Five Moments In Video Games That Can Make Grown Men Cry

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.

Similar Posts


  1. @Patrick

    You nailed it. I just couldn’t bring my renegade Femshep to shoot Mordin during my second playthrough because my paragon playthrough had Mordin singing right before his end.

  2. -SPOILER-
    At the end of castle 1-4, that stupid toadstool tells Mario, “Thank you but our princess is in another castle!”

    What the hell?!? Total heartbreak! Never did track that stupid princess down. After that, I stuck with my 2600 and ignored the NES.

  3. If you want sad, play the fantastic little indie game “To the Moon”.

    An indie Adventure RPG, about two doctors traversing through the memories of a dying man to fulfill his last wish.

    It has a great story, but it’s just sad through and through. There are tear-jerking moments all the way through, but then you get to the final revelation, and you look back on everything that you know and realise it’s all 10x as sad what you originally thought.

    It will make you cry.

  4. You do know that Agro lives right? It’s a powerful moment when the horse does the sacrifice, but he’s a true stud and limps back in the epilogue.

  5. Darkness Spoiler:

    I agree with the Darkness choice, but i think that the ending, if Jackie chooses the suicide option, is even more emotionally intense, with Jackie resting his head on his girls lap while they are both enjoying the moment sitting on a park bench.

    The dialogue, the music… i cried 🙁

  6. A few from my playing experiences…


    – Eli Vance dies in HL2:E2
    – Aries in FFVII
    – Anyone dying in any Mass Effect game except Kaiden

  7. Metal Gear Solid 3 At the end when EVA is talking about the sacrifice the Boss had made for her country, dying a traitor in the eyes of America. She loved her country so much and the salute of Big Boss brought a patriotic tear to my eye.

  8. Mass Effect 3 is just too new for me to be ruining it for people in here, plus, so many people have different versions of how the story plays out, so to say one thing happened, when it may not for another person, is not fair. I tried to mostly go for games that were a little bit older. @ Shiwggles, I HATE when death scenes are DEUS EX’ed by the creators. I think it lessens the impact of the scene that came before, so I just ignore that part, or the impact of the prior seen is all but lost on me.

  9. I’m on of the trolls for FF7. You said the scene didn’t have longevity? We’re in 2012 and we’re still talking about it. Her death came out of no where. Countless people spent hours grinding and leveling her up for her to be killed off before disc one ended. To say Tidus had a more emotional ending is insane comparing it to Aeries. Aeris’ death will always be the #1 most emotional moment in video games and it’ll be talked about until we’re all old and using walkers.

  10. Putting down Legion really got me in ME3 as well. Stupid Quarians. But yeah, part of the genius of FF7 was that killing off an essential party member simply was not done. The disbelief persists in gaming communities to this day. And you still get items for her for the rest of the game. I remember finding her ultimate weapon in-game and feeling sad all over again because I really felt like I’d been cheated by that prick Sephiroth. It’s pretty amazing that a game can evoke these kinds of emotional responses.

  11. Oh fuck the companion cube. :/

    Also: As much as MGS4 was a titanic, sluggish, practically unplayable, gibbering, insane glob of rambling nonsense… The final fight between Snake and Ocelot was amazing… Resorting to just cracking their heads together before grabbing a syringe of plot-contrivance steroids and //Injecting it into eachother//… :'(

    Also, apparently none of you fuckers have ever played Suikoden.

    <3 Gremio.

  12. My closest moment to any of these was in Neverwinter Nights. You spend the whole first game dealing with the betrayal of Aribeth and striking her down ends her conspiracy against the city and it feels so right to do.

    Then she reappears in the third chapter of the second expansion pack. You find her tortured soul in hell sealed in a cave of ice and actually have the option to redeem her soul back to a paladin class. I had been a badass Blackguard the whole time, and finding her made me swear off the evil powers I had obtained and play through the rest of the game as a repentant monk, accompanied by Aribeth.

    Sad I know, but it had a lot of significance for me.

  13. @ Mike, honestly, when I played that moment, it FLOORED me, but I was also 12 years old at the time, and what I meant by longevity is not that we do not REMEMBER it, but when you play it now it just does not hold up as well. She was destined to die from the start of the game, and if you play it now, you can see how they manipulated you TOWARDS that moment, and like Trashcanman says, they CONTINUED to manipulate you emotionally regarding her character long after she died, as well. I just felt the “Holy crap, I am dead” revelation of FFX is just written better, but it is only my opinion, and as these pieces have proven, my opinion can be pretty asinine.
    @ Kev, YOU CAN F*CK THE COMPANION CUBE? Is it a mod or something? I would SO do that, send me a link of you have one. And I did like the MG4 end battle a lot, but fell asleep after the first three hours of it. And regarding Suikoden, 109 extra playable characters for your party in every game, and there have been, what, five games or something? And you want me to handpick ONE moment out of that for this list? Sorry man, I don’t have 375 hours of spare time.
    @RBourne, have never played, NEVERWINTER sadly, but have heard many amazing things.

