Grab the hankies, we're reminiscing about the one's that we've lost in the virtual world
Ask anyone which video game death hit them the hardest and most will have a different answer.
Video games are known for death, in most games it’s the central point from which the plot dangles. But over the years, certain deaths have stood out, for a variety of reasons.
Some are shocking, some are deeply sad, some are effective because they’re unexpected. We've put together a short list of some of the most shocking, brutal and sad deaths in video game history.
As expected, spoiler ahead!
Aerith (Final Fantasy VII)
There are far sadder deaths on this list, but Aerith (Aeris) stands out for many players for a few reasons. Firstly, when Final Fantasy 7 came out in the late 90s many of us hadn't seen main cast characters die. Especially in such a shocking moment.
Secondly, we’d been using her in our party up to this point, we’d been buying her items, weapons and armor… surely she can’t die?!
Lastly, Aerith’s death lingers because she was a beacon of purity in the world we were inhabiting. Her naiveite and sweet demeanour captured so many players and she was torn away from us.
Sarah (The Last of Us)
I will admit I bawled my eyes out the first time, and again while writing this. Often compared to Pixar’s ‘UP’, the opening of The Last of Us sees Joel trying to escape the zombie pandemic with his daughter Sarah.
As they finally get clear of the hordes, a lone soldier halts them. Joel begs and pleads for help as Sarah has broken her leg.
Over the soldier's radio he’s given a silent order and says "there’s a little girl"… as he follows orders, his gun bursts mortally wounding Sarah. Joel kneels next to his daughter crying and yelling as she slips away.
Dom (Gears of War 3)
"Never thought it would end like this, huh Maria?”
As Dom tears through a tunnel, back towards the overwhelming grub infestation in Gears of War 3, we know we'll never see Dom again. He calls out to his wife; Marcus screams over the radio and ‘Mad World’ by Michael Andrews (originally Tears for Fears) opening piano begins to drown out the gunfire.
As Mad World plays out, explosions rip through the Locust saving Dom’s team from certain death. The game that redefined machismo had players sobbing for Dom and the relationship we'd built up over three games.
John Marston (Red Dead Redemption)
After hours and hours of playing as John Marston, we see him walk on both sides of the law. However, as the game nears its final handful of hours, Marston atones for his crimes; vows to be a better man. Of course, while we as players forget the chaos and havoc we wrought throughout the game, the antagonists don’t.
Trouble nears the Marston ranch and John packs his son and wife onto a horse, kisses them goodbye and tells them he loves them. In a silent barn, he cracks the door and sees a line-up of rifles.
Rockstar lets us fire a few shots, but ultimately Marston is gunned down. As he kneels bleeding and gasping, we control his wife and son as they return to find him dead.
Lee Everett (The Walking Dead)
So much of Telltale’s The Walking Dead sees us play as Lee, with him learning how to care and how to love. He takes Clementine under his wing and what develops is a beautiful father/daughter relationship, set in the wastes of the zombie apocalypse.
Deaths from zombie bites or fateful accidents come and go, but it’s the final moments of Lee’s life which stick hard. Playing as Clem, we look on as our father figure bleeds from a devastating bite and we as players are given a choice – kill Lee to stop his pain or let him turn into a zombie.
We reckon a fair few people shed a tear as Clem handcuffed Lee and made her final choice.
2B (NieR Automata)
Video game deaths hit a little bit harder if we’re forced to control the character as they are dying. For 2B, riddled with viruses, she runs, then hobbles, along a linear path. We have no options – nowhere to go. We watch as her systems begin to break down, her circuits corrupt, and sparks fly from her limping body. Her voice and CPU become as corrupt, patchy and full of static. This all culminates in 9S reaching 2B far too late and watches as she dies calling out to him.
Lugo (Spec-ops: The Line)
Probably one of the most underrated military shooters of all-time also delivered one of the most shocking and horrific deaths of all, too. As our team hunts for the missing squadmate, Lugo, they run haphazardly through Dubai.
We can hear Lugo over the radio, we can hear crowds baying for the blood of American soldiers. As we round a corner, Lugo is being hung by his neck, kicking as the life is choked from him.
A crowd cheers and yells, before our ‘heroes’ run in to try and save Lugo. Walker desperately tries to breathe life back into his friend, but he’s already gone. Then the game gives you a subtle choice – shoot the crowd or shoot into the air.
Roach & Ghost (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2)
It was a classic close shave followed by a heroic moment, but few gamers expected the outcome to flip back on itself once again - resulting in both Roach and Simon 'Ghost' Riley being killed. The two operatives successfully retrieve the DSM from Makarov's safehouse on the Georgian–Russian border, but find themselves pinned down by overwhelming enemy fire when trying to evacuate.
All does not seem lost as the cavalry, Lieutenant General Shepherd and the US forces, arrive just in time to return fire. Ghost and Roach make their way to the aircraft and confirm that they've retrieved the DSM - to which Shepherd says that this is "one less loose end" before shooting them both point blank.
Gamers were then shocked to witness Shepherd's men then throw both Roach and Ghost in a ditch and douse them in gasoline, while Captain Price can be heard on the radio frantically trying to tell them that Shepherd is not to be trusted. By this point, it's all too late, and Shepherd lights a cigar before tossing it onto Ghost and Roach, setting them ablaze - all while the dramatic and saddening music continues to play.
Noble Six (Halo: Reach)
Video game deaths are often gratuitous and forced in front of our eyes, but for the death of Noble Six in Halo: Reach, much of the violence happens away from our eyes, even though we’re seeing it all happen. Each shot and stab of the kills isn’t directly seen.
As players, we watch through the cracked visor hearing the impacts, knowing death is inevitable. There isn’t much to connect with visually, so the sound design and music take control, stirring the memories and connections as Noble Six leave us.