From the surprising to the brutal, find out which videogame deaths left the team at Screen Crittics with all the emotional feels.
Videogame deaths can be tough. From the moments that you don’t see coming, to the inevitable demise of much-loved characters. Sometimes it’s the death of a much-loved video game character that ultimately comes to define the experience of a video game more than the story itself. We decided to take a look at the video game deaths that moved us the most, and hit us right in the feels.
(Shadow of the Colossus)
Shadow of the Colossus is brutally dark at times, but it’s the games ending which really sinks in the emotional knife.
Wander’s story is one that invests the player in proceedings; with a tale of lost love and the attempt to bring his dead girlfriend back from the dead After defeating the 16th (and final!) Colossus, Wander’s body cripples and falls over though, oozing black blood and embracing death. All this means he never gets to see the return of his loved one; a cruel end to the heroes tale.
It’s the emotional investment that really makes this one hurt. You end up rooting for Wander’s story and see all the challenges he overcomes to make his wish occur. It’s the cruel hand of fate that knocks Wander off his path of destiny and brings the game to an emotional, heart-wrenching end.
7. The Boss
(Metal Gear Solid 3)
Metal Gear Solid 3 takes a hugely different approach to its predecessors – offering up a more personal experience on Snake’s story. Here we learn more about the characters origins and get a feel for the motivations that ultimately guided him to becoming The Big Boss we all knew. But along the way, we certainly didn’t expect to be hit so hard by the death of another character.
Throughout Metal Gear Solid 3, it becomes clear that The Boss is integral to the man who Snake would become. Her betrayal is a huge turning point in the story; and helps to set the tone that follows. As you’re forced to save the world, you also have to dance around the fact that at some point, you’ll be forced to confront The Boss in a fight to the death. This comes at the games end, where you face off against your one time mentor in a special boss battle. As the two compete – it’s clear there’s still huge respect between the warring party’s. It’s only later that you learn Boss was working to help you throughout; and you never got to thank her.
It’s this character development and slow burn that makes the relationship between Boss and Snake so important to the entire story. Sure there’s nukes and some other things going on; but the reality is that all falls into the background when you realize that these two are just Patriots doing the best for their country.
6. Noble 6
Noble Team are introduced fairly quickly in Halo Reach as the elite that the planet has to offer. The team of Spartan’s aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. Each of the team suffers fairly horrific deaths throughout – each sacrificing themselves slightly more to try and buy their beloved planet as much time as they could. Yet its the death of Noble 6, the character you control, which really hurts the most.
After completing the campaign and seeing off the Pillar of Autumn – Noble 6 is left to defend the platform for as long as he can. With endless waves of Covenent forces barreling down upon him; the hero has nowhere to run. As the numbers become insurmountable; Noble 6 is brutally slain – the gamer seeing it unfold in direct fashion.
What sets this apart from other deaths on this list is the sense of hopelessness created. Having seen Noble 6’s helmet at the opening of the campaign, you knew he wasn’t getting out alive. But to endure the sequence of fighting off enemy forces really hammers home just how hopeless his situation was. It’s arguably the most powerful of the Halo finales, and easily one of the more thought of deaths of protagonists within videogames.
(Final Fantasy VII)
One of the big things about Aerith’s death is just how culturally widespread the entire event became. She may not have been one of Final Fantasy VIII’s biggest characters, but her death cast a huge shadow over the gaming medium and the series. Featuring in Final Fantasy VII, Aerith was a side character in the game. Fairly underdeveloped, her death wouldn’t mean much if not for the context that surrounds it.
She goes to the City of the Ancients to pray for Holy, the one thing that can stop Sephiroth from unleashing his evil plan, yet it’s here that she’s cruelly slain by his blade. This act sets a shocking tone as the game doesn’t telegraph this is coming – instead throwing focus on the idea that you can assist her somehow. It’s the sudden escalation and horror of the event that really makes it hard for the gamer to appreciate what’s truly happened.
