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CardinalXimenez

Emotional gaming experiences (SPOILERS!)

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Being touched emotionally by the Mass Effect 2 DLC "Overlord", and reading Sarahs blogpost about videogames not considered art, made me want to start a thread to share the videogame moments that got to us emotionally. This thread will include both current-gen and retro games, I just didn´t feel like starting two separate threads.

To get back to "Overlord", the DLC has you investigating a research station experimenting with captured geths (a robotic lifeform that was the enemy in ME1), its AI has gone rogue and switched on the geths, and had them kill everyone in the station, and is threatening to upload itself to systems offplanet, the mission is clear: find out what went wrong, and shut down the AI. So you arrive at the station and are almost immediately greeted by video screens of the AIs virtual face screaming at you in an intelligible machine voice, and this continues as you go deeper into the station, finding one survivor: the head scientist in charge of the geth research. As you progress deeper you´re also witness to holographic flashbacks of the events at the space station, apparently the head scientist discovered that his autistic brother was able to understand the geth language and mimic it, making him the ideal go-between for an experimental uplink to the geth network. And that´s where things are turned upside down: the autistic brother didn´t really want to talk to the geth as his brother wanted him to, their communication was like noise in his head, and he pleaded for it to stop, but shouldered on for his brothers sake. But then the head scientist went and restrained his brother in a cybernetic chair, linked him to the geth network through cables to his head, and another two large tubes into his mouth, presumably to feed him, leaving him only able to move his eyes, and there the brother is incapacitated, the noise of the geth network filling his mind, and the scared brother screaming for it to stop, something the captured geth took as an order and began killing everybody on the station. So what happened was that the villain was the victim, the villain was the head scientist who had helped you up till that point with your descent into the station, and I was both repulsed, sympathetic and blown away with this twist.

Another game that got to me was the old PS2 title "Oni", you´re helped during the first half of the game by your android partner, but about halfway through the game she is kidnapped, and you go on a rescue mission. After much fighting you reach her, only to discover that your own employers have set you up, and are using your android partner as a remote controlled bomb to get rid of you, but your android partner has managed to delay the ignition long enough for you to get out of the room, so you´re told to go and leave her to die, and once you´ve moved into the next room you hear the explosion from the room she was in, and knows she is dead. I often see scenes like that in movies without it affecting me, but in this game it got to me.

Then there´s "Final Fantasy VIII", main character Squall spends the first two thirds of the game struggling with coming out of his shell and admit his feelings for Rinoa, then events lead to Rinoa drifting through space in a spacesuit, and Squall watching from his spaceship, he´s told she can´t be saved, but he finally breaks through his shell and goes out in space in another spacesuit to at least be able to be with Rinoa as she dies, and he with her. Luckily, they come across an abandoned spaceship and can use that to get back to terra firma, and as they sit around in the spaceship, they get to finally talk about their feelings for each other as the song "Eyes on me" plays, getting me all misty, but then the message comes that Rinoa is to be taken in and sealed away permanently when they arrive, as she has now become a witch, and therefore a threat to the entire world. Will they ever catch a break? Presumably, but I´ve still to manage to progress much further, I can never seem to defeat the witch boss holding Rinoa captive.

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I've seen many moments like this but the only one that comes to mind right now is Final Fantasy VII when Aeris dies.

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Maybe I'm a sucker for B movie quality productions, but I actually got choked up a bit when Curtis's last coworker was killed in Phantasmagoria: Puzzle of Flesh.

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Maybe I'm a sucker for B movie quality productions, but I actually got choked up a bit when Curtis's last coworker was killed in Phantasmagoria: Puzzle of Flesh.

I had similar reactions while playing Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of Flesh. I really enjoyed that game.

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Weird, but it made me cry. Sonic Battle. You spend your entire game raising the damn robot, only to have him blow up... it made me cry more than Aeris' death did. I'm not so sure how screwed up that is.

Mother 3's final boss and ending. Something so beautiful, I won't spoil it here. Just... trust me on this. I figure those who have seen it, know what I mean.

EBA's Your The Inspiration. Fail, win, or get the alternate ending. Anyway you cut it, you'd have to be souless not to feel this.

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ME3 had quite a few really good moments. The ending to FF6/3 was pretty epic.

Nei's death in Phantasy Star II also hit me like a brick wall. I still remember reading about the hacks back then on how to get her back into the party.

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I would say 'ICO' delivered quite an emotional experience for me.

I haven't played the follow-up game 'Shadow of the Colossus' (yes, I know, shame on me) so I can't comment on that one, but as far as ICO is concerned I thought the bond between you and the main character, Ico, mirrored by his bond with his companion Yorda, felt very strong.

The atmosphere, the locations, the storyline, I loved all of it.

Also, one of my favorite aspects is that the characters just seem human, right down to the smallest animations. They stumble when they fall, they struggle to climb ledges, and it looks like they actually put effort into their jumps. You can tell that much thought went into putting this game together.

I thought Warren Spector (he of System Shock and Deus Ex fame) described things beautifully,

I don’t typically like puzzle-oriented adventure games. You know – games where your primary goal is to read the designer’s mind and solve his or her fiendishly complicated environmental puzzles just so you can see the next screen, the next amazing vista, maybe a bit of combat. And Ico is very much that sort of game. Yet I love it. LOVE it. For one thing, the vistas and screens it offers are gorgeous. Not PS2 gorgeous – just plain, unqualifiedly gorgeous. And all that gorgeousness offers a window into a world that feels more real than almost any other in gaming history. You can FEEL the history, the depth of this world in a way no other game can match. But pretty pictures and puzzles do not a great game make. Story helps in that regard. But, really, the story Ico tells is nearly incomprehensible. It’s good enough not to detract from the experience but that’s about it.

So what is it that makes Ico great? It’s the characters, and, more importantly, their relationship to one another. And even MORE important than that is the relationship the PLAYER has with those characters – the boy in the horned helm you play and the girl that boy has to protect. The first time your character holds hands with that girl who needs protecting, you feel something never before felt in a game. It’s an almost indescribable feeling born of the power of touching, even virtually, another person. The fact that the girl is weak and slow, the fact that you have to wait for her, putting yourself in peril?… That’s design genius, friends. And then, toward the end when there’s a magic moment of role reversal? That’s when I knew I’d played one of the best games I would ever play. If you haven’t played it do so. Now. It takes, like six hours to get through, so no excuses. Beg, borrow or steal a copy and get ready to FEEL something as you play – and that’s a statement that can’t be made about many games, sadly.

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I must report that despite knowing the ending from playing the original (or perhaps because I worked myself up knowing what was coming), I actually had tears stinging my eyes during the credits to the Dragon Quest IV remake on the DS.

I also can't forget the ending to Dawn of Mana, despite the hate the unconventional gameplay gets from fans of earlier games in the series. What the hero has to do in the end to save the world is quite heartbreaking.

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I can honestly say there have only been a couple times where I have been "emotionally touched" whilst playing video games. The first was (yes, sad I know) Super Metroid. After 70+ hours of playing, it was a combination of being saved by the metroid, the awesome boss battle with awesome boss battle music and the escape to your ship.

Another time was when I was playing Shadow of Colossus, the vast landscapes and massive enemies was so breathtaking at the time (and still is) you just couldnt help but get a bit emotional. It takes a very good development team to produce a video game which pulls on your emotional strings, movies can do so quite easily but with video games you have to give the dev team a lot of respect when that happens.

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