It is easy to forget in this day and age that video games used to be able to tell us stories. Much like a movie or a book, a video game is a tool that someone can use to get their idea out there and allow others to experience a piece of their imagination by actually playing as and interacting with the characters in front of you. Having a good story is a big part of why I choose to buy a game, but in some instances, I have picked one up only to be left an emotional ruin by the end of it.
There will obviously be spoilers in this list but I will try and limit them wherever I can.
1.The Legend of ZELDA: MAJORA’S MASK
This is an entry on the list that some people might find surprising, but for those of you have played Majora’s Mask, you may appreciate why I have included it on this list.
This entry in the Zelda series is a lot darker than the others as the undertones of death, depression, and loss are a constant throughout. Link tries his best to solve the residents’ problems and in doing so hopefully bring a little light back into their life. But due to the fact that you must reset time at regular intervals in the game, the cycle begins a new, meaning that they are stuck in a continuous spiral until you beat the game.
Take arguably the greatest sidequest of all time where you must reunite two lovers after one of them has been turned into a child. You experience the pain that both characters are feeling and you must ensure one does not leave town before they are reunited.
Some fans of the series have mentioned that this game is actually an alternative reality set in Link’s mind and he is just reliving the same events over and over again, which adds yet another depth to this game that makes it even darker.
Majora’s Mask is almost certainly worth a look, whether you’re a fan of the series or not, mainly because it shows a darker side to Nintendo that we rarely see.
2. SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS
Shadow of the Colossus is a game like no other you will experience. Developed by the same mind behind The Last Guardian, our main character is sent to a mysterious land in the hope to find a cure for his girlfriend that has been struck down by a mysterious illness and sending her into a comatose state. Accompanied by his faithful steed, Aggro, you must take part in a series of boss fights by defeating the sixteen Colossi that are roaming these lands. Only then will you be able to wake her from her slumber.
The mechanics of Shadow of the Colossus are fantastic as each boss is just a giant moving puzzle, but once you actually get stuck into it and have killed off a few of them, you realise that maybe what you are doing possibly isn’t the right thing. Tie in the moment when your horse heroically sacrifices himself to aid you and the stunning conclusion of this game, you will find it hard to feel anything good about yourself for some time after.
Shadow of the Colossus combines the power that love gives in order to save a loved one and the grief that overcomes you once a loved one has departed. It’s one of those games that really hits a nerve every time I play it.
3. THE WALKING DEAD SEASON ONE
Telltale seem to have the ability to really bring a story to any console. From the The Wolf Among Us to their Batman Telltale series, these games are absolutely outstanding if you are looking for a change of pace and new way to play video games.
Their flagship title is The Walking Dead and so far they have released three seasons and one spin-off. But the best season by far was the very first season as we follow Lee and Clementine as they band together with other survivors and deal with the horrors of a zombie outbreak.
Season one brings together amazing gameplay, a gripping storyline and bonds with characters I have never seen before. They tend to grow on you before each one leaves or dies – you begin to feel a sense of loss and must learn how to deal with the aftermath of their passing. As you watch the bond develop between Lee and Clementine, it becomes even more painful to watch as you see Kenny’s family die all around him.
It deals with a sensitive issue of loss, both with Clem’s parents and the death of the survivors within your group. It truly is pretty close to being perfect and if you haven’t played through this yet then I suggest you make it a priority.
4. HEAVY RAIN
Heavy Rain is a story-driven mystery-thriller from David Cage’s Quantic Dream that hit the market way back in the days of the PS3. You play as a number of characters as you try and solve the identity of the evil Origami Killer as he takes more and more innocent children’s lives.
The reason why this game made it here is because as we watch the story of Adam unfold around us, you realise the pain and anguish that a parent goes through when their child is in danger. You begin to feel sorry for him right after his wife leaves him following the opening scenes and then when Shaun is kidnapped, he is asked to endure the most horrendous tests organised by the killer to see if he is worthy of having his son back. At one point, he must cut his own finger off.
Heavy Rain also deals with the issues of drug addiction and that sometimes hiding your inner demons is never a good idea. It’s brutal and unforgiving in parts and really does make for a stunning experience.
5. BROTHERS: A TALE OF TWO SONS
Brothers was developed by an indie publisher with very little budget, but what they have produced is a powerful experience that is a little too close to home for my liking. The story opens up as the younger of the two brothers is paying his respects at their mother’s tombstone before the older brother summons him to aid his ill father. Their father reveals that the only way to save him is to embark on a quest to retrieve the waters from the Tree of Life.
What we are confronted with is a quest in order to save maybe the most important thing in your life: family. But as the story progresses, you essentially form a bond with the brothers as they undertake their journey before the heart-wrenching conclusion that will leave you with a fairly large lump in your throat.
As a twin, this game was particularly hard hitting for me and is maybe one of the most emotionally devastating games ever.
6. TO THE MOON
When I first got round to playing this game, I was under the impression it was going to be something very similar to Harvest Moon, but boy was I mistaken.
This game opens up with a little boy’s wish of going to the moon when an organisation steps in to try and make this possible for him. As the narrative of the game progresses, you realise that this company uses memories to grant the wishes of dying people and as those memories tend to interfere with those of the patient, they are only legally allowed to do so when the patient is on their deathbed.
To The Moon is a game that tries to address death and that as long as you have fond memories of the person then death does not need to be the end. It is a powerful and moving adaptation that -even if it may fall flat sometimes- manages to put the sensitive issue across in a way that makes it feel a little easier when you lose someone you love.
7. THE LAST OF US
This is easily one of the best games ever made and is a non-stop emotional rollercoaster right from start to finish. You play (mainly) as a man named Joel who is bitter and twisted following the death of his daughter during the start of a fungal outbreak that turns people into raving, violent husks. When he is tasked with looking after a young girl called Ellie who is immune to the disease, you must embark on a journey to get her to an organisation which can create a cure.
As the bond between these two characters grow, you become constantly aware of the attachment that Joel develops for Ellie, which leads to a number of conflicting choices and a ride that I was sorry to see the end of.
Even now, The Last of Us still holds its own against some of the biggest releases out there and remains a classic that really doesn’t need the sequel that is coming out in the not too distant future.
8. THAT DRAGON, CANCER
That Dragon, Cancer is storytelling at its best. It follows the final days of a young boy who is dying of cancer. As you go through his last moments and the grief the parents share that their son is dying, you can’t help but shed a few tears as you play. A simple point and click game that can be finished in a couple of hours, but during that time you really are confronted with an issue and experience like no other.
In a time where it is believed that every person on this planet will have some sort of experience with the deadly disease, it hits home even harder when you learn that this game was written and developed by a couple who actually went through the exact same thing with their son just three years before they developed this game.
That Dragon, Cancer is not only moving, it also absolutely fantastic.
Some of the coverage you find on Cultured Vultures contains affiliate links, which provide us with small commissions based on purchases made from visiting our site. We cover gaming news, movie reviews, wrestling and much more.
Gamezeen is a Zeen theme demo site. Zeen is a next generation WordPress theme. It’s powerful, beautifully designed and comes with everything you need to engage your visitors and increase conversions.