(The Last of Us)
The Last of Us is all about emotions and building a relationship between Joel and Ellie. It’s their fledgling relationship which forms the emotional core of The Last of Us. But it’s arguably the loss of another that really cements the games true emotional center.
It’s knowing that Joel had to go through the loss of Sarah, his daughter that really shocks gamers. We’re introduced to the pair at the start of the game – since we know Sarah isn’t around for the whole game; it creates a huge impending sense of disaster that permeates through the opening act. As Joel and Sarah try to make their way to safety, they’re confronted by a US army soldier who falsely believes Sarah has been infected. This leads him to shooting her and Joel – resulting in the death of the little girl.
Naughty Dog should be commended for taking such a bold opening tone in their game. It sets the tone of this world perfectly and makes the gamer instantly feel bad for Joel. It also makes a lot of his actions throughout the rest of game seem more reasonable – even when they shouldn’t feel so. The deaths in this game come thick and fast, but it’s that opening one that sets the tone tragically low.
3. Soap MacTavish
(Modern Warfare 3)
It was a very tough call between this and Ghost’s death in Modern Warfare 2. Honestly Ghost’s death was so shocking the first time I played it, I genuinely had to stop playing for a good few hours to let it sink in. Yet despite this, I feel the Modern Warfare series really hit its emotional peak with the death of Soap MacTavish.
He’s the guy you controlled in the first Modern Warfare. The silent protagonist who was new to the team and had a lot to prove. Yet it’s in the second game where Soap really begins to shine. His emergence as a fully formed character was a great step for the series as it allowed you to experience the second game from the other side of the coin. Yet as the band gets back together throughout Modern Warfare 2 and 3, there’s a huge sense of impending doom and gloom hanging over proceedings – this comes to a head when Soap unceremoniously gets offed during the third game.
It’s a horrible scene for fans of the game; who have to watch as Captain Price is forced to endure the loss of one of his most loyal counterparts. It’s a harrowing scene and well worth checking out if you’ve never played beyond the original game. It also marks the moment in the Modern Warfare series when the stakes raise to insane heights.
2. John Marston
(Red Dead Redemption)
So good was John Marston as a protagonist that he arguably made Red Dead Redemption for many gamers. His grizzled, world-weary view of the Texas landscape was one that invited gamers to play how they wanted; and experience the rich gaming world how they chose.
Yet it’s his story that really drives things along. His desire to protect his friends and family; his search for redemption. He wants done with the world that the FBI push him back into. Sadly the game didn’t give John his happy ending; despite the gamer doing all they could to try and make it happen. Surrounded with guns drawn; the FBI turn on John and slaughter him at high noon. This was all John’s way of giving his family enough tome to escape from the barn. As John eats lead – his wife and son make a break for freedom – only to return to the scene and find the dead body of Marston once the FBI was done with him.
It’s a horrible end to one of gaming’s more endearing characters; and a sad ending to a tale that should have had a happy ending.
1. Lee Everett
(The Walking Dead)
Part of what makes Lee’s demise so painful is that most of the decisions made throughout the game are ones that you’ve led him too. Right at the start of the game, you take control of Lee – who’s heading for prison. It becomes clear soon after that Lee’s done some awful things; and its up to you to decide if and how those awful things define your game experience.
After a whole game of good (or bad decisions) and watching others die at the mercy of your terrible foresight; Lee gets bitten at the end of the first games fourth chapter. This changes the game entirely; adding a ticking clock to proceedings as Lee has to save Clementine before shuffling off his mortal coil. He achieves this, but falls to his wounds before getting her to safety. As with the rest of the game, how this plays out is entirely up to you. Do you shoot Lee and put him out his misery or do you let him turn and witness the horror unfold in front of your eyes?
The ending may be decided; but its the fact you have to decide how it plays out that hurts the most. Making Clementine pull the trigger is a painful moment in gaming.
Which videogame deaths got to you the most? Which deaths would you say had the biggest impact on you?