4. Sarah’s Death – The Last of Us (2013)
The Last of Us is a masterpiece of a game and one of the best from this decade. But who knew they’d flex so hard right at the very beginning?! Sarah’s death, dammit… I was not prepared for it.
The prologue of The Last of Us begins with our main protagonist Joel and his 12-year-old daughter Sarah. It’s the day before the end of the world but to Sarah and Joel, it’s a night like any other night. They laugh and joke, she falls asleep in front of the TV and he carries her to bed. It’s really in these simple moments that The Last of Us shines in their storytelling, in small acts and few words, they’re able to portray some real tangible emotion.
That moment of tranquillity is so brief that it’s a jolt when chaos suddenly ensues. A deadly fungal infection is spreading across the country, causing humans to become mindless aggro zombies. It comes on quickly and we’re tossed headfirst into a scene of pandemonium. The infected are attacking everyone in sight and people are clamouring over each other to escape. Joel’s desperation to keep his daughter safe is almost tangible. He tries but ultimately fails to protect Sarah. Props to Troy Baker because that anguish in his voice really hits home. I know what’s coming but I can’t help but tear up every time I watch this.
5. Tiny Tina’s Acceptance of Roland’s Death – Borderlands 2 (2013)
Borderlands is a loot ‘em, shoot ‘em, dick joke-filled pandemonium mess of a world. It’s hilarious, crude and insanely fun, so you may not have expected a moment from this series to be on this list. But it’s probably how unexpected the feels were that made it hit harder. As usual with any series, there were many moments to choose from but ultimately, I had to go with Tiny Tina finally accepting Roland’s death.
Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep is one of the best DLCs for any game, period. Taking place after the events of Borderlands 2’s main storyline aka Roland’s death, Tiny Tina invites the Vault Hunters to play Bunkers and Badasses. From the moment the story begins you can see that Tiny Tina isn’t taking Roland’s death so well. She keeps waiting for him to join their game and her manic denial is almost heartbreaking. The story in this campaign is so lighthearted and compelling it’s easy to miss Tiny Tina’s more emotionally charged unstable moments. Well more so than usual anyway. It’s only at the end when you really see her crack, and she screams and she’s forced to admit out loud that Roland is dead. She’s not ready to accept his death but she has to anyway and it’s just hard to watch. Same girl, same.
RIP Roland, you’re up there with Bloodwing now.
6. Red Killing Herself – Transistor (2014)
It’s redundant for me to say what a gorgeous and well-made game Transistor is. Years later I still have that soundtrack on my playlist, and it brings me back to this moment. This heart-wrenching moment that’s far from heroic, but is so real.
From the very beginning, our companion is with us, having sacrificed himself to be reborn in The Transistor. His ever-comforting presence is tipped with love and all he’s ever wanted was for you to be safe. The world is crumbling and it’s up to you to destroy The Process and save Cloudbank. You do, and at the end, you’re rewarded with a blank canvas, a place to rebuild the city and anything you want. But not him. I think in the back of her mind Red thought that if she went through all that hardship and got rid of the bad guys, she’d get to be with him. And finding out that she was unable to, left her with only one option. Stabbing herself with The Transistor. His pleading at the end kills me.
7. The Sad Tale Of A Little Girl – Bloodborne (2015)
It’s almost five years later and I’m still learning more about the intricate world of Bloodborne. There are so many hidden gems and rich little details hidden that truly make Bloodborne one of the most memorable games of our time. One of the sidequests that have stayed with me today as a crushing weight on my soul, is the one with the Young Yharnam Girl and how my actions accidentally lead to the torment of two innocent girls.
It’s the night of the hunt and all the sensible people of Yharnam are safe in their homes. You walk by a window and a little girl calls out to you. Her parents are gone, and she asks you to help look for them. How can you refuse? Follow the quest and eventually, you’ll cross paths with Father Gascoigne. He’s beasted out and really doesn’t leave you any choice except to kill him, right? Well, yes but it turns out that Father Gascoigne is actually that little girl’s father. Oops. Oh, and that body on the floor nearby, that’s her mother. Argh. So now the least you can do is shoulder this massive guilt and let this little girl know that you’ve accidentally made her an orphan. The end. Well, no.
The next time I walked by the house of Gascoigne I hear another girl. A girl looking for her sister after her parents never returned. Now, the story doesn’t say it out loud, but it heavily implies that her sister must’ve been extremely upset that night of the hunt causing her to run out and get herself killed. Oh my god, I’m so sorry. Later through no fault of your own, the sister goes mad with the grief of losing her family and you eventually find her dead.
If you’ve never played Bloodborne before this lockdown may be just the time to start! Here’s our beginner’s guide if you need some help. Trust me you’ll need the help.