  14. @Lost Link Believe me, if I didn’t have a walkthrough of P4 telling me exactly how to avoid the bad ending of the game, I would’ve ended it that way out of grief for Nanako. Say, you think she’ll appear in a future Persona as a persona-user?

    @Remy Sorry to be “that nerdy guy” but I must point out to you that Tidus wasn’t actually dead, because he didn’t really exist. Him, Jecht, and the Zanarkand they were from were just a dreamworld constructed by the combined will of the Faythe, and Jecht somehow gained some semblence of being a real person when he left made contact with the previous Sin and left Zanarkand. Same thing happened to Tidus, and after Sin was permanently destroyed, for some reason Tidus’ life depended on the continued dream of the Faythe, and since Yuna sent them on they couldn’t dream anymore so he disappeared. I’m sure you’ll point out that the Faythe could’ve stopped dreaming to get rid of the current Sin (Jecht), but Yu Yevon would’ve still been out there so it wouldn’t’ve worked. If you think about it, Tidus and Jecht weren’t really people, they were instruments of the Faythe’s will and desire to wipe out Sin, and once their purpose was complete, their existence was no longer necessary. And that is why Tidus’ disappearance at the end of FFX was much sadder than simply being “dead” the whole time.

  15. Red Dead Redemption was sad, but it also freaked me out in a way that that no other game has ever managed to accomplish. The part right before the ending when you suddenly go from missions about revenge and killing gang leaders to missions about living at home with your family is one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen in a game, because you’re sitting there the whole time going “This is just too ominous. If this is the happy ending, why is the game still going? Something is going to happen. WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN?!”

    No other game had delivered that cinematic calm before the final storm so well, and, of course, by the time they do come calling, it all makes sense, and you’ve seen the signs, and you’ve felt the vibe, but you just don’t wanna believe it because, as you stated here, the bond you’ve spent so long building with this character is about to come to an end. An incredible ending made possible by an excellent build.

  16. @ Remy – Fine, I’ll bite.

    “YOU CAN F*CK THE COMPANION CUBE? Is it a mod or something? I would SO do that, send me a link of you have one.”

    Oh, bugger off.

    The cube does not belong on this list. It wasn’t sad, it wasn’t meaningful – It was a joke. And it was a joke in one room, in one game that was more to do with a sadistic overlord abusing her torture subject du jour than it was of any meaningful connection with a painted storage box.

    Anything beyond that one room, and that one gag – including the nod in Portal 2 – is nothing more than fanwank dragging out a singular moment (belittling the original game by turning it into a meme, thanks for that) and a hollow attempt at recreating that same fanwank.

    “And I did like the MG4 end battle a lot, but fell asleep after the first three hours of it.”

    MGS4 was a pile of steaming wank, granted. But I really do believe that the final homoerotic relationship between Snake and Ocelot is the emotional highpoint of the series – and yes, that means I do think it tops Naked Snake’s final moments with Big Boss.

    The final cumulation of their lives, the acknowledgement that dispute all they’ve done, they’ve only done it in order to get to this moment – the knowledge that they need each other to live and that this point will mark the end of it, so they’re gonna make it last and be as poignant as possible was just amazing.

    It’s the same relationship we keep coming back to with Batman and Joker, they’re nothing without each other, and in that ending Snake and Ocelot knew it, and knew it was going to end.

    “And regarding Suikoden, 109 extra playable characters for your party in every game, and there have been, what, five games or something? And you want me to handpick ONE moment out of that for this list? Sorry man, I don’t have 375 hours of spare time.”

    I highlighted the first game specifically (otherwise I would have specified a sequel – Hell the secret ending to Suikoken 2 – Where you can let your best friend damn near kill you protesting that you’d never raise a hand against him, could also go here) and I also specified a character: Gremio. So thanks for pointing out the rest of the games, but it really wasn’t needed.

    For those not in the know Gremio is practically your character’s nanny – he did infact, raise you, as your father was never home.

    He is by your side in almost every adventure, and practically sleeps outside your door. He blames himself for everything that happens to you and constantly gets in the way of any action that will but you at risk. Initially he’s a whiny pain in the ass because of all this… But then you enter Scarleticia Castle – where a flesh-eating pollen is being created as a weapon of mass destruction to quell the rebels.

