20 Saddest Video Game Moments of All Time

"This is sad, isn't it?"

Credit: pcgamesn.com

Beware spoilers for the following games: Shadow of the Colossus, Like A Dragon Gaiden, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Tales From the Borderlands, Bloodborne, God of War: Ragnarok, Mass Effect 3, A Way Out, Gears of War 3, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Titanfall 2, Final Fantasy VII, Metal Gear Solid 4, The Last of Us, Spiritfarer, Halo: Reach, What Remains of Edith Finch, Telltale’s The Walking Dead, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Before Your Eyes.

Cultured Vultures spoilers

While some games are there just to help you fire the neurons as the numbers on the screen go up, it could be argued that the best video games are those that make you feel something. Whether that’s sheer desperation after getting battered by someone who doesn’t know the meaning of defeat, winning together with friends, or finally popping 100% completion on a game you’ve been toiling away at for ages, video games tend to run you through a gauntlet of emotions. There are even those that make you want to lie down and never get up again.

There are plenty of truly sad moments when it comes to video games, and we’re not talking about forgetting to save when going back to retro games these days. Whether through beloved characters’ act of self-sacrifice, some of the most beautiful and haunting soundtracks ever, or being forced into making some truly impossible choices, the saddest video game moments live long in the memory.

If you’ve got some feelings you want to dredge up all over again, or if spending more than 15 minutes on Twitter has caused you to become completely numb, these are the saddest video game moments that we will never forget.


20. Shadow of the Colossus – Agro Falls into the Shadows

Shadow of the Colossus PS4
Shadow of the Colossus

Shadow of the Colossus is a game about climbing big, beautiful things as a lone man called Wander and stabbing them in the skull in the very naive hopes of saving the girl you love. Shadow of the Colossus is a game that forces you to do that over and over again, and makes you feel very bad about it every time.

However, probably the saddest part in all of Shadow of the Colossus is when Agro, your trusted steed, falls into the abyss near the end of the game. When crossing a rickety bridge, it suddenly starts collapsing, and Agro, being the absolute top, top horse that he is, bucks to send you flying to safety while he falls, letting out a deeply affecting whine the whole time.

Your only companion across the entirety of the game’s large, eerily dead world, Agro is there whenever you need him and saves your skin on multiple occasions. He is, simply, a fantastic friend to Wander, and the game feels empty without him.

However, what makes Agro’s sacrifice truly sad is that it’s basically to aid the machinations of a giant demon who possesses Wander at the climax of the story, eventually culminating in him becoming a horned boy eerily similar to the protagonist of ICO.

Fortunately, Agro is rather miraculously alive at the end of the game, but every sacrifice he and Wander made is truly a sad reminder of how good people are sometimes made to do bad things.


19. Like A Dragon Gaiden – The Ending

Like A Dragon Gaiden
Like A Dragon Gaiden

When it comes to sad moments in the Yakuza/Like A Dragon series, you’ve really got your pick of the litter to choose from. How many injustices and traumatic moments can God, the world and stylish Japanese crime bosses visit upon our leading lads of Kazuma Kiryu and Ichiban Kasuga? The answer is a lot, as both men have faced emotional trials that would make most protagonists refuse to get out of bed in the morning.

While Ichiban’s had his fair share of trauma over the two games he’s appeared in, especially at the climax of Yakuza: Like A Dragon, Kiryu’s journey across 10 games at this point could fill a list like this on its own. Whether its the deaths of his various friends and comrades, some of the side quests, or even just the way Kiryu sings Baka Mitai, someone always seems to be chopping onions nearby whenever Like A Dragon is being played.

Perhaps the most emotional scene of all comes at the very end of the ridiculously titled Like A Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name. After having faked his death to protect his found family of orphans in Okinawa, Kiryu is forced to complete clandestine operations for the shadowy Daidoji faction, with no contact allowed with his former life. Daidoji has been keeping tabs on the Sunflower Orphanage though, and in a heart-wrenching scene, Kiryu is allowed to see his kids all grown up, even if just for a few moments. Two decades worth of emotional storytelling culminate in that one moment, as the tears shed in there could fill reservoirs, and I’m not talking about the ones coming out of Kiryu.

