Apr 09 2012
There seems to be some sort of quiet rule in society against men being able to show any emotion other then anger. In many ways, it is expected for a man to be as stoic as a robot. An unfeeling machine who just functions, performs his daily duties, but is not allowed to really feel or exhibit emotion. But video game designers know better, because a good deal of them are men, and men known that men cry.
Some of us may not cry often, but when we do, there better be a damn good reason for it. Like your horse dying. When a man’s horse dies, a part of that man dies, too. That being said, here are five moments that seemed to be created with the sole purpose of making men weep like children. Travel on with hesitation though, weary reader, for there are some definite spoilers in here.
Jenny in The Darkness
I felt naturally compelled to talk about The Darkness since the sequel chose to bastardize all that made the loss so palpable in the first game. Sorry, I am getting ahead of myself.
The Darkness is a game about a hitman named Jackie Estacado who has some ancient evil locked up inside him and, though he tries to control, it gets released. And as a result of knowing some bad people and having done some questionable things, some events unfold around Jackie that are out of his control.
For those familiar with the comic book, this was not such a shocking moment, but for those who weren’t, all I have to say is WHAMMO!
Here is the part where I spoil stuff, so if you have not played the game, I suggest skipping ahead.
This may look insignificant to the game, but this scene will haunt you later on, trust me.
Jenny is your girlfriend, and she is portrayed as a very sweet girl. And because of your crappy lifestyle choices, she gets her brains blown out in front of you. And what makes the moment so unforgettable, is the way the game set you up for it.
One of this game’s hooks was that it showed real, full length movies on any TV set that was playing during the game. So if you got bored after a gunfight in an office and a TV is playing something, just sit your character in front of it and watch something. Cool, right?
What was extra cool is the scene early in the game when you are chilling with Jenny on the couch, watching a movie. At any point, you can end this scene. But they are watching To Kill A Mockingbird, which is one of the greatest films of all time, and you just sort of sit there and watch it with them. It feels very much like a real relationship.
And you get the real life option to either be the jerk or the good guy. You can get up and leave when she falls asleep, or stay there so you don’t wake her up. The best part is, if you stick around like I did, you get an achievement. I remember when that little achievement window opened, and it said “easy romantic” I could not decide if that was more cool or sad. Not sad as in boo hoo, sad as in “taking cousin to prom” kind of sad. I am still unsure on how I feel about that achievement, but I digress.
But it was THAT moment, hanging out with your lady on the couch, watching a classic movie, that truly asserted the bond between Jackie and Jenny. And it made her execution that much more devastating.
Dear this scene: Can you please stop haunting my nightmares? Thank you. Sincerely, Remy.
For me, the moment wasn’t met so much with tears, as the moment leading up to it was met with a devastating sense of complete helplessness. A single pane of glass separates you from saving her life, and there is nothing you can do. You feel the moment coming, and adrenaline floods your body. It is quite an emotional response, actually.
The designers at Starbreeze even admitted to putting the couch scene in the game specifically to make her death feel more “real” to the player. I respond to that was equal parts damn you and well played, Starbreeze.
Lastly, I need to say, Mike Patton’s voice as The Darkness in this game is the best vocal work I have ever heard in a game. Before you tell me I am an ass and know nothing, know that he created that voice using NO EFFECTS or distortion.
Just listen and marvel, secretly praying all voice actors approached roles with this much vigor (and insanity).
Though part two was recently released, avoid it, because it uses Jenny’s death in ridiculous ways and takes away from the power of the first story.
Agro the horse in Shadow of the Colossus.
Pardon me if I go on a rant that seems detached from this, but it all ties together, trust me.
Remember that scene from The Neverending Story where Atreyu’s horse slowly sinks in the swamp, and Atreyu is trying to do all he can to save him but he just can’t? Remember how you were sobbing uncontrollably when that happened? Yeah, well, apparently Team Ico remembers the loss well, because they basically made me go through it again in Shadow of the Colossus.
Now before I say anything else, I will go on the record to say this may be the best last generation game made. From originality of concept to the jaw dropping visuals. From the scale of it all and the resonating power of the story and ending, this game is just a phenomenal from start to finish.
I have written three folk songs about Agro for my “Echoing the loss of Agro” concept album.
BUT, just like I said at the beginning of this piece, you do not kill a man’s horse. Especially not after they have just gone on the most mind blowing, life changing journey together. And of course, my horse dies saving MY life. My selfish, pointless, giant-killing life. And by the games end, we ask ourselves, for what?
It is a bleak moment in a very bleak game, but one that truly reminds how important all life is. Also, it is a moment that shows the adoration and love an animal has, and the true sense of loyalty it displays for those it loves, even right down to the end. Again, rather then tears, this was a “yell at the screen” moment for me, and what I yelled, in all seriousness, was NOOOOOOOOOOO!
And I do get a little choked up when I think about that horse still, I won’t lie.
Silent Hill 2 “In Water” ending.
Again, a quick nod to the fact that this is one of my favorite games from the last generation. Silent Hill 2.
Yes, the combat was clunky . And yes, the controls were stiff, almost to the point of the game playing more like a tank sim on an old pc than a survival horror game, but still, the story was mind blowing and up to that point, the most mature game I had ever played. As gamers, this was the moment that told me we were no longer plumbers jumping on mushrooms, trying to save damsels in distress. We were psychotic men experiencing a breakdown as a result of serious trauma, barely capable of saving ourselves.
And while the game had it’s share of gut wrenching moments (the big reveal, anyone?), no single moment hit as hard as the “In Water” ending that so few of us were lucky (unlucky?) enough to experience.
The “In Water” ending is the most nihilist moment in a video game ever. Spoilers ahead!
So you find out that all the madness that just went down in Silent Hill is the result of a breakdown you had as a result of murdering your wife. You only murdered your wife so she wouldn’t have to die slowly of the disease that was killing her, but in a selfish way,you know you also killed her because you were exhausted from having to watch her die, day after day, in agony.
So we are NOT having sex tonight? I am sorry, when you’re catatonic, you are REALLY hard to read.
As if that in itself was not enough to make us feel like we had just been raped by Pyramid Head (who at this point, was invented, as a result of James repressed psycho-sexual urges) the “in Water” ending takes hopelessness to a whole new level, especially for this medium.
So James, deciding he cannot live with what he has done and takes his own life by driving into Silent Hill Lake. The whole thing is done with a very haunting voice over as he explains his motives and his intent to reunite with Mary, his dead wife, in the afterlife.
So in essence, this is the game where you kill your wife, go crazy, and go off to Silent Hill. You see some really insane and unimaginable things, and ultimately, you take your own life in the place you and she used to vacation in a way to seek penance for what you had done. Really uplifting stuff.
I played this game at a particularly dark point in my life, and I remember being so disturbed with the revelation of what I had done as a character, that I swore of the Silent Hill franchise. Until the next one came out.
I told you it was not exactly uplifting.
And while this scene may not evoke tears in everyone, there is an undeniable sadness at the thought of this tragic love, and all the madness they had to go through. Plus, how many games end with your character killing himself, ultimately making everything you had accomplished up to that point for nothing?
Like I said, nihilism at its finest. And most ruining.
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