Death is tragic, even in video games. The loss of someone you have grown attached to is never easy. Even digital characters have dreams and aspirations, and to watch them go down in flames can hurt. While gaming has many ridiculous moments, there are still plenty of somber and down right horrific events in gaming that will choke up even the toughest man. Obviously, spoilers follow, so read at your own risk.
This may have been one of the first games players witnessed the death of a main story character in an RPG, not to say it wasn’t done before this of course. However, this was probably one of the most unexpected and tragic deaths seen in gaming at the time. Not only was it unexpected, but it was so ruthless and cold blooded, a real shocker to say the least. If this death didn’t get your blood boiling, you’re a cold, cold person. Regardless if you’re pro-Tifa or pro-Aeris, no one wanted to see the pretty flower girl push up daisies. The emotional strife of this event would be felt for the rest of the game, not to mention in later spin offs of Final Fantasy VII. Sephiroth, you’re a bastard.
The noble sacrifice. A plot device often used, but effective nonetheless, especially when it comes from an ally you’ve been traveling with for the greater part of the game. Not only does this big man take one for the team by baiting himself for hundreds of marauding demons, but he even prays to a god he despises to save his companions. Leaving behind fond memories and lessons, seeing Mareg go down like that hurt quite a bit. It especially takes a toll on Tio, an emotionless party member who began seeing the big fella as a mentor and friend. Your typical gentle giant in action.
Why do we always hurt the ones we love? Perhaps it’s a tragic truth we can’t escape. If you’re part of the Naked Snake family tree, tragic is your middle name. The death of ”The Boss” is tragic on so many levels. Knowing that not only did she have to die to stop the impending war from happening, but to betray her country AND having to put the responsibility of killing her on her most loved pupil. Not exactly what you’d call a happy ending. Not only does this death shake the very foundations of Naked Snake’s (the early incarnation of Big Boss) whole world, but it seals the fate of so many individuals who weren’t even born yet. Talk about one person making a difference. A truer soldier there never was.
They say a son should never have to bury their father. Dragon Quest V doesn’t even give you the opportunity to put your old man in a casket after one of the most savage deaths in gaming. While the 16 bit visual won’t do it justice, let me set the scene. You’re the son of the legendary warrior Papas, and he is rescuing you and your friend Henry from a dungeon. On the way out, you encounter the dark priest, Gema, and he proceeds to sick his demon warriors on you. Fortunately, big ole Papas makes quick work of them. However, during the battle, Gema captures you and has a blade to your neck, forcing Papas to stand down. Gema then proceeds to restore his minions and tells Papas in order to save your life, he must let the demons have their way with him. What ensues is an unmerciful beating, and all you can do is watch as your Dad makes the ultimate sacrifice to save you. After he’s nearly dead, Gema vaporizes him into ashes… HEAVY. Oh, and after that little fun, you’re put into slavery for the next 10 years of your life. Happy gaming!
I’m not ashamed or afraid to admit it, but this one made me tear up. Even though you knew it was coming, it still wasn’t enough to prepare you for it. The final battle and death scene of Zack Fair is easily the saddest, most emotional death scene in gaming. The happy go lucky hero you came to love throughout the game literally takes on the Shinra empire in the name of honor, knowing full well he had little chance of walking away alive. Nevertheless, he fights to his last breath, his final thoughts being of his love, Aeris, whose life would also be tragically cut short later, and his young friend Cloud, whom would become Zack’s living legacy. This whole sequence from the final battle to the ending credits is done superbly. This could have very well been a cinematic movie, and if it were, there wouldn’t be a dry eye in the theater.
With that, I bid a fond farewell to those who have passed on in the gaming world. They may not be flesh and blood, but in some respects they are as real as you or I. Rest in peace.