Pass the tissues, please.


18. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy – Goodbye, Star Mom

If there are any AAA games that deserved a bit more attention than what they received over the past ten years, one of them surely has to be Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. An innocent bystander caught up in the stink of Marvel’s Avengers, Eidos-Montréal’s brilliant meditation on grief and shooting dudes with golden arms deserves a second look.

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is filled with lots of beautiful, heart-wrenching moments, but few hit the tear nerves quite like Peter’s moments with his “mother,” who had long since passed away back on Earth.

As part of an illusion that preys on people’s deepest desires, Peter is transported back to the farm with his mother, wonderful 80s mullet and all. He lives a mundane life for a while and almost allows himself to become lost, but after an embrace with his “mother” where Peter realises it’s all a sham, he pushes her back before a trembling hand shoots the lie away.

There’s reaching the acceptance stage of grief, and then there’s shooting the avatar of your mother on a farm with a laser. Guardians of the Galaxy is full of hard-hitting moments like these, so it’s a real shame it couldn’t hit the best-selling charts a little harder, too.


17. Tales From the Borderlands – Loaderbot’s Sacrifice

Tales from the borderlands

Who doesn’t love a good video game robot friend? And then who loves killing them off in heartbreaking ways? Video game developers over the last 15 years, apparently.

Borderlands is an inherently very goofy series, with more fart jokes and general crude humor than the average Fortnite lobby. However, it does have some moments of sincerity and heart, with probably its most affecting, human moment coming from someone in Tales From the Borderlands who isn’t even human.

Loader Bot is the multi-purpose metal chad who starts off as a simple bot for carrying stuff before basically becoming one of the funniest characters across all of Borderlands. He experiences life like few robots of his kind ever have, which makes it so much sadder when he decides to give up his own for Rhys.

In the fifth episode, The Vault of the Traveler, Rhys and Loader Bot try to escape the quickly imploding Helios space ship. Realising that the escape pod isn’t big enough for both of them, Loader Bot pushes Rhys into the escape pod before giving him a fist bump just as he’s gunned down. The melancholy James Blake song, ‘Retrograde‘, really tops the scene off in the “why am I crying about a robot” stakes.

Luckily, Loader Bot is miraculously alive after his sacrifice and is revealed to be the stranger who captured Rhys and Fiona in the first episode — similarly to how he captured our hearts.


16. Bloodborne – Gehrman Joins the Hunt


There are few games that can make you feel sad without you maybe even knowing quite what’s going on like Bloodborne. And it’s not just because the fight has one of the most beautiful soundtracks ever, either.

At a surface level glance, Gehrman is just the friendly old man in a wheelchair at the Hunter’s Dream who fills you in on the occasional bit of chilling lore. By the end of the game, though, he’s all that stands in the way of you and your escape from the waking dream. Submitting to Gehrman will free you back into the waking world, while refusing his offer will result in a fight to the death.

However, what some players may not realise is that Gehrman has been a prisoner of the Hunter’s Dream for far, far longer than you have, with a lot of the location even being shaped by his memories. Gravestones of other fallen hunters are also dotted around Hunter’s Dream, suggesting a man who is trapped in an endless nightmare, whose sole purpose is to free others from this dark dream, one way or another. It’s time he himself was freed.

No matter what you choose, it’s a bittersweet finale. Accepting Gehrman’s offer will mean you are free while he remains trapped in the Hunter’s Dream, but taking him on in a boss fight kills one of your only allies across all of Bloodborne while also potentially consigning you to the same fate, or to become a squid.

Oh, Bloodborne. How we love you.


