Having never played Ico or Shadow of the Colossus before, I have issues with how the recent trailer for The Last Guardian made me feel. The story seemed simplistic enough. Penny Arcade among others have remarked that there’s only two ways that game’s ending; The boy dies or the baby Gryphon thing dies.
The music (courtesy of the Coen Brother’s; Miller’s Crossing) is manipulative in the way it tweaks at your emotions and brings up all your regrets and happy memories at once. And of course, the look of the game is beautiful, in that way Team Ico alone seem to be able to manage. Vast, empty, ruined lands, lonely individuals and a tender friendship, tempered by heartbreaking loss. I knew all this going in, and I’m a grown man with a beard, so why was I blubbering like a schoolgirl who’s just been called fat by the boy she’s been crushing on for years?
I can only assume it’s because deep down I’m a sucker for the emotional kick some very select games are capable of delivering. Due to the interaction, it’s often even more engaging than a film, book or TV show when a character you’ve been playing for hours suffers a great loss. These games stick with us and we all like to pick over them fondly in the weeks, months and years after completion, strangely content with the haunting effect they have had on us. Yesterday I bought Shadow of the Colossus on eBay for a hefty price, just so I can finally play this celebrated game and stop feeling like I’m missing out on servicing my soul.
Here are my top ten recommendations for games with an emotional punch that will stay with you.
Possible spoiler warnings if just knowing the titles of these is enough to help you work out what happens.
10. Fable II
9. Grand Theft Auto IV
8. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
7. Secret of Mana
6. The Darkness
5. God of War
4. Heavenly Sword
3. Mass Effect
2. Final Fantasy VII
1. Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistance
Throw in Ico or Colossus by default since by all rights they’re superb. Now I’ll probably go and hammer up some drywall while drinking beer off of a Playboy model and cheering on my favorite team, just to remind myself how a real man is supposed to behave.