In the n3rdabl3 podcast #16 (available on iTunes) we discussed some of the saddest games we’ve ever played. Now they’re in handy list for whenever you the opposite of a pick-me-up; a drop-me-down.
To illustrate just how sad these games are we’ve included major plot points and the ending in some cases.
Watch out for GIANT STINKING SPOILERS.
This game is sad throughout. From around two minutes in, the protagonist goes through more than most characters will go through in an entire game. The introduction is told in a beautiful way that makes you feel like you could be experiencing the horrible situation yourself.
Set in the Wyoming wilderness it’s also a very lonely game. Throughout, it builds tension and you begin to question your only contact with the outside world; Delilah. Is she on your side? Is something more than friendship possible between the two of you? If it is, should you feel guilty about that?
The game ends with you and Delilah being evacuated by helicopter. She leaves ahead of you. You’ll never get to meet. If that’s not sad enough, you then have to decide if you want to be evacuated, or if you’d rather stay in the wilderness and die in the fire.
If you think that’s the worst part there’s also a crushing sub-plot that anyone with daddy issues will be literally ended by.
Life is Strange
There are no words to explain the emotional rollercoaster this game places you on. If you can look past the teen drama and the teen slang you’re in for a real pillow-soaked treat.
The game follows Max, a typical teenager who comes back to her childhood town to study photography. Over the course of the game Max rediscovers her friendship with her childhood friend Chloe. Finding out more about Chloe, and what you missed when you moved away, leads to a real emotional investment in their friendship.
The time-bending plot leads to repercussions for your current timeline. One of the saddest moments of the game (aside from the final, tear-jerking finale) comes about when you attempt to save Chloe from the pain of her father dying a few years ago. After a bit of hocus pocus, you prevent the accident that killed her father ever happening. Amazing. But, the next time you see her she’s now wheelchair bound and suicidal as a result of you changing the timeline. The moment you see what you’ve done by changing the timeline is a sad, sad moment.
It’s hard to describe what is so sad about this game. The story builds throughout and leaves you with a feeling of profound sadness at the end. The narrative is delivered incredibly well without shoving it down your throat at any point in this short game.
In the final moments, the pace increases rapidly, the wind builds around you and you can’t help but feel completely overwhelmed by the journey you just completed. You need to play this game to understand.
The Walking Dead: Season One
There’s one part of this game that just blows. Like, seriously sucks.
The child in the game, Duck, is bitten by a zombie. His mother takes him off to take care of him. All good you say? Nope. Instead of taking care of him she shoots the Duck and kills herself. To make matters even worse their bodies are left in a place where her husband and Duck’s father find them.
It’s one of the most brutal experiences to be had in the history of gaming. It is loneliness, destruction and sadness all bundled up into one killer moment.
That Dragon, Cancer
That Dragon, Cancer is a nightmare brought to life. The game was written and developed by parents who lost their son to cancer. What started as a way for them to express their grief became a harrowing and intimate window into what will undoubtedly be some of the darkest moments of their lives.
The game itself is not perfect and is a little rough and ready in places. But the story, and the intimacy with which it is told makes this feel very unique. As you come towards the end and reflect on the game, you realise you will never experience anything like it again.