15. God of War: Ragnarok – Brok’s Funeral

Sindri and Brok are two of the best characters introduced for nu-God of War, a pair of squabbling brothers who regularly help out Kratos with new gear and even advice. Over the course of Ragnarok, you will feel like you’re part of one big, weird family, so it’s like a literal dagger in the gut when Brok meets his shocking end at the hands of a would-be ally.

After releasing the giant Tyr from his prison, it’s clear that the old norse God of War isn’t quite himself, especially because he is no longer a big fan of war. After being questioned by Brok, Tyr is revealed to be Odin as he sinks a knife into the blacksmith before making his escape.

Before he passes away, Brok tells Sindri that he knows he already resurrected him once, meaning that he no longer has a soul and can no longer reach Alfheim. Despite that, he forgives Sindri and asks him to move on before his final death. But the death breaks Sindri beyond repair that any blacksmith can fix.

In a special ending, almost every ally you’ve met along the way attends Brok’s funeral, except for Sindri who appears at the last minute. Kratos looks at him and sees the old version of himself, an angry husk. Kratos tries to comfort Sindri, who cannot bring himself to forgive Kratos before disappearing. Mimir finally realises the answer to a riddle Brok posed him: “What gets bigger the more you take away?”

A hole. The kind of hole that Sindri may never be able to climb out of again.


14. Mass Effect 3 – Saying Goodbye To Everyone

Mass Effect 3
Mass Effect 3

It’s arguable that no series out there has made you build up a rag-tag bunch of heroes as effectively as Mass Effect did across its original holy trilogy. If you carried your progress over between games, you even got to maintain your stories, the friends you lost and the maybe racists that you maybe regret saving.

That’s why saying goodbye to every member of the Normandy near the end of Mass Effect 3 hits like a truck. While you’ve previously gone on suicide missions together, this final mission is one you will have to do alone.

One by one, you will say goodbye to all of your friends who you’ve experienced so much with as you edge closer and closer to the Citadel and a rather underwhelming final confrontation. Before that though, it’s time to say goodbye to the likes of Garrus, the world of gaming’s official biggest bro, where he promises to meet you at the bar afterwards, with the beers on him.

Mass Effect has plenty of sad moments as a series, and nobody could be blamed for swapping in Modin Solus’ sacrifice, but for basically showing you every relationship you’ve ever cultivated across the series and then having to leave them behind hurts more than a journalist’s face after a chat with renegade Shep.


13. A Way Out – A Way Too Hard Decision

A Way Out
A Way Out

Imagine the twist in Double Dragon, but it emotionally destroys you and makes you lose trust in your co-op partner forever. That’s basically what happens in A Way Out, one of the saddest and also best co-op games of all time.

With players controlling one of Leo and Vincent, two criminals who end up becoming fast friends in prison, they must first escape together and survive on the run before eventually getting revenge on a crime boss. However, there’s a bit of a problem in the friendship: Vincent is an undercover cop and has been tricking Leo the whole time.

At the climax of the game, you and your friend must fight it out across a warehouse, before the fractured friends have a showdown on the rooftop where you whittle away at each other’s health. A sad, desperate fistfight leads to the pair of you scrambling to pick up a gun before a gutting pull of the trigger determines who lives. The pair share one final moment of brotherhood before the survivor goes to pick up the broken pieces of what was left behind.

Whoever wins the fight really isn’t a winner at all. Despite the betrayal, the pair are probably the best friends they’ve each ever had, and nobody is happy in either of the two endings. At least the developers Hazelight would cheer things up for their follow-up game, It Takes Two, in which—ah, nevermind.


12. Gears of War 3 – Dom’s Death

For a series about a bunch of fridge-shaped lads gunning down monsters, the Gears of War series certainly hasn’t been a stranger to tugging at those heartstrings, though perhaps no character in the series has been through the emotional wringer quite like Dominic Santiago. Best friend to leading man Marcus Fenix, Dom already claimed the saddest moment in Gears of War 2 when he was forced to mercy kill his wife Maria. Who knew these sentient meat slabs were capable of such emotion? Still, his saddest moment was yet to come.

