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The Game That Made Me Cry

Posted on 6th Apr 2009 at 14:42 by Joe Martin with 24 comments

Joe Martin
Beyond Good and Evil is one of those games I have to actually restrain myself from talking about – and anyone who knows me will confirm that it’s very rare for me to be prevented from talking, so I guess that’s saying something. No pun intended.

Giving myself free reign for a minute or two though, Beyond Good and Evil is probably one of the best games I’ve ever played, though it bears the distinction of being one of the only games I can say that about but have only actually finished once. Unlike the other games on my list of favoured titles (Planescape, Sands of Time, etc), once is enough when it comes to Beyond Good and Evil. It also has one of my favourite game trailers ever.

Beyond Good and Evil has a more unique distinction though, one which is a whole lot more damning and which I can’t recall ever really writing about in detail before. Beyond Good and Evil is the only game that’s ever made me cry. I’ve got misty over a lot of games – but Beyond Good and Evil pushed me over that breach and made me actually start sobbing.

I’m going to explain why now, so if that idea interests you and you think you might be interested in playing Beyond Good and Evil at some point then I implore you not to read any further. There be spoilers beyond!

The Game That Made Me Cry

BG&E is set on the planet Hillys, which is an idyllic little countryside that’s being besieged by an alien race called the DomZ. Who the DomZ are and where they come from isn’t explained, but we do know that they are fighting with a galactic army called the Alpha Section – an army that may not be as helpful as it seems.

The player is cast as Jade, a young human photographer who works with her uncle Pey’J to run a small orphanage for children whose families were…taken…by the DomZ. That’s the word Jade uses; taken, not killed, but it’s implicit that she’s saying it that way just to avoid hurting the children.

Gradually, Jade and her porcine uncle Pey’J (literally, a talking pig) become involved in an underground movement that suspects the Alpha Sections of foul play. Jade is enlisted as a spy for her photography skills, which play a big part in the mostly non-violent game, and Pey’J comes with as the duo investigate what’s going on exactly. Jade is mostly pretty sceptical, but she needs the money to keep the orphanage open.

Jades motives change utterly though when Pey’J himself is taken. He’s the type of loud, loveable character that you instantly sympathise with; a source of comic relief and great depth – so when he’s gone it’s crushing how the tone of the game suddenly shifts. Jade makes it the aim of the game to find him and it’s an aim you want to fulfil too, especially as Jade delves deeper into the conspiracy and gets closer to the startling truth.

The Game That Made Me Cry

That isn’t what made me cry though. To understand what did, it’s important to remember that Beyond is a very cartoony game; it has a very kid-friendly interface, no gore, no swearing, a happy palette and lots of talking animals. It’s like Lego Star Wars in how it comes across as more of a well-made kids game than anything, even though you kind-of suspect that it isn’t a kids game at all.

For me, that had a rather unique effect. I was playing the game and trying to find Pey’J and hearing Jade talking about how the DomZ were ‘taking’ people and I was thinking how silly it was.

The whole idea of the DomZ is that they are killing all these people, orphaning all these kids, turning people into monsters and so on, and yet somehow Pey’J is supposed to be different? He shouldn't be, of course, but Jade's attitude and the way the game is presented lead you into the obvious expectation that you'll save him just in the nick of time. Like how Dr. No should have just shot James Bond, but didn't because it's a film, you know Pey'J should be dead but of course he isn't. It's a game; you're going to save him in the nick of time.

Except you don’t. When you finally catch up to Pey’J it’s apparent that the nick of time was a long time ago. He’s dead; cold. Your mission was futile, you can’t help him now and you never could. It suddenly falls home that this isn't a game - this is a war. That made me start crying right there in my basement flat. People can make fun of me for that, but I don’t mind.

The Game That Made Me Cry

The story takes some turns from there, but for me that was one of the emotional highpoints of my gaming history. I felt winded. The game had blindsided me; the whole point of it all was to rescue Pey’J and yet when you get there not only can you can you not save him, but you don’t even get a chance to try! There’s no boss who you try to fight, no final soothing words imparted as Pey’J slips bravely into the afterlife – he's just dead, on a slab. Worse, he died alone.

That hit me like an emotional sledgehammer and, frankly, it raised the bar and changed the way I look at games. It’s one of the reasons I enjoyed The Path so much; because it felt like it was making an emotional impact in a similar way.

Honestly, I could talk about this topic for a lot longer, but I probably shouldn’t unless I want to talk the topic to death. Time to let you guys talk instead - has any game ever made you cry? Why don’t more games do this? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so drop them in the comments below.