    Gremio shoves you out of a room about to be flooded with the stuff and locks the door behind you, preventing the pollen from being released, but trapping himself inside.

    The next few minutes involve Gremio talking to you through a closed door, telling you to be brave, and how proud he is of you and so forth – while also describing his slow loss of vision and weakness as the pollen eats him alive. His annoying actions become clear as you realise how much he loves you, evidently to the point that he will give his life for you. When the door opens, all that is left of him is his cloak and his axe.

    And again – By this point you’ve invested a hell of a lot of time into the game, and are unprepared for a main character death (Suikoden came out before FF7 – We hadn’t experienced Aeris yet) Its impact is lesser now but not by much, I’d argue.

    Anyway – There’s my more in depth, reasoned arguments for my comments. In short there are far more potent and emotional sequences that deserve to be on this list than another dance routine over a played out, misrepresented meme involving a lump of plastic.

  17. Listen Kev, I appreciate you taking the time to comment, if you wanna hate on the “cube”, that is fine and legit. I even agree with your points about Suikoden for the most part, BUT, for you to come here and tell me the cube doesn’t belong on the list I wrote is just hilarious to me. I wrote the list, dude. If I wanted to put the end of Mario, I have the right, seeing as to how I am the one researching and writing the list, as well as the one working for Unreality. You telling me what belongs on MY list is a lot like me going into your apt. and telling you to move your futon. It just makes no sense. Now if you want to DISAGREE with what I have on the list, cool. No worries, but to tell me something doesn’t belong, well, that indicates to me your level of self importance just might be a little over inflated. You are an Unreality reader, correct? So when Paul was looking for writers, why did you not try out? Obviously, by your tone, you know everything…..

  18. Every Professor Layton game:


    Curious Village: Finding out how much Flora’s father loved her, and to what lengths he went through so as to provide to try and provide her with a caring intelligent guardian.

    Pandora’s box: Finding out how much love Anton had for Sophia, how he truly regretted her leaving, and wished he never was in line to rule the town. But also finding out why Sophia left, because she was pregnant, and that she, just before she died, in turn gave a message to Anton telling him how much she loved him, how she would always love him. And so even though he has lost his one true soul mate, his love lives on through his granddaughter.

    Lost Future: Finding out that Celeste really is Claire, and that Layton has to go through the agony of losing her once again so as to restore the timeline. She walks down an an alley, and fades away into the past, as all Hershel can do is take off his hat and quietly sob over losing his first and most likely true love all over again.

    Seriously, the Professor Layton games would make anyone cry, they are some of the most touching pieces of drama I have ever seen…and they’re made even better with all the puzzles in between.

  19. @ Remy: I’m gonna sound really nasty in parts of this comment. Grab a cup of coffee, and be calm before you respond. I appreciate your opinion, I really do, but I want your informed opinion, not your “OMG YOU’RE SO WRONG!” initial, emotional response.

    To quote you:

    “Now if you want to DISAGREE with what I have on the list, cool.!”

    I disagree that the companion cube belongs on the list.

    “for you to come here and tell me the cube doesn’t belong on the list I wrote is just hilarious to me. I wrote the list, dude. ”

    So which is it? Can you cope with me disagreeing with your list or not?

    C’mon dude – Man up and take the critique.This is the real world, people will disagree with opinions you have. You have stated why you think the meme belongs on your list, I have stated my opinions to the contrary.

    Clearly you are invested in a running gag. That’s your deal.

    I personally took exception to your rather casual and hand-wavy disregard for my, admittedly, informal and jocular initial comment. That itself prompted me to make the longer explanatory rebuttal.

    And I appreciate your comment about Suikoden.

    To be honest if we’re gonna turn this into a “I’ve cried more over video games than you” contest then we’ll be here for years – I’ve not even brought up Seth from Illusion of Time/Gaia or the poisoned village from Lagoon (I may be the only person on this planet who was moved by anything in Lagoon beyond a desire to get their money back) but that’s the point of this list, right? To spark conversation over what emotional experiences games have given us.

    I love Portal, which is why I hate the Companion Cube – and the Cake for that matter.

    Both are now mearly memes that strip the worth of the game down to their bare bones and trivialise their effect. It’s the equivilant of people saying that they love Dawn of the Dead because a zombie gets his head cut off, or saying that they love Robocop because ED-209 turns a dude into red paste – It trivialises the overall artefact, reducing it down to a single moment that is not part of the overall impact of the game or film.