Maria’s death broke Dom beyond repair, leaving him a shell of his former self, so when Gears of War 3 rolls around, and the majority of Delta Squad are pinned down by the Lambent hordes, Dom leaps at the opportunity to save his friends and reunite with his wife in the process. Hopping in a massive truck, Dom plows headfirst at 100 miles per hour into a gas station, blowing up himself and the enemies pinning down Marcus and company.

Moments of self-sacrifice are almost always effective at being sad, though Dom’s heroic death is levels above most other moments in gaming. Aside from seeing the bond between Marcus and Dom build over three games, Dom’s death is punctuated by an instrumental version of Mad World, the same song used in the first game’s launch trailer, which adds a full circle touch of finality to the whole affair. John DeMaggio’s acting as Marcus immediately afterwards is the icing on the emotional cake though, with his solemn and haunting delivery of Dom’s name sticking with you long after you go back to chainsawing enemies in half.


11. Marvel’s Spider-Man – Aunt May’s Death

Marvel's Spider-Man
Marvel’s Spider-Man

One of the key themes in Marvel’s Spider-Man is that it doesn’t take superpowers to make someone a hero; only courage and the desire to do good in this world. Look at Mary-Jane Watson, who stands by Peter through thick and thin, or Miles Morales, who’s inspired by both his father, Jefferson Davis, and Spider-Man, so begins volunteering at the F.E.A.S.T. shelter. However, no character exemplifies the idea of doing good better than Aunt May. After all, “when you help someone, you help everyone”. Shame that no good deed goes unpunished, then.

In the third act of the game, New York has been ravaged by the Devil’s Breath virus released by Doc Ock, which has begun to infect and kill off millions around the city. As the act progresses, we see Aunt May on the frontlines, trying to help those less fortunate than herself, but as much as she tries to hide it from her nephew, it’s clear that she’s becoming sick too, forcing Spider-Man into a race against time to find the vaccine.

After a climactic battle against Doc Ock on top of Oscorp Tower where Parker manages to retrieve the antidote, he’s forced to make a choice: use the limited dose to save May, or let May die as the antidote is widely manufactured into a vaccine. May, in her infinite wisdom, helps Parker work through his moral quandary so he, in turn, can help everyone in the city. If that’s not emotional enough for you, May’s last words about wanting to see her nephew, proving she knew about Peter’s role as Spider-Man, are massive gut-punches. It’s bittersweet, as Peter gets to be fully himself with May for once, but the trauma of losing May drives Peter’s character heading into Spider-Man 2.

Would you look at that? It’s raining again.


10. Titanfall 2 – Protect the Pilot

We said earlier that developers recently discovered some kind of sick thrill over making us feel bad for the big robots, and nowhere is this more apparent than in Titanfall 2.

After a chance encounter, the regular grunt Jack Cooper becomes connected with ‎BT-7274, a Titan whose pilot died while saving Jack (who apparently has the solo survival skills of a puppy in an abattoir). Despite Cooper’s inexperience, the pair become one of the most formidable duos across the Frontier as they battle the Apex Predators in some of the best single-player FPS action of the 2010s.

Across many amazing set-pieces and a few thumbs-up, Jack and BT grow to become an inseparable duo. Following a final showdown, BT saves Cooper’s life not once but twice. Actually, the Titan may hold some kind of record for saving Cooper’s life over the course of Titanfall 2.

After suffering severe damage the first time protecting him from Slone, BT stops Cooper from taking on a suicide mission to destroy the ark by ejecting him with the world’s saddest ever yeet, finally fulfilling his protocol of protecting his pilot as he hurtles into the core. The day is saved, but Cooper loses his best friend.

