Top 5: Most Emotional Gaming Moments

Image by Flickr user Beautiful Games (CC)
Image by Flickr user Beautiful Games (CC)

I’ve never been one to get overly demonstrative with my games, but I was recently reminded of just how powerful a single event in a game can be. Whether it’s a moment that makes you laugh, makes you cry, or makes you scream out in joy or anger, great games have them.  Sometimes our reactions to them are severely personal. Other times they reflect inclusiveness and a sense of community. What’s bringing out this list from me, now, is the Mass Effect trilogy, which I recently completed (yay!). While I had played the three games at the times of their releases, not until now had I played them back to back. While doing so didn’t change any of my sentiments towards the games (they are all-time favorites), it did change the way I viewed the story of my Commander Shepard. The process, and one singular moment made me reflect, and then write. So here’s my top five most emotional moments in my personal gaming history.

Spoiler alert!  Seeing as how most emotional moments in any form of media tend to come at the end of things or reveal major plot points, this list is rife with spoilers of all sorts!


5. Captain Anderson’s finale salute in Mass Effect 3

So here’s the moment to blame for this entire post. But what a moment it is. It can be difficult sometimes to represent death in a game without it feeling hokey and contrived.  Death happens frequently in the Mass Effect universe. And maybe there are moments that feel a bit more personal than this one, especially since the game allows you to get up close and personal with your teammates. Captain David Anderson isn’t one of your teammates, but he is a character that permeates all three games. Sometimes he’s in the driver’s chair, and sometimes he’s in the backseat, but he’s always there, and he’s among your biggest supporters. His demise at the end of the third game isn’t exactly a shocker, but he says some incredibly heartfelt words to Shepard just before his death, and that’s what brings on the waterworks.


4. Getting all 120 stars in Super Mario 64

Finding all 120 stars in Super Mario 64 wasn’t the first I found myself both supremely happy and relieved in a game, but it was the first time that I actively strove for a single goal in a game. And it’s not like getting all the stars got you some sort of “tangible” reward…though, okay,  you got to meet Yoshi who gives you a bunch of extra lives, so that was cool. But what really came with it was a fantastic sense of accomplishment.  It also marked the first time that I sought to get all of something in a Mario game. Because previous game like Super Mario World has special coins to find, but I never remember caring much about going after all of them. Something about those stars in Super Mario 64 called out to me. And I just had to have them all! (And I got them!)


3. The Joker‘s death in Batman: Arkham City

I will freely admit that I did not expect to get caught up in Batman: Arkham City’s story. My knowledge of Bruce Wayne’s alter ego didn’t extend much beyond the 1960s TV show and the movies that later followed. I also thought that because I hadn’t played the first game, Batman: Arkham Asylum, I’d probably miss out on lots of story references. However, I ended up latching on unexpectedly tight to the Joker’s plight/self-imposed situation, which was amazingly told and remarkably poignant, in Arkham City. The devil really is in the details of the game, and when Batman carried the deceased villain out of his lair and into the daylight, I choked up.  The whole scene felt alive with tragedy and, and a strangely respectful way, triumph.


2. Shulk and Fiora reunite in Xenoblade Chronicles

Xenoblade Chronicles is a game filled with powerful moments. But the first one that really hit me right in the feels was seeing protagonist Shulk and his close childhood friend Fiora back together again. Shulk and Fiora’s relationship is sweetly set up at the game’s beginning, and then it takes a very tragic turn with her death early on. From then till the reunion, Shulk’s actions are driven in part by Fiora’s untimely demise. When he finds out the truth about Fiora, that she’s not only alive but has been “reincarnated” as a mechon (the game’s primary antagonists), it’s all he can do to save her. After a formidable and intense battle, the two wash up on a beach together. For much the scene, Fiora is out cold, and Shulk does his best to help revive her. Much as with any good fairy tale, he ends up “kissing” her (in an effort to transfer to her some water), and she wakens. Considering what the two of them have been through, that moment is awash in nothing less than tears of joy.


1. The end of Super Metroid

The battle ensues and feels hopeless. There you are, as Samus, battling the final form of Mother Brain, the worst and most deadly cohort of the space pirates. You’ve used up all your missiles trying to defeat  her, and you are exhausted. And that moment when Samus as nothing left, she strikes. Mother Brain lets loose with a terrible death beam that repeatedly saps away your energy. And just when you think you’re about to “walk into the light,” a savoir appears. It’s a metroid! Not just any metroid, but the one you saved right at the start of the game, only now it’s full grown and mighty powerful. It remembers you; it wants to help you. So it latches onto Mother Brain just as she’s about to release her final ray of death, and it proceeds to drain her and the beams’ energies! Once done, the metroid transfers all that new-found energy to you (and with it comes a powerful new weapon). However, during the process, Mother Brain comes back to life. As the metroid works with Samus, Mother Brain begins to heartlessly pummel it. The metroid finishes, and just as it is about to strike again, Mother Brain kills it. You have no time to mourn, for with the metroid’s help, you are able to defeat Mother Brain and make your final escape.

Folks, even after twenty-two years, that ending gets me every time. It simply does not get any better than that.


