saving him as Ellie. And then there’s the ending. Phew; if the ending doesn’t knock you off your feet, you just might be dead inside.
Going through this article, I can actually feel the emotion I experienced when I played each and every one of these games. Of course, many of the games are hitting the sadness emotion, but in some cases, it all comes to a head with a happy ending. These games hit a feeling in a way that so few games ever can. Sure, I love stomping on turtles and rescuing the princess in Mario, but I never really feel emotional towards the process. These games, though, they make you feel something deep down inside, and it’s the type of storytelling I always hope to see more of in the world of video games.
Have any video games really touched you on an emotional level? Hit the comments section below and let’s reminisce together.