A post-credits scene shows a distress signal being sent to Cooper’s helmet in binary that says “Jack?”, suggesting that BT may be out there somewhere still. The saddest thing about all this, though? We may never get a proper answer, as Respawn is too busy putting Final Fantasy swords in Apex Legends to make Titanfall 3. Hey, speaking of:


9. Final Fantasy VII – No Life Angel


You know you’ve got some pain in store when this iconic moment in video game tragedy is only 9th on this list.

Aerith Gainsborough is the epitome of the phrase “too pure for this world,” a literal blossoming flower that blooms within the smog of Shinra Inc. So of course she simply had to get speared by a possibly overcompensating sword just as things between her and Cloud are getting real.

It’s the manner of Aerith’s death that makes it one of the most shocking in video game history, with Sephiroth seemingly descending from anti-deus ex machina heaven to plunge his sword through her, all while she seems at Cloud.

It turns out that Aerith’s death wasn’t pointless, though, as she casts a Holy spell to stop a meteor from crashing before the whole skewering took place. However, the suddenness of it, and Cloud’s solemn burial of her at a lake, resulted in tonnes of fan requests to bring her back to life over the years.

Well, they may just have their wish, as Aerith isn’t dead (yet) in the ongoing Final Fantasy VII remake trilogy. Square Enix has the chance to do the funniest, but also saddest thing ever.


8. Metal Gear Solid 4 – This Is Good, Isn’t It?

This is good isn't it
This is good isn’t it

While the finale of Metal Gear Solid 4 goes in some rather long-winded, almost unbelievable directions, few moments across the Metal Gear series hit quite as hard as the final scenes of Solid Snake’s story.

If Otacon struggling to explain Snake’s condition to a young child wasn’t hard enough to bear, how about Solid Snake being reunited with his biological father (who he fought to the presumed death years prior ((whose brainwashed body double also fought him to the actual death)) for a slice of sadness?

A tired, broken soldier after the messy, crazy events of Metal Gear Solid 4, Solid Snake finds himself at Arlington National Cemetery at The Boss’ grave, where he puts a gun to his mouth to end his suffering and stop himself from potentially becoming a bioweapon. Shortly after a change of heart, it’s not long before a surprise meeting with the man whom he was cloned from: Big Boss.

After a brief flurry of CQC that leads to an awkward embrace, the pair finally treat each other as men and not rivals, both victims of the endless arms race in which nobody ever truly crosses the finish line.

Following 25 minutes of info-dumping, Big Boss implores Snake to live what life he has left, saying “this is good, isn’t it?” as they share a final smoke together. Boss passes away peacefully to FOXDIE, likely imagining how different their relationship might have been as the screen fades to black and we see our last glimpses of the two pillars of one of the greatest series of all time.


7. The Last of Us – Don’t Do This To Me

It’s somewhat remarkable that not many people saw Sarah’s death coming in The Last of Us, and even those that did still felt like they’d tried to play dodgeball with a Bloater. It’s simply one of the most real, raw deaths in video game history.

Sarah is actually your first introduction into the world of The Last of Us, with players assuming control of her during Outbreak Day. From frenzied neighbours to a galling car ride, the world is crumbling down in front of this little girl and there’s nothing that even her father can do to stop it.

As the pair of them seemingly find themselves safe after a soldier kills an Infected hunting them down, the military man hesitates after receiving word from his superiors.. He fires on the pair before Joel’s brother, Tommy, saves Joel from an execution. But it’s too late for Sarah, who’s caught a stray bullet.

Sarah’s cries of pain are sounds that are really hard to dislodge from your brain for a long time after, and Joel’s desperate pleas for her to pull through still hit like a tonne of bricks no matter how many times you watch it. One panning shot to a resigned Tommy later, and the cycle of revenge and hatred has begun on an utterly devastating note.

There are other emotionally ruinous moments across The Last of Us, but Sarah’s death set the stall of suffering out early and let you know that this was going to hurt.


6. Spiritfarer – The Whole Thing


Yeah, the whole thing. A game about moving on after death, Spiritfarer’s entire mission statement is just to mess you up completely.

