Video games have the powerful ability to grip players in a way that might seem strange to those who have never gotten bit by the gaming bug. When players are swept up into a video game’s story, the setting and characters become part of their lives in such a way that other mediums simply cannot compare.
This level of immersion has the ability to create for some serious narrative potential; allowing developers to truly shock players with storytelling. In many games, deaths of characters have caused many players serious emotional pain – some even truly tear worthy. The five games below represent some of the saddest deaths in video game history.
Author’s Note: The list below contains potentially serious spoilers, proceed at your own risk.
5) Aeris – Final Fantasy VII:
Discussions of death in video games are nearly impossible to bring up without mentioning the untimely death of Final Fantasy VII’s beloved heroine, Aeris. The humble flower girl from the slums earned a place in players’ hearts due to her innocence and bubbly personality despite the world-threatening circumstances surrounding Final Fantasy VII’s cast.
Aeris’ potential to save the planet was only just becoming apparent to the characters when her life was cut short by Sephiroth. The suddenness of her killing, as well as the heart-wrenching scene that accompanied it, forever stays with those who were swept up into Final Fantasy VII’s story.
4 ) Nanami – Suikoden II:
Nanami, the step-sister of Suikoden II’s protagonist, is another JRPG whose death was a tough one to swallow. Throughout the lengthy tale of Suikoden II, Nanami was almost a constant companion of your character – from his humble beginnings to rise as a military leader. While she was no supporter of war, she was a supporter of your character – constantly working as a foil and allowing the player to see the harsh realities of war.
Nanami’s death came during a pivotal battle in Suikoden II, moments after a heartfelt reunion between three friends. Her death, brought on by a hail of arrows, incited the player’s character to stop at nothing to avenge her. Nanami’s final words, acceptance of her fate and happiness of passing in the company of close friends is enough to bring even the toughest of gamers to tears.
It is also important to note that, unlike FFVII’s Aeris, Nanami can be saved upon the player meeting stringent conditions.
3) Jenny Romano – The Darkness:
The Darkness is undoubtedly a very dark game. From the strange Darkness powers, to the mature themes tackled in the game, almost nothing in The Darkness left gamers feeling warm and fuzzy inside – except for Jenny.
Jackie, The Darkness’ protagonist, has never had much going for him in life except the love and care of his girlfriend Jenny. The game does a wonderful job of establishing their relationship as the glue that really grounds Jackie in sanity and all the broken man has.
After establishing this connection, The Darkness forces players to watch it all fall apart in front of their eyes. As the Darkness drives Jackie to see his girlfriend’s kidnappers beat and berate her, the scene culminates in Jenny being shot in the head at point blank.
The scene’s emotional punch came as a surprise and downright shocking moment when The Darkness was released and still holds up today as a painfully intense moment.
2) Solaire – Dark Souls:
Dark Souls is notorious for its threatening and bleak land of Lordran. In a world where the gods have left mankind and humanity is a fleeting notion, Lordran has been plagued by the curse of undeath, rendering it a dangerous – and generally depressing place – to venture to.
Solaire, quite literally, stands as the only beacon of hope in Dark Souls. The dedicated and devout warrior of sunlight is a constant fixture during the Chosen Undead’s journey through Lordran. Solaire’s companionship and combat prowess aid the player through boss fights and shed light on the journey ahead.
However, as is the case in Dark Souls, Solaire’s end is an unfortunate one. The warrior’s quest ‘to find his own sun’ drives him to the drink of his own sanity, causing Solaire to question his existence. Upon the player’s final encounter with him, Solaire wears the glowing Sunlight Maggot on his head, exclaiming that he has found the sun he so desperately sought out before attacking the player.
Solaire’s death is particularly hard to accept because of his constant drive to persevere in Dark Souls. In a game where so many people the player encounters are quick to give in, Solaire strode purposefully into the unknown. His death – at the player’s hands – and final words are truly a sad moment.
1) John Marston – Red Dead Redemption:
Red Dead Redemption is one of gaming’s finest titles in recent years. The expansive and immersive Wild West world created by Rockstar captured the very essence of the time period it sought to recreate. Guiding players through that world was John Marston, the former outlaw who wanted nothing other than to escape his past and provide for him family.
John Marston’s entire motivation was cause enough for players to really take to him as a character. A man whose past wrongs finally caught up to him, John Marston’s struggles to wipe the slate clean are an amazing commentary on the American Dream.
Players followed John across hundreds of miles, finally ensuring that his debt was re-payed, only to see him gunned down before their eyes. Seeing John escape the life he wanted to leave behind and then seeing him cut down was both unexpected and unforgettable.
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