24 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
ChaosDefinesOrder 6th April 2009, 15:56 Quote
Eli Vance at the end of Half Life 2: Episode 2 nearly got me...
Jordan Wise 6th April 2009, 16:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChaosDefinesOrder
Eli Vance at the end of Half Life 2: Episode 2 nearly got me...

yeah that was pretty bad because it just came out of nowhere
CardJoe 6th April 2009, 17:54 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jordan Wise
yeah that was pretty bad because it just came out of nowhere

M'eh. I found that quite obvious. The moment he said he had something important to tell you but would have to do it later it was obvious he was going to die - though admittedly the way it was handled was very well done.

Farah's fall in Sands of Time was pretty moving too, I thought.
ChaosDefinesOrder 6th April 2009, 18:28 Quote
Aeris/Aerith in Final Fantasy 7? Was spoilt at bit by being over-publisised so the surprise was quashed somewhat...
CardJoe 6th April 2009, 18:42 Quote
Thinking about it...the ending to Outcast left me pretty shell-shocked too.
cyrilthefish 6th April 2009, 18:42 Quote
Cooke and Mack's mother's death scene followed by full blown funeral in Lost Odyssey wins by a mile in my books.

Still makes me cry, and i've played past that part at least 4 times on different savegames
lcdguy 6th April 2009, 18:57 Quote
meh i have yet to find a game that moves me emotionally. Does that make me a monster :D j/k
chicorasia 6th April 2009, 20:15 Quote
Mass Effect and Bioshock are great emotional experiences. Little Big Adventure had a very similar presentation and mood to BG&E, if anyone remembers that.

Thinking about it, it's amazing how quickly games went from a novelty to a truly moving experience. It is a pity so few games explore immersion this way.
sui_winbolo 6th April 2009, 20:37 Quote
Gears of War 2, when Dom finally finds his wife.

That is a very emotional scene. =x
Sparrowhawk 6th April 2009, 20:44 Quote
Hah, and to think I just bought this game, too. /me closes his eyes and posts.
Nexxo 6th April 2009, 21:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by chicorasia
Mass Effect and Bioshock are great emotional experiences. Little Big Adventure had a very similar presentation and mood to BG&E, if anyone remembers that.

Thinking about it, it's amazing how quickly games went from a novelty to a truly moving experience. It is a pity so few games explore immersion this way.

Actually there is some research (which I may get involved in, for fun) that is studying the use of virtual environments and "serious games" technologies to support training in the care of, and interaction with the dying. Games, when designed well, can be as emotionally evocative as a good film or novel. Who remembers The Graveyard Trial or Quantic Dream's "Heavy Rain" demo for Sony?

UF-nAV6AnrQ

In an industry where graphics are pretty much as good as they are going to get, compelling stories and good characterisation are the future of game play.
alwayssts 7th April 2009, 02:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChaosDefinesOrder
Aeris/Aerith in Final Fantasy 7? Was spoilt at bit by being over-publisised so the surprise was quashed somewhat...

+1. Although I wasn't spoiled. In 1997, it brought my former 6th-grade self to anger and tears, from both a game play (leveling Aerith up/incorporating her into active party) and emotional way. Looking back shortly afterward, and still today, I think it was my greatest gaming moment ever. How else could someone else relate to the main character's plight so personally?

Plus, what guy hasn't cared for someone like Aerith, minus the staff and last cetra part? Flighty, a little too naive for their own good...I think it's very personally relative, irregardless of corn factor, especially since Cloud is portrayed as deeply introverted, something I believe everyone thinks themselves to be.

It's become a vanilla cliche' (as has FFVII in general) to the point many won't admit it, but I think anyone with a soul and a genuine love of storytelling cried when Aerith died.

If not for the personally relative part, then because of the music. I know post reading this, someone will listen to Aerith's theme and get a little misty-eyed...
ChaosDefinesOrder 7th April 2009, 11:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by alwayssts
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChaosDefinesOrder
Aeris/Aerith in Final Fantasy 7? Was spoilt at bit by being over-publisised so the surprise was quashed somewhat...

+1. Although I wasn't spoiled. In 1997, it brought my former 6th-grade self to anger and tears, from both a game play (leveling Aerith up/incorporating her into active party) and emotional way. Looking back shortly afterward, and still today, I think it was my greatest gaming moment ever. How else could someone else relate to the main character's plight so personally?

Plus, what guy hasn't cared for someone like Aerith, minus the staff and last cetra part? Flighty, a little too naive for their own good...I think it's very personally relative, irregardless of corn factor, especially since Cloud is portrayed as deeply introverted, something I believe everyone thinks themselves to be.