You play as Stella, a girl who takes over from Charon, the ferrymaster who transports spirits to the other side through the Everdoor. Alongside your cat Daffodil, you will grow to know and love many of the unique, complex characters who board your boat — and then rather brutally have to say goodbye to them forever.

It’s hard to pick just one character whose departure hits the hardest — Thunder Lotus really picked a trauma for every taste. How’s about Alice, the lovely elderly hedgehog who forgets everything and has to be escorted hand-in-hand to the afterlife? Or Jackie, the poor hyena who simply cannot get it right?

The real kicker in all of this? These are all people that Stella met over the course of her life: the disappearing uncle; the terminally ill young boy who Stella looked after as a nurse; the cancer survivor who inspired her to become a nurse. And Stella herself? She is on her deathbed in real life, with the last person to walk through the Everdoor being her and Daffodil.

Spiritfarer is a truly emotional game, one that does its best to make you realise that sometimes acceptance, while never easy, can be a beautiful, freeing thing.


5. Halo: Reach – An Impossible Objective

Halo Reach
Halo Reach

Considering the fact that you can’t ever see the faces of most of the Spartans in Halo, it’s amazing how much Halo: Reach makes you connect with these characters over the course of the campaign. Of course, it just makes it hurt all the more when you’re forced to spend the entire back half of the story watching Noble Team being picked off by the Covenant like you’re in the middle of The Fall of the House of Usher.

As the fight between the UNSC and the Covenant rages across Reach, it looks like Noble team might be able to push back the aliens, until Jorge sacrifices himself to take out a Covenant supercarrier. That might feel like a victory for the good guys, until an entire Covenant fleet shows up about a minute later, rendering that sacrifice entirely meaningless. The story only gets more depressing from there.

With the rest of Noble Team throwing themselves at the Covenant to try to scratch and claw for humanity’s survival, Halo: Reach culminates with Noble Six, the last surviving member of the team, ensuring that the UNSC ship Forward Unto Dawn gets to escape Reach, leading to the events of Halo: Combat Evolved. While that’s sad in itself, Bungie drops one last emotional gut punch on players with the very last mission, in which Noble Six is given a simple, one word objective: “Survive”.

That objective never gets completed, and we’re left wondering if we can sue Bungie for emotional damages.


4. What Remains of Edith Finch – Lewis’ Story

Of the many “walking simulators” that tug at the heartstrings, few of them have such a varied way of taking a shotgun to your heart quite like What Remains of Edith Finch.

Basically a tapestry of different tragedies that befall the Finch family, Giant Sparrow’s beautiful heart-wrencher presents those deaths in all manner of harrowing ways. Whether it’s the boy that swung too high or the girl that became a deep sea creature, the game has some truly affecting ways of portraying death.

However, none of the Finch deaths hit half as hard as Lewis, a cannery worker who has almost completely dissociated from reality after all the deaths and all that he saw within the Finch household. It’s easy to understand how you would want to be anywhere but cutting off fish heads for a living.

Players dually help Lewis with the monotony of his day job while also relishing in the grandess of his daydreams, with the young Finch imagining himself as the king among his beloved subjects. As part of his daydream coronation, Lewis kneels to receive his crown but ends up joining the fish instead.

It’s a deeply affecting scene for anyone who’s ever not been able to escape their life, and one of the greatest examples of indie storytelling you’re ever likely to see.


3. Telltale’s The Walking Dead – Keep That Hair Short

The Walking Dead Season 1
The Walking Dead: Season 1

While the choices you made may not have mattered terribly in the end, the first season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead perfected a formula of emotional investment and devastation that the three subsequent seasons simply couldn’t quite match.

Playing as Lee Everett, an escaped convict, you come across Clementine, a young girl whose parents have disappeared at the onset of the zombie apocalypse. The pair become inseparable before too long, with Lee perhaps seeing Clem as a chance for redemption and Clem seeing Lee as a father figure that she lost.