    If you are committed to your belief that a joke within the first quarter of a 4-hour subgame is worthy of being put on a list exploring the greatest emotional highpoints in gaming, that’s your thing. My thing is that is is that the cube is, as it is now, in popular culture, an overworked joke that has cheapened the effect of the game it is in.

    Tell me why I am wrong – What do you see that I don’t? Why does the cube belong on your list? Clearly I am not convinced by the article you have written, can you address the points about the cube that I have made?

    And seriously, don’t go waving your E-wang in my face with the “I write for Unreality” line. That one line did more damage to my respect for you than anything else you have written.

    What you wrote was YOUR work, YOUR opinion, and I want to read more of that. It’s rare that an Unreality article prompts me to comment in the first place, your article was good enough to do that, be proud. But prompting comments means prompting critique. I disagree with you, and I want to learn more in the hope that we can both learn of other opinions.

    What you wrote, with the “I write for Unreality” line gives me the impression that you think that “I’m writing for a website ergo my opinion trumps yours”, which I’m sure you don’t mean – You’re trying to protect something that you’ve put a lot of work into, which I appreciate, but you’ve gotta be ready for backlash.

    Hell – Read any forum on, say, The Spoony One’s site, or Rob Bricken’s occasional list. Those people put up with far worse deconstructions of their work than the arguments I’ve put to you.

    For the record – I run a leisure learning course at my local college where I, and the others in my group (I refuse to call myself a lecturer – I’m a guide) discuss the development of Video games as an art form (building on my Uni course in Film, and my dissertation, and a talk I gave as BCUR, on how Video Games and Film are linked in their development as art forms, and what we can learn from this) I have an interest in this topic because pulling deep emotional response from the audience is one of the things that marks out a great film, as it also does a great game – But it also marks out an individual’s experience of both the film and the game. So I might not have a position on this website, but to dismiss me offhand as easily as you tired to do is a little arrogant.

    Take a deep breath, think and respond.


  20. Truthfully, Kev. You are right. I have been pulling triple duty lately in my personal life (moving, new job) and been under a crapload of stress, and I feel like I sorta projected that onto you when I read your comment. Truth be told, the cube WASN’T as emotional moment for most as it was for me, so to respond the way I did was rather asinine, as I do see that now. My argument was as childlike as I have sounded in recent memory, BUT, that being said, I won’t delete it to make myself “look better”, I will just sit and accept that fact that everyone has bad days, and everyone acts like an ass now and then. In that case I acted like an ass ( and sounded far more pompous than my broken self would like to ever sound), AND, even the way you approached the issue was classy, so for me to attack you had no grounds. Again, I recognize that. I also think, to some degree, people who comment don’t always realize the impact they have, so sometimes being defensive feels natural, when it is anything but. So all that being said, I do apologize, and did not mean to undermine your opinion. Also worth noting, that class you teach sounds quite awesome, so huge props for that as well. I tip my hat, wave a white flag, and admit I am wrong. And as I am sure you know, it is VERY hard to a writer to ever admit that, so thank you for bringing it out in me, and pardon my anything but civil tone earlier.

  21. You obviously haven’t played Heavy Rain. Go give it a shot and then come back and add it in. That game plays on all of your emotions at back-to-back.

  22. ff legends 2 original game boy one of your main party members dies. so sad…. stabbed by bush ninjas. even fight odin the guy who lets u save your game kill him and you cant save anymore at will strange concept strange game.

  23. Red Dead Redemption did something no other VG could do…actually create a vested interest in a character and story line…from the graphics to the music, the game drew you in to it’s own world…you feel fear during a cougar attack, foreboding while riding through Tall Trees due to bears, or just explore…RDR has set a precedent…good luck…this video game sold records for Jose Gonzalez!…

    Jake Wylde
    The Jake Wylde Show

  24. I was very upset at the way it ends for John Marsten, I tried so hard to make him the good guy, if I had known it would end like this I would have made him the most ruthless killer in the game. What’s the point in a morality system if it all ends the same. The only satisfaction I got out of the end was taking Jack killing the first agent after he tells me where Ross retired at. At finding his home and he’s not there I killed his wife, slowly. Upon finding his brother I killed him too. After killing agent Ross, I felt the game could have gone further. Because I wanted to kill agent Ross’ entire %$##%^ family.

    #1 rule for games from Rockstar now is kill every one.

  25. Good list… but..

    *Major Spoilers*

    Agro doesn’t even die xD I mean, it is super sad when you think he dies, but he comes back eventually.

    I wonder if the topic write knew this, and didn’t want to spoil it? (Even though he mentioned this would have spoilers) or just forgot? :p

    Good post though, all very good picks.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.