Times Video Games Surprised Me Emotionally

Warning! This article is one huge [Spoiler Alert!], so if you haven’t played the following games but want to, I’d go read something else.

I got asked about touching moments in video games the other day and realised that while video games have an unparalleled ability to make us care about imaginary characters and situations, it really depends on the game as to how they affect us. I also realised that I’m not easily touched by video games; I’ve seen characters die and not even batted an eye, but then other times I’ve cried with joy at some games, so I decided to put together a list of moments that surprised me with how they made me react.

A Moment That Made Me Cry – Rune Factory 4

It’s one of my favourite games ever, I can’t wait for the Special switch edition!

Picture this: you just spent a ridiculous amount of time and energy and frustrated restarts to beat the big bad guy who was trying to take over the world, saved all your friends and loved ones, and took a ride back to town on the back of your draconic best friend. The whole town throws a celebration and it seems like all is well in the world! Until the scene cuts to said draconic best friend, who effectively lies down and dies in the middle of your house.

Ouch. Just ouch. That moment legitimately hit me straight in the feels, completely out of nowhere, and sent me into floods of tears. Why do we become so attached to digital characters, that we are genuinely upset when something happens to them?

A Moment That Made Me Rage – Spyro Reignited Trilogy

Anyone who read my bio knows I wasn’t much of a gamer as a child. We had a family PS1 with about 3 games, and my brother and I had to share it; the one game we could always agree on, with the traditional swap-over-when-we-die rule, was Spyro: Year of the Dragon. When it was announced that the Reignited Trilogy was coming to Switch I was ecstatic, because that game carries more nostalgia for me than any other.

It was with bated breath that I loaded up the trilogy and decided to start with the first game because I’d never played it. I’ve never been great at platformers, but I was getting along pretty well until I reached the Tree Tops level. Half an hour later saw me with my head in my hands, moaning pathetically for my other half to get to the final platform for me because I kept messing up the jump at the very last stage.

If you haven’t played that particular level, you have to chain together a series of super-jump ramps with some nifty mid-air direction-changing to get to the final platform where the last egg is. A single mistake and, if you’re lucky, you’ll end up right back where you started or, if you’re clumsy like me, you’ll plummet to your death somewhere below the clouds. I sat and full-on shouted at my screen every time I died until I eventually had to give up. When I beat it on the first try the following day I didn’t know whether to cry, laugh, or scream; it was just one of those moments where you have to walk away in defeat.

A Moment That Made Me Laugh – Dragon Age Inquisition

These two are priceless!

Iron Bull and Dorian. If you’ve seen the game, you’ll know what I’m referring to, if not – do yourself a favour and go play it. Fans were divided over the latest instalment in the Dragon Age franchise but in my opinion, it’s the best one yet. Part of what makes the game so incredibly fun (besides Mages finally learning how to cast a decent spell, instead of waiting literal seconds between casts) was the incredibly memorable cast of characters that accompany the protagonist.

The Iron Bull is a Qunari mercenary you meet quite early on, and Dorian is a Tevinter Altus. From the beginning their banter is cutting and sarcastic, but if the player romances neither of the two then there’s the potential for them to start dating. The resulting party conversations are so raunchy and side-splitting that I’ll never play without both in my party. The content probably isn’t suited for this article, but there are plenty of videos on Youtube that specialise in party banter from the various games.

A Moment That Made Me Panic – Venetica

An older game, but completely unforgettable!

Venetica is a much older game that I played on the Xbox 360. This is back in the days of the Xbox chat headset when my internet was too slow to allow online play but just fast enough to let me talk to my friend. Venetica is a 2009 action-adventure game in which you play Scarlett, the daughter of Death with the ability to phase into Death’s realm to navigate certain obstacles or enemies.

I was quite happily phasing through a group of guards when the game bugged and spawned me back into the real world right in the middle of the group. I promptly forgot that I was on the headset, and sat swearing at the controller in genuine panic as I tried not to get my character killed. It was the first time a video game ever made me panic so much, to the point that I still remember that moment of deep breathing after the guards were all dead when my friend hesitantly piped up with “Um, are you ok over there?”. The question prompted a laughing fit fuelled purely by relief, that even now we use as a reference for how much a game makes us sweat.

A Moment That Warmed My Cold, Dead Heart – Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

Easily my favourite Assassin’s Creed game.

I’ve always been an Assassin’s Creed fan, but the London-based edition (which really needs a Switch port, nudge-nudge-wink-wink) took the cake for me. The free-running mechanics were greatly improved, the characters felt more realistic and interesting, and it looked beautiful. It wasn’t a game I expected to hit me in the feels in the slightest, until that final battle.

I spent the wind-up to the battle shouting angrily at the screen for the characters to just grow up and stop being idiots already, then the battle itself shouting angrily at Starrick to leave my twin alone. The moment after the battle, when the twins makeup and have their little heart-to-heart, sent an odd warm sensation through my chest and made me grin like an idiot. There, I admitted it, a video game made me smile with genuine sentiment.

When has a video game surprised you with how it made you feel? I’d love to hear your stories!

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