Lee teaches Clem everything she needs to know in order to survive with the kind of warmth and love that often gets you killed in The Walking Dead universe. That’s why it hurts more than a Lucille swing to the noggin when Lee is bitten after trying to save Clementine from a captor before eventually reuniting as he nears his end.

With little time left, the player can choose final pieces of advice to give Clementine, with by far the most affecting being for her to “keep her hair short” — a tip that comes up regularly throughout the rest of the games. Clementine telling Lee that she will miss him could probably break even the coldest of hearts, before Lee closes his eyes one last time. The player sees Clem’s shaking, hesitant finger around the trigger before the scene cuts to black and a shot rings out, leaving behind one of gaming’s best ever heroes in the process.


2. Red Dead Redemption 2 – I Gave You All I Had. I Did.

Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2

Speaking of unforgettable heroes in gaming, there are few protagonists as complex as Red Dead Redemption 2’s Arthur Morgan. While nobody could claim he was always a good person, Arthur’s deep regret for the life he led as he battles with a terminal illness shows that it’s never too late to change.

Arthur is the enforcer of the van der Linde gang, a group of outlaws on the run and in disarray following a botched heist. After he nearly beats a man with tuberculosis to death for basically pocket change, Arthur also contracts the illness and tries to atone for his many mistakes with what little time he has left.

Not only does the player have to sit through Arthur’s gradual, depressing breakdown, but they also have to contend with the collapse of the gang — ostensibly a truly messed-up family — itself, seemingly member by member. Their leader, Dutch, has become unraveled and is constantly being led astray by Micah, a mustache-twirling villain if ever there was one.

The flurry of tragedy toward the end of Arthur’s story is truly hard to take. Not only does his beloved horse die on the way towards one final confrontation, but he is simply a ghost of his former self, the disease quickly eating away at him. But it’s Arthur’s final moments that eat away at Dutch to devastating effect.

“I gave you all I had. I did,” a beaten, broken Arthur manages to splutter to Dutch, which completely silences the man who never usually knows when to shut up. Eight simple words seem to ring around Dutch’s skull as he stumbles away. Depending how much honor the player has, Arthur either dies at the hands of that snake Micah, or peacefully while watching the sunrise. We know which one he deserves.

The true tragedy in this moment lies in the fact that Arthur is a victim himself. He was a young boy when Dutch took advantage of his naivety to bring him up on the wrong side of the law, and while they both know that, hearing Arthur vocalise just how much Arthur has sacrificed for his surrogate father is as effective as any bullet.


1. Before Your Eyes – A Beautiful, Mean Trick

Before Your Eyes
Before Your Eyes

While this list is quite clearly heavy on spoilers, it’d really be a disservice to you if you didn’t at least play through Before Your Eyes before you read on. It’s a short, cheap game that has some of the smartest tricks we’ve ever seen across any medium. We’ll wait.

Okay, cool, you’re back. Sheesh, how sad was that? In too many tears to respond? We completely understand.

Before Your Eyes puts you behind the eyes of Benny, a young boy who, frankly, suffers a lot, with perspective shifting between the real world as he is constantly unwell in bed and his journey with a mysterious ferryman.

It’s a fairly hands-off experience with an absolutely genius mechanic: the scene changes whenever you blink, with players even able to hook up a webcam to follow their own blinks.

What this means is that no matter how much you may be immersed in a scene, you will eventually have to blink — a harsh reminder that you simply just have to let go sometimes, and that’s okay.

Letting go is actually the crux of the brutal climax of the game, as the terminally ill Benny is read a letter by his mother, who lets him know that she understands if he wants to move on after suffering for so long across his short life. This deeply emotional scene basically forces the player to blink as their eyes suddenly get more lubricated, with the perspective shifting back and forth between Benny’s mother and the ferryman reciting her letter, in which she tells him he lived a great, full life and that she loved him just as he was beneath all the illness and the struggle.

The beautiful, shattering journey concludes with the player being asked to close their eyes, one last time.

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