January is a bleak month by anyone’s standards; Christmas is over, the stark reality of your resolutions hit, and you’re not as slim as you remember. With all that pain in mind, I should really be writing an uplifting and funny article… However, that’s not how I operate, so I’m here to double down the depression and make a lovely list of the saddest moments in the last 10 years of gaming!

Baby Elizabeth’s misplaced head (Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea)

Ever wondered how a baby would look giving side eye? F*ckin weirdo…

Infinite did the impossible, it made us love a tag-along character, a few months before Last of Us doubled down with Ellie too; even more impressive! So the good lady Elizabeth is introduced as a charming and well rounded character to give you a more childlike impression of the floating city of Columbia… However, her backstory is laced in tragedy. With childhood experimentation and indoctrination, locked alone in a town, it’s hard to imagine a worse life for her…

But lo and behold, the game shows it to you anyway. After a good long while of gameplay, you are forced to endure some flashback cutscenes showing us the backstory of the alternate leading man Booker. In the main universe, Booker sold his daughter Anna to Columbia, but ends up having second thoughts; while struggling to pull her back through the portal to the city, the device closes in severs the poor baby’s finger, leading to her incredible reality bending powers. Meanwhile, in an alternate reality shown to us in the Burial at Sea DLC, Booker tries to save his daughter again, but instead of a pinky… The portal closes around the child neck; we don’t witness the graphic event afterwards, but it’s clear that it broke the alternative Booker as this is what leads him down the slippery path to becoming religious zealot and main antagonist, Father Comstock.

After witnessing this scene, I honestly had to take a moment, put the controller down and think about the sheer gravity of what I had just seen. Luckily, I was broken out of that funk by watching Alt Booker have his innards minced by a Big Daddy’s drill… So all’s well that ends well right?

Current Objective: Survive (Halo: Reach)

Interestingly I see the same words whenever I go to bars.

Noble 6, left alone on an alien-occupied world, the last man standing.

Enemies approaching on all sides and a rifle with only a little ammo left… Hoo boy, this made you feel like such a badass! The last hurrah for the game and for Bungie, just seeing how long you can last against an unstoppable force was a great experience, but it was a bittersweet scene – After playing the whole game as Noble 6 and getting yourself fully into character, you are forced to watch as after losing the last of your life, the lone wolf Spartan ends up fighting for their life against a full squad of Covenant Elites.

You whoop and cheer as he or she manages to kill at least 4 of the 6 that arrive, but eventually, it all becomes too much; Six falls, and the last thing you see is a split lipped bastard raising an energy sword to deliver the final blow. After this action, the camera changes perspective and we see the Spartan’s helmet cracked and half buried in the dirt nearby. In a very Blackadder Goes Forth scene, you witness the transition from a war-torn and burned planet surface to a vibrant a green world, with Six’s helmet still there years later; a memorial to a great hero that most people likely wouldn’t even knew about. It’s all about the Master Chief I guess…

“Well shit… I parked my Warthog there”

Sarah catches a bullet (The Last of Us)

Unfortunately for Joel, this kind of cross country never took off.

Last of Us is a clusterfuck of emotions at the best of times. Up and down and even side to side at a few points, but it’s safe to say that the hardest gut punch of feelings comes in the first 20 minutes. During the start of the fungal outbreak that sets up the game’s world, Joel and his banter-filled daughter Sarah are booking it out of town trying to avoid freshly infected townsfolk and a few military checkpoints.

The mad rush to safety is pulse-pounding as you can’t fight back against anything that wants to have a nibble of you, so you run and run all while carrying your daughter in your hands. Eventually the infected nearly catch you when you’re only a few steps from freedom, but bang bang, a solider appears and drops the monsters and saves you – Hooray!

Things never end that happily though, as soon after saving you, said solider points his gun at Joel and his girl and prepares to execute them to stop the infection. Joel being the excellent dad he is tries to take the bullet, but because Naughty Dog wants you devastated, he fails, and you watch with tears in your eyes as Joel cradles his dying daughter in his arm. It’s such a powerful scene so early on, and it proves that Troy Baker is one of the finest actors going, regardless of the medium. He acts his ass off to make this scene the emotional nuke – You need it to be to set up the entirety of the game’s narrative and Joel’s relationship with Ellie!

Passing the Torch (Telltale’s: The Walking Dead)

Yeah, he ate all the cake, but this still felt like an overreaction to Lee.

If you know anything about video games, then this was more the certain to appear. The Walking Dead was a masterclass in storytelling by a team that makes it their business to school everyone else in that subject. After playing the whole episodic experience as calm and collected leading man, Lee Everett, the player enters the final chapter in the knowledge that our boy is doomed after a zombie has given his arm a wee nibble.

Lee decides his final act in this world will be to save his as-good-as-adopted daughter Clementine – Running all over town avoiding more hungry undead nasties, and with his own group dwindling fast, Lee eventually rescues the girl from a psychopathic survivor, and they make their escape into a nearby store. Locked in, Lee slowly begins to succumb to the zombie bite and collapses; the final conversation between Lee and Clem is – like all conversations in game – entirely up to the player, with Lee either being pragmatic, reassuring, or whimsical. Whichever way you choose to take the conversation though, Lee and Clem have a touching moment as the dying man ensures Clem will be safe without him. The last action is again a choice, whether Clem will kill Lee before he has a chance to return as a walker.

I thought the story needed this moment, so allowed Clem to pull the trigger, but boy did it break me… I don’t think a character’s death has ever been played so well, and tactfully and it’s safe to assume it won’t ever be again; Rest in Peace Lee!

Did I miss any moments on this list? Let me know in the comments below!

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