It's become a vanilla cliche' (as has FFVII in general) to the point many won't admit it, but I think anyone with a soul and a genuine love of storytelling cried when Aerith died.

If not for the personally relative part, then because of the music. I know post reading this, someone will listen to Aerith's theme and get a little misty-eyed...

totally agree. It's one of the main parts of the story that made that game to brilliant and unbeatable since. Partly because once it was done with Aeris, it was expected in the subsequent games so never had the same effect.

Plus it's hard to forget the final (proper) boss battle when Sephiroth decends onto the screen with wings unfurling and the strings in the background! Brilliant music throughout really! I didn't have Knights Of Round when I first completed the game, that was a VERY tense final battle!
Yemerich 7th April 2009, 14:29 Quote
I just finished "the last remnant" from square enix a couple of days ago. It looks like tons of other japanese titles like FF series. Tons of japanese cliches. Unreal big swords, delicate looking teenager boys, stupid teenager girls, powerful beings that can crush anyone just by moving one finger and someone close to the main character dying at some point of the game. And that superhuman baddie end dead by some sleeping power that the main char didn't knew he had until that point. Looks like the logic in japaneses mind is different from ours. We call those ridiculous artificies here in brazil "mexican soap operas". Anyone that ever saw one of those will understand that. But the game is good nonetheless.

But one REAL sad history is for Deionarra in Planescape: torment.

SPOILERS:
Shes the ghost that appears in the intro. And yes, you start the game dead. To understand the facts, you need to know that the main char can't get killed. Hes imortal. He made so many atrocities in his life that a life of punishments wouldn't be enough for him to pay his debts. So he made a pact to be immortal. But every time he "dies" he wake up with no memory.

Then in one of his "lives" he met Deionarra. At the start of the game her ghost speaks to him after a little exploration. There she speaks of how much she loved him and how she anxious to meet him again, and that she waits patiently for his "true death". But as the game goes, you discover that you are even a lower life than you thought. You speak to one of your past lifes and discover that you seduced her just for your own purposes. You convinced her to comite suicide just so her ghost could help you in the next lifes. Then in a "contient crysis", its time for you to contact her, find the right words and apologise... Very touchy...

Even her music theme brings me tears to my eyes - really!
Deionarra theme

I really encourage you folks to check on PST videos on youtube... For those of you that like RPGs this is a MUST have!

@Nexxo: I loved that video!
bodkin 8th April 2009, 23:22 Quote
Got BG&E on steam a few months ago, and i was amazed at how i could not put it down for even a minuet. Made me cry too, best game I have ever plaid.

Rob
McGarnacle 9th April 2009, 01:45 Quote
Wait, if Pey'J dies (dammit I'm still in the slaughterhouse), then why is he in the sequel's teaser trailer, and why does wikipedia say he survives?

I'm.

So.

Confused.
CardJoe 9th April 2009, 08:52 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by McGarnacle
Wait, if Pey'J dies (dammit I'm still in the slaughterhouse), then why is he in the sequel's teaser trailer, and why does wikipedia say he survives?

I'm.

So.

Confused.

You'll have to keep playing to find out.

And make sure you watch until the end of the credits too
Dreaming 10th April 2009, 12:03 Quote
Fable 2 ending.
Yemerich 15th April 2009, 21:18 Quote
Ooooooo I forgot the one that made my cry more than anyother.

IT IS FO3!

Every time i play it I cry:
"OOOOOHH GOD! What they have done to fall out series????"
ComputerKing 15th April 2009, 21:27 Quote
Beyond Good and Evil is one of my fav games :) I did it and it was interesting and fun ;) and those small goats are cool ;) the sound tracks are amazing :D etc...

I remember playing it with P4 and 1gb DDR and 5200 FX ;)
knuck 15th April 2009, 21:55 Quote
the only game that ever made me cry was UT3 ...
thehippoz 15th April 2009, 22:02 Quote
think the last I cried was when one my parakeet kerpal died and hardbender (her mate) flew around in circles like I had done it XD I've cried at the end of some of my games- I'll admit, just none recently.. seems like the games nowdays are written by mental midgets who like to add f bombs and crappy dialog to make up for a lack of imagination!
ComputerKing 15th April 2009, 22:11 Quote
I remembered now...

I didn't cry because of the game play. I cried when my Need For Speed Under Ground Disk 2 was broken because of me :( I cried for days
yodasarmpit 15th April 2009, 22:12 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChaosDefinesOrder
Aeris/Aerith in Final Fantasy 7
That was the one that nearly did it for me.
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