What are some of your favorite or most memorable emotional moments in games?

19 Comments Add yours

  1. Interesting, I see what you mean about the Joker’s death. And I agree about Anderson in Mass Effect! He is such an important mentor-like character for Shepard, and that moment is a tear-jerker for sure. Mass Effect is full of those moments, really!

    I’d say in ME3, the scene where Liara comes into Shepard’s room and is creating that record of Shepard’s life — that’s a moment that makes me tear up. It speaks to everything Shepard has been through, as well as the friendship between Shep and Liara (and all of the Normandy crew, really).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. cary says:

      Agreed – that’s such a wonderful scene! One of the best things about the ME games is that they are filled with small but intense character-driven moments like that one that take you out of the action of the game and remind you of why you’re fighting. In many games, it’s easy to simply shoot your way to the final battle, but ME relishes the journey that takes you there.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pam says:

    Mordin’s death in ME3 and the ending of The Walking Dead s1 were two of the most emotional moments for me. Also, basically all of The Last Of Us Left Behind.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      Man…Mordin. Oh, Mordin. His demise is a tough one to take. It makes sense, but he’s *such* a great companion that seeing him go is downright painful.

      Though I’m just a handful of hours into The Last of Us…wow. It’s one emotional backhand after another.

      Like

  3. renxkyoko says:

    Mine is the demise of the MC in Persona 3 FES.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      I had to look this one up. I’m mildly familiar with the Persona games and understand that they’ve got their fair share of memorable moments. Will have to give one a try someday.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hatm0nster says:

    Oh man, I forgot about how that scene with Anderson went. Curse you Illusive Man! Oh! I’d say that “The Choice” from the original *Mass Effect* is right up there too. Hardest decision I ever had to make (the first time through that is)!

    Also, do shocking moments count? If so, then the *Big Reveal* in the original Knights of the Old Republic gets my vote!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. cary says:

    Hmm…I’m going to have to skip looking up KOTOR, because I think I want to play it someday! But I’ll have to keep this in mind when I get around to it. 🙂

    Making the final choice in ME3 remains one of the most difficult ones for me. Even with this last time, I still sat there for a good few minutes pondering before deciding which one to choose. Something about it feels too monumental to just swoop in and choose without thinking about it.

    Like

  6. simpleek says:

    Anderson’s death in ME3 really got to me, so that’s definitely high on my list of greatest emotional moments. I think the other ones for me are Mordin’s death scene and, if you chose this path, Varric’s reaction in Inquisition when the Inquisitor tells him Hawke chose to stay behind in the Fade. Broke my heart when I sacrificed mine and seeing his face over losing his best friend. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      Oh, I completely forgot about that moment with Varric! I also chose to sacrifice Hawke – that was a terrible choice to have to make. I swear I must have sat there for far too long deciding what to do. Varric was far and away my favorite DA companion, and it stunk seeing him so sad at that point.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. duckofindeed says:

    My most emotional gaming moment is the end of Final Fantasy X. For anyone who hasn’t played it, I won’t say what happens, but anyone who has will know what I’m talking about. No other game ending makes me cry like that one does. The ending of Super Metroid was definitely a good one, too.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. cary says:

      You’re right about FFX! Thinking about it makes me want to play it again… That game had some really great moments. Some not-so-great ones, too, but it all evened out. Yuna’s still one of my most favorite FF characters ever.

      Like

  8. cary says:

    Reblogged this on Recollections of Play and commented:

    There are games that challenge players as they attempt to get from point A to point B. There are games that challenge players to survive waves of multitudinous enemies. And then there are games that challenge players to connect emotionally with the events happening on-screen. Take what you will from my terrible oversimplification here, but when a game hits you right in all the feels, and sometimes unexpectedly so, it’s doing something right. This I discussed recently over on United We Game with this post, a rundown of some of my favorite emotional moments in gaming.

    Like

  9. The deaths of Henry & Sam in the Last of Us still makes me tear up when I think about it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GjhDMwudKY

    LIfe Is Strange has so many tear-inducing moments that I hate to pick just one. However, when Max discovers that she caused her friend Chloe to wind up as a quadriplegic was heartbreaking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      Oh man, you picked two good ones right there! Unfortunately for me, I’ve not experienced either first hand (someday I might finish TLoU…someday… And I think Life is Strange is on a wishlist somewhere…), but I’ve watched both games fully. Both games are so well written that watching them alone was almost as compelling as playing. *Almost.*

      Like

      1. I agree! They almost play like movies. My girlfriend would sit and watch me play and be so into the game that she would get mad when I paused it to take a break.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Interesting. I’m surprised you haven’t included a few memorable endings I’ve witnessed in my gaming endeavors, but I guess it entirely depends on what type of gaming you do (and potentially on what platform too).

    Such as Dom in Gears of War… Or Soap in Call of Duty… Or… Or… I’m tearing up, I better stop now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      That’s true — these particular moments are only from games I’ve played, not from across the wide world of gaming. (The list probably would have looked quite different had that been the case!) Everyone is going to have there own, like the ones you mentioned. I’ve not played games from either series, though I’m familiar with Dom’s story from GoW.

      Liked by 1 person

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