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5 Emotionally Compromising Video Games

/ Feb 14th, 2017 No Comments

Video games have come a long way over the years. Jumping on polygonal enemies has evolved into stories with depth and complexity. The best video game stories can make you feel the same roller coaster of emotions as books and films.

What games can make you feel this way? Here are five titles to help you achieve an emotional catharsis through intensely emotional plots.

5. Super Paper Mario

The first three Paper Mario titles all had an interesting story to tell, but Super Paper Mario knocked it out of the park. Not only is the fate of all existence on the line — Count Bleck seeks to wipeout the very notion of “being” — but there is also a tragic backstory to boot.

Count Bleck’s true love, Timpani, seemingly disappeared but was actually kidnapped. Instead of finding a way to move on, Count Bleck decides that nothing should else should exist if he has to live without his love, and thus seeks an end to all reality.

Super Paper Mario

Bowser actually helping save the day? This is in The Book of Revelations somewhere.

Spoiler alert: The revelation of Timpani being Tippi, Mario’s companion throughout Super Paper Mario, as well as Tippi and Count Bleck’s reunion at the end pulls a lot of emotional strings. Additionally, the complexity and frustration you will experience with gameplay along the way will put you through the emotional ringer.

4. Undertale

Undertale has it all: unrequited love, bitter divorce, oppressed masses and, of course, lots of dead kids.

What makes Undertale so emotionally charged is the slow build of the story as players figure out what keeps most of the monsters underground.


Will we ever stop talking about Undertale? Probably not!

Every subsequent playthrough yields new choices being made and paths explored. Slow exploration unravels the narrative of a king and queen who lost their children, one born and the other adopted, as well as the horrific choice they had to make to protect their kingdom.

Each character has their own unique story and uncovering every bit of it is a true undertaking. Killing no one is key, but pacifism is not necessarily an easy path.

3. The Stanley Parable

Believing that life has no point is the most bleak outlook one can have, and The Stanley Parable pushes forward that exact methodology.

If players follow every instruction of the narrator to the tee, The Stanley Parable is a simplistic and straightforward story of a company trying to control its employees through devious methods. If players attempt to deviate from the narration, the narrator fights back in an incredibly vicious manner.

The Stanley Parable

Meet Stanley, much like you, he is utterly worthless. Haha, just joking! (Well, actually…)

Where players deviate and how far they deviate determines what the narrator’s retaliation is. One could simply receive a verbal reprimand or the narrator may reveal the sad nature of player-controlled “Stanley” and how trapped he truly is in a simulation that has no escape.

Is life just a series of pointless choices? This is the question The Stanley Parable mercilessly answers “yes” to.

2. Life is Strange

Speaking of no-win scenarios and hard choices, Life is Strange is the epitome of upsetting decisions. There is absolutely no way to save everyone.

Life is Strange

Heroes make the hard choices.

The episodic game is about a girl who discovers she has the ability to rewind time. However, every choice she makes has consequences.

Players can rewind all they want, but the game’s end always features the most difficult decision: let your best friend die or watch the town you helped fix be demolished along with everyone in it.

There is no right answer in Life is Strange, and no matter how hard you try, you’re going to end the game with a deep sense of loss, wondering if you could have done more.

1. That Dragon Cancer

“Emotionally compromising” doesn’t even begin to describe That Dragon Cancer.

The game follows a young boy diagnosed with cancer, and the highs and lows his family faces during his battle and eventual passing. The worst part: it’s all based on a real story.

The creator of the game used the loss of his own son as the basis for the game, and the narrative follows his tale. The game features actual audio clips of his family.

That Dragon Cancer

That Dragon Cancer is truly in a league of its own.

There are no choices to be made. That Dragon Cancer is simply a journey that you go on. How much you let yourself get pulled in is entirely up to you, but be forewarned that the game is beyond challenging to finish, mostly because of the emotional strings it pulls.

Honorable Mention: FFXV

Final Fantasy XV is a bro road trip that symbolizes a coming of age. Eventually, reality and real-world responsibilities catch up to you and force you to grow up. We lose a lot as time goes by.

For most of us, that loss is subtle and gradual. For Noctis and his friends, the loss is very real. Regardless, Final Fantasy XV’s moral is something we can all learn from: treasure each moment, and take plenty of pictures.


Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson

Associate Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Greg is a Nintendo fanboy who would cry if they ever went third party. He writes news, previews and reviews at Gaming Illustrated.
